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hey guys, so I have a 2005 Forester manual 5speed that wont start in the cold. First a little info on the car, I bought it in the spring of this year in New York and replaced the steering rack a few months later. The car has 150,000 miles on it but has a second engine put in from the previous owner which he claims has 70,000 miles on it, everything looks clean under the hood. So back to the problem, on days where it's around freezing the car will crank but won't start, on days when it's below freezing the car will crank but will crank weaker. Last week it was just about freezing and the car cranked weakly but wouldn't start and then I had someone hook up some jumper cables to their car and she started up no problem. I hooked the battery up to a charger the next day after letting her sit for 24 hours and it read fully charged and then I brought it in to Canadian tire and they also said it was testing perfectly fine, the battery is a 2018 Duralast. Is the battery giving a false reading or is it something else, a sensor maybe? Not sure if this is related but on those cold days (near freezing or below) when I'm driving the car will rev up when I shift into neutral to between 3,500 to 4,500 when I'm coming to a stop and will continue to do so until I put it into first and let off the clutch a little or if I stay in neutral and slightly tap on the gas a little it will also go back down to its usual idling between 1,000 and 1,500. I've recently figured out that turning on the heat for my car will also cause it to rev up and do the same as stated before. Not sure if it's related to my starting problems but wanted to give you guys as much info as possible, thanks for the help in advance and let me know if you guys need any more info!
 

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Your battery terminals are clean, good and tight? Wires are clamped down properly? Does it look original or has someone replaced the terminals?
You may want to put a volt meter on them when it doesn't start and while it is running. It really shouldn't dip too much below 11 or so volts while starting and should immediately come up to close to 14V while running.

Not sure whether that racing of the engine is related. Let's solve one issue at a time.
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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@dan1131 take a look at this thread:

Also...
welcome to the forum from Oregon!
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Bobby...

['07 FSXT Member Journal] ['03 X Member Journal]
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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@Remco I suspect the poster has more then one issue. The neutral switch, on a MT, signals the ECM to drop to idle when shifted into neutral. A failing neutral switch could explain the posters high idle, when he shifted into neutral, while coasting.

Bobby...

['07 FSXT Member Journal] ['03 X Member Journal]
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Your battery terminals are clean, good and tight? Wires are clamped down properly? Does it look original or has someone replaced the terminals?
You may want to put a volt meter on them when it doesn't start and while it is running. It really shouldn't dip too much below 11 or so volts while starting and should immediately come up to close to 14V while running.

Not sure whether that racing of the engine is related. Let's solve one issue at a time.
sorry for the late reply, the terminals are clean although I'm not sure if they are the original. Wires look good and I hooked up my battery while cranking and it reads 11V and had it charged and still no luck. Just swapped my MAF sensor and put in new spark plugs, still won't start without a jump though.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
@Remco I suspect the poster has more then one issue. The neutral switch, on a MT, signals the ECM to drop to idle when shifted into neutral. A failing neutral switch could explain the posters high idle, when he shifted into neutral, while coasting.

Bobby...

['07 FSXT Member Journal] ['03 X Member Journal]
the neutral switch sounds like it could be my suspect for my idling issue, I need to get the car in motion before I take care of that though haha, thanks for the link for that forum though!
 
2017 2.5i Fozy CVT
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still won't start without a jump though.
I question the health of the battery. I dont think the neutral switch would care whether you are getting a jump or not...The battery seems to care, though.

How old is the battery? CCA rating?
Had it load tested?
 

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One really simple thing to try is to bridge your negative lead from the battery to a beefy part of the engine.
To alleviate confusion, take the black lead from your booster cable, tie one end to the negative, the other part to a bare piece of metal on the engine. See if it wants to start.
If not, try the same with the positive lead between the battery and the starter. Of course, be VERY CAREFUL doing that. You don't want to start welding things inadvertenty.
 

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First problem sounds like a weak battery, I would be checking the terminals and connecting cables too.

The second problem sounds very odd. The car isn't meant to rev to 4500 rpm in neutral on it's own, even when cold. The only thing I can think of is possibly you having a secondary/Auxiliary heater installed to heat up the cabin before the engine has warmed up and the high draw on the alternator causes the engine to rev up ? I've only heard of secondary heaters fitted to diesels as they take longer to warm up but seeing as the OP is in Canada, I guess secondary heaters might exist there ?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I question the health of the battery. I dont think the neutral switch would care whether you are getting a jump or not...The battery seems to care, though.

