Subaru Outback Forums banner

Oil smell from vents and engine compartment

1814 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  canubaru
Hello All,

Newbie to this forum, but returning to the ru fold. Sorry for the length of this but......

Just bought a 97 Legacy OB LTD. Real clean rig, 188K and runs like a champ. There are no oil (or other) leaks in the engine compartment. However, when we purchased it (private sale), I checked the engine oil & was 1+ quarts low, with ~ 1,500 miles to go before the next oil change. I thought this was a bit odd & asked about any issues. Of course the response was "No". The ad said she had the following done (replaced): head gaskets, timing belt, drive belts, cv axles, "and more". No receipts, but based on the cleanliness of the engine compartment and looking at the cvj's, I did not argue. We took it for a spin and after we returned, there was a faint oil smell in the cabin from the vents (from OS air - not circ'd). After running the fan full speed for a few minutes, the smell faded, but was still there. Also, when the hood was opened, it smelled "hot", and there was a definite oil smell - like you'd get if you spilled oil on an exhaust manifold. I could not smell any oil in the exhaust nor does it smoke.

I've tried searching, and can't seem to find a match with this issue so looking for help.

Anything you could provide would be a great help!!! I just hope I'm not looking at putting a bunch more $$ into this baby (paid high-end).

Thanks Much!
1 - 4 of 4 Posts

· Registered
'99 Outback 2.5 GT auto & '97 LegOB w/ grossly insulted 2.5
141 Posts
A little oil on the 'Y' pipe will go a LONG way. Valve cover gaskets are primary suspects, as is the oil separator plate on the rear of the block (requires pulling the engine, or transmission to service). Just pulled a '97 LJ 2.5 D w/ 183K which had the PCV port from the top of the block 80+ % occluded ( point being, service the PCV system before moving on to more expen$ive possibilities). You might begin with a sheet of cardboard under the front drive line to narrow down the leak point. Mark the wheels' position on the cardboard for a reference. Good luck!

· Registered
3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks H-D, but as my post stated, there are NO leaks anywhere. We drove it ~ 40 miles home (yesterday), garaged, nothing on the concrete this AM. Drove it today (~ 50 mi round trip) and nothing. The engine compartment is clean as a whistle (and dry as a bone).

Any other ideas?

Also, what does "servicing the PCV system" entail? I can turn wrenches, but definitely not an auto mech. If I can find on-line, just say so. Thx.

· Registered
01 Outback H6 VDC, 97 GT wgn w/ ej22, 98 OBW w/ej22
1,390 Posts
they probably replaced the CV / axles because the boots were torn. it is rare for an axle to fail without a torn boot. usually they replace when the boot tears and the axle is still good.

but the grease will fling out on to the exhaust and stink until it is cleaned off or burns off. the passenger side inner boot is the most common failure and the front cat is right there. look down next to engine ans see if the is BLACK gunk on the cat / exhaust.

check the other side for gunk over there as well. this is not an unusual situation.

congrats on the car and happy motoring.

edit: some sort of a spray can brake cleaner from the local parts store should help clean it off if you really care. BUT BUT BUT just make sure the exhaust is COLD and you let it completely evaporate and dry BEFORE you run the car.
1 - 4 of 4 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.