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#375 of 439 2003 Forester backfires for months, now doesn't start
Jul 06, 2010 (9:54 pm)
I am brand new to this site, and do not know a thing about cars. I appreciate any feedback, and I have enjoyed reviewing the posts here this evening.
My 2003 Forester has 148,000 miles on it. For the past 6 months, it had hesitated, and sputtered and backfired. It "chugged" and then finally kind of "kicked in" and had good acceleration. During this time, the check engine light had been on. My mechanic (not a Subaru dealership) first replaced the spark plug wires, which seemed to help just a bit for just a while. It became as bad as before, and then he replaced the spark plugs this time. He said the check engine light was on (constantly) for "some environmental code" and that there "must be some dust in it....don't worry about it."
The new spark plugs helped immensely, and I thought it was fixed. But a few times this summer, I would go to start it, and when I turned the key, the dash lights came on, but it just clicked -- the engine didn't turn over at all. Then, within a minute at the most, I would try again and the engine would come on perfectly.
A few weeks ago, the blower quit entirely (no air conditioning, no heat, no defrost) And in Minnesota, it would not be out of the question to need all 3 of those features in one day!! So I had a used blower put it, which I now regret (though it "saved" about $240 at the time). The new (used) blower seems VERY weak, and it's not cooling the car very well (past few days have been mid- 80's to low 90 and extremely humid). Also, it seems like there is an odd sputtery sort of noise under the hood. It's just running louder when it's idling since bringing it home with this blower.
Finally, today, I went to start it, while it was in my very hot and very humid garage, and it didn't start (same as before -- just a click and dash lights on). I tried intermittently for about 10 minutes and if finally started. I ran some errands, started and stopped it about 4-5 times. 3 hours later, I went to start it and the same thing. It didn't start for 20 minutes this time, and finally didi start. I drove it straight to my mechanic, who will see it tomorrow.
Is this all related? Does anyone know what is happening or what I should do next?Any advice at all is greatly appreciated. I've had somewhat regular oil changes (every 3000 - 6000 miles). Sorry this is so long, and thank you.
#376 of 439 Re: 2003 Forester backfires for months, now doesn't start [abe67]
Jul 07, 2010 (11:53 am)
If that blower is used, it is very possible that it is simply a "weak" unit. The more they are used, the more resistance tends to build up in the motor. I could not believe how well the blower worked in my car ('96 Outback) after it quit at about 200,000 miles and I installed a new one. The new motor was about $140, if I recall correctly, and worth at least three times that much come winter in Fairbanks, Alaska!
I strongly suspect that your problems center around your camshaft and crankshaft sensors... possibly the knock sensor as well. These sensors are all in the $50-60 range, but are incredibly easy to replace (especially so for the crank/cam sensors... the knock sensor is a little more difficult to access).
While I did not have outward problems with my sensors originally, I did have that no-start situation you describe for *years* (really frustrating). My knock sensor went out one day and caused the car to run awful, so I replaced all three sensors at the same time. Not only did the car run perfectly again, but I never experienced the no-start situation again.
It may be worth a shot. That said, if you have a check engine light on, get it read out and write down / relay the codes!
#377 of 439 Re: 2003 Forester backfires for months, now doesn't start [abe67]
Jul 07, 2010 (2:00 pm)
An ignition coil is about $80, and if yours is original it is overdue.
I mention that since the spark plugs helped. A new coil cleared a CEL for me after some chipmunks ate some wiring in my engine harness.
#378 of 439 Re: 2003 Forester backfires for months, now doesn't start [ateixeira]
Jul 08, 2010 (12:14 pm)
That's a good point. If there was high resistance in those wires over a long period of time, it could have resulted in degradation of the ignition coil as the electrical charges looked for an easier route to discharge. It is certainly worth inspecting, anyway. An ohmmeter or multimeter could be used to verify the integrity of the coil.
#379 of 439 My 2003 Forester that backfires and doesn't start
Jul 10, 2010 (9:00 pm)
Thank you very much to the 3 replies to my questions about my 2003 Forester (Post #375 above). I had it in for almost 3 days last week, and it started EVERY TIME for the mechanic. He tried starting it cold and hot, and it started up each time. The only code he ever gets on it is this "emissions" code (PO420 EVAP Code), and he indicates it's not related to how it's running.
He tested some things - I'm not sure of what exactly -- and he determined it was not the starter or the alternator. He thought the battery was somewhat weak, and that it turned over "a little quicker" with a new one. So he wanted me to drive it a week or so with the new battery (didn't want me to pay for it yet) to see how it's working.
So I've driven it for 2 days and it's backfiring, sluggish and "catching" around corners. It chugs when I slow down, and then lurches when it gets power. The check engine light is constantly on. This evening, it DID NOT START at all for me again (after driving it all around all afternoon, starting and stopping multiple times). It didn't start for an hour and I left it for another 3 hours. Still doesn't start. Doesn't turn over at all - just clicks and the dash lights come on.
When I bring it (tow it) in Monday morning, I'll plan to share the suggestions that have been made here and see if he has checked those things yet. Someone else suggested to me that a "transmission flush" might help. Does anyone think it might?
Thanks again, and I will share your suggestions with my mechanic. He knows I know nothing about cars, so I'll mention I was on this site. I do believe he's trying to figure it out honestly for me.
#380 of 439 Re: My 2003 Forester that backfires and doesn't start [abe67]
Jul 13, 2010 (10:26 am)
Someone else suggested to me that a "transmission flush" might help. Does anyone think it might?
Because of the backfires, especially, I believe this issue is engine-related only. The transmission can only work with the power it gets from the engine.
#381 of 439 HELP FOR FORESTER S 2002
Jul 14, 2010 (3:58 pm)
I need to complete the test for O2 Sensor, EVA and CAT; how do i perform a drive cycle?
This because i tested with CAN OBD2 3130 after changing both O2 sensors, and erased the DTC, now the code reader has O2, EVA and CAT blinking; but shows no DTC codes.
I wrote to the manufacturer of the reader and answered me: "When a monitor icon is flashing it means that the PCM has not tested that particular system yet. The only way to set those monitors to a "done" status is by driving the vehicle until the requirements for that monitor have been met. To speed up the process you can perform a drive cycle. A drive cycle is a set of instructions for your particular vehicle that tells you how to drive in order to meet all of the monitor requirements. This information can be found in a service repair manual for your make of vehicle. Once the PCM sees that the enabling criteria have been met, it will test the system and set the monitor. "
#382 of 439 Re: HELP FOR FORESTER S 2002 [carlosh1]
Jul 22, 2010 (11:14 am)
Don't they just mean on, full warm up, drive, off?
Jan 30, 2011 (5:36 pm)
Ah, if only the bat light only worked in Metropolis. Sorry, I was pretty much off the web back then.
A late entry, but good for everyone. Check out http://autotap.com/ . They do a very good job of explaining how a lot of electronic stuff works with the OBD II stuff. Generally a drive cycle is so many miles. Like 50-100. Prevents someone from resetting the computer/light and then getting a safety sticker!
Not sure I would trust that reader. I would do a drive cycle which you probably have done by now! Anyway, check out Autotap. So far, my smarts have kept me from having to buy OBD II tools. This is what I would buy if and when I need to.