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Old 11-10-2008, 08:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Rubber "burning" smell???

Hi: I have a 2001 Forester with about 79,000 miles on it. Back in September I had a check engine light come on and the code showed that the catalytic convertor had to be replaced. Luckily I was still under warranty.
I only drive the car once or twice a week, to work...
Last week, I noticed, while getting out of the car at work, a burned rubber smell, that I never smelled before. What could be causing this. I really do not want to make another trip to the mechanic, but I do not need my Subie breaking down while I am on the highway? I had the alternator belt replaced about a year ago, but still have the original timing belt? At what mileage should that belt be replaced.Any suggestions would be appreciated...
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:37 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Check the tension on the alternator/ps and AC belts. They don't need to be very loose before they start slipping and giving off the burning rubber smell. If you aren't sure about checking the tension by pushing in on the belts just start the engine and watch the belts in the area between the pulleys. They should not be moving in and out more than an 1/8"-3/16" or so.

The timing belts are cogged and don't slip so it's unlikely they are the source of the smell. The timing belts should be changed at 105,000 miles.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I once had an overfilled front diff leak onto the exhaust that made a smell that smelled similar to burned rubber. I checked the level, and let some out until it was at the right level and the smell never came back.
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Old 11-10-2008, 08:42 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Timing belt is 105,000 miles / 105 months (8 years, 9 months). It sits under a sealed cover so I'd be surprised if you could smell that one. Besides, it's a toothed belt so it isn't going to slip and squeal like a ribbed or v-belt would.

Could be a slipping belt but they often make a squeal to let you know what's going on. Could also be a hose that came out of a clip or bracket and is resting against a hot part of the motor. One other thing I can think of is that something else has wiggled loose and is rubbing against one of the exposed belts.
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Old 11-10-2008, 11:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abbysian View Post
Hi: I have a 2001 Forester with about 79,000 miles on it. Back in September I had a check engine light come on and the code showed that the catalytic convertor had to be replaced. Luckily I was still under warranty.
I only drive the car once or twice a week, to work...
Last week, I noticed, while getting out of the car at work, a burned rubber smell, that I never smelled before. What could be causing this. I really do not want to make another trip to the mechanic, but I do not need my Subie breaking down while I am on the highway? I had the alternator belt replaced about a year ago, but still have the original timing belt? At what mileage should that belt be replaced.Any suggestions would be appreciated...
My 2001 has this same smell. This weekend I was working on it to replace the front O2 sensor and noticed that the paper "cover" that surrounds the oil filter was completely covered w/ oil. I cut portions of it away and didn't see any oil coming from the engine, and believe that this built-up oil on the paper is the smell that I was getting. Check to see if the last time you had an oil change they screwed it up and spilled oil underneath, this is likely where you are getting the smell from. Atleast, hopefully.
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Old 11-10-2008, 11:12 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Well there is the fact that you said the catalytic converter was replaced. When you first replace them, the pipes/exhaust smells funky, almost like burning oil. Just a thought, but if it doesnt go away after a few weeks I would start looking again...
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Old 11-10-2008, 11:58 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Real Lyte View Post
Well there is the fact that you said the catalytic converter was replaced. When you first replace them, the pipes/exhaust smells funky, almost like burning oil. Just a thought, but if it doesnt go away after a few weeks I would start looking again...
Yes, the Cat was replaced back in September. I only drive the car on the weekends, to work, so in total I have driven it about five or six times...The alternator belt and power steering belts were replaced back in 2005...Every time I take the car in for an oil change, which I had done the same time they replaced the cat conv, the mechanics keep telling me that the car has over 60,000 miles that the timing belt should be replaced...
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Old 11-10-2008, 12:22 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abbysian View Post
Yes, the Cat was replaced back in September. I only drive the car on the weekends, to work, so in total I have driven it about five or six times...The alternator belt and power steering belts were replaced back in 2005...Every time I take the car in for an oil change, which I had done the same time they replaced the cat conv, the mechanics keep telling me that the car has over 60,000 miles that the timing belt should be replaced...
The timing belt replacement interval was changed to 105K back in 2000 I think. Your mechanics would be very happy for you to do it evey 60K because they will soak you for big $$$. When you get a dealer to do it they will try to sell you on replacing the water pump and accessory belts at the same time.

If you are having a burning rubber smell then it probably is rubber and not oil as some have suggested. Check the accessory belt tension.
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Old 11-13-2008, 05:27 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Please post if you find out what is causing the smell. I may well be wrong about the oil causing the smell, and would like to know if I need to work on something else to fix a potential problem.

Thanks
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Old 11-13-2008, 05:39 AM   #10 (permalink)
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currently, i have an awful burned rubber smell as well. when i pop the hood open to sniff for it there, i don't smell it. it seems to be under the vehicle, behind the engine, somewhere. it has been smelling for about 3 weeks now. it's annoying me!

i had something like this on one of my past Civics before. the smell lasted months. it turned out to be a plastic bag i had drove over, which caught on to, and melted on the exhaust piping. i was never able to take it off. i just drove with it there eventually melting it to nothing.
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Old 11-13-2008, 06:15 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by tallazzFilipino View Post
currently, i have an awful burned rubber smell as well. when i pop the hood open to sniff for it there, i don't smell it. it seems to be under the vehicle, behind the engine, somewhere. it has been smelling for about 3 weeks now. it's annoying me!
This is exactly the same thing as me. Started after my car was t-boned on the pasenger side. Had axle replaced, all kinds of work, etc, and when I got it back had that smell. Brought it into my garage and saw some left-over grease that had dripped onto the exhaust and figured it was just coming from that. But that was well over 5 or 6 months ago and the smell has never diminished. Again, after seeing the build-up of oil on that paper cover I figured it could have been coming from that, but maybe was wrong.

Would love to know if I should be looking at belts though I have had no hint of squeeling coming from anywhere, to make me even think to check them out.
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Old 11-13-2008, 08:04 AM   #12 (permalink)
 
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I have that smell too, I guess until something breaks we may never know.
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Old 11-13-2008, 08:19 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Have you guys checked your cv boots?
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Old 11-13-2008, 08:33 AM   #14 (permalink)
 
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I know mine is spewing but its not a burning grease/oil smell, its straight up burning rubber (I have a temporary split boot on it now).
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Old 11-13-2008, 08:58 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I had that same smell. But then my trans started making a weird noise. So I took it in to a local mechanic and he said that it was leaking gear box fluid. So I then had to take it in to gear masters. They had to replace a bearing that was all messed up. There was actually no fluid at all in the gear box. They said it could have happened at a check up and subaru might have forgot to add fluid after draining it. Since I got it fixed I haven't had that burnt rubber smell. Only bad thing is that it cost me over 2000 dollars :(
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