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2020 Outback Touring XT, in Crystal White Pearl
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Discussion Starter #1
After gassing up yesterday, the door over the gas filler wouldn't latch. When I released it before filling up, the release felt normal, and in fact pulling up on the release lever still feels normal.

But the plunger or rod that (apparently) is supposed to insert into the hole in the rear edge of the filler door seems to be missing entirely!

At first I thought that perhaps it had retracted when I pulled the release lever, and somehow had gotten hung up, and wasn't popping back out. So I tried using my key to insert it a bit into where the plunger should have been. But there was literally nothing there. Just a hole. So my guess at this point is that the plunger/rod mechanism came completely unattached, and is probably dangling inside the rear fender. The door itself seems fine/normal. There's just nothing to hold it in the closed position, so it sits slightly open.

Has anyone had a similar problem? It's not obvious to me how to access inside of the fender, to where the release mechanism might be dangling. I thought at first about going in from where the right-rear taillight mechanism is attached, but it's just solid sheet metal behind it.

The three basic choices would seem to be:

1. remove the interior panel on the right side of the rear cargo area (probably the most likely method)
2. remove the right-rear wheel-well lining, and go up from underneath
3. I also see that the rubber boot that surrounds the gas filler pipe is held in place with a round spring clip. So I could presumably remove this rubber boot. But it's not clear to me that this would help.

Any tips would be appreciated!
 

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2020 Outback Touring XT, in Crystal White Pearl
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Discussion Starter #2
As an update to my own questions, from looking at my copy of a 2009 service manual (mine is a 2010, and a different body style, but my guess is the procedure is probably the same), the process for getting at the fuel-filler "lock" is:

- remove rear seat bottom, and RH seat back, so you can then remove what's called the rear seat "shoulder" that attaches to the body pillar on the passenger side.
- This then allows removal of the pillar trim piece.
- remove the rear upper trim piece (just inside the lift-gate opening)
- remove the luggage floor box (under the rubber mat and cargo-area carpeting)
- remove the sub-woofer
- all of the above then allows you to remove the lower quarter trim panel
- Then, it is probably just a matter of re-inserting the lock element, and turning it 90 degrees to have it held in place.. This is assuming that it just fell out, and that it didn't crack or break, etc.

A heck of a lot of interior dis-assembly just to remove a trim panel!

It MIGHT be that some of the removals could be avoided (like the rear seat, etc.), if I can (basically) remove just the rear-most trim pieces and the rear portion of the lower quarter trim panel, and have enough play and give to reach in and re-insert the lock.

So if anyone HAS experience with this, or suggestions, etc., I could still use them!
 

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bobaru

I'm certain there was a thread here within the last month with the exact same problem. It had a photo showing that the release mechanism had fallen back into the fender, just as you describe -- there was just a hole in the side of the filler area. But I can't find it now, and as I recall, the OP was able to re-install it without removing all that inner trim.

Anyone else remember that thread, and can find it? (EDIT, see post #6 below)

In the 3rd generation, there's an inner steel panel in that area. In the attached photo, the release cable is shown coming up from the floor, and goes out between the two panels, makes a downward u-turn behind the wheel well area, and goes forward again to where the mechanism is pushed through the hole in the filler area. It's not clear if it's possible to reach up from the larger opening at the back to get the cable and push it back into the hole. (Provided the clips that hold it aren't broken.)
 

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Here's the fuel door lock mechanism diagram for the 2010. #10 is "holder" and # 11 is "fuel lock". It looks as if the holder is a separate piece that the fuel lock snaps into from behind -- something that lines the opening and has a flange on the outside so it can't be pulled back through the hole once the two parts are together. (I'm speculating . . .). Anyways, thought this might help.
 

