Trouble Starting

I have a 2004 Subaru Forester with 117,000 miles. Sometimes the car has trouble starting and feels like I have to ‘reve’ the engine or it will die. Sometimes will stall out within 1/4 of starting, usually upon coming to a stoplight or stop sign. I replaced the battery at 110,000 miles. At 114,000 miles, I had the fuel injector flushed, the throttle cleaned, and replaced the spark plugs and spark plug wires. The starting and stalling problems are symptoms that we had prior to the 114,000 mile work. Our dealer told us that he can’t find any problems, but we should try switching to a higher octane gas to prevent these problems. Is he right or just lazy?


Does the check engine light come on, or does the computer save any trouble codes?

Holy cow. A higher octane gas? They should be ashamed of themselves. You should feel insulted. Nothing about the octane of the gasoline will do a thing. So I’ll add some other choices: stupid? deceitful?

Based on the fact that the dealer has apparently looked at it, I’ll assume there is no check engine light?

These are classic symptoms of a problem with the idle air control (IAC) valve. But I’d suggest you not use this dealer - or any dealer at all. Find a good, local, independent shop. Tell them what is happening. If they also claim to find no problems ask them to give the IAC valve a good cleaning. Its generally quite easy and wouldn’t cost a lot.

Higher octane gas? Sounds like a service adviser to me. In other words, it’s a bunch of baloney. Despite the title, do not take advice from that character. Cigroller has some excellent suggestions for you and I believe is spot on with the suggestion to clean up the idle air control valve.

I agree that the Idle Air Control valve (IAC) is the first thing to focus on.
And, I also agree that the person at the dealership who gave that bogus advice on gasoline was undoubtedly a “service advisor”, not a mechanic or even the service manager.

Most of those service advisors know VERY little about cars and whatever they tell you regarding diagnoses and recommended fixes should be confirmed with a real mechanic. Taking automotive advice from a service advisor is like allowing the receptionist at a doctor’s office to diagnose and treat you. Just as the receptionist is there for a clerical function, so is the service advisor.