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Old 02-10-2011, 11:47 AM   #1
Nightwing
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Default 1998 Forester: Car won't start after front end collision....

Ok. I have a 1998 Forester. It was in a front end collision, and the air bags did deploy.

I have checked everything, mechanically, and it appears to be totally fine. I've checked the timing belt, and some other things. It looks just fine.

When I turn the key, the engine sputters to life and then runs for about 2 seconds, then shuts off. Then, my blinkers start flashing again and the airbag light is on.

I think my car is somehow stuck in an "after an accident" mode, or something like that. I need to shut off all of the blinking warning lights, and get the ECU to perform regularly again.

So, what's the trick? I need to make sure everything is running perfectly before I begin rebuilding the front end of this car.

Any info you can offer will be extremely helpful. Thanks, guys.
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Old 02-10-2011, 12:40 PM   #2
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Check for spark, fuel and compression.

If no spark, then there is a good chance that either your cam or crank sensors got jacked up.
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:03 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Jessekrs123 View Post
Check for spark, fuel and compression.

If no spark, then there is a good chance that either your cam or crank sensors got jacked up.
I have spark and fuel. I have compression (compression tested the spark plug ports).

The car only turns over for a second, so. it's hard to really get an awesome consistent reading off of anything.
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Old 02-10-2011, 04:11 PM   #4
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Many moons ago when I was a teenager, my brother was driving our station wagon and a deer ran into the side of the car. Car was perfectly driveable, but the impact tripped some sort of inertial relay that killed power to the fuel pump and the engine died. Once that relay was reset, car ran fine.

Perhaps there's something similar on the Subaru? I would think all cars must have something along those lines to keep from pumping fuel all over the place in case of an accident.
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Old 02-11-2011, 08:54 AM   #5
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Many moons ago when I was a teenager, my brother was driving our station wagon and a deer ran into the side of the car. Car was perfectly driveable, but the impact tripped some sort of inertial relay that killed power to the fuel pump and the engine died. Once that relay was reset, car ran fine.

Perhaps there's something similar on the Subaru? I would think all cars must have something along those lines to keep from pumping fuel all over the place in case of an accident.
Yes I remember seeing in one of my tech books that Subarus have a roll-over valve of some sort that disables the fuel pump. Maybe that got a little messed up?
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Old 02-12-2011, 02:01 PM   #6
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Isn't the fuel pump in the fuel tank?
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Old 02-18-2011, 04:17 PM   #7
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Bump?
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Old 02-18-2011, 09:32 PM   #8
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Yes the pump is in the tank. (99% sure on that).

An airbag going off is something of a catastrophic event in a car. An accident that severe can randomly blow fuses, screw with modules, and generally put everything in chaos mode.

Good luck.
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Old 02-18-2011, 10:50 PM   #9
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I did check all fuses and relays today. Everything was just fine.
Checked to make sure that there was still good tension on the timing belt, and free of debris. Cranked it over for a minute, and just couldn't keep it going. Haven't physically checked on the fuel delivery yet, but that will be the next step as soon as I get it to my garage from where it's being stored.
It was suoer chuggy, but fealt like everything was running balanced. But, it was fighting for fuel, and was just unhappy in general. So, I didn't play with it too much, especially with no coolant system.
Keeping the radiator out until I can get the engine running for more than 30 seconds, and sounding proper. So... while I have the front end wide open, is there anything else that anyone would reccomend looking at, before I start going into the fuel pump, and other parts like that?

Also, the lights are still flashing. Battery has been disconnected for a week, and I even left a cab light on to make sure any residual power in the system would bleed out fast. So... for some reason that won't stop. No, the hazards aren't on. Once again, no blown fuses.

That's where I'm at.

Ideas? In about a week or 2 I need to be driving this car again. I can rebuild the front end in a day, but I can't do that until I have the engine working. So... if anyone had just a second to throw at this, mentally, I'd sure appreciate it.

