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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I have a 97 2.5l Outback. I have my Subaru not wanting to start twice over the past month and I cannot figure out what might be the problem.

First time, I had washed the day before the car after driving on the beach the day before and drove more than 100 miles on a highway that day. While waiting on a drive-thru, I turned off and on the engine a couple of times. When I finally got my coffee, the engine would crank very weakly at the first try, it wouldn't do any cranking after the seconds. Once we pushed the car out of the business and called AAA (20 minutes later), the car just started at the first trial.

This was about 3 weeks ago, today I drove quite a bit and it was raining hard. After being parked for 4 hours, the wouldn't start. The battery was not empty, the headlights were one, they would dim when I was trying to crank it, I heard the cranking noise only on one trial. I left it there trying to get someone to jump me, but when I came back it started by itself (no jumping) at first trial.

This doesn't sound like a weak battery, right? I'm little bit lost on what to look for. Could it be a faulty component or a connection that gets wet? How to debug it?

Thanks!
 

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2017 OutBack Premier, 2019 Forester Ltd, 2016 370z Rdstr
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Been there, done that, on a car some 25 years ago. It turned out to be a starter motor with a bad spot on its windings. If the starter got the car going and then stopped on a good portion of its windings, then car would start the next time. But if the starter stopped on its bad section of windings, it just didn't have the ummph to get past that point and crank the engine. You may have a similar problem, or just a weak starter that has finally called it quits after years of use.

You may also have a cable to the starter solenoid, or to the starter, or a bad ground wire. Your battery cables may be corroded as well. It should be fairly easy for a competent mechanic to sort out the problem pretty quickly. On your age of car, a used starter should be fairly cheap, if needed. Good Luck!
 

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The starter is most likely the issue. It can be replaced easily in your garage/driveway. A remanufactured starter with a warranty from the parts store would be the way to go. Just avoid one from Auto Zone. Salvage yards don't warranty electrical parts.
 

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Hi,

After being parked for 4 hours, the wouldn't start. The battery was not empty, the headlights were one, they would dim when I was trying to crank it, I heard the cranking noise only on one trial.
So was it "clicking" on other trials, like tried to start then refused to do anything?
I left it there trying to get someone to jump me, but when I came back it started by itself (no jumping) at first trial.
As much as I respect Cardoc :)6:) I'd have to recommend getting your battery and wires checked out first. The above screams battery to me.

Batteries have a tendency to show they are going out in colder weather and very very hot weather. Fall is usually the time your battery will give you problems.

Most parts stores will do a free "load test" to see if the battery is good. Just because the battery is "not empty" doesn't mean it has the power to crank the engine and a load test will tell you just that. Some stores can check your starter too.

If it's me I'm checking all red and black wires on the battery, starter and alternator for rust or any other type of corrosion (sometimes it's white). I would also check the water in the battery too if it has the removable caps. Remember there is acid in there so remove them carefully and wear eye protection. Also use distilled water to fill it up and do not over fill.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for your inputs!

Novablue, on the second episode, on the first trial no clicking / cranking happened. On the second trial, the was clicking and cranking but weak. In the subsequent trials there was no clicking / cranking noises.

The battery connectors are clean, no rust or corrosion. I'll get the battery and the starter tested at the parts store and see what's up.

Will the starter test tell if it has some bad windings area?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Took the car to O'reillys today, the battery tested OK (was low because I left one light on overnight, stupid me) and the alternator was charging.

I also inspected the battery cables thoroughly, had small amounts of corrosion on the inside of the connector.

The guy at O'reillys said also the starter was probably the cause. Should I see if I have a bad connection between the battery and starter, expecting like corrosion on the cables or a flimsy connector, or just replace the start right away?

Thanks!
 

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Took the car to O'reillys today, the battery tested OK (was low because I left one light on overnight, stupid me) and the alternator was charging.

I also inspected the battery cables thoroughly, had small amounts of corrosion on the inside of the connector.

The guy at O'reillys said also the starter was probably the cause. Should I see if I have a bad connection between the battery and starter, expecting like corrosion on the cables or a flimsy connector, or just replace the start right away?

Thanks!
Well checking the cables is free. Though you might have to remove them to check them so at least you would be half way through your install at that point.

Starter test will only check out that it fires up when it gets power and that there is not a fault in the circuits. "Winding" is more of a mechanical problem.
 

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Also, a bench test cannot put a load on the starter and at times a starter passing a bench test will fail when its put against the load of turning the engine. Even with an easy spinning Subaru motor.

Since the battery checks out good, the cables are clean, no loose grounds, and if the cables are tight on the starter, that leads to a weak starter.
 

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Also, a bench test cannot put a load on the starter and at times a starter passing a bench test will fail when its put against the load of turning the engine. Even with an easy spinning Subaru motor.

Since the battery checks out good, the cables are clean, no loose grounds, and if the cables are tight on the starter, that leads to a weak starter.
:6:

I'll say "you were right" when it fixes his problem. :p

I forgot about a bench test not checking for load too. Very good point. Sorry I always try to recommend free test before buying parts, you know how it is!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks cardoc and Novablue. I'll do this shortly.

From what I'm understanding, the easy fix of replacing the solenoid contacts won't work in my case, because the engine would keep clicking without working and this would be an issue that happens all the time, right?

In my two episodes, at the end of my trials there was no clicking at all, could it have been a bad / wet relay ? Or relays shouldn't have this transitory problems?

