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Not a question, but a story for anyone else who might run in to the same problem:

About a week and a half ago, my 2001 3.0L LLBean Outback wouldn't start! At first it turned on (in my driveway) then immediately began to die, like a lawn mower running out of gas. After that, I couldn't for the life of me get it to start again. I had it towed to my regular mechanic where he told me it sounded like a broken timing chain and did a diagnostic test to confirm the low compression (25 - whoa!). He told me there were most likely bent valves inside the engine and possibly a damaged cylinder head and that the only two options were to a) replace the engine ($4000 - 4500) or b) get a new car. I love my Suby and began shopping around for a new engine.

My primary mechanic runs a small operation and had a huge work load so I had it towed to another reputable place in town. (This is one week after the initial no start.) Then I get a phone call. It went like this: "Did you get it (the Subaru I had towed to the second mechanic's place)?" "Yup." "Did it start (joking)?" "...yup..."

When it arrived at the second mechanic's place, one of the guys thought "What the hey?," jumped in the driver's seat, pressed the gas to the floor and turned the key... and it started. (They call this a flood start?) A burst of black and blue smoke came out of the back, which I guess is typical of a flooded engine. They've tried a few times since then and have no problems starting it. They say it sounds like it's running normally. ...and that I DON'T need a new engine OR a new car.

Here's the deal:

Mechanic #2 says he actually runs in to this problem about once a spring. Someone turns their car on briefly for something (I had moved mine about 4 feet, taking about 4 seconds total, the morning it died), not giving the car's computer enough time to measure the ambient temperature, humidity, etc. necessary to dose out the proper amount of fuel, the car has a freak out moment, dumps a ton of fuel into the cylinders, and voila: you have a car so badly flooded that it washes the oil off the cylinders, causing low to no compression, and causing mechanic #1 to think my beloved Suby was dead.

Here's the solution:

Mechanic #2 told me to just let my car run a little longer (even ten seconds is okay, thirty is ideal) to get it's "brain" adjusted each time I turn it on and that this simple act will prevent the "confusion" that caused my Subaru to flood itself.

If this DOES happen to you, try a flood start before you order a new engine, then try taking things a little more slowly in the future.
 

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Very interesting. I admit I do not completely understand the whole thing (problem is engine is flooded by electronics, solution is to further flood the engine?)

Definitely makes me glad that I always let my car idle for at least 10 seconds before shutting it down.

Thanks for posting it!
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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I seem to recall readi ng about this complaint years ago - not long after we bought our 03.

but I doubt I would've remembered it.
 

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2012 limited, white, no moonroof or nav
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Very interesting. I admit I do not completely understand the whole thing (problem is engine is flooded by electronics, solution is to further flood the engine?)

Definitely makes me glad that I always let my car idle for at least 10 seconds before shutting it down.

Thanks for posting it!
Imbedded in the electronics of fuel injected vehicles is a "Flooded start" mode.....It is triggered by cranking with the accelerator pinned to the floor. Always worth a try when you encounter a no start situation of unknown cause.
 

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Very interesting. I admit I do not completely understand the whole thing (problem is engine is flooded by electronics, solution is to further flood the engine?)

Definitely makes me glad that I always let my car idle for at least 10 seconds before shutting it down.

Thanks for posting it!
If you are young and never owned a carbureted car for daily use I could see the confusion. This feature is a holdover from the carb. days when the way to clear a flooded engine was to open the throttle all the way (get as much air in as possible) and crank away.

I have seen this happen a few times - mostly at the marina yard when a person has to move a vehicle a few feet/yards to get out of the way of piece of heavy equipment or oversize item on the move. A lot of those guys are retired old-timers so they just smell gas and instinctively floor the gas pedal.
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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Even throttle-by-wire cars benefit from this method, as alluded to a few posts up.
 

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2002 Subaru Outback VDC
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I'm a bit concerned about the 25psi reading that your first mechanic supposedly got...even a flooded engine should read more than that.

But, I can say I've also experienced this myself! I've never started my Outback for a few seconds and then shut it off, but I have had it act up on initial start ups (forgot to mention that mine is also an H6). This early spring when we had temps hitting near 70, then back to 30's, then back to 60's, and so on an so forth, there were three times that I would start my car in the morning and had similar issues. The car would start and run just fine for maybe three or four seconds, then it would stumble, almost stall out, then I'd notice a nice sized cloud of black/blueish smoke come out of the tailpipe as the idle came back to normal. Never had the car stall out, but definitely was worried about the idle and smoke issue. Either way, I'm glad to hear someone else say they had the same issue.
 

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2012 limited, white, no moonroof or nav
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I'm a bit concerned about the 25psi reading that your first mechanic supposedly got...even a flooded engine should read more than that.
I actually doubt that the first guy did a compression check. If had, he would have had to remove the plugs, and cranked the motor over. That would have cleared the flooding situation. More likely, he just gave it a WAG and came up with busted motor. No diagnosis was apparently undertaken.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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it isn't trivial to pull a plug out of an H6 - could be lazy mech with a WAG I guess.

the smoke makes me wonder about a possible PCV issue.
 

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2011 Subaru Outback 3.6R
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This happened to my 2011 Outback 3.6R

Last week I moved my car a couple of feet on the drive way at one evening, so it was a cold start, quickly moved a couple of feet then I turned the engine off. The next morning, I could not start the car at all, got it towed to a local Subaru dealer, and they told me my engine was badly flooded.
 
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