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Subaru Outback/Legacy Starting Issues



  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Interesting, I have a similar problem on my dad's 95 Impreza L.

    Cold starts are ok. Warm starts sometimes don't start. So far I've done battery, alternator, distributor pack, and the ignitor.

    I will try the knock, and crank position sensors next :(

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    I know, this one is terribly frustrating. I hate throwing parts at a car with nothing more than a hope it will fix the problem.

    I was having stall issues early in my ownership of it (September 2000) and same deal there - no codes, shops could not help. One of the shops suggested I try replacing the mass airflow sensor. I did (with a used one) and no more stall problems. Oddly, though, I knew someone last spring who had a '98 Impreza 2.5L with a bad MAS and the car would not run at all. I offered him my MAS, but with the disclaimer that the car could have intermittent stalling problems. He took it, and nearly insisted on paying for it (though I finally convinced him that we were doing each other favors by him just taking it ;) ), and apparently it works fine for him.

    I did recommend that he clean the sensor before installing it, but do not know whether he did so. I now wonder if that part was ever even bad.... ?
  • hey i have a 99 subaru legacy sus and i tried to start it the other morning and all i got was a "click". so we tried to jump start luck, so we thought well the battery is shot, so we got a new one, we tried to start it and still all i get is "click"
    im starting to get irratated, i asked a few people, one said it might have 2 do with the security system and i have to reset it, one said something w the starter and the guy at the dealership in town said ummm idk just get it towed in and we will look at it
    im a girl lol i need help :confuse:
  • thanks for the help. I changed the cam position sensor (knock was already changed) and so far st. anthony, crossing my fingers and the new sensor seems to be working. Its hard to drive with my fingers crossed but I'm going to take my chances...
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Well, at least you know that if it continues to be a problem, you *can* still get the car started. Wishing you luck on that one, I know what an incredible annoyance it is.... :mad:
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    The click! I am amazed that these problems still occur, even ten years removed from the build of the vehicles. I would have thought that owners would long ago have shot all the cars with this defect! Hahah.

    So, from my experience, it is one of two things:

    First, the easiest: The spot where the negative battery cable connects to the car is on the top, rear, driver side of the engine. It is a post that is mounted to the engine/starter by the bolt that secures the starter itself. Sometimes, this post can work itself ever so slightly loose, and, if this happens, the connection may not be good enough to allow the starter to draw enough power to crank the engine. The result? A click, or, sometimes, a click-click-click-click-click in series. Check that first - make sure the post is solid and the connections clean.

    Second, the other culprit: The starter solenoid. Another easy fix, but slightly more complicated than the first, the solenoid is mounted on the inner (I think) side of the starter unit and is what engages the motor. If the solenoid is not working properly, it is going to just click once.
  • gailkgailk Posts: 1
    I have an 01 Outback, love my car and have never had any problems until yesterday. It's been very cold here, as low as -20. After sitting 2 days I went out to start the car, just to make sure, started with first turn of the key. Warmed it up, moved it closer to the house shut it off. Two hours later went out to head to work and I got a turn over but no start. Didn't have time to fool with it so left it set borrowed a friends truck. Six hours later home again decided to give it a try and it started right up. Looking for something to take to a mechanic if necessary. Any ideas out there any help is greatly appreciated.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Sounds like the battery. If it's the original one from 01, then it's well over due to be replaced. I just did that on my 04 Armada due to the same symptoms.

    Subaru Guru and Track Instructor
  • Hi,
    i would appreciate if you could provide more information regarding:
    I have had this problem for the past 6 months or so. It was intermittent and really annoying. Finally, a dealership in Ohio found the problem, allegedly known by Subaru. They called it a "shift linkage" problem and described it as: "...the computer returns a message as the car is in gear hence it doesn't start when the key is turned in the ignition". If needed I can get more details from the dealership.
  • 2002 Legacy Outback Sedan, 2.5L, 120k miles

