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2004 (my04) outback. R 3.0
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46 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
HI Guys
Just bought a 2004 (my04) outback r 3.0 6cyl, so for the US its the 2005 model. (we are one year ahead in the models)

After accelerating hard and punching it full throttle i notice a rotten odour in the cabin. Must be the egg smell i have read about

Car is 85,000miles (136,000km) no rough idling, goes great, smooth, no check engine lights, nothing out of the ordinary engine performance wise.

The other day we took it up on the hoist to fix some suspension parts and we noticed oil around the oil filter, we figured out it was the oil cooler gasket/seal. Now, It is possible that the oil is dripping onto the exhaust creating the smell, but i don't think oil will smell like eggs, also it is only happening when i am pushing it full throttle at high revs. If it was oil on the exhaust it should be a constant smell, right?

After some research, everything points to the catalytic converter/ oxygen sensor, but there is no check engine light and also how would we know if the oxygen sensor or cat converter is the problem? Where to from now?

Any insight?

Thanks
 

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Somebody Else's XT
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14,445 Posts
Poisoned cat. It may well be that the original problem was long since repaired, but had been driven while broken for so long that it contaminated the cat.

Verify that the check engine light works at startup. Take it to autozone and ask for a free diagnostic scan- you may find pending codes that haven't hit the threshold for firing the light on the dash.
 

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2004 (my04) outback. R 3.0
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46 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Poisoned cat. It may well be that the original problem was long since repaired, but had been driven while broken for so long that it contaminated the cat.

Verify that the check engine light works at startup. Take it to autozone and ask for a free diagnostic scan- you may find pending codes that haven't hit the threshold for firing the light on the dash.
could it just be an oxygen sensor? And what about if there is no pending codes?
 

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'14 Subi OBW, '18 Subi Forester
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1,922 Posts
The 'rotten egg' smell, hydrogen sulfide, is typically the result of sulfur in the fuel contacting certain base metals in the catalytic converter. No sulfur => no smell! So while it could be aggravated by a condition within the converter that may have exposed some of the base metal coatings (and it can even happen in a perfectly healthy cat if there is too much unburned fuel reaching it), it could just as easily be an indictment of the fuel you are getting. In the USA, sulfur reduction in gasoline has been an EPA priority, so the incident of people complaining about this has gone down considerably. No idea about what you receive Down Under, or where the crude is sourced. If you know anything about the distribution in your area, try another gas station that may be getting it from a different refinery.
 

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2013 Outback 3.6L Limited with EyeSight
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218 Posts
Bad tank of gas that doesn't fully burn well in the cat.
 

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2007 OBXT Limited, 5MT 148K
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420 Posts
As has been mentioned, it's largely just a result of the fuel being used. A car not running properly can certain exacerbate the issue but it comes down to how the cat oxidizes and reduces the exhaust gases. A fuel high in sulfur will produce that odor. Cat. converters produce water vapor and CO2 while breaking down hydrocarbons.

Water + sulfur + heat = hydrogen sulfide

The more HCs you're producing, the worse the smell is going to be.
 

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97 Outback 240000
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1,139 Posts
My car smells like french fries when low on oil, roasted marshmallow when the HG blew and wet dog when it rains. The only time it smelled like rotten eggs was when I hit a skunk.
 

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2012 limited, white, no moonroof or nav
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1,696 Posts
The folks telling you it is the gas are almost certainly correct. If you are still using the tank it came with, run it down to nothing and fill up with some name brand top tier stuff.......Chevron, Shell, etc. See if that helps. Crappy fuel can have all sorts of nasty in it, especially if the car sat for very long.
 

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2004 (my04) outback. R 3.0
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46 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
thanks for the replies, i am on my first tank of newly bought fuel since i purchased the car, i filled up Bp ultimate 98, as far as i know the fuel is good in Australia
Today i took it for a hard spin to replicate the smell, and i couldn't smell anything.

I think i will wait until i fill up a few times at different places, we will see what happens. Somehow i highly doubt it is the fuel. We get good fuel down under.(i think)
 

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2004 (my04) outback. R 3.0
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46 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
My car smells like french fries when low on oil, roasted marshmallow when the HG blew and wet dog when it rains. The only time it smelled like rotten eggs was when I hit a skunk.
no wonder why you blew the gasket, you were low on oil. If i got roasted marshmallow and french fries smells through the duct, believe me i wouldn't post the thread in the "problems & maintenance" section.:D
 

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2012 limited, white, no moonroof or nav
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I think i will wait until i fill up a few times at different places, we will see what happens. Somehow i highly doubt it is the fuel. We get good fuel down under.(i think)
Do you know how old the fuel that was in it was? Good fuel is like a steak in the refrigerator........Wait long enough, and, no matter how "Good" it was, it turns to crap.
 

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97 Outback 240000
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1,139 Posts
I typed New Zealand Skunk into google out of curiosity and got quite an education. The previous owner wasn't an herb farmer by any chance?;)
 

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2004 (my04) outback. R 3.0
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46 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Do you know how old the fuel that was in it was? Good fuel is like a steak in the refrigerator........Wait long enough, and, no matter how "Good" it was, it turns to crap.
When i bought it last week it was almost empty, i filled it up and still have the same tank, although the smell is very intermittent, yesterday it came back but only slightly, day before nothing. I will see how i go within the next two weeks before i decide to do anything. Keep in mind the smell is only coming when i push full throttle.
 

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2004 (my04) outback. R 3.0
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46 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
just to update on the thread incase in the future people can use it as reference for similar problems.

I am on the second tank of new fuel. And the "egg smell" on high revs and hard accelerating is still there but very, very intermittently, and only a slight smell comes sometimes. I will wait until i fill up a third tank and see if the smell still comes.
 
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