2005 Subaru Forester Acid sulfur hose burning smell

  • 4 CYL
  • AWD
  • 85,000 MILES
Approx 3000 miles after the dealership had forgotten to put oil back into my car after its 25000mile service, I've had problems. The dealership claimed the oil leaked out - all within 20miles without a single drip/puddle anywhere. The car developed a burning smell - "acid, sulfur, brake pad, burning hose". Dealership said nothing was wrong.

At 40,000 mile I took the vehicle to a different Subaru dealership when the check engine light came on. After 20,000 miles they figured out it was the catalytic converter. They also claimed no issue with the burning smell. Fuel consumption is bad - half what it used to be; power loss forcing use of 3rd often. I also said fan seemed to be be sticking and screeching - dealership also said no issue.

Took car to local service shop for services. Air compressor stopped functioning - cause of the screeching sound - replaced. Spark plugs and thermostat also replaced - hoping to solve fuel and power issues (Not solved yet).

Radiator flushed, brake fluid replaced, transmission fluid replaced. STILL have smell - "Acid sulfur hose burning smell". Now, outside temp gauge totally wrong; engine temp gauge bouncing like a yo-yo.

I recognize now that the dealerships appear not to have the tools, training or knowledge of the vehicle they sell.

Any ideas on the cause? What can I do to fix the issues?
Do you
have the same problem?
Saturday, January 16th, 2010 AT 12:32 PM

1 Reply

A continuous burning-sulfur smell - usually indicates a problem in the catalytic converter or other emission control devices.

If the engine fails to go into closed loop when the O2 sensor reaches operating temperature, or drops out of closed loop because the O2 sensor signal is lost, the engine will run too rich causing an increase in fuel consumption and emissions. A bad coolant sensor can also prevent the system from going into closed loop because the computer also considers engine coolant temperature when deciding whether or not to go into closed loop.
If the sensor dies altogether, the result can be a fixed, rich fuel mixture. Default on most fuel injected applications is mid-range after three minutes. This causes a big jump in fuel consumption as well as emissions, and if the converter overheats because of the rich mixture, it may suffer damage causing a continuous burning-sulfur smell.
Also When there is too much fuel pressure, the engine runs rich. This causes an increase in fuel consumption and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions. An engine that is running really rich also may experience a rough idle, surging and possibly even carbon-fouled spark plugs.
Finally If the A/C compressor is binding up, possibly due to a lack of lubrication, internal wears or an over-charged A/C system (too much refrigerant), it may be lugging down the engine when it is engaged. If the problem only occurs when the A/C is on, there is an issue with the compressor. (Compressor speed try to overcome the speed of the crankshaft could cause engine to lose power)
Solving fuel consumption issue can save the new converter and stop the sulfuric smell.
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Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 AT 7:46 AM

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