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Subaru Outback/Legacy Starting Issues

muklukmukluk Posts: 18
Yesterday it was 10 degrees Farenheit and my usually trusty subaru would not start (turned over but didn't start). This car has its original battery. I had AAA come out and jump it, then drove it to Napa auto parts. The guy there tested the battery and said it was fine (holding a charge etc) and I did not need a new battery. I asked if the car should start now and he said it should. He did suggest that I clean the terminals with baking soda- as apparently there was some corrosion that he claimed might cause problems with cold weather starting. Drove my car around for about 20 minutes or so running errands (kept engine running) and brought it home. About four hours later, same problem, turns over will not start. So any ideas? My temptation is to try to clean the terminals and if that doesn't help, jump it and drive it over to the dealer so they can have a look. If it isn't the battery then what is it? If I do need a new battery what model is recommended? Cold weather is anticipated for the next few days. I appreciate any advice that might be offered.
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Comments

  • PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,808
    If it's turning over the problem isn't the battery. Since the car does run and the battery checked out, I'd lean towards a fuel pressure problem. I have a vehicle that's bleeding off fuel pressure somewhere if it sits for an extended period of time and will do the same thing, turn over but not start. Try this as a test. Go out to the car and turn the key to the ON position as if the car is running. Don't turn it all the way to the crank position. If you hear the low hum of the fuel pump running for a few seconds as the fuel pressure builds up I'd bet you have a leak that's bleeding off fuel pressure. If you hear the pump running, turning the key to ON and getting fuel pressure built up should get the car to start when you turn the key to CRANK.

    PFFlyer@Edmunds

    Moderator - Hatchbacks & Hybrid Vehicles

  • muklukmukluk Posts: 18
    Well I did go ahead and clean the terminals. The negative terminal didn't seem too bad, there was somewhat more corrosion on the positive terminal. However cleaning the terminals did not get the car to start. I will try the suggestion from pf flyer. Another issue that may not be helping matters is that my gas tank is about an eighth full right now. I was planning to fill it up yesterday assuming it would just be a normal day (when my car starts). At any rate once I got the car jumped I didn't want to risk turning off the engine to fill it up.
  • muklukmukluk Posts: 18
    Update: Went out to car and turned key to ON. Did not hear fuel pump noises. But at any rate the car then started! I drove it on the expressway a little to get the engine warmed up and then stopped to fill up the tank. It started like its usual self. I hope it continues to do so. My car will be in to the dealer this week for an oil change so I will see if they have any insight on the situation. P.S. It was 5 degrees Farenheit this afternoon.

    Hi Cliff!
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,729
    Is this the original equipment battery now at or past the 5 year point? If so, I am kind of leaning towards it being a marginal battery. As batteries age, sediment builds up in the bottom channel that can short, or create leakage paths between plates. Scum accumulates on the plates themselves, reducing effective capacity. Although there might have been enough amperage to turn the starter, there can be a corresponding drop in voltage produced. If it drops low enough, electronics, which are themselves temperature sensitive, can foul. As a result, fuel delivery can be impacted.

    When you got jumped, it started. Support from a good battery was all it needed. Some running put back enough into the battery to get you thru the following day. Cleaning the terminals also helped a bit, as you removed a series resistance that dropped voltage slightly. I would not be surprised if the non-start happened again after a long cold soak.

    It is time. You got your money's worth out of the OEM unit. When you start having trouble like this, $60 or so is a good investment. See the Oct '06 issue of Consumers for the battery test. I just went thru a week of odd electrical issues with my wife's '02 Honda Ody, finally ending in non-starts. New battery, and the whole electrical system on that van is working a lot better. I'm thinking of changing the battery pro-actively on my '02 OBW just for piece of mind.

    Steve
  • I'll take 5 degrees, it's -5 degrees here in MI today. My car is also hesitating to start and it has a brand new battery.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Also check the fluid level. If it's low top it off with distilled water (note there are 6 seperate chamber.

    Wear gloves and do not touch the water that's in the battery now, as it becomes very acidic.

    Having said all that, I'd still get a new battery with more CCAs.

    -juice
  • muklukmukluk Posts: 18
    It was -5 degrees this am and no start. Why would the battery test as being fine but not perform that way? In fact, I asked the guy at NAPA who tested it to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being a dead battery and 10 being a new battery and he gave it an 8. I don't mind replacing the battery (just going by age it is four years old which is about time to replace it). However, the test versus performance discrepancy seems odd to me. Does this mean that the battery testing device at NAPA does not work? Hmmm.
  • PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,808
    Was it the same situation again? It cranks but won't start? Or did it not crank at all in the cold?