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2020 Outback Touring XT, in Crystal White Pearl
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Discussion Starter #5
Here's the fuel door lock mechanism diagram for the 2010. #10 is "holder" and # 11 is "fuel lock". It looks as if the holder is a separate piece that the fuel lock snaps into from behind -- something that lines the opening and has a flange on the outside so it can't be pulled back through the hole once the two parts are together. (I'm speculating . . .). Anyways, thought this might help.
Plain OM,

Thanks for the pictures. Upon further review, it seems like things are at least somewhat different between the 2009 and my 2010, due to the body-style change. Including the details of removing the interior trim pieces, etc.

Referring to your parts picture, "Holder" part 10 is seemingly intact in the fuel-filler cavity. I can't see the tabs that are on the other side, of course. But the holder part is securely in place.

The actual lock (part 11) is missing, and has presumably fallen out of the holder. My hope is that when I get the interior panel off (or just partly off), I find that nothing has really broken off either part, and that I can just push the lock back into the holder. If something plastic has actually broken, it will be better if it has broken on the holder piece, which seems easily replaceable, as long as you can squeeze the tabs from the inside. Whereas the actual lock seems to be one piece with the cable, and would therefore require more work to re-route and replace....

Now I just have to figure out what the tricks are for getting the interior trim pieces at the rear of the quarter panel either removed, or at least unfastened at the back end, so I can reach in.
 

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I'm certain there was a thread here within the last month with the exact same problem. It had a photo showing that the release mechanism had fallen back into the fender, just as you describe -- there was just a hole in the side of the filler area. But I can't find it now, and as I recall, the OP was able to re-install it without removing all that inner trim.

Anyone else remember that thread, and can find it?
Okay, found it: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/111-gen-1-1995-1999/49048-gas-door-lock-broken.html

It's a 97, and might be different. Not sure what SuperSingh means, in post # 3: "Removed the gas hole and reinsterted the lock..".

I wonder if the black plastic surrounding the fill tube is flexible enough to allow access to just behind when the four screws that hold it (and the fill tube) in place, are removed. Perhaps try a PM to SuperSingh.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Okay, found it: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/111-gen-1-1995-1999/49048-gas-door-lock-broken.html

It's a 97, and might be different. Not sure what SuperSingh means, in post # 3: "Removed the gas hole and reinsterted the lock..".

I wonder if the black plastic surrounding the fill tube is flexible enough to allow access to just behind when the four screws that hold it (and the fill tube) in place, are removed. Perhaps try a PM to SuperSingh.
I think it is a bit different now. The service manual for 2010 says to remove the inner quarter trim panel (the lower, main panel, below the windows). To remove it completely, you have to remove the rear seat, and some other things. But my hope is that I can just unattach the trim panel at the rear, sufficient to reach in to behind the fuel-filler area. I won't know for sure until I try it, of course!

Thanks for all of your help!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I fixed my fuel-filler door lock/latch problem yesterday. I don't have photos, but thought I'd provide a description of what was involved, for future reference.

To summarize the problem, the little rod/plunger that holds the fuel-filler door closed simply fell out of its mounting ring, so that it was dangling inside of the fender. And so the fuel-filler door wasn't being held closed. (In the parts diagram that is several posts up, hte lock-cable mechanism is part 11, and the mounting ring/holder is part 10.

My OB is a 2010, but to some extent this description would apply to older models. However, the interior trim details are different for the 2010+ models. And also, the cable and lock mechanism is also different.

Note that the lock and the cable are one part, one piece. IF you actually have to replace the lock and cable, it is more complicated. In my case, the lock just needed to be re-inserted into position. Neither the lock (11), nor the mounting ring (10) that fits into the fuel-filler area sheet metal, was damaged, as far as I could tell.

If you are following the service manual instructions for replacing the lock and cable (the other end of the cable attached to the little pull-lever next to the driver door), then you have to remove the rear seat cushion, then remove the reclining seat backs, etc. My hope was that I wouldn't need to do this, and I got lucky.

