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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright, so I swapped out the battery in my 98 legacy outback and installed it backwards, noticed smoke coming from the under hood fuse box and immediately and saw what I did wrong. Worried, I swapped in the old battery and tried to start the outback. Nothing. Looked up a million forums and found things ranging from bad battery, fried starter and burned alternator and or blown fuses. So firstly I checked all the fuses inside and out. None were blown except the 1.25 amp connector main fuse whatever you want to call it. I replaced it and went to start the car. Dash light come on, gauge cluster but no start. But I do get a click from the passenger side dash. It doesn't sound like a starter click, sounds more like a relaying switch. I really hope I didn't burn out my alternator. Now for the record, I did not turn the car over with the battery installed backwards. I saw the smoke and unplugged immediately. Anyone have any clues, suggestions or anything to get this car running again! Thanks!


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I'm hoping that all the things that are polarity-sensitive have diodes to protect them.

What sounds like a relay may be a circuit breaker for something too critical to be beholden to the lifespan of a fuse that would completely disable the car if burned out, leaving you stranded. As expensive as an alternator is, there are more expensive things that may potentially fry.

If you have a multimeter, measure between coils of your alternator: they should be fairly low, only a few ohms, but whatever they are, not infinite: if you have infinite resistance, you've blown a coil.

Also be aware there is a solenoid for the starter.

There may be something minor that's fried that's keeping you from starting, that's not readily visible. For example, anything regarding emissions being disabled could result in a no-go for starting the engine, even if the engine would work otherwise.
 

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if in the end or if you ever do need a alternator, know that subaru made many many great remans of the alternator for this car as there was a recall way back when,

so they have them in the warehouses for about $75,

vs. anything that a parts store may want to sell you (only designed to leave you along side the road angry).
 
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The alternator could have been damaged by the high current that would have gone through its diodes. However, unless it became shorted, it would not likely affect the ability of the starter to function. (A shorted diode pack would load down the battery; that should be evident when lights are turned on or the battery voltage is measured. If it's dead short, the 1.25 fuse should blow (again).

We don't know if the car is a MT or automatic as well as whether or not the car has the security system -- it could make a difference.

So firstly I checked all the fuses inside and out. None were blown except the 1.25 amp connector main fuse whatever you want to call it.
How did you check the fuses? Visually, or by pulling them out and measuring continuity with a meter, or with a test light . . . ?

1.25 fuse is actually 125 Amps.

I do get a click from the passenger side dash. It doesn't sound like a starter click, sounds more like a relaying switch.
When do you hear that click, and is it one click or more than one?

Do you hear it when the ignition switch is moved from OFF to ON (but not Start), or only when moving from ON to Start?

Now for the record, I did not turn the car over with the battery installed backwards. I saw the smoke and unplugged immediately.
During that time was the ignition switch at the OFF position, and never moved to ACC or ON?



The starter circuit is fairly simple, and involves only a few components depending on the way the car is equipped. Understanding what could prevent the starter from running, and how the car is equipped, can provide clues as to where to look. For example, with an automatic and security system, and presuming that the ignition was at Off, there's nothing directly in the circuit to prevent the starter from running. However, there is a security interlock relay that is controlled by the security system. If the security system was damaged by the reverse voltage, or a related fuse is blown, the relay might not work, and the starter will be paralyzed.
 

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There is more chance that the ECM could be damaged. Yes, the 98's had them, mostly for emission and fuel control and also ignition timing. There is always a voltage into the ECM after shutdown in order to maintain settings and parameters. Reversing the polarity could damage this sensitive item, even with the ignition off. If there was smoke, there was something burning. There could be multiple items damaged, including the wiring.

Do you have an OBD-II reader? I'd start there. If it still doesn't turn over with the starter, there may be another fuse that's blown somewhere in that circuit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The alternator could have been damaged by the high current that would have gone through its diodes. However, unless it became shorted, it would not likely affect the ability of the starter to function. (A shorted diode pack would load down the battery; that should be evident when lights are turned on or the battery voltage is measured. If it's dead short, the 1.25 fuse should blow (again).

