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2001 Forester
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7 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2001 Forester and when I choose the airflow/vent from the outside, I sometimes smell engine or grease fumes when I come to a stop and idle. Has anybody else had such a problem? It is easy to avoid the fumes, if I choose the airflow setting to recirculate the cabin air, but I would like to know what is wrong.

Thanks,

Gap
 

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2004 STI 6MT (2005)
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2,949 Posts
Does it only happen when there's another car in front of you? Because it does pull air from outside and if you're behind someone at a stoplight, guess what's coming out of their car and straight into yours :)

Happens to me a lot but yeah, my $0.02
 

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2001 Forester
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7 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Unfortunately it is not only when another car is in front of me. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn't. I replaced the air filter this weekend, but it still happens. I am going to take it to a mechanic and have him take a look at the exhaust system up on the rack. Hopefully it is an easy (and inexpensive) fix!

Thanks for all your help and ideas.

Gap
 

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If it's more like a grease or oil burning smell then you should check for axle boot tears and oil leaks at the steering rack boots. Torn axle boots on the passenger side above the catalyst are very common. I've had a couple of those on my Subarus and I'm about to replace the rack on my 2002 S because it's leaking on both sides and causing a strong oil burning smell. The other possibility is head gasket or head cover gasket oil leaks dropping oil on the exhaust manifolds.

Guy
 

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2015 OutBack Ltd
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3,123 Posts
Sounds like you should keep your windows open until you get this fixed....and don't go on any longgggg drives.......

Steve
 

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2001 Forester
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7 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Yes - it does smell like grease/oil. Not so much like exhaust. I will definitely be taking her in for a look.

Thanks!
 

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99 Forester
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29 Posts
Could also be a front cover gasket leak which is an easy fix. The problem is if you're leaking oil from the front cover it's coming from either the crank or cam seals, both of which will be expensive to replace. In 4-5 hours though and with pretty basic hand tools you can do it yourself.
 

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2001 Forester
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7 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I don't see any oil leaks, and it doesn't seem to burn any oil. Now you have got me worried!
 

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Yes - it does smell like grease/oil. Not so much like exhaust. I will definitely be taking her in for a look.

Thanks!
The axle boot leak is easy to see just by opening the hood and looking down on the catalyst heat shields {passenger side} with a flashlight. If the inner boot is leaking you'll see a line of spattered grease running front to back. If the driver's side inner boots are split you'll see the grease spatter on the firewall.

The oil leaks from various sources usually produce a small oil drip patch on your parking spot.

Guy
 

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2001 Forester S
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25 Posts
The left front axle is located too close to the exhaust system, and the boot often degrades and the grease leaks onto the exhaust. Gives you the burning grease smell. Very common on the Forester. My money is on this.
 

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2002 Forester L
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2 Posts
I'm having a similar problem with my '02 Forester L. I notice a definite smell of exhaust in the cabin when i'm drawing air from the outside. Odor is most noticeable when the engine has come up to running temp and the car is sitting still. The smell is completely gone when the system is recirculating and is not noticeable when i am driving. My brother has a '98 foz and says that has the same problem often and has traced it to an oil leak that drips onto the exhaust. I have not noticed any oil under the car. I have checked the CV boots and both seem to be fine. My theory is that there is an oil leak similar to my brother's and that the reason that i notice with the heat on is that the system is drawing warm air from an area near the exhaust, sensibly so. It follows that i would not notice the smell when using the cold air because it would be foolish to draw cool air from anywhere near the exhaust and, as we all know, Subaru does not do foolish things.
I am not so much worried about the potential of an oil leak, i have heard that Subs are notorious for them. What does bother me is that the oil leak would seem to be rather large given the potency of the fumes. I need to drive from CT to Va on Wednesday. Thoughts?
 

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2007 2.5 XTEn Auto
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142 Posts
I've had this issue for over a year - three garages including a Subaru dealer failed to figure it out. Just as I was literally about to try and part-ex the car, having been so fed up of it, I decided to take it back to the Subaru dealer for another crack at it. The service manager came out, took one look under the bonnet and spotted one of the breather hoses had come loose. He popped it back on and problem solved. I can't believe it was that simple.

So, if you have a smell in the cabin when choosing outside air (and it goes away when travelling) check the breather hose connection between the sides of the engine back to the air filter box. Mine had come off the engine side and you could feel and smell the oily air smell (I thought it was exhaust fumes for a while) blowing out of the connector. It's located right between where the spark plug leads go into the engine.

Hope this helps someone because it's restored faith in my Subaru for me!


Sent from AutoGuide.com App
 

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2009 Forest XS XS
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10 Posts
Fumes yuk - how to close vents???

Hi. On a 2009 Forester I've got the dial set to recycle air but I can smell something fumy. I hate having car fumes coming into the car. What are we supposed to breathe?

I've got all vents and windows closed except for two vents under the radio that can't be opened and closed.

It smells a bit like exhaust coming in from other cars. Confirmed by when a stinky diesel car goes past I can really smell it.
I've closed all the vents on and around the dash that can be opened and closed.

So I wonder if the fumes are coming in through the vents that can't be adjusted?

If anyone can help that would be appreciated. :smile2:
 

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2007 2.5 XTEn Auto
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142 Posts
Hi. On a 2009 Forester I've got the dial set to recycle air but I can smell something fumy. I hate having car fumes coming into the car. What are we supposed to breathe?



I've got all vents and windows closed except for two vents under the radio that can't be opened and closed.



It smells a bit like exhaust coming in from other cars. Confirmed by when a stinky diesel car goes past I can really smell it.

I've closed all the vents on and around the dash that can be opened and closed.



So I wonder if the fumes are coming in through the vents that can't be adjusted?



If anyone can help that would be appreciated. :smile2:


Yeah this isn't good - I'd have thought when in recycle mode nothing should be getting in from the outside at all - irrespective of vent settings. I wonder if one of the flaps somewhere is jammed with something.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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2015 Forester Premium
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516 Posts
Had a Buick with this issue... ran some lipstick along the gasket near the windshield that the good closes against... showed a pretty good gap...

Was able to lift the gasket a little and glue it in place. Ozone and heat and age I guess.

YMMV
 
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