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Subaru Forester exhaust/fuel smell in cab

kev9kev9 Posts: 4
has anyone had a problem with an exhaust or fuel smell in the cab? i have had the exhaust checked & the seal on the back door, all have been fine. it has only happened in the really, really cold weather.
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Comments

  • It happened to me. I have 03 Forester. This is the coldest weather since I have owned it. And I have gotten the fuel smell. Coming from under hood somewhere, I need to check a little closer, but when I looked yesterday I could not tell exactly where it was coming from. If I park care in garage, it does not leak/stink. but if it has been parked outside, i get plenty of odor. I have not called dealer yet. Car is out of warranty and the talk on WRX forum of cost of $400+ to fix has me scared off.
  • kev9kev9 Posts: 4
    i have had my exhaust checked (& it was fine) & i also had a transmission place check the fluids for any unusuall smell or look, that was fine as well. my check engine light has not come on ever through out the entire thing. the only other thing i have noticed that has also happened under the hood somewhere is a high pitched noise after the car is off. this has also only happened in the cold. i have no idea if they are related. i am calling my mechanic tomorrow, i am not sure what will come of it. if i find out anything i will oist it here.
  • kev9kev9 Posts: 4
    since they talked of $400+ to fix it have you been told what the problem is with your forester?
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    Have you had the fuel hoses checked? Very cold weather may be causing them to contract and leak some small amount of gasoline.

    tidester, host
  • Any news about this smell?...plng. to buy a 2007 forester this week end..think i smelled this in one i tested..not sure if i should buy one now if this is problem...don't like fumes of any kind in passenger cab...
  • kev9kev9 Posts: 4
    i had my mechanic check it out again & he couldn't find anything that he could say for certain as to the cause of the smell. turns out the my radiator itself (not the reserve) was not completely full (so he topped that off) & also found that even though i have had the oil changed pretty recently that it did appear to look liek it had been changed in a while (no more quick stop oil changes!!), he changed the oil & put a really good filter on it. drove it all day yesterday & i didn't smell a thing. we will see when the really cold weather hits it again, that seems to be really when it happens. i would say if you are looking at one & it smells have the dealer go through the thing top to bottom & try it in the extreme cold (single digits, if possible). other than that i love the car.
  • rochcomrochcom Posts: 247
    In many areas of the country, fuel is reformulated during the winter months and contains large amounts of solvents that are highly volatile. It may just be that these are what you are smelling. There may be no leak at all. They are most noticeable in the cold because the engine takes a bit longer to start and some of the vapor could be sucked back into the vehicle by the passenger compartment fan.
  • No, I have not. I have not bothered to talk to dealer. After the temp got back over 15 degrees, the smell went away. I will wait till it is back to zero and maybe call them.
  • thebird3thebird3 Posts: 1
    I bought my Subaru Forester last week from Goldsteins, an hour of driving it there was an odor coming through the vents. It smells like someone regurgitated in the car, but it is coming through the vents. Anyone who gets in the car asks "What is that smell?"
    It is very upsetting to have a new car smell so badly. What is causing the odor? I did not have the problem with my old 98 Subaru?
  • smittynycsmittynyc Posts: 291
    You could be smelling undercoating burning off the exhaust. If so, it'll go away in 500-1000 miles of normal driving. But that smell is a considerably less offensive than what you're describing -- it really doesn't smell anything like vomit. It's more of a sweet, smoky smell.

    I hate to suggest this, but if the smell is really that sharp and awful and "organic", you may be looking at a rat/mouse that died somewhere in the engine compartment or even in the ducts of the ventilation system. While not common, this isn't unheard of in a new car that's stored outside at a dealer and driven infrequently.

    I'd have the dealer check it out -- if I'm right, they will have dealt with this before and will know how to get the beast out. The good news is that the smell will go away totally and permanently as soon as the corpse is removed.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My Miata started smelling "stale", so I opened up the fresh air vents and sprayed in some Lysol. It is 14 years old, though.
  • I got a 2007 Forester Sports X in March 2007 because I was so happy with my 2004 Forester X. Just one problem with a brake switch causing the car not to shift out of park one day...but that was fixed. Love the car in theory and in general...BUT....

