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Discussion Starter #1
Noticed this happening soon after getting the '04 OBS but believed it to be new engine with old gasloine related instead of something else. The car had sat around unsold for over a year, except for 228 miles on it, so less than a tank-full would have been used up.

Now, here at almost 7 weeks of driving it and refilling the tank every week I still notice a degradation of engine performance. E.g. hard to start, poor acceleration, when the fuel level gets low. Seems to be worst when the low level warning light comes on (been checking that and wanting lots of fresh gas put back in).

The first time it was hard to start was near the end of the first (dealership filled) tank-full after a 100 mile drive. Gauge read about 1/4. Engine cranked several seconds and didn't fire up. 2nd attempt did same, 3rd try worked. Put that off as bad gas for sure. However, the several times since then that it has taken more than a single turn of the key has me a little worried.

I researched a bit and found out about how the gas tank works, having a saddle shape with a "jet" pump to move it over to the fuel pump side when level gets low. Leads me to think I have bad gas remaining on that one side if the new gas generally fills the fuel pump side and only spills over to the other. Meaning gas treatments are less likely to help, I guess. Not real sure because I only saw a drawing of it, but looking under the car it makes sense that the mixing might have problems. Also see a drain plug for each side, so I'll probably try removing those next time it's real low.

Can anybody elaborate about this, share similar experiences or something? Would help me tremendously to know anything more.
 

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roo,

Thanks for the quick reply to my coolant smell question. I have also had the same problem where it took two or three tries to start the Outback after I got it. It had me quite annoyed to say the least. I have run the tank almost dry a couple of times and refilled with super (Shell 93 octane). This seemed to remedy the problem. All I can suggest is that you use super. You'll spend an extra $2.50 or so at the pump, but I think it's worth it if corrects the starting problem. Considering that Subarus are not exactly inexpensive cars to begin with, I should hope that this is not a regular problem with their cars. Otherwise I absolutely love my wagon. As for the sulphur smell coming from your car, I have not encountered that problem. There may be a problem with your catalytic converter since the car was sitting for so long. It could be clogged with mice, etc or rotted from lack of use. See if the dealer will do something for you since it is still under warranty. Prior to going to the dealer, take your OBS out on the highway and open it up on a road trip to see if that clears out the problem and see if you are still getting the sulphur smell afterwards.

Kurt
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hmmm, mice in the exhaust pipe... not a good thought. :)

Well, I drained about a pint from each side of that saddle-shaped gas tank yesterday. Had to angle the car uphill a lot to get the drains lowest. It had a slight yellowish color, unfortunately I didn't manage to get anything under there to catch any of it (really should have, too). I just hadn't planned on letting much out anyway, only wanted a look. Figured if the gas was real bad it'd be obvious and then I could drain the tank dry and refill with some fresh stuff.

So... with about 1/2 tank-full I drove it around alot, out of town, out buying some Reflectix insulation for the home, etc. Got it down to 1/4 before getting home and it was showing signs of sluggish acceleration again. Ignition start apparently okay, but wasn't as low on gas as it had been those other times. When the tank is full it's a very noticeable difference!

Since I'll be refueling today I'll get the higher octane. Been hearing pinging going on, too. Just not sure how involved all this is going to be, supposed to be fine with regular gas being a non-turbo. Time will tell.

Oh yeah, also getting a fuel filter this week. Hate the idea of it having been soaked in gas and just sitting undriven (mostly) for over a year. I should know by next week if the car has any real problems or not.
 

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Higher octane does nothing but lighten your wallet when your engine is designed for 87 octane. It's a fact, and it's a huge myth that higher octane fuel burns cleaner. That is what I have gotten out of all the debates I've read about octane. We have even had one here on this site. Just use a fuel injector cleaner like B-12 Chemtool in the tank and see how that works--otherwise let the dealer try and find the problem. Brian

FTC

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For what it's worth, I haven't noticed anything similar with my '04 OBS. I only use 87 octane and it runs well. I'm just about at the one-year mark and I'd say only a couple of times has it not started pretty much right away on turning the key. Something doesn't sound right if it being hard to start is fairly consistent.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
bmorton said:
---8<---only a couple of times has it not started pretty much right away on turning the key. Something doesn't sound right if it being hard to start is fairly consistent.
Thanks for the input.

Fairly consistent when the tank is low (below 1/4 mark).

A little delay in getting the fuel filter replaced so that will be next week, but I added Prestone fuel system treatment to regular gas (2/3 tank) then topped it off with the Shell 93 octane stuff.

No pinging, yet, that I can hear anyway. Back at 2/3 tank again today so it needs more miles before I can check on it while gas level is low.

I forgot to mention I was also hearing an occasional detonation-type noise, just a single time each, apparently happening when letting up on the accelerator pedal. A rare thing so I kept thinking it could be a loose part someplace, especially since I added the mesh grille and only tied it on. Although I think I first noticed that before I put the grille in. Sounds just like a thin metal sheet being rapped upon by the flick of a finger, not very loud at all either.

Sulfur (or sulphur) smell is all but subsided. Except smelled burning rubber yesterday, possibly from someones fire nearby. Has happened before. Made me sniff around the car anyhow and the gap between hood and fender smelled a bit like coolant and hot plastic.

Never spent as much time worrying about my old truck as I do with the new Subaru! Heh. Well, I still have hope that it's nothing.
 

