It is common for 02-05 WRXs and some other Subarus have a smell gas in the cabin on cold days. From what I have seen the cut off for what qualifies as cold is about 15 degrees F. Subaru will claim that the line is only leaking vapor and as soon as the car warms up it will go away. I have a Saab 9-2X Aero which is really a 2005 Subaru WRX, and one day when it was -9f I noticed a pool of gas on top of the passenger side of my engine. Clearly there is significant danger when a there is a pool of gas just in-front of the turbo inlet (Exhaust temps hover around 1400 F). Also, on very cold days the leak will not go away (-10f or less).
First off you should know that there are some recalls on this issue so be sure to check with your dealer. Most of you will not be so lucky, and Subaru will try to charge you around $500 for the job. The reason the price is so high is because the correct way to fix this problem is to remove the manifold and the air intake pipe to the turbo. It takes about 2.5 hours to fix if you have done it before and have what you need.
Subaru sells a fix kit for around $100, but realistically you can get what you need from a local parts store for about $15.
Update: (My fix is still working fine but here is the official way to deal with the problem if you have the time and tools.)
The following link explains the official way to fix the 02-03 versions of the car which applicable to all 2.0l WRXs and Saab 92x Aeros. (Local backup if the other link stops working) https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/acms/cs/jaxrs/download/doc/ACM12948229/RCSB-09V468-1307.pdf (source)
The kit you need uses part #10130AA000
Subaru quoted me $100. It is sold at the following link for $34 https://www.subarupartswebsite.com/OEMParts/subaru-153/1/10130AA000.html
Back to the original post.
Another writeup with pictures can be found on the following forum.
I have an aftermarket silicone air intake so used the method described by the forum, and I managed to complete the job without removing the power steering pump and alternator, but I think I would have had less trouble if I had removed them.
If you have the stock air intake inlet pipe to your turbo this job will be a lot harder. On the other hand maybe it is time to upgrade the inlet pipe to a silicone one because you can get those off of ebay for around $60 (200 for a good one). If you DO NOT take the manifold off you will have to cut out your stock intake pipe out with a hacksaw. (sort of scary)
If you haven’t working on cars much before this is going to be a very difficult job. If you work on cars a lot this probably won’t be too big of a deal. The way I went about this job was high risk if I failed I would have ended up taking a lot more stuff apart, but luckily it went alright.
Lets do this… Inlet line out.
The two rubber portions on the line seen in this picture are what need to be replaced. They will be hard, crusty and probably covered in gas residue. Subaru was also nice enough to put two of the clamps in upside down.
Now for one of several sketchy parts. (Don’t try this at home kids.) If you can do this with a snips make sure you do it that way.(I didn’t have anything that fit) I had to use a drummel, but I had a fire extinguisher ready to rock.
Car didn’t burn up, and I managed to cut both clamps that were upside down.
You will need to carefully cut with a razor blade lengthwise down the hose. This is not easy because it is hard to get your hand in there with the power steering pump in. I’m a fairly big guy and I managed to do it so you will probably be able to do it too. DO NOT cut into the metal portions of the line… You will make a channel and it will leak for sure.
You will need some 5/16 inner diameter fuel injection line. (Make sure you check the actual size in the store sometimes this stuff isn’t exactly sized right) Most automotive stores will have fuel injector hose on the shelf. Make sure you get some fuel injector line clamps. Buy a few extra because they aren’t very strong. I stripped one and got to cut the shorter line off twice.
Now I am out of pictures because the fun really starts.
Cut your hose slightly longer than the old hose. You will need something to carefully pry the injector lines on the back side of the engine out a little to get your new lines on. Because there isn’t much space this will probably take awhile, but it can be done. MAKE SURE your have your clamps on the fuel rail before you start. 🙂 You don’t want to bend them if you don’t have to.
There is a good shot you slightly bent the back fuel rail prying on it. Sick your right arm through the area where the inline line was and grab the fuel rail. Use a small flat prying device to push and hold the other short section of fuel rail closets to you and pull on the long section… (you will close the gap on the injector lines doing this if you didn’t get them all the way on) Be careful with what you use to to hold the section close to use because you can dent it if you push too hard on it. I made a small ding in mine, but nothing too serious. (You could maybe use some kind of clamp to do the same thing with a little more control, but I was in a hurry)
Make the hose clamps as tight as possible, but take your time the clamps are not very strong. I actually had another clamp type laying around and because I cut my hose a little extra long I double clamped every line. If you do the same you need to be very careful that the clamps do not interfere with each-other. You are almost more likely to cause a leak using two clamps than one if you are not careful.
Actually, this job doesn’t go too bad once you get the the screw it point ignore the pain of cutting up your hands and arms.
The inlet line can be very difficult to get on the turbo use rubbing alcohol as a lubricant if you are using a silicone inlet push the edge of the inlet line past the edge of the lip of the turbo.(left side) It will go on, but it can be hard.
If you have changed your inlet line out before and sort of know what you are doing you can probably get this job done in 3-5 hours. (Less time than Subaru charges)
I think I spent about 7-8 hours, but I was working in the dark in a 20 degree garage so things weren’t going great for me some of the time.