2000 Subaru Forester: Cold Weather RE-starting problem

My 2000 Subaru Forester is quite reliable in terms of it’s cold weather unreliability.

When it’s very cold out (below zero) I generally have no problem starting the car (although see the caveat below). The problem is restartng the car after a very short trip. If the car doesn’t get adequately warmed up by driving to my destination, I find I cannot start the car again unless I wait a couple of hours. And by not starting, I mean it cranks, but won’t actually turn over and start, indicating to me that this is not a problem with the battery.

Actually with regard to the first start up, I’ve found I really only have one chance to start the car: that is, I must crank the engine until it turns over and starts. If I let up on the key and stop cranking, the car won’t start unless I give it the few hour wait described above. This is generally not a problem though, because the car will usually start up within 5-10 seconds.

Last spring I mentioned this problem to the service manager at the dealer thinking he might have heard of or encountered this problem before, but he clearly hadn’t and didn’t seem to have an ideas about this problem. His suggestion was to leave it overnight when we were expecting sub-zero temperatures and they would try to recreate the problem. I’m hesitant to go with this suggestion as at the moment they seem pretty clueless about what the potential problem is. I worry about having to spend a lot of money on them diagnosing the problem and possibly implementing a solution that could be difficult to assess until another round of extremely cold weather.

So fellow car talk fans, I am calling on your collective experience. Have any of you had a similar problem or any ideas about what this problem might be?



I was hoping Mike would have a helpful response. My 2005 Subaru Forester just did the same thing. Outside temperature in the 20s. I started it up, remembered I needed something indoors, needed the keys to get back inside, turned off the Forester, in, out, tried to start it back up. It cranked but wouldn’t turn over. :frowning: I’m hoping I have the same luck - that it will start up again after a wait.