Car randomly isn't able to start - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-15-2013, 12:18 AM Thread Starter
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Car randomly isn't able to start

I have a 2003 H6 Subaru Outback with 120,000 miles. On Sunday, temps got into the negatives. Monday my car was really hesitant to starting, but it started. Tuesday and Wednesday it was a little bit better. Wednesday evening, my gas light went on so I filled up. I got my car washed and then went home at 6pm. About 15 degrees out. At 9:30pm, I went to go somewhere and my car would not start. It started, but then shut down about 30 seconds later. I tried to start it again and it just kept sounding like it was trying to start. All the lights and radio and all worked. Kept trying all night and no luck......

Finally on Friday, I put 3/4 of a red bottle of Heet into the fuel tank, thinking that froze up. Saturday temps finally reached above 30 and got sunny. Went to try and start it and it was so close! It actually seemed to start but then again, turned off 5 seconds later.... Tried to turn it again and the battery was completely dead. Tried jumping it, and same thing, just on the verge of running/starting every time. Checked air intake, that looks clear.

What can it be? Is it the fuel? Should I get a new fuel filter and/or fuel pump??

I am a girl but even my boyfriend and my dad cant figure it out. Someone please help!!!

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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-15-2013, 10:32 AM
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When was the last time the plugs and wires were changed?


'17 3.6R Touring BBP
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-15-2013, 10:40 AM
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no plug wires on the 3.0's. Coil on plug. At 120k it's due for plugs, tho.

Any check engine lights? Ambient air temp sensor or coolant temp sensor could cause that, but they should set a code. Vacuum leak could also cause that although my experience has been when an H6 has a vacuum leak it idles too high, but it could certainly make it difficult to start as when it's cold, it needs to run rich.

Mine is a little ornery when its cold but it always lights off.


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I seem to get a lot of "will xx fit in my car?" emails. . . I'm not the authority on everything Subaru, so I very well may tell you the wrong answer as there's nobody else to check me. Please search or ask via the forums first. . .when I answer you via email, it never gets posted and nobody else can confirm or refute my answer.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-15-2013, 11:02 AM
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Check fuel filter and fuel pump. The o-ring on the fuel pump are known to fail..It gets soft and loose and lets in air causing very low pressure with fuel flow. Could be the pump as well.

Do you hear anything behind the drivers seat ? That is where the pump is located.

ALSO VERY IMPORTANT.....DO NOT EVER LET YOUR FUEL LEVEL GO BELOW 1/2 a tank....especially in the winter.

Letting the gas tank go to empty ( near empty) is bad because now all the sediment and junk on the bottom is being sucked in through your engine.

I believe it is fuel related......but concerned that your battery was dead as well.

How old is your battery ?

Do you run your car with Premium Fuel ?
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-15-2013, 11:20 AM
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Forgot about the O-ring. . . d'oh.

The 'don't let it go beyond 1/2 tank bit isn't absolutely true. . . the pump draws off the bottom of the tank all the time, so sediment is not really a problem. . . if there's any in the tank it's just as likely to get drawn through when full as empty.

Only reason not to is to give less room for fresh air to get into the tank and condense. . . Fuller tank=less room for air=less chance of moisture. There's probably enough ethanol in modern gas to dissolve any moisture, though.


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I seem to get a lot of "will xx fit in my car?" emails. . . I'm not the authority on everything Subaru, so I very well may tell you the wrong answer as there's nobody else to check me. Please search or ask via the forums first. . .when I answer you via email, it never gets posted and nobody else can confirm or refute my answer.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-15-2013, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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I do run it on premium gas. Not sure about the age of the battery. I've had the car for 14 months so I'm not sure how old the battery is... it's a Subaru branded battery so there's a slight chance it's the original battery. Not sure though. no check engine light or anything comes on. I don't think I heard anything while driving though from behind me.

The problem is, it's Sunday and I need my car to work for work tomorrow. Should I try replacing the fuel filter? The fuel pump is going to be much harder to do. Also should I just get a new battery? Since I would have to tow it to the shop and have it stuck there for a few days, I'm really trying to avoid that! But obviously it needs work.

So is the o-ring in the filter then? Where should I start?
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-15-2013, 11:51 AM Thread Starter
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I'm planning on taking the battery to Autozone or something and getting that tested to rule out/fix that problem, because I cannot find a date anywhere on it and I'm really thinking it's the original battery.

I know not to keep my gas that low and I really didn't mean to, but this all started on Monday when I had about 1/3 of a tank and when it hit below zero all night.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-15-2013, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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Replaced the battery and the fuel filter and no luck...
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-15-2013, 06:12 PM
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There is a valve on the throttle body that controls air intake that may be clogged with carbon and not opening up proper to control idle. Try starting the car with light accelerator pressure and see what happens.

Get the car scanned for codes, temporary, pending or otherwise and see if anything is there.

The fuel pump o-ring is at the top of the list after the IACV not opening proper. The fact that it runs, then dies could lead to either one.


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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 12-15-2013, 06:41 PM
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The O-ring in question is in the in-tank pump. Fortunately it's not as difficult to access as you might think. There is an access hole under the seat so you can service it without dropping the tank (thank you, Subaru).

There is a sticky at the top of the 2nd gen forums detailing its replacement.

https://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/...g-problem.html

here's a video:

https://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/543753-post22.html

Pictures:

https://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/679250-post28.html



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I seem to get a lot of "will xx fit in my car?" emails. . . I'm not the authority on everything Subaru, so I very well may tell you the wrong answer as there's nobody else to check me. Please search or ask via the forums first. . .when I answer you via email, it never gets posted and nobody else can confirm or refute my answer.
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