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2014 Forester XT Touring CVT
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I dont know enough about the CVT to know if it uses ATF fluid for lubrication or what, but sometimes when I'm stopped at a light or parking I smell what appears to be ATF fluid. The car has less than 2000 miles on it. Seems to drive fine and haven't noticed any abnormalities. I originally chalked it up to break-in smells but still getting it. Just wondering if anyone else has had this same experience.

--Matt
 

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2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
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14,710 Posts
Thanks for the update Ben..I missed that.
 

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‘14 FXTT; '15 Legacy FB25
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1,086 Posts
I've noticed the same with my XT with nearly 5k miles. I've inspected the engine bay, top and bottom, and found nothing unusual. For me, the smell is only while stopped, and after the engine has been at temp for a while (ie, after coming to a stop after a while on the highway.)

The dealer said they couldn't find anything while it was on the lift, either, and chalked it up to break-in smells.

Well, this is my third new Subaru and 4th new car, and I've never smelled an ATF - like smell during break-in, and in my experience break-in smells are gone within the first thousand miles... If only I had a dipstick...
 

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2017 Forester XT Limited AT
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385 Posts
Bumping an older thread.

I've noticed this is the case with my brand new 2017 FXT, I now have 3k miles on mine, and I can definitely smell the CVT oil through the vents after stop&go traffic or a long commute.

Like above, initially I thought it was just the break-in oil smell, but it's definitely not the case, I had the dealer show me a new bottle of the HTCVT oil and it's the same smell.

I believe the smell might is coming from the small vents under the intercooler, not sure why?

@gathermewool & @MattACK has the smell ever disappeared? Do you still smell it?

Anyone else smell it?
 

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2016 Forester XT Premium automatic
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1,072 Posts
Bumping an older thread.

I've noticed this is the case with my brand new 2017 FXT, I now have 3k miles on mine, and I can definitely smell the CVT oil through the vents after stop&go traffic or a long commute.

Like above, initially I thought it was just the break-in oil smell, but it's definitely not the case, I had the dealer show me a new bottle of the HTCVT oil and it's the same smell.

I believe the smell might is coming from the small vents under the intercooler, not sure why?

@gathermewool & @MattACK has the smell ever disappeared? Do you still smell it?

Anyone else smell it?
i hope you are correct about seeing a bottle of HTCVT fluid at your dealer
because ,I am under the assumption that our spl orange htcvt fluid is only
available in 5 gal. containers. ed
 

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2017 Forester XT Limited AT
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385 Posts
i hope you are correct about seeing a bottle of HTCVT fluid at your dealer
because ,I am under the assumption that our spl orange htcvt fluid is only
available in 5 gal. containers. ed
Yes, my mistake, it was in fact in a big 5 gallon drum/container, which he poured a very small amount (an ounce) in a water bottle to show me the color and odor of the oil.
 

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2016 Forester XT Touring
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943 Posts
What does CVT trans fluid smell like? i get a sweet smell in the morning start up and Inget some when I have been driving for a bit. I noticenit more when I have the front windshield vent on.
I have been checking my coolant levels and had previously written it off as my Rain-x wiper fluid(orange) excess being heated up and entering the car. My 2010 XT had the same smell and I use the same wiper fluid in that car also. Never thought about the CVT.
I have a 2016 XT and this has been happening as long as I can recall.
 

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2017 Forester XT Limited AT
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385 Posts
What does CVT trans fluid smell like? i get a sweet smell in the morning start up and Inget some when I have been driving for a bit. I noticenit more when I have the front windshield vent on.
I have been checking my coolant levels and had previously written it off as my Rain-x wiper fluid(orange) excess being heated up and entering the car. My 2010 XT had the same smell and I use the same wiper fluid in that car also. Never thought about the CVT.
I have a 2016 XT and this has been happening as long as I can recall.
0

I can't really describe the odour that comes from the CVT. I know that it seems to be coming from the small vents under the intercooler.

Anyone else with a '14+ XT experience this smell/odour?
 

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2017 Forester XT Touring CVT
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379 Posts
I have a new 2017 XT with approx 1000 miles and have noticed the exact same odor. I thought it was break in smell but I definitely think it smells like ATF/CVT or possibly brake fluid.
 

