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Discussion Starter #1
'01 Outback Limited, approx. 232,000 miles. I have recently noticed a burning possibly electrical smell both under the hood and inside the car. I know its not brakes, bearings, cv, etc. because the smell is present within 2 minutes of starting the car, even if not driven. The smell seems to be strongest behind the battery under the fusebox area. I can't see any signs of wire insulation melting or anything of that sort. I can say that I replaced both headlights recently and the one on the driver side (same side as smell) is already out again....and also a backlight on the dash behind the temperature gauge is out. Not sure if the smell is coming into the cabin b/c the heat is on. I need to test that. I'm perplexed at the moment. Oh and no blown fuses in the box either. :confused:
 

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I'm not saying you don't have an electrical problem but, cv grease can smell quite odd. Check that a split boot isn't throwing grease on the exhaust. Or perhaps some other fluid or road debris is cooking on the exhaust.
 

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if you have a head light out check the connector on the bulb under the cap. they are known to melt. this would cause both the headlight to go out and to be an "electrical" smell. rockauto sells just the connector or the dealer sells the whole cap. hope this helps
 

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Thanks for the responses guys. I haven't had a chance to look at it yet because not long after I posted this I slipped on the stairs and re-aggravated an old disc injury in my lower back. Its been too sore to do anything but I should get to it soon. I'm kind of leaning towards cardoc's theory about the battery cables since the smell is very specifically behind the battery and under the fuse box area. No smell if I put my head near the headlight, however I do think the connector needs a look if the bulb went out so soon after replacing it. I will also check to see if any lubricants might be burning anywhere.
 

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Thanks for the responses guys. I haven't had a chance to look at it yet because not long after I posted this I slipped on the stairs and re-aggravated an old disc injury in my lower back. Its been too sore to do anything but I should get to it soon. I'm kind of leaning towards cardoc's theory about the battery cables since the smell is very specifically behind the battery and under the fuse box area. No smell if I put my head near the headlight, however I do think the connector needs a look if the bulb went out so soon after replacing it. I will also check to see if any lubricants might be burning anywhere.
There is a ground lug on the inside of the fender between the battery and fuse box.

On another note, hope you feel better. Do lots of stretching.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So I finally feel good enough to check up on some things. Don't see anything on the exhaust and headlight connector looks ok. I replaced my battery cables for good measure since they were looking a bit old. To be safe, I got genuine Subaru parts from the dealer. The smell is still there. Its still coming from the battery/fuse box area. I noticed something amiss with my battery readings. It reads 12.2 volts when the engine is off, but only 11.76 when the engine is running. The battery and alternator are both really new as of a couple months ago so I didn't think to check until now. I guess I should pull them and have them more thoroughly checked?
 

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Yeah, so the alternator failed the test at the parts store. It wouldn't even start spinning on account of the machine saying it had a bad ground. It was under warranty so I got a new one free, but I have my doubts as to how long it will last. I'll probably just pick up one from the dealer in a week or two when I have the cash. For now, the smell is gone and problem solved.
 
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