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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The other day, the 2000 Outback Wagon's check engine light came on.
At the same time, the Brake, battery, and sometimes ABS lights also came on. Then they would go off when braking.

After jumping the car today (it discharged battery while sitting??), and while replicating the problem:

  • The CEL stays on all the time.
  • The battery and "BRAKE" light come on when RPMs exceed 2.25k.
  • The ABS light occasionally comes on at the same time as the Brake/battery lights, although it stops coming on after a while.

I took it to Advance Auto Parts and had the battery/alternator tested and the code read. P1137 (Manufacturer code) was the reading. From googling and this forum, that means "insufficient voltage on the O2 sensor" ... if I'm reading the forum posts correctly.

It appears that code can mean any number of things (O2 and other sensors going bad), but with the BRAKE/battery and sometimes ABS lights coming on, does that point to alternator? If the brake light indicates insufficient charging voltage as compared to expected charging voltages, that would jive with the lights coming on at essentially exactly 2.25krpm each time. The ABS light (according to owner's manual) also comes on when insufficient voltage is available to run the ABS system (and disables the ABS, but not the regular brakes).
... I've searched this and another forum (usmb) to find this problem so that I can investigate based on their solution, but as of yet, I haven't found any threads describing this combination of problems.

I don't have access to a factory manual yet, but planned on buying a Haynes/Clymer or the factory service manual. My background is Saab/Honda and motorcycles (of even more diverse flavors). I have no problem turning wrenches and troubleshooting, but being without a car is a difficult task right now.
Thanks in advance for any/all advice/suggestions.

P.S. Yes, the head gasket is on the replace list to be done this year, but depending on this repair, may put the "repair/replace" choice on this vehicle into the replace category.
 

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I had that same issue, new alternator and battery fixed it. The cruise control switch didn't work either
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Reeeeeeeally ... Good to know, thanks.
Approximate cost/difficulty on alternator job?
I had that same issue, new alternator and battery fixed it. The cruise control switch didn't work either
 

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What happened with the battery and alternator testing? (All that's mentioned is the trouble code.)

When the alternator stops working, the Battery and Brake warning lights will come on. It's quite common, as well, for the ABS light to come on when the system voltage is low.

The alternator is probably failing.

If you have a Voltmeter, start by checking the battery voltage with the engine off. A fully charged battery should be around 12.7 Volts.

Then check the voltage at the output of the alternator (or at the battery posts) with the engine at around 1000 rpm. It should be around 14 V or more, and go up only a few tenths of a Volt as the engine rpm is raised from there. I suspect that you will find it might not be near 14 V to begin with and might even drop lower as the engine speed is increased.
 

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Also, after you replace the alternator, which is easy, be sure your ground cable is clean at the battery and the block by the starter. Check the grounds on the firewall, fender and intake.

Amperage output of the battery should be checked also. If its putting out less than 400 amps and the transmission is automatic, get a new battery. If its manual and less than 300, change it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What happened with the battery and alternator testing? (All that's mentioned is the trouble code.)

When the alternator stops working, the Battery and Brake warning lights will come on. It's quite common, as well, for the ABS light to come on when the system voltage is low.

The alternator is probably failing.

If you have a Voltmeter, start by checking the battery voltage with the engine off. A fully charged battery should be around 12.7 Volts.

Then check the voltage at the output of the alternator (or at the battery posts) with the engine at around 1000 rpm. It should be around 14 V or more, and go up only a few tenths of a Volt as the engine rpm is raised from there. I suspect that you will find it might not be near 14 V to begin with and might even drop lower as the engine speed is increased.
The battery and alternator tests both "passed", but the battery was reading as "needs to be charged." I had just driven to Advance after letting the car idle for 15min+, so I was surprised to find that the battery voltage was low after both the idling and the driving.

Smells like a battery to replace at the minimum, but if I replace the battery before replacing the alternator, and the alternator is bad, won't it just ruin the new (good) battery?
 

