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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-09-2012, 08:57 PM Thread Starter
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Outback dying

Hello guys. So, whenever I start my car, it runs okay for a little bit but then the gauge cluster lights start to dim and the gauges stop working. Along with that's car then dies. I got a new battery a couple days ago, thinking it was an old battery, but I guess it's not. Could this be a sign that I need a new alternator? Sorry if this is a new question. Any insight would be great.


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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-09-2012, 10:29 PM
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Do you live in a "rust-belt" state?
By "rust-belt," I mean a state where you live at least 8 months out of the year with salt being thrown down like there is no tomorrow, then the other four months, all the back (dirt) roads also have salt and calcium chloride dumped on them to keep the dust down.

If the majority of the underside is rusted and brown in color, and not the original color of the car, then you have rust issues.

I have found with more than one brand of vehicle that they end up with one or more grounding points becoming disconnected, rusted or corroded so badly that they no longer serve the purpose for which they were intended, that is, to negatively bond various (and numerous I might add), portions of the car.

When vehicles were all steel with steel bodies and steel frames, there were a lot less grounding points necessary than with these new cars that contain much plastic and other non-conductive materials securing all manner of electrical components and anything that needs electricity to operate, from pumps to motors to lights to all sensors, switches, etc.

When I looked in the shop manual, there appeared to be at least 20 or so grounding points and that was in the front alone (from the firewall forward).

Before spending money on "hit or miss" replacement of parts, I would get a good set of jumper cables and attach them as one long cable, secured to the negative battery pole. Use the grounded end of the cable to see if there is continuity between all your grounded components. Be careful about making any sparks where there may be some kind of flammable liquid nearby or on what you are testing, in other words, don't burn your car up by making sparks next to a gas leak.

You need to remove a lot of rust in order to get to sufficiently-bare metal to make a good reliable contact! A grinder works well as does a Dremel tool with the cutoff wheels when in tighter spots.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-09-2012, 10:54 PM
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Clean your battery cables with some sand paper or one of those battery cable brush do-hickies. If that doesn't do it, pop your alternator off and take it some place like Advanced Auto parts and have it tested. If it's bad and you have an H4 engine buy the correct replacement. For some odd reason there is a different alt for automatic trans vs. manual trans. If you have an H6, see about getting the alt rebuilt because there are some components in there that an aftermarket alt might possibly be missing.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-09-2012, 11:16 PM
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Don't know what year yours is, but mine had a recall on the alternator and it is a '97. If yours was not replaced in the recall perhaps that is the problem? Just a thought, I am no expert by any means. Good luck and hope you are rolling again soon.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-09-2012, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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My connectors look kinda clean, but I'll clean them just to make sure. And if not ill Di what you said DavidBeap. I have a 98 by the way. I'll see if there were any recalls on parts. Thanks for the input guys. Much appreciated. Hopefully I'll be good and running tomorrow!
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-10-2012, 12:25 AM
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Sounds like alternator is a great place to start - those don't last forever.
The recall alternators are the ones you want to order actually, that's what i buy from Subaru - they're really cheap due to the recall and cost like $57 new from Subaru (they're remanufactured). all 1995-1999 Outback alternators are the same and interchangeable so you can use that 97 year recall alternator in yours. I bought one for my 96 just because it was cheap even though my old alternator is good.

You can have the alternator/battery/electrical system tested for free at most national chains like advance auto parts, autozone, etc.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-10-2012, 09:04 AM Thread Starter
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Wow that's awesome. Do I just call one of my local subaru dealerships and tell them that there was a recall on my alternator? Lol
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