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Discussion Starter #1
2003 Outback Wagon, 2.5, Manual Transmission, 130,000 miles

I’ve been lurking for some time and appreciate how helpful people are on this forum. I’ve been fixing several things on my car but have one last problem to correct.

The car ran great until about 10,000 miles ago. The check engine light came on with the oxygen sensor code. The dealer was able to correct that problem. However, after that the car suffered from a rough idle, wild swings in RPM, and occasional stalls. My local mechanic and the dealer are stumped so I’ve been using the old hit and miss approach.

Here’s what I’ve done:
(1) Replaced fuel filter
(2) Replaced fuel pressure regulator
(3) Replaced air filter
(4) Replaced camshaft position sensor
(5) Replaced PCV valve
(6) Fixed air intake that was cracked and not fitting together properly
(7) Cleaned throttle body and butterfly valve with carb cleaner
(8) Used Lucas injector cleaner in a tank of gas

After all that, the car runs perfectly except for this occasional starting problem. I’m thinking the next thing is the fuel temperature sensor (based on other threads here), but that looks really tough to get to and I’m not much of a gearhead. If anyone has some ideas on what to try next, I’d be really grateful for the guidance.

Spark plugs are pretty new. The car does not seem to burn oil.

Thanks for reading! Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It kicked me out the first time I wrote this and I left out the most important part when I retyped this. Cold starts are fine. When the engine is warm, the car will struggle to start, low idle, and stall. If I give it gas, it will start but idle will be too low for about 5 minutes, leading to stalls when I take the car out of gear. After that, it runs perfectly.
 

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00 Outback Wagon...269K 09 Legacy 2.5 Sedan...93k
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201 Posts
Could be a leaking injector...
It(they) could be leaking after the car is turned off and the system is still pressurized. When you go to start it right away there is an excessively rich mixture condition. After it sits for awhile the rich mixture evaporates from the intake and all is well again. Pull 'em rebuild them and give it a shot.

A bad Crank Sensor could also be the culprit...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks Hipowershooter. That makes a lot of sense.

Here's another clue along those lines, maybe it makes a difference. I've found that if I "prime" the motor by pressing the accelerator down about halfway a couple times before starting that it will start right up.

Does that change your thinking, or maybe confirm it?

Thanks for the reply.
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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Moving the throttle with the engine not running doesn't do anything.

Starting the engine with the pedal down a bit or all the way is a good test for a rich mixture though, if you floor it and crank and it starts right up, it's too rich, probably a leaking injector.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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18,109 Posts
maybe pull plugs when you think the car would fail to start well and look for one that's wet?

wonder if a bad Engine Temp Sensor could do this?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Starting the engine with the pedal down a bit or all the way is a good test for a rich mixture though, if you floor it and crank and it starts right up, it's too rich, probably a leaking injector.
If I press it all the way down, it will start right up every time (with a mighty roar at that). All the mechanics who have looked at it believe it's running rich. So it's looking more like a bad injector all the time.
 

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00 Outback Wagon...269K 09 Legacy 2.5 Sedan...93k
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If I press it all the way down, it will start right up every time (with a mighty roar at that). All the mechanics who have looked at it believe it's running rich. So it's looking more like a bad injector all the time.
Yeah...that is probably it.

I have an I/O boat and the carb was leaking due to a sliver of metal which prohibited a good seal. It would leak into the intake and in order to start it I'd have to give it about ¾ throttle, which would give an acceptable F/A ratio to start warm. Cold...no problems. Pulled the carb, found the offending eyelash size piece of brass thread shaving, rebuilt it...good as new!

I'm guessing your troubleshooting phase is complete at this point!

Like I said...pull the injectors and clean or replace them. Should be up and running in no time!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Epilogue

Guys, I wanted to let you know what I decided to do. After checking out how much fuel injectors cost and how hard it is to get to them on the Outback, I decided to punt. I bought a 2010 Impreza, I go and pick it up tomorrow.

Thanks for helping me narrow down the problem and saving the trouble of trying a bunch of things that won't work. The information you guys gave really helped me decide. I don't want you to feel you wasted your time, because you didn't.

Thanks to everyone!

:29:
 
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