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She Just Won't Start

Hi all!

I have a '07 Subaru Outback 2.5 automatic with 221,000 miles on it. She has been doing well up until recently. I can’t get her to start up. If I get a jump she fires up fine and will continue to run until I shut her off. When I attempt to start her, the lights (warning) , radio, clock and a/c all come on. But she won’t turn over. You can hear her straining to. I have replaced the battery and am still having the same problem I had with the old battery. Any idea what is going on? Is something draining the battery? I have shut everything off that I can think of. Thank you for any and all help!

I’d get the new battery checked, it might be defective. I’d also make sure the battery is fully charged, perhaps you can put a charger on it overnight or enough time to reach a full charge.

Your battery cables could be corroded at the ends or internally corroded (where you can’t see). But the fact that a jump gets you going points to a weak or bad battery.

If the battery is good but not fully charged you need to check the alternator to make sure it is putting out a good charging current. If the alternator and battery both check out OK, perhaps you drive primarily only a few short trips a week. Then your car needs a nice long 1 hour trip somewhere to give the alternator time to get the battery up to a full charge.

I do have another question on this. If something is draining the battery, could it be from a broken window button?

As for the battery I had the old one tested and they said it was showing the proper amp when it was off and on. When they replaced the battery it started right back up without a jump and ran fine for a few days. Then the car died again.

I do make a lot of small trips around town mostly. So that is amazing that you would point that out.

Thank you so much Uncle Turbo. You have given me a little more peace of mind. As a women going to an auto shop is always stressful. They always try to sell me everything under the sun, so with the information you have given me I can at least have a better idea if they are trying to ‘pull’ one over on me.

Thanks!

I have a car that will not start, even with a good battery, after it has been sitting for 4 weeks without driving it. This car simply draws a small amount of electricity from the battery even as it just sits. A lot of cars are like this now, this keeps all the electronics and memory in the computer(s) active. I have a jumper box so it is no big deal, and sometimes I put a charger on the battery to keep it charged.

A battery that is kept in a low state of charge for a long time will shorten the life of the battery. Do you park your car in a garage and is an electrical outlet nearby? If yes, you might consider buying a small “battery tender” type of charger. Another option is to buy a jumper box since getting a jump seems to work. They are not that hard to use, but make sure you know the + and - side of the battery and how to hook it up properly.

A 5 to 10 min. trip to a store will not recharge the battery. So, if this is how you drive mostly the battery can be slowly losing power. A 30 min. to 1 hour trip once a month is all you need to keep the battery charged if the charging system is working properly. If such a trip isn’t part of your routine now, either see if you can work in such a monthly trip or get a charger and/or jump start box just in case.

"If I get a jump she fires up fine and will continue to run until I shut her off. "

Does it never start back up, even if it has been running for - say - 30 seconds or so?
Are there any dash lights on, like the Alt/batt light when it does run?

When you do get it to run, perhaps hook a volt meter across the battery and see what voltage it reads. You can get a cheap multimeter from HarborFreight, set it to read DC volts and hook both terminals acorss the battery.
It is supposed to be 14.4 volts or so. If you don’t see that, there’s a good chance your alternator has a problem.

Remcow & UncleTurbo,

When I have gotten a jump and let it run for a while or drive it around the block she is fine. But the next morning when I went to start her up she wouldn’t start again.

All the lights come on when I try to start her but when I get her started none of the lights stay on at all.

I did invest in a multimeter and a charger tonight. The volts/amps read the numbers they should when it was off and on. I have it on a slow charger tonight. So I guess at this point it is a waiting game till tomorrow.

I am debating whether I should take a longer drive tomorrow if she does start up or if I should give it a few days first? Any suggestions would be appreciated of course.

Thank you UncleTurbo & Remcow :slight_smile:

Sorry to jump in here, if the car is not turning I would start with a voltage drop test on the starter (aa1car.com/library/voltage_drop_testing.htm). If the car turns but will not start, check for basics (fuel, and spark). Other than a bad starter, wires, or grounds for the high amperage side there is not too much to go. On the control side, you will have the starter relay, daytime control module, inhibitor switch and ecm, (these can be loosing command signal when cold starting - sitting overnight or “misbehaving” when cold) so be careful and do not play replacing parts or it will cost you. Please post your results. Thank you.

Lets break this down. Starts fine with a jump, won’t start with new battery. OK we have a connection problem, where did you put the black cable? If you grounded it to the engine as you should it would indicate a bad battery to ground connection.

I think an important clue here is that when a new battery was installed, the car started with no problem. No jump required. Then a few days later the no-start problem returned. This is consistent with either an alternator problem (not charging the battery properly) or a phantom current drain (something draining the battery even when the car is “off”.) Both of these are simple enough for an auto-electric mechanic to prove or disprove without much time needed. Many big box auto stores will test your alternator for you for free. You’ll probably have to pay for the phantom current drain check, but it only takes about 15 minutes to do, so probably won’t cost much.

One more thing. In an 07, it wouldn’t be unusual for a problem to develop with the starter motor selenoid. They can get a bad spot. Sometimes they work, and the next time they don’t. Again, a mechanic can prove or disprove this as a cause without much time involved.

Hi all!

Wanted to give you an update. After charging my battery for about 12 hours last night (per instructions). I installed it this morning and let it fun for a few minutes before going on some errands I needed to get done. It took me about 1-1-/2 to get everything done, and had no problem restarting the car at any time. The true test, will be later tonight and tomorrow morning, as that is usually when it will not start up again. There were no ‘warning’ lights that came on, and everything seems to be working normally.

I did forget to mention one thing earlier. My radio doesn’t always come on when I turn it on. Not sure if that is a sign/indication of anything. It was working when I started up the car this morning, but when I got in my car later on to come home it was on but nothing was coming out of it. It has been doing that off and on for about a month now.

I have also contacted my Subaru dealer and am thinking (depending on what tomorrow holds) of taking it down to them to take a look at it.

Thanks for all the tips…really appreciate it.

I will of course update you all as things progress.