We don't know if the car is a MT or automatic as well as whether or not the car has the security system -- it could make a difference.



How did you check the fuses? Visually, or by pulling them out and measuring continuity with a meter, or with a test light . . . ?

1.25 fuse is actually 125 Amps.



When do you hear that click, and is it one click or more than one?

Do you hear it when the ignition switch is moved from OFF to ON (but not Start), or only when moving from ON to Start?



During that time was the ignition switch at the OFF position, and never moved to ACC or ON?



The starter circuit is fairly simple, and involves only a few components depending on the way the car is equipped. Understanding what could prevent the starter from running, and how the car is equipped, can provide clues as to where to look. For example, with an automatic and security system, and presuming that the ignition was at Off, there's nothing directly in the circuit to prevent the starter from running. However, there is a security interlock relay that is controlled by the security system. If the security system was damaged by the reverse voltage, or a related fuse is blown, the relay might not work, and the starter will be paralyzed.


1) car has security system and Is a manual

2) I pulled each fuse out and just looked to see if it was blown or not

3) the click happens when it is switch from on to start and it's just one click. Doesn't not sound like the starter. Only when moving from on to start

4) yes it was never turned to acc or on. I noticed the smoke and immediately unplugged it


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If you saw smoke you probably fried some wires. Most certainly fried the fusible link. Did you replace that?

You will have no idea if you fried the alternator until either you get it running or remove it and take it to have it tested.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
If you saw smoke you probably fried some wires. Most certainly fried the fusible link. Did you replace that?


Yes the fusible has been fried, I replaced it and when I got to turn it over i get one single click from the passenger side. Doesn't sound like the starter


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1) car has security system and Is a manual
Thanks

2) I pulled each fuse out and just looked to see if it was blown or not
Most of the time that could be adequate, but there's too much possibility that a blown fuse was missed.
Also, did you check all the fuses in both the engine compartment fuse box area, and the fuse panel in the cabin area (to the left of the steering column)?

3) the click happens when it is switch from on to start and it's just one click. Doesn't not sound like the starter. Only when moving from on to start

With your setup, there's two relays that should activate when the ignition moves from On to Start; the Interrupt relay and the Starter interlock relay (see attached). Both, I believe, are under the dash on the left side. They would activate at pretty well the same time (moment).

If you can better identify where the click originates that might help.

4) yes it was never turned to acc or on.
That's good; it eliminates the likelihood of damage to circuits/functions that get power through the ignition switch when at ACC or ON.

If you have a multimeter, the attached wiring diagram (it's 1999, but should be very similar if not identical) might help guide where to look. One check would be at the starter solenoid small wire connector B14. If the relays are working, there will be voltage there when the ignition is at On. If there is, and it's at the battery voltage, the starter circuit is fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks







Most of the time that could be adequate, but there's too much possibility that a blown fuse was missed.

Also, did you check all the fuses in both the engine compartment fuse box area, and the fuse panel in the cabin area (to the left of the steering column)?



3) the click happens when it is switch from on to start and it's just one click. Doesn't not sound like the starter. Only when moving from on to start



With your setup, there's two relays that should activate when the ignition moves from On to Start; the Interrupt relay and the Starter interlock relay (see attached). Both, I believe, are under the dash on the left side. They would activate at pretty well the same time (moment).



If you can better identify where the click originates that might help.







That's good; it eliminates the likelihood of damage to circuits/functions that get power through the ignition switch when at ACC or ON.



If you have a multimeter, the attached wiring diagram (it's 1999, but should be very similar if not identical) might help guide where to look. One check would be at the starter solenoid small wire connector B14. If the relays are working, there will be voltage there when the ignition is at On. If there is, and it's at the battery voltage, the starter circuit is fine.