    I have a BIGGER problem...a terrible smell coming from the engine whenever the car gets hot. The dealer tech smelled it right away when I stood with him in front of the car, acknowledged it was bad, and he later told me he thought it was undercoating accidentally sprayed on the engine during the manufacturing process, and it could NOT be fixed.

    Sadly on a prior checkup they claimed to smell nothing (you only smell it with the windows open) and the Subaru regional field tech also claimed (after the local tech had explained the cause of the problem) that no smell existed. This created a stink of a different kind. And nothing in writing except they checked for a smell they couldn't find.

    Subaru has offered to trade the car in, and pick up some but not all of the cost of the trade...but I'm wondering if I should take a chance and pay even more money for a brand new car when the brand new car I just purchased and was otherwise very happy with turned out to have a toxic smell from the engine.

    On the other hand, what are the odds I could have the car declared a lemon in NY when the car still drives, albeit with a bad smell? I feel stuck...

    I also wish there was a way to turn off the "three unlocks to open" requirement for the hatch and passenger doors. I know it's there to protect old ladies in parking lots, but in the rain when I want to open the hatch or simply let a trusted passenger in the car with me, it's a real pain.

    Wish I could have just written a rave, because aside from the issues I'm having with this car I still love it, Geosquealers notwithstanding. Traded in a 2001 Acura CL Sports-Type for my 2004, a move comedian Tom Papa made fun of, and I was happier with the Forester since it handled better!

    What was worse was getting poor customer service from Subaru of America, from a shrill customer service SUPERVISOR who yelled when I said something she disagreed with...she told me the smell could have been caused by something "after-market" like the remote start or the alarm even though she know I'd had it installed at purchase by my dealer. Of course, when you buy an accessory from the dealer to install in your new car before you pick it up, you assume you are purchasing it from Subaru and Subaru won't suddenly disavow any responsibility for it.

    And when I asked Subaru for another supervisor after she'd literally yelled at me,
    they gave the email to the shrill woman so she could call me and tell me she didn't mean to be rude, she's just a loud person. Last Friday she told me she'd call me Monday. No question. Didn't hear from her until an email late Wednesday.

    They promised I'd be contacted this week by another supervisor "early this week" It's now end-of-business Thursday. I've sent quite a few emails through their website indicating my dissapointment with the car smell, the lack of detection, and the poor treatment by customer service.

    I think it's time for a regular letter to the president of Subaru of America. Too bad Asa Aarons just left NBC...my hope now is that Subaru realizes they have an evangelist about to jump ship and make a fair offer on the trade-in.

    Anyone else have a smell like antifreeze-meets-orange-juice overwhelming them in the 2007 Forester when the engine gets hot?

    !:@?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Cross posting like this is against Edmunds rules. You already posted this once and the people who can help have or will reply there.

    -mike
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    A law firm soliciting business in the Town Hall?

    Hosts is that allowable?
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    No it's not. :)

