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Old 11-13-2010, 11:53 PM   #1
Tessai
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Default '99 Outback won't start.

My mother in law has been driving my outback for the past few months. I got a call yesterday that it wouldn't start. Luckily(?), it wouldn't start while it was in my driveway and not hers, so at least I have all my tools.

When I turn the key over, I can hear the starter solenoid click, and then nothing. The car doesn't even try to crank, the stereo and other interior lights dim (so power draw is occuring) and I hear a faint buzzing.

My initial thought was that the battery was low, that it had enough juice to power lights but not crank the car. I tried jumping it, no go. I left the jumper cables connected for about 5min to bring up the charge, still no go.

My next thought was the starter. I removed the starter and took it to O'Reilly's to be tested. It passed with flying colors. We ran the test 4 times to make sure it wasn't overheating and dying, and it still passed. We noticed the blue boot on the back of it was cracked, so I wrapped it well with electrical tape to keep out dirt and moisture. Reinstalled it into the car and my problem persists.

I'm not sure where to go from here. I tried checking the voltage with a multimeter. I put the positive lead against the positive terminal on the starter, ditto the negative, and had my wife crank the car. I got no change in the reading. Honestly I'm not sure if I got a good reading or if I botched up using a multimeter, but I'm working on the assumption that my starter isn't getting power.

While I had the starter out, I used a wire brush and cleaned the contacts on the starter itself and the wires that connect to it, so I know that dirt and/or corrosion there isn't causing it. While searching here, I found an older thread that mentioned an iginition switch causing this issue on a '91. I also read in another thread to check the relays. What exactly am I looking for? 12V to the relays? Which relays should I check?

Basically I've reached the end of what I know to look for and need help being pointed in the next direction. I need this car back on the road tomorrow.
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Old 11-14-2010, 07:02 AM   #2
kirbykirb
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If the starter is clicking, it is getting power. Check engine harness connections.
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Old 11-14-2010, 01:33 PM   #3
Tessai
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Connections look fine, I scrubbed all connections on the starter with a wire brush to remove all dirt and grime before putting it back in the car.


Turn the sound way up during the engine bay shot to hear the buzzing that goes with the click.
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Old 11-14-2010, 02:07 PM   #4
kirbykirb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tessai View Post
Connections look fine, I scrubbed all connections on the starter with a wire brush to remove all dirt and grime before putting it back in the car.

YouTube - subie_nostart.mov

Turn the sound way up during the engine bay shot to hear the buzzing that goes with the click.
No, ENGINE harness. Not starter.
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Old 11-14-2010, 02:09 PM   #5
FilthyFlushWRX
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It probably is in a connection or fuse. Any check engine lights or anything? A loose connection to the back of the gauge cluster or under the dash can can do it. I say even if it passed the test... Try a new starter. Seen 1 too many "pass" but were bad. Its not a huge pain to swap out just be gentle and if it doesn't fix it then return it before you return your core/old starter.
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Old 11-14-2010, 03:19 PM   #6
Tessai
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Well, its fixed. Not 100% sure how I did it.


I took the starter out, sat it on top of the intake manifold, and wired it back up. Turned the key over and it spun. A little ghetto but it verified my connections are fine. I put it back in the car, tightened everything down, and it cranked over! Put the intake plumbing back on and it fired right up. Waited a few minutes to let it recharge the battery some, shut it down, wait a few seconds, and it fired back up again. Rinse and repeat.

Something must have been tightened down enough to feel right, but not make the right connections. I didn't hook up anything any differently than the last time I put the starter back in.
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Old 11-14-2010, 11:30 PM   #7
Frogsthatmoo
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How hard was it to get the starter off?
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Old 12-02-2010, 08:13 PM   #8
Tessai
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The starter was a PITA the first time but then once I knew where everything goes it has become a sub-15min job for me, haha.

Bumping this thread back up as the problem has returned but is now intermittent.

I got a call from the person that has been driving it lately that it had died once again. I was told that it has been slower and slower to crank in the mornings, and we've had a bit of a cold snap since Thanksgiving, so my first thought was the battery.

I jumped it and it did the same thing in the above video the first 3 attempts. Then it fired up with no problem. Turned it off, tried to start it, nothing. Disconnected jumper cables and tried again. It turned over, slowly, stumbled, nearly died, and then caught and idled fine. I let it idle for a little while and turned it off. It wouldn't start at all once again. Now, when I turned the key to ON, I got a strange buzzing from under the car. It is present in the above video as well.

After jacking the car up and putting a long screwdriver against various parts and my ear on the other end as a makeshift stethescope, I traced the buzzing to within the pan on the automatic transmission. I don't have the means to trace this problem further.

While the car wouldn't start, both the battery and the starter are testing at 12.75V so neither appears to be the problem.

The car is currently at a shop as I can't diagnose these electrical gremlins further. I will update this thread with their diagnosis as this unfolds.
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Old 12-02-2010, 10:36 PM   #9
Frogsthatmoo
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It's really coincidental because my car has this EXACT same problem. It was odd reading you write your symptoms because it's word for word my symptoms. Whenever I run into this problem I just sit there and play with it until it turns over. This sometimes takes 10 seconds to the most of 5 minutes.

If you figure what's wrong with our cars, please post it here! I'm trying to narrow it down as well so I'll let you know if I find anything.
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Old 12-02-2010, 10:48 PM   #10
Tessai
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What have you done to diagnose so far?
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Old 12-03-2010, 10:10 AM   #11
funigui
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why dont you just put a starter in it? it sounds like a dead spot..
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Old 12-03-2010, 12:14 PM   #12
Frogsthatmoo
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I haven't done much because I've been busy with school and work the past month, but I've been trying.