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A proper battery test requires that the battery be charged up first using a proper battery charge (to see if it can be) and then the ability of the battery to hold and deliver that charge is measured. If the battery needed to be charged, was that before they charged and tested it, or did they just measure the voltage and say it's okay but needs to be charged?

Also, often an alternator will check okay in a bench test but not on the car. What type of testing did they do? Did they see check for loss of charging at higher rpm?

Idling for 15 minutes will not charge the battery properly. It can take quite a lot of driving, with the engine running at more than 1000 rpm, and with little in the way of accessories running, to fully charge a battery that is significantly low.

And yes, unless you're confident the alternator is okay, if a new, charged, battery is installed, a failing alternator will allow the battery to become discharged, possibly deeply. Deep discharges might not ruin the battery immediately, but it can shorten its overall lifespan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
A proper battery test requires that the battery be charged up first using a proper battery charge (to see if it can be) and then the ability of the battery to hold and deliver that charge is measured. If the battery needed to be charged, was that before they charged and tested it, or did they just measure the voltage and say it's okay but needs to be charged?

Also, often an alternator will check okay in a bench test but not on the car. What type of testing did they do? Did they see check for loss of charging at higher rpm?

Idling for 15 minutes will not charge the battery properly. It can take quite a lot of driving, with the engine running at more than 1000 rpm, and with little in the way of accessories running, to fully charge a battery that is significantly low.

And yes, unless you're confident the alternator is okay, if a new, charged, battery is installed, a failing alternator will allow the battery to become discharged, possibly deeply. Deep discharges might not ruin the battery immediately, but it can shorten its overall lifespan.
AAP >> O'reilly in the batt/alternator check, but really neither one seemed as comprehensive as I've seen done in the past. They brought a meter out to the car, hooked up two large clamping clips to the battery and told the device to run its test. The battery passed. I disagree.
Then for the alternator they added a ring-inductor clamp around the + battery cable and ran through the following: prior to starting, starting, after starting at idle, engine up to 2-2.5krpm, back to idle, with high beams and heater and something else running (under load) at idle, under load at 2-2.5krpm, and again at idle not under load. Then he checked discharge after the car was shut off.

At this point I'm looking at an alternator, and just bought a battery on the way home from work. Amazon has a Bosch alternator for ~$160, while AAP has the following:
ProForm $110 (which sounds worse than a generic brand)
Remy $140 (which also sounds no-name),
Denso Remanufactured for $150 (which I'd contemplate getting) and a
Beck/Arnley Remanufactured for $192

What is the stock alternator's output amperage? The "Worldwide" is 75A, and the "Beck/Arnley" is 90A. I'd prefer to match the amperage, and since the Haynes manual I ordered on Amazon isn't here yet, I don't know where to check that spec.
 

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That alternator test would be more meaningful if you (we) had the readings under those different conditions. I wonder what they were, and what the technician considered good (or bad).

Here's a spec page from what I believe is the 2000 FSM for the alternator.

Finding rebuilt/aftermarket replacement alternators seems to be hit-and-miss here. Do some searching. There's probably mention of ones that work, and some that don't.

For the accessory drive belts, any brand name (e.g. Gates) should be fine. But again, there's several threads here where belts listed for the Subaru didn't fit properly. They, apparently, were too long. As a result the alternator tensioner had to be raised too far, leading to the bolt coming awfully close to the belt, if not touching it. (There's a thread here with photos.) I don't recall if the threads referred to the brand names.

I guess I'd probably go to the dealer or order on-line from a bona-fides Subaru parts dealer, instead of depending on aftermarket belt makers' application lists.
 

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While I'm replacing the alternator, I might as well do the belts. Suggestions on belt brands to use or avoid?
Gates will work, but if you get one that puts the tensioner too close for comfort, go with the next size down. Bando is the best.

As for the battery; the alternator relies on the battery to function. If the battery is marginal, replace it. You most likely do not need an alternator. With a good battery and all the grounding clean, the alternator will perform better. Idle voltage/amperage will increase and the alt will better support the electrical load of the car's many systems.

