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Subaru Outback/Legacy Starting Issues



  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,743

    Like your problems with the inadequately sized new battery in your Outback, the 5 year old battery in our Honda kept glitching the electrical system. In it's final week of life it would start, but the draw would knock out subsystem processors, like to the power doors, some dash indicators, transmission interlock and the like. For a few days I thought we were looking at a real electrical system meltdown, until I realized it was a battery issue. And that was when morning temps were in the 20-30 degree range. With a new battery and temps in the single digits, she runs like a champ. Oh, and at our last servicing, Honda told us that the battery tested as a virtual 2 year old!

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My Forester came with a 265 CCA battery. Kinda pathetic.

    Though I can't blame that - I didn't top off the fluid.

  • muklukmukluk Posts: 18
    OK. So we come home from the mechanic last Wednesday as described.

    Thursday am 5 degrees- won't start, won't jump start. Hooked up to battery charger for 15 minutes and then started. Had to get to work but stopped at autozone to pick up some of dry line additive for gas tank which I poured in and some jumper cables. Car started fine from auto parts store. Drove to work. Shut it off. Started it again just for fun. Worked. Car started 7+ hours later to go home (22 degrees by then).

    Friday am 6 degrees- won't start, won't jump start. Battery charger not charged up so I couldn't try charging it up again. Took the bus to work.

    So what next? :sick: :sick: :sick: :sick: :sick:
  • Did you say what the original battery was rated (CCA)?

    And did you then buy a new battery? I looked at the thread and didn't see that, but I could have missed it.

    Given that batteries are relatively inexpensive, I'd get a new battery. Paying $100 for peace of mind is worth it to me. And if you still have issues afterward, then it is something else.

    And speaking of, I still view my new 2007 Outback's original battery with suspicion. Given I live in Denver and my wife and two kids are often in the car, I am considering just buying a new battery now. Question: Do I have to go to the dealer because of warranty (bought the car 10 days ago)? If I go to AutoZone or Sears or whatever, is that warranty problem?

  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,417
    I'm having a hard time getting my head around it being a battery issue if the car is turning over, and now isn't starting when jumped.

    I've discussed what has been described here with mechanics at the dealership where I've bought all my cars and with the guys at a buddy's garage and they're leaning to a fuel issue, with spark running second in their estimation.


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  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 9,278
    If I go to AutoZone or Sears or whatever, is that warranty problem?

    No, not as long as the battery is specific for your model (in other words, proper dimensions, etc). If you have battery problems afterward, though, it is a battery manufacturer warranty issue, not a Subaru warranty issue!

    As with anything else you do with the car, make sure you keep receipts, etc. For example, there is no requirement that you take the car to a dealership for interval service, or even that you take it to any shop, but you must be able to reasonably show that the service was performed "within spec" should something related crop up down the line.
    2008 and 2010 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 9,278
    Yeah, I think it might be a combination, but, at this point, a new battery would already be in it if it were mine.

    There have been many times when I jump other cars (or receive jumps) that it takes 2, 3, maybe more minutes to have enough current to start the disabled car - especially if the battery is dead or weak. Oh, also, higher-than-idle engine speed on the donor car will provide more current and help the disabled car start sooner. When solo-jumping, I usually "brick" the accelerator on the donor car to about 2500 RPM.
    2008 and 2010 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,743
    I suspect that the 'depleted' battery acts like a load initially when you connect the jumper cables.
  • muklukmukluk Posts: 18
    Well on the positive side. After getting home from work, and an ambient temperature of 21 degrees, my car started.
  • muklukmukluk Posts: 18
    On the negative side. Today the car would not start (18 degrees).
    Hooked up to charger unit, car would not start.
    Kept hooked up to charger unit for 15 minutes would not start.
    Was able to jump start with jumper cables after that.
    Drove to auto parts store. Got brand new battery. Duralast gold with 640 CCA.
    Starts like a charm.
    Drive to a restaurant. Decide line is to long. Starts like a charm
    Drive to a different restaurant. Eat dinner, walk to nearby bookstore. About 2-3 hours later


    It did jump start and I drove it home. And of course it started again right away shortly after I had turned the car off.

    OK brilliant minds of the forum.... what's up with that?

    Also pf flyer had suggested a possible fuel pump problem. Read this whole post for info. The idea was that by turning the ignition to ON for awhile first the fuel pump would engage and then the car might start when I turned the key all the way. Well this did work one time (on 2/4/06) but has not seemed to work since.

