Electrical issues / won't jump

Hello all,

I have a 2008 Subaru hatchback with some odd electrical issues. A few months back the battery died (the car hadn’t been used for some weeks at the time.) There was a fair bit of corrosion on the terminals, but after replacing the battery everything worked fine for the next month or two.

Then, at some point while I was driving around the city, the dashboard lights started flickering before coming back on, radio reset, etc. It recovered and drove fine for an hour. After parking, I hit the fob lock button and heard the chirp begin but die mid-sound, at which point the car had no power. I jiggled the battery cables & terminals, and it started right back up again. A similar thing happened the next day, down to it dying mid-chirp (after a quick test to see if it would start.) Again I checked the cables and the electrical system came back to life, but even with the return of power the car would no longer start.

Two attempts to jump start it have failed as well. The battery seems to be draining, in that initially you could hear the starter ticking with no turnover, lock the doors, etc., but now we’re back to no power at all again. There is still a bit of corrosion building up on the terminals also.

It seems like there must be a pretty obvious explanation but I haven’t been able to find it in my searching yet. Any ideas before I have it brought to the shop?


So much to unpack here.

  1. Go to a shop or find a friend with a Volt meter and measure the voltage at the battery. Should see at least 12.6 volts

  2. If you can get the car to run have the person with the voltmeter check the voltage at the battery with the car running. Should see 13-14.4 volts

  3. Thoroughly clean both of your battery terminals and clean the battery clamps. Look at the wires that attach to the clamps as well.

Your description definitely points to connection issues, maybe a bad ground, loose or dirty battery terminals, bad ground or power wires, could be a failed alternator or could just be that your connections are bad and preventing the alternator from properly charging the battery.


Yes the above. There could also be corrosion or a bad crimp in the thick cables to the battery. Wrestling them around a bit while observing headlights or a volt or ohm meter could disclose this.


Remove both terminals and seat them properly.The clamps should seat at the bottom of the battery posts.Make sure they are on tight.Also,make sure the battery is secured to the chassis because I have seen a lot of loose battery in my lifetime.


Well I had thought for sure it must have been something beyond the connection issues, but once again the instincts of everyone here were spot on. Voltage looks good and once I gave everything a good cleaning with baking soda mixture & applied new grease, it started right up. Bravo and thank you VTMongo, shanonia, & COROLLAGUY1… this was a huge help. Thanks for sparing me the embarrassment of bringing the car in just to have the terminals cleaned & reseated!