98 Subaru Outback Flooded Engine


I had to tow my good old subaru that I fixed up(rebuilt engine myself, even though I don’t know the first thing about fixing a car!) the other day when it wouldn’t start. I had driven it the day before, left it sit over night, and then went to start it the next morning, with no luck. (I cranked it 5-10 times for 10ish seconds when it wasn’t starting).

Had the shop look at it and they said it had fuel flooded. They’re trying to blame the ignition wires, and/or the battery being bad.

I think this is BOOOOOGUS.

What do some of you more car wisdom than I think…Can a low enough battery keep me from getting spark, but still allow me to turn over the engine enough to flood it?

I’m thinking the wires are still good, since I never noticed rough running (like I was missing spark on one cylinder, or loosing it) or trouble starting up to this point. Also, wouldn’t it require all 4 wires to not be working for it to not start at all? Or if 1-2 of them didn’t have spark, would that be enough? (I realize it might shut off/run really really rough right away).

To me it seems more likely an injector is bad, since it didn’t start the very first time in the morning, after running with no other issues for the last 8 months. I also suspect an injector because the last 2-3 tanks of gas, I noticed my MPG had decreased from 24 to 16-18. (A pretty big drop!)

Thanks for any help,



Yes, a low battery can turn the engine over and not have enough additional juice to get a good spark. It happens all the time. Checking the battery is never a bad place to start the search for the problem. It’s probably not your problem this time however since you’r gas mileage has been dropping.

when you did the rebuild, I assume you put new wires, distributor cap, and rotor? How long ago was that?

Have you checked the fuel pump pressure?


I didn’t change out the wires/cap/roter, but mostly because the wires were still in good shape and ohmed out to spec. Plus they are pretty easy to get at and replace.

Not sure if they checked the fuel pump pressure, but I’ll ask that tomorrow when I go to talk with the shop.


I very much doubt that the ignition was affected by a low battery. If you had enough power to run the starter then there should be enough power to run the ignition system.

You could be right about a injector having a problem. There may also be a problem with the fuel pressure regulator. I would check the coolent temperature sensor for the ECU to make sure it is working ok. Something isn’t working as it should be.


Wellll, yes low voltage can effect the ignition system because the car’s computer requires a certain amount of voltage to operate. I’ve seen many instances where a dragging worn out starter has caused this very problem. No reason why a marginal battery couldn’t as well, however a marginal battery is quite easy to check given the proper equipment.