Car Industry

Subaru recalls 229,000 Outback, Legacy vehicles for 'generous' fuel gauges

The cars might say there's still gas in the tank when there really isn't.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

If you're like me, you're probably pretty trusting of your car's ability to gauge its fuel level and turn that into a quantifiable range. After Subaru's latest recall, I wouldn't blame you for being a little more paranoid.

Subaru has issued a recall for 228,648 examples of the 2018 Subaru Legacy sedan and Subaru Outback crossover (or lifted wagon, however you want to play it). The vehicles carry build dates between Feb. 1, 2017 and Aug. 17, 2018. Subaru expects every single vehicle being recalled to carry the defect in question.

The problem stems from the software governing the fuel system. A programming error can cause the vehicle's computer to display a positive distance-to-empty range when, in fact, there is no usable fuel remaining in the tank.

If a driver takes the car at its word and continues to drive, the vehicle could run out of gas, causing the engine to stall. If this happens while the vehicle is in motion, it could obviously increase the risk of something going wrong. Thankfully, the vehicle can still be piloted to the side of the road if it stalls at speed.

Since the problem comes from a software bug, it can be fixed easily. Subaru technicians will apply the correct software to the vehicle, which will remedy the issue. The automaker says that owner notification will begin within 60 days, and if the required software fix isn't ready in that time frame, it will notify owners a second time when it's available.