Odd set of Symptoms

I started our 2005 Legacy turbo(115k) and my 3 yr old yells smoke daddy. I look back around car and notice a black plume of smoke. I hear an occasional squack. It goes away. I drive away and find the battery light flickering. Eventually the battery light, ABS light and cruise light are intermitently flicking while the speedometer keeps dropping and rising back to speed. The tach seems fine. The car has a slight miss.

No check engine light or oil light on all this time. I turn around after 1/4 mile and go back and park it.

I check it with father in law who suspects alternator or belt and its working fine.

Any ideas???

I would still be suspicious of the alternator.

“I check it with father in law who suspects alternator or belt and its working fine.”

Please Explain.
What’s working fine ?
Is the vehicle now working fine or . . .
are the alternator and belt working fine (please explain how you know this) ?


Where was the black smoke coming from? From under the hood? Out the exhaust?

Smoke was seen after walking away. Not sure of source unfortunately. It could have been hood.

Altenator was a guess since batt light made others flicker. Checking alt was belt on and tight.

Not sure if smoke & batt light related.

Air Conditioner ?

A seizing air conditioner compressor or accessory drive belt idler/tensioner pulley could cause a belt to burn, make a “squack”, slow the alternator, and make some smoke.

I’d check the belts, pulleys, tensioners, a/c compressor, a/c clutch, etcetera. Perhaps just a very careful belt inspection would indicate whether a belt has been burning on a pulley that won’t turn freely.


Thanks. It had recent work below those belts in the timing belt area . Maybe all related since removed.

The odd events happened again of Auto climate control locking up, ABS light/Brake Light/Batt light flashing on/off. It also included an err IU in the dash board also.

It was checked by a Subaru mechanic and the alternator voltage at idle was 17V. He changed it out(expensive part) and hopefully they never return.

Hopefully the voltage spikes didn’t damage any modules. My wife’s car, a 1993 Toyota Celica, was doing a similar thing. The alternator and battery lights were flickering on and off intermittently. I tested the running voltage at one point when the lights were off, and the voltage was right on at 14.2V, even when revving the engine. Check it again after it started acting up, and the voltage was running up to 18V as you revved the engine. Took the alternator back as a warranty exchange, and it’s been fine since.