Lately I have many starts where I hear 4 rather weak cranks and it finally starts, so it looks like all points to the starter being weak and I'm just being overexhaustive :) Rebuilding a starter is possible in a DIY setting?

When buying the remanufactured starter, I'm looking at a lot of brands, Beck/Arnley, ACDelco, TYC, REMY, Denso, etc. Do you recommend any?

Last and on the side, when disconnecting the battery, the blinkers turn on until the remote is used or a button under the dash is pressed. I couldn't find the button in several trials, where is it?

Thanks!
 

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Thanks cardoc and Novablue. I'll do this shortly.

From what I'm understanding, the easy fix of replacing the solenoid contacts won't work in my case, because the engine would keep clicking without working and this would be an issue that happens all the time, right?

In my two episodes, at the end of my trials there was no clicking at all, could it have been a bad / wet relay ? Or relays shouldn't have this transitory problems?

Lately I have many starts where I hear 4 rather weak cranks and it finally starts, so it looks like all points to the starter being weak and I'm just being overexhaustive :) Rebuilding a starter is possible in a DIY setting?

When buying the remanufactured starter, I'm looking at a lot of brands, Beck/Arnley, ACDelco, TYC, REMY, Denso, etc. Do you recommend any?

Last and on the side, when disconnecting the battery, the blinkers turn on until the remote is used or a button under the dash is pressed. I couldn't find the button in several trials, where is it?

Thanks!
A relay will not be sporatic.

If the necessary parts are available at a local supplier, DIY is possible as long as it doesn't need to be rewound. You may check for an alt/starter rebuilder in your city.

All those rebuilders are good and the suppliers that carry them usually give a lifetime warranty on the part.

The blinkers flashing?? How long? Alarm could be resetting. If its the factory setup, use the key fob to arm/disarm. There isn't a "button" that is OE. If its aftermarket installed with a valet button, it could be anywhere.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It's the factory setup, I usually use the keyfob to unlock it, but I'm scared of losing it. The blinkers run for longer than 5 minutes, have never waited for them to stop!

By the way, the car didn't start today, after driving yesterday a bit (15 miles), today drove 3 miles and it wouldn't start again. This time, the engine was always cranking once, but a very weak crank. A jump worked within 1 minute. Next time I started the car, it started very well. Not sure if it's related to the starter or not!

Thanks!
 

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Hmmm.

The blinkers usually has to do with the security system. If a jump is helping you I'm still going to say you have might have a cable issue (assuming your battery is good which I still think is suspect, did you do a load test?).

It would be weird for the starter that is going out to be helped by a jump.

Some possibilities:
The battery is bad, you said you had it tested and it was fine... but it had a low charge. How was it that the battery was determined to be good? If it had a weak charge it should have failed the test, unless it was recharged. If it was recharged and immediately tested that could throw off the test results.

Bad cables could still be a possibility. I have had cables on some Chevy's that rotted on the inside which you can not detect well with your eyes. You can diagnose this with an "OMH" meter checking for resistance. You would need to check all the wires at both ends. Make sure the wire is disconnected when doing this check (to minimize shocks (you might have to reset your clocks and "re-learn your power windows" and security system but all of that is laid out in the manual..

Starter could be bad. There are a few different components to the starter that can go out. Some you could test, some not. If you are confident of all the above I'd take a chance on a remanufactured starter if it were me. but I'm unsure that a starter would make the turn signals flash like you state and be helped by a jump.

It is technically possible that this could be 100% starter related but in my opinion it is far more likely a wire/ground/battery issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Novablue, blinkers flash after disconnecting the battery, it's not related to this problem.

I fear I have a combination of both problems. I'm hoping to do a long drive to the mountains soon to fully load it and then recheck the battery at the parts store, plus check the cables for bad connections.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hi all,

Did some more diagnostics on the car. Battery checked OK again, I checked the cables, no corrosion at the starter ends, the battery terminals are all clean. I checked for current leakage at the battery, I got a 10-20 mA current once everything was off, there was a 70mA current that lasted one minute after turning off the key and closing all doors. Is the leakeage I'm observing normal? Should I also check resistance in the starter cables? Any other check before just changing the alternator?

I think I'llt try to open the starter and look at the solenoid contacts and the brushes, too see if it's worth repairing it myself. Though I fear the solenoid contacts are not the problem, given the kind of problems I've had.

Also, about the alarm, if I reconnect the battery with the key turned on, it won't light up the blinkers! Only took me 9 months to learn it!

Thanks!
 

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Your post in #12 is indicative of a bad battery. Did you check voltage or amp output?

The draw for the minute after turning the car off and shutting the doors is similar to your laptop "going to sleep". If its only for a minute, don't worry about it. The lower draw is for memory keep alive.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Voltage was 12.09V, which should be 50% charged. I didn't measure myself the amps, they got measured at O'reillys a few weeks ago and they said they were good. I guess you cannot use a normal DVOM to measure these kind of currents.

Today I also had to jump start the car. In the morning, not very cold, around 40F the car started OK. I drove ten minutes, stopped the car and when trying to start it after 5 minutes, battery was weak. Engine was turning very slow and not starting. Prior to this morning, the car was driven 150 miles on Sunday and about 6 10 minute trips between Sunday and today.

Do you think my battery may be bad but test OK in the shop tester? I'll get it tested again soon and post the results.

Thanks!
 
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