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1996 Legacy Fuel Pump - A funny little story


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14 replies to this topic

#1 JPX

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 11:11 PM

In June 2011, my 96 Legacy failed to start at the grocery store. And of course it would happen on a hot day, during rush-hour and when my wife had just bought a lot of ice cream for a kids party. Fortunately they got a ride home and saved the food. I was left with 100 degree weather in a blazing parking lot to figure out what was going on.

This represented a unique situation for me. In the 180,000 miles of ownership, I would be facing a real defeat - having the car towed home. Determined to preserve some honor, I tried to troubleshoot the problem in the parking lot as the sun set.

I knew I had charge, spark and ha-ha fuel in the tank. I couldn't determine if the fuel pump relay was acting up or if the pump was dead. It started to get dark and I simply couldn't get any further for the evening. The *whimper* call went out to AAA for a tow.

About half and hour later, I met the tow truck driver by the car. I could tell he was sizing me up because he asked if the battery was good, the starter was good and all that. I told him that stuff checked out - and that I was pretty sure either the fuel pump or relay was the problem.

He was surprised that I knew exactly where the fuel pump was when he asked - then remarked that I seemed to know the car pretty well. I should;) - I've pulled the motor, changed CVs, struts, brakes, and torn apart almost all the interior.

Then he asked me a question that really threw me - is the fuel tank plastic or metal. Hmmm....don't know the answer to that - uh, why?. So he said to get in the car and get ready to start it. He ran back to the truck and brought out a hammer. I scrunched my eyebrows until he kneeled by the rear wheel and then I knew exactly what he was about to do!:brow:

I started the car and he started pounding on the fuel tank from under the car. And sure enough the car started. He followed me home (less than 2 miles) as I drove . The car stalled at the halfway point (at an intersection of course) and he lept out of the truck and started pounding on the tank again until the car started.

And sure enough, I drove the car home and maintained the streak of never being towed. The best part was we were able to pinpoint exactly the problem. All I needed was a new pump.

Posted Image

Pulling the pump is pretty easy. But you keep your cool about getting the hoses off the top and the puzzle of extracting the pump/sender stack out of the fuel tank.
Not a lot to it.
- Disconnect the harness - run the engine until it stalls to depressurize the fuel hoses.
- unclamp the three hoses (tape and mark them if you think you will forget what goes where)
- remove the harness connector, the hoses, and unscrew the nuts that hold the lid to the fuel tank.
- extract the fuel pump/sender stack - watch for the float as it will try to snag inside the tank. Keep rags and a plastic tray handy so you don't spill gas all over the interior.
- Installation is the reverse.
Posted Image

Once you have the stack is out, you can remove the pump. When I tested the pump off the stack and with a 12V source, it didn't spin at first. It started spinning when I struck it with a hammer. I made sure to test the new pump with 12V before reassembly.

The new pump was slightly different and needed different wiring lugs to fit the terminals. You might need new hose clamps to connect the pump to the stack tube if you the original clamps are crimp-style (not reusable). Be careful of polarity of the wires. The lower rubber end cap might need to be crammed onto the bracket if it has a slightly different shape. Use the included zip-tie to hold the pump boot and body to the stack frame.

After installation , the car worked great!:drunk:

Fast forward 11 months and the car died again - this time it tried to warn us by sputtering and THEN failing to start. I couldn't hear the fuel pump whirring when starting the car. And a some pounding on the top of the pump with a rubber mallet made the car sputter at start which meant the pump was a factor.:banghead:

I pulled out the assembly and tested the fuel pump with 12V, and this time NOTHING would make the pump motor turn (even beating it on the driveway).

I took it back to Autozone for a warranty claim (less than 3 weeks or warranty to go!). They exchanged it under warranty with no hassle at all. Reassembled and reinstalled and the car works again.:o

Lessons:
- If the car stalls/sputters - try beating on the tank or pump when starting to rule out fuel pump. If it still doesn't work, at least hitting something give some satisfaction.
- cheapo parts - you get what you pay for.....at least this came with a warranty that the store honored.

Hope this helps someone out someday!:)

#2 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 01:13 AM

The lifetime warrantee on Autozone and other cheap aftermarket parts isn't worth the hassle. That rule is doubly true of fuel pumps. OEM for ALL makes and models is the only way to go. You will be replacing that pump every one to two years till you give up. Fortunately the stock pumps rarely fail so used OEM is the best option by far.

GD

#3 naru

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 02:32 AM

The lifetime warrantee on Autozone and other cheap aftermarket parts isn't worth the hassle. That rule is doubly true of fuel pumps. OEM for ALL makes and models is the only way to go. You will be replacing that pump every one to two years till you give up. Fortunately the stock pumps rarely fail so used OEM is the best option by far.

GD


Bad advice,IMO.
OEM has never been a good option for any make or model pump I`ve replaced.(quite a few)
OEMs can be 10 times the price for the same part.
A lot of times,aftermarket pumps ARE OEM.

I buy the cheapest.Dirt cheap ebay ones if time allows.

Never had to replace one ever,never mind every 1-2 years.
I would never install a used electric pump unless there was not another option.

Always replace the filter sock on in-tank models and change the main filter regularly to ensure the pump brushes don`t have to conduct excessive current pushing fuel through a plugged filter for a happy pump.

I know nothing about Autozone parts.

