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Discussion Starter #1
periodically I notice a subtle coolant smell, usually after my hour drive to work. normally I smell it on the passenger side when I go to pull my bags out of the car. nothing shows up on the ground.

anyone had similar issues?
 

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I don't have this issue myself but it sounds to me that either a hose connected to the heater core or the heater core itself is leaking.
 

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Heater core

I once had a heater core go out on my first car (88 Mazda 323 hatchback). Middle of winter, heater was on full blast and I was on the highway. Windshield instantly fogged over and the floor board of the passenger side flooded with coolant.
And I was stuck on the side of the road.
My opinion is as mentioned above that you may have a loose hose connection to your heater core, a failed heater core, or leaking hose or fitting.
Of course it is summer so I would imagine you aren't running your heater and that's why your issue is not as pronounced then the smell. I would do the following.
1. Warm up the engine to operating temp and then turn the heater on and inspect under the dash on the passenger side with engine running. Look where the interior carpet ends and see if you have even a slight drip from somewhere.
2. Check your coolant reservoir in the engine compartment for proper level based on a hot or cold engine. With an hour commute to work I'd imagine you fill up regularly on gas, great time to check the level to see if over time it is dropping.
3. If you aren't using the heater now and your experiencing this, using the heater may amplify the problem... if you are concerned about it a reputable mechanic should be able to conduct a pressure test on your coolant system. They should be abe to verif your system has no leaks by doing a leak down test. As long as you don't have an issue it shouldn't cost much for the piece of mind as I am sure being stranded on the side of the road on an hour commute would not be enjoyable.

I have to add, this is one reason I really wish subaru had added that coolant temp gauge.

Hope your able to find your problem and with some luck it's a very quick and painless fix.

Zero
 

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I obviously agree about the temp gauge. I think I may buy some coolant from Subaru, just to keep in the garage. I also agree that you should rule out any mechanical issues. Don't know if your car is still under warranty or if you mentioned the year. At the very least, you should be able to visually inspect the level in bottle. Hopefully you are okay.


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Discussion Starter #6
thx all. coolant level is below the low line. so something is up. it's a 2013 with 61k, so out of warranty.

I do have a reputable subie mechanic here in Frederick, Md. so I"ll give him a call and talk to him and make an appointment.
 

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I have had this for 50k miles. Can never find evidence of a leak. Dealer and I both have acknowledged the smell. My coolant level does go down but on par with normal evaporation levels.

Mine is concentrated just where the CVT cooler is located on the passenger side of the motor just under the rear intake runner. It must be something to do with the CVT cooler hoses or fittings. Well at least I hope.
 

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Just because it is below the low line doesn't mean there is a problem. When the engine is cold the level should be at the low line and rise to the full line when at operating temp.

Coolant has water in it therefore it will naturally evaporate. Over time the level will go down do to this.
 

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Just because it is below the low line doesn't mean there is a problem. When the engine is cold the level should be at the low line and rise to the full line when at operating temp.
Not quite. As long as there is enough coolant in the reservoir to cover the hose, when the engine is cool, you are okay .... but, you should refill the reservoir. You should check this often as it does evaporate. Always try to maintain the reservoir level at the full mark with the engine is cold. The reservoir capacity above that mark to the cap is for expansion (not the area between low and full).

Per the manual:

1. Check the coolant level on the outside of the reservoir while the engine is cool.

2. If the level is close to or lower than the “LOW” level mark, add coolant up to the “FULL” level mark.
 

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I have recently began to smell antifreeze periodically. I have 4 k on my car. I bought a bottle of super coolant previously. I recently added about an inch of coolant to the reservoir to bring it up to level. I also think it could be from normal evaporation. It's really important to maintain the coolant level. I used to have my system flushed about every 2 years with other vehicles. I think it's as important as oil in a sense. We have no option in required coolant, but at least we don't have the synthetic oil debate going with this situation. I believe our recommended service time for super coolant is 7 years.


