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Discussion Starter #1
I found no how-to for this on Youtube or this forum. The closest thing on here was a thread from 2011 where the only advice was "it's under warranty, take it to the dealer."

Here's the good news: It's NOT hard, and it's NOT (really) messy. No jack required for Outbacks. Low-riding Legacies might need one. No removing the bumper cover. No removing the fender liner (at least not all of it) This is easier than doing a headlight bulb.

I replaced the washer fluid bottle because the low fluid light on the dash stayed on even after refilling. The sending unit is not available separately, only with the bottle. The bottle was $45 from the dealer, and my small city dealer had it in stock. I had to give him the last 8 of the VIN for my (wife's) 2011. Apparently they changed them at some point. The new tank comes with the filler neck and sending unit installed. It does NOT come with a cap, or the grommets to seal the pumps to the tank. If you're ordering a new one, get one of the little wiring clips that holds the sending unit wires to the tank. It would have been much easier if I could have just cut the clip and installed a new one. That's $1 well spent. There are 3 needed, but 2 are easily reached and can be popped out by hand.

Here's how I did it:
(I'm going from memory, forgive any slight inaccuracies)
1. Remove 4 plastic push connectors from the drivers side front fenderliner - just the 4 that hold the "flat" part between the front bumper cover and the wheel well. 2 require a quarter turn with a phillips head screwdriver and two require prying with a flathead. (those two tools make up a full one-half of the tools you'll need to complete this job)

2. Bend that section of fender liner back toward the wheel. It's soft plastic and takes kindly to lots of bending. (You've done a headlight bulb, right?) It'll stay bent out of the way if you don't jack up the car. The garage floor will hold it back for you. Legacy folks - don't know what to tell you.

3. Verify you actually do need to replace the tank or sending unit. The sending unit is plainly visible if you lay on the cool garage floor and look up. Orangy-brown connector with 2 wires coming straight out the bottom of the tank. Squeeze the connector and it will come off easily. Side note: You might be thinking you'd like to remove the sending unit and try to fix it. That's what I thought. I found it impossible to get out without destroying the gasket or the thin, soft plastic tank.

4. Check the sending unit with a meter to verify it is bad. With fluid in it, it should be reading infinite ohms. (open circuit)
This also means that simply disconnecting the wire from the sensor will turn off the light on your dash - for some people this is probably good enough. Mine was reading 0 ohms. (or something close to it - free Harbor Freight meters aren't known for their accuracy, but they are really all any weekend wrench-wielder needs)
The two-wire connection from the car should be supplying 12(ish) volts with the ignition on.

5. Remove any washer fluid in the tank. I used a $3.99 Harbor Freight siphon pump. You could just pop one of the washer fluid pumps out and drain it out the bottom too. I did a combination of both. I reclaimed most of it using the pump, but what little bit was left I didn't want on the garage floor I was going to lay on to complete this task, so with the car outside I made one final effort to remove the sending unit by prying it out with a screwdriver. That did completely drain the tank. No other good came from that endeavor.

6. Remove the cap. The little ring that keeps it there slides off.

7. Remove the plastic push-connector thing from the filler neck. 1/4 turn from a phillips head and pull it off. On my car this was a different texture than the two from the fender liner. They're probably all interchangeable, but you'd lose a couple points in Concours judging if you switched them.

8. Back under the car! Remove the pumps. One is for the windshield, one is for the rear window. Legacy owners - I guess you just have one. The pumps just pop out of the tank, but they don't go far. They're connected to each other and to the tank by a small white clip. Slide it UP to remove it. Take note if the rubber grommets that seal the pumps came out with the pump, or are still in the tank. (I had one of each)

9. The wiring for the pumps and the sending unit are held to the tank with 3 little wiring clips. Two are easily reached from the back. Punch and push, and they come out. If they give you trouble - cut away the tank with a utility knife. It's going in the trash anyhow, right? The upper-most one gave me trouble because to get at it from behind, one has to reach in from the top, which wasn't really possible for me.

10. Remove the 2 screws and 1 nut that hold the tank in place. They're all 10mm. 2 of them are easily visible. The third, the nut, is higher up, and between the tank and the bumper cover. Look at your new tank to get a good idea where it is.

11. Remove the tank. I was able to get the tank and filler neck out the bottom by twisting and pulling. This was before I realized how easy the neck is to remove.

12. Remove grommets from the pumps and install on the new tank. It's easier to put the pumps in with the grommets in place.

13. Remove filler neck from the old tank. See how easy that was? Now remove the filler neck from the new tank.

14. Put the new tank in. Shove it up from the bottom. And let it sit there for a moment

15. Put the filler neck in from the top. Connect the two from the bottom.

16. Bolt the tank in place. Hint: Do the stud and nut FIRST. Don't ask how I know to do that.

17. Attach the filler neck to the radiator support using that special-textured phillips head plastic pop in thing.

18. Put the cap back on, while you're up there.

19. Reinstall pumps, wiring, connectors.

20. Refill with washer fluid. Just a little. Now check for leaks. If none, fill 'er up!

21. Verify correct operation. This step was always neglected anytime I took my one (and only) new Volkswagen to the dealership. Turn the key to RUN, make sure the low fluid light goes off after a second or so. Make sure front and rear washer squirt correctly.

22. NOW that you are certain you don't have to get back in there for anything, reattach the fender liner.

All done! Hope I didn't forget anything. Sorry I didn't take pictures. It took me all evening to remember my password for this site (kicked out after 5 tries? Psh!) and type up this detailed 22 step process.

6 Posts
Thanks for this info. I haven't diagnosed my problem yet. I saw the bottle was empty from the neck. It took a whole container of washer fluid. Couple days later it's back empty. No lights on dashboard. I could see only the driver side sprays the windshield. What could possibilities here? Appreciate your response.
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