Click, click but no crank



I have a 1997 Subaru Outback that won’t start. The solenoid seems to energize (I can hear the clicking), but the starter won’t engage. This only happens in warm to hot weather. If I let the car cool down an hour or two, it will start. If I try to start it right after turning it off, it starts right away. I have had this problem several summers in a row. It never fails at the dealer or at any other repair shop. By the time it is towed, it works fine.

In 2004 the dealer said it must be the battery terminals. They cleaned them and I had no more problems that summer.

In 2005 the dealer said it must be the starter’s brushes. They replaced them and I had no more problems.

In 2006, it was the battery and or cables. Both were replaced.

In 2007, I am trying to give the car away and the recipient has had it fail several times. We took it to a non-dealer repair shop and they replaced the starter. Twice. It still fails.

Does anyone have any ideas?


Has the mechanic had a chance to check it when it is failing? Does it do it all the time or just on occasion?


Unfortunately, it has never failed with a mechanic around (not counting the guy that will tow, but not fix it from the AAA).

Recently I actually talked the local mechanic to come out to where it was sitting dead and he connected something to the battery and had a voltmeter probe in his hand to touch to the solenoid connection ready to test things, but it started right up.

It seems to have a repairman proximity detector.


Look at where the starter is located. Is it really close to the engine block or exhaust parts? I had a VW Rabbit with Bosch starter that did this only when hot. Get either some hood insulation material against a sheet of flexible aluminum (not foil) placed between the starter and any hot parts. Cut pieces of coat-hangar or simillar wire to attach it securely. This should resolve the problem.

Also check appropriate websites to find out if there is a recall or service bulletin on your car.


I’m having a similar starter problem with my Suburu Legacy–though usually, after several clicks, I can get it to start. Can you give me the name of the appropriate website so I can check to see if there are any recalls?