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Old 01-23-2005, 06:36 PM   #1
wobbletop
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Default WRX hard to start

Hey all,
Need some help/advice...
02WRX wagon 91K

My WRX has been harder to start in the past week. Would take a couple of cranks to get started, and the cranking did not seem strong. Thought it might have been due to the colder weather (Toronto) but I've always used synthetic, and the cold has never really affected the starting.

Well, today after pulling into a service centre off the 401 and parking, the car would not start. Would do a couple of slow cranks then nothing. Seemed like a very weak battery. Let it sit for 1/2 an hour (while trying to get a hold of CAA), and then it started after a few slow cranks.

Now, since I had just come off the 401 the alternator should have charged the battery. And since the battery had slowly been getting worse, I suspect the alternator (although I know Subaru batteries are not the greatest).

Right now I've got the car charging off my wifes car. Will let it charge for an hour or so and then try starting. If it starts ok, then it must be the altenator. If it doesn't, then it's the battery.

Battery easy to replace. Alternator... not so easy.

Any other opionions?

Thanks,
Walter
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Old 01-23-2005, 06:39 PM   #2
cbr600f3
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If you are still on the stocker I would replace that first before anything else. just my two cents. i vote for an Optima red top.
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Old 01-23-2005, 06:45 PM   #3
Uncle Scotty
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The stock batteries are JUNK...
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Old 01-24-2005, 12:12 PM   #4
Charlie-III
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Angry

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Scotty
The stock batteries are JUNK...
Will you guys quit with that!!!!!!!

I have almost 7 years and 134,000 miles on my OEM battery.

My wife has 6 years (and a lot less miles, maybe 55,000?) on her OEM battery.

My guess it that the underhood temps on the turbo cars are cooking the batteries. It would make no difference in the brand.

Have you checked the water/electrolyte level?
Have you refilled the level using ONLY distilled water?
Do you do lots of short trips and/or sit at idle a lot?

These will kill a battery faster if you don't pay attention.

BTW, I work in the UPS industry and know a bit about lead acid batteries. The best way to help them live is:

Keep between 72 and 77 degrees F.
Keep fully charged.
Keep them topped off on fluid level.
Don't load them (like starting).
Don't subject them to vibration.

Granted, it is almost impossible to do all the above except for fluid level and charge status.
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Old 01-24-2005, 02:07 PM   #5
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If you have not maintained the battery (the electrolyte level is low and has been low for a long time), replace the battery. It will never be the same again.
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Old 01-24-2005, 03:49 PM   #6
suby4ub
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my stock battery did the same thing last year. got a new battery this year and no real problems. i would try the battery first its cheaper and easier to see if thats the problem.
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Old 01-24-2005, 05:14 PM   #7
rbcsaver
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My new to me (3.5 weeks) 02 WRX with 28K miles is at the dealer as we speak getting a new battery (under warranty) after it would not start yesterday with our single digit N.E. PA temps. I have had weeks of an occasional "check engine" light on startup, that would go out on a restart, and was probably due to same. The motor would turn over for a while but not start, until jumped. It does take a certain amount of juice to turn AND fire the motor.
regards,
Steve
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Old 01-24-2005, 11:20 PM   #8
wobbletop
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Pardon my ignorance...
Are batteries these days not "maintainance free". Didn't even know you could still pop the tops off them.

After charging on the wife's car for an hour, I was able to start the car multiple times throughout the day.

So could it still be the battery?

-Walter
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Old 01-25-2005, 12:43 AM   #9
Mike Wevrick
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Yes it could still be the battery and no they are not all maintenance-free.

Have you put 91k on the original battery without ever checking the electrolyte level? Check the level (wear goggles) and top up with distilled water if needed. If it's still bad ask a garage to test it. You could also try a battery warmer but it might not help much.
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Old 01-25-2005, 08:34 AM   #10
DrD
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The subaru batteries are not maintenance free (each of the 6 cells has a screw cap, and if you look at the side of the battery, you can see the electrolyte level along with a low and high indicator) - you need to top them off with distilled water every now and then (more in warmer climates). If you have gone years without checking, odds are the fluid level is low. low fluid = less electrode area available in the battery = reduced current delivery.

Your alternator is probably fine (I would check before putting a new battery in there, though).
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Old 01-25-2005, 09:06 PM   #11
Uncle Scotty
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie-III
Will you guys quit with that!!!!!!!

I don't care what you think you know.

The battery that is stock in the WRX is junk.

You do not own/drive a WRX and your battery is very likely different.

The WRX battery is JUNK.

PERIOD.
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Old 01-25-2005, 11:21 PM   #12
Mulder
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Scotty does have a valid point. Aside from the need for maintenance which many owners may not be aware of, the batteries in the MT WRX have marginal cranking capacity when new and certainly don't get better with age. 350CCA doesn't cut it when the temps dip into the single numbers. Factor in low fluid level plus some normal aging of the battery and you have slow cranking and no-starts.
Almost any aftermarket battery down to the cheapest one you can get at Wal-Mart will probably have more capacity than the OEM battery. It's possible that the newer models have better batteries (I've seen new STi's and the battery was a maintenance free unit with 500CCA IIRC), but the 02's had the crappy ones.
I replaced mine after less than a year with an Optima because I wasn't happy with the winter cranking performance and didn't feel like waiting for it to crap out totally.
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Old 01-26-2005, 11:46 PM   #13
wobbletop
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Update...
91K km (not miles).

Checked today and the levels were low (about 1/3 I estimate). Filled it with distilled water. Pissed cause I had been taking the car to Subaru for service until I bought out the lease last August. I don't think the level could drop that much in 6 months, so obviously checking the battery level has not been part of their maintainance.

Nice.

-Walter
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