Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

2008 Outback 2.5i Interior Smells

sillhouezsillhouez Posts: 6
edited March 14 in Subaru
I have noticed during the past few months of having my new Outback an unpleasant chemical smell coming through the vents when I turn on the temperature controls. The A/C comes on automatically and I believe the smell is coming from there, since when I turn the temp up it seems to go away. Also, even when the temp controls are turned off, there is air coming through the middle vents at all times. It doesn't matter whether the air is being recirculated or not. There is no way to close the center vents, which is annoying because it's hot air in the summer and cold air in the winter. This may be something I just have to deal with, but I thought I'd see if anyone else is experiencing these issues. thanks.


  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Interesting. I have not noticed that with mine, and the center vents only have air coming through them if the dash selection is chosen on the output selector. The dash vents on the far left and right will allow air flow any time the fan is on, but they, too, will shut down if the fan speed knob is set to "0."
  • thanks for replying. Unfortunately, that's another thing. My fan speed doesn't turn completely off, either. It just goes down to one bar and I can still feel air.
  • I purchased a new 2008 Legacy 2.5 Limited yesterday and noticed an unpleasant smell on the ride home and when I rode the car today. The smell reminds me of burning rubber. When I first noticed the smell - within the first few minutes - I checked to make sure my emergency brake wasn't engaged, then I thought it might be the truck in front of me. I plan to monitor the situation and decide if I want to follow up.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Well, you are going to get a few odors like that in the first few hundred miles. The engine likely was never even up to operating temperature before you took it home (depending, of course, on how many miles it had on it). I did not notice any unusual smells coming through the air intake on either my 07 or 08, but they certainly had new car burn-in smells when I stopped and got out of the car. Again, this was only for the first few hundred miles. After that, the smells were gone.

    sillhouez, the fan should absolutely shut off on "0." There *might* be a tiny bit of residual airflow, but if so, it is hardly noticeable. I do not notice any on mine.

    simon2, does the Limited have the automatic climate control? I have heard those to be finicky beasts to tame. :surprise:
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Oh, if it does not go away quickly, have a service tech check to make sure there was no gear oil spilled on the exhaust upon initial fill of the front differential. If so, that is pungent junk and takes a while to fully burn off the pipes. Bleah! :mad:
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    If you have the digital/auto temp on your car here is how it works:

    If the system is "on" then the fan won't go off even if you turn the fan all the way down. If you turn it "off" the screen will blank and you should have no fan.

    For the "free flowing air" you need to hit the recirc button when the system is "off" to close the outside vents or else you will get a residual flow of air through the car.

  • Thanks for the great suggestions and responses. I took the car to the dealer today, and of course it wouldn't produce the same nasty rubbery smell (exactly, Simon2!) as it does when I'm alone, but we did play around with the controls a lot and find some eccentricities. For instance, the Mode setting on the passenger side switches from face to feet just by turning the temperature control. And when I turn the system on by using the "Auto" button the a/c comes blasting out at high fan speed. The nice service guy (not a mechanic) who test drove it with me suggested that turning it on with the "Auto" button might be cause of that problem, since that way it might be going to some "auto" setting. He suggested turning it on with by hitting the fan button. He also said that maybe it needed a dose of the "anti-mold smell spray" that they used to get the nasty smell out of a/c vents from water collecting inside the unit. Then I spoke to the actual mechanic, who said there was no need to pay for that service, that I should just keep the a/c on, adjusting the temp controls when I needed heat, and keep the air recirculating because the Hepa filter in the car (which I didn't know it had!) will keep the cleanest air recirculating and not have to "clean" the dirty outside air that open vents will bring in. He said he gets this issue a lot. Both guys said that air fllows through the center dash vents constantly and can't be completely turned off, even with the fan at its lowest. They advise people to turn the "Mode" button to split between the upper (face) vents and the lower (feet) vents to minimize the breeze. So I tried that on the way home and it seemed doable, but I do miss the idea of having outside air come through the vents. I guess I'll just open the sunroof. Would be interested to hear what anyone thinks of that advice. Thanks!
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    That's bogus about outside vent stuff. You just put the vent on by hitting the non-recirc button. If there is a smell it isn't correct.

  • Thanks very much for your reply and advice. I do have the automatic climate control system and I'm slowly getting the hang of it. I'm not too concerned about the smell right now and plan to take a wait and see approach.

