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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I'm new here. I have been scouring the internet for answers or at least leads and ran across this forum.

The other night while driving on the highway at about 70mph, my '96 Subaru Outback suddenly lost power. There was no noise, no gauges warning me of anything, or any lights. Just loss of power. I tried to drive like that for some time but all that happened was it kept gradually getting slower and slower. It didn't respond at all when I gave it gas, just held whatever speed it was on and gradually lowered. The RPMs went up when I hit the gas. When the car hit 40mph, I pulled off the highway and saw smoke. It was dark so I couldn't see what color. I noticed a rubbery smell. A wide array of lights appeared on my dashboard, including battery and oil. The check engine light has been on perpetually for some time, due to bad cats. I tried to start the car many times. It would try to turn over normally, but just never start. After trying this enough times, it would do nothing but maybe click. The car has been towed home and if I try to start it, alternates between trying to turn over or just clicking.

Before this happened, on the way to where I was going and the day before on the way home(after getting gas). I heard a thumping sound. I suspected poor tire pressure and planned to add some but have not yet done it. The thumping sound was consistent that first few miles home and about twenty miles to where I was going the next day, but stopped mysteriously halfway on the way back home.

I have had some difficulty starting my car for a few months now. I have replaced the battery, but that is all. For a while I gave it a jump with a neighbors car, or with a chargeable jumper that I bought and that usually made it start even with very little jumping time. Then I discovered it would usually start by simply turning my steering wheel hard to the right...

Since it has been in the yard, I have given it a look-over several times and so far discovered that the fusible link seems to have blown. Not sure when, because this is the first I've ever checked it. There is a nasty whitish scorch mark right over it, in the shape of the wire, and the label on the fuse box cover is slightly melted there.

I am including all of this information because I am desperately trying to find something to explain all of these symptoms. I have suspected the fuel filter, bad gas, the cats, a problem with my battery or alternator, and overcharging, and my head is swimming. I am sure there is probably more than one problem at work here, but I guess I hope it can be narrowed down at least a little... I am hoping perhaps I could do something myself, or at least have some idea what to expect at the mechanic when I can finally scrounge up the money to take it...
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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For starters, stop ignoring your car. If you depend on it daily, you need to care for it daily.

That out of the way, if you have not lost power all together to the ECM, you need to retrieve the error codes from it. Write them down and post them here.

Also, take a picture of the "melted fuse" and surrounding area. Not real close up. I need to see the position of the cable you are referring to.

Check your battery positive cable for evidence of overheating along with the connections on the back of the alternator.

Was it a lot of smoke? Little? What did it smell like? Plastic, rubber, oil, coolant?

Are the belts still on the engine accessories?

How much power steering fluid is in the PS resevoir?

The engine turning over is a good sign. Maybe you didn't blow the motor. You will know of internal damage possibilities after it gets started.

READ THIS http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/66-problems-maintenance/49537-p0420-diag.html

There are no quick fixes for anyting except an empty tank of gas.:)



.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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if the timing belt tensioner or some other part failed, might explain thumping, rubber smell and, if it only jumped a coupla teeth, low power but engine still rev'ing.

how many miles, when was last timing belt changed, auto or 5spd?
 

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2005 OBW 2.5L, 1989 Subaru Justy, RIP Blu
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This can be a few things, of which will not show codes.

When was the last time the timing belt was changed
When was the last time you checked the oil level
Has the car been over heating at all, when was the last time the coolant was changed.

Plus what he said on ignoring your car.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Okay, first things first... over 200k miles, automatic. the oil level is fine. I check it on a pretty regular basis. The power steering fluid is completely full. All belts appear to be fine. I am not aware of my timing belt being changed at all, unless someone changed it without telling me.

The car has not been overheating at all. The head gasket was changed around a year ago. It went on me without any warning but I have had no trouble with the cooling system since.. that is when the check engine light first came on though... right after getting the head gasket replaced... but the mechanic said that was coming from the cats...

