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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • lark6lark6 Posts: 2,565
    As my "glorified 'D' cell" began to lose its power I replaced it with a DieHard Gold North from my neighborhood Sears Hardware. It's a Group 35 rated at 950 CCA.

  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    I assume that was probably the most expensive battery Sears sells in this physical size. How did the cost of your 950 CCA little monster compare to, say, an Optima?
  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    Wow! You sure that's not the "CA" rating ? Difference is whether they test at 0 or 32 degrees.


    I got curious and called Sears. Diehard Gold North in group 35 has CCA = 640.

    CA figure is always a lot higher. Price about the same as what I spent ~$80. Sounds like a good value.

  • lark6lark6 Posts: 2,565
    CA = 950; CCA = 640. Price was $79 IIRC.

  • Thanks for the response subaru_team. I've read a lot of your responses and appreciate your calm approach, but I'm not getting anywhere on this.

    I received SOA's answer late last week. Same as the dealer: "...the car is not being driven enough." Of course, instead of suggesting a trickle-charger this time, they suggested (quote from their voicemail) "...crank the car every other day and let it run anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour, to let it idle, especially during our cold temperatures." Oh yeah, I'm going to back my car out of the heated garage and idle it in the driveway 30-60 minutes. And I thought plugging it in every night was unacceptable!!!

    Am I starting to sound a little upset? I am. I'm back to "what can I do?" I read here--and hear from all my other sources--that there is something wrong with my car. But since Subaru can't find the problem, they blame me. Right now I'm not sure whether to spend some serious money on an independent mechanic or an attorney.

    Are there any other tips for getting action out of SOA? (Or any dealer or manufacturer in general?) Do I need to be a very squeaky wheel? I'm willing to take my problem to a lot more websites and authorities. Does cost work? I'm planning to have my Forester towed in every time it fails to start until my warranty runs out. What else can I do? Being polite and following process hasn't gotten me anywhere but blamed.
    Sign me, Upset in Alaska
  • I would look at some obvious potential electric leaks like the radio, clock, alarm (if equipped), keyless entry. These are always on and using up the battery. Try pulling the fuses for these components while the battery is fully charged, leave the car alone for a week, open the door using a key, and start it up. If it starts up, one of these components is leaking a lot of electric juice.
  • zman3zman3 Posts: 857
    Let me take a swag at this. I had a problem similar to yours when I owned a Toyota back in the late 80's. Our 95 Explorer also exhibited problems like this occasionally. What I discovered, and actually had someone explain once to me (don't know if they knew what they were talking about however), was that the security systems drain more power when they are not armed than when they are armed. I have never had a vehicle not start when I left it parked for 10 days at an airport with the alarm/security system armed. I did however have the vehicles mentioned above not start when left sitting for a week in the garage.

    I won't bother trying to fake my way through an explanation as to why this may be the cause, but it kind of makes sense to me since you wouldn't want the security system draining your battery if left armed for an extended period. I don't know why it would drain more power unarmed however.

    Try arming your security system in the garage and see if it makes any difference. You won't be out anything by trying it.
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    Any average technician should be able to determine in mere minutes whether or not any devices on your car are draining excessive amounts of current while the car is shut off - in no time at all. All that's necessary is to disconnect one battery cable and run a current tester (ammeter) between the battery post and the disconnected cable. This will establish whether or not any of the accessories are drawing so much juice that they're draining the battery down and leaving it flat. Nothing in a modern car should use enough electricity to drain a well-charged battery in even several weeks of non-use. I have a '91 van sitting outside that we drive at most once every two months, and it never fails to start.

    If the ammeter test doesshow that some device is drawing too much current, then (with the ammeter still connected as above) it can be isolated and identified by pulling fuses, one at a time, until the offending circuit is found (the ammeter reading will drop significantly with the fuse for the current-draining circuit out, and jump again with the fuse in).

    If the ammeter test does not show any excessive curent drain from the various gizmos (clock, radio, security system, etc), then there aren't that many other possibilities: (1) weak battery (which I gather you've already replaced several times), (2) corroded or loose battery cable connectors that aren't establishing a clean contact, (3) insufficient charge from your alternator while driving, (4) a defective starter motor with partially-shorted windings which requires more starting current than it should to turn the engine over, or (5) a defective starter solenoid that's failing to engage the starter at anything less than maximum full-charge voltage.

    If you continue to get nowhere with Subaru, I'd suggest finding a good independent auto electrical shop in your area and asking them to quote a fee to diagnose the problem.
  • hypovhypov Posts: 3,068
    I'd asked before but you did not enlighten.
    What Electrical and/or Electronic gadgets [OEM AND After-Market] do you have and use in your Forester L, or is it the Legacy, when it is driven?

