Is Your Subaru Forester Engine Emitting a Hot Smell? Here’s Why and How to Fix It

As a proud Subaru Forester owner, you may have encountered a unique issue: a hot smell coming from the engine. This can be concerning, especially if you’re unsure what it could mean for your vehicle’s performance and safety. In this article, we’ll explore the common causes of hot engine smells in Subaru Foresters and provide solutions for addressing the issue.

Causes of Hot Engine Smells

There are a few potential reasons why your Subaru Forester’s engine could be emitting a hot smell. Here are some common causes and what they could mean:

Overheating Engine

If your engine is emitting a hot smell and you notice the temperature gauge rising above the normal range, it’s likely that your engine is overheating. This can be caused by a variety of issues, such as a malfunctioning cooling system or low coolant levels. Ignoring an overheating engine can result in serious damage to your vehicle, so it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible.

Burning Fluids

There are several fluids that flow through your vehicle’s engine, such as oil, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid. If any of these fluids leak or spill onto hot engine parts, it can create a burning smell. This could indicate a leak or other issue with one of these fluids that needs to be addressed.

Worn Out Brakes

A hot smell coming from your vehicle could also be caused by worn-out brakes. When brake pads wear down, they can create a burning smell as the caliper presses harder on the rotor. If you notice the smell more when driving or applying the brakes, it could be an indication that your brake pads need to be replaced.

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Electrical Issues

Hot smells can also occur due to electrical problems, such as malfunctioning wiring or a melting fuse box. This can be due to a variety of issues, including water damage or normal wear and tear. If you suspect an electrical issue, it’s important to have it diagnosed and fixed by a professional mechanic.

Diagnosing the Issue

The specific cause of the hot smell coming from your Subaru Forester’s engine will depend on the symptoms you’re experiencing. A professional mechanic can diagnose the issue using various tools, such as engine diagnostics and visual inspections. Here are some potential steps they may take:

  1. Check coolant levels and the cooling system for leaks or issues.

  2. Inspect the brake pads for wear and tear.

  3. Check the fluids to see if any leaks or spills have occurred.

  4. Investigate the electrical system for wiring issues or faulty fuses.

Steps to Take

If you’re experiencing a hot smell from your vehicle’s engine, it’s important to take the right steps to prevent further damage or safety concerns. Here are some things you can do:

  1. Stop driving the vehicle if you notice the temperature gauge rising or the smell becomes stronger.

  2. Check all fluid levels, including oil, coolant, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid.

  3. Have a professional diagnose the issue and recommend repairs.

  4. If repairs are needed, consider getting a second opinion and comparing costs from multiple mechanics.

  5. Consider regular preventative maintenance to catch potential issues before they become bigger problems.


Q: Can I continue driving my Subaru Forester if it emits a hot smell?

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A: It’s best to avoid driving your vehicle until the issue has been diagnosed and repaired by a professional mechanic. Driving with a hot engine can cause extensive damage to your vehicle and compromise your safety.

Q: Are hot engine smells in Subaru Foresters common?

A: Hot smells from Subaru Forester engines are not uncommon and can be caused by a variety of issues. However, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible to prevent damage to your vehicle’s engine.

Q: How much will it cost to diagnose and fix a hot engine smell in my Subaru Forester?

A: The cost of repairing a hot engine smell in your Subaru Forester will depend on the specific issue and the labor costs of the mechanic you choose. It’s best to get a second opinion and compare costs from multiple mechanics before moving forward with repairs.

In conclusion, a hot smell coming from your Subaru Forester’s engine can be concerning, but it’s important to remember that it is a common issue and can be addressed with the proper steps. By diagnosing the issue and taking the proper precautions, you can maintain the performance and safety of your beloved vehicle for years to come.

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Alton Brobst

As a longtime Subaru enthusiast, Alton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our blog. From his early days of tinkering with engines to his current role as a certified Subaru technician, Alton has seen it all when it comes to Subarus. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys hiking and exploring the great outdoors.

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