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Discussion Starter #1
My dad's 2005 2.5i wagon doesn't get driven much daily - maybe five miles, non-highway. The other night I cleared the headlights, and had them on for maybe 20 minutes with the engine off; a couple days later, the car wouldn't start in the morning.
Left it on a HF trickle-charger for about 8 hours, battery now reads 10.8 V across, would not start. Tried jumping right from my car (read: 12.8 V), still no luck. Rapid clicking from a component (solenoid? sensor) attached to the driver's side rear intake manifold. Pictures follow; what is it? Likely cause of failure-to-start? User-replaceable?
(The battery's been weak for several months, we're going to replace it anyway... but if this turns out to just be another dead-battery thread, I 'pologize :rolleyes:)

(the red meter lead points the the mystery component)



 

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Battery sounds like its toast assuming the charger was working. Batteries do not like being run down and an old battery with a rough life ie short periods of use might kick the bucket after getting run down like that.
 

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Alright; new battery attached, 12.8v across; still just the clickclickclickclickclick. :mad: Probably calling for a tow into the shop tomorrow, unless I can determine that it's something driveway-fixable.
 

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that might be the EGR valve. might just be clicking due to low voltage or something.

did the parts store confirm the old battery was bad?



perhaps you have a bad battery cable.
 

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Yes, that is the EGR valve. (The black part at the top with the connector is the solenoid that activates the valve -- the actual valve is just below. (In the 2nd photo the copper/brass color pipe coming into the manifold just below the valve is the EGR pipe from the exhaust side of the head.)

The "new" battery -- is it straight off-the-shelf, or was it put on a charger first to make sure it's fully charged?

The clicking -- are you sure it's coming from what we've identified as the EGR valve, or from somewhere below that? The starter (and starter solenoid), is just below that area.

If it's the starter solenoid clicking, and if the battery is fully charged, then, as 1 Lucky Texan noted, check the cables between the battery and the starter (positive), and the battery and the engine block (negative). Corrosion on the connections, or where the wires go into the connectors/clamps at the ends could be a problem.

Also, have you measured the battery voltage while trying to start the car? Does it remain up around 12 V, or drop down to below 11 V?

There's a single, small wire connector on the solenoid on top of the starter. Pull it off and measure if, when the key is turned to Start, there's 12 V at the wire connector. (Needed to activate the solenoid which, in turn, engages and connects the starter motor.) There's a remote possibility that the discharging battery has messed up the security system's starter interlock.
 

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Battery doesn't drop below 12 while "starting". Doing our best to follow the diagnostic flowchart in the FSM; can't find the starter relay!! You'd think there would be a chart of them, in one manual or the other
 

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Sounds like the starter solenoid might be bad - using a battery with low voltage can be pretty hard on the solenoid over a period of time so its possible it might be your issue.
 

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Battery doesn't drop below 12 while "starting". Doing our best to follow the diagnostic flowchart in the FSM; can't find the starter relay!! You'd think there would be a chart of them, in one manual or the other
Did you determine if the clicking is coming from the EGR solenoid, which is in your photos, or from the starter solenoid at the starter, which is lower down at the back of the engine? This can be important to our understanding and the opportunity to provide informed guidance.

With this in mind, why do you want to find the starter relay? If you're using the Diagnostics for Engine Starting Failure flowchart, checking for voltage at the starter relay is step #7, whereas "checking the input signal for starter motor" is #4.

If the single wire connector to the starter relay has the battery voltage (12+ V) on it when the key is turned to start (flowchart #4), there's no problem with the parts of the starter system that control the starter, including the starter solenoid.

When looking down at the starter area, the solenoid sits on top of the starter motor. There's a heavy wire coming to the back end of the solenoid from the battery -- it's usually covered by a squarish-shaped rubber insulator/cover. Just below that should be a single wire going from a harness behind the starter to the back of the solenoid. There's a push-on connector at the end of the wire. Pull the connector off, and measure then for voltage at the connector when someone turns the key to ON.

If you really need to access the starter relay, it's to the right of the in-cabin fuse panel (to the left of the steering column). There's eight relay spots there in two columns of four; the starter relay should be the second up, or the third down, on the left side. But I would add that there are many posts here about no-start situations, and I can't recall any that were traced to a bad starter relay.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
(I left this sitting written and un-posted at about 1:30 today... posting it anyway, though problem's been resolved.)

Well, on the other wire coming into the starter, we see no voltage there. It eventually disappears into the firewall, and - from as far as we can reach it, which is only about 18 inches - conducts fine. No voltage reaching that terminal, though, so circuit is either not closing across starter, or the meter's bad. Next stage is to test the ignition switch... but other things trigger in the "start" position, like the EGC chatter, even with the starter disconnected. SO assuming that's good... now to find the starter relay. NO diagrams anywhere... not in user manual, not in FSM, PITA to find online (only promising reference to it is HERE, and the picture isn't loading for [email protected]%$#)

Anyway, by this point (10:00 - 1:30) of poking around, my Dad's decided this problem's beyond us, and has called for a tow to his preferred electrical mechanic:


(Image: Nooo! Giving in...)
And of course some other human waiting at the garage feels it necessary to comment that "Subaru sure wouldn't like customers to see *this*, would they?" )
 

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Problem solved! And it's half what I first expected (and had absolutely no leads on how to diagnose...), and half something we never would have found.

Greg (Mechanic) called about an hour and a half after we dropped it off, to let us know it was all good.
Somewhere between the weak OEM battery, and disconnecting power to replace it didn't trigger the immobilizer, as I'd wondered, but somehow tripped up the security relay. He said he finally disconnected the security relay, and grounded it out, which somehow reset it. (The security relay is located somewhere inside the right side of the dash; that's all I've found out about it all day)

In response to PlainOM, for the 2005 the starter relay is next to the fuses under the steering wheel; the starter solenoid I assume to be the protrusion on the starter motor itself. Never heard that click, but did feel the EGR vibrate with the noise.
 
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