Last post on May 22, 2008 at 1:40 PM
You are in the Subaru Forester
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Subaru Forester, Car Buying, Wagon
#148 of 225 Engine Smell!?
Oct 04, 2007 (2:48 pm)
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?
#149 of 225 Re: Engine Smell!? [aladwag]
Oct 04, 2007 (7:27 pm)
I'm guessing you are in the NYC area. If you are shoot me an e-mail and I can probably have you bring it over to my shop and take a look at it. Something doesn't seem right and I'd love to help you get it sorted out.
#150 of 225 Re: Engine Smell!? [aladwag]
Oct 05, 2007 (7:43 am)
FWIW my 98 Forester had a nasty rotten egg smell for the first few weeks but thankfully it went away.
That Subie gave me 9 perfect years of service.
#151 of 225 Re: Engine Smell!? [aladwag]
Oct 06, 2007 (5:12 pm)
i've got a 2007 subaru forester sports as well (bought it in may). and have the same sort of smell that you're talking about--kind of a warm plastic smell coming from under the hood, can't smell it unless the windows are open or you're outside the car with it running, it's more evident after driving for quite a while, etc.
my problem is that it's not always smelling, and often doesn't smell when i've taken it in.
i've had the oil changed 3 times (all at dealerships), and asked about it once when i took it in, and was told it was likely just coating or something like that which had been sprayed on something accidentally and would burn off eventually. but it's been 5 months and 4000 miles and still smells...
i had my brother in law mechanic take a look at it and couldn't come up with anything aside from that or perhaps that some fluid got spilled on the engine when it got serviced. but the latter doesn't seem likely to me now since it's happened more than once and not always right after i get it serviced.
i dive mostly short distances when i do drive, and so hadn't smelled it in a while and thought it was gone, but i recently took a longer trip and it came back...
argh. let me know what you find out!
other than this the car's been great, but i'd really like it to stop smelling!!!!
#152 of 225 Re: Engine Smell!? [joesimonis]
Oct 06, 2007 (6:00 pm)
Hmm smells after a long drive generally indicate a CV joint issue, where when heated the grease will drip out of a cracked boot and land on an exhaust pipe. I've diagnosed this several times. Also could be a leaky turbo oil line as well.
#153 of 225 Re: Engine Smell!? [aladwag]
Oct 08, 2007 (4:50 pm)
You might check out SubaruForester.org for more information on the smell.
#154 of 225 Re: Engine Smell!? [aladwag]
Oct 09, 2007 (1:53 pm)
Well since it's been 6 months it's obviously not the undercoating still burning off (unless you seldom drive it). Since you're otherwise happy, rather than trying to get rid of it, I'd focus on figuring out what's causing the odor. It could be something simple like a small coolant leak caused by a loose hose. Maybe you could find a dis-interested 3rd party to confrim the smell?
IRT your customer service experience, keep climbing the ladder until you get to someone responsive (of course keep in mind the old saying that "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar"). I know for a fact that there are people working at SOA who are caring and considerate and will work with you to resolve your problem.
#155 of 225 Re: Engine Smell!? [p0926]
Oct 10, 2007 (10:00 am)
Call 800-SUBARU3, but be nice! Get a case number.
#156 of 225 Re: Engine Smell!? [ateixeira]
Oct 10, 2007 (10:49 am)
First, let me say thanks for all the responses, it is greatly appreciated. I have a case number, I've been nice but firm about not wanting my three-year-old daughter to have to smell the fumes that make even me a little nauseous...
After being told a scenario by an otherwise incredibly rude and abrupt supervisor in customer service that if my car cost $5k to trade in that Subaru might pick up $4k of the cost, two months later and one month after I brought my car to the dealer for an estimate of the trade in. I also requested and was granted another supervisor, whose only role was to deliver the offer. The offer? Subaru would pick up 50% of the trade-in cost.
That means it would cost me $4500 out of pocket to take a chance on another vehicle from them...something I'm not willing to do. They've abused and betrayed my trust, and I will no longer recommend them to anyone.
Some responses suggested I look for ways to fix the problem...makes sense. I just lost confidence when the dealer's own service technician described the problem as being due to undercoating sprayed on the engine (a manufacturing defect) and then stated the problem was not fixable. If Subaru can't fix it, I figured, nobody can.
But I am open to having the car looked at (assuming it's not going to cost me anything to look) just to see if what I'm describing makes your nose and throat cringe as it does mine. And who knows? Maybe there is a fix, maybe the tech was wrong. Stranger things have happened.
I'll also be writing a letter to Subaru certified mail return receipt requested insisting they fix the car within twenty days as the first step to having the car declared a lemon, something I realize is not a slam dunk, and taking all possible measures to publicize my dissatisfaction with the car and the service I've received since Subaru didn't consider my problem to be worthy of addressing properly when it was just me complaining.
I also believe the trade-in value assigned the car was unbelievably low ($13.5K) for a March 2007 Forester Sports X with 7000 miles which did have some body work done for a non-structural scrape on the driver's side. But losing $10k in value in less than six months? I think low-balling the trade-in value was just a nice way to have the dealer and SOA combine to make it look like they were being generous while having me pay most of the cost of trading out of their lemon.
I just drove home in the cold rain last night, and even in the rain as I walked away from the car I could smell that bitter stale odor...of the engine with the manufacturing defect, and the car company that positions itself as the environmentally aware automaker but doesn't care for the drivers who have to suck on stale fumes from their vehicles.
What I need is to have a consumer advocate read my letter in a public forum, at which point the attitude would change and Subaru would suddenly be eager to resolve what was certainly an unfortunate misunderstanding.
I really don't like the way I was treated by customer service who try to deny the smell, then blame the smell on third-party alterations (the remote start and alarm installed by the dealer!), the misleading "don't quote me" scenario of an 80% coverage by Subaru being floated for two months only to get a 50% offer.
P.S. They knew about the body work from the start of the discussions, so that was no surprise. And I was told in no uncertain terms after I calmly expressed my dismay at the low offer that it was the only and final offer Subaru would make.
As a standup comedian, one of my advantages is I can turn this scenario into a funny bit that will make audiences laugh and think twice about who they hand their money to.
#157 of 225 Re: Engine Smell!? [aladwag]
Oct 10, 2007 (10:51 am)
They have a Guaranteed Trade-in Program right now so many owners are seeing the exact opposite - very high offers for their trades.
The damage may disqualify yours, though.
Still, keep fighting, sounds like you can do better.