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The wife just picked up her brand new 2012 Outback Limited in April, and we've got just over 5,000 miles on it now. We've both started to notice a strange smell in the interior of the vehicle. The odor is a very strange combination of what we think is the new leather/new car smell, but with a distinct skunk like odor. It does not remind me of any burning fluid or rubber/plastic smell I can remember, it just smells like a skunk. We've never hit a skunk, and we didn't notice the odor until about two months into owning the car. We've had several friends in the car who have also mentioned the smell (which is, needless to say rather embarrassing - particularly for what is still a new car).

We're not sure where it might be coming from - we've cleaned and protected all the leather surfaces once, to be safe, vacuumed top to bottom. Used Aerospace 303 protectant on the dash and doors. Some possible culprits perhaps might be the all weather rubber floor mats? Although we've had them in and out, and also power washed them a couple times - but the odor doesn't appear to change either way. We also have a couple of chocolate labs who we take to the puppy park and dog wash about once a week. Although we are 100% certain neither have been skunked while out. The odor occurs in high heat (it was almost 100 in Las Vegas last weekend on a road trip), as well as cooler temps (45 this morning on the drive to work). Doesn't matter if the A/C or heat is on or off. Have also changed the cabin air filter to no avail.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? It's not overpowering, but it is very noticeable.

Any thoughts on anything we might have missed? Haven't been back to the dealership as yet, and wanted to bounce this off the forum first. We sincerely appreciate any insight anyone may have. Cheers!
 

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well, it could be a skunk. :D

we have skunks wandering around the neighborhood, and cats, and dogs, and some days you just wake up to that fabulous smell.

maybe a pet startled a skunk under or around your vehicle.

of course, my car sits out in the drive. yours may not.

:8:

can you smell it outside the vehicle?
 

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first, go smell the bottle of 303 - it can stink, especially when old.

maybe check the a/c drain to make sure it isn't clogged.

Though the car is quite new - maybe there's some issue with the axle boots and some CV joint grease is getting on the exhaust.

perhaps you ran over a plastic bag, or a lump of tar, or other road debris that is cooking on the exhaust
 

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I've had past experiences (in different vehicles) of leather and seat treatment products smelling skunky after I applied them and the weather heated up significantly (I live in Dallas, TX). Never had any issues with cool weather, though.
 

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Wifes 2011 OB was the same way. IT did go away! We just purchased a 2013 OB and the "New Car Smell" is quite different. My wife swears its the rubber mats. I think its something Subaru uses during the manufacture of the interior. I thought it smelled more like pot myself. :eek:
 

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My all weather mats smelled quite different for some time. I just kept in the garage with the windows down and now the smell is gone.
 

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I have the same issue with my 11 limited. It smells like skunk, especially in hot weather, but it is still there in cool weather, just harder to notice. It showed up within a week of buying the car. My car is parked in the driveway and we had quite a problem with skunks in the neighborhood last spring when I brought it home. I had assumed that maybe a skunk camped out under the car for a while, but its been a year and a half and it hasn't gone away. I am worried it is something with the car. If a skunk had sprayed it would have gone away by now, and I have been all over under the car and haven't smelled anything. I think it is something off-gassing into the cabin. I have no idea what it could be. I don't like air fresheners so I am hesitant to use a fragrance to cover it up. It really sucks when it is really hot out, car has been closed up, and I have to use AC with windows closed.
It does seem to go away if I leave the windows open for a bit when first starting to drive.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
After reading the posts here, I've re-doubled my efforts to try and trace the offending interior part. I believe their might be something to the all-weather mats. I don't have any typical smell that seems like any rubber based product I've ever used, so that's why I didn't think they would be a likely culprit at first. But now, I'm not so certain. One would think that Subaru would do more research on factory branded upgrade parts like that. Nothing says love my Subie than freshly skunked new car leather smell! GACK!! I'll report back after some further investigation.
 

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I purchased a brand new XV Crosstrek four months ago. I have 2,500 miles and it smells awful. I've tried removing almost everything from the car in attempt to pinpoint the pot/skunk smell and have not been able to determine the cause. It's to the point I'm regretting purchasing the car all together.
 

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the car may have a cabin air filter that has gotten wet. the manual should show how to change that. (or check around cars101.com for info)

split CV boot could be slinging grease onto hot exhaust. that stinks - many subaru owners have experienced that. (have you present half-axle regreased and rebooted - MUCH better than any rebuilt if caught soon enough)

Road debris might be cooking-off from the exhaust.

dripping or overfilled fluid getting on the exhaust will stink.
 
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