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Old 11-14-2009, 09:19 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Cold engine start

Hi all - I am looking for some help. I have a 2005 Forester automatic - I love it - purchased it last spring, after the orignial owner passed away. A great car for an old gal... I thought. The car has run like a gem and then the cold weather came here to Alberta. The car does not start in the cold. If it is a warm day or if the car has been inside not an issue. The dealership here first tried new spark plugs - said the car had been flooding - next cold day no start... then then put in a new fuel meter - again the next cold day no start. I have not had the car now for 3 weeks ... they can not seem to find the problem ... so I am at a loss.. Really need to know if anyone else has had this problem and if they found a solution. The car has 36,000 miles and Subaru America is not covering anything under the warranty ... my pocket book needs help. Any suggestions or solutions would be most appreciated. Thanks
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Old 11-14-2009, 09:31 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I see this is your first post, so welcome to the forum from Oregon!

I can't help with your problem. I don't have that problem on my '03 or '07. I'm sure other members will have an answer for you.

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Old 11-14-2009, 09:39 AM   #3 (permalink)
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How's the battery? Cold weather lowers the battery's charge, if the battery is not up to snuff maybe when cold it can't supply enough spark to start the car (?) Even if it cranks the motor, there might not be enuf juice to start it. The car's an 05, guessing it's got the original battery...have the dealer/mechanic whoever has it hook it up to a new battery on a cold day. Might do the trick.
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Old 11-14-2009, 09:41 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Hi battery is great ... all of the diagnostics say the car is great ... just won't go once its cold. thanks though for the suggestion
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Old 11-14-2009, 09:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Well if it's got good spark and fuel, and still won't start, then I'm stumped. What bothers me is that your dealer has been stumped for 3 wks. Too long. Can you find an independent shop that has a good rep w/ subaru owners? That might be your best bet. Let us know how it turns out.
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Old 11-14-2009, 10:09 AM   #6 (permalink)
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If it's got spark and fuel, then I'd start looking at some other sensors like the intake air temp sensor, MAF, or even the idle air control valve. Surprising that the dealership hasn't been able to figure this out in three weeks... maybe look at an independent shop, like Steve said.
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Old 11-14-2009, 10:41 AM   #7 (permalink)
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From reading this I get the feel of an electrical issue. A sensor malfunctioning or connection that is loosing contact when it gets cold, as things contract.

Will the car start eventually after several tries cranking it or is there no hope until it warms up?

Assuming the car cranks over just fine but wont fire, this would be my personal path of diagnosis.
- Let the car sit on a cold day that you know from history it does not start in.
- pull a spark plug wire and use a spare spark plug to check for spark(set the plug so it can ground out to the engine to complete the circuit)
- have some one else try to start it and watch for spark on that plug
- if no spark is found you now have narrowed down where to look, check for loose connection, or a cracked coil, or a bad crank/cam position sensor. Water/condensation can freeze in these and prevent them from functioning if they are damaged/faulty already.
- If there is spark I would be pulling the spark plugs to check the cylinders to see if they are loaded with fuel, if they are you can confirm it is getting fuel.

Fouling out the plugs would not be the cause as the dealer may have inferred(it is the result, not cause). With a fuel injected engine with a electric fuel pump the engine does not receive fuel until the key is turned and power is provided to the pump. Then the injectors have to be triggered(cam/crank position sensors) to allow that fuel to enter the cylinders, thus the only way to foul the plugs would be to crank the engine over with out spark.

Does it only seem to happen around the freezing point?
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Old 11-14-2009, 11:05 AM   #8 (permalink)
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If you know someone w/ a OBD2 scanner that can access sensor inputs, I would have them check things such as inlet air temp, coolant temp, mass air flow, etc. Something may be off enough to cause starting problems.

An easy way to monitor for no or weak spark is to use a strobe timing light w/ inductive pickup. If the spark generated won't flash the strobe, it's too weak. This tests the spark under compression where it's more difficult to jump the spark plug gap.

good luck
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Old 11-14-2009, 11:33 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Welcome. Cold weather...Don't know if this is relevant but on diesel cars, the fuel filter needs to be good or you wont get far if there or if is any condense in the fuel tank. It freezes.
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Old 11-14-2009, 12:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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This just an idea but what about a battery warmer or engine block heater. These are very helpful in cold climates, both of which are available from Subaru. I would see if the dealer would try this route if there is nothing wrong that they can find. I would be very firm and see if they could install them to see if it corrects the problem, and if it doesnt take them out... Like a trail sort of thing, and if they do work pay for them. Levels of service quality vary greatly from dealer to dealer. Anyone please correct me if im wrong or add to this if I'm on the right track.
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Old 11-15-2009, 01:41 PM   #11 (permalink)
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free bump
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Old 11-15-2009, 02:29 PM   #12 (permalink)
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What's the behavior of the car? Does it crank? Does it not fire, or does it fire by not stay running? Also, how cold are we talking here, below freezing? Is the check engine on?

A 2005 is a drive-by-wire system, so a lot of the behavior is computer controlled. There's no spark plug wires, it has coil packs over each spark plug. Even if one went bad, it will still run. If there were spark plug or coil pack problems, it will throw misfire engine codes before you really have problems with it starting. I've run my car with one coil pack off, and I've fouled out my plugs before, and in both cases, it didn't care about the cold, it just ran a little rougher and threw misfire codes.
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Old 11-15-2009, 02:32 PM   #13 (permalink)
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when I lived in edmonton I had problems starting my jetta b/c it had 10w40 in it, the started couldn't turn the engine over to get it going @-30, check what oil weight is in your forester

also give us some details;
does the ignition click?
headlights work?
started turning over?
trying but not running?
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Old 11-15-2009, 04:03 PM   #14 (permalink)
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This doesn't fix the problem but..........

A 100watt lightbulb in a droplight under the hood overnight will probably get you started in the morning.

Had a 1971 Caprice classic (was mint) in high school (late 70's) and when we'd get cold spells,highs in the teens,would leave the light on all night and had a hairdryer pointing at the manifold that I'd plug in when I got up.
Started every time.

Ya I know,cheesy rigging but if he NEEDS to drive it daily till it's fixed this will do it.
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Old 11-15-2009, 04:25 PM   #15 (permalink)
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^haha that's some funny solution you got there. Oh and I guess you are old. I was born in the late 70's
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