I think the smoke had a rubbery smell. Couldn't see the color and I think it was coming from the under the hood but the wind was awfully strong, so I'm thinking it COULD have come from the back and just blown up there. It was really dark out, after midnight. The next day when I tried to start the car, there was a gasoline smell...

The battery looks pretty beautiful. I have no way on hand to check the ECM, and I'll try to tackle the alternator later.

Here is the picture of my fuse box -
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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over 200k miles, automatic. the oil level is fine. I check it on a pretty regular basis. The power steering fluid is completely full. All belts appear to be fine. I am not aware of my timing belt being changed at all, unless someone changed it without telling me.
how many miles on the car when you got it? TB service, I think, is 90k - maybe 105k not sure on a 96, miles (or 90/105 months - whichever is first)

any chance the timing belt and/or other gear in the front of the engine was changed when the HGs were replaced?
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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you can take the alt to most parts stores and they can test it.

or, post your city and maybe someone could suggest a shop near you.
 

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Dirty Alternator won't cause power loss on the engine. A failing alt will trigger a battery light on the dash long before you experience any sort of engine issues.

Do don't bother messing with the Alt.

If you smell gas that means the fuel pump is pumping gas - however if you smell gas it generally means the gas isn't making it to the engine be it a bad fuel line some place yes due to the age of your car could be a cracked or broken fuel line. Or a fuel injector or system that is leaking again preventing the correct amount of fuel to the engine. All of which will cause loss of power - no starting - and could even generate smoke or a fire.

A timing belt that fails or slips will in most cases cause very terrible sounds as the engine eats the valves and they generally stop running right away no chances of continuing on as you loose power.

Valve cover gaskets leaking oil something bad can smoke - they can foul plug wires and cause loss of power and issues also if ignored for a long time.
 

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2017 Outback 3.6 Touring, which replaced '05 Outback XT
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Why the focus on the alternator? This seems to me to be a little like worrying about an elbow scrape when the patient is in cardiac arrest. Unless the alternator is a dead short across the battery, it seems irrelevant when compared to bigger issues like whether the engine or transmission is toast. All I see in the pictures is a little surface corrosion, which doesn't hurt a thing.

It seems to me that there isn't one thing that would tie all of the symptoms together. There are probably multiple problems going on. The thumping noise seems important to me, and likely a lot more than a low tire.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
What about bad gas? I'm not saying I'm looking forward to it being that, but it reminded me that it was a possibility when fuel was mentioned again.
 

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Are you sure the fuseible link is burned out? If it is burned out then I have no suggestion on what the problem is there.

But, the loss of power sounds like your timing belt was skipping teeth. Either some teeth compleatly torn off or the belt just jumping over the cogs one or two teeth at a time and the more you drove it the more teeth it jumped until it could no longer run (which is a good thing).

As far as it not turning over anymore and just clicking, that sounds like it may just be a battery being drained down to the point it will no longer turn over because you kept on trying to start the engine.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
No, I'm not sure, but it looked suspicious to me so I posted a pic.

I will hit the timing belt tomorrow when it's daylight. From the symptoms, does it sound to you guys like there is permanent damage?
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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You all aren't seeing what he is seeing. I can. Open the pictures up in a new window and enlarge them.

The fusible link in the picture for one has been replaced prior. It really doesn't resemble a link at all, but looks like a strand of wire someone attached lugs to. This link is in the middle of the circuit between the battery and the alternator. See attached diagram. It is also connected to the lights, AC, and more.

A thorough examination of the electrical system may be necessary, but at minimum, replace the battery, alternator, put in a proper fuse then check for fuel delivery and coil operation. Check the remainder of the 30, 40 and 50 amp fuses in the fuse box. Check for blown fuses in the passenger fuse box. That link didn't blow so the overload went to everything that circuit is connected to.

Run a check with an ohm meter to insure that the battery positive cable is not shorting to ground.

Worst case is the ECM may be fried due to overcharging. If you are a lucky guy, it'll just be blown fuses.
 

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