2007 Subaru Legacy 2.5i, no crank

I have a 2007 Subaru Legacy 2.5i (naturally aspirated non-turbo) where everything lights up on the dashboard when turning the key as it should, but every once in a while, moving the key that last little twist from the On position to Start does nothing. Everything looks, sounds, and feels correct except there’s no cranking. Usually, trying again immediately will cause it to start right up. But sometimes it’ll just sit there and not crank, no matter what I do.

The battery was replaced to no effect; it’ll start, but do this no-crank thing once every handful of starts. Changing the battery-to-starter cable did nothing. I left the car with my usual mechanic for a full week, and it started every time for them; the starter drew power as it should, the alternator was working fine, the cable connections were fine, and there were no fault codes stored.

I got the car back from the mechanic Friday and it was running fine for a full day of running errands Saturday before the same thing happened again that evening. I popped the hood and tried jiggling (flexing) the positive battery cable. No change. Then I tried something different; I tried listening carefully when twisting the key: the dash lights came on and I could hear a buzzing that was probably the fuel pump. I waited until the buzzing stopped, then twisted the key to Start. The car started right up.

This car is equipped with the factory alarm and comes with chipped keys. I’m not sure it’s the immobilizer since those stop the injectors, not the starter motor, right?

Any ideas what’s going on here?

My prime suspect at this point would be the ignition switch.

I agree with VDC. Had a similar thing happen to me.

If the vehicle has an automatic transmission, the next time it won’t start, place the transmission into neutral and then try starting the engine. If the engine starts, the problem might be with the park/neutral safety/transmission range switch.


That is also a strong possibility!

I was leaning toward a fouled connection in the switch, too. Thanks, everyone!

Are the ignition switches problematic on Subarus? I think your starter is failing.

“I think your starter is failing.”

That is possible, I suppose, but I have never seen a failed starter on a Subaru.

As was already stated, the inhibit switch or safety switch as it is also called, is a fairly common problem with the Soobs.

If you can get this problem to repeat at the shop, ask them to measure the voltages at both starter motor terminals (terminal to case) during attempted cranking. That should get to the bottom of it.

If this only happens when starting the car after it has been driven and left sitting for a short while, like you drive to the grocery store, and it won’t crank when you try to leave, that would likely be caused by something heating up. A starter motor on the fritz for example can stop working when it gets hot. BTW, ask the shop to make sure someone hasn’t remove the starter motor heat shield. Sometimes this happens when someone is fixing or replacing something, they forget to reinstall the heat shield.