Intermittent Starting - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-20-2019, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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Intermittent Starting

I own a 2001 Outback Sedan Limited and have been dealing with starting issues for about a year now. A local mechanic installed a new starter and fixed something with my key system about 8 months ago. They also installed a new powersteering rack and pump, new water pump, and new timing belt, but those were unrelated, just worn and broke in a small accident. The problem seemed to go away when the new starter was installed, but it didn't. I bought a new battery 2 months ago, same thing, the problem seemed to leave and came back after about a week. I have no keyless entry or remote start.

What happens is about 50% of the time my car won't start. Jump starting used to fix it, but today that didn't help. Sometimes it turns right on, no issues. Other times I turn the key, nothing, except as I release from start position there's a single loud click coming from around the starter area. At least on that side of the engine bay. Once it doesn't start, it stays dead until I jump it. The battery will be at 12.6-12.8v, won't start.Yet, I've started at 12.4v. I drove to a shop and they brought out a portable tester. Car failed to started right there after being off for 5 minutes. Their box thing said the starting system and voltage regulator failed. I drive home, took out my alternator and brought it to them, so they can bench test. It clears, they say it's good so I put it back in, and the car starts. I pull some hair out.

I cut back about 3in. of corrosion on my starting and grounding battery wire and put on new clamps, that helped for about week. I test .2ohms to starter, engine block, and chassis ground. There doesn't seem to be a power draw as my battery maintains its charge after sitting for a month after a recent vacation. Side note, car started first try after being gone so long, yet it won't start after being at work today for 3 hours. I pull more hair out. A multimeter test shows .015amps draw.


I've had these DTC codes since owning the car.

P0500 - Speed Sensor Malfunction

P1540 - Speed Sensor Malfunction 2 (My speedometer works fine, sometimes I feel like it shifts slow. Read about how that could happen cause the ECM or trans has trouble knowing how fast the car is going?)
P1590 - Neutral Position Switch Circuit High - Not sure if this is relevant to these two codes, but being in neutral or park seems to have no effect on starting.
P1591- Neutral Position Switch Low Input


These below are newer. Above ones are still there after clear. I cleared the codes and ran diagnostics as per the manual. Connecting the green clips under the dash, running engine in neutral at 2500rpms for 40 seconds, and then driving at 6mph for a bit. These popped up after. But it's been over 6 months since I re-checked codes.
P1518 - Starter Switch Circuit Low Input

P0512 - Starter Switch Circuit High Input

P0136 - Rear Oxygen Sensor Circuit Malfunction


I have a technical manual but I'm at a loss at where everything is. I want to work on this myself, I really have fun doing it. I'm just confused about things.
At the moment my plan is to focus on those neutral and starter switch position codes.

Also, I'm looking at doing a big3 wiring system. Would it help?

I have pages from the manual on imgur, but I can't link them apparently. Let me know if you need them, and I can PM them.

Anyone have ideas about what's going on?


2001 Subaru Outback Sedan Limited
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-20-2019, 02:33 AM
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Possible causes that I know are as follows,

1. Voltage drop to starter solenoid (small connector on starter motor). Check voltage at this terminal when turning key. If battery is at 12.6 volts and voltage is below 12 volts this is likely to be your problem. Installing a starter relay will supply full battery voltage to the starter solenoid and resolve the problem (about $20 in parts and an hours labour or less)

2. If your vehicle is an automatic there maybe a small switch that is activated by the gear selection lever. Wiggling the gear selector while turning the key sometimes allows you to start the engine. Try moving the gear selector lever to neutral and then turn the key to start, this sometimes works.

3. Is there an alarm or aftermarket security system installed in the vehicle? If so these systems commonly disable the starting circuit and if they malfunction starting the car can be disabled.

4. On older Subaru’s the ignition lock can wear and start to malfunction.

Hope this helps,

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-20-2019, 08:47 AM
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it's the neutral safety/'inhibitor switch' on the side of the trans, or, possibly, 2 different problems at once.

dunno why your mechanic hasn't pursued the NS if the codes point to it. I think the system also relies on a switch at the brake pedal so, that could be in the 'mix' here....

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-20-2019, 09:35 AM
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Would be good to know if the car is H4 or H6, automatic or manual transmission, security system/remote starter add-ons etc.

Also, is the symptom that the engine isn't being cranked when the ignition switch is turned to Start, or is it that it does crank, but doesn't start (i.e., the engine doesn't "fire up" and run on its own)?

Any idea what "fixed something with my key system" involved?

See attached:
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-20-2019, 11:34 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by plain OM View Post
Would be good to know if the car is H4 or H6, automatic or manual transmission, security system/remote starter add-ons etc.

Also, is the symptom that the engine isn't being cranked when the ignition switch is turned to Start, or is it that it does crank, but doesn't start (i.e., the engine doesn't "fire up" and run on its own)?

Any idea what "fixed something with my key system" involved?

See attached:
Thanks everyone for your help. It's an H4, automatic, with no remote starter. Pretty sure there's no security system. A clicker didn't come with the car. How would I check for a security system, or a keyless entry?

The engine cranks and turns on completely half of the time. A good part of the time, nothing happens except a loud click noise when I release the key from starting position. Once in a while (only happened twice in the past year of a couple hundred starts) the engine will take a few turns (over 5 seconds) to fully start, and if I let go while it's cranking it doesn't start.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 03-21-2019, 05:38 AM
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The loud click noise when releasing the key from the start position is likely to be the starter solenoid disengaging.

To me this could be another symptom of voltage drop to the starter solenoid and installing a relay in the circuit to provide full power from the battery often resolves this problem.

Did you manage to get a voltage reading at the small wire on the starter motor?

Seagrass

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