Start with the battery then recheck the alternator.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Gates will work, but if you get one that puts the tensioner too close for comfort, go with the next size down. Bando is the best.

As for the battery; the alternator relies on the battery to function. If the battery is marginal, replace it. You most likely do not need an alternator. With a good battery and all the grounding clean, the alternator will perform better. Idle voltage/amperage will increase and the alt will better support the electrical load of the car's many systems.

Start with the battery then recheck the alternator.
Bought a new battery. Replaced the battery. Problem (trouble lights) didn't go away. Added rare hesitation to the mix. Alternator is next. Belts on the way I suppose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Test Results:

Battery
12.51V
274CCA
79* F

Starter
"Cranking Normal"
10.68V
0.0A
Time = 921ms

Charging System
"No Problems"
No Load 13.94V
Loaded 13.08V

Sorry for the terseness; I started a detailed post answering each question/poster line-by-line in quotes and nice formatting and lost the :mad: post each time due to keyboard shortcuts ... after it was almost 90% complete.
 

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If this result is before the battery exchange, it shows a weak battery. It also shows that the alternator is not supporting the electrical loads of the car. 13 volts is low. But with a bad battery, this is common.

If the battery was old or running low amp output for long, it would cause an alt failure. It's most likely a regulator issue but could be worn brushes if it has a lot of miles.

If you have an automatic and power everything, go with the higher amp output alt.
 

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When the brake AND charge warning lights come on together (engine running), it's pretty well going to be a failing/failed alternator. This is because of the way those two lights are wired in the combination meter. (See attached.)

Both lights are powered on the positive or high side from the battery through the ignition switch. The low, or ground, sides of the bulbs are switched to turn them on and off.

With key on, engine off, the low end of the charge bulb is connected to ground through the alternator's internal regulator (the oval in the diagram), which acts as a switch in this situation. At this point the charge light should be on.

(Incidentally, in order for the alternator to start working when the engine starts, the charge warning light has to be working. The alternator rotor field current is supplied through the charge warning light until the alternator starts running. If the bulb is burned out, the alternator won't start working when the engine starts, even if the alternator is in perfect working order. For a good explanation of how the alternator works, see: What is an Alternator and How Does it Work? Understanding Alternator Generators )

At the same time as the low end of the charge bulb is connected to ground through the alternator switch, one end of the diode connecting to the low end of the brake light will also be at ground. With the indicated polarity of the diode, current can flow from ground, through the diode, to the brake warning bulb, thereby turning it on as well.

(The diode, however, isolates the charge warning light from the parking brake and fluid level switches, which also connect the low side of the brake bulb to ground.)

When the engine starts and the alternator is working, the regulator switch connects to the voltage source in the alternator indicated by the "+". (This is the diode trio mentioned in the linked article.) At this point, both sides of the bulbs are at much the same voltage, and they go out.

The only time both lights will come on together is when the alternator is not functioning and the voltage at low side of the bulbs, specifically at the junction of the charge light low wire and the diode, is below the battery voltage that's on the other side of the two bulbs. If the alternator is weak, the bulbs could glow dimly; but with both bulbs lit normally, the alternator isn't working.

The fact that the two lights both come on at more than 2000 rpm suggests that the commutator and/or the brushes are bad, and that at the higher speed, insufficient current is able to flow to the rotor winding, thereby not generating output from the stator winding.

There's two other cases that should be noted. If the battery voltage were to drop even though the alternator continues to function properly, there could be a higher voltage at the "+" than on the other, high, side of the charge bulb. This could result in the charge bulb coming on. The same could happen if the battery is at it's normal 12.7 Volts or so, but the alternator regulator fails, in which case, at higher rpms, the alternator output could go as high a 17 or 18 Volts. Again, the low side of the charge bulb would be at a higher voltage than the other side and the light could come on. However, in both these cases, with the Subaru wiring as it is, only the charge light would come on; not the brake light. This is because when the voltage is higher on the low side of the two bulbs than on the ignition switch side, the diode is reverse biased. Therefore, while current could flow through the charge bulb, it cannot flow through the brake warning light bulb. This is yet another way the combination of the two bulbs provides a fairly accurate indication of alternator failure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)

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It's the one that covers your 2000. I have the same one. Although it doesn't cover 2007, there's some overlap from 2006.

