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Discussion Starter #1
Brought my car into the shop because my AC wasn't blowing cold and I needed an oil change. They called me and told me the battery light was on and they thought it was the alternator. I thought that was weird because I haven't had any issue with a battery light and the alternator was replaced a year and a half ago. They replaced the alternator with 3 new ones and none of them fixed the battery light so they put the old one back on and said I might have to take it to dealer to figure things out. Now when I start the car, it starts up fine, but the battery and brake light are on. After 5 mins of driving the lights will go off. When I stop at a light it idles low and will die sometimes. It will start back up just fine. Never had this problem before, any ideas? Thanks!

2005 Outback Impreza non-turbo
 

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2005 OBXT Ltd Obsidian Black 5MT
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How old is your battery?

Is there any corrosion on the battery terminals?
 

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2018 Dark Blue Outback 3.6R Touring arrived 8/31/2017
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If the battery and the alternator check out fine, remember there has to be a voltage regulator somewhere, and I’d also be curious how much of the behavior is based on time and how much is based on operating temperature: perhaps you have an intermittent connection that’s triggered by a temperature change somewhere. Intermittent temperature or humidity-related issues can be nasty to track down.

See if the problem happens with it idling in park as well. When hunting down a software bug, the ideal situation is reducing itcto a minimal repro: remove as many variables as possible, until a single change can make the difference as to success or failure, ideally. When you change more than one variable at a time, you can’t be sure which thing(s) make the important difference.
 

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Have not confirmed it but I would suspect the voltage regulator is an integral part of the alternator.

I would check the serpentine belt for any sort of oil or grease that would cause it to slip. Would also check the tensioner to make sure it is not failing.
 

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2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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Check your grounds.
 

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2005 OBXT Limited, VF37, STI intake, 5MT
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What year/model? Newer years have ECU-controlled alternators.

Voltage regulator is integral to the alternator, and I suspect all 3 "new" ones are not bad either.

Are you handy/can use a multimeter (voltmeter)? I suspect a wiring issue, probably on the "low power" regulator wiring circuitry
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I apologize, I should have posted what car I have...2005 Outback Impreza Sport non-turbo.

I also forgot to mention another condition I had them check out was a belt was slipping a little and squeaking when I would turn the steering wheel all the way. The squealing belts has been a separate ongoing problem for a while now. I've had the belts replaced a couple of times and it works for a while, then starts squealing again. Maybe they tightened the belts too much? It seems like these new issues posted in the original post would have to be the result of something the shop did as I haven't had this problem before.
@TheBlueSubaru I will do some more experimenting, see if it dies in park after first starting it up. You mentioned humidity, and it has been extremely humid the last couple days.
@RoughDiamond I'm handy at some things, but not automotive electric.
@relative4 what should I be looking for?
@traildogck I'll look up how to do that, thanks
 

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2005 Legacy GT wagon 5MT Limited
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A pic of the crank pulley would suffice.

The belt problems are very likely related to the other problems. Squealing belts are either worn out, too loose, thrown off by a failing crank pulley, or prematurely ruined by a seized accessory. They should not need repeated replacement.
 

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updated thread title.

did they inspect the wire from the alternator to the battery?

engine grounds?

are these new alternators?

or half fixed parts store remans? (like used 2x in a caviler, 1x in a cobalt, and then stuck in your car after it bench tests OK,...with warranty to replace it again).

miles / kms on this?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
@relative4 Here's a pic of crank pulley...

I also just went out there and started it up. Same battery and brake light. Car started and idled fine. Let it idle until it was at running temp and had no hiccups. After it was warm I drove it around the block and it didn't die and idle seemed ok. The lights never turned off. I'll have to do some more testing later, drive it when it's cold and see if it dies at stops.
@eagleeye I'm not sure what they tested, but I can take a look at the alternator/battery connection wire. I assume they were new alternators, but I'm not sure. The car has about 130k miles
 

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@relative4 Here's a pic of crank pulley...

I also just went out there and started it up. Same battery and brake light. Car started and idled fine. Let it idle until it was at running temp and had no hiccups. After it was warm I drove it around the block and it didn't die and idle seemed ok. The lights never turned off. I'll have to do some more testing later, drive it when it's cold and see if it dies at stops.
@eagleeye I'm not sure what they tested, but I can take a look at the alternator/battery connection wire. I assume they were new alternators, but I'm not sure. The car has about 130k miles
new are rare things for typical shops, as they like buying from Advance/autozone etc. and new to those places is expensive.

how much did you pay for each one?

and they may not put the right stock # on, (2005 are strange, some may list like a 2004, others may list like a 2006).

I got a DB alternator on my 2002 h4 car. = such are NEW cost like $90-120 depending upon type, and they don't charge for freight or the core. (as they don't want old turds back).

they sell direct from DB electrical, or through amazon.
 

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2005 Legacy GT wagon 5MT Limited
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Crank pulley looks OK. A full-featured scanner that can read ABS & chassis codes, plus show live data like alternator output voltage, would be really helpful at this point.
But the belt thing is not normal. I'd remove them and take a good look at all the pulley bearings.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Quick update, the car still dies, but it's not every time, sometimes it doesn't die the whole drive. Something new, the brake and battery lights usually turn off quickly, but now the "Check Engine" light is on, and the "Cruise" light blinks non-stop.
 
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