Sitting Subaru

My 93 subaru has been sitting in my driveway for about 2 months waiting patiently for my husband to put in a new starter. I am worried about it sitting for so long without being started. Also, now that it is getting cold here in Oregon and will possibly snow this weekend my worry is that the fluids will freeze and once the starter is put in (supposedly soon) there will be some terrible consequence. So, are my worries in vain? Also, are there any steps we can take to ensure overall health of the car once it’s able to start?

Two months is not long enough to worry. The only likely time related issue is going to be the battery. That may be charged in or out of the car with an inexpensive charger or even a battery tender (trickle charger) Storing a car for a year or even two is seldom a real problem.

That said, why is it taking so long to get the starter repaired?

“my worry is that the fluids will freeze”

Doesn’t the car’s cooling system have antifreeze (also known as coolant) in it?
Modern cars have cooling systems that are designed to work with coolant/antifreeze year-round in order to prevent both overheating and freeze-up. Using just water is NOT a good idea, and it is doubtful that your car had been running with just water in the cooling system.

While this won’t tell you the actual amount of freeze-up protection that is present, simply looking at the fluid in the radiator and the coolant overflow tank should be instructive. If the fluid looks greenish or reddish, it most likely contains coolant/antifreeze–even if you don’t know the actual concentration. If it looks like…water…then it probably is. In this day and age, I really doubt if your car has plain water in the cooling system–but only you as the owner can confirm this, either through maintenance records or a visual inspection.

If you want to know the actual amount of freeze-up protection that is present, you can buy a simple little tool at any auto parts store.

As to the windshield washer fluid, if you have any question about that fluid, you can simply extract it with a turkey baster. And, be sure to leave the baster in the garage with other tools afterward, rather than bringing it back to the kitchen!

I’m curious about the symptoms that led to a bad starter diagnosis as starter motor failure on a Subaru is practically unheard of.

If it’s a matter of the starter motor not engaging the engine or no click sound, etc. then maybe the problem is in the safety switch.

Thanks to you all for your thoughts and advice. Yes, it is a 1993 so it does have a cooling system. However, I was under the impression that the car must be started once in a while to cycle the fluids throughout, but I realize that my ignorance of cars is vast. So, I appreciate the input as it does ease my mind. I did, though, discover today that the coolant/antifreeze resevoir is empty and I’m not sure when that happened as it was filled the last time we had the oil changed pretty recently.
As far as the diagnosis is concerned, my husband is not 100% sure that it is the starter. Which is probably partly why it is taking so long to put one in. It doesn’t seem to make the clicking sound. He replaced the battery and the battery cables to no avail. It sort of seemed like the next step to a non-mechanic. I am very appreciative of the suggestion of the safety switch and have passed that along. I read that it could even just be dirty or have oil in it that may cause this problem. Is that true? And it seems relatively easy to find.

“Yes, it is a 1993 so it does have a cooling system”

Meg–I want to respectfully suggest that you read my earlier advice more carefully.
ALL cars (except for old air-cooled VWs, Corvairs, and a few other makes) have the type of cooling system that your car has. My point was that your cooling system must be filled with antifreeze/coolant in the correct proportion in order to prevent freeze-up of the cooling system as well as to prevent overheating.

If the reservoir was previously filled and is now empty, I strongly suggest that you open the radiator cap and fill the radiator to the top with pre-mixed antifreeze/coolant. After starting and running the engine, the coolant/antifreeze will expand and some will flow into the overflow reservoir. At that point, after everythng has cooled down, you will need to again fill the radiator to the top with antifreeze/coolant. (Never attempt to open a radiator cap unless the radiator is cold)

Then, check again in a day or so to see if the level has dropped again. There is a strong likelihood that there is a leak (probably in a hose) somewhere in the cooling system.

A no-click sound can often point to a faulty neutral safety switch. Does this car have an automatic transmission?
If so, try shifting into NEUTRAL to see if it will start. If so, bad neutral switch.

If the no-start still exists then have your husband run a small jumper wire from the battery positive terminal to the small wire terminal on the starter motor. The starter should engage and turn the engine over. Make sure the transmission is in PARK or NEUTRAL. (This is to verify the possibility of a neutral switch being bad in more than one position.)

For what it’s worth, I worked for Subaru a long time and vaguely remember replacing one starter motor the entire time. My memory is very very hazy but I seem to remember the reason for replacing even that starter was because the car had been in deep water and things were not dried out as much as the owner thought.
The parts department had starter motors on the shelf that did nothing but collect dust for years so I would make sure before spending money on a part that may not be needed.

Thanks again VDCdriver. We did fill with antifreeze today. We tried jumping it afterwards, but it still wouldn’t start. Since the hood was up and I was standing next to it while my husband tried starting it, I did hear the starter click. In the past, I’ve always been able to hear this clicking from inside the car. I don’t know why I couldn’t this time.
OK4450, the transmission is manual. We didn’t have time to check for the safety switch today. Tomorrow we will try the jumper wire to the started as you suggest if you still think this a possibility since I heard the starter click. Any further thoughts or advice? Thanks again!

A starter solenoid click sound and no starter operation can very well point to a bad starter with a few IFs involved. Those would be:
IF the battery is known good.
IF all of the battery cable ends (both at the battery and at their destination points) are known to be clean.]
IF the correct voltage is applied to the starter solenoid and there is not a severe voltage drop at the solenoid because of a poor electrical connection in the ignition switch, a fusible link end, etc, etc.
And the most important one of all; IF that click you hear is actually the starter solenoid and not an underhood relay clicking due to being energized by turning the key on.

Maybe this is a case of starter motor failure but it would be more of a fluke than anything else.