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2009 Subaru Outback won’t turn over

The battery is fully charged, but the ignition won’t turn over the motor.

Unclear what you mean. When you try to start the car, do you hear the starter turning? whirr-whirr type sound? Is it as rapid as it was in the past.

Or does it not turn at all? What do you hear when you turn the key to start?

How do you know that the battery is fully charged? that is the first thing to look at if all you hear is a click.

In your manual may be information on how to bypass the shift interlock. It prevents the starter motor from operating if not in park, some times they can cause a problem such as yours.

If you hear a fairly load click when you go to the START mode that would indicate that the starter solenoid contacts are worn out and need to be replaced. You can replace the contacts or replace the whole starter. In order to work on it the starter will most likely have to be removed anyways.

If you don’t hear the click then try cleaning the battery connections even if they look okay. The other possibility for this trouble is with the safety switches, which will disable starting if the transmission is engaged.

You might hear a click from the under the dashboard, which is a relay. The starter motor is attached to the side of the engine, under the hood. Its sound is more muffled, and could be hard to hear unless you open the hood and listen while someone turns the key to Start. Sometimes hitting a starter hard will temporarily make it work.

Several possibilities, more or less in the order of ease of fixing:

  1. Check relevant fuses, fuseable links, and battery contacts.

  2. You’re battery isn’t really charged or is charged but has lost too much capacity. With the parking brake engaged (to keep the daytime running lights off) turn on your dome light and then your head lights (you may have to release the parking brake to get them to come on). If the dome light was bright and stayed that way when the headlights turned on you’re battery likely is okay.

  3. Does the starter solenoid (low in engine compartment) click but starter motor not crank when trying to start? If no click, suspect the transmission starter interlock switch. Try shifting in and out of park several times, also try starting with shifter in the neutral (N) position. If you can get your hands on a remote starter switch which connects directly from battery to the solenoid (bypassing the shifter switch), try that as if it works the problem is likely the interlock switch, and you have a way to get around.

  4. If the solenoid clicks but the starter doesn’t crank, turn on your headlights and see if they dim - if they dim a lot you may need a new battery or at least a fully charged one. If the headlights don’t dim much when the solenoid clicks, the solenoid’s contacts may be failing to turn on the starter motor or there could be another problem with the starter motor.

  5. If the starter cranks but engine doesn’t start, look into ignition and fuel delivery problems.

Okay, full disclosure. This is not my car. The owner is a friend who is out of the country. I was helping with a problem at the house and this happened:

my email: "I have to tell you about the Outback. When I went to pull it out of the garage so the guys could get to the wood, the battery was dead. I had accidently hit the switch for the lights when I pulled the car out to get to the paint.

Xxxx, the owner of THS, kindly offered to bring his car battery charger and let it charge for nearly half an hour. The car would start, then turn off after 15-30 seconds. That happened several times. Then I pulled my car up next to it and tried charging it from my battery. The cars were hooked up for at least 20-30 minutes. And the battery just would not charge. It was truly dead and was not going to be revived.

I’ve arranged with xxxx Automotive for one of their guys to come to the house and install a new battery. They’ll be doing that tomorrow. "

For clarification, the week before I had to pull the car out of the garage and it started up, no problem. I let it run for a few extra minutes as it was freezing weather and it hadn’t been driven for over a month.

Also - I realised after sending my email that the battery WAS CHARGED. When I turned the key, all the lights on the dash turned on. The fob locked and unlocked the doors, and the electric windows worked.

Subaru owners reply: "Twice when the battery was fine when (wife) did not get it to start. But by jiggling around with the gears or steering column, I got it to start right up - an off chance that might work without charging.

In either case, we have a battery charger that has worked very well for us. Could you please try that before other things like replacing the battery?

If our battery charger does not work:
We do all our work related to the Subaru at Subaru xxxxx’s If necessary let’s get in touch with them next. Here is background about battery work:
The Subaru battery is a little over two years old and should not need replacing. We have had some problems with the battery, first leading us to replace the battery at Subaru xxxx’s (where we have all work done on the car) around end of 2015, and subsequently we also had the connecting wires replaced/cleaned up. My service rep at Subaru is xxxx - he knows about this, and should have all details on the history.

Since replacing it, we have charged it three times. Usually for a reason like a glove compartment light was on. More recently, a couple times (wife) had a problem starting up the car even when the power is showing on as you report, but by just jiggling around with it I get it to start right up. I had Subaru xxx do a follow up testing of the battery and they said it was completely fine."

I’ve tried to start it again. When I turn the ignition and hold it a few seconds:
all lights on dash turn on
there is a fast clicking noise. Sounds like it is coming from the ignition.

Thank you for all your thoughtful replies. Hopefully this more detail explanation will help one of you to pinpoint what’s going on.

The extra information is of help. Near the very end of the reply you stated you hear a fast clicking. I assume you are in the START mode when you hear that sound and it is a common sound heard when the battery charge is low or there is bad connection to the battery posts. Other things that require less power can work okay but not the starter. The battery connections could also be causing the issue so clean them up using a wire brush. If that doesn’t help then have the battery checked out for a problem. Even though the battery isn’t real old it could be faulty or just low on charge.

There also seems to be another intermittent issue with the safety switches for the transmission shifter since moving the shifter (switches) got the starter system to work in the past. This is another pretty common issue.

I’m just going to throw this out here in the middle of everything, because I was completely shocked at how easy a “fix” it was for me to get my Tribeca to start.

I believed I had a cold start issue - good battery, so she would turn over and over, but not fire up. Was looking at an expensive trip to the shop so they could troubleshoot, as my handheld computer wasn’t throwing any codes.

While stopped at a gas station, I turned the key but did not yet turn fully to the start position while I wrote down my mileage. I then turned the key to start and she fired right up. I have done this every time since and she has not had a problem, going on 3 weeks now.

So the solution, in my case at least: Turn the key and let the car cycle through all of the computer “stuff” on your dash … then go ahead and turn the key and fire her up!

You have found a work around and not really solved anything . Your vehicle has a problem that is only going to get worse. You should have it taken care of before you find yourself stranded some where.


That’s step one of the “key dance” that turns the fuel pump on a few times before turning the key to Start and making the engine turn over and start.

But this discussion is about failure to turn over.