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sko 10-26-2012 06:09 PM

Burning Oil Smell...
Hey, just got my MY05 2.5i Legacy Wagon, car was shipped from the east coast (Pennsylvania) and I now own in it Portland, OR, a perfect home!

Anyways, car was a repo, and was about a quart low maybe a little less, oil was very dirty, black, but not sludge, so changed the oil and air filter.

Now, when I have the outside air on I can smell a little bit of burning oil maybe, or some other lubricant. Car has ~154k on it, I think the rings may be going. On the other hand I don't see any smoke out the exhaust, car runs great, drives great, need to replace the plugs/wires...

Wondering if installing/replacing a new cabin filter would fix this? Obviously not the oil burning, but the smell...


NWSPECB 10-26-2012 06:11 PM

Check on your exhaust pieces for any oil that may have dripped. If you see oil on the exhaust pieces start checking for leaks.

NWSPECB 10-26-2012 06:11 PM

and welcome to the forum!

sko 10-26-2012 06:16 PM

Yeah, thanks! I was over at another popular club for impreza's, been about 5 years since I got another Subaru that I can care about, and this time it's a Legacy Wagon, I must be growing up... ;)

TenzoGT 10-26-2012 06:28 PM

Welcome!.... It is probably just left over oil on the exhaust, but keep your eye on it, as for the smell, the cabin air filter will probably not cure your issue. Burning oil is a horrible smell that is not easily killed. Give it a few days depending on how much you drive. And congrats on growing up.. Lol

sko 10-26-2012 06:31 PM

Well, I think I smelt it before the oil change, and I do a pretty clean oil change, really just get oil on my hands and wipe it off immediately. I actually don't drive too much too, bike to work, so in the car maybe 2-3 times a week for less than 10 miles on average.

But yeah, I should drive it a good 50+ miles and then have a sniff after.

TenzoGT 10-26-2012 06:54 PM

For sure

sko 10-27-2012 12:49 PM

Check engine light just came on, I remember finding an O2 sensor in the rear hatch. Soooo... I think there is an O2 sensor sized exhaust leak and I was smelling that. Glad it's not burning oil, now I just need an O2 sensor!

sko 10-28-2012 06:24 PM

Also, just changed spark plugs/wires, each plug had oil all over it so I suppose I need to change those seals too... >_<

The plugs that were in the car were Denso Coppers, the plug wires also weren't pushed in all the way, and there were a crap load of leaves in that little air box flow smoother or whatever that empty box attached before the air filter is.

Anyways, put in NGK G Power Platinums and Duralast Wires, oh yah! ;P

eljefe1981 11-05-2012 02:20 PM

I have the same smell but it is kinda like some oily plastic. I looked in the engine bay while it was smoking through the hood. I think the smoke was white and not blue as blue would be motor oil burning (correct me if I'm wrong. I did notice that there was some anti-freeze residue on the top hose of the radiator and it was trickling down to I think the heat shield. When I get the chance I will replace the hose and see what happens. If anyone finds the solution to this, please post. Also, now I notice that there is a fishy smell when I first enter the car. Thanks for any help.

Subaru Flex 02-10-2013 09:54 AM

Radiator Hose
Hope you guys solved your problem by now. I had a similar issue. It was the radiator hose coming from underneath the forced air vent going to the top of the engine right next to the turbo. I cropped it a little and put a new clamp. The smell went away but I can still smell another leak. I have 146k miles in mine so it might be the hoses getting old and needing replace.

sigmafour 02-10-2013 11:03 AM

a lot of hoses can perish but the stock clamps are a load of crap and the first suspects for leaks on the hoses. If any are leaking you can generally swap the factory stupid spring clamp for a real hose clamp and good to go.

But if you keep smelling oil and it doesn't go away, the valve covers may be leaking which isn't all that uncommon. They are of course right above the headers so you need to get down under the car and really look. This is really how long is a piece of string question because it could be a lot of things that leak, just going to have to take a flashlight and work your way through each possibility if the smell doesn't go away. It does take a while for the smell, as already said for even a small amount of oil spilled, to go away...

Danteneon 02-11-2013 11:00 AM

Another thing that causes the oily burning smell is CV joint grease. The inner boots tear, flinging the grease out while the car is moving. This grease winds up on the exhaust. Voila! Burning oil smell. We see this a lot in our shop.

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