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • I've been having this problem on and off now for the last three years or so with my Subaru (Outback). Have gone through various checkups and still the fumes come back in the cold and only in the cold. Seems to be coming from real close to the engine cause I can smell it worst right near what looks like the alternator.
  • After googling around more I discovered a lot of Subaru owners were experiencing what sounds like the same problem: smell coming from engine compartment when cold and heater is on. I'd thought the smell was maybe exhaust. It had a bit of a different smell to it which I'd called richer before though I wasn't sure that was the right technical term for it. Anyway, turns out other owners were reporting gas leaks from fuel lines especially when cold. So I popped my hood and looked around. Didn't see anything I could detect - though there was something that looked a little wet but I thought nothing of it (there's lots of snow around here) so I turned on my engine. That's when I saw what looked like little sparks on the driver side of the engine. But it wasn't sparks, it was fluid dripping from a hose clamp down to something lower. With the various reports of leaking gas I quickly shut off my engine and wiped the hose with a cloth. Putting the cloth up close it smelled just like gas too. Bingo. I then tried the easy suggestion I'd read of just tightening the clamps. When I did this while the engine was on it looked like the dripping just got faster making me think perhaps the hose was cracked instead of the clamp just being loose. I called my favorite local Subaru dealership who told me something like "oh yeah you have a fuel leak" as though it was something they'd have told me if I'd recognized it as a gas smell instead of an exhaust smell. That doesn't sit well by me though cause I'd told them repeatedly how the smell only seems to come around really when it's cold and the heater with outside air is on. Makes me feel disappointed that Subaru may be intentionally hiding this problem rather than doing a public recall. I don't know that this is the case for a fact, but like with the infamous head gasket leaks, it's my opinion at least at this point that Subaru is keeping these secret rather than being impressive and forward about these things. My local Subaru service department said there's a 50/50 chance it's just the clamp that is loose or otherwise it's a leak from the hose. Given that my tightening of the clamp seemed to make it leak more I didn't want to take the chance of maybe cracking the hose more or something (I'm certainly not a mechanic). So I brought my car to nearest repair shop. $257 later - for removing the top of the engine supposedly to get to all the hoses and clamps to replace them - and no more smell inside my car's cabin. At least none on the drive back.
  • I am having the same trouble with my Outback Sport (2002). In January last year, I smelled fuel in the cab with the heater running. Fortunately, I had purchased the extended warranty, so I went to the dealership, where they kept it for two days and claimed they didn't smell anything. Meanwhile, a local garage checked it and said they smelled the fuel coming from the fuel injector. I smelled it again about two weeks later (again when it was really cold - less than 32 degrees) and immediately took it to the dealership. This time they smelled it and gave me a loaner. They also showed me a notification Subaru had sent out regarding this problem, instructing the mechanics to change the leaky o-rings on the fuel injector. After 6 weeks of the part being on backorder [thankfully I had the loaner the whole time], my car was fixed and seemed to be working fine. Then today (less than one year later and again below freezing), I smelled the gas smell again, inside the cab, with the heater on AND off, and outside of the car after it had been parked for 30 minutes. When you would open the door, the fuel fumes would hit you in the face. It reeked of gas fumes. I went back to the dealer and now have a loaner again. Even the mechanic at the dealership said he could smell it as I pulled up. I will let you know what they say it is this time, but the dealership said there were no other people coming in with this problem, this year or last year. You might want to have your o-rings checked.
  • I posted about this in the late summer of '07, and now I've just become accustomed to driving with my windows closed and the vent on recycle. Shame for a car less than a year old.

    Subaru claimed they'd do their best to get me out of the car, severely low-balled me on the trade-in value and then offered me 50% of the difference after leading me on with a "sample scenario" where they'd pay $4000 if the trade-in cost $5000.

    For those of you without a calculator, that sample scenario, designed to placate me and give me false hope (I must assume, since it was so radically and statistically significantly different from the actual offer in percentage terms), was 80%. And even that didn't seem attractive for a brand new car that should have had no smell.

    Sorry I'm not alone. Best of luck to you all.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    This was a known problem on the 02-03 WRXs, I forget which hose it was that had a bad clamp on it but it was in the cold weather. Look for a TSB or recall on the 02-03 WRX.

    -mike
  • I got my 2002 Outback Sport back today. It was an actual fuel leak, as one of the valves was broken and leaking. They replaced it and it seems okay for now. No more gas smell from the heater or from under the hood. I asked them to check for the bad clamp, but they said they were all fine. Thanks for all the help!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Glad to hear they resolved it.

    Mom had a car like that and to be honest they never figured it out. The whole time she had it you could smell gas. Nasty.

