('06-'08) Squealing & Burning Smell - Updated! - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-22-2019, 06:08 PM Thread Starter
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Squealing & Burning Smell - Updated!

Hi All,

I've got an '06 NA Foz w/ 142,000mi.

A couple months back, a squealing/whining noise developed from the engine bay. It's only audible at idle, and is especially audible at idle on a cold start. My thought was that this is likely one of the pulleys on the accessory belt, but I haven't done much investigation.

Now just in the last couple weeks, a strong burning smell also developed. I checked and I haven't been losing any fluids, so I don't think I have a significant leak somewhere. I thought I might have accumulated spilled oil and ATF (just did a drain and fill a couple weeks back and I hate the placement of that dipstick), and/or misc. crud that could have reached a breaking point and could be causing the burning smell, so I pulled the battery, covered the alternator and distributor, and sprayed the whole engine bay in degreaser and rinsed it down well. No change to the burning smell.

We did the timing belt kit and water pump a bit over two years ago at about 107k. We replaced the accessory belt at that time, but none of the accessory belt pulleys. Head gaskets were done by a prior owner (unsure when). She burns a bit of oil, but not too bad-- maybe 0.5 qt per 1,500mi depending on season and type of driving.

So, any ideas? Am I totally in left field on the accessory belt idea? How would you diagnose the accessory belt, pull it off and compare? Test individual pulleys by seeing how freely they spin without the belt?

Greatly appreciate any advice.

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-22-2019, 06:23 PM
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My guess, a slipping accessory belt for the P/S & alternator. Once the belt heats up, it will stop slipping. Does the burning smell like burning rubber?


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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-23-2019, 03:54 AM
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I use a 4 foot length of rubber fuel line (3/8" works well) to put one end in my ear and use the other end to listen around in the engine and locate the sound. BE CAREFUL of sticking the hose or your fingers into spinning fans, belts or pulleys.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-23-2019, 07:14 AM
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The idler pulley is the most common thing to go, this pulley is on the belt that drives the AC Compressor. Most likely the bearing on it has seized and the pulley has stopped spinning and therefore causing the squealing and burnt smell.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-26-2019, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice everyone.

One thing I did not mention in my first post was that in addition to the squealing on idle, there is also a squealing when accelerating with the RPM over about 3500 or so. I forgot to mention it above because it's not so common and the idea squeal was on my mind.

Anyways, I got into it today and sure enough, the idler pulley on the AC belt was totally trashed. Picked up a Gates replacement and put that on with new a pair of replacement belts. This DID take care of the squealing at idle, but not under at high RPMs under hard acceleration.

Could it be possible that there's a variety of crud on the pulleys-- residue from burning rubber from previously slipping belt, 14 years of accumulated oil, grease, dust, etc. that could be causing the belt to continue to slip at high RPMs? I'm thinking of trying to clean the pulleys tomorrow, take the cover off and spray them down as best I can with a gentle degreaser, let them soak a bit, spray a bit more while idling? Any other ideas?
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