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2010 Forester
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Discussion Starter #1
Coolant smell - heater core?

I've been trying to iron out all the wrinkles in my 00 OBW for a while now - and since it's siting on jackstands now since I'm cutting out some cancer and fixing exhaust I have decided to finally address the "coolant smell in the cabin issue" - now I know I'm most likely going to be dealing with the heater core but I'm also suspecting that it might just be blown seals on the pipes that attach to the core... did anyone have any issues with those seals before?

I don't really want to spend more money that is necessary and order a new heater core... it would kind of suck if I later find out it was just the seals... it's pretty much same amount of work involved taking the entire (well, almost) dashboard apart to get in there... I want to be prepared.

Just FYI - I just replaced head gaskets that were leaking pretty bad and had put the entire cooling/heating systems through a lot of pressure (water pump was leaking too and I think that seal on water pump blew because of pressure in the system due to bad head gaskets)...

any ideas?
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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I have an '03 and in the summer I get a little coolant smell and smutz on the inside of the windshield, only when the car is first started, and it disappears in the winter.

So if you go in to check it out, let us know what you find.
 

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Lift the carpet at the top on the passenger side. If it's wet underheath, then your heater core is leaking. Been there; done that on another car. What a PITA of a job!!

Hope it's not and good luck.
 

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2010 Forester
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Discussion Starter #4
Well, it smells every time I turn heater to heat and windshield fogs from the inside.... So yeah... Most likely it's the heater core - I'm just not so sure if its the core itself or just seals.

Will let you know, should be tearing it apart later today.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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is the strength of the smell different with recirc on/off?
 

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Make sure the smell issue isn't just a dirty vent system. We use to squirt a deodorizer into the intake at the base of the windshield on the outside when cars went through the detail shop at the dealer. Made the HVAC system smell fresh. LOL

Make sure your not loosing coolant with the classic HG issue even though you had the HG replaced - it doesn't mean it was done correctly. Keep a close eye on your coolant level for a while see if any changes in level occur. Very very very slight leak with my 01 had me adding about 12oz of coolant about once every two weeks. Subaru replaced the HG and I might have put 12oz of coolant in it over the next 140,000 miles.
 

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Funny that I noticed this thread just popped up.

This morning in my 2013 2.5 (about 2k miles) i had a very faint whiff of coolant just after I started and backed out of the garage. A cool, humid morning, and the heat was off. I think the blower fan was on low. Less than a minute later the smell was gone.

My dealer is giving me free oil changes for two years and said to come by at 3500 for the first one. I'll keep an eye on things until then and make sure they look into it.
 

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Funny that I noticed this thread just popped up.

This morning in my 2013 2.5 (about 2k miles) i had a very faint whiff of coolant just after I started and backed out of the garage. A cool, humid morning, and the heat was off. I think the blower fan was on low. Less than a minute later the smell was gone.

My dealer is giving me free oil changes for two years and said to come by at 3500 for the first one. I'll keep an eye on things until then and make sure they look into it.
This is for a much different older car Matthew. The new cars many owners were reporting this and no one so far has come back with a leak found. My 2010 did this also pretty sure it was all the manufacturing oils and crud on the new parts that were smelling up the car for a while. Never had any leaks or needed to add coolant and at 48,000 miles now with zero issues.

My old 2001 had a leaky gasket different type of block vs head and gasket set up than the engine you have. Which case the 99's through 2003's had coolant leak issues with the head gaskets that did smell up the car.
 

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2010 Forester
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Discussion Starter #9
Well, you'll need a lot of patience if will ever attempt to replace heater core.Entire dashboard has to come out including the support beam... I'm not out of the woods yet - I was just barely able to take it all apart - and due to the fact that tomorrow's my b-day I might not get a chance to get the heat/air unit out of the car... look at the photos - definitely leaks antifreeze inside the car - wet carpet underneath the passenger side and marks where it leaks - I have ordered a new heater core anyway. Should be done by the end of the week... car on jack-stands anyway... oh well...
and... somebody, please correct the title of this thread... should be coolant... not cooland - sorry
 

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Yes, that is one PITA job. I did it on a '92 5.0 but there was a shortcut pulling the dash out and the plenum could be cut open to get to the heater core. Even so, it was a 15 hour job. I never hope to have to repeat it!!!

Good luck!!
 

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Car: 2008 Tribeca, 2010 LGT, Sold: 2005 XT Limited
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The hicksterization is to route the heater hose back to itself where it penetrates in to the cabin from the engine compartment and live with a cold car in the winter :)
 

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2010 Forester
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Discussion Starter #12
now, that's a thought... summer is fast approaching - who needs heat anyway?

well, almost done - just waiting for the core to arrive - I did take the entire heating/cooling unit apart - heater core is placed right smack in the middle of the cabin right under the windshield.

it was leaking bad - all the antifreeze was going under the driver's side carpeting though, what a mess!
 

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Car: 2008 Tribeca, 2010 LGT, Sold: 2005 XT Limited
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Actually, a true hickerster would then plug in a space heater to their cigarette lighter :)
 

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2010 Forester
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Discussion Starter #14
Actually, a true hickerster would then plug in a space heater to their cigarette lighter :)
better yet, pull the passenger seat and put a wood-burning stove in it's place - could boil water for hot coffee on those chill mornings in Chi-tow these days.

:rolleyes:
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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Just don't plug or clamp shut the hoses, the flow thru the heater core is the only flow through the engine until the thermostat opens.
 

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2010 Forester
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Discussion Starter #16
Just don't plug or clamp shut the hoses, the flow thru the heater core is the only flow through the engine until the thermostat opens.
I'm not intending to... we're just having fun - new core should be here tomorrow and so it will go into it's designed spot...
:cool:
 

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Car: 2008 Tribeca, 2010 LGT, Sold: 2005 XT Limited
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Just don't plug or clamp shut the hoses, the flow thru the heater core is the only flow through the engine until the thermostat opens.
Dave is saying this because he probably would have fixed it this way ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
in Hawaii most likely, in southern Cali most likely but not in a dead of winter in central NY

lol
 
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