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I've honestly never heard of a coolant system loosing coolant do to evaporation as I thought they were sealed systems. Kinda worries me that people are smelling coolant on brand new cars and find their system a little low or having to add... I've never had to do this on any of my vehicles.
I will say that when I do need to replace, flush, or add I will use subaru's coolant. More than likely I will replace the coolant at about the 2yr mark as I also believe in flushing and replacing on a regular schedule.
 

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My 2006 impreza smelt like coolant after long hot drives sometimes.
Interestingly the 2018 shares the exact same low pressure rad cap designed originally to relieve pressure on head gaskets.
If a higher pressure sti cap was used the hoses would collapse after the car cooled.
I found that the cap itself can have a build up on the black rubber seal and have thought that this could be cleaned improving the seal.

It is my opinion that these cars breath coolant in and out as part of regular operation.

A normal amount is entirely usual.
 

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We have experienced the coolant smell since we brought Sigourney home four years ago. The dealers just top off the coolant and send us on our way.

We finally have a visible leak at the top of the radiator, under the cap joint, but not from the cap.

I truly do not believe our fans are working properly, if at all. The smell is evident after running the A/C and moving or crawling in traffic with the windows down.

Twice I believe the coolant light flickered yellow, I am not sure if this is even possible. I am thankful to be a windows down driver.

Once we get her back from the PPF guy our XV will be heading to the local dealer for a warranty system check.

The worst part is we just paid to have the system drained and filled.

Daniel


Remember where you have been because it will help guide where you are going. --DSH
 

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The coolant temperature light can only indicate red or blue, as far as I'm aware and what I've read in the owner's manual.

It's quite problematic to have such symptoms without an actual temperature gauge to get a good idea whether the issue one believes to be the problem is truly there.
 

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I'll weigh in here. I've noticed that coolant smell as well, but I have noticed it on the last three new vehicles I've had! I think it's just the smell of really hot rubber resin. When vehicles are newish (less than five years) a lot of off gassing occurs (this is why our interiors stop smelling new eventually). Potentially, the smell comes from our radiator hoses and other hoses that contain silicate.
 

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I have a 2019 with 4900 miles on it now and I too notice the coolant smell. I inspected the engine compartment very carefully and can find no signs of a leak. It is definitley antifreeze that I smell. It is most concentrated under the hood on the passenger side. It doesn't matter if I am running the heater or not, windows up or down, occasionally I smell antifreeze. It is a sick sweet smell. Yuck. So far my reservoir is full. A friend told me this is normal for Subaru's (really???).



If this is normal and not something to worry about (as so many people online seem to smell antifreeze and still run their cars to 100,000 miles with no problems), my interest is actually finding out where the smell is coming from? Curiosity is killing me!
 

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On my 2006 Impreza the car would definitely “breathe” out into the reservoir then back upon cooling.
I once put a sti rad cap on it, thinking that this might help.
What happened was that the rubber hoses collapsed as the car cooled. The STI cap wasn’t allowing the antifreeze to flow back.
I also noticed the new crosstreks also use the exact same cap.
Subaru did this to lower coolant pressure in a combination attempt which has all but eliminated head gasket failure.

Maybe your rad cap is on the low side?
 

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I have a 2019 with 4900 miles on it now and I too notice the coolant smell. I inspected the engine compartment very carefully and can find no signs of a leak. It is definitley antifreeze that I smell. It is most concentrated under the hood on the passenger side. It doesn't matter if I am running the heater or not, windows up or down, occasionally I smell antifreeze. It is a sick sweet smell. Yuck. So far my reservoir is full. A friend told me this is normal for Subaru's (really???).



If this is normal and not something to worry about (as so many people online seem to smell antifreeze and still run their cars to 100,000 miles with no problems), my interest is actually finding out where the smell is coming from? Curiosity is killing me!
I have a 2018 and I have the same issue! It’s at 22k miles right now and I’m noticing it more since I moved back to WA with it. Especially after driving for long periods of time and idling. Really only on the passenger side. But today I smelled it through the vents after idling for 20 minutes after a long drive. I take it in every 6 months and got recalls fixed. Getting the brake recall fixed next week so will ask them then. Haven’t checked the coolant level when the engine is cold yet like some recommend.
 
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