    :cry: :sick: :cry: :sick: :cry:
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    When the car does not start, are the interior lights dim? Does it crank but not start?

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,743
    Having a bad day along with you, unfortunately. I spoke too soon when I told you guys I changed the battery on my wife's Odyssey, and all the electrical gremlins abandoned ship. Everything was great for two weeks, then they returned on Friday, leaving my wife stranded. It is an interlock problem between the power sliding doors and the tranny. Locks it in park, because it thinks there is a malfunction, and disables the doors. Dealer spent about 6 hours on the case Friday, and kept it over the weekend so that they could cry out for help from their fellow wizards. Meanwhile, I am driving a Toaster Element. What a horrible POS, but it beats walking!

    So unfortunately, electrical and computer issues are the downfall of modern cars. Did you see any signs of corrosion when you changed the battery? I still think there is something to the fact that adding a second battery in parallel sometimes helps. Even a strong battery will dip in voltage when cranking. Two batteries in parallel might supply the needed amperage, but have less of a voltage drop. Net being that the electronics are still getting closer to the full voltage (12.6 or so for a wet cell battery). Once the alternator is running, voltage rises to around 14.5v. A good cranking battery can drop down into the 11v range. An old battery substantially further. Something sounds like it is voltage sensitive. Connector corrosion can easily cause a voltage drop, although it could just as likely be faulty electronics.

  • muklukmukluk Posts: 18
    Well strangely enough, my car has been a perfect angel all day. Starting each time asked to in the normal manner (not having to turn the key to ON first). The weather is warmer now - 20 ish (20 degrees above). I can't figure why it didn't start last night. In all cases when my car was not starting this past week it would turn over but not start (except today when everything was just swell). I do wonder what would be going on if the temperature were colder like it was last week. After all everything seemed to be fine until last Saturday (2/3) the temps got down to the single digits.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,417
    Now that the battery has been replaced, we're down to fuel or spark I would assume.

    Let's get REAL specific on what you're doing and what's happening when you try to start it to avoid jumping around to different potential problems.

    I assume that the battery IS cranking the engine.

    I assume/hope that you're NOT stepping on the gas while trying to start. If you're old like me :P you might have a reflex that makes you try to step onthe gas while starting. But as I learned, with a fuel injected car you don't need to. Holding the gas down while trying to start will actually turn the fuel pump off while cranking after a few seconds. If there was no fuel pressure (for whatever reason) this would also keep the car from starting. (I sat out in the cold doing this one morning)

    On the car I have this issue with, the only time I HAVE to do the key ON trick is if I let it sit for more than 24 hours without running. Whatever is causing the fuel pressure leak takes that long before it forces me to re-prime the pump as it were... if I've beenout driving and thengo back 3-4 hours later, I can just turn the key and start the car.

    So, back to square one.

    Go out and try to start your car normally. No gas pedal, just turn the key and try to start the car.
    1) Does it crank?
    2) Does it start?

    It sounds like the answers are Yes and NO

    Then I would turn the key to ON and listen for the hum of the fuel pump.

    3) Do we hear the fuel pump?

    That could be a yes or no. My wife really doesn't hear it, even though she says she does...LOL

    You might even want to cycle the key from OFF to ON poition for 5 seconds two or three times.

    Now try to start the car.

    4) Does it crank? (assuming yes)
    5) Does it start?

    If it doesn't start, we still have fuel or spark as possibilities.

    You've said it has started since this thread began, so I wanted to find out if your right foot and the gas pedal has been involved during the times it did not start.

    If it starts EVERY time you try the key ON trick while making sure to not step on the gas, I'm positive you have fuel pressure bleeding off, or some kind of fuel pump issue.

    If seems to start randomly, I'd lean towards a fuel problem since that seems more likely than an intermittent spark, although I could be mistaken or guessing wrong on that.

    If it doesn't start at all, the two possibilities still exist in my mind since battery is crossed off the list.

    Isn't diagnosis via message board fun? :P

    With all the brain power amassed here, we should be able to figure out something!


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  • Cynnie! You might want to check your battery cables. I had trouble with corrosion on my Nissan a year or so ago. After cleaning the battery leads with baking soda, like you did, it turned out one of the cables was also corroded and had to be replaced. It could be that one of the cables is no longer able carry the charge, especially when it's cold and the cables get brittle. They can short out and cease to function. Believe it or not, I've similar problems at my house this year, when we had a cold snap here in Reno.

