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96 Subaru Legacy died

Hey everyone,

I own a 1996 Subaru Legacy (2.2L), and when I was almost home, my car died. I was going about 30 mph, and without any warning, I lost power to my headlights, my gauges, my power steering - everything. I lost all power to my car. When trying to start it again, nothing happens when I turn the key - no lights, no fuel pump…nothing. It has to be something electrical (obviously), but I would like to know what it is before I send it off to the mechanic. Any ideas?

The reason to take it to a good mechanic is to FIND THE PROBLEM. Based on what you tell us you obviously have a major electrical failure, but it could be just a loose battery cable that fell off. We cannot tell from here.

Your alternator stopped charging your battery…and then you ran till the battery had no more power to sustain the system. When an alternator is working properly…you can remove the battery all together…but do not do this. The car will run with its alternator alone when it is functioning.

Take off the battery cables under the hood…Charge your battery and test battery with meter. Do not hook cables back up till you replace the alternator as it could be shorted internally and drain the battery or worse.

But its your alternator…I can see it from over here…


I agree with Honda Blackbird, as the exact same thing took place with my '97 Subaru.
It seems that Subaru had a run of defective alternators from a supplier, back in '96 & '97, and as a result, Subaru of America replaced my alternator–gratis–despite the fact that the warranty was long expired by the time that the alternator bit the dust.

Unfortunately, It is probably too late for SOA to pay for the alternator to be replaced on this 20 year old car.

It could also be something as simple as a corroded battery cable end finally losing contact due to heat or an aged fusible link surrendering its life due to years of high current draw.
Just off the cuff, I don’t see this problem as a major one and it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to sort it out.

That’s it. The alternator on ur 20yr old car is defective. Blame it on Subaru.

I just replaced the alternator last summer. I also changed the starter last spring. I think I’ll just have it towed to the mechanic shop.

Last summer, I knew my alternator went bad when I would charge my battery and go to town. On my way back my car would gradually lose power, until it was completely dead. So I changed the alternator - problem solved.

The only thing with this time around, there was no gradual dying of my car. It completely died when I was driving down the road.

I am going to guess that a ground strap or battery cable corroded and finally disintegrated. Your best bet is get it to the mechanic. Lots of things corrode on a 20 year old car.

First check for voltage at the battery posts and make sure that is okay. Next, you should at least remove the battery cables and clean the battery posts and the connections. There is a smaller wire that ties to the positive battery post along with the main cable to the starter. The smaller wire supplies power to the power distribution panel under the hood, which supplies power to the whole car. There is a main fuse inside the panel (80 amp) that should have power going to it from the small lead to the battery. Make sure power is good that point and the fuse is making good connection. Check the nuts on each side of the fuse and make sure they are tight.

Dont put too too much faith in a new probably “reman” part. I know its counter intuitive but thats the sad truth… By all means TEST… When we make recommendations I always think of them as ideas as to what to look into…not the definitive answer…so look into it. I cannot give many definitive answers from my keyboard…Onsite…different story.

I promise you…your symptom is reeking of the Alternator…and or its connections to the battery…Hell even ground. But from over here…Im looking squarely at your Alternator which then begets connections and fuseable links like OK44 mentioned. Do not underestimate the Ground or negative cable as well. I know the Red Cable gets all the attention and media coverage…but Pos and Neg are inextricably linked to each other…one no more important than the other…the Dynamic Duo under the Hood.