Steps to access the "fallen-out" lock piece (dangling inside of the passenger-side rear fender):

1. remove rear cargo area rubber floor mat, and carpet floor pieces.)
2. Remove the foam storage box over the spare tire, and the foam piece on the passenger side, which comes out after removing two black-plastic push-in fasteners (just pop these out).
3. remove the black sill cover over the bottom of the rear hatch opening (the piece that surrounds the latch hook for the rear hatch). This is held in place by four orange plastic fasteners. Just pull up gently until all four pop out. If one or two remain in the metal, remove and re-attach them to the sill.
3. remove the hidden screws and bolts at four points of the right-side interior trim panel: two are inside of the hook/loops that are along the floor edge (where side-nets would attach), underneath small plastic covers. One is under a plastic cover (that pops out) that is at the bottom edge of the attachment point for the roll-out cargo cover, along the top edge of the trim panel, not far behind the rear seat. The last one is at the top rear of the trim panel, behind a drop-down plastic cover. Remove all four of the screws/bolts.
4. Gently pry out the rear edge of the trim panel. There are three main push-in plastic fasteners along the rear edge, that just pop out. (Again, if any stay in the metal, remove them and re-insert them into the trim panel). There are also some tabs that go into the smaller upper trim piece that covers the rear-most pillar. You can leave this smaller-trim piece in place, although it may pop out a bit.
5. Pull the large trim panel out farther, so that it pulls away from underneath the fixed side window. There is one more push-fastener that comes out in the process, sort of in the middle of the panel. Note that you don't have to pull the panel out at its front edge, next to the rear seat, UNLESS you are doing a full replacement of the lock/cable assembly.
6. In my case, I have the factory sub-woofer, which basically also blocks access to where I needed to go. This comes out as a unit with its mounting bracket. You disconnect the electrical connecter (speaker wires), and then there are four bolts plus four nuts to remove, and then the bracket and speaker pull easily out.
7. The dangling lock was then exposed.
8. The lock in 2009 and older models was designed so that you pushed it into its retaining ring (from inside, and from the rear), then turned it 90 degrees to lock it in place. In the 2010+ model, it is just a matter of pushing the lock into the ring/hole, and two small tabs are what hold it in place. I have to say that this seemed pretty flimsy, and even after re-inserting the lock, it jiggles around a fair amount. But that seems to be just how it is. Neither the lock nor the retaining ring seemed damaged in any way, with no sign of broken tabs or cracked plastic. And from the outside (inside fuel-filler area), the lock plunger seemed held in place properly. But, I have to say, it wouldn't totally surprise me if this problem doesn't re-occur at some point. The message to me was to avoid closing the fuel door with excessive force, and to just be a little gentle with it after filling up.... In any case, try a few openings and closings of the fuel-filler door, to make sure everything is working right. In retrospect, I'm completely sure that there wasn't any damage to the lock/cable piece, because it could be inspected closely. But perhaps there was some subtle damage to the retaining ring/holder (10) that wasn't visible, since I didn't actually remove it. IF the problem re-occurs at some point, I'd probably buy a new retaining ring (10) just to have on hand, and replace it while things were opened up. (This part is only a few bucks.) The retaining ring pops out by squeezing tabs together from inside the fender area, and then pushing it out through the hole, into the fuel-filler area.

That was it. The re-assembly was the reverse of the above. Re-install the sub-woofer (if any), and be sure to reconnect the speaker wires! Before proceeding, I'd actually play some music, and feel the speaker cone to make sure its vibrating. Then:

