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Hey all,

Here's adding to the ever-growing litany of little and not as little issues with my just over 1 month-old "new to me" 2009 OB, 33,000 miles on the odo...

In recent days, the car has developed a fairly loud grinding noise that persists for a split second after starting the engine. I've mostly noticed it during cold starts but it might also happen after a warm start; I'm not too sure.

The closest comparison I can make is if you've ever accidentally turned the key to the "start" position when the engine is already running; like the starter gear not properly meshing with the flywheel.

It doesn't happen every time; I'd say maybe 1/4-1/3 of the time.

Wondering if anyone's experienced this before, and if there are any thoughts on causes.

My theory is a starter solenoid that is failing to disengage quickly or completely, but I'm really not sure.

I'm taking off on a 3,000 mile road trip on Friday with no time to do any work on the car beforehand, so hopefully this doesn't lead to some grenading action in the wilds of North Carolina. Eek.

DIY solutions preferred. :D Thanks!
 

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Very possible your starter is getting hung up and continuing to run after you let off the key. Starters have an electronic switch ie solenoid these can stick - very possible that is what your hearing. Meaning your starter is actually continuing to spin after you let off the key which is activating the solenoid on the starter making it run- if that solenoid is sticking it can cause the starter to run even after you let off the key at the dash.
 

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The more simple cause could simply be a noisy fan belt when cold it makes a bunch of racket. Make sure your steering pump has the right level of fluid in it that could also cause some odd racket at cold start up.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah, fluids are topped up and I actually just replaced both accessory drive belts (one was squealing like a mofo at certain RPM ranges). Noise happened before the replacement and continues to happen afterwards, too.

I'm more inclined to think it is a starter issue, just based on the particular sound. Been doing some reading on it; if it is the starter it sounds like this is something I'll have to address when back from the trip as it can degenerate quite quickly into a flywheel with broken teeth... yikes.

Pretty annoying for a car with such low mileage to have all these issues, but such is my lot.

Thanks for your input.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Factory service manual suggests it could be a defective ignition switch (probably causing it to remain in "start" position even if the key is back to "on").

Anyone know how I could test this? Would checking voltage across the starter solenoid leads when the engine is running help? I assume there should be no current between + and - when the switch isn't in "start" position...
 

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Hey all,

Here's adding to the ever-growing litany of little and not as little issues with my just over 1 month-old "new to me" 2009 OB, 33,000 miles on the odo...

In recent days, the car has developed a fairly loud grinding noise that persists for a split second after starting the engine. I've mostly noticed it during cold starts but it might also happen after a warm start; I'm not too sure.

The closest comparison I can make is if you've ever accidentally turned the key to the "start" position when the engine is already running; like the starter gear not properly meshing with the flywheel.

It doesn't happen every time; I'd say maybe 1/4-1/3 of the time.

Wondering if anyone's experienced this before, and if there are any thoughts on causes.

My theory is a starter solenoid that is failing to disengage quickly or completely, but I'm really not sure.

I'm taking off on a 3,000 mile road trip on Friday with no time to do any work on the car beforehand, so hopefully this doesn't lead to some grenading action in the wilds of North Carolina. Eek.

DIY solutions preferred. :D Thanks!


Same thing happens with my wife's Scion Xb. Happened to my 98Obw a few times too. I'd love to hear what you find out.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well, just did a quick check with a multimeter; no power going to the solenoid from the small + wire, meaning the starter motor's not running when the key is on. So I don't think it's an electrical issue; more likely the starter is somehow gummed up or something.

I'll keep an eye on it, remove and clean when I get back from my trip, and post the results...
 

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Curious to see what you figure out here, I have noticed a similar noise with my 05 on very cold mornings. Same symptoms and occurance interval. I was thinking maybe a fan belt, it's not exactly a grinding starter noise but very similar.
 

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Well, just did a quick check with a multimeter; no power going to the solenoid from the small + wire, meaning the starter motor's not running when the key is on.
Maybe it's not running, but maybe it is.

The small wire is going to the solenoid coil. When the key is at Start, 12 V is applied to the coil, and this pulls the solenoid plunger through the coil. This in turn has two functions; the first is that the plunger pulls a lever that slides the starter gear toward the flywheel (or ring gear in the AT) to mesh the starter with the engine. The second is that there's two contacts at one end of the solenoid and a bridging contact on the plunger. When the plunger has moved to the end of it's travel, which is also when the starter gear would be engaged with the flywheel, the plunger contact bridges the two others, connecting the heavy positive cable from the battery through to the starter motor winding.