    I'd asked because-

    Each time you crank the battery's charge will fall and will be recharged by the alternator. The vehicle in OEM form will then draw additional power to operate, but no more than what the alternator can replenish. If you have additional gadgets used which might exceed the alternators replenishment rate, you'll end up depleting the battery; hence, at the end of your drive you have a battery with even lesser charge than you started off with. Leave it over night or so, the passive electronics (i.e. alarm) will drain it some more and come the next time you crank... DEAD.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I got a cheap $40 battery at Wal Mart with 535 CCAs, i.e. more than enough. Stock for my Forester was just 265 or so IIRC. I swear she runs smoother now.

    Given the bad luck with the OE battery, I'd make the cheap investment in the Sears battery mentioned above.

    Then, if you felt like it, try to seek partial reimbursement.

  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    If you have additional gadgets used which might exceed the alternators replenishment rate, you'll end up depleting the battery; hence, at the end of your drive you have a battery with even lesser charge than you started off with.

    Even in night driving with headlamps blazing, at anything above idle speed, a properly-operating alternator will have sufficient capacity to carry all the loads and stillprovide at least a small recharge flow to the battery if needed.

    In daytime driving with lights off (including, in my case, disabling the stupid daytime running lights), the alternator should be able to produce substantial surplus current for battery recharging.

    Either Cheryl's alternator isn't up to par, or something on her vehicle is draining above-spec current flows while her car is parked.
  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    is rated at 75 amps. That's more than enough to handle even heavy loads, except at idle.

    I know because I have the performance gauge pack with a volt meter.

    On the other hand, if you're running 4 electric heaters (mirrors, rear window, and wipers) the dash fan, and main lights, like I was yesterday, the battery's being tapped at idle (meter reads 12.5 volts, battery's charged to 14.5 at full charge).

    With an eye on the volt meter, I abstained from running my seat heater... :) Another reason for running a bigger battery than stock.

    The alternator can handle normal loads (without all the electric heaters), including my electric trailer brakes (large extended draw), without even breathing hard.

    I don't understand Cheryl's problem either. This shouldn't be THAT hard to isolate and fix, as described above. And frankly, telling a customer to run their car at idle every few days is a bit over the top, IMO.

    -hypov: He must have had a boat load of electronics on board.

  • hypovhypov Posts: 3,068
    The alternator is sufficient to carry the load with everything OEM in the car On. But start adding gadgets and you're taking away the surplus to recharge the battery. Recall reading somewhere over the other board, a member who had gobs of electronics in his car that suck the battery's charge faster than the alternator could replenish. Engine just died in the middle of driving.


    BrianV - yup, IIRC, a boat load :)
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    I can imagine that a car with a ton of added current-drawing accessories might exceed the alternator's capacity at night with headlamps and other lights burning, along with various heaters, but a battery's typical state of charge is an average of all the driving you do. Even if it slowly drains during max-load night driving, it should easily recharge while driving in the lights-off daytime - and a decent battery should have enough storage capacity to span the two.
  • oops - return key challenged. why are they stupid? i thought they assisted in the 'safety' category? i know a car with lights on - even in the daytime - is often easier to spot with my eyes than one without lights. just curious the basis for yr opinion.
  • kevin111kevin111 Posts: 991
    Have heard rumors that they can wear on the plastic lens-covers of your headlights, thus over time turning them cloudy (instead of clear). Have seen this on many Neons (but then again these are Neons), and other cars (VWs, GM sedans, and others).
  • Cloudy / yellowing plastic headlight lenses are from the effects of UV.
  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    I too have seen studies coming out of Sweden if memory serves, that DRL's lower accident rates, particularly in early morning and evening hours when the sun is just rising or setting.

    Some folks have pretty strong opinions on them, haven't ever really figured out why.

    We drive with our normal low beams on all the time. I can't see how it would blind anyone when it's light out - afterall, your eyes are adjusted to a reasonable light level already.


    They definately help when the sun is blinding though, no question.

  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    1. Nothing comes for free. There's only one way to generate the electricity that's required to keep headlights on around the clock, and that's by burning extra fossil fuel in the engine to overcome the alternator's increased drag.

    2. I would have to see much more rigorous and all-other-variable-controlled analysis before I'll believe that headlamps on during the daytime have more than a negligible (or even coincidental) effect on actual accident rates. I turn my lights on whenever I think visibility might be an issue. I'll make that decision myself, thankyouverymuch, I don't need a big-brother carmaker or (even worse) government agency to make it for me.

    3. I've installed Philips Vision Plus bulbs for their better illumination. Famous pennypincher that I am, I don't want them squandering their costlier and finite lives by needlessly burning during broad daylight.

