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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am in need of help. I am a newbie here and a decent mechanic. I have searched for the problem, but its confusing so I'm coming up with nothing yet.

The car is a 2003 Outback. I bought it in February with just over 200K on her. I felt that was ok because the car has a VERY detailed log of everything possible thing done to this car. I keep a good record and this was a phenomenol record. But everything maintenance has been done regularly, including head gaskets, fluid changes, timing belts, etc. Dealer serviced.

The car problem is hard for me to talk about because of this other problem.
My wife and I are separated (not marriage wise) as I have a year left of school in Arizona and her father has cancer and so she moved back to Nashville, TN area. I am not physically at the car, which makes it hard for me to handle the situation. The car is having starting problems and also intermittent dying down. Again hard for me to diagnose from what she is saying.

So I started with telling her to take to an Oreillys or something and have it scanned and have the battery and alternator tested. Maintenance wise it just had plugs, wires and other stuff done at 180,000 miles.

This is the problem. Now the car had no engine light on prior to this and last I drove it (literally about 2 weeks ago when I was there). OBD II came up with this and it's throwing me for a whirl.

P0851 Park/Nuet switch

P1518 No DTC dep

P0512 Starter request

P0137 O2 Sensor low volt B#1 sensor #2

P0138 O2 sensor high volt B#1 sensor #2

P0502 speed sensor low input

P0503 speed sensor A erratic

I have no clue why so many codes popped at the same time on an otherwise good running car with no apparent problems.

I have a 1998 Forester and my speed sensor went. I remember it popped a bunch or weird codes in similar fashion and I changed the speed sensor because the speedo wasnt rolling. And after that the other codes cleared. So maybe there is a root problem with all those codes.

My biggest problem is that I'm not there. Of course say take it to a mechanic. Unfortunately we just spent about 5K getting my whole family back from Arizona. I'm trying to at least diagnose this without the need for the cash flow. I am literally a college guy supporting my family with that limiting factor.

We are really hurting and now my wife doesn't have her car which is crucial at the moment so I'm kinda doing a shout out for some help.

Thank you.

Car: 2008 Tribeca, 2010 LGT, Sold: 2005 XT Limited
2,926 Posts
agree with testing the battery and alternator. Strange codes can be the result of a low battery.

Premium Member
(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
19,168 Posts
I have had a heavily sulphated battery give spurious codes and odd behavior. If the battery is more than 3 years old ,even less if it has been discharged completely a coupla times, it may be bad. If jump starting starts the car reliably, cables and starter are probably OK. Neutral safety switch probably OK too - but, shifting from Park to Neutral (with a foot on the brake) and starting will sometimes 'bypass' an intermittent safety switch.

I'd have the batt and charging system tested as you say - clear the codes and monitor for how quickly and which ones return.

maybe someone here can recommend a sympathetic mechanic in nashville if the car needs further work.

good luck

OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
12,385 Posts
sounds battery/alternator related to me at first glance.

1. check battery connnections for looseness and corrossion - ideally they should just be cleaned up good and tigthened (takes 5 minutes).

2. have the alternator and battery tested. if the car isn't movable both of those items can be taken to various national chain stores and tested for free. or they can text them on the car in the parking lot.

if it's not the battery/alt (but it probably is) - then the first step is to clear the codes and see which ones come back first.

with that many codes it is going to be:
1. electrical
2. a main harness connector came unplugged (not that unlikely with a sort-of-new vehicle since often times cars are fixed then sold)
3. a critter chewed through a wiring harness somewhere.

was the car around woods, barns, fields, farms?

that's not necessary, i've seen squirrels/chipmunks chew through a wiring harness in a city.
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