    That was a Chevy in Brazil, though.
  • danielldaniell Posts: 128
    Own a 2002 Forester S auto, 60k miles. I have had the same problem a few days ago when temperatures here in Ohio dropped below 20 and the car was parked outside for 2-3 hours. I popped the hood right away and I was able to see gasoline leaking from a hose clamp. It's on the driver side, but very close to the center, about 4" long. It's probably the shortest hose I could see, and the farthest away from the fuel filter. Fuel drips on a small metal rectangle right below. The clamp appears to be tight. The leak dissapears once the engine warms up. If the car is garaged or temperatures are at least high 20s, it won't leak. It only does it right at the startup in very low temperatures, when the engine is cold. I checked the nhtsa.gov website and it appears to be the same exact problem reported with the 2002-2003 model year Impreza and WRX. Filed a complaint with NHTSA.
  • ...and I own a 2001 Forester S auto, 85K miles. Had this car since last March and with our '08 Winter in Iowa being a doozy, am experiencing the EXACT same problem you describe. All in all I'd say this car, in spite of it's rugged pretensions, isn't cut out for da Nord country, if ya know what I mean. Once the temps hit around zero, the following has happened: 1) Cracked windshield 2) Name Plate popped of after closing hood and of course, the 3) aforementioned gas fumes in the cab.
  • We have had the same problem since last winter with our 2002 outback wagon. Since it has been really cold the fumes are overwhelming. You have to drive without the heater in the coldest weather. This is our second subaru wagon and we are really disappointed with this problem. The wierd thing is that once the weather warms up the heater works and no smell of fumes.
  • jbur1jbur1 Posts: 15
    I have also been getting the fuel smell in the cold weather inside my 2003 Forester (69k miles) as well. It gets so bad at times that it causes irritation in my throat and a burning sensation in my eyes. It also leaves a foul taste in my mouth that lasts well after I exit the vehicle. I have scheduled an appointment at the dealer next week. I called Subaru and they said there was a TSB issued regaring this matter. I got them to issue me a case number in case any issues arrise at the dealer. I didn't ask them if they would help pay for the repair at this point though.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Hope they can fix that. Ours doesn't have that issue.

    My mom owned a Chevy in Brazil way back when with a horrible gas smell, we never really figured it out.
  • After reading extensivly on this problem of exhaust smell coming through the vents when its really cold out, and car is at idle here is what I found. It is a gas leak and in my case was very easy to fix(under 2 minutes). here is a picture of where my leak was coming from.

    http://s575.photobucket.com/albums/s...7flies0002.jpg

    http://s575.photobucket.com/albums/s...7flies0001.jpg

    I tightened up the two clamps which were very loose, the gas stopped leaking and the smell coming in stopped instantly. The part that I tightened is the shiney black rubber hose in the middle of the pictures. I hope this helps some people. I have a 2003 forester 2.5xs. I hope I save some people from getting robbed blind from their mechanics.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    Both of those links merely take me to http://photobucket.com/. Is there some kind of public viewing permission that must be set to allow us to get to your album?
  • danielldaniell Posts: 128
    I have a 2002 Forester S, auto, 68K miles. I have had this problem intermitently over the years, whenever the temperature dropped below 15 degrees or so. There are 2 short hoses, about 4"-5" each, where I saw gasoline leaking. One is on the driver side. I am not sure how to post pictures - under the hose there is a small rectangular area, about 2"x3", almost like a tray, where I saw gasoline acumulating. The second problem is on the passenger side, close to the side and front. There are short 2 rubber hoses making a 90 degree angle (the actual angle is metal, hoses cover that). The one that is parallel to the radiator was lose. I am sorry for not being able to give a better description. Tightening the clamps with a Phillips screwdriver seems to have solved the problem for now. The service tech at the dealer (Subaru Beechmont in Cincinnati) said that he had only seen this on turbocharged motors.
  • Having similar problems - have 2003 Legacy, auto, 52K. Just started last weekend when temps in PA dropped to under 10 degrees. Inside cabin smells like gas when car is cold and then started w/heat on- seems to smell less when car gradually gets warmed up, but still significant. Tightened clamps that I could see with a screwdriver last night, but still smell present this afternoon. Taking it to the shop tomorrow...don't seem to be losing gas in the meantime.
  • Last year I had this problem so I took my car to the mechanic and told him what everyone has been saying on here. He didn't smell anything and couldn't find a leak so I told him to take it home that night and leave it in his garage (it was below 10 degrees that night). The next day he called me and said he had to park the car outside because the gas smell was so strong and was seeping into his house. He said the leaks are detected in really cold weather. He ended up replacing the whole fuel line because he found a crack. It hasn't even been a year and I'm having the same problem again. I found a site showing where the clamps are. I tightened up 4 clamps on the driver side and 1 on the passenger side. I hope that does the trick because I'm beginning to smell the fumes in my house. :(