The one thing I've noticed is how random it occurs. I've been taking note on when it happens and really can't correlate anything. For a while I thought it was the battery and I'm about to test that with my brother's Subaru's battery (he'll never know).

And I think funigui might be right, after 200,000 miles it might just be that time.
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Old 12-03-2010, 02:35 PM   #13
Tessai
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Starter, alternator, battery have all been tested as good by two shops and myself.

The current shop is seeing current draw and is
now trying to trace it. That is all I have for now.
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Old 12-03-2010, 07:17 PM   #14
Tessai
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The shop is seeing a 5A draw but cannot determine its source.

All fuses, underhood relays, lights, buzzers/chimes, horn, and switches have been checked. They returned the car to me and didn't charge for the diagnostic as they can't figure it out. They were able to duplicate the buzzer sound and the transmission noise. When both occur (key in ON position) it is a 15A draw. The car just sitting, off, is still drawing 5A. The lead tech told me as an aside that he personally suspects the relay inside the transmission, but they didn't want to drain the trans and open up that can of worms to source the issue.

My wiring diagrams from the FSM just show me wire colors and I don't see anything in transmission section that this could be. Any ideas?
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Old 12-03-2010, 11:52 PM   #15
Tessai
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According to the FSM (see snippet below) my connector is missing pins 5 and 6. Line pressure solenoid and transfer clutch solenoid. The car wouldn't shift without the line pressure solenoid, right?

Also, the two shift solenoids should test at 10-17 ohms. Both were sitting around 28ohms. WTF?



Here's a youtube video of the strange sounds I'm getting. In the middle of the video I unplug the connector referenced in this post, then plug it back in and the sound resumes.

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Old 12-04-2010, 01:33 AM   #16
kirbykirb
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550-750RPM idle is correct.
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Old 12-05-2010, 08:23 PM   #17
Tessai
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I left the transmission connector (pictured in previous post) unplugged since Friday night. The battery has not dropped under 12V, and at 5A/hr loss it should have been killed in 10hrs. So my draw is a part on that connector. It somewhat narrows it down?
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Old 12-06-2010, 02:02 AM   #18
kirbykirb
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Inspect connector, run contunity test on the pins to see which ones could be it.

Take off transmission pan.
Inspect solenoids/look at wiring.
There could be your problem, if not there, then it can be internal.
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Old 12-06-2010, 07:16 AM   #19
Tessai
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I'm not dropping the transmission pan. I've looked up prices on replacing the known bad solenoids and it's not happening. I've spent too much time and money on
this car in under a year. I'm getting rid of it. Carmax offered me $1300 when it started consistently. I'm going to jump start it and see if it will behave for them and see if I will get the same amount for it now.
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Old 12-06-2010, 07:42 AM   #20
kirbykirb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tessai View Post
I'm not dropping the transmission pan. I've looked up prices on replacing the known bad solenoids and it's not happening. I've spent too much time and money on
this car in under a year. I'm getting rid of it. Carmax offered me $1300 when it started consistently. I'm going to jump start it and see if it will behave for them and see if I will get the same amount for it now.
Sad :'( Poor subaru.

Not even willing to drain the fluid and drop the pan to look for frayed wires.
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Old 12-06-2010, 08:48 AM   #21
Tessai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kirbykirb View Post
Sad :'( Poor subaru.

Not even willing to drain the fluid and drop the pan to look for frayed wires.
It isn't just a matter of checking for frayed wires. I already know solenoids 1 and 2 (shift solenoids) are bad. We are already looking at about $200 for parts and supplies for me to switch those out. And since my connector is missing pins 5 and 6 I'll have to get some pins or a new connector to fix that as well. It's just always something with this car. I could almost tolerate it if these issues were coming from a tempermental sports car, but it's not. It's a family-hauling station wagon with a lift kit. A 4 cylinder, automatic, A to B car. It was obviously dealer serviced by the previous owner as all the filters were genuine Subaru as were all the parts I've replaced. I'm sorry if I'm not particularly enthused with a car I've had to put up on jackstands once every other month just to keep it running. I've had a turbocharged, streetported RX-7 with a partially melted wiring harness that was more reliable than
this car.

I may have some PTO days at work that are close to expiring. If so I will use them to look at the car. If I can't fix it for $175 or less the car goes to CarMax or whoever wants to match their offer whatever it may be. And by fix I don't mean replace one bad part I mean this car doesn't go on a lift for anything other than oil changes, brake pads, or tire rotation for a year.
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Old 12-06-2010, 04:59 PM   #22
davidt
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Those tricky issues sometimes make you wonder why you bother huh
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Old 12-08-2010, 10:58 PM   #23
Tessai
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Protip: The connector pin chart is mirrored, showing the female side of the connector when the procedures described calls for testing the male side of the connector.

My transmission is OK.

I can't find any 5A draws. The car has sat from Friday evening to Wednesday evening and the battery voltage never dropped.

If the car sits for a while it will fire up without issue. The more frequently I try to start it, the less frequently it will start.

Stubborn car is stubborn.
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Old 12-11-2010, 05:48 PM   #24
Tessai
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I've replaced the starter. The last 6 start attempts have been successful, so perhaps this will prove to be the ultimate fix.
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Old 12-15-2010, 12:05 PM   #25
Frogsthatmoo
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So, it's been 4 days. How is it?
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