My Subaru smells bad

Hi Tom and Ray,

My name is Sean and I am from Norther California. I have been listening to your car talk show 5 years now. I remembered that somebody called in to your show asked about why his car smells bad couple years ago.

I have a 2005 Subaru Outback. I have one question that kind of similar to the question was asked by the other person couple years ago in your show. My Subaru start smells bad when I am in idle state or after I stop. It smells some kind of rubber burning. I was trying to find wheather there is any leak in my engine or not but I could not find any leak from the engine. Can you help me where is the smell comes from?

The second question is that, the AC stopping working since last winter. I think it could be the electrical clutch problem because when I turned the AC button and I did not hear the electrical clutch engage. Could this be the possible reason why the AC would not work?

There are a number of possible reasons for a burning rubber smell including but not limited to a slipping serpentine belt, a dragging brake, oil leaking onto the exhaust system, or even a plastic bag stuck in the cat converter. Someone will need to look at it to ding the source of your smell.

Yeah, a bad AC compressor clutch is possible. As is a blown fuse. Or a seized or binding compressor…perhaps the belt slipping on the compressor pulley is where the burning smell is coming from.

These problems cannot be diagnosed long distance. They need to be looked at hands-on. People who don’t do their own work always end up at a shop anyway, so the sensible thing to do is let the shop do the diagnosis. Then if you have a question about the diagnosis we’ll try to help.