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roo--

what you're describing sounds like fuel supply problems. most modern EFI cars use 2 fuel pumps, one in tank which pressurizes line leading to 2d one, which usu lives under car and is the one that generates the 35-50 psi at injectors. symptoms you're describing are very similar to what you'll see if the in-tank pump has crapped and car is running on under-car puimp only....weak power, hard starting, condition helped when pump has the gravity assist of a full tank. do you have any way to test FI system pressure at the fuel rail?

and i think you're on right track to replace fuel filter as partially clogged filter could also cause this and gas turns to varnish in a lot less time than the time yours sat on lot. this can clog the sintered metal filter elements used on EFI cars.

Never spent as much time worrying about my old truck as I do with the new Subaru! uh, yeah, i got mine thinking i'd have one car that didn't demand something alla time. well, that part worked, but no one told me abt this list, and that evil fellow Heinz and his list of mods, and ebay and......i spent over $1000 on Sub in 1st 1 1/2 mos, but the only defective part was the nut that holds the wheel.
 

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Loose nut at the wheel

I used to drive a little Cushman utility vehicle to pick up trash from sidewalk trash cans at Ohio State. One day I noticed that the nut securing the steering wheel was loose, and if I removed it I could pull the wheel up off the splines on the column.

So one day... when I had a passenger, I drove along a sidewalk. I said "look over there" and like a fool he did, and I removed the nut. Then I said "Man, I think that beer I had at lunch is really hitting me, you'd better take the wheel." And I handed the steering wheel to him as we were rollling. His reaction was priceless.

:eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ha! Did he try and hit the invisible brake on his side?

Got some more reading of my owners manual done last night and happened across a place in it that said, "Do not be concerned if your vehicle sometimes knocks lightly when you drive up a hill or when you accelerate." Which is exactly when I hear the occasional pinging sounds. Does pinging = knocking? I thought knocking had to be like a plunk! not a plink! kind of sound. The noise I hear reminds me of loose valve lifters or rockers.

Does say to have it checked if it is knocking heavily and persistently while using the correct octane rated fuel. But surprised me to see it suggesting a little is okay. Very different engine for me, whole new thing.

That being under the Fuel requirements of the Fuel section.
Also says for the non-turbo 2.5 Liter models to use 87 "or higher". Which of course means if you must use the higher octane then it is okay to do so. But as Mark has said, it's just added cost otherwise. Another thing I read in there is to watch out for MTBE >=15%, ethynol >=10% and methynol >=5%. I never paid much attention to that in the past while gassing up.

Interestingly, it tells of California gasoline being better regulated to be low-sulfur content, whereas other states are only federally regulated and typically have more sulfur.
So I want some of that California gas! Can it be shipped by FedEx? I'm joking, of course.
 

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"Higher octane does nothing but lighten your wallet when your engine is designed for 87 octane. It's a fact, and it's a huge myth that higher octane fuel burns cleaner. That is what I have gotten out of all the debates I've read about octane. We have even had one here on this site. Just use a fuel injector cleaner like B-12 Chemtool in the tank and see how that works--otherwise let the dealer try and find the problem. Brian"

I still believe that the higher the octane, the better the gas mileage for a stock car. All OBD2 vehicles are equipped with a knock sensor which allows the engine to take advantage of the higher octane. I know this not only from my background in Automotive but from switching between 92 and 93 octane on my Integra GSR.
 

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Sometimes it can work out that a lot of carbon deposits will build up in the combustion chamber, effectively raising the compression ratio above its original design - then higher octane might help reduce pinging. But the real fix would be to get rid of the carbon.
 

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yeah, this used to be quite a problem, i think one that like cold-start cylinder wall washdown by raw gas, has gone way down with near unversal use of sequential port EFI. since the deposits result from incomplete combustion, precise mixture control like EFI allows should reduce their incidence by a lot. used to be a big deal on our (carb'd) 82 Subie until i ran a couple of cans of BG44 through it (i normally hate "fix in a can" products but this stuff seemed to work, as it shd at $20ish the can)



I still believe that the higher the octane, the better the gas mileage for a stock car. All OBD2 vehicles are equipped with a knock sensor which allows the engine to take advantage of the higher octane. I know this not only from my background in Automotive but from switching between 92 and 93 octane on my Integra GSR.
i sorta agree. however, all the knock sensor lets computer do is retard the timing and adjust fuel inj to reduce overall temps and pressures in combustion chamber as needed to stop knock, usu when you're in worst-case knock scenario (hot day, low rpm, high load) or have gotten less than ideal gas. it can't advance the timing and generate a more aggressive fuel curve if you're running the car on MORE than the designed octane...the mfgrs tend to specify the higher octane and be able to rate their engines at higher # of hosspowah in the all-impt blather wars.

what was design octane of the Integra? are you sure there were no deposits upping your comp ratio so engine actually needed more than designed octane (the only way to eliminate this as a variable is to either have <30K on car or have looked inside chamber with a bore scope)? are you sure that the gas you were buying was in fact 92 or 93 octane??....it's tested well before it's transported in semis and stored at station for a while, and MTBE and volatile solvents used as lead replacers in modern gas deteriorate or escape pretty fast. Murphy's Law says that the 92 octane you are buying ain't always 92 octane. you are probably right, but just trying to point out some of the variables involved.
 
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