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Guest Message by DevFuse
 

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A little smoke


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6 replies to this topic

#1 J_Subaru

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 11:19 AM

I own a 2002 Subaru Outback VDC and love it. Up till now I have had no problems with the car. I just found this message board in an attempt to figure out what is wrong with this great car. I think message boards are a great concept for these situations.


I recently took my Outback for its 30K dealership check-up with tie odometer at about 32K. I now am up to 33.5K after an 850 mi round trip between NJ & PA. On that trip I noticed some smoke coming up primarily from the rear of the hood near the windshield. After opening the hood it appears to come from bewtween the firewall and the engine. I checked the belt in front of the engine and it looked fine. The smoke doesn't smell sweet, and it isn't very dark. I noticed the smoke and the odd smell when I got off the Interstate. If I had been driving faster (80+ mph or so) the smoke was worse. If I let the car idle after pulling off the interstate or if I had to go slow for a while after taking an exit, there was barely any smoke once I turned off the engine.

A friend of mine thought the cause may have been a plastic bag on the catalytic converter. He thought it was more a plasitc smell although the car wouldn't smoke after idling for 10 minutes and quick drive around the block to heat it up for my friend to inspect. I wonder if the dealership overfilled the motor or transmission oils and it may bubble up. Or there may a small leak somewhere perhaps from a loose seal or plug.

Another curious thing since the dealership vist. Three times in the 1,500 miles since the visit the steering wheel has briefly pulled counterclockwise in a pulsating fashion. This lasts briefly and then disappears. After the pulling episode, I heard a clicking noise from underneath the car. I think it is right under me or a little behind me, but not certain. This clicking goes faster as I accelerate but seems to go away when I hit cruising speed. This clicking also does not last a long time. For full disclosure, the dealership advised me that I should change my brakes at 36 K.

I don't want to sound paranoid but I have had a three years of trouble free driving with the car. In addition, I am not really mechanically inclinded nor a great trouble shooter when it comes to cars. I am also planning another 850 mi trip this weekend and want to know if I can travel worry free.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

J_Subaru

#2 frag

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 11:27 AM

Look at your front CV joints boots. From what you describe - smoke coming from behind the engine and clicking noises - it very much looks like one of the CV joints boot is torn and is flinging grease on the cat and exhaust system. That's why it's not smoking just idling. It's probably axle replacement time.
Good luck!

#3 edrach

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 11:34 AM

Check the service record and see if they added oil to the transmission. If they spilled some on the engine it'll take a few days for it to burn off and that's normal (I guess). The "twitch" you describe doesn't sound normal as does the sound that comes with it. That might be something you go back to the dealer and describe if for no other reason than to get a written record of it in the event it becomes a warranty issue in the future. I would take a peak at the axles coming out of the transmission and see if the rubber boot might be torn on one of the inboard joints nearest the transmission. That could be the cause of both symptoms since it would throw grease onto the engine or catalytic converter causing the smoke and possible problems with that joint causing the "twitch." 30K is certainly too early to have a torn boot and I would hope is covered under your warranty. If it is torn or has a hole, it was likely done by a careless mechanic during the 30K service.

#4 J_Subaru

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 11:39 AM

Check the service record and see if they added oil to the transmission. If they spilled some on the engine it'll take a few days for it to burn off and that's normal (I guess). The "twitch" you describe doesn't sound normal as does the sound that comes with it. That might be something you go back to the dealer and describe if for no other reason than to get a written record of it in the event it becomes a warranty issue in the future. I would take a peak at the axles coming out of the transmission and see if the rubber boot might be torn on one of the inboard joints nearest the transmission. That could be the cause of both symptoms since it would throw grease onto the engine or catalytic converter causing the smoke and possible problems with that joint causing the "twitch." 30K is certainly too early to have a torn boot and I would hope is covered under your warranty. If it is torn or has a hole, it was likely done by a careless mechanic during the 30K service.


It is ok to go on the trip I mentioned and then take the car in afterwards?

#5 edrach

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 12:47 PM

It should be okay, but there's no guarantee that the problem won't get significantly worse IF the boot is torn. It'll only tear more as you drive if that is the case. A trip to the dealer to have them check the boots would do a lot to ease my mind before taking a long trip. Again, it might only be spilled oil and nothing to worry about. Hard to say from here.

It is ok to go on the trip I mentioned and then take the car in afterwards?



#6 edrach

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 12:52 PM

If I had been driving faster (80+ mph or so) the smoke was worse. If I let the car idle after pulling off the interstate or if I had to go slow for a while after taking an exit, there was barely any smoke once I turned off the engine.

J_Subaru

Re-reading your post, you might check under the hood and make sure the dipstick for the transmission (two dipsticks if you have an automatic) are properly seated. If they don't seal properly, I could see them blowing out diff oil or ATF and causing the smoke you see at speed and no smoke at idle when stopped. Worst case is the mechanic forgot to replace the dipstick after checking/re-filling the transmission. Check your owner's manual for the location of the dipsticks.

#7 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 02:19 PM

I agree generally with the idea of a fluid dripping or blowing onto the exhaust but wonder if it might be power steeri ng fluid? Might be worth checking the level.




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