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1996 Subaru Outback Limited Auto
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I own a '96 Outback, and have been having intermittent issues recently.
First occasion, it stalled\died at the lights multiple times. Upon restarting it in neutral, it took 3 or 4 goes until it stayed on.
Another time, it started sputtering driving in a car park until it died. Upon restarting, it would die again after more sputtering. Leaving it for 5 minutes then starting it again seemed to work.
Another time, it died at the lights. Normally, it would take 1-3 tries to get it running, but this time it would take 10 or so, each time the revs struggling to keep at idle, and giving gas did nothing at all. It eventually got running long enough to get me home, all the while sounding very sick and the revs fluttering.

Before these issues, it would occasionally lose all power for a second then come back on like nothing happened.

It's an intermittent issue, some times I'll drive it with no issues, then others it will continue to stall\die. All the dash lights come on, like it's in the ignition stage before you crank on the engine.

I've taken it to the mechanic multiple times, he's stumped.
It rarely throws error codes, once it threw one for an 02 sensor.
The air filter and sparks have been changed so far.

I've previously had my cat. converter changed as it had a terrible rattle kind of noise, and this has come back for about 2 or 3 months now.
If this is clogged and has bits shaking around inside, could this explain intermittent failure?
(If the bits move to different places each time the engine turns on/off?)

The mechanic has also checked the voltages across the car, and all seems to be well when he's checked it. But that said, each time he's driven the car, it's been fine (of course)

I'd appreciate ANY help with this.

Sorry for the long post, but I see it as the more info I give, the easier it may be for a possible solution. Thanks all.
 

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1996 Subaru Outback Limited Auto
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34 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
If you want more info, I'm happy to provide it if I know it.

I forgot to mention, it's an auto. 2.5L motor.

Also, when in 'drive' at the lights, it idles at around 300-400, much lower than it used to. In park or neutral, it idles around 800, what it used to in drive.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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I would suggest replace the battery. How old is it?

In park, the electrical system doesn't have a great load on it. In drive, not only are you add a mechanical load but it also changes the electrical load. If the battery amperage output is low, it will cause what you describe. If the battery amperage output is good, above 400 amps with the engine off, then check the ground cable from the battery to the engine and all the ground lugs from the harness to engine and engine to body.

Yes, if there is rattling inside the CAT, it is bad and could create extra backpressure on the engine, especially when it is trying to run at high rpm and the heat causes expansion of the metals.
 

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1996 Subaru Outback Limited Auto
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34 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
The battery is only two years old, and the mechanic said the power across the engine seemed ok.

I might try and test the cat then, would drilling a hole at the front and back, then feeling the air coming out be ok?

Also, the car cut out again today.
When I turned it on, it seemed to stutter for about half a second before it turned on. Then a minute down the road, it cut out.
No warning, no shudder, just no power, revs dropping, then dash lights come on and power steering goes.
Pull over and turn it back on, drives another 10 minutes to my destination no worries???
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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Still seems electrical or its due to false data.

Did he check voltage or amperage?

There are two temperature sensors. One for the gauge, one for the ECM. If there is a problem with the one for the ECM, it will effect idle and operation of the engine. It will cause a stall, hard or no start, rough running due to over rich condition if the ECM sees cold, or if it sees too hot, it may try to shut the car down. Shutting off the ignition, then restarting without an issue is generally electrical or data transfer in nature.

If he hasn't done it yet, have him look at the ECT sensor data.
 

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1996 Subaru Outback Limited Auto
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34 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Yep he checked voltage and amperage I'm told.

I'll get him to have a look at the ECT sensor data, thank you very much!

He can't look at it for 3 days, so until then I'll hope for the best!
 

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1996 Subaru Outback Limited Auto
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Discussion Starter #7
Complication:

I turned on the car last night and let it idle, and just to see what would happen, I turned on the A/C. When this happened, I could see my dash lights dim and flicker, the idle dropped, and the car cut out.

Now, my mechanic thinks it could be the alternator having issues, which is possible, as somewhere around a year ago, it was replaced with a refurbished one by a store that turns out to do dodgy work. So, I was wondering if this would explain my intermittent issues?
 

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1996 Subaru Outback Limited Auto
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Discussion Starter #9
The electrician the car's at at the moment replaced a regulator on the alternator.
Don't know if it fixed the issue, but they've been driving it around all week and it hasn't messed up once, and apparently it's driving better too.

Could this have actually fixed the issues do you think?
Is it possible?

Would this part being faulty explain the lack of power the car has too?

