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Subaru Outback, Subaru Legacy, Electrical, Sedan, Wagon
#1 of 156 2002 Outback Won't start in cold. Battery Problem?
Feb 04, 2007 (5:32 am)
Yesterday it was 10 degrees Farenheit and my usually trusty subaru would not start (turned over but didn't start). This car has its original battery. I had AAA come out and jump it, then drove it to Napa auto parts. The guy there tested the battery and said it was fine (holding a charge etc) and I did not need a new battery. I asked if the car should start now and he said it should. He did suggest that I clean the terminals with baking soda- as apparently there was some corrosion that he claimed might cause problems with cold weather starting. Drove my car around for about 20 minutes or so running errands (kept engine running) and brought it home. About four hours later, same problem, turns over will not start. So any ideas? My temptation is to try to clean the terminals and if that doesn't help, jump it and drive it over to the dealer so they can have a look. If it isn't the battery then what is it? If I do need a new battery what model is recommended? Cold weather is anticipated for the next few days. I appreciate any advice that might be offered.
#2 of 156 Re: 2002 Outback Won't start in cold. Battery Problem? [mukluk]
by PFFlyer@Edmunds HOST
Feb 04, 2007 (7:53 am)
If it's turning over the problem isn't the battery. Since the car does run and the battery checked out, I'd lean towards a fuel pressure problem. I have a vehicle that's bleeding off fuel pressure somewhere if it sits for an extended period of time and will do the same thing, turn over but not start. Try this as a test. Go out to the car and turn the key to the ON position as if the car is running. Don't turn it all the way to the crank position. If you hear the low hum of the fuel pump running for a few seconds as the fuel pressure builds up I'd bet you have a leak that's bleeding off fuel pressure. If you hear the pump running, turning the key to ON and getting fuel pressure built up should get the car to start when you turn the key to CRANK.
#3 of 156 Re: 2002 Outback Won't start in cold. Battery Problem? [pf_flyer]
Feb 04, 2007 (2:31 pm)
Well I did go ahead and clean the terminals. The negative terminal didn't seem too bad, there was somewhat more corrosion on the positive terminal. However cleaning the terminals did not get the car to start. I will try the suggestion from pf flyer. Another issue that may not be helping matters is that my gas tank is about an eighth full right now. I was planning to fill it up yesterday assuming it would just be a normal day (when my car starts). At any rate once I got the car jumped I didn't want to risk turning off the engine to fill it up.
#4 of 156 Re: 2002 Outback Won't start in cold. Battery Problem? [mukluk]
Feb 04, 2007 (3:32 pm)
Update: Went out to car and turned key to ON. Did not hear fuel pump noises. But at any rate the car then started! I drove it on the expressway a little to get the engine warmed up and then stopped to fill up the tank. It started like its usual self. I hope it continues to do so. My car will be in to the dealer this week for an oil change so I will see if they have any insight on the situation. P.S. It was 5 degrees Farenheit this afternoon.
#5 of 156 Re: 2002 Outback Won't start in cold. Battery Problem? [mukluk]
Feb 04, 2007 (4:35 pm)
Is this the original equipment battery now at or past the 5 year point? If so, I am kind of leaning towards it being a marginal battery. As batteries age, sediment builds up in the bottom channel that can short, or create leakage paths between plates. Scum accumulates on the plates themselves, reducing effective capacity. Although there might have been enough amperage to turn the starter, there can be a corresponding drop in voltage produced. If it drops low enough, electronics, which are themselves temperature sensitive, can foul. As a result, fuel delivery can be impacted.
When you got jumped, it started. Support from a good battery was all it needed. Some running put back enough into the battery to get you thru the following day. Cleaning the terminals also helped a bit, as you removed a series resistance that dropped voltage slightly. I would not be surprised if the non-start happened again after a long cold soak.
It is time. You got your money's worth out of the OEM unit. When you start having trouble like this, $60 or so is a good investment. See the Oct '06 issue of Consumers for the battery test. I just went thru a week of odd electrical issues with my wife's '02 Honda Ody, finally ending in non-starts. New battery, and the whole electrical system on that van is working a lot better. I'm thinking of changing the battery pro-actively on my '02 OBW just for piece of mind.
#6 of 156 Re: 2002 Outback Won't start in cold. Battery Problem? [mukluk]
Feb 05, 2007 (5:50 am)
I'll take 5 degrees, it's -5 degrees here in MI today. My car is also hesitating to start and it has a brand new battery.
#7 of 156 Re: 2002 Outback Won't start in cold. Battery Problem? [mukluk]
Feb 05, 2007 (10:06 am)
Also check the fluid level. If it's low top it off with distilled water (note there are 6 seperate chamber.
Wear gloves and do not touch the water that's in the battery now, as it becomes very acidic.
Having said all that, I'd still get a new battery with more CCAs.
#8 of 156 Re: 2002 Outback Won't start in cold. Battery Problem? [ateixeira]
Feb 05, 2007 (10:43 am)
It was -5 degrees this am and no start. Why would the battery test as being fine but not perform that way? In fact, I asked the guy at NAPA who tested it to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being a dead battery and 10 being a new battery and he gave it an 8. I don't mind replacing the battery (just going by age it is four years old which is about time to replace it). However, the test versus performance discrepancy seems odd to me. Does this mean that the battery testing device at NAPA does not work? Hmmm.
#9 of 156 Re: 2002 Outback Won't start in cold. Battery Problem? [mukluk]
by PFFlyer@Edmunds HOST
Feb 05, 2007 (10:46 am)
Was it the same situation again? It cranks but won't start? Or did it not crank at all in the cold?
#10 of 156 Re: 2002 Outback Won't start in cold. Battery Problem? [pf_flyer]
Feb 05, 2007 (10:52 am)
Well it seemed like it wanted to start today but couldn't. I just tryed to start it the usual way, turning the key all the way. Yesterday after I cleaned the terminals and it wouldn't start, I went inside for about 10 minutes. When I came back out, I turned the key to "ON" for a bit before starting it and it started. Today I had to get to work so did not have time to try again.