- push the small upper trim piece (on the rear pillar) back in securely, if it had come out at all
- make sure that the push-pin fasteners on the inside of the large trim panel are all in their little holder slots (3 on rear edge, plus one in the "middle")
- carefully push the trim panel back in place in the middle, then work to the back edge.
- as you line up the three push pins at the rear edge, be careful to 1) make sure that a couple of tabs are fitted into the upper-rear trim piece, and that 2) as you push the main trim panel back in, that its edge is slipped under the rubber weather seal (look to the driver-side pieces to see how the trailing edge is underneath the rubber seal). Basically you get the top one of the three rear edge fasteners started, then slowly work down, using something like a plastic knife (or even a putty knife, if you are careful) to keep the rubber seal on the outside. Once all three rear-edge fasteners are slightly inserted, and the rubber seal isn't caught underneath, you can push in on the fasteners more firmly.
- replace the four screws/bolts that hold the trim panel firmly in place, then their plastic covers
- push in on the panel under the rear glass, and at all edges to really get it seated.
- replace the sill trim piece - just push it in place (make sure all 4 orange fasteners are inserted into the trim piece first)
- replace the foam pieces (the side piece uses the two black-plastic
fasteners)
- replace the carpet panels, rubber mat, side nets, etc.

Now I just hope that the lock stays in place for a long time, and that it never actually breaks so that it needs replacing. Because replacing the lock and cable would take a lot more work...
 

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Great write-up.

In the event it does let go again, let us know here. That way others will learn to replace the ring at the outset (if that's it) based on reading this thread.

But maybe it wasn't originally installed properly and now it is, and it will stay in place for a very long time.
 

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I've had a fuel filler door problem the last couple of weeks. Like you, when I pulled the lever, it felt normal, but the door didn't open. I had my wife pull the lever while I pushed on the front part of the fuel door and it opened. The the plunger/rod was working exactly as it should. I scheduled a time with the local dealer for earlier this week.

The service manager said he's seen this several times. He just bent the inner hinge a bit and now it opens fine. However, I have a feeling if it failed before, it's just a matter of time before it fails again. We shall see. I'm curious if anyone else has had this problem.
 

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Thank you OP. I'm reviving this thread because I just did the exact same fix (total time: 1.5 hours including photos, so let's call it 1 hr), and have some photos to add. 2014 Base 2.5i Outback. I'm glad I found this thread when after I gassed up my car, I slammed the lid shut (as I typically do), only to have it bounce back open (note: no more slamming the lid for me).

First off, the problem here is that the plunger (shown here in stock photo, not my car) fell back into the body of the car. This is the end tip of the "fuel filler door release cable" that connects all the way to the fuel release handle. There is a plastic clip (photos to follow) that is inserted into the hole in the body panel right next to the filler opening, into which this cable tip is clipped. The name of this is "fuel filler door release cable clip" part 57324AJ004, a $4 part. This part is what's supposed to hold the plunger tip in place, which in turns keeps the lid latched.

489641


Next, I will show photos of the steps OP mentioned above. Here's a picture of the location of the latch trim, after I pulled off the trim (with just a little bit of upward pressure)
489642


I unscrewed three bolts (OP mentioned four bolts, but I only identified three, which was sufficient). The first two are Phillips bolts, the last is a Phillips self-tapping screw.
489643

After I unscrewed these three, I was able to pry back the trim, reach back and grab the cable. It comes down from the top of the car body, which is good, as that just left it dangling, instead of it laying at the bottom somewhere.
489647


Knowing that the plunger tip is held by just a plastic clip, I thought it worthwhile to order this $4 part, and I'm glad I did. After all, if plastic pieces are popping out, especially at a wear point, there's likely wear and tear going on. The following photos show that after 6 years and 100K miles, indeed the clip had loosened by about 1/16th of an inch. While the clip still holds the plunger, that doesn't instill confidence.

489644


489650


Plastic being plastic, I didn't want to mess with the new part I bought. I simply pried the old clip from the filler well and put the new clip in. While I had the old clip out, I clipped it to the plunger tip...definitely a good amount of play detected.

489646


Now, I just need to reach in and plug the cable tip into the hole with the new clip installed. Pulling back the trim, I can see the hole. I'm 5'9" and was able to "operate" and use both hands to lock the pieces together.

489648


Here is the finished product. Notice how flush that is? I've noticed that in the last couple years that the lid got less and less flush (more protruded). In retrospect that was a symptom of the failing clip.

489649
 

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Well done....
 
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