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2008 Outback wagon, 2.5i Touring
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531 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
it happens mostly at random , making the problem really hard to diagnose and the car unreliable
sometimes the car refuse to start I could hear the relay of the starter clicking I see a voltage drop on my voltmeter when turning the car but nothing else
the car could run fine for days or could do it several times the same day
it started to do this around february and I didn't use most of the summer

recent history of the car
JDM transmission swap 1 year ago
JDM engine swap last fall
the battery is 1 year old and tested good even today at the store
battery connectors were replaced too
the alternator was the JDM one and I swapped back my old american one with a new belt and I have the problem with both setup so alternator is out of the equation
no check engine

when the engine idle with the AC on the voltage was barely above 12V I upped the idle with freessm to 950rpm with AC on and now the voltage is 12.5 at idle
without AC it goes up to 12.8-13v

when it doesn't start If I connect the big battery charger that we have at the workshop and put it at starter help position it sends 14.6V and the car will start on the first try

I suspect a bad starter , it's the one of my old engine I still have the JDM one that came with my transmission swap to try I didn't put it when we did the swap because they were not exactly the same the JDM one is a mitsubishi

my second suspicion could be related to the stupid switch that send the signal to the dashboard and the computer of which gear is selected , once in a while just playing with the shifter and the car will start but again is it a sign or just a fluke ? because many times just doing nothing and trying 3 minutes later it could start ... or not

any ideas ?
 

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On the Super Mod Squad
2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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26,859 Posts
I wonder if shifting to neutral would help.
 

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2008 Outback wagon, 2.5i Touring
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531 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I wonder if shifting to neutral would help.
yes and I no
sometimes it's the same in park and neutral
and once in a while playing with the shifter the car will start
but many times also playing with the shifter does nothing at all
sometimes doing nothing at all will work too :surprise:
 

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. . .sometimes the car refuse to start I could hear the relay of the starter clicking I see a voltage drop on my voltmeter when turning the car but nothing else . . .
If the starter solenoid clicks when the ignition is turned to Start, the enabling part of the starter circuitry is working. If the inhibitor switch (part of the gear selection) or the security system were involved, then the starter solenoid would not get any voltage when the ignition is turned to Start.

The observation that the voltage drops is another indication. When the solenoid clicks, it connects the battery to the starter motor. That loads the battery (big time), and if the motor doesn't run, it will discharge the battery quickly. If the battery voltage drops because of this, the solenoid will lose power, and click Off. But because the ignition is still at Start, the solenoid clicks on again, that drops the voltage again, and the cycle repeats. This results in a rapid fire clicking from the solenoid as long as the switch is at Start.

Battery could be failing, or undercharged. Heavy cable and connections between the battery and the solenoid could be poor. Ground cable between battery negative post and the ground fitting next to the start could be problematic. And then, the solenoid contacts and the starter motor itself.
 

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Outbacks, SVXs, XT6, 4Runner, Celica, Brat, E150s
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13v @ 1k rpm is not enough, it should easily get over 14v at idle.

My first suspicion is grounds, especially since the engine has been out. There'a ground wire from the negative battery terminal to the bracket on the starter. Make sure that's hooked up, in good shape, with clean contacts.

Then there are 3 braided, uninsulated ground straps that attach the engine/transmission to the body. One from the top of the transmission up to the firewall, and one from each head out to the frame rail. These can be damaged during engine removal, and because they're not insulated, can corrode even under normal usage.

Then I'd be looking closely at the positive terminal at the battery.
 

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2008 Outback wagon, 2.5i Touring
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531 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Ok I remove the intake manifold and I found out that ... the main ground wire was connected to a completely loose bolt
I manage a least 4 turns with the ratchet to get it tight !

case closed I guess

looks like the JDM shop in Montreal who did my swap was in a rush to finish
 

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2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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Oh my, that's terrible you had to remove the intake manifold? Did you know it was loose before you removed it?