    This site shows a pic of the 4 clamps on the driver side: http://www.bazoomer.com/fuelline/fuelline.html
  • feudofeudo Posts: 1
    Have a 2000 Forester that needs about 1500-1700 0f repairs. I have already put in about 2000 in that last year and the car has about 113000 miles on it.Can get a new premium out the door for about 26,000 k. Should I buy it or fix the old one?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,144
    It all depends on the car's overall dependability (how often is it in the shop?) and your comfort with it. Even at $2000 a year, that's less than half what you would spend on payments on a new car. Typically, maintenance/repair expenses on older vehicles come in waves. So, you might spend $3700 between this and last year, then go a year or two with little-to-no surprise expenses, then get hit with another big-dollar expense down the road.

    For me, as long as the car remains reliable (at least, my confidence in / perception of its reliability remains) and meets my needs, it is worth fixing.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sounds like you're looking for a reason to upgrade, and you've found one, so go for it.

    So long as you can afford the new one, it has many improvements, especially the space inside.

    I had a '98 and loved it, but our '09 is even better.
  • I had the same problem (fuel smell) with my 2003 Subaru Outback. It has 62K miles and we live in Indiana. The first time we noticed it was the morning after the coldest night of the year (7F, -5wind chill). It smelled worse while idling or if the heat (blower) is on.

    I looked under the hood to see if a fuel line was leaking. On the driver's side are a couple fuel lines going to the fuel filter and to the driver's side cylinders. The screws to the clamps could be tightened one revolution, but didnt' look like they were leaking. I got real close and couldn't smell gas.

    Over on the passenger side I smelled gas. I didn't see anyting at first, but later found a hose that was dark at the end (because it was wet with gas). It was the line that fed both fuel injectors on the passenger side. After taking off a bracket to get access, I tightened the screw to the hose clamp 6-7 revolutions. I guess it was almost completely loose. After that, problem 100% fixed. It took me about 45 min to fix after finding the leak.

    Suggestions:
    1. Leave the car in the cold
    2. Drive the car a short distance
    3. Shut off the engine.
    4. Pop the hood, start looking for discolorations at the end of a fuel line.
    5. Get your nose up close and start smelling for gas.
    6. Tighten any loose hose clamps along the way.

    If you smell it in the car, you should be able to smell it under the hood.
  • It has been down in the low to mid 20's here. I'm having the same issue you're all describing with my 2001 Outback. I've tried tightening the clamps and I noticed this moring a bolt missing right above the two spark plug wires on the left side of the engine. The hole looks pretty clean like it happened recently. Could the smell be coming from there?
  • First, I assume the left side is the passenger side (left when viewing engine). On the passenger side, the spark plug wires go from the spark plugs (far left) to distributor (center of engine). At least they do on the 2002.

    I'm not sure which bolt you mean, so I had a look at mine. There are bolts on the valve cover (at the spark plugs), and on the fuel rail above the valve cover. The engine block itself has an extra machined hole for a bolt that was never installed.

    Bolts generally don't have anything to do with fuel. They hold something together, so if you're missing a bolt, you should have two things that should be attached that now aren't. What are the two things?

    The fuel lines are either hard metal, or soft rubber. When metal meets rubber, the only securing method is a hose clamp.

