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'02 OB LL Bean
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18 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Wednesday morning, I started the Outback just long enough to move it from in front of the garage to get my Miata out. My wife went out a couple hours later to leave and the Outback wouldn't start--fired briefly and then just cranked.

There has never been any problem starting the car. It overheated due to a stuck thermostat in mid-December. I've had the 0420 Catalyst efficiency code intermittently for the last year. The car has about 120K miles on it.

When I got home, I tried to start it. Seemed like it was cranking a little slow so I put the battery charger on it. After charging all night Wednesday, it still just cranked over without firing.

I figured out that the battery was still the original. Didn't really believe it was the problem, but figured it was due for replacement so I put in a new one. That didn't change anything.

I didn't really get to work on it again until Saturday afternoon. Fuel pump was running for 2 seconds when the key was turned on. Visually checked ignition fuse. Listened with a screwdriver for function of the front two injectors. They were clicking.

I decided to shoot some starting fluid in the air intake to see if it would fire. When my wife initially hit the key before I sprayed, the car fired very briefly. With starting fluid, it would fire but not start.

I don't have time to deal with this right now so today I decided to put the engine cover and dash panel back in place and get it towed to a mechanic tomorrow.

I decided to try one last time to start it. It fired briefly so I kept cranking. It would fire intermittently. The longer it cranked, the more often it would fire. Wind was blowing the exhaust back toward my open door and as expected it smelled extremely rich. I opened the throttle 1/3 of the way and it started firing regularly. I let off the key and it kept running. It ran fine for about a 5 mile drive.

Parked back at home, I revved the engine to about 3,000 rpm and let off the throttle abruptly. RPM dropped to about 500 rpm or less, the engine sputtered and then smoothed out as it came back up to a normal idle.

I shut the car off for about 30 seconds and it started right up.

Any thoughts of what might be going on? I have no confidence in the car right now.

Thanks,
Jerry
 

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02 OBW LLbean H6
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300 Posts
i had a similar problem when i first bought my 02 H6... it turned out to be the TPS.... get a used one from the junk yard and see if anything changes if it does get a new one...

also a rear 02 sensor will give some of the symptoms described
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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5,935 Posts
A lot of injected cars can get finicky about a very short hop and then a shutdown.

It could of course be a leaky injector or TPS, but in general whenever it won't start, crank it with the throttle floored.

Subarus seem to be very prone to wetting the plugs.
 

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1993 Legacy LSi with still functioning Air Suspension, 1999 Outback 2.5L 5MT lab Rat
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191 Posts
I have had 3 of these cars towed to me with the same problem, Usually after an extreme cold and a short start stop. Turns oput that teh vehicle was flooded, some WD-40 thru air cleaner housing started smoked for a short time then ran fine. Follow up w/cust indicated no further trouble. On the TPS issue, there is some chance there is a problem but I would not suggest a Junkyard part as there is an updated part from Subaru to correct a driveability problem. With an updated part available I would suggest that, if your concerned about the TPS. With a re-curring P0420 I suspect that a rich condition may have done the damage to the Catalyst. Not a good idea to just start move and stop a Computer Controlled car, as all cars run rich cold.
 

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'02 OB LL Bean
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Discussion Starter #5
It was cold that morning. Don't remember exactly, but I think mid-20s. Doesn't it seem strange for a flooded condition to persist that long? It had been cranked quite a bit while I was attempting to diagnose.

In the middle of my attempted trouble-shooting, I was able to check TPS output via Torque app and a bluetooth OBDII adapter. The readings seemed to coincide reasonably with throttle movement.

I'm thinking that I'll drive it for a few days and see how it acts rather than send the wife out in it.

Thanks for the quick feedback.
 

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1993 Legacy LSi with still functioning Air Suspension, 1999 Outback 2.5L 5MT lab Rat
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191 Posts
the flood codition the the boxer engine and the early 3.0L 6 washes the oil out of the cylinders creating a low compression condition. The WD-40 adds a lite lubrication with a flammable propellant gas which usually corrects the compression issue. As long as you were cranking the vehicle would be trying to add fuel to start the car further complicating low compression. You can bypass the fuel equation by given the pedal Full Open or some call it Clear Flood. If it should occur again I'd try the WD-40, and "clear flood"
 

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'02 OB LL Bean
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Discussion Starter #7
I had forgotten about the "clear flood" function of the ECM to reduce fuel at WOT on a cranking engine. Now I remember reading that in the owner's manual when we got the car.
 

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1993 Legacy LSi with still functioning Air Suspension, 1999 Outback 2.5L 5MT lab Rat
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191 Posts
Good Luck with the Car, Honestly the Outback 3.0L6 seems to be the least trouble of the 2nd Gen outbacks at least as far as I have seen.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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12,391 Posts
there's also the fuel pump cap and oring issue. car is usually never going to start again until it's fixed, but i could imagine a semi-compromised cap and oring that is on it's way out causing more intermittent issues.

if it doesn't start again the easy test is to pull the fuel line and see if gas pours out or trickles out (or not at all).

you can pull the fuel pump and look for cracked taps on the fuel pump cap. the tabs crack and allow the oring to push out from under the cap.
 

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'02 OB LL Bean
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Discussion Starter #11
This does appear to be resolved. We've had no further issues with it. Incidentally, my brother-in-law called me a couple days after we got the Outback started. He had the same problem with a Hyundai. I asked how far he had driven before he parked it. He initially said "across town". Then he said "No, I had started it to back out of the garage." Holding the throttle open while cranking got it started also.
 
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