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2005 forester fx automatic
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 2005 Forester is starting to have problems starting when it's been sitting for a while in very rainy or damp weather. If I open the hood and let the sun hit it, it starts up. I had the wires changed about a year ago. I'm considering changing the coil pack (looks like an easy job?), but was wondering if there's anything else it might be?
 

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2012 XT Touring 4EAT
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My 2005 Forester is starting to have problems starting when it's been sitting for a while in very rainy or damp weather. If I open the hood and let the sun hit it, it starts up. I had the wires changed about a year ago. I'm considering changing the coil pack (looks like an easy job?), but was wondering if there's anything else it might be?
A good place to start is bad grounding. Clean both battery posts and cables. Look around the vehicle and engine for grounding points. Remove each one you find, clean and re-install. There are a bunch of grounding points so be patient and methodical. As you encounter electrical connectors, unplug them and re-plug them a few times - clears out the cobwebs.

If you have a low-power battery charger, put it on the battery and let it charge overnight.

Hard starts could also be a fuel issue / fuel pump issue. Check power and ground to the fuel pump - unplug and re-plug the connector a few times. You might also run some kind of fuel system cleaner through the tank (Sea Foam is popular).

You have already guessed that hard starts are related to your ignition system. Check the high tension wires carefully. For a 2005, the wires are due for a change. You indicated that this has been done. But if the wires you used are 'brand x', you might replace them again. Get an OEM wire set or a set from NGK. Also, check that the wires plug into the coil pack fully and the boots seat correctly on the coil pack. When I had an 05 X, one of the wires was absolute hell to get onto the coil pack correctly.

While your at it, you might check / change the plugs. Your vehicle has a so-called 'wasted spark' system - NGK makes a 'dual platinum' plug that works nicely with this system. Finally, check your coil pack for connection - both low and high voltage connections. If you remove it from the vehicle, inspect it for tracking or high voltage breakdown. Coil packs are usually reliable, but they have been known to fail. Yes, removing or changing the coil pack is not too hard.

Still on a possible electrical / ignition issue, you might try this. Get a garden hose with a nozzle set to fine mist. Go out at night (when it's dark) and raise the hood, start your vehicle. After it's running and warmed up, spray the engine with the fine water mist. A well ordered out engine should not be affected by the mist. If you have bad ignition wires or sparking coil or poltergeists the results can be quite dramatic.
 

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2005 forester 2.5 xt manual
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starting problems

I have the same dam problem. Only difference is that it's been draging for a few years now. It usually happen's when the weather is at high humidex, but it doen't matter if it's a cold start or if the car is warm. I can stop for gas after a 2 hour drive on the highway, and the car has trouble starting! I brought my car to different Subaru garage and independent garages, but the problem is intermittent and doesn't happen while in the hands of a mechanic. actually, the car just seems to be reving below 1000 rpm before dying off and having trouble restarting for few minutes, just as if it was drowned. The car just doesn't take it's gas for a few seconds during starting. Anyway, to date they changed the plugs, checked the ignition wires and everything is fine to the say of the mechanic. I heard about the coil, but it seems it's expensive just for a trial... I signed up to this forum hoping somebody can help!
 

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2012 XT Touring 4EAT
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3,751 Posts
I have the same dam problem. Only difference is that it's been draging for a few years now. It usually happen's when the weather is at high humidex, but it doen't matter if it's a cold start or if the car is warm. I can stop for gas after a 2 hour drive on the highway, and the car has trouble starting! I brought my car to different Subaru garage and independent garages, but the problem is intermittent and doesn't happen while in the hands of a mechanic. actually, the car just seems to be reving below 1000 rpm before dying off and having trouble restarting for few minutes, just as if it was drowned. The car just doesn't take it's gas for a few seconds during starting. Anyway, to date they changed the plugs, checked the ignition wires and everything is fine to the say of the mechanic. I heard about the coil, but it seems it's expensive just for a trial... I signed up to this forum hoping somebody can help!
It's possible that your situation is related to that of the OP. Every vehicle is a giant collection of bad connections and potential clogs. And the connections keep getting worse over time. Dampness - hot or cold - aggravates the problems. Fuel system problems are also a possibility.

The cure is attention to details - making sure every connection is as good as it can be. Check and re-check ground connections. High tension wires can be a problem - both quality-wise and due to age deterioration. Cheap spark plug cables are no bargain. On my first Forester (used vehicle but new to me) one of the spark plugs could be unscrewed by hand (and I drove it about 600 miles in this condition). The coil pack on that vehicle absolutely refused to accept one of the spark plug wires.

Quality control was big issue in the 'old days' of distributor caps. I recall one replacement cap I bought that looked perfect - looked just like the OEM item - but the vehicle ran like crap. Finally, in desperation, I did the water-mist test one night - the distributor cap lit up like a fire-works display. So, do a water-mist test on your vehicle. If the water-mist doesn't faze the vehicle, then your high tension wiring is probably okay, so you can look at other areas. Otherwise . . .

Gone are distributor caps (does anybody miss them?) but coil packs are worth watching. Another potential problem is that high tension wiring is very close to other engine parts, so marginal insulation can cause all sorts of mischief. Subarus are well designed, but for the user the key is attention to detail - constant vigilance.

Look at it this way: things could be worse. You could have a Lucas ignition system or Lucas wiring harness.
 

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2005 forester fx automatic
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, I decided to replace the coil pack. Found one for $129 at my local auto supply. You really have to call around for prices - some places wanted $249!
Piece of cake to replace. So far so good, but we haven't had any rain.
 

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2003 Forester XS Manual
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74 Posts
The fuel pressure regulator is also something to take into consideration as well. If its leaking or has failed that could certainly cause a hard start.
 
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