    I'd recommend going on a short drive in the cold. If you can smell it in the car, you should be able to smell it much worse from the source in the engine (after your drive). Is the hole you describe stink of gas? Try the smell test again moving very slowly around the engine. It was amazing to me how little the driver side smelled of gas, but how strong it was on the passenger side. Follow your nose.
  • :sick: We have a 2002 Forester w/ approx 160K on it. Last summer we started having strong gas fumes inside the car. I had a mechanic look at it and after finally driving them around for a while, they finally smelled it. Smoke machine found no leaks on the lines inside the car (I was blown away that they would run inside?!?) and they concluded it must be an evap leak at the top of the gas tank. (We also have an evap code that intermittently turns on the CEL.). In the winter months this has been much less noticable, almost nonexistent. Anyone else have a similar problem, solutions? I am told dropping the tank is very costly on this car.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think it's under the rear seat, so they may be able to access it from above.
  • I have exactly the same problem with an 01 Forester. Although, seems to be just as bad whatever the weather now. The CEL evap code seems to come and go no matter what they replace and fix.

    Took it to the mechanic who phoned me to say that they're going to have to take the carpet up inside to inspect the fuel line - I thought he was joking, but apparently it's true: the fuel lines run INSIDE the car!

    Ho hum.
  • Fuel lines inside the car have their good aspects and their bad ones. The good news is that they are much less likely to rust and corrode, since they are not exposed to all the road salt and crud that they would be if they were outside the car. The bad news is that if they leak, the smell is horrible and almost impossible to get rid of.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,785
    edited April 2010
    I had a similar problem on my '02 OBW. The 'fuelline' link does a nice job showing the multiple hose to metal line connections on the drivers side, but there quite a few also located on the passenger side. All of them needed to be tightened, but these were my biggest source of smell on a single digit cold start. IIRC, there was at least on more down below the one circled on the left side of the picture, and there were 2 very difficult to get at clamps under the circled cover up front. There is a hole in that cover (see arrow) for access, but my clamps were rotated requiring the drilling of another hole to align with a screwdriver.

    I've had headgasket issues requiring intake removal twice. Removal and reinstallation of things that aren't meant to be taken apart is probably the main cause of repetitive leaks. I imagine that next year it will probably be time to replace some of these hoses and clamps.

    Hope this helps!

    imageSee more Car Pictures at CarSpace.com
  • I was wondering if you've discovered more about what's causing your gasoline smell. We have a 2002 Forester that has a similar strong fuel smell on the passenger side of the car (near the rear wheel) after we drive the car for a while. It doesn't matter what temperature it is. The smoke machine didn't find leaks in our system either.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited October 2010
    ".... 2002 Forester... strong fuel smell on the passenger side of the car (near the rear wheel)..."

    Could be a rusty perforated fuel filler neck:
    http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f88/steps-replace-fuel-filler-neck-48016- - - /#post542647
  • I was just wondering if anyone got any concrete answers to the exhaust / fuel smell issues...

    Jamie

    PerformanceSubaru
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited January 2011
    "I was just wondering if anyone got any concrete answers to the exhaust / fuel smell issues..."

    What more do you want on the subject of a fuel smell from the rear passenger area?
    Now an exhaust smell is another subject not presented by the original poster. Do you have both issues?
  • After temp went to 15 deg F I started getting a gas smell also
    I also periodically get a code for my emission system
    Says gas cap lose
    There is prob a hose cracked somewhere causing both problems?
    Not sure
  • jd_24jd_24 Posts: 92
    I have the fuel smell come and go in my 2001 Outback. Typically its a slightly loose connection to the fuel filter. The cold weather causes a little shrink. This last time I tightened the hose clamps myself. Not sure if that solved it or not since the next day was warmer, but the fuel smell was gone. I've never noticed actual leaking gas in the 3 or 4 times its happened over the years.
  • I have a 05 Forester XT, getting fuel smell in cold weather, did some search and it's been a common problem, a fuel leak due to the fuel line hose shrinking causing the clamp loosen up a little. There was even a recall on certain WRX models in 01 or 02 that had the same engine. It's easier to fix on a non turbo engine, but for the turbo, they have to take the intake manifold apart where the fuel lines are underneath. I could actually see the fuel dripping using a flash light. I called SOA and they were kind enough to cover my repair. Most dealers quote $800 for turbo engine, under $200 for non turbo. Do a search on youtube and Forester forum. there was a guide on how to DIY if you have the mechanical skill.
    Get it fixed, you are talking about fuel leaking, not safe to keep driving it.

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