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2017 Forester XT Limited AT
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385 Posts
I have a new 2017 XT with approx 1000 miles and have noticed the exact same odor. I thought it was break in smell but I definitely think it smells like ATF/CVT or possibly brake fluid.
Good to know, I'm just above 3k miles on mine and can still smell it. I've questionned the dealer and waiting on an answer.
I have the odor too. My FXT is around 4400 miles.
I assume a 2017 as well? Has it gotten better/worse since the beginning?


Just a note, I had the dealer show me new CVT oil and smelled it, and it's definitely the HTCVT oil that I smell.

Wondering if it's only 2017 that have this smell, perhaps I should do a follow up with SOA/SOC
 

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2017 Forester Touring CVT
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1,324 Posts
Throw some "headaches, hazmat, toxic, cancer" words at him if you got to.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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'21 ISM Crosstrek Limited
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1,177 Posts
If I smell the dip stick wipe I smell oil. But since it's a closed system and have no leaks I don't smell it otherwise.

When I fill the tank I smell gasoline. But since the fuel system is also a closed system I don't smell gasoline other times.

Even if there were a little oil left on the drain plug, or a little gasoline drip on the filler, I doubt I'd smell them. That's probably because my sense of smell isn't as acute as it once was.

But, since the CVT is vented to atmosphere under the hood, I'd guess that someone with an acute sense of smell... could smell it... because it is there. It is there to vent the CVT transmission's interior, especially necessary when heated as the fluid expands, to prevent internal pressure build up.

There are pluses and minuses to having lost the acuteness of my youthful senses, but it is what it is and in general it makes living in a polluted world a tad more pleasant. In reference to this subject, having now had four CVT Subarus, I've yet to smell oil, fuel, or CVT fluid.
 

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2017 Forester XT Touring CVT
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379 Posts
ATF Smell Update:

The odor *seems* to be getting less noticeable as the miles increase.

That is all.

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
 

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2016 Forester XT Premium CVT
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27 Posts
This has been happening to me since I first purchased the car all the way up to 12k "current millage". I have brought my car into Subaru 3 different occasions and two separate dealerships. Every time, they tell me they can't find anything. I've had multiple Subaru's prior to owning my XT, this includes a an Outback with the cvt and have never experienced this issue. I'm not sure what to do at this point. I could call SOA, but without solid evidence supported by the dealer I think I may be SOL.

I hope somebody is able to shed some light on this issue, I am beginning to get concerned if this stank is toxic.
 

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2017 Forester 2.5i CVT
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198 Posts
My car is the 2017 2.5i CVT and I noticed this smell after each shutdown at first especially after a strain, like a bunch of small hills or fighting my way out of a snow drift, when it briefly smelled burnt. But a month later at 3000 miles I inspected the underneath to find a little seepage from the CVT pan. I tested the torque on the pan bolts and found some only finger tight near this minor seepage! I was glad to see my regular CVT fluid (not HTCVT) is still clear/green with no burnt odor from our New York blizzard. I then torqued all pan bolt to spec, and thus terminated the seepage (but am glad I now have a way to inspect my fluid in the future with no dipstick. Just slightly loosen the pan bolts for a few days.) The smell since then is much less. Check all fixtures for torque. And don't sweat it-CVT's are supposed to vent if stressed. The quantity of seepage btw was not any significant loss of fluid. John L.
 

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2017 Forester XT
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I'm occasionally getting the fluid smell too on my 2017 XT. Like others have said, most often while driving slowly or stopped at a light. The car has less than 1k on the odo.
 

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2017 Forester XT Limited AT
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385 Posts
Just to recap on my previous post, as much as I had the smell when the car was newer, now just about to hit 6300 miles and I'm not getting the smell as much if at all now. Mind you u haven't been driving it much in town or slow traffic, mostly highway miles.

I did change the HTCVT oil and front differential oil at roughly 2k miles, not sure if that helped or not.
 

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16 FXT
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I just purchased a 16 FXT with 28k. I've been noticing the same smell after the car heats up to operating temperature. I primarily notice it when I get home and back into my driveway, slowly. It doesn't seem like there has been any solution/answer to this problem. I've been considering taking it back to the dealer and having them take a look since it's under a power train warranty.
 
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