I disagree with the notion that "you get what you pay for".
Like any good "lie",there IS a kernal of truth at the centre,of course.
I see the EXACT same parts being sold for wildly different prices all the time.

FYI,the hammer trick is a one man operation if you jumper the fuel pump relay.
Saved many a towing fee that way.

Edited by naru, 01 June 2012 - 02:36 AM.


#4 naru

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 02:37 AM

The lifetime warrantee on Autozone and other cheap aftermarket parts isn't worth the hassle. That rule is doubly true of fuel pumps. OEM for ALL makes and models is the only way to go. You will be replacing that pump every one to two years till you give up. Fortunately the stock pumps rarely fail so used OEM is the best option by far.

GD


Bad advice,IMO.
OEM has never been a good option for any make or model pump I`ve replaced.(quite a few)
OEMs can be 10 times the price for the same part.
A lot of times,aftermarket pumps ARE OEM.

I buy the cheapest.Dirt cheap ebay ones if time allows.
Never had to replace one ever,never mind every 1-2 years.
I would never install a used electric pump unless there was not another option.

Always replace the filter sock on in-tank models and change the main filter regularly to ensure the pump brushes don`t have to conduct excessive current pushing fuel through a plugged filter for a happy pump.

I know nothing about Autozone parts.

I disagree with the notion that "you get what you pay for".
Like any good "lie",there IS a kernal of truth at the centre,of course.
I see the EXACT same parts being sold for wildly different prices all the time.

#5 lmdew

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 06:22 AM

Good used one is the way to go IMHO.

#6 mikaleda

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 10:10 AM

i would be Leary of a pump that you had to splice wires on especially inside the gas tank! I have to agree with GD when it comes to electronics you do get what you pay for. I once bought a universal oxygen sensor that you had to splice your old plug onto, it never worked correctly.

#7 JPX

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 10:21 AM

It just depends on your tolerance level.

When I swapped motors, I used OEM for virtually everything. If something went wrong with that, detection and correction is severely aggravating.

Now I don't consider a fuel pump to be the most convenient job out there, but it is reasonably easy to detect and fix - if you know what you are looking for. And that is kind of my point - I know what the devil looks like now, so I am willing to tolerate some "crappiness" of parts because I can zero in on it.

Obviously this philosophy doesn't sit well with everyone. Probably wouldn't want to autocross or Formula 1 with Autozone parts anyway (might be kind of hilarious to see). But on a 16 year old car, I have to weigh the cost, the hassle and the functionality differently - this was a decision made with eyes wide open.

#8 JPX

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 10:26 AM

i would be Leary of a pump that you had to splice wires on especially inside the gas tank! I have to agree with GD when it comes to electronics you do get what you pay for. I once bought a universal oxygen sensor that you had to splice your old plug onto, it never worked correctly.


Fair enough. Gasoline does weird stuff to materials, but then again, there is a LOT of plastic on that pump/sender assembly.
The wiring has worked fine so far. If it really became a problem, then I would go ahead and solder the connection. There isn't a lot of movement once the assembly is in the tank, so I think this is acceptable.

#9 mikaleda

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 11:59 AM

you are right you will probably be fine. I just personally have had alot of problems with this style pump before, mainly on GM cars though. i don't know about subaru but i have seen this happen alot, people get substandard fuel pumps and are constantly replacing them within a year or two.

#10 sam45

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 03:46 PM

I have the same problem starting my 96 legacy wagon and I think it is the fuel pump.
Removing the 8 nuts, wire harness and hoses on the fuel pump sender assembly cover appears to be straight forward.
However, I see the black cable going across the fuel pump sender assembly cover under the hoses as seen in the picture.
Before going any further, I would like to know:
Will this cable come in the way when pulling the assembly out?
Do I need to take any steps to get around it?

#11 ShawnW

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 04:05 PM

Just unplug it and tuck it under the sheet metal out of view where you can reach it. Same for the hoses on the top. I usually snug up the clamps slightly so they don't fall or put them in my parts tray with the tiny nuts.

#12 sam45

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 05:19 PM

Thanks ShawnW. Yes, the 6-pin connector I am able to tuck away. What about the other black wire that seems to go across? See the three yellow arrows pointing to this wire in the picture I uploaded. How to get this out of the way? Can this also be unplugged or simply pulled and tucked away? Did anyone had a problem with this wire while pulling out the fuel pump sender assembly?

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Edited by sam45, 29 October 2012 - 08:33 PM.


#13 Rooster2

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 07:04 PM

Thanks for the nice write-up on fuel pump replacement. I have both a 98 and 99 OBWs, so would have the same fuel pump as your 96. I have not had trouble with either, but it is nice to learn about Subie fuel pumps.

Actually, the fuel pump set up looks just like what I replaced on my VWs back in the 80's. It was not a bad job, just a lot easier to do with little gas left in the gas tank. Also, be sure to take frequent work breaks........breathing the gas fumes will make you sick after a while.

#14 Fairtax4me

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 09:37 PM

Thanks ShawnW. Yes, the 6-pin connector I am able to tuck away. What about the other black wire that seems to go across? See the three yellow arrows pointing to this wire in the picture I uploaded. How to get this out of the way? Can this also be unplugged or simply pulled and tucked away? Did anyone had a problem with this wire while pulling out the fuel pump sender assembly?


That wire is not an issue, just push it to the side with everything else.

#15 sam45

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 11:22 AM

Thank you Fairtax4me. I'll post how it goes when I am done.




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