Fumes in 2011 Subaru Outback

Does anyone know why when I come to a stop with the heater on, the car smells like exhaust? I took in into our local Subaru shop and they couldn’t find anything wrong. When I’m driving it’s fine, but in town or in traffic, I have to keep shutting off the heater. If I forget, the car fills up fumes and I have to drive with the windows down or my daughter’s asthma flares up. Any ideas? I’m taking it to another shop tomorrow.

Your vehicle needs to be repaired. Fumes in the vehicle is very dangerous. I’m glad you’re getting a second opinion and hopefully the second shop will find the problem. If they don’t…make sure a third shop gets involved very soon. I think I would forget about driving the Subaru until the problem is resolved…even with the windows down. How old is your Subaru? If it’s fairly new you might be suffering the effects of interior “outgassing”.

Check to see if maybe the fresh air vent is open while in traffic. Does it smell that way when always stopping with no cars around and no wind, which is important ? If you still smell exhaust, you have a problem and follow @misdleman’s good advice.

a 2011 should still be under factory warranty, unless you’re over the mileage.

I dunno if your local Subaru shop is the dealership or not, but I’d take it to one or two of them and have them check it out.Take the documentation you have on the problem now when you go to the next shop and keep records of your visits. Call up Subaru of America(assuming you live in the states) and tell them of your problem; this might get things kicked up a notch and they send someone down to look at it

In addition to documenting everything as bscar suggested, pick up a carbon monoxide monitor at the local hardware store. I cannot imagine that any manufacturer would “blow off” a car owner that came armed with a high CO reading.

If all else fail, you could rent the same car or as close as you can find) and see if that one has the same problem. If it does, it must be something inherent in the car’s design. If it doesn’t, you have evidence there is something definitely wrong with your own car. Exhaust leaks can be difficult to find, but they can be found eventually if the search is thorough and complete. It’s just that you don’t want to have to pay for a thorough and complete search on your car, if the rental car has the same problem. Another option is to ask a dealership if you could borrow one from the lot to do the test.

So our local shop found the leak when the dealership couldn’t. What was explained to me was that there is a crack all the way around something that’s like the manifold (?) in our 2011 Subaru Outback. It was towards the front of the car, which was why every time I started it or came to a stop, I could smell exhaust fumes. Thank you for your help and suggestions!

Hi WearingThin, I came across this thread and I’m having the same problem. I have a 2002 Outback, and when it gets cold there’s a strong smell of gas in the cabin when I’m idling. Its been around 5 degrees the past few days here in Colorado. When I came home today I could still smell the fumes on my clothes when I came in. Is there any way you could tell me exactly what the problem was, and roughly how much it cost to fix? By the way, I have asthma too, but the smell doesn’t trigger any symptoms.

@RigelMac–This appears to be a totally different problem, as the OP clearly had an exhaust leak from a manifold, and you appear to have a problem with gasoline fumes. These are very different problems, although both are odoriferous and troubling.

Are you aware that there was a factory recall of Subarus of your era for defective fuel line clamps, which allowed a small amount of fuel seepage at very low temperatures?

I would suggest that you phone the service dept at a Subaru dealership, give them your VIN, and ask if there are any open recalls on your car. If your car is covered by that fuel line clamp recall, replacing the defective clamps could be the solution to your problem. Even if your car is not covered by that recall, I would suggest having your mechanic check all of the clamps on the fuel lines for evidence of fuel seepage.

I would check exhaust manifold for a leak, do you hear any pfff sounds while running?

Probably the exhaust manifold was the problem. It might have had a crack in it, or the crack might have been between it and the cylinder head, what it seals to.

Cracked exhaust manifold at not that uncommon, as that is the part that gets the hottest and therefore is the most likely to crack. And often it has a heat shield on top of it, which concentrates the heat even more.

Glad you got your car back on the road again.

I had an engine fume problem on a 2000 Focus and the problem was a cracked rubber vent tube(might have been the pcv)-Kevin

Thanks…not quite back on road. They sent off the part for welding, if it can’t be welded the part alone will cost $750 to replace. They described it as a “snaky looking thing” that’s part of the manifold and works with catalytic converter (?). I might not be quoting then correctly…it’s not a language a speak. Our Subaru Outback is only a 2011 but has 95,000 miles on it.

To RogelMac, my car never smelled like gas, just strong exhaust fumes. I’m sure we have different problems as everyone has mentioned. Thank you again everyone!

On older vintage cars exhaust parts like this can usually be found at the local auto-recyclers lot – or acquired from their parts network – from otherwise good but wrecked cars for what Ray calls “short money”; but on a 2011 less likely, so if the welding doesn’t work you may indeed be looking at a $750 parts bill for a new part. Cross your fingers, hopefully welding works. If not, $750 is still a lot less than 2 months of new car payments.

True…and thank you again.