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2005 Outback Ltd 5MT
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13 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, first post here. Long time lurker. This forum has helped me solve numerous issues with both my Outbacks.

My 2005 Outback 2.5i Ltd 5MT with 235k has developed some electrical issues over the past couple weeks. I have had the car 3 years, initially as a project beater but have been daily driving it for several months.


Initially, 2-3 weeks ago, car suddenly wouldn’t start after shutting it off when warm. Wouldn’t turn over. After several attempts of cycling key it started. Wasn’t weak such as when battery is discharged. Ran fine. Then, wouldn’t start again, at all. Push started it and took to my trusted mechanic assuming it was the starter or associated wiring. Didn’t have time to deal with it myself. They were able to jump the starter but found cracked wire to PCM which they repaired. Car started/ran fine until today.

Was driving to work when ABS light came on, then went off, then on, etc. Then auto climate/radio displays were going off/coming on intermittently. Shortly thereafter brake dash light began flashing and airbag light came on. Speedometer/tach/odometer displays turned off and on several times then stayed off. Interestingly, gas and coolant gauges seemed to work normally. Car otherwise drove fine. Got to work, parked, turned key off and on to see if lights went out. Wouldn’t start. Said F it, went into work. Got out a couple hours ago and car starts right up. ABS light on initially, then goes out after a few minutes. Drove to mechanic with no issues, dash lights, or other issues. Obviously don’t trust the car right now.

Thoughts?
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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14,366 Posts
Definitely electrical.

1st, check battery- a proper test under load. A simple voltage test without load won't reveal anything beyond the most egregious failures.

Then move on to the terminals connecting the cables to the battery. Corrosion can build up in the "sandwich layers" of this multi-part connector. Disassemble, polish to bright copper & reassemble.

If that doesn't help, it's time to consider that the cables themselves might have corrosion damage up inside the insulation. Often you'll see green/white dust near the ends of the insulation when this is the case. That used to be copper wire, and since it isn't wire anymore the battery can't deliver full amperage to the car. Replace the cable.

After that, the problem would have to be at the underhood fuse box or one of its branch circuits. But most of the time when you get semi-chaotic electrical gremlins across multiple subsystems the root problem will be found at the battery, terminals or cables.
 

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2005 Outback Ltd 5MT
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13 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
To follow up on the initial post: I took the car to my mechanic as I am in the middle of moving and between that and work don’t have time.

They tested the battery and alternator and found the alternator output dropping. They replaced this and car seems fine. Just picked car up tonight.

What troubles me is, if the alternator was failing to charge battery (and causing the dash lights) why would it not start the car and then start later that day without jumping or charging the battery with a charger in the interim?

So I am not convinced this saga is over.

To Rasterman’s point (thank you), I inspected the battery cable wiring and the ground to the transmission bellhousing area looks corroded (green) with some exposed wiring. I may replace this when I get a chance, or certainly if the problem repeats itself. Hopefully not when I am 30 mi up a fire service road.

Will update thread with new developments if needed, for others’ reference.


Thanks
 

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2010 2.5 CVT Limited
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1,441 Posts
The battery *can* recover some power sitting dormant after a high drain episode. The chemistry needs time to 'catch up' and move electrons from the electrolyte to the plates. I'm not asserting that is absolutely what happened and your problems are behind you, but it could explain what you experienced that day.

The random dash lights and display behavior you described does fit alternator failure.
 
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