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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After several months, I am nearing the end of my rope. I'm hoping someone has had a similar experience or can point me in the right direction. A little background:

A couple months ago I had my clutch replaced under warranty at my local dealer. When I got the car back, I noticed that several items had been incorrectly reinstalled or damaged during reassembly (intercooler hoses were not installed, wires were dangling, and the BOV gasket was folded in half). These items were apparent on the drive home when I couldn't get any boost and heard air escaping under the hood. While annoying, they were relatively simple fixes. However, I also started noticing an oil smell entering the cockpit when the vehicle was running but at a standstill and the ventilation system was on "fresh air" instead of recirculate. The smell goes from annoying to downright nausiating depending on how long the vehicle has been running.

I have had the vehicle back to the dealer 3 times and the car has been with them a total of 4 days. They have been unable to find any leaks which may be causing the problem. They replaced the axle seals in the tranny even though I told them it was an engine oil smell, not a gear oil smell (I run Mobile 1 which has a pretty distinct smell). They have pretty much told me they cannot find it. I have been all over the car, and cannot find it myself.

Obvious things I have checked:

Oil lines to and from the turbo
Oil plug
Oil filter
Checked for oil spots or other accumulation under the car and on the exhaust

None of these appears to be the culprit.

I thought that the smell might be getting into the car through the ventilation system drain tube, so I temporarily plugged it and I am still getting the smell. If I understand the system correctly, I cannot see how this is possible. I was under the impression that the ventilation system gets fresh air from the vents along the bottom edge of the windshield. These vents are isolated from the engine compartment via a seal, so I cannot see how the smell is getting into the car if it isn't from the drain tube.

I have been working on cars for about 20 years, and this one is baffling me. I have to sell this car soon (STi coming in) but I cannot with this glaring problem. Any and all help or suggestions would be much appreciated. I have already contacted Subaru NA regarding my dealer due to this problem and numerous problems that occured in the past. If it weren't for the fact that the car was outside of its warranty by the time the clutch came in and was replaced, I never would have gone back to this dealer.

Thank you in advance.

J.B. Hebert
 

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A heavy smell implies oil is hitting something *really* hot, and burning off on contact. Check around the turbo, including the oil return line. Get under the car and trace the exhaust piping to the manifold, and look for gray/white spots where oil may have been.

Is there oil consumption (from checking the level)?

Nature of the smell aside, is the gear oil level stable? Or is there a pattern of staining on the chassis and elsewhere under the car, as if a rotating part were seeping oil and the oil is flung about as it comes out during rotation? Like a circular splat but you'll only see portions of the circle, since the rest will hit the ground - see what I mean? A dealer may dismiss this as road grime.

Did you check under the front cover? Can you see anything coming out the cam seals maybe on either head?

When you replaced the clutch, was the rear motor seal replaced also?

Is the sump overfilled?

When you idle the car and wait forever, you see no smoke at all? You just smell oil? Weird, very weird.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Sadly, I've been all over the car and can find no traces. The oil level remains constant and there are no drips or residue under the car. It certainly isn't gear oil (much different smell). At this point I'm thinking I have a leak or problem with the PCV system. I'm thinking a hose got removed or bumped during the work and I'm getting an oil smell from there. Does anyone have a diagram of all the connections?

Thanks again for the help.

J.B.
 

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I have what seems like same problem

I'm going back in to the dealer on Monday morning. I'm taking a courtesy car, and I'm not giving it back till my car is fixed.

Here's what I wrote yesterday in "Oh, Canada" forum:

The day that I drove away from the dealer's garage in my 2002 WRX wagon, after the 48,000km service, it started........fumes inside the car. Especially pronounced at idle or low speed. No smell at all at 120km/hr. I mentioned it right away, took it back, and they more or less told me: (a) I was imagining things or (b) "perhaps a little fluid got spilled on your catalytic converter - it'll burn off soon - don't worry." Took it back 3 more times and one guy finally agreed and said: "Yeah, there is a problem." Then 2 more hours waiting. The mechanic emerges and says he can't find anything wrong, but that my car has burned 2.5 liters of oil in 1500km or so of driving. They tell me to go away (for the 4th or 5th time) and come back later if the problem persists.

Well, the problem is persisting, and there are only 4,000km to go before the end of my 60,000km warranty (Maybe they're hoping to stall me just long enough to make expensive repairs harder for me to insist on?).

Seems to me onset of the problem is too coincidental with the 48,000km maintenance work not to have originated exactly there. The mechanic must have screwed something up.

Anyone have any ideas, similar experience, suggestions?
 

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similar problem

I have a '02 Rex and I am experiencing similar problems. I smell the burnt bacon smell (or oil) when i am idling on any type of incline after i have driven somewehre. I originally smelt it in the cabin, so i got out of my car and popped the hood searching for the smell. It is the strongest in near or around the turbo area. Im wondering if there is a gasket that has "sprung" a leak or if. Background: started to smell it 5 weeks ago. recently added grounding mod somwhere in that time frame. changed over to 10w-30 mobil one about 4-5 weeks ago as well, i was running 5w-30 before. I just rolled over 35k on milage.
Any suggestions?
 

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me too

Ever since my uppipe / downpipe install and oil change, I've been smelling it. Like you guys, it's when the cars warmed up. Doesn't even have to be driven hard. Stoped at a light and I get the smell after a few seconds, sometimes longer.

I didn't find any leaks in the oil plug and filter. And no drips on the floor of my garage.

I did notice though that if I stop, then backup a few feet, the smell comes into the cabin more quickly and stronger than if I just stop and wait. :confused:

If you guys find anything let us know.
 

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I think I found the source of my smell. I noticed dirty oil inside the plastic shrould that goes over the headers underneath the car. It also covers the oil filter slightly, and it seems oil has been spilled into the shroud every oil change. I guess the dirt and stuff accumulated on it and it became some sticky goo. Since it doesnt touch the headers directly, the heat may be slowly "cooking" it every time I drive, causing the smell.

I sprayed it down with brake cleaner and wiped it clean. I havent' smelled it lately, but I also haven't been driving much. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
 
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