Thanks guys.
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Old 02-19-2011, 01:16 AM   #10
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If your car didnt roll over then the roll over valve wouldnt be the problem. Do you have acess to an ociliscope if so u can check signal from crank and cam sensors by back probing the ecm pins . There could have been a short the ecm created during the accident. You could have broken an engine ground ther are grounds on the inner frame rails under the battery and one under the airbox. To my knowledge subarus dont have an "accident relay" Ive worked on many subarus with airbags blown out and cut off and the steering wheel taped back shut so thats ruled out. I never had to reset any airbag faults to get a car running but on newer subies 06 and up that have multi modules and Ecms that are networked together haveing a damged airbag module can throw a cel for communication faults but even then the car would run....idk man could b alotta diff things good luck brotha
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:23 AM   #11
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^Checked for grounds, and everything that is actually there seems perfectly intact and free of corrosion.
I don't have an oscilloscope (haven't seen one in YEARS. Did you mean a stethoscope?), but I have a test light and can probe wires for current. Any suggestions?
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Old 02-19-2011, 06:43 PM   #12
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no a stethascope is what doctors use to listen to ur insides i guess u can use um to diag engine noise. An ociliscope is a tool more acurate and faster than ur normal voltmeter. You use it to backprobe wires n see the voltage signal in wave patern form, so u can see if ur cam or crank sensors are putting out proper signal. You can also use it to see injector pulse or ecm signals of any kind realy. With a voltmeter u can see the voltage but its not fast enough to pick up millisecond impulses for example ur injectors put out. So u will see V at the injector but u wouldnt be able to see if its opening and closeing correctly with a v-meter but u could with an ociliscope. Any decent shop would have one most tool guys (snap-on, cornwell, Mac,) sell them ther alittle priciey but very worth it saves tons of diag time and needless parts replacement.
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Old 02-19-2011, 07:43 PM   #13
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^Assuming that I'm trying to fix this myself, and I have no desire to own an osciliscope.... what are my other options? haha.

Certainly this entire repair isn't hinging on the ability to put the car through osciliscope based testing.
I might be wrong.

Thanks for the info, bud. I might just have to break down and hire someone for something like this, but I'm not convinced that there isn't a handful of other things I could also be checking at the same time.

Thanks, so far, guys. Keep the advice coming.
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Old 02-19-2011, 09:02 PM   #14
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Your issue is the airbag computer.

Either replace it with one that has not deployed its bags or get the one you have reset.
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:47 AM   #15
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Im not tryin to be a smart ass or anything just tryin to share sum info/help without sayin replace this n replace that but actualy find out what the problem is. The airbag control module is not the problem u will have to replace it eventualy but its not gonna start the car. I was just looking at the wiring diagram and its not even wired to the ecm and the only way it is wired to the ignition relay or ignition is threw the check connector for the cluster on initial start up for self check. ther is no way this would prevent u from running the car. If u wanna get the module get one and install it ur gonna have to remove the center console and shifter trim it will get rid of the airbag light but i dont see how it could make the car not run. im leanin mor toward a damaged cam or crank sensor or a short to the ecm or ignition or sumthing good luck man
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Old 02-20-2011, 01:37 AM   #16
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A '98 is still gonna have a BUS line on it. So the modules are still talking to each other.

I agree with Mr. Wannabe. I also think the OP is in over his head and should probably take it to a professional.
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Old 02-20-2011, 10:27 AM   #17
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Smile Check Battery connections and BODY grounds

It sounds as though you have a loose grd circuit.
Ck near battery also look at the crankshaft sensor AND the camshaft sensor.
Good Luck
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Old 02-20-2011, 11:00 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Wrencher86 View Post
A '98 is still gonna have a BUS line on it. So the modules are still talking to each other.

I agree with Mr. Wannabe. I also think the OP is in over his head and should probably take it to a professional.
The OP lost everything he owns in a divorce recently, and lost his job. The OP doesn't have any possible way to afford a mechanic right now. The OP has a little boy that needs for his father to have a car that's reliable enough to get him to school 15 miles away every day. A mechanic would be fantastic, but right now it isn't in the cards for me.


The engine block sustained nearly NO damage, and i can cosmetically build the front end back up with ease. I just need it to run. It shouldn't be too hard to figure this out. Probably 1 or 2 things out of order, and the car will run fantastically again, no doubt.

I'm gonna check the air bag computer, I guess. That makes sense. Does anyone know if that would explain why I keep hearing a clicking solenoid (sounds like a loud blinker solenoid) when the battery is connected, and all the corner lights are blinking?

I will also check the suggestions that everyone has given.


I know this is sort of a stretch, but is thee anyone from northern Colorado that actually is capable of diagnosing an issue like this, if they could see the car? I'm not looking for a handout, but it seems like it would save hours if someone could just look at it for 30 minutes. If anyone actually knows about problems like this, and lives around northern colorado, and feels like helping a guy out with some knowledge and an hour of your time.... I'd sure appreciate it.


Keep the suggestions coming, guys. I'll keep looking and trying the things you all suggest. Let me know if pictures of anything would help, just so people can understand what I'm working with and what kind of impact took place.