However, while it's a good publication for what it is, it covers such a wide range of years and models that it can't possibly, in the number of pages, and for the price, cover each to any significant degree, let alone fully.

As you look through it, this will become apparent. There's a significant use of the term "typical". In this regard, the writers will discuss a particular area of the car using one year/model as "typical" of the full range. It doesn't often say this is for a 2003 Forester, and these are the differences in the Legacy. There's an assumption that Subaru uses the same across the models. In some cases this might well be correct, but when you're working on your car, if the explanation and photos don't apply, you have to interpret.

The wiring diagrams are a good example. Not all the wiring is included, and what is there is "typical" (or something similar), divided by "generation". But there's little or no accounting for differences within a generation, which there is.

This isn't to say the manual isn't useful. The manual has a lot of "value added" as a result of the text describing and picturing actual work being done. But if you want comprehensive coverage of your particular car, I think nothing beats the factory service manual. (http://techinfo.subaru.com/index.html)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
It's the one that covers your 2000. I have the same one. Although it doesn't cover 2007, there's some overlap from 2006.

However, while it's a good publication for what it is, it covers such a wide range of years and models that it can't possibly, in the number of pages, and for the price, cover each to any significant degree, let alone fully.

As you look through it, this will become apparent. There's a significant use of the term "typical". In this regard, the writers will discuss a particular area of the car using one year/model as "typical" of the full range. It doesn't often say this is for a 2003 Forester, and these are the differences in the Legacy. There's an assumption that Subaru uses the same across the models. In some cases this might well be correct, but when you're working on your car, if the explanation and photos don't apply, you have to interpret.

The wiring diagrams are a good example. Not all the wiring is included, and what is there is "typical" (or something similar), divided by "generation". But there's little or no accounting for differences within a generation, which there is.

This isn't to say the manual isn't useful. The manual has a lot of "value added" as a result of the text describing and picturing actual work being done. But if you want comprehensive coverage of your particular car, I think nothing beats the factory service manual. (Subaru Technical Information System - Welcome)
Hm. Thanks Plain OM; Looks like I'll purchase the few days' subscription. Do the reference links turn into viewable pdfs once you purchase the subscription? I'd like to download and save them while my subscription is valid.
 

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Yes, each link in the Full Service Manual page of the website breaks down into individual pdf files. They might consist of as little as one page, or a large number of pages.

Read the instruction page on the website when you complete the subscription. There's a 50 file/hour download limit. It's all to easy to double count, for example, if you click on a file to view it, and then click on it again to save it, it's counted twice. I found the best way to download manually was to left click each link as "save to file" without viewing each one beforehand.

There's a number of write-ups here on downloading the files from the Subaru web-site. A search for "service manual" will bring up quite a few related threads. Here's just a couple of my posts:

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/61-general-discussions/6590-shop-repair-manual.html#post78282

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums...nline-service-manual-techinfo.html#post185898

And if you're good with software, and might be interested in "automating" the downloading, this thread might be of interest:

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums...al-web-their-pc.html?highlight=service+manual
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I downloaded the files for the 2000 Outback - this is what it came up with when I put the VIN in: "Service Manual Full, 2000 Legacy, 2.5 Liter, 4EAT, AWD"
It was only 48 pdfs... did I miss something some how? I didn't see any service diagnostics, and those were all the docs available by searching the VIN....

Thanks, Plain OM, and the others who have posted here. Not to sound like a worshipy noob, but I'm grateful.

The battery, alternator, and alternator belt were all replaced (yesterday) and the car runs well. Now that I've wet my feet with that, I plan to get the headgasket and affiliated parts to do while I've got it all apart. I'll start a new thread for that.

Thanks again, everyone.
 
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