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Fuel guage on 95 Legacy L


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12 replies to this topic

#1 lhrocker

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 03:00 PM

Hi all,

I previously owned a 86 GL 3 door and I just got a used 95 Legacy L AWD. It's great to come back to come back to Subaru's. Now for my question. I bought this Subaru with 107K miles, which is really nothing for a Subaru. When I fill up the gas tank, the needle on the fuel guage barely reads full. When I had my old Subaru, the fuel gauge read above full, as do most cars. I filled the tank up when it was almost at 1/4 and it only took 7 gallons. Is there a way to fix this, or do I have to base my fillups on mileage?

Thanx,
Peter

#2 adwolf1

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 03:03 PM

my '96L is fairly inaccurate, too.

When the needle reads "E", it's still got about 5 gallons left (it's got a 15 gallon tank, iirc..)

Also, i've never seen the empty light come on -- does this car even have one?

#3 Cougar

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 03:10 PM

Your fuel level sensor may be the problem with this. It is a pretty common problem with these cars. Some folks have been able to clean the slider contacts and correct the problem.

#4 Lesbaru

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 03:13 PM

Or you could be lazy and take the easy way out, like me. I just set the tripometer every time I fill the tank, and make sure to re-fill it around 190-200 miles.

Someday maybe I'll fix it.... maybe.

#5 frag

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 03:17 PM

If you do a search here with «fuel gauge» you'll find lots of threads on this subject. An this
Re: Fuel guage probs on 1990 Legacy

I copied this from somewhere. Maybe the Archives. I have just done this over the weekend with success on my 93 Legacy. I took my time...around two hours. Saved a lot of cash. I would check the fuel pump side first.Here it is.

Could be of some help.
«Since I have seen lots of complaints posted about the fuel gauge senders for '95 Legacys of all types failing (check out how many at dejanews!) and have not seen any posts about how easy it is to fix, I thought I would post my experience. I had to get a car last weekend (broke my left foot, can't use the clutch in my usual car...) and got a '95 Outback wagon, in part because it is very similar to my wife's '97 so anything I learn from it has double application... The only thing really wrong with the car, I got it pretty cheaply, was that the fuel gauge was not working right.
First of all, kudos to Subaru for making it so easy to get to the senders! On most cars I would have to drop the fuel tank, but this has plates screwed down in the luggage space that open to uncover ports in the top of the tank. (There is one sender on each side of the car for the AWD cars, where the tank goes up over the drive shaft so has a low spot on each side, just one on the right side for the FWD models. The one on the right has both the in-tank pump and a sender, the other just a sender. The two senders connect to an electronic box that averages their output.)
After you open one of the ports you can take out the sender pretty easily: The one on the same side as the pump has to be unscrewed from the pump to get it through the port: Don't drop the screws in the tank!
Once the sender (the two are almost identical) is out on a bench you see a standard float on an arm, moving a contact along a resistor pack on a ceramic printed circuit. The problem turns out to be the The connection between the moving contact and the wire off to the outside world. The wire connects to a thin brass piece, that has a phosphor-bronze spring pushing against it, the other end of the spring pushes against the moving contact piece. Between the brass piece and the moving contact should be less than 1 ohm, was infinite on both of my senders no matter how I wiggled the float arm around. The metals had just gotten oxidized. The float is held in by a push-on nut. It might be possible to get that off peacefully, but I was afraid of damaging the mechanism so I hit it with a Dremel and took it off. It is then pretty easy to disassemble the float and contact assembly: Look out for a small plastic pivot piece that the float arm goes through, you not only need to be sure not to lose it you also have to either keep it in position in the plastic body or else later on you will have to rotate it to drop exactly in to place. I used fine silicon carbide paper to clean the surfaces of the two brass pieces (moving contact's arm and connection to outside world) and also the two ends of the spring, put it back together, good connection in all positions of float. The only remaining problem is to hold it together: If you were able to remove the push-on nut you may be able to reuse it. I got a roll pin at the hardware store, one of those little pieces of steel that is not quite a tube because it has a slot down one side, designed to be driven into a hole. It has a 5/32" outside diameter, was about an inch long, and the inside diameter was just too small to fit over the float arm which is about 0.1" diameter. I cut a little ring off of it with the Dremel, forced the ring over the float arm just like the original push-on nut had been, and it was all done but reinstallation. I did both sides, the gauge works perfectly.
This car has 90K miles on it. If I need to do this every 90K miles that will be OK. A more permanent fix would be to take some very flexible wire, e.g. litz wire, and connect it between the two sides so that it flexes with motion of the float. It will have to live in gasoline, so don't use wire with much insulation but rather route the wire so it can't hit anything it should not connect to. I think this would be pretty easy, should last longer than the resistance element would.»
Bob Wilson