Thanks.
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Old 02-20-2011, 03:51 PM   #19
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ther is no networking between the airbag module and Ecm ther isnt one wire between them that info is STRAIGHT FROM THE REPAIR MANUAL FROM STIS.COM wich is subarus info site for dealers. ther is one wire going from check connector of airbag system to the ignition relay to combination meter strictly for self check when the car is started. If u dont belive me call or go to ur locall subie dealer/service center and ask them to show u the diagram they should do it for free my dealer does. The only modules that talk to each other in these years were TCM ECM ABS. for ****s n giggles I will drive my girls 99 forester to work tomorrow and remove the airbag module and start the car the airbag light will come on but the car will start I promise u if Im wrong I will punch myself in the nutts n tell all u guys about it. Once again not tryin to b an ******* just tryin to save this guy sum chedda and get his car running. I would seriously lean more towards a cam or crank sensor malfunction or a short to ecm,mass air,ignition,sumthing inportant to make the car run
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Old 02-20-2011, 04:23 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightwing View Post
The OP lost everything he owns in a divorce recently, and lost his job. The OP doesn't have any possible way to afford a mechanic right now. The OP has a little boy that needs for his father to have a car that's reliable enough to get him to school 15 miles away every day. A mechanic would be fantastic, but right now it isn't in the cards for me.

That sucks a lot, man. I wasn't trying to be smug or anything. It's just that in some cases the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to fix something is to call in a pro.

I still, personally, think you have an issue with the airbag module. You could try unplugging it and see where that gets you. The airbags have already gone off so it's not like you're gonna need a module for them until you replace the actual squib unit.
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Old 02-20-2011, 06:43 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrencher86 View Post
That sucks a lot, man. I wasn't trying to be smug or anything. It's just that in some cases the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to fix something is to call in a pro.

I still, personally, think you have an issue with the airbag module. You could try unplugging it and see where that gets you. The airbags have already gone off so it's not like you're gonna need a module for them until you replace the actual squib unit.
You.... I like you.

tell me how it works! I'm at a complete loss for what to do here.

Thanks so far, guys! I know we haven't really fixed anything, but the ideas are obviously starting to get geared closer to a solution.

Thanks! I'm staying tuned!
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Old 02-20-2011, 09:37 PM   #22
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Quote:
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That sucks a lot, man. I wasn't trying to be smug or anything. It's just that in some cases the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to fix something is to call in a pro.

I still, personally, think you have an issue with the airbag module. You could try unplugging it and see where that gets you. The airbags have already gone off so it's not like you're gonna need a module for them until you replace the actual squib unit.
ther u go sum one who is thinkin on the same line unplug the module and see if it helps if it does great man im honestly just tryin to help this guy out an airbag module is pretty pricy just to be throwing one in. i have a few cam and crank sensors layin around on my tool box at work pm me ther urs shipped for like $25 ill give u one a peice i got them off of blown motors
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Old 02-20-2011, 10:23 PM   #23
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I won't have access to the vehicle for a few more days. I'll try unplugging it, but wouldn't unplugging all fuses to the airbag system achieve the same result? If so, I've already tried that.
I'm printing out this thread, on the day I go back to the car, and i'll be going through ALL reasonable suggestions that are given in this thread. If anyone else has any ideas, please speak up.

Thanks guys. I'll keep you updated. If you need any more info on the current state of the vehicle, just ask.
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:53 AM   #24
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Other things to check if the unplugging the module doesn't help:

1. Ambient air temp sensor. This sensor lives behind the bumper and is one of the first things to go in a front end crash. The ECU uses the outside temp to, basically, "set the choke". If it's missing or damaged the car could run very rich. Not sure if it would effect driveability enough to keep the car from running, but still something to check.

2. Vacuum leaks. I know on the older Imprezas there is a vacuum line that always gets knocked off when people change their spark plugs. I think it's on the driver's side. There are a few threads on this in the Newbies and FAQs section that have more details.

3. Can you get codes out of this thing? Even if you can only get generic OBD codes it would still help get you going in the right direction.

You can try this stuff before you dig out the airbag module if you want. These are probably easier to check than pulling apart the whole center console. I've got a couple resources at work I can look into tomorrow. If I remember I'll let you know what I find.
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:25 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Wrencher86 View Post
Other things to check if the unplugging the module doesn't help:

1. Ambient air temp sensor. This sensor lives behind the bumper and is one of the first things to go in a front end crash. The ECU uses the outside temp to, basically, "set the choke". If it's missing or damaged the car could run very rich. Not sure if it would effect driveability enough to keep the car from running, but still something to check.

2. Vacuum leaks. I know on the older Imprezas there is a vacuum line that always gets knocked off when people change their spark plugs. I think it's on the driver's side. There are a few threads on this in the Newbies and FAQs section that have more details.

3. Can you get codes out of this thing? Even if you can only get generic OBD codes it would still help get you going in the right direction.

You can try this stuff before you dig out the airbag module if you want. These are probably easier to check than pulling apart the whole center console. I've got a couple resources at work I can look into tomorrow. If I remember I'll let you know what I find.


I know EXACTLY the vaccum line that you're talking about. It is NOT disconnected, but when it was (doing service a few months ago), it made the car all chuggy and couldn't keep it started. Very similar engine behavior. Hmmmm......

Let me know what you find at work. I sure appreciate it. Gonna' try to be working on it later this week.
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