When I turn the key to "on" lights on the dash come on, everything seems fine. When I go to start the car, the click that I hear, and the ONLY click that I hear is coming from the right side of the car (passenger side). I dug a little deeper and tried to follow it. What I did was I pulled up the floor mat. Removed the ecu kick plate under the carpet and left the key in the "on" position. Then the ecu has a lock on it for the wiring harness plugs. When you lower the level down to release the plugs and then raise the lever back up to plug it back in, I can hear everything come back on. So to my idea, it seems the ecu isn't dead. But that doesn't really mean much. Then while I had my head under the passenger footwell by the glove box, I would try to start the car. I can hear the click happpening like right above the glove box. Is there a relay there or something??? I'll try to grab my multimeter from my friend test that, thanks for all the replies


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There are relays on the far right side, but they are not the two related to the starter circuit. Some of those other relays are powered when the ignition is at on, but they are shut off during start to conserve power.

It sure seems that neither the starter interlock or the interrupt relay are working, which could be caused by the security system not activating the interrupt relay (it has to activate for the starter interlock relay to work).

Just want to confirm; is this a North American, LHD Outback?

I've attached a wiring diagram for the security system that also shows the connection to the starter system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
There are relays on the far right side, but they are not the two related to the starter circuit. Some of those other relays are powered when the ignition is at on, but they are shut off during start to conserve power.

It sure seems that neither the starter interlock or the interrupt relay are working, which could be caused by the security system not activating the interrupt relay (it has to activate for the starter interlock relay to work).

Just want to confirm; is this a North American, LHD Outback?

I've attached a wiring diagram for the security system that also shows the connection to the starter system.


Yep just a good old American lhd 98 Subaru Outback with a manual transmission


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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
There are relays on the far right side, but they are not the two related to the starter circuit. Some of those other relays are powered when the ignition is at on, but they are shut off during start to conserve power.

It sure seems that neither the starter interlock or the interrupt relay are working, which could be caused by the security system not activating the interrupt relay (it has to activate for the starter interlock relay to work).

Just want to confirm; is this a North American, LHD Outback?

I've attached a wiring diagram for the security system that also shows the connection to the starter system.


So would removing the security system help me at all? Or does everything flow through it for the car to start? If removing the system is even possible



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Help? Maybe, IF the security system is causing the problem. But even in that case, just removing the security system won't resolve it, as such. Other areas will have to be modified (e.g., the interrupt relay).

I think the idea should be to find what's not happening that should happen to allow the starter to work. This is going to require some detailed troubleshooting involving measurements of continuity and voltage in the starter system in a step-by-step approach. It might require finding the two relays and making measurements at their terminals. Ultimately, the reason the starter isn't activating will be understood. And, that will lead to what needs to be done to correct it.

The wiring diagrams I provided show a number of fuses for the starter system and the security system. Start by making sure they are all good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Help? Maybe, IF the security system is causing the problem. But even in that case, just removing the security system won't resolve it, as such. Other areas will have to be modified (e.g., the interrupt relay).

I think the idea should be to find what's not happening that should happen to allow the starter to work. This is going to require some detailed troubleshooting involving measurements of continuity and voltage in the starter system in a step-by-step approach. It might require finding the two relays and making measurements at their terminals. Ultimately, the reason the starter isn't activating will be understood. And, that will lead to what needs to be done to correct it.

The wiring diagrams I provided show a number of fuses for the starter system and the security system. Start by making sure they are all good.


Well tomorrow I will go through all the fuses and figure out what's getting what and why and trace everything with a multimeter. Thank you very much for the help, I appreciate it


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Well tomorrow I will go through all the fuses and figure out what's getting what and why and trace everything with a multimeter. Thank you very much for the help, I appreciate it


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and when you are all said and done, I hope the car starts every time, and the security system is in the garbage so it does not fail next week.

If you live someplace that there are sickos out stealing 19 year old subarus, get a newer alarm system.
 
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