    I was happy to see the post by sillouez because it gave me a feeling it may be a somewhat common situation between relatively similar cars.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Yes, as I started reading the posts since my last, it became very clear that ACC was at play here; you both must have the Limited (or similar), as the standard 2.5i does not have the automatic climate control (thankfully!). Good luck with it!
  • mamiyamamiya Posts: 21
    I have a 2003 outback and have always had this oriblem with any smell that can come from under the hood... I just leave the recirculate button in so no smell comes in! after awhile the smell goes away while the car is moving! Never asked why
  • mamiyamamiya Posts: 21
    2003 Outback Wagon 2.5...100k, just started leaking and found that this is a major problem on this engine and they won't face up to it! I'm lucky I have'nt had the problem sooner like alot of the warranty is up (extended just for this kind of problem) I have 101k,,tihs really pisses me off!
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    call SOA, as its just out of the extended warranty they may be willing to help out and pay for at least part of it. I just had a problem with my WRX and the fine print on the extended warranty didn't cover it. I called SOA, was pleasant (to the point of being nauseating) about it, threw myself at their mercy and an hour later they called the dealer and said cover it! Can't hurt to call, can only help!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yep, 1-800-SUBARU3.

    Remember to be nice, at 101k miles you're beyond what any manfacturer has offered to customers that I've heard of.

    You get more bees with honey.
  • mamiyamamiya Posts: 21
    Yep, the dealer stuck to their guns and said $1500 and suggest replacing the belt and water pump(if needed) = $1800...cried to them that it did happen during the warranty but had nothing to back that up, should of stopped at a subaru dealer while i was in florida..........put a call in to SOA and waiting to here from them...I have no problem with paying for an out of warranty repair, but if it is a design flaw and not my fault..that pisses me off, but I was nice! Let's see what happens..on that note I just bought a Eclipse..good warranty..I'll make sure it's gone buy 90k..I was thinking of selling the outback at 90k also but everyone kept saying how many miles they got out of a boxer engine! So I kept it and now I know better.
  • We just picked up a 2.5i with Auto and we have noticed the exact same "burnt rubber" smell. We have 105 miles on it and it has not diminished yet, so we will keep an eye on it as well. I know that new cars are going to have some smells but I have owned plenty and this is the first with that smell. I have to admit I have not lifted the bonnet yet so maybe there is a hose that is still wrapped with plastic or some foam that was not removed from somewhere......
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My CR Buying Guide points to the Eclipse's transmission as a problem spot for 03 and older model. Not enough data on 04 and 05.

    Under warranty you should be fine.

    I think that after 100k, it's mostly luck of the draw.
  • I talked to some of the mechanics and my sales guy about the smell and what they have all said is that it is the coating on the engine, and that it will burn off in the 500 to 1000 mile point......I don't have any problem with this other than a pretty nasty smell; but I find it odd that I have had 8 new cars over the years and I have never had any kind of smell at all coming from any of those engines.

    Otherwise 400 miles and no problems.
  • mamiyamamiya Posts: 21
    remember to leave the vent switch on to recircleate the air within the car and not the fresh air from outside...this stopped any smells comming from the engine compartment into the car...I was getting antifreeze smell inside when my head gasket went and switched off the fresh air from outside...
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Welcome to Subaru New Car Stench.

    My 98 Forester had it, bad. It goes away, fortunately.
  • I had the same smell when I got the car. It seems going away after a few weeks.
  • Well the dealer had it right and the smell did go away at about 850 miles for me.
    950 miles and no problems, we are loving the car, very happy with our choice for a new company/family car.

    Thanks for the replies...
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Glad to hear it!

    Enjoy your Subie! :shades:
  • icdaviicdavi Posts: 4
    How's the Outback with a baby car seat in the back? My 8 month old daughter is ready for the bigger rear facing seat and I'd like to install it in the center. It looks like it is going to be pretty tight with the 2 adults in the back.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Yeah, if you put a full-size car seat, like, say, the Cosco Alpha Omega (or one of its many derivatives) in there rear-facing, it will be a tight fit. Any car seat will be a squeeze with two adults also back there. It is a squeeze enough with two additional children not in car seats or boosters!

    I found that placing a car seat in the center caused stability issues with it due to the deep bolstering on the rear seats. I always had our son secured in the center on our '96 Outback, but after having our '07 Outback for a few days, I moved it to a side position to keep it more stable. With our '08, we drove a 5500 mile trip and we had our son in the front passenger seat, wife or me in the rear (passenger side), and infant in the rear (driver side). That configuration worked out very well, save for the times the toddler would get overly bored and decide to start pushing dash buttons or open the glove box with his toes. :P
This discussion has been closed.