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My 04 Outback manual states that the vehicle has a 16.9 gallon fuel tank. The last time I filled the tank when the guage showed almost empty I could manage to put less than 14.5 gallons in it. It is again almost on empty at 264 miles driven mostly around town. According to the fuel economy ratings this should mean that my 14 plus gallons at 22mpg would get me about 264 miles. Is the guage accurate or the capaciity listed in the owners manual incorrect. I don't drive this car everyday, but here from my wife that I need to get more gas. Anybody wish to pipe in? I havn't had to walk to a gas station in a long while and have no desire to try it anytime soon.
 

SubaruOutback.org Founder
2018 Outback Limited 2.5L - 100,000+ miles
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From what I've been told when your low fuel light comes on you should have 14 gallons in the tank, I may be wrong though. What engine does your OB have, 2.5 or H6? Most people I talk to say the OB's 2.5 usually get worse mileage than stickered and the H6 gets better. I can speak on behalf of the H6, I always average at least 20 MPG under whatever conditions. If you feel the problem is that bad go check with your Subaru tech, he can tell you better than any of us can. That being said, I've never heard of anyone having any problems with their gas gauge on their OB.
 

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Liberty/Legacy 3.0R spec B
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In my Outback 3.0R H6, the low fuel light will come on with 10lts left in the tank or about 2.6US gallons. It is very accurate.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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This is a 'feature' of almost all Japanese cars, maybe a little better than the old days but most of them seem to have another 60 or more miles in them when the light comes on or they register empty. And yes, gauges are notoriously inaccurate/non-linear - in most cars.
Seems in the 'old days' the japanese were very concerned about the image/bad PR of of seeing one of their imports sitting at the roadside and went a little overboard on the reserve capacity volume. I suspect the manual would be fairly accurate. Also, do not be tempted to overfill at the pump, especially in summertime - bad for the vapor recovery/charcoal canister dealie.
 

Tokyo's between my toes
2001 Wintergreen Outback 5MT
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I have driven my 98 with the gauge at a needle's-width below the empty mark. (across Indiana countryside, no less ... "Maybe this town will have a gas station...") I think I put 16.2 gallons in it to fill it that time.

Well, that's better than the 1980 Pontiac Phoenix I had, that would run dry with 1/8 tank still showing on the gauge - I got pretty good at dead-stick landings with that one.

I've noticed that the warning light can come on gradually, sometimes just showing dimly. Also, I wonder if it's based on a calculation of fuel level/fuel consumption. Sometimes it will come on when I drive briskly, but then if I drive gently for a while, it will go out again. It's as if it were saying "At the rate you're going, you'll be out of gas soon."

Another thing, of all the cars I've had, this one's gauge is the slowest to respond to a fill-up. Most cars will immediately show the new fuel level, but this one takes a few minutes. When I first got the car, on the very first time I put gas in the tank, I poured in $10 worth and was amazed to see almost no change at all when I started the car again - it made me wonder, how much money will it take to fill this thing?
 

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MY12 WRX, MY07 FXT
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My OBS has a 15.9 gal tank. I have only seen the fuel light once in the 21,800 miles I have driven it. It's not that I fill up at half a tank, I usually go near 'E' I do know that fuel level gauges are an estimate and if there is a low fuel light, it shall light up as a warning of low fuel, meanwhile letting you drive far enough if you have to to get more fuel. I think I heard once that they are somewhat calibrated to light when you can still go around 50 miles if need be. I really drove and drove that one time before I finally saw the light, and I did it on purpose. The light lit, I filled up within ten miles, and still only added like 14.1 gals in the 15.9 tank. Brian
 

Tokyo's between my toes
2001 Wintergreen Outback 5MT
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You may alerady know this - the really old VW Beetles (before 1961) did not have fuel gauges. There was a lever under the dash - when the engine ran dry, you'd turn the lever to go to "reserve." All it did was set the fuel supply to draw from another line in the tank, lower down, and able to still draw fuel when the regular line was high and dry. IIRC after that you supposedly had 30Km to drive on reserve before you really went dry.

(hope this link works)

 

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2000 Outback 2.5L
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Here is a link to a site that explains how a fuel gauge works. I love the site, learned a lot from it.

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-gauge.htm

After picking up my 2000 OB, I noticed that my trip meter was 3.6% higher than my GPS. Trip meter read 318, GPS said 307. The speedometer says your going faster than you are, but this is common on almost any foreign car.

My 2002 Passat 4Motion would indicate less miles than the GPS.

On my motorcycle, speedometer reads 10% faster than actual speed, but the tripmeter is right on compared to the GPS.

Any thoughts on why Subaru would indicate more miles than actually driven?? I thought maybe this all has to do with the tire pressure effecting the diameter of the tires. I was about 7 psi lower than the max inflation of 35psi on my OB journey home. Next trip I'll have them fully inflated and maybe I'll get a more accurate reading.

Oh, and not to get too far off the subject. According to the trip meter I got 22.8 mpg, GPS was 22.0 mpg.
 

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Karasek,

The speedometer and trip meter are obviously linked. I am sure that most manufacturers make the speedometer read "over" so as you are actually going slower than indicated so as you will not be caught speeding. Better than being the other way around! Also some cynics have said that the odometer reads "over" so as your warranty mileage comes up before time!

I believe that, as I stated before, the odometer and speedometer being linked means that the they both read over so as not to make people get caught speeding and then having those people sueing the car manufacturer for the error.

As for tyre pressures, this will make very little difference to your actual speedometer reading as the circumference of the tyre is constant and the diameter of modern tyres changes little with small changes in tyre pressure. Large pressure differences of 10psi or more under inflation may make a small difference but not the 7psi or less that you have indicated.

Remember, the circumference of the tyre does not vary, this is the same basically no matter what the inflation (within reason) and thus the length of travel is the same per revolution. If the tyres circumference is constant, then the wheels rotation is the same and this is what your odometer reads, the number of rotations of the wheel.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
:) Thanks for all of the wonderful input. I might be tempted to see just how far I could go if I drove this car daily. Atl east now I don't need to run down to the gas station as soon as the guage shows 1/8th full.
 

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2003 H6-3.0 Wagon (non-VDC, non-LLB)
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My one complaint about my otherwise great car has not been the mileage (I anticipated a drop from the 1.9L I4 in my old Saturn to the Subaru's 3.0 H6), but the range--I would like to have a bigger tank so that I could fill up less often. I find I go 300-325 miles between fillups, and I'd like to have about a 20-gallon tank so I could go closer to 400. Yes, that would make each fillup more painful in the wallet, but it's still nothing like filling up a Tahoe...:)
 

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MY99 3rd Gen Outback GX, 2004 Lexus RX330 Sport Luxury
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I filled up my Outback today. I drove an extra 25km after the fuel light started flashing, and still had 12 litres left in the tank when I filled up. In that case, the fuel light comes on with about 15 litres left in the tank, or approx. 100km (generous) after the light starts flashing.
 

Tokyo's between my toes
2001 Wintergreen Outback 5MT
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6,684 Posts
but the range
Yes, I wish I had longer range, too. I can fill my Escort here in Columbus and drive beyond Chicago before it runs out.

But hey wait a minute - I've got it, this is how Subaru helps you enjoy the outdoors: You have to get out of the car and fill it once in a while, so you can enjoy Nature as you run the pump...

I've heard there's a Zappa quote that goes something like "Nature is what I see between the car and the airplane."
 
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