    PFFlyer@Edmunds

    Moderator - Hatchbacks & Hybrid Vehicles

  • muklukmukluk Posts: 18
    Well it seemed like it wanted to start today but couldn't. I just tryed to start it the usual way, turning the key all the way. Yesterday after I cleaned the terminals and it wouldn't start, I went inside for about 10 minutes. When I came back out, I turned the key to "ON" for a bit before starting it and it started. Today I had to get to work so did not have time to try again.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It puts out amps, and that's probably what he measured. But CCAs are more important - cold cranking amps. The guys at NAPA cannot test the crank power in the dead cold, they probably tested it at room temps.

    I'd replace the battery. I got a cheap one at WalMart, something like $40-60 or so, that had nearly twice the CCA rating as the stock battery.

    It's just not worth it to have to worry about something to cheap and easy to replace.

    -juice
  • PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,808
    IF it's the battery, that's a relatively lost cost replacement. Since you turned the key to ON for a few seconds and then cranked it and it started, I'm still leaning towards a fuel pressure situation.

    PFFlyer@Edmunds

    Moderator - Hatchbacks & Hybrid Vehicles

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,268
    I almost feel bad for you folks! After coming off a week-long stint of no-colder-than +20F, I feel like we just had summer again! No, just kidding, summer lasts 3 weeks and gets up to 50F. :P

    Temp is still a pleasant +10F. :D
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,268
    It was -5 degrees this am and no start. Why would the battery test as being fine but not perform that way?

    It all has to do with cold crank amps, and old batteries do not have as much resilience as newer ones. When it is -5F and you have, say 10W-30 oil in the engine, not only are the movable parts very gummy, but your engine is trying to move around thick sludge rather than runny oil. Take a quart of oil, put it outside overnight, and then try to pour it out of the bottle..... it is somewhat akin to molasses (black strap at that!). It takes far more amperage to move that mass than it would at temperatures even 20 or 30F warmer. Get a battery with double the CCA and also take Bob's suggestion of waiting a few seconds between "On" and "Start." The no-start problem will most likely disappear.

    Also, if these temperatures are at all common at your location, you could have a block heater or even just an oil pan heater installed so as to plug it in for a couple of hours before cold-starting. Doing so considerably reduces the CCA demand on the battery.
  • muklukmukluk Posts: 18
    Good morning all and thanks for all the input. Well it's a toasty 3 degrees this am and I have not yet attempted to start the car. I am going to turn the key to ON for a bit before attempting to start it. If it doesn't start I will have jump it. The we are going to the dealer for oil change and further battery assessment. The weather has been unusually cold for this part of the country- if this were the normal weather I'd get a block heater (used to have one on the vehicle I had in Wyoming). Anyway I did some homework in case battery replacement is recommended.

    Dealer: 500 something CCA $89.00 plus installation (ha ha ha)
    Napa: Legend 7535 600 CCA $65.99 (install it yourself)
    Autozone: Gold Duralast 640 CCA $79.99 (free installation?)
    Advanced Autoparts: Autocraft CCA640 $79.88 (10.00 core- whatever that is- probably not a consumer friendly sort of thing). (free installation?)

    I have never replaced a battery but it can't be too hard right? I will provide another exciting update later today.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Core means the deposit you have to leave with them. You get the $10 back when you take the old battery back.

    That implies that they will not install for you, because if they did there would be no core charge (they would just keep the old one right then and there).

    -juice
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,729
    If you have a WalMart near by, consider also the Everstart Maxx. Another in the family from Johnson Controls Co., it did very well in most of the sizes tested by consumers - at or near the top of the chart. I put one in my wife's van last week. Runs $63, IIRC.

    To answer your earlier question, yes the CCA test that Napa did can be misleading. As I said earlier, when the battery cranks out a large amperage, the voltage drops. The rest of the electronics in your car might very well be sensitive to this at cold temps. If the brain doesn't process well, you get no fuel or spark. Doesn't matter if the starter can turn the engine, she will never start.

    If the jump helps, you got your answer... buy a battery.

    Steve
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'll second the Everstart batteries at Walmart. I put 2 of the marine ones in my boat last summer. Good stuff. The other nice thing about the Walmart ones is that in general you can find a Walmart almost anywhere so that if it does die on you, you can pull the battery and get it replaced under warranty pretty easily.

    -mike
  • My local Autozone does still charge the core fee but also offeres free installation.

    Some owners prefer to install on their own even with free installation. They don't want someone else under their hood! :P
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I have one of those in my Forester, and it's been great. Starting became easier once I put in the new one, too.

    For the Miata I got some other brand at Advance Auto Parts, can't remember now. It's one of those gel-acid ones, kinda smaller.

    -juice
  • muklukmukluk Posts: 18
    I appreciate all of the feedback. Well my update today is not a good one. The car would not start, would not jump start. It sounded as close as you can get to starting without starting on one occasion but no start. So now I really don't know what is wrong with it. Tomorrow I will have to get it towed to the shop. Any ideas? :sick:
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