When the engine starts, and the key is returned to ON, again there's two effects. First, the current going to the solenoid coil is cut, and this should allow the plunger to return to it's original position, thereby opening the contacts so that the starter motor stops turning. But it might not if the starter gear remains engaged with the flywheel. In this regard, when the engine is being cranked it might turn at around 200 rpm. But when it starts, it runs at, say, 700 rpm or more. Because the engine is now turning the starter gear, rather than the reverse, the starter gear can become caught on the flywheel. To deal with this, a mechanism on the starter gear shaft is supposed to force the starter gear to move back away from the flywheel when it's being "pushed" by the engine, thereby disengaging it, and allowing the solenoid plunger, through the lever, to go back to its rest position.

But if the solenoid plunger and lever are, for some reason, sticking, the starter gear might not back away, or not back away far enough, from the flywheel. In some cases, the solenoid contacts remain connected, and the starter, although being pushed by the engine, is still drawing current. Or, the plunger moves back just enough to open the contact, thereby cutting power to the starter motor, but the starter gear might still be engaged, or moved back slightly but rubbing against the flywheel. The latter will produce that terrible grinding sound that we get if we turn the key to Start when the engine is already running. But in both cases, the problem is mechanical -- sticking solenoid plunger or lever.
 

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Hey all,

Here's adding to the ever-growing litany of little and not as little issues with my just over 1 month-old "new to me" 2009 OB, 33,000 miles on the odo...

In recent days, the car has developed a fairly loud grinding noise that persists for a split second after starting the engine. I've mostly noticed it during cold starts but it might also happen after a warm start; I'm not too sure.

The closest comparison I can make is if you've ever accidentally turned the key to the "start" position when the engine is already running; like the starter gear not properly meshing with the flywheel.

It doesn't happen every time; I'd say maybe 1/4-1/3 of the time.

Wondering if anyone's experienced this before, and if there are any thoughts on causes.

My theory is a starter solenoid that is failing to disengage quickly or completely, but I'm really not sure.

I'm taking off on a 3,000 mile road trip on Friday with no time to do any work on the car beforehand, so hopefully this doesn't lead to some grenading action in the wilds of North Carolina. Eek.

DIY solutions preferred. :D Thanks!
You aren't imagining it, my 2005 outback does it too. I would strongly recommend getting it fixed before you go, delay the trip if neccessary to get it done.
 

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My 2.5XT does the same thing. It sounds like the starter to me. I'm having a mechanic take a look at it this week; prob is that it only makes the sound 1/7 or 1/10 starts - usually when it's really cold.
 

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Bump this for any more insight. I've had this noise pop up every now and then but it was limited to very cold morning starts (below frezzing). However, now it's starting to come into play even in warmer weather (~50 to low 60s). It doesn't happen all the time which has me thinking the dealer won't be able to "duplicate the problem" if I leave it with them.

If the dealer was able to take a look at the starter is there something that they would to able to see to know if it needs to be re-greased or replaced without hearing the noise?
 

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Without hearing the noise, I doubt the dealer can tell what's needed unless there are other signs that suggest a problem (e.g., excessive current draw, slow turning).

If the noise is coming from the starter gear contacting the flywheel (ring) gear when it shouldn't, there might be signs of this on the gear, but that would require removing the starter assembly from the car.

I presume you're still under the power train warranty. I wonder if the starter is included. Might be worth taking it to the dealer and at least getting the issue on the record. Might be lucky and a tech recognizes the problem and suggests replacement under warranty.
 

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So I seem to be having this grinding noise as well...it really does sound like I have held the starter on too long. It only happens when it is really cold outside. I have already mentioned this to the local dealer but they couldn't reproduce it and I don't think they really checked anything out. How much should something like this cost to either check out or fix? If they can't reproduce so I ask for something specific? Thanks in advance for help...I am not one that does a lot of car work myself and this site has helped me ask more intelligent questions and save some money on big fixes.

Lisa
 

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This is a fairly common cold-weather bug with Outback starters. I've already seen another thread on this topic this season and there were others last year.

The starter solenoid is taking too long to retract the drive pinion after starting the engine.

You can clean/lube/rebuild the existing one, or just replace the whole starter to clear this problem.
 
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