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Discussion Starter #1
I was having the well documented starter not turning and taking a few tries to start issue. One click, then nothing. I replaced the contacts and plunger, and it was fixed for about two weeks. Never happened again, until today. One click, nothing, try again nothing. Third time, started.

Is it time to just replace the whole starter? Any ideas/experience??
 

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are the battery cables in good shape? corrosion can travel inside the insulation and compromise the metal.

Good ground and battery terminal connections? Have the charging system and battery been tested? Decent alt. belt?
 

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corrosion can travel inside the insulation and compromise the metal
check the resistance in the cable.

but it could be that the power coming through the ignition circuit is waek, to weak to activate the solenoid. adding a relay to the circuit, at the starter, may help.
 

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If you're getting

the solid click of the solenoid pulling in,

and not a continuous clicking when the key is held at START,

and the dome light doesn't dim way down at the same time,

and still no starter motor action,

then the starter motor isn't being connected to the battery through the solenoid.

You can verify this by measuring the Voltage at the large post on the solenoid that the positive cable from the battery is connected to. When the key is turned to START, this would normally drop a couple of Volts (from where it was just before, which should be around 12.7 Volts for a fully charged battery) if the solenoid contacts are connecting to, and through, the starter motor.

If the solenoid contacts were badly burned earlier, it's possible that the starter motor is failing, and was drawing too much current causing the burning. The new contacts might have helped for a while, but with an unusually heavy load, might have deteriorated once again.

The starter motor can be tested to see if it's drawing excessive current. Worn brushes and/or a dirty commutator are not uncommon. Also, a bad contact between a brush and the commutator can give the same sort of no start, no start, then start, symptom.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I should mention that this issue did not present itself until one day, when I was working on a completely unrelated issue. I unhooked the negative battery post, did some work, then reconnected the negative post. When I went to go start the car, the one click and nothing, one click and nothing, one click and nothing, and so on until it started finally.

It continued to do that, sometimes starting fine and sometimes not so much. Very unpredictable and without any obvious cause. I then read that replacing the contacts was a good fix, so I did that (like I said, about two weeks ago) and it worked great. Now it has decided to do the funky starting issue again.

Maybe replacing the battery cables? Is that worth a shot? I'll also try out what plain OM suggested, although the last part about adding a relay lost me.
 

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Diagnose to find the cause, rather than replacing parts or adding work-arounds.

You have to ensure that the solenoid is getting the 12 V when the ignition key is at start. As you would have seen when fixing the contacts, there's a single wire connector at the back of the solenoid. Check at that connector that the Voltage is there.

With 12 V going to the small solenoid connector, the solenoid should pull in, connecting the heavy battery positive cable to the starter through the contacts you replaced. So there should also be voltage at the heavy post at the solenoid that the cable connects to, when the key is turned to Start. The voltage should be the same as at the battery when the key is at off, and drop a couple of Volts maximum when the key is at Start (and of course the starter motor should turn.)

If both voltages are correct, then the problem is the solenoid contacts or the starter motor.

Given that this started when the negative cable was removed, double check the cable, and also check all the grounds between the battery negative post and the engine block. It's possible that the cable is compromised, as has been mentioned, due to internal corrosion or a break. A bad ground connection between the battery negative post and the engine block could lead to similar problems.
 
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