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'98 Outback wagon, manual, 2.5 DOHC
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Discussion Starter #1
Parked my car Thursday night, everything was fine. Had an important snow storm (high winds & blowing snow, got 10 inches) here in Montreal, Canada starting Friday morning. Because I live in an inner-city triplex with no indoor parking I must park on the street, usually I am lucky & find a spot right in front of my place but not that day. Parked a half block away on a major cross street.

Friday at 1:30pm went to start car, but upon turning ignition key NOTHING happens, no turnover, no click, no nothing (battery is high quality 4 months old no issues with starts since). I am stunned to see my engine temp gauge to the max (no overheating issues at all since I got the HD gaskets changed + new radiator, 6 months ago + many other new parts last 2-3 years, water pump, timing belt, new spark plugs & wiring, clutch master cylinder etc). Also my gas gauge indicates completely empty even though the tank is half full. So I try a couple of ignition key turns, still absolutelly nothing going on.

Open the hood to see a fair bit of snow in engine compartment (but not that much + sorry I did not take a pic) (the way the car was parked in the wind etc etc wirth the blowing snow) This has never happened to me in 9 years of Calgary & Montreal ownership of this car. The snow is mostly on the sides of the engine bay, along the driver & passenger fenders. Some snow however (very dry/powderie type snow, temp outside was cold with windchill factor, -4 F) is on several connectors & engine bay fuse/relay box, but no snow inside this box. A bit on starter, alternator etc. I remove most of the snow but cannot get to all of it (cramped smalll spaces).

Still nothing when turning ign.key, temp gauge still to max etc. 1 of 2 radiator fans turn on when turning key (lights are good, radio, heat fan etc all good/working). Bizarrely though, heated seats & front wiper defroster turn on even when key not in ignition/off, heating fan & vent choice lights turn on also..... this is not supposed to happen when car is just sitting at off with no key in ignition. Upon trying a few more times, notice that check engine, battery & ABS dash lights are slightly glowing on, but just barrely. Radiator fan keeps turning after a couple of the tries on ignition even though the ign. is off & the key is not even in the ign?? While rad fan is turning, if I turned on the headlights, it stopped??

So I disconect & reconnect the battery to see if everything resets, no such luck. Poured a little hot water over the engine fuse box (it was tightly closed) + a couple other connectors (while battery was disconnected, very little water + wiped off excess immediately) still nothing happening when turning ignition, starter not turning, no clicking, nothing. Since the car cannot move right now, not starting, 10 inches of snow everywhere, my repair garage closed for the weekend + a half block from my house I frustratingly cannot even plug in the block heater or even put a hair dryer to the top part of the engine to melt the rest of the snow I cannot take off.

Brought the battery inside the house overnight & retried almost everything this morning & this afternoon (still cold here, -2 to + 5 F so snow cannot melt & engine cannot dry, but by now there is very little snow on any connections etc) still nothing (no turnover, no click etc)!! At least dash board lights not glowing anymore. But engine temp gauge still to max etc etc.. Brought the battery back inside house tonight & charged it a bit to be sure for tomorrow's try.

Anyone ever see this issue before, some snow, but not tons, getting in engine compartment & causing the elec. system to go wacko even though the car was just sitting parked?? Would spraying WD-40 on most connections before retrying with battery connect be a good idea, What if I unplug & replug the ECM & other relays in the engine compartment fuse box while battery is connected?? Or am I doomed to wait 'till I can have the car towed to my repair garage & his warm/heated garage & wait 'till it dries completely out & hopefully this will reset everything after it's dry &/or hot air blow dryed??

Thx All,
Mark
 

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2005 OBW 2.5L, 1989 Subaru Justy, RIP Blu
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Check your fuseable links. Snow can and will get in places under the hood in a snow storm if the wind is right.

Check for any shorts or blown fuses. Lest start with the basics.

SOunds like the master relay box may have shorted out.
 

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Somebody Else's XT
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Make sure this isn't just a dead battery before you try difficult stuff out in the cold. Charge (and test!) the one you have, get a jumpstart from a neighbor etc. It is entirely possible that your car is fine except for the battery.
 

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01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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The only time I have seen this happen was with a road tractor. 4' snow fall in 18 hours buried the truck in a drift. The moisture, combined with the below freezing temperatures made switches stick. The maintenance department dug out as much of the truck as possible and we lit a charcoal BBQ and slid it under the truck. After a few hours, it started. No joke.

Is there anyone with a power outlet near your car that you may be able to plug in the heater?
 

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'98 Outback wagon, manual, 2.5 DOHC
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Discussion Starter #5
Check your fuseable links. Snow can and will get in places under the hood in a snow storm if the wind is right.

Check for any shorts or blown fuses. Lest start with the basics.

