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98 Forester S 5 Speed
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69 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi Everyone,

I'm hoping you guys can give me some insight about what this leak may be:

Background:
1998 Forester
engine rebuilt 30,000 miles ago
209k on body and everything else
5 speed

About 2 hours into my 3 hour drive back to school today I noticed when I got on the car a little more (entering the highway from an roundabout on ramp from one highway to another) I was blowing a decent amount of white smoke. Turns out I wasn't blowing it, I was burning it off the exhaust. when I finally got back into town I would notice the smoking, (white in color and smelled similar to burnt rubber) only when I stopped, coming from the engine bay. when I got home and popped the hood I saw there was fluid everywhere because it hit the axel and sprayed all over the passenger side of the engine bay.

My Ideas:
Power Steering fluid (kind of similar smell and color)

Brake Fluid (very similar smell but darker color, most likely due to running off dirt in engine bay) But had my helper pump the brakes while I watched for fluid to come out at an expedited rate but saw nothing.

Diff oil (have not checked color or smell of diff oil in the differential)

Any common problems on early model SF's with high mileage that I should be aware of?

Thanks for the Help ahead of time.
 

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Premium Member
2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
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14,699 Posts
When it cools check the radiator (remove the cap) and also the radiator reservoir. I'm guessing coolant. Bad rebuild on the engine likely that's why they got rid of it. Just guessing.
 

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98 Forester S 5 Speed
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69 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
well I've already checked the coolant and It seemed fine. I will double check later today. Also I checked the bottom of the heads and they seemed fine.
 

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02 Forester 4EAT Phase II
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82 Posts
About 2 hours into my 3 hour drive back to school today I noticed when I got on the car a little more (entering the highway from an roundabout on ramp from one highway to another) I was blowing a decent amount of white smoke. Turns out I wasn't blowing it, I was burning it off the exhaust. when I finally got back into town I would notice the smoking, (white in color and smelled similar to burnt rubber) only when I stopped, coming from the engine bay. when I got home and popped the hood I saw there was fluid everywhere because it hit the axel and sprayed all over the passenger side of the engine bay.


Check CV boots and the axle seal on passenger side diff.
 

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Registered
98 Forester S 5 Speed
Joined
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69 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
About 2 hours into my 3 hour drive back to school today I noticed when I got on the car a little more (entering the highway from an roundabout on ramp from one highway to another) I was blowing a decent amount of white smoke. Turns out I wasn't blowing it, I was burning it off the exhaust. when I finally got back into town I would notice the smoking, (white in color and smelled similar to burnt rubber) only when I stopped, coming from the engine bay. when I got home and popped the hood I saw there was fluid everywhere because it hit the axel and sprayed all over the passenger side of the engine bay.


Check CV boots and the axle seal on passenger side diff.
I'm going to check that today after I hit the underside of the car with some gunk remover
 

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Premium Member
2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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8,064 Posts
Sounds like you mostly know where the source is located or at least that it is confined to the the engine bay area, shouldn't be too terribly hard to locate it if it is leaving a volume of smoke you can see.

Right side or left side of the engine bay?

Front or rear?

Common items to look at on older Subarus that will cause a burning smell/smoke:
  • Radiator, crack in a top tank.
  • Oil/coolant leaks from the engine, a rebuild 30K ago is almost irrelevant in rilling the engine out. If anything it may make it more suspect.
  • CV boots are common as the passenger side is by the exhaust.
 

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98 Forester S 5 Speed
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69 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sounds like you mostly know where the source is located or at least that it is confined to the the engine bay area, shouldn't be too terribly hard to locate it if it is leaving a volume of smoke you can see.

Right side or left side of the engine bay?

Front or rear?

Common items to look at on older Subarus that will cause a burning smell/smoke:
  • Radiator, crack in a top tank.
  • Oil/coolant leaks from the engine, a rebuild 30K ago is almost irrelevant in rilling the engine out. If anything it may make it more suspect.
  • CV boots are common as the passenger side is by the exhaust.
The leak/spray is confined to the rear of the engine/front of the diff on the passenger side. which also seems to be where the power steering "soft" lines are.
 

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Premium Member
2014 2.0XT Limited CVT
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416 Posts
Check your oil pressure switch. I recently had a similar problem on my 2000 Outback. Was spraying oil all over the engine with lots of white smoke from contact with the exhaust. Turns out that Subaru has a history of oil pressure switch failure and leakage. I think in your '98 Forester it's located behind the power steering belt and the alternator. Check your oil level too.
 

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98 Forester S 5 Speed
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69 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Ok here is what I have found out:

CV boot has a crack in it. would that have caused the amount of smoking? I think i'm just going to replace the whole axel. I hear that is easier to do anyway.
 

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02 Forester 4EAT Phase II
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82 Posts
I am assuming it is the inner joint that has the crack in the boot.

Passenger side inner CV sits right above the catalytic converter.

Any amount of grease lost has a high potential to hit the cat and burn off. It usually smells pretty horrible.

Re-booting the joint is an option, but if it has been driven like that for a while and dirt and road grime has had a chance to enter the joint, it is only a matter of time before it goes bad.

Do a search on the forum. When I ran into the same problem, I decided that it was just easier and more efficient to replace the whole axle.

NAPA reman, MWE, Subaru reman/new are all good choices.
 

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98 Forester S 5 Speed
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69 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
the only thing is it doesn't seem like the amount of fluid that leaked and its viscosity would only be grease from the cv joint.

I probably just found another problem on top of this one.

My main suspect right now is the axel seal (which I am semi-dreading) I know with that you are supposed to mark the holder with a punch and count the number of turns it takes to remove it.
 

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98 Forester S 5 Speed
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69 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ok so I checked my tranny fluid today and it is really low. As in only a centimeter on the dipstick. So where would a tranny leak from? Input shaft seal? Rear seal? (Although not likely with where the fluid seems to be


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