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Discussion Starter #1
Okay this is my first Subaru. 1996 Legacy Outback wagon. Been running like a champ since I bought it about 5 months ago.
All of a sudden the car is starting weakly and dying randomly.
At first I thought I had a fuel line problem. It is stumbling like my old Ford used to stumble when it had a clogged fuel filter.
But today when I go out to fiddle with it I notice the guages will just die if I flick on the lights. Same thing happens when I flick on the fan and/or AC. The lights for the gauges and the needles just die.
So I am thinking either I have a generator or battery issue. The battery is a couple years old. So it SHOULD be good right? However the previous owner had let it sit for a couple years before they sold it, so maybe it is the batt?
I welcome any and all opinions.
 

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Starting issues are typically the battery.

Running issues are typically the alternator.

The best action is to have the above tested. Most car parts places to this for free. If both check out you probably have a short/loose wire/corrosion which can be hard for a newbie to find. If you have the time and patience we can walk you through the basics. There are several competent techs on here.
 

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If there is much rust/corrosion of the underside parts, don't rule out checking that all grounding/bonding straps are working as they should. Everything metal that is electric should, in some way, be bonded (connected to battery ground through frame members, body members, etc).
 

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++ on the battery and ground issues. Check the negative lead to the battery. Corrosion is a tell-tale sign of a bad ground. I inherited a car that sat for 3 years after a new battery had been installed. The battery was wasted after sitting in the heat and cold without being used. Even if your multimeter is telling you it has over 12 volts, it may not have the cold cranking amps and might be impossible for the alternator to "keep up with."
 

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Discussion Starter #5
thanks, the first thing I checked was the batt cables, they are both tight and clean. I don't have a lot of spare time to work on this so I will try to pick up a battery after work. The tough part is that I live in a hilly area and can't take a chance that it will stall out like it did on Saturday, half way into an intersection going up hill! So I will have to ride a bicycle down to the auto parts store.
 
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