    Heidi Ho
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    OK, so we can take the battery out of the equation.

    Spark or fuel, so in order I'd look at the fuel filter, spark plugs, spark plug wires, then the ignition coil and the fuel pump. The cheap stuff first.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    There is an aftermarket alarm? I've known a few to prevent starting and it would appear as those conditions as well. And aftermarket alarms tend to fail quicker than OEM type electronics.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 9,278
    While the conditions differ from those of my old car, I would frequently have no-start situations (temperature independent, though it seemed to be more frequent in the winter months). The "trick" to overcoming the problem was to wait for 3-5 minutes and try again. If I did not do this, and just kept cranking, it would turn until the batter died, but not start. Usually within 3-4 tries, it would start right up. Mostly it was a maximum 10 minute wait, but once it took 45 minutes (and, of course, I needed to get somewhere that time!). Never did figure out the problem, but it vanished in August 2004 concurrent with replacement of the knock, crank, and camshaft sensors. I do not recommend you do that at this point, though! I am just suggesting that perhaps time is playing a more crucial role here than battery or fuel.

    Quite perplexing, really. :cry:
    2008 and 2010 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • I'm trying to figure out a similar situation with my 02 VDC wagon. It is doing a similar, crank, not turn over. Crank, not turn over. Then crank, turn over, car starts. It is not consistent. Letting the fuel pump do its thing doesnt make it a definite start all the time. Sometimes, it simply starts, no hassle. Whether I just used the vehicle, or it has sat for some time doesnt seem to make a difference either way. One thing positive, it has never left me stranded.

    I just had my fuel filter changed, my battery was done new, actually, thanks to this thread. The only thing, I cant pinpoint when the problem started, before the fuel filter change, or after. The battery was definitely after the problem manifested itself. As easy as the fuel filter was to change, I actually had Tires Plus do this, since I was out of town (too lazy) to get it done. I checked the lines in and out of the filter, and they were tight, and I didnt see any leakage. Is there another thing for me to check to see if this can be part of/ the actual culprit?
  • So, after perusing too many to count threads, I come across a similar issue, and apparently, this issue is sometimes an indication of an on-its-way-out engine coolant temp sensor. Apparently, when this goes haywire, it doesnt give the appropriate corrected amount corrected fuel.

    How exactly do you change this? Where is this? What does it look like?

    Anyway, just suggestions, since I'd like to resolve mine as well.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,743
    '02 6cyl? If I get a chance, I'll pull a page from my shop manual and e-mail it to you. Might take me a day to get to it.

  • Yep, 02 6 cyl, at least mine is. I dont remember if OP's is as well.

    If you can, that will be most helpful. Thanks.
  • So after a new fuel filter, new battery and 3 different gas treatments, I was on my way to figuring out how to change the temp sensor, when I read a thread about someone having his ECU reflashed, and the dealer mentioned that there was a new version.

    I inquired of it at the dealership, and was quoted a $75 charge to re-flash. I have reset the ECU, both by myself and through the new battery change, so I wasnt too optimistic. As with the other poster, mine apparently had a newer version available. They went ahead and reflashed, and plus an added bonus, there was no charge. Dont know if my vehicle having only 46k had anything to do with it.

    The car has been starting like a champ. No sense of hesitation at all. Now, today has been hovering around 30s and 40s, so I'll have to repost in colder days. That wasnt a factor in the starting issues, but want to see how it does.

    As the title states, so far so good....
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,743
    Great! So it sounds like you don't need the page on temp sensor location?

  • I am hoping that I dont. If I do, I'll be sure to let you know... :)
  • I've a starting problem, mostly intermittent now but getting more frequent. Replace battery 1 yr. ago with good high cranking amp rated, lights work well etc., just won't turnover sometimes. Mostly in the morning when freesing but sometimes during the 50 degree days. Come back a couple hours later then it'll start. Some faulty swithc somewhere? Appreciate responses, thanks
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sounds like a bad starter?
  • Yes it may be a bad starter. went out this morning and wouldn't start, clicked once and nothing, repeated 2-3 times and same thing. Did the old tapping on the starter (was easy to find, right on top of engine at right rear) and turned over alittle bit the first attempt, second then started right up. Faulty solenoid and does anyone know if I have to replace the whole starter?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    It's an easy change. Might as well replace the whole thing.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 9,278
    I agree that you might as well just change out the whole starter, but it sounds like the solenoid is the culprit.
    2008 and 2010 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
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