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2014 Forester XT
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38 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I fought with this one for awhile.. just got progressively worse. I was worried the car would not start with winter coming.

Long story short, I went through most of the issues in the form here; good maintenance anyway, but: - alternator, battery, timing, plugs, ignition, fuel, filters - you name it. The car had no codes.

I found the problem somewhat by accident when I gave the otherwise-looked-ok main ground cable a good tug and it tore apart in my hands, at the connector. It had completely rotted through in a way I have not seen with copper cables before; usually there's lots of green nastiness; this just turned into brown sludge. The end where it mounts to the transmission/rear block area was to blame; the battery area looked completely mint.

I replaced the ground cable with a 4G heavy duty piece, and redid the starter supply cable while I was at it.

Presto chango, the car starts like new now - total fix, maybe $30 and two or three hours to make up and change the cables. You can get pre-made ones at Walmart.

I haven't seen it in block letters here, so:

CHECK THE GROUND AND STARTER SUPPLY CABLES IF YOU HAVE SLOW START ISSUES.

I would replace them as a matter of fact anyway - after what I saw, particularly if your car is in a winter climate.
 

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2014 Forester XT
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38 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wanted to post an update to this - as soon as it got cold, the issue came back. Long cranking and big current draw off the battery pointed to solenoid or starter again.

I replaced the starter motor and solenoid assembly with new. The car starts instantly - an I mean instantly - even in -20 weather.

Post mortem look at the solenoid revealed badly toasted internals. My guess is the failing ground cable lead to longer cranking which lead to higher internal currents and stress, ultimately causing decay of the solenoid and starter.

If you have a vintage Forester with a long, lugging cranking cycle, I highly recommend a new starter. It cost me $160 and about an hour of work after taxes and the core return.

And replace the ground and supply cables with something meatier. I checked when I did the starter and I replaced with 2G, not 4G cables, but both were much higher quality than OEM.

I suspect this is the root cause of a lot of issues. The long cranking was drawing down the new battery, and putting stress on my new alternator.
 

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2000 Impreza, 2003 Bugeye Sport, 2010 Base, 2014 Base, 2015 Premium, 2017 Limited, 2020 Touring
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1,020 Posts
Glad to hear you traced down the issue and were able to fix it, and taking the time to post a follow up. Happy New Year.
 
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