Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
63,562 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Subaru Outback fuel system problems

fuel system problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2002 Subaru Outback:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2002 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #20

Feb 112014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 83,033 miles


Upper front fuel line and connection to throttle body? is leaking raw gas and fuel is pooling on top of engine just outward of upper exhaust manifold area.

- Kalamazoo, MI, USA

problem #19

Jan 082010

Outback 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
Over last few winters, when temperatures drop to freezing there has been a bad fuel smell in cabin. Especially with heater blowing, though it still smells inside and outside the car even with the heat off. Once the weather warms up there is no noticeable smell. I have tried tightening 5 clamps as suggested in an online help page. Not sure if this helped or problem just went away with the cold weather. Local shop couldn't see leak on cursory check while the odor as at its worse. Maybe only visible if it's freezing and up on a lift. Subaru dealer suggested fuel lines need to replaced as normal process as car ages. Subaru should find solution to this dangerous problem that's obviously common to these vehicles and put out clear instruction on diagnosing and fixing this issue.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #18

Jan 172014

Outback 4-cyl

  • miles
Since the recent temperature drop where we live (Maryland, DC metro region), we've noticed a strong gasoline smell inside the car's cabin. The smell is strong enough that we are uncomfortable driving long distances, for our own health and that of our children. The smell only appears when the car is running (though it doesn't seem to depend on speed). We've owned the car since March 2010, and this is the first time we've noticed the issue; it's also the coldest weather we've encountered since purchase. Apparently there's a fuel-line-related recall for imprezas of this vintage, but not yet for Outbacks.

- Greenbelt, MD, USA

problem #17

Jan 032014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 150,000 miles


The smell of raw gas permeates the passenger cabin when the car is started in temperatures under 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

- Cranford, NJ, USA

problem #16

Dec 172011


  • 84,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Subaru Outback. The contact stated that whenever the heat was activated, the contact would notice a gasoline odor coming through the vents. The vehicle was taken to the dealer on four occasions where the head gaskets were replaced each time. However, one year after the repair the contact noticed that the failure recurred. The vehicle had not been recently diagnosed. The current and failure mileages were 84,000.

- Linden, NJ, USA

Search for these popular complaint phrases...

problem #15

Jan 132012


  • miles
When weather turns cold, the smell of raw gas comes into the car, as well as in the garage after parking. So far the dealer has just tightened a clamp, but what happens if I'm on a hi-way and that happens" I can't drive the car with a gas leak in the engine and to far away from a fire station so do I call a towe truck or my lawyer. Because the car burnt up" can't believe the Subaru dealership is being so unresponsive about this. Get this recall to all the Subaru having a issue I thought you had great cars not so much now.

- Topeka, KS, USA

problem #14

Jan 022012


  • miles


In cold weather, my 2002 Subaru Outback cabin gets filled with very strong raw fuel smell as the car warms up with the heater on. It has gotten so bad, that my daughter nearly throws up every morning on our way to school in cold weather. This is an issue that my local dealer explained away has a typical Subaru thing in cold weather. This is unacceptable. This is a health hazard and Subaru is getting away with it. I have been using this particular car for the last 10 years, and every winter the smell gets worse and worse. Subaru needs to step up, acknowledge the problem and fix it, or face the very real problem of a massive lawsuit soon.

- Landenberg, PA, USA

problem #13

Nov 132010

Outback 4-cyl

  • miles
Prominent gas smell inside cabin when temperature is below 32 degrees F. it is a known safety issue on Subaru's but nothing is being done by Subaru to rectify this poor engineering safety issue on their behalf. I have talked to Subaru of America via email and on phone and they say that there is no issue with this car even though there is thousands of people that are experiencing this issue.

- Helena, MT, USA

problem #12

Jan 282011


  • 80,000 miles
There is a documented problem with older model Subaru Outbacks (early 2000S) leaking gas into the engine compartment in cold weather. Dealers and repair services cannot fully resolve the issue because it appears to be a design flaw with the fuel lines and clamps. Internet forums provide countless cases (here is just one

- Amherst, MA, USA

problem #11

Nov 042004

Outback 4-cyl

  • 87,000 miles
2002 Subaru Outback smells of gas every time it gets cold. A shop that works on just Subaru knows the problem well and tried a few things to fix it. After $175, it did not work. Last year, I had to drive with my windows down on cold nights the smell was so strong. One night it was -20 degrees! this year the smell has come back at just 39 degrees and stronger. My garage smells and I am afraid the call will blow up or I will get sick driving it. On-line and on the NHTSA I see many other Subaru owners having to put it with the same thing. Can you folks help?

