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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our Ascent (2020 Premium) was at the dealer for close to a month after a minor rear end collision (an inattentive driver failed to slow down to stopped traffic on the highway and pushed a Toyota Camry into us. Fortunately we had a bike rack on which took the blunt of the impact and minor damage was found on the bumper and passenger side muffler/tailpipe. Luckily my bike was high enough off the ground that it was untouched nor did it push into the hatch of our Ascent. And most importantly, my wife and 3 month old son were uninjured!

The car did what it was supposed to do and absorbed the impact (granted not incredibly high impact, but nonetheless). After speaking with the dealer we purchased the vehicle from in June of 2020 they advised they could take care of all the work and ensure everything is put back together like new.

Several weeks go by and parts are delayed, and delayed again, and again, and finally after almost a month we got the car back (on a Saturday afternoon). It looked great!

After a quick walk around the lot (I was thinking of buying a new outback for myself to replace my 2001) we packed up and got in the car to head home. After I pulled onto the main road preparing to head to the highway (less than a block from the dealer to the highway on ramp) I noticed the low fuel light was on and the warning to locate a gas station was on the head unit. I assumed that the light just came on and we'd have no issue getting to the next station (less than a mile away) so I got on the on ramp and before we could even merge onto the highway we ran out of gas and coasted to a stop. Fortunately we were able to get into grass past the shoulder and safely away from traffic. Unfortunately we had our son with us and didn't want to sit in the car so we go out and moved further away from the highway for safety.

We called AAA who quickly brought us 1 gallon of gas and kindly followed us to the gas station to ensure we made it there safely. Upon fill up the fuel gage only showed 1/2 full, and the miles to empty showed only ---. I figured it must have something to do with having been fully out of gas and a short drive would reset this. The drive home was only 15 miles and the trip meter did finally rise, however only to 210 miles and the gage never went past 1/2.

The next day we took a drive, likely 1/4 tank - around 80 miles - and neither the trip meter or gage moved at all. I filled the tank up and again no movement.

Monday morning I contacted the service adviser with the dealership expressing my frustration that they would return our car with zero gas (not how it was brought to them) and no warning as well as how dangerous this was - completely unacceptable. Even if I knew it was about out of gas there wasn't enough to make it to the closest fueling station!

They picked up our car from our house and left a loaner Monday evening. Tuesday they advised they removed the fuel tank and everything looked good and "reset" the level sensor/sender (I'm not too familiar with newer cars but I've not seen one with a reset of any kind). This raised the level to 3/4 full, with a full tank. They determine the sensor/sender needed replaced and ordered one.

The new part was reinstalled, with appropriate affected parts/seals, and the gage appears to be working correctly (we picked it up Friday afternoon and took the 15 mile drive home as well as roughly a 30 mile round trip drive today. The trip meter (at least what I'm calling it - where it shows miles to empty above the head unit) appeared to reset as it showed --- for the first few miles, then went to about 270 and stayed there the rest of the drive, as well as the first leg of our drive this morning. A few miles into the drive home this morning it bumped up to 370, which seems about what we're used to seeing.

Granted, I should have paid more attention and noticed we were about out of gas before leaving the dealership, I just wanted to let everyone know about this for 2 reasons:

1) Pay attention to your gas gage and it's warnings!
2) Apparently there is possible damage to the fuel level sensor/sender if you completely run out of gas. Perhaps the failure of the sensor/sender and running out of gas is purely coincidental, but I doubt it.

Good luck, and safe travels everyone!

- Doug
 

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Hi! Thanks for the detailed story! Glad they finally got it sorted out.
 

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2020 Ascent, 2011 WRX, 2009 Outback
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Interesting. I wonder if others have had issues when running out of gas.

And crazy the dealership would give you your car back with literally no gas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes, very unprofessional from the dealership. Again, I take some ownership for not recognizing this before leaving the lot, but I made it clear to them how much of a safety issue this is on their end.

my wife’s previous car (2011 Impreza wagon) was at this same dealership a few years baci for air get recall and they left a module from under the center console out, hanging out on the rear floorboard.

these are the reasons I don’t let others touch my things, I try to do everything I possibly can myself. Years of free maintenance don’t mean anything to me if those performing the maintenance are creating problems.

Im torn as I’m seriously considering a new outback wilderness and have a great relationship with the salesman at the dealership, but things like this make me want to go elsewhere.

I too wonder if anyone else has run out of gas and had any issues after. It’s been close to 15 years since I’ve run out of gas, but I’ve never had any issues other than the occasional car that needed a fuel line removed to bleed air, etc after a refuel.

- Doug
 

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I’m not sure exactly how Subaru does their fuel senders, but a lot of them are a conductive tape style sender now. I have one in my Corvette and it’s highly recommended to keep them as full as possible when sitting for any length of time. Evidently they oxidize when not covered with fuel long term and it increases their failure rate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
DJ Russell, that is a great though and one I as well considered but we had the car for almost 2 weeks after the collision and had no issues with the sender prior to the repair at the dealer.

While it is certainly a possibility, or at least a contributing factor, I do not think it is too likely.

I appreciate everyone's comments! SonnyAK's comment seems possible, though I'd hate to think that having low fuel for a month can cause our senders to go bad. With so many people driving so little due to COVID I think we'd have heard of this from someone else by now.

We may never know, and I'm sure the tech's at the dealership weren't interested enough in the root cause to dig any deeper than throwing in a new part that resolved the issue.

- Doug
 

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21 Ascent Premium, 18 Outback Ltd 2.5
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these are the reasons I don’t let others touch my things, I try to do everything I possibly can myself. Years of free maintenance don’t mean anything to me if those performing the maintenance are creating problems.

Im torn as I’m seriously considering a new outback wilderness and have a great relationship with the salesman at the dealership, but things like this make me want to go elsewhere.
I'm with you here, I do as much of my own service as I can. Luckily my local dealer seems to have a good service department (though I only took my previous OB there 2x in 68k miles), however I did not buy either of my Subarus there. So, that's always an option...buy where you get the best sales experience and service where you get the best service experience.
 
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