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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Short version--I went out to take my son to the movies today. My 2012 Outback will not unlock via the fob (no audible beeping, either). There is only 1 key hole, and it does not unlock, either. The latch on the inside appears to move roughly half-way to the unlocked position, but no further.

I have seen some people say this is similar to the anti-theft kicking in, so I have done a little homework. But there are no lights on the dash lit up or any visual or audible clues to say that is the case. We live in a very rural area, so maybe a deer ran into the car last night. Who knows.

I'm stuck at home (luckily) but extremely frustrated. I can't pop the hood because I can't open the door. If it is electrical, I would still expect the key to work. If it is anti-theft, how long do I need to wait? What triggers the timer?

All sorts of questions...
 

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Unless the 2012s are vastly different than the Gen 5 models, this has nothing to do with the anti-theft system.

In the later models, unlocking the door with a metal key will trip the alarm (horn honking, lights flashing) when the door is opened, but nothing prevents the key from unlocking it. I disabled the alarm so it didn't do this because sometimes I'd want to use a key instead of the remote to unlock, and I hate car alarms, anyway.

Do you have the wrong keys? (I'm only half kidding there.) Can the fob unlock the rear hatch? Does pushing unlock twice quickly not operate the passenger doors?

It sounds like something has jammed the driver's door lock mechanism, but I don't see why the other doors won't unlock even if the driver's door doesn't. Can you see if a locksmith or service like "Pop a Lock" can use a tool like a slim jim to unlock a door (any door)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Only one Subaru in the household, so only one key (well, plus the spare). The fob does not unlock the rear hatch, either.

Out of desperation, I raced through my mind and remembered that one of my sons sat in the back with our dog on the way home from Thanksgiving at grandma's house. It looks like they left the hatchback area interior light on. We stayed at home all day yesterday, so it appears that almost 48-hours of a light on can drain the battery. Who knew....

So it looks like there are two separate issues:

-dead battery
-can't unlock the driver door to get in and pop the hood to charge the battery

So this may have turned into "how can I manually pop the hood"?

I can see the safety latch, but can't see where the pull cable attaches at the front to pop it up for the safety to catch. I can reach through with a screwdriver, but without knowing what to push on, I have no idea what I'm poking at. No youtube videos, either, from what I can find.
 

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Try a little more force with the key. They are a strong metal shaft so you will not damage it.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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Let's think this through. All OP needs is to get +12V on the positive battery post, or a reasonable fraction of +12V, so that the electronics can become active. Once the battery is charged up enough, he just hits the key fob and electrically unlocks it.

Don't do this blindly with hot jumper cables from the donor vehicle, of course - you're bound to be fumbling around and bumping the wrong things with the cables. Get it in place first on the dead battery, make absolutely sure it's correct and secure, then connect the donor vehicle - carefully.

If the top of the battery isn't accessible, maybe come at the positive battery cable from underneath with a nail or something sharp that can be poked through, being *very* careful to not short against anything? Then it can be easily jumped from another car, although this way might take a little more time to build up some charge on the dead battery. Then just tape up the small nail hole with electrical tape.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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Spray a little graphite in the keyhole. Probably stiff because it hasn't been used!
We should all take a lesson from this - newfangled electronics have relegated the physical keying system to a distant backup role. But it is still a backup, and probably the least expensive option (compared to a service call for a slim jim, or breaking glass).

But there's no longer any redundancy, because it's now installed only on the driver's door. It thus needs to occasionally be checked for operation, so that when it's really needed, you know it will work. I'm going to verify mine today; it's been a few years!

Guess the same should be said for checking the spare tire pressure more often.
 

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Don't do this blindly with hot jumper cables from the donor vehicle, of course - you're bound to be fumbling around and bumping the wrong things with the cables. Get it in place first on the dead battery, make absolutely sure it's correct and secure, then connect the donor vehicle - carefully.

If the top of the battery isn't accessible, maybe come at the positive battery cable from underneath with a nail or something sharp that can be poked through, being *very* careful to not short against anything?
Just between you and me, this seems like a very bad idea. I'm a cheapskate, but I'd be paying a locksmith or someone to jimmy the door before trying this.

What could possibly go wrong? ;)
 

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I have had this issue a few times. Dog vs rear hatch light switch. A strip of painters tape over the switch solved my dead battery issue. The key will open the drivers door. It might be stiff and may need to get a squirt of lock lube to loosen it up. Then you can pop the hood and jump start. I found about 14hours of the light left on will bring you to the no start point. Yes I had a few times where it was on all night and just barely kicked over.
 

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Don’t be freaked out if your windows or sun roof switches have goofy behavior once your back up running. They are memory switches and can get weird after a dead battery. The fix is to simply cycle the windows through the full open and full close range along with the sun roof then they should be ok.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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Just between you and me, this seems like a very bad idea. I'm a cheapskate, but I'd be paying a locksmith or someone to jimmy the door before trying this.

What could possibly go wrong?
Yeah, I hear you. I was thinking that when I wrote it. That's the problem with blogs, you say "be very careful" but you don't know what the expertise is on the part of the reader.

A "dead" battery really isn't dead; there's still a lot of energy in it.

Me, I'd still do it, I suppose, but I'd probably put on a full set of protective goggles before I even got close to either battery - the "dead" one because of the obvious reasons (fumbling around), the live one just in case something went wrong with the connections to the dead one.

And I'd insert a skinny wire on the ground connection to limit current flow, just in case.
 
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