    I LOVE my car and have never had any trouble until this year. I had the head gaskets resurfaced a few months ago. Now I'm having starting trouble. When starting up the car the engine has been knocking. At first I thought I just held the key over too long, but it became repetitive. Today we driving and the car started to sound really boggy and after about a half hour it sputtered and died on the road. When I turn the key, there is the electrical noise, but the starter isn't doing anything. No vroom-vroom start. Just whirrrrr. We got a tow and tried to boost it at home, but no luck. Any ideas?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Almost sounds like the engine may have seized by way of a shot bearing, etc. Were you checking the oil to ensure it was topped off? That knocking sound (especially if it went away after a few seconds) is often an early warning that the engine is getting low on oil.
  • I just finished replacing the starter on my Outback, and it will not start. I have to put it in neutral to start it (automatic trannny) because I had a drive shaft failure last year and I think it may have damaged something in the switch. I'm hoping this is the problem. Sort of. It was making a buzzing noise inside the tranny in every gear but neutral, but now there is no buzzing, and when I hit the key in neutral I get the click, but nothing else. It even buzzed in Park. Should I just go ahead and replace the switch, or is it inside the transmission itself? any help would be appreciated, I need to get my car back on the road asap.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    edited July 2011
    Will you clarify what the symptoms were that prompted you to replace the starter? Was it doing this same thing (click but not start while in neutral) prior to replacement and continues to do the same thing after?

    This generation Outback can be a bit touchy when it comes to the ground connection, as it connects to a bracket that is then held tight by one of the starter motor bolts. If either of those two "joints" has poor conductivity, it will prevent the starter from turning over.
  • ajnaajna Posts: 1
    Is the info the same in a 2001 outback? Mine makes clicking sounds when in gear with clutch depressed but in neutral does not even click. I can hear a very faint noise that sounds like a switch activating apparently near the passenger back seat as i perform the first part of the ignition turn, then as I turn to the part that should crank the starter I get the continous clicking noise. NOT of course, if the clutch is not all the way to the floor.Have tried the cycle about 25 times so far. It is neither too cool or too hot outside here. The lights are bright - all the dash works as it should. Is there a switch somewhere, as talked about in posts shown above? Just bought the car- previous guy replaced battery and alternater so apparently this happened to him too although he denies it of course. Helpful ideas?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    The 2001 is the second generation of the Outback, but still very similar in those mechanics, but your problem sounds different.

    Mine makes clicking sounds when in gear with clutch depressed but in neutral does not even click.

    The reason for this is there being an interlock on the clutch, meaning you cannot start the car without the clutch being depressed. In that respect, the car is behaving "normally."

    as I turn to the part that should crank the starter I get the continous clicking noise.

    This is likely one of two things. First, your battery may be low. Check the voltage on it with a multimeter (can be had for $20-25, maybe cheaper); if it is at ~12.5 volts, you're good to go. Second, and perhaps more likely in your scenario, is that the resistance in the negative battery cable may be too high. Replacing that cable, which also should be very cheap, should do the trick.
  • About a month ago my Subaru would sputter when taking off, until eventually it went out. My son and I put in a new fuel filter and fuel pump and it ran great for about two weeks. Then it just went out on my son while he was driving. Would turn over but wouldn't start, as if it wasn't getting any gas. Went to tow it and it started right up after sitting for about a week??? Today... Didn't start! Does anyone know if this can be electrical or a injector problem? Battery and terminals are fine. Any help would be much appreciated!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    When is it not starting? In other words, do you notice this when the engine is cold (such as sitting over night), or warm, or does it matter.... ?
  • It does it in warm or cold weather. First time was on the highway,second about 2 miles after leaving home in war
    m weather. When it started the other night,it had been sitting for about 5 days, the next day... Nothing.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    edited October 2011
    Okay, have you had any issues with it while it is running? Any engine stammering, etc?

    It almost sounds to me like there is a relay that is shutting down the fuel system on it, which means the relay is either going bad or it is getting poor feedback from one of the connected sensors. That, too, could either be a sensor, or a poor wiring connection, but those things work on resistance. So, if it is within spec at the time the car is doing the system check, you're up and running until you shut it off. If not, you're not going anywhere. :cry:

    When the problem happens, do you hear the fuel pump priming in the rear of the car? In other words, when you put the key in the ignition, turn it to "on" and wait a few seconds. What sounds do you hear?
  • Before we put the fuel pump in we did have problems, it sputtered at take off. After the fuel pump, no sputter but flat out dies and stays dead. Just went and tried starting it and it did start after sitting again for a few days. And it stood running. Heard the starter make a humming noise before starting. Tried starting it again and nothing.
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