SOunds like the master relay box may have shorted out.
Thx Nipper, I will check all fuses Sunday morning. I only know of 1 fuseable link (black colored, id'd as such in the main fuse-relay box), it's in the engine compartment fuse-relay box. Are their others?? Master relay box, are you talking about the one I just talked about (above), how does the whole box (with several fuses & relays) short out?? Or is there another relay box, where is it located??
Thx much
 

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'98 Outback wagon, manual, 2.5 DOHC
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Discussion Starter #6
Make sure this isn't just a dead battery before you try difficult stuff out in the cold. Charge (and test!) the one you have, get a jumpstart from a neighbor etc. It is entirely possible that your car is fine except for the battery.
Thx Rasterman, will do....... but how to explain all the odd electrical going-ons, especially my engine temp gauge out of wack after just sitting overnight?? Current battery is good quality 4 months old, no starting issues at all since... but I'll check it out nonetheless
 

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'98 Outback wagon, manual, 2.5 DOHC
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Discussion Starter #7
The only time I have seen this happen was with a road tractor. 4' snow fall in 18 hours buried the truck in a drift. The moisture, combined with the below freezing temperatures made switches stick. The maintenance department dug out as much of the truck as possible and we lit a charcoal BBQ and slid it under the truck. After a few hours, it started. No joke.

Is there anyone with a power outlet near your car that you may be able to plug in the heater?
Thx Cardoc. That's what I am thinking I'll have to do, get it warmed-up in a heated garage, my repair garage, on Monday.... still + 20 F here Sunday (going to + 35/+ 40 F Monday though)..... 'cause I don't think I can manage to get a charcoal BBQ under it, lolll :D
Unfortunatelly the appartment building 20 feet away has outdoor power outlets..... with no receptacles!! :(
 

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Thx Rasterman, will do....... but how to explain all the odd electrical going-ons, especially my engine temp gauge out of wack after just sitting overnight?? Current battery is good quality 4 months old, no starting issues at all since... but I'll check it out nonetheless
Low voltage will make dash instruments go wacko. It's a known symptom.

It doesn't get you any closer to knowing why the voltage was low, if it was snow related or just coincidental. But I still say this could just be a drained battery.
 

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2007 Outback XT Ltd
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The very worst thing you can do is jump to the conclusion that the snow you saw everywhere was the cause. Maybe it was, but at this point there is no reason to believe that.

Do some basic troubleshooting of the battery and charging system before you panic. A new battery can fail suddenly at four months, but it is more likely that you have a charging issue and the nasty weather has made it more obvious.

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
 

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13 blk Outback 2.5i cvt AW package, bunch of other OEM accessories...12 blk F350 6.2 gasser 4x4...10 Goldwing red nav ...04 JD 4510 loader/bhoe
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Impreza died in deep snow

Couple years back the wife was about 600 ft up the driveway and the Impreza died. About 2.5 feet of powda. Had to walk 500' more to the house all uphill. I did tell her she was brave as I would not have tried to get up the driveway with that much snow.

She called me at work and was very upset, she just got the car a few months prior. I got home, got the tractor to clear in front of it. Opened the hood the snow was packed solid in the engine compartment. Waited a couple hrs and it started right up!
 

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Snow is a lousy electrical conductor untill it gets contaminayed, but it is great at screwing up connectors and getting into the oddest places and fouling up relays. Nice thing is once it melts, problems are usually gone.
 

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If it makes you feel any better, it is also great at stopping 100 ton subway cars dead in thier tracks, and thats 600 VDC and as much amperage as God and the power company can deliver.

Once it melts everything is fine again.
 

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'98 Outback wagon, manual, 2.5 DOHC
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Discussion Starter #13
Thx All for the info. Charged battery last night & this morning to make sure even though it was already almost fully charged. Read the voltage with a multimeter & it was giving off 12.75 V before I connected it back to the car.... still nothing happening, no turnover, no click no nothing. While ignition key was turned to turn on accessories, unpluged & repluged all main engine compartment fuses & relays, nothing. Temp gauge still to max, has not moved. Climate control, heated seats still turn on even though car is off/no key in ignition (not supposed to do that). Note that it is still 20 degrees F here (-5 C in Canadian :) ..) so the little snow that is left in the engine compartment was not able to melt... + the towing guy tried to boost it & nothing happening either (no clik no nothing etc)
Anyways, so the car is now sitting in my mechanic's repair shop heated garage for overnight, we'll see in the morning what's up.
I will let you know what the problem was finally, hopefully just needs to thaw-out/melt snow/dry out... as a friend & you guys said , hopefully that will be it & I'll save myself 200-300 $$ of mechanic's time trying to find the shorted circuit.
Thx again all ;)
 

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'98 Outback wagon, manual, 2.5 DOHC
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Discussion Starter #14
Hello again All.
And so the thawing out/drying of my car did nothing. Th problem was a defective wire, one of the power supply wires gong to the main fuse-relay box (engine compartment).
Took my mechanic 3 hrs. to find which one & replace it.
Don't know if it was just coincidence with the snow getting in the engine compartment, but the bill was $275.00... could have been worse, I could have had this problem show up at a worse time, like a couple of hundred miles from home, this time I was a block from my house & 5 blocks from my mechanic's garage :)
Thx again to everyone for your input,
Mark
 

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The old yard blower to blow snow out of the engine compartment is always an option if you have all kinds of powder under the hood. Though make sure its cold and not semi melted before you hit it with the blower. Other wise you might be blowing water into things that don't like water.
 

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275 is a fair price as electrical issues take a lot of time to trace.

It may have been caused by the snow, but it was probably just a coincidence.

As long as the car runs and your happy, thats all that counts :)
 

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275 is a fair price as electrical issues take a lot of time to trace./QUOTE]

No joke there! Especially when you have to remove a dashboard from a Dodge to get to the cab wiring harness. That starts at 7 hours labor and doesn't include the repair when it was found. **** rats.
 
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