Sorry about all the questions, just not sure whether to get my hopes up.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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The electrician the car's at at the moment replaced a regulator on the alternator.
Don't know if it fixed the issue, but they've been driving it around all week and it hasn't messed up once, and apparently it's driving better too.

Could this have actually fixed the issues do you think?
Is it possible?

Would this part being faulty explain the lack of power the car has too?

Sorry about all the questions, just not sure whether to get my hopes up.
Yes
Yes
No Worries
 

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1996 Subaru Outback Limited Auto
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Discussion Starter #11
Update:

The car messed up on the electrician today, he had a fuel gauge in at the time, and apparently it didn't falter when the car went out.

Would this more confirm your theory about the ECM sensor sending dodgy data?

Or does it mean something else could be wrong?

I just wanna give the guy as much info as I can, as the sooner it's fixed the better.

Cheers :)
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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Update:

The car messed up on the electrician today, he had a fuel gauge in at the time, and apparently it didn't falter when the car went out.

Would this more confirm your theory about the ECM sensor sending dodgy data?

Or does it mean something else could be wrong?

I just wanna give the guy as much info as I can, as the sooner it's fixed the better.

Cheers :)
Fuel/Air/Fire

Your getting Fuel and Air. Find the loss of Fire.

Have him check Crank sensor signals. It can be checked turning the engine over without it starting using RPM data on a scan tool. When its not starting, is it getting a spark from all 4 points of the coil? Are the wires good end to end?
 

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1996 Subaru Outback Limited Auto
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Discussion Starter #13
Cheers, I'll ask him to look into it and check it out.

Also, he said my cat's buggered. I had it replaced about 7 months ago or so, and that was to fix a tinny rattle that it had, it's since come back. I think the cat's dodgy, and I'm trying to get the shop who replaced it to replace this dodgy one.
If the cat's plugged, could this explain why the car stalls intermittently?

If the pieces move around differently each time the car's on could this explain it being plugged sometimes and not others?
 

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96 legacy outback wagon 2.5
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i forget what my challenge was on my 96, i think it was running rough and stalling and i got pointed in the direction of the mass air flow... the dealer wanted like 340 for it so i went to the junk yard and picked one up for 35 bucks! even if it didnt work, i figured i could try at least ten of em before i paid dealer cost for it. really easy to change... it might have been throwing a code though...
 

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1996 Subaru Outback Limited Auto
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Discussion Starter #15
Bit of an update:

Getting my CAT changed today as it was buggered anyway.
Also spoke to the electrician, they told me they've checked the grounds which seem ok, and the relays which also seem ok.

I doubt it, but hopefully that narrows down a bit what's wrong.

This is the 6th week this car's been away, needing it back soon!
 

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1996 Subaru Outback Limited Auto
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Discussion Starter #16
Hi again,

I'm debating whether to start throwing parts at the car.
I was thinking of the crank sensor. I've been told that this is a reasonably common issue.
Could this be a possible fix?

Could anyone suggest more parts that would be a likely fix?

Cheers
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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Subaru did have a bad run of cam and crank sensors and I believe the 96 may have been involved. There is a color designation for the ones that needed to be replaced. I think the brown top sensors were the bad ones and Subaru had offered the sensors in a set as replacement for quite a while, but now you get them separately.

You may also want to look into the possibility of a stuck EGR valve. An EGR hanging open creates a vacuum leak and will stall a motor.

A clogged CAT will stall an engine also. The engine can't breath and shuts off.
 

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1996 Subaru Outback Limited Auto
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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks again for the info :)

I'm picking up the car later and praying that the new cat fixes it, but part of me thinks the car will be in the shop for eternity haha

If it plays up, I'm going to replace the crank angle sensor, and I'll get the EGR looked at too.
Am I able to check the EGR myself?
Ie- is it easy to access?

I have limited car knowledge and not really any tools

Thanks again for your help regarding all this, it's really helping.
I owe you a beer!
 

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1996 Subaru Outback Limited Auto
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Discussion Starter #20
Update:

I had the car over the weekend, and having the CAT changed made it quiet, but didn't fix stalling unfortunately.
I did notice a couple of things though while driving:
-At night, while idling, turning on the headlights made the revs drop a little, and dash lights dim.
-Twice when it cut out, briefly afterwards the check engine light came on.
The first time it did, I was driving slow when it cut out. The check engine light came on for about 2 seconds when I got it going again.
The other time it did, I was speeding up a hill, when I must've put the pedal down too much, and the engine cut out. After releasing the pedal, the engine kept going without dying, but the check engine light came on for about 5 seconds.

Hope this narrows down what it could be!!

Also, it seems to be going through fuel quite fast
 
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