2002 Subaru WRX Gasoline smell in low temps

  • 2002 SUBARU WRX
Smells problem
2002 Subaru WRX All Wheel Drive Manual 80000 miles


I have a 2002 Impreza WRX, Standard transmission.

When the outdoor temp gets below about 45 deg F the inside of my car (and outside near the hood) is overwhelmed with the smell of gasoline. It doesn't matter how long the car has been running. It's so bad I can't turn on the heat when the car isn't in motion, I live in Boston so no heat = torture. I assume since it doesn't smell when the car is in motion that the wind blows the fumes away before they enter the car.

I've had this problem for 2+ years and tried a few times to get it fixed. My car is in the shop right now and my mechanic is stumped. I need a new catalytic converter (failed state emissions) so maybe that will help? He also said there's a small exhaust leak in the area that will be repaired with the new converter so I'm really hoping that's it. But I'm skeptical b/c last winter I had an exhuast leak fixed that was supposed to cure the smell, but no change.

The dealership suggested it 'might' need a new fuel rail, but they weren't confident that would solve the problem so I passed.

Any ideas? I appreciate your help.

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have the same problem?
Tuesday, December 1st, 2009 AT 3:45 PM

1 Reply

Hi there,

I just came across your post while researching another issue. I have had the exact same problem with my 2002 WRX. I first noticed it during a trip to Utah in freezing temperatures, and the gasoline odor was awful. When I got back to Sacramento, I called Subaru Specialists. These guys are amazing and are VERY knowledgeable about Subarus. One of the guys explained to me that the problem is caused by a connector on the fuel line (sorry, I'm not a mechanic so I don't remember the exact part he was referring to) that was made out of plastic, and would expand and contract in extreme temperatures resulting in fuel vapor escaping. He said he was not aware of any disasters associated with someone not getting this fixed, but the smell could be unbearable, and could potentially be a real problem. This was about a year ago, and he said he would replace it with a braided steel connector to solve the problem. He explained, though, that it was a lot of labor to get down to that part, and would run about $450, so he recommended getting a few other things done at the same time that are in that same area. Because of the cost, and since I live in CA and do not have to deal with the problem too often, I have not had it fixed yet. But I bet if you call them, they can help answer some of your questions. When I called, he knew the problem right away and explained it over the phone.

Subaru Specialists
600 Sunbeam Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95811-0438
(916) 442-6409

Hope this helps!

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Saturday, December 26th, 2009 AT 2:07 PM

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