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2003 Forester
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've never heard of this before, so I'm hoping y'all can help me. I've got a 2003 Subaru Forester that I've had about 6 months, and it's worked perfectly until tonight.
The other day my battery was dead (left the dome light on), so I got a jump from my neighbor and drove it around 'til it was idling right. Came home, parked it, and left it there for a few days. It snowed, and has been really cold (like 5 degrees at night).
Tonight I tried to start it, and the battery was low again (car had power but wouldn't start), so jumped it again, and noticed it was running really rough. The muffler was also SUPER loud.
We were giving it gas so it wouldn't die when we noticed black smoke coming out of the exhaust, and then saw that the muffler was glowing bright red all along it, all the way up under the engine. We freaked out and turned it off...HELP! Anyone heard of this?
 

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2004 Forester 4EAT
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5,471 Posts
Sounds like an exhaust clog of some kind. I would first point to the cat. I don't think it has anything to due with your battery. option 2. For some reason the fuel pump dumped gas into the exhaust, then it burned off when you got it running.
 

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02 Forester L (sold) Manual
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1,220 Posts
Black smoke = too much fuel. Muffler should NEVER glow red...that's way too hot. I actually think you're looking at the catalytic converter...still shouldn't be glowing red = very bad. I would not drive it. Perhaps a critter has built a nest in your exhaust, or the converter is clogged (would have no power), or you have a horribly rich fuel issue. No Check Engine light?
 

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2005 Impreza RS Wagon Auto
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3,658 Posts
Black smoke = too much fuel. Muffler should NEVER glow red...that's way too hot. I actually think you're looking at the catalytic converter...still shouldn't be glowing red = very bad. I would not drive it. Perhaps a critter has built a nest in your exhaust, or the converter is clogged (would have no power), or you have a horribly rich fuel issue. No Check Engine light?
This, I believe your CatCon is dead. Assume the position when you get the price for a new one...
 

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Premium Member
2008 XS 4EAT
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9,824 Posts
First welcome to the forum, and we hope we can offer some solutions to your problems and please let us know when they are and how they get solved.

I'll go out on a limb and offer this suggestion. I'm not a fan of the jump start/drive it around way of things. My suggestion is disconnect and take the battery out, if you have someone with a battery charger put it on for more than a couple of hours, if it is a low amp charger it takes longer than a few hours or get it checked out at your local auto parts store.

I'll put it out there for the other members, but with that dead of a battery, would the ECU/ECM unit funtion properly?

With either a fully charged or new battery reconnect the battery, you will be essentially be resetting your ECU/ECM unit and see how and if the car starts and runs. Now you will want to pay close attention to the exhaust and if it is heating/glowing shut it down and realize the advice given before me is possibly the case, and as Real Lyte advised assume the .... If the car seems to run okay take it easy as the ECM/ECU relearns your driving habits.

I don't have any experience with cat failure, but as mentioned before, has the Check Engine light ever come on before?

Good Luck
 

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2003 Forester
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2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for all the help...check engine light has never been on, and could a critter have nested in there so quick? Anyway, this morning it is quite a bit warmer out 35 ish I went out to just see if it would start. It fired up no problem, sounded normal and i let it warm up for a while and no glowing anything. Is it possible ice could have clogged something? Or as I was trying to start it I was giving it way to much gas?...Thanks again for the help.
 

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Registered
2009 Forester (MT)
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226 Posts
First welcome to the forum, and we hope we can offer some solutions to your problems and please let us know when they are and how they get solved.

I'll go out on a limb and offer this suggestion. I'm not a fan of the jump start/drive it around way of things. My suggestion is disconnect and take the battery out, if you have someone with a battery charger put it on for more than a couple of hours, if it is a low amp charger it takes longer than a few hours or get it checked out at your local auto parts store.

I'll put it out there for the other members, but with that dead of a battery, would the ECU/ECM unit funtion properly?

With either a fully charged or new battery reconnect the battery, you will be essentially be resetting your ECU/ECM unit and see how and if the car starts and runs. Now you will want to pay close attention to the exhaust and if it is heating/glowing shut it down and realize the advice given before me is possibly the case, and as Real Lyte advised assume the .... If the car seems to run okay take it easy as the ECM/ECU relearns your driving habits.

I don't have any experience with cat failure, but as mentioned before, has the Check Engine light ever come on before?

Good Luck
I agree with you about jump starts. It's not a good idea to jump-start a vehicle or to charge the battery while connected to the automobile. The best way to do this is by charging the battery while it's disconnected from the vehicle, or by connecting another fully-charged battery in parallel to the automobile battery.

Something else that it's easy to forget when jump starting a vehicle: the remote starter (if one used). This device should be turned OFF prior to jump-starting the vehicle, and the power switch to most is somewhere near the steering column (somewhere ahead of one's knees at the driver's side of the car).
 

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2005 Impreza RS Wagon Auto
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3,658 Posts
Thanks for all the help...check engine light has never been on, and could a critter have nested in there so quick? Anyway, this morning it is quite a bit warmer out 35 ish I went out to just see if it would start. It fired up no problem, sounded normal and i let it warm up for a while and no glowing anything. Is it possible ice could have clogged something? Or as I was trying to start it I was giving it way to much gas?...Thanks again for the help.
In almost all cases where the catcon was glowing under load in my experience it is toast, I am surprised it has not triggered any codes though. The reason this usually happens is running rich for too long which will deteriorate the catcon internals and cause them to narrow air passages.
 

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02 Forester L (sold) Manual
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1,220 Posts
Here's a theory...in his attempts to start it he may have flooded the engine, dumping a lot of unburnt fuel into the cat. When it did finally fire, the fuel within burned, causing the barbecue ember glow. Why the secondary O2 sensor wouldn't have triggered a P0420 code is anyone's guess.
 
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