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Car sputters only when in Drive and idle.

Since Friday, my 1996 Subaru Legacy GT has been doing something weird.  When moving, it is fine and drives normal.  But lately, when I come to a stop light, it will sputter and have a rough idle that makes the car shake and then go back to normal and then sputter a bit about 5 seconds later and so on until I get moving again.  This also makes a rough takeoff when it sputters and the light turns green.  What's also weird is that it did this Friday, but it was fine Saturday and yesterday, but it did it really bad today.  When in neutral, it idles like normal, so it only does this in Drive and Reverse.  It's not water in the fuel, as I put some Heet in it already thinking that might help.  I also wouldn't think it would be spark plugs because of how inconsistent the sputtering is.  Anyone have any ideas of what I should be checking for?
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possibly needs the idle adjusted?  low on tranny fluid?  those are the first two things that popped into my head since it only seems to pose an issue with the tranny engaged.  i am not an awesome troubleshooter by any means, just throwing out some ideas.  i agree with you on the spark plugs,  and i wouldn't believe it to be a vaccuum issue for the same reason.
I agree with the trans comment. I'd check there first since it's only doing it once engaged.
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I vote vacuum issue. You described something that happens under load, so vacuum can't be ruled out. If your cel is on I can run a scan for you, hell I can do it regardless if you want me to....let me know. I am home til about 5 today....Also, it could just need a tune up in general, from fuel filter, to plugs and wires......things that can alter the vehicle while under a load verses no load at all.

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Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that my CEL comes on.  However, it has come on for the past few months, and only when the fuel level is between 3/4 and right above Empty.  I've kind of let it be since nothing has been doing anything strange until recently. 

Keith, what's your schedule like tomorrow or Wednesday?
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Tomorrow after 3 is good. Same for Weds. That will be you last chance because I will be moving and wont have time. And may never come back to Eville again  :P

I is has for is teh Internets stupid speak
Okay cool.  I'll give you a call tomorrow.  I appreciate it.
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when was the last time the fuel filter was changed?

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So, after a new set of plugs and wires, the problem is solved.  The old ones were pretty nasty and the gap was off on all of them, and one of the wires had a little gash in it.  It runs like a champ again.
So, after a new set of plugs and wires, the problem is solved.  The old ones were pretty nasty and the gap was off on all of them, and one of the wires had a little gash in it.  It runs like a champ again.

ive had that problem with my plug wires before, one of them had a tear and it missed horribly.
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