Are you positive that was it? I wouldn't be surprised if it returned.

I've seen so many Subaru's with disconnected, broken, and dangling grounds and they always start, that one ground wouldn't be a positive confirmation of an intermittent issue for me.

I've seen dirty terminals, corroded cables, and solenoid contacts fail countless times.
 

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2008 Outback wagon, 2.5i Touring
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
and ... after driving flawlessly for 35 kms yesterday ... this morning ... no start !

put the power pack on the battery ... no start

disconnected the control wire of the starter and put it back ... no start

got a phone call, talked to someone for 20 minutes got back in the car ... it starts
 

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2008 Outback wagon, 2.5i Touring
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Oh my, that's terrible you had to remove the intake manifold? Did you know it was loose before you removed it?

Are you positive that was it? I wouldn't be surprised if it returned.

I've seen so many Subaru's with disconnected, broken, and dangling grounds and they always start, that one ground wouldn't be a positive confirmation of an intermittent issue for me.

I've seen dirty terminals, corroded cables, and solenoid contacts fail countless times.
actually not the intake manifold but the plastic plenum of the TB
 

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2008 Outback wagon, 2.5i Touring
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531 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
next times I will jump a wire from the battery to the control wire of the starter
 

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2008 Outback wagon, 2.5i Touring
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
before leaving the workplace I checked the starter solenoid wire
it was so loose it slipped out without any effort
I cleaned the prong on the solenoid
checked the connector and it broke in my hands, fully corroded
so I crimped a new one and I also spliced in a second wire

next time it doesn't want to crank I will put the new wire straight to the battery +
if the car start I will put a switch inside hidden somewhere case closed

I also need to lift the car to check the selector switch on the trans
when I parked the car I noticed that the light around the P was not ON
I played with the shifter and it came on
when to neutral , same thing played again and the N was lite
the switch seems to be borderline between the right position and beeing off its position

I was suspecting from the start 2 different problems with the same consequence
 

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2006 OutBean, 2005 LGTW
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Well? How did it start this morning?
 

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2008 Outback wagon, 2.5i Touring
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531 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well? How did it start this morning?
this morning fine
yesterday not fine
my last problem is the range switch
yesterday turning the key was doing nothing and I notice the light around the P in the dashboard was off
tried to put the shifter to neutral and I had a really hard times to move
once it moved I put it back to Park the P was lite and the engine started

so
I had a bad ground
I had a bad connection at the starter solenoid
and I have a range switch at a borderline position which will be fixed next week

and all 3 = no start !
 

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Premium Member
2006 OutBean, 2005 LGTW
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this morning fine
yesterday not fine
my last problem is the range switch
yesterday turning the key was doing nothing and I notice the light around the P in the dashboard was off
tried to put the shifter to neutral and I had a really hard times to move
once it moved I put it back to Park the P was lite and the engine started

so
I had a bad ground
I had a bad connection at the starter solenoid
and I have a range switch at a borderline position which will be fixed next week

and all 3 = no start !
Such a strange combination. I hope that's it for you.

Slightly unrelated--thanks for suggesting the VTD trans earlier this year when I was looking for suggestions about JDM engines/trans. We had bought another outback, similar year (but 4 cyl) and you were right, it seemed like the outback with the VTD trans handled much different with it's rear bias.

Have you gotten rid of the FWD light on the dash? I'm thinking about tearing apart the cluster to get rid of it and am unsure if I could just clip a wire to the light or pull the light entirely? Hopefully it'll burn out soon cause it's annoying AF.

Also, how's the VTD controller coming along :grin2:
 

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2008 Outback wagon, 2.5i Touring
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531 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
the WRX VTD controller swap is still on hold
I bought more pin remover tools and they are still not capable of removing the pins
I think I will open the computer and soldered straight to the board where I need to add new wires to my connector system
I barely used the car for the last couple of months anyway I prefer to drive my summer beast
 
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