How old is the battery? CCA rating?
Had it load tested?
the battery is a 2018 Durlast, CCA rating of 500 amps and I haven't been able to load test it yet but have done some basic battery percent charges and it always reads 100% and doesnt dip below 11V while cranking it even in the cold
 

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Discussion Starter #12
First problem sounds like a weak battery, I would be checking the terminals and connecting cables too.

The second problem sounds very odd. The car isn't meant to rev to 4500 rpm in neutral on it's own, even when cold. The only thing I can think of is possibly you having a secondary/Auxiliary heater installed to heat up the cabin before the engine has warmed up and the high draw on the alternator causes the engine to rev up ? I've only heard of secondary heaters fitted to diesels as they take longer to warm up but seeing as the OP is in Canada, I guess secondary heaters might exist there ?
the car is originally from Texas so I don't think a secondary heater has been installed, the battery always reads strong on the tests and doesn't dip below 11V even while cranking in the cold, wiring and terminals seem to be good as well but I might have to take a further looking at the wiring
 

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Discussion Starter #13
One really simple thing to try is to bridge your negative lead from the battery to a beefy part of the engine.
To alleviate confusion, take the black lead from your booster cable, tie one end to the negative, the other part to a bare piece of metal on the engine. See if it wants to start.
If not, try the same with the positive lead between the battery and the starter. Of course, be VERY CAREFUL doing that. You don't want to start welding things inadvertenty.
to clarify, while trying to bridge the negative lead, the positive cable is not connected to anything in this process, only the 2 negative parts of the cable? if you had a youtube video of this process it would be helpful and thank you for your advice!
 
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The engine is grounded(should be anyway) . By jumping the negative batt post to the engine hoisting hook( and trying to start) you are ensuring it is grounded well and isn't a potential cause of your starting woes.
If no change, then you have eliminated a potential sore point..

I think your starting problem and the high idle issue are caused by different things.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The engine is grounded(should be anyway) . By jumping the negative batt post to the engine hoisting hook( and trying to start) you are ensuring it is grounded well and isn't a potential cause of your starting woes.
If no change, then you have eliminated a potential sore point..

I think your starting problem and the high idle issue are caused by different things.
I tried to bridge the negative but still no luck, my RPMs stay at 0 while I crank the engine as well
 

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still no luck, I also noticed that RPMs stay at 0 while I crank the engine, could it be a crank shaft sensor problem you think?
It could. Do you normally see the tach move when you're starting on your car?
You could pull it out and see what sort of resistance it measures. I believe it should be around 2K (I'll check).

Edit; 1 - 4KOhms.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
It could. Do you normally see the tach move when you're starting on your car?
You could pull it out and see what sort of resistance it measures. I believe it should be around 2K (I'll check).

Edit; 1 - 4KOhms.
I dont think the RPMs ever moved while cranking even when the weather was warmer and the car would start up by herself
 

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I dont think the RPMs ever moved while cranking even when the weather was warmer and the car would start up by herself
Ok, so that tach moving or not moving means nothing. On newer cars, the tach is really just a readout that listens to whatever the ECM sends it. On older cars the tach was actually hooked into the crank sensor or some derivative thereof.

Does your car eventually start, if you're persistent?

I ask because we had an impreza that got into this weird mode where wouldn't start for exactly 10 times.
In other words, you'd briefly crank, let go of the key, briefly crank, let go and do that ten times. It would then start like nothing happened.
It ended up being the engine coolant sensor. That car had two, one for the dash, one for the ECM. The ECM would see the wrong temperature, set the wrong fuel/air mixture and not start. After the magic start attempts of 10, the ECM would go into limp mode and start just fine.
Please don't go swapping that sensor. I'm just asking the question as to whether that happens to you.


Edit: I had to re-read your original post again to re-familiarize myself. Weak cranking really points to a bad battery. If you can get it started with a boost and your car charges fine while driving, it more or less excludes bad leads,bad starter, etc.
The running strangely can be explained because your battery died; if the battery goes dead, the ECM requires it 'learns' your sensors, etc. It usually runs like crap for a while until it learns what state your sensors are.

Would you have a good secondary battery from some other car you can swap in to see whether this problem travels?

Batteries lose a fair bit of their ability to deliver current when it is cold. So it could very well be that, when you drove it to the place to get it tested, the battery was warm - no not quite the condition of it being left outside overnight.
Also, how is your oil? You are using the recommended viscosity, right? If the oil is thicker than it should be, a car can become a lot harder to start in cold weather.
 
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