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2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited wagon
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Discussion Starter #1
With the recent cold snap, or at least what passes for "extreme cold" around here (single-digit lows, highs not quite at freezing), my engine is making some noises that alarm me.

Worst is when I start the car. Something with the starter motor is making a very harsh grating sound, I believe it happens when I release the key and the solenoid goes to disengage from the flywheel. If it damages the flywheel, I'm going to be hating life. I'm wondering there's some way to lubricate the solenoid (preferably without removing the starter) ?

The less disturbing sound occurs once the engine is running and goes away after it's warmed up good. It's clearly tied to engine RPMs. It's a kind of whining or whirring sound.

TIA !
 

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The starter noise is well known. There is a gear that drops down and runs on the gear teeth around the flywheel when you engage the starter which then turns over the engine. The screechy grind noise is caused by grease that gets tacky in cold temps this slows or stops the gear from falling away as it disconnects from the flywhee. The grind/screechy sounds are the two gears teeth rubbing each other. It’s not really a big concern over a very long term period the gear teeth may become damaged but based on reports by others who have checked the wear or damage it can go on for yrs with no major issues.
 

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2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited wagon
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Discussion Starter #3
Ok, thanks much for the quick and helpful response. Guess I pegged what was going on :) I don't like it, but like I said, it doesn't get this cold here very often.

I believe that gear that drops down is called the solenoid (or the solenoid is the electromagnet that operates it). I'd sure love to add some grease to make the noise less awful.
 

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2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited wagon
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Discussion Starter #5
As a followup ...

The noise when starting in extreme cold turned out to be dried-up lubrication in the starter. A lot of people say it's not really a concern, and some others disassemble and lubricate it themselves, but I decided to just go with a remanufactured Denso one, about $100 (after core return) from RockAuto. I didn't like the noise and was slightly concerned about it trashing my flywheel.

The whining sound, that followed engine RPM, turned out to be air in the power steering system. I did the o-ring fix and bled the system and it helped a lot, but it still sounds and feels a bit funky, so I purchased an OEM power steering pump off a 60K-mile junker ($75, haven't rx'd it yet); consensus seemed to be that an OEM one from a junkyard is better than any of the remanufactured ones, and new ones are $300+.

I guess the cold snap was a real stress-test for my car. Probably a good thing. I could have ignored both these things (after doing the PS o-ring fix), but decided that dropping less than $200 on some replacement parts was something the car deserved. I've spent very little money on it other than a timing belt, and it's over 110K miles and 12 years and is serving me well !
 
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