- Parker, CO, USA

problem #10

Jan 302008


  • 92,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Subaru Outback. While the vehicle was idle she stated that there was a strong fuel smell in the vehicle. The vehicle was taken to a local mechanic who cleaned the exhaust system. The contact stated that the failure continued to occur. The vehicle was taken to another local mechanic who stated that the failure was caused by a loose latch in the hatch back. The mechanic repaired the loose latch. The failure continued after the latch was repaired. The vehicle was taken back to the mechanic and he was unable to determine what caused the failure to occur. The vehicle was not repaired. The vehicle was purchased used in 2007 who stated that the failure had occurred for two to three years. The contact stated that the failure only happened during cold weather conditions. The failure mileage was 92,000. The current mileage was 108,000.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #9

Feb 082010


  • miles
Fuel smell inside and outside of cabin when weather is cold (20' or below). Shop has examined the vehicle and cannot determine cause. Seen references to similar issue with the WRX model and fuel lines/clamp.

- North Brookfield, MA, USA

problem #8

Jan 112007


  • 85,000 miles
Fuel smell inside car when cold outside (approx. 25 deg F) occurs every winter at these temperatures for last 3 yrs (at least) dealers never found anything.

- Randolph, NJ, USA

problem #7

Jan 202009


  • 105,000 miles
Both my 2001 and 2002 Subaru Outbacks had a strong smell of gasoline in the cabin when starting the cars. A check under the hood showed gasoline dripping from several of the rubber fuel lines where they joined metal fuel lines. The fuel was dripping onto the engine and running down to the ground. Upon tightening the fuel line clamps the problem stopped. When I used google to check on the problem there was several 100,000 hits with the same problem. It seems to be related to low temperature <+10F.

- Avon, CT, USA

problem #6

Jan 172009


  • 66,000 miles
My 2002 Subaru legacy Outback wagon, 2.5 liter engine, leaked fuel from the fuel line. This was most pronounced on a cold day. There are many reports of the same problems. My Subaru dealer told me that this problem is common. Though we smelled the strong fuel odor, fortunately, there wasn't a fire. The car is now being repaired and will be ready 01/21/09. The estimated cost of the repair is $485. Subaru knows about the problem and redesigned the part. They refuse to cover it because they say the service bulletin number 09-36-03, issued 04/01/03 only applies to the WRX, even though the Outback has a similar setup.

- Springfield, VA, USA

problem #5

Dec 212008


  • 64,000 miles
2002 Subaru Outback- Dec. 08'- experiencing very strong fuel smell in cabin of vehicle during cold weather. Same scenario unfolded last yr. 07' when it got cold. Last year dealer charged for inspect and tightening of clamps along fuel lines. This is a known problem with the Subaru Outbacks..why no recall"..with fuel line leaks as common as they are with this model I am surprised there is no recall. Is there anything Subaru is offering to help owners recover monies being spent on this fix"

- Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA

problem #4

Jan 152006


  • 90,000 miles
Repeat fuel line leaks in 2002 Subaru Outback wgn. There are a total of seven flexible rubber hoses that connect the fuel line as it passes through the chassis. When weather is cold, hose clamps/rubber hoses leak. My local dealer seemed to be well aware of the problem, which has not be addressed, and said that Subaru has no planes to fix the problem. Outside of car, passage cabin reek of raw fuel.

- Slc, UT, USA

problem #3

Jan 292008

Outback 4-cyl

  • 88,000 miles
Overwhelming odor of gasoline in passenger compartment.

- Winfield , IL, USA

problem #2

Sep 232007

Outback 6-cyl Diesel

  • Automatic transmission
  • 96,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Subaru Outback. The contact smelled a strong odor of gasoline in the passenger compartment. The dealer stated that the head gasket needed to be replaced. The vehicle has not been repaired. The contact filed a formal complaint with the manufacturer. The failure mileage was 96,000 and current mileage was 103,000.

- Trior Lake, MN, USA

problem #1

Dec 032004

Outback 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 31,200 miles
Dangerous hesitation in first and second gears especially. At stop light, upon attempting to accelerate, car bogged down, rpms dipped and nearly stalled before car finally accelerated with a violent jerk forward and back. Has happened on numerous occasions. Very dangerous-nearly been in three accidents already. So far the dealer has bled the clutch, adjusted the clutch, replaced the clutch, replaced knock sensor, replaced coolant temp sensor and replaced front oxygen sensor and problem still as bad as ever if not worse.

- Woodbury, CT, USA

Search for these popular complaint phrases...

Not what you are looking for?