#6 mattocs

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 03:52 PM

My 1995 L does the same thing.

When it hits E you have about 4 - 5 gallons left...and when the light comes on you have a little under two left.

#7 adwolf1

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 04:00 PM

Originally posted by mattocs
My 1995 L does the same thing.

When it hits E you have about 4 - 5 gallons left...and when the light comes on you have a little under two left.



i'm curious -- i've never seen my light come on (i'm a nervous person, i guess :) )

Does the light test itself when you turn the engine on, or do you only see it when running out of gas? i've literally never seen the llight come on..

#8 mattocs

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 04:08 PM

Nope.


When my mom first bought the car back in 1995 she didn't think it had a light...but it came on and we can get about 40+ miles from the time the light comes on.

Sometimes it comes on and goes out...and other times it stays lit. (it flashes when the gas level is low and i'm on a hill or something but stays lit when i'm really low on gas)

#9 kevinsUBARU

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 05:11 PM

Yep, really common problem.

I think I put 14.6 gallons in one night (some insanely close number to 15) and the light still wasn't coming on....I think its broken:D

#10 Cougar

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 05:31 PM

While reading these posts I had a thought about the two senders that are mounted on each side of the tank. I would venture to say that those who have a problem with the level gauge showing a reading, but not correctly, that one of the senders has a connection problem. I think these senders are connected in parallel so if one is open you still will have a reading but not the correct level. Using an ohmeter to measure the resistance of the contacts at the connector will tell you which one of the two is the problem and open up. I hear that just cleaning the contacts will cure some of the problems. My manual gives warnings about opening the access panels with more than 3/4's of a tank of gas as fuel could spill.

#11 alias20035

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 06:17 PM

Originally posted by mattocs
Nope.


When my mom first bought the car back in 1995 she didn't think it had a light...but it came on and we can get about 40+ miles from the time the light comes on.

Sometimes it comes on and goes out...and other times it stays lit. (it flashes when the gas level is low and i'm on a hill or something but stays lit when i'm really low on gas)


Just a few points to add to this discussion:

Fuel pumps are supposed to be submerged in fuel to cool them. By running the fuel level down until the low fuel light comes on a consistant basis will wear out the fuel pump a lot faster because there needs to be 4-5 gallons of fuel to completely submerge it and keep it cool.

Also in winter, you should always keep the tank above 1/2 full to reduce condensation in the tank which can cause fuel lines to freeze, and fuel tank corrosion.

Both my 93 Legacy and 01 Outback have somewhat erratic fuel gauges, but the 93 was really erratic, on some occasions I would get 400 km on the first 1/4 of the tank, and then only another 150 before the tank was empty. I took the senders out, inspected and cleaned them up (they were quite clean already), and the gas gauge was only a little more accurate.

I use my trip odometer religiously to track my mileage, and to cross check the fuel gauge reading. I just round to 10 liters/100 km to know roughly how much fuel is in the tank.

#12 roger1

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 10:12 PM

Our 95 AWD sedan had a problem, I cleaned one side and that helped for a while, I eventually bought 2 new ones, they aren 't cheap at approx $90 each and haven't had any more problems.
I had to fold down the back of rear seats to get at them, a spintite socket is best but open end wrench will work, just slower. Good Luck!

#13 lhrocker

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Posted 29 November 2003 - 10:45 PM

Thanx to everyone for your help. I will take a look at the two senders and see if cleaning them will help.




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