    4. The benefit from these sorts of well-intentioned but questionably-effective ideas tends to show up (if at all!) in the beginning (when they're "new") and then fade. Has anyone seen any recent rigorous studies that clearly establish that the now ubiquitous high-mounted-brakelight gadget is still actually saving any lives or preventing any collisions? That initial "startle" factor that accompanied the first ones is now long gone.

    Give me real lifesaving and/or accident-avoidance technology, like lap-and-shoulder belts and disk brakes and sensors to wake a drowsing driver. Keep drunks and street racers behind bars. That sort of thing. I'm not interested in the frou-frou stuff.
  • should all tele-commute, stay at home, and let the UPS drivers deliver our essentials to us. -Sigh- but then we wouldn't need Foresters.

  • lfdallfdal Posts: 679

    One sure way to eliminate the battery drain from the equation is to install a battery "switch". These devices go in series with the positive feed to the battery. This does require opening and closing the hood to engage/disengage.

    I'm certainly not recommending you use this as a permanent solution, but one to buy you some time while you "negotiate" with the dealer. It will certainly isolate the battery from anything that will drain it.

    Have you in fact had a stronger battery insalled?
    My battery in my 04 cranks the car awfully slow when the temp is in the low teens for a few mornings in a row, and I run mine daily back and forth to work (6 miles each way). I plan on dumping it in favor of a Sears / WalMart brand shortly.


  • dougb10dougb10 Burlington, Ontario, CanadaPosts: 185 said "I turn my lights on whenever I think visibility might be an issue". Good for you, and I am sure you are a responsible and safe driver. But what about all the morons out there who don't have a clue about the dangers of not being seen? These are the ones that I want to avoid.
    I have been driving cars with DTRL's since 1990...a total of 6 cars in that time. I have never had to replace one light in any of those cars. In Canada, these lights are mandatory on new get used to them and it sometimes causes me problems when drivers do not turn their lights on at dusk or in the rain. These cars do not have DTRL's...either the cars are pre 1990 or are from the U.S., from States that do not require them.
    At least with DTRL's, I might have a chance to see the drunk coming down the street....fat chance he would have the sense to turn his lights on if he doesn't have them.
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    Don't blame Ken. It was I who wrote that, not him.

    I honestly don't believe a vehicle in broad daylight that has its DTRLs on is any more visible to me than one without. They don't blink, they don't swivel, they're static. They're also tiny, compared to the size of the vehicle. If I can't see the vehicle in daylight, I'm not much more likely to see its headlights, washed-out as they are in bright sunlight.

    If lights-on on the front works so well, why leave the rear unlit? Wouldn't 24-hour taillights be equally important? And what about the unlit sides? Why not install sideways-aimed headlights and turn them on round-the-clock, too?

    Sorry. The arguments just don't persuade. And the weakest one is that this or that nation has made them mandatory, so we should follow along like so many sheep.
  • subkidsubkid Posts: 94
    do you stop at STOP sign or red light all the time, or only when you think there's a need to (i.e incoming traffic). Also, do you use blinkers every time you turn/change the line or only when they might (in your opinion) be meaninghful to someone ? :) :)

    Turning DTRs into some kind of conspiracy theory, human rights thing, personal freedom issue ...
    give me a break.

    Without getting deeper into the formal studies, I can attest to the fact that motor bicycle drivers in Europe were using them all the time 30+ years ago, without any kind of government(s) input. One would think, they being a part of very vulnerable population on the road, might know why.

  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    I can think of one unarguable justification for DTRLs. Those morons Doug cited are probably the same ones who drive along pitchdark nighttime streets totally clueless that their headlights aren't on. At least with DTRLs, that won't happen. So forget everything I said, if you already haven't.
  • On 2 lane roads the DRLs are certainly invaluable. No matter how visible you might think you are without them they definitely add to the visibility of on coming traffic while attempting a pass.

  • ok - tks for the deflection ballistic - yes - you said that line, not me. as for more info - here's a link specifically i'll refer to point 4 which states that studies have shown a decrease in daytime accidents in areas where DRL are common/required. I'm taking it for granted that the stats shown are correct and the result of good/reliable studies of course. here are some more study results,
    sorry that this is pretty far off topic of 'forester problems & solutions so i'll not continue after this post. the above obtained by doing a google search on 'daytime running lights safety' one can also check out - apparently an organization designed around eliminating this vehicle feature. so draw your own conclusions about the effectiveness of DRLs. My opinion is they don't bother me and infact they help me see/identify other cars on the road. (maybe i'll strap a lighthouse to the roof...)
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,095
    There are a couple of discussions in the archives concerning the merits/negatives of daytime running lights. If you're interested, I can activate it.
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    I think we/I have pretty well beat it to death.
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