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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

I've got an '05, XT and yesterday was the third time that I've experienced problems starting the vehicle after it's sat parked outside overnight. The first time was in December and it was 7 degrees outside when I attempted to start the vehicle. Turning the key would get the engine cranking very weak, and it took several attempts of pumping the accelerator before it finally "caught" and started up. It had sat from 19:00 till 05:30 the following morning. Not really a long period of time, and I figured it might have been a battery issue. I had no problems starting the car later on in the day and the problem did not re-occur until a few weeks later.

The second occurance involved similar circumstances, but this time the vehicle sat parked a little long, and the outside temps were in the upper 20's to low 30's. The next day, I brought it into the local dealership and they ran a load test on the battery and did not find anything. I suspected that would happen because I had driven the car for about 15 minutes prior to dropping it off. They suggested waiting until it happened again, and bringing it back in.

Yesterday, the problem occured for the third time, and this time I could not get it to start. I called Subaru Roadside Assistance to get a tow and when the tow truck showed up 45 minutes later, the driver asked if he could try starting up the Forester. Naturally, he was able to start it right away. I drove it to the dealers and asked them to let it sit overnight before they attempted to start it again. For whatever reason(s) they didn't let it sit and started attempting to trobuleshoot it yesterday afternoon. They didn't find anything and I asked them to let it sit overnight and try again in the morning. They tried in the afternoon when the temps were close to 60 and said that they could not replicate the problem. I reminded them that each time this has happened it's has been when the temps were below freezing and the vehicle has sat park overnight.

I've got a loaner car from them and asked if they could let the Forester sit till Monday or Tuesday and then try to start it up. I'm fairly certain the problem will happen again, but short of videotaping it or having it happen at the dealership, they're going to be somewhat skeptical.

I asked a co-worker who is fairly knowledgeable about cars and he said it may be a bad cell with the battery or vapor lock. I'm not buying off-brand gas and usually stick with the same couple of local stations, so I don't think it's a fuel issue. For what it's worth, I think it may be a battery issue and a replacement would take care of the problem.

I'm waiting to hear back from the local dealer to see if they'll keep the car over the weekend. In the interim, they said that they were unable to find any codes or service bulletins relating to the problem. They also said that when do have the starting problems, I should never pump the gas pedal. I explained to them that after several attempts, the only way that I've been able to get the vehicle started, is by doing just that (pumping the pedal). Even the tow truck driver commented yesterday that from his past experiences in similar situations, a lot of these vehicles with starting problems, only seem to start up after they're flooded.

Has anyone else experienced this type of problem? If so, was it a fuel problem, battery problem or something else altogether?

Thanks in advance for reading through this somewhat lengthy sequence of events.
 

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2014 XE CVT
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Subarus can be difficult to start if, the last time they were used, they only ran for a very short time. For example, if the car just moved to or from the garage with a cold engine. The reason is that unburnt fuel remains in the cylinders, and when restarting ithe engine is flooded. I think the 'flat' layout aggravates this condition.

The problem can be solved by holding the throttle pedal to the floor while cranking, as the ecu takes this as a signal to deliver no fuel.
 

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Your favorite auto supply store (AutoZone, AdvanceAuto, etc) will load test your battery for free. Just drive up and ask them. This shoud tell youo if the battery is a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
orienteer said:
Subarus can be difficult to start if, the last time they were used, they only ran for a very short time. For example, if the car just moved to or from the garage with a cold engine. The reason is that unburnt fuel remains in the cylinders, and when restarting ithe engine is flooded. I think the 'flat' layout aggravates this condition.

The problem can be solved by holding the throttle pedal to the floor while cranking, as the ecu takes this as a signal to deliver no fuel.
Wouldn't that flood the engine further?


Interesting, because the folks at the dealer told me the opposite; not to press down on the accelerator. However, I've found that's the only way to get it started when the problem occurs.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
FXTIam said:
Your favorite auto supply store (AutoZone, AdvanceAuto, etc) will load test your battery for free. Just drive up and ask them. This shoud tell youo if the battery is a problem.


Yep; a number of places will take care of that, however unless the vehicle has been sitting for an extended period of time, the battery will have been recharged during the drive over to the auto supply store. IMHO, the best way to replicate this problem will be to let it sit for an extended period of time and then try to start it up.
 

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I have the same issue with mine. The battery seems week on cold mornings. Has nothing to do with driving it a short distance, as I shut mine down after a 45 minute commute. After my next oil change I'm going to switch to synthetic oil. It may be that the standard oil is just not up to the cold. I'll wait and see if this changes anything. It always started, just seems to be struggling. Mine is an '05 as well with just under 7K.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Galager said:
I have the same issue with mine. The battery seems week on cold mornings.


How do you get it started and how long does it take to start up?



Has nothing to do with driving it a short distance, as I shut mine down after a 45 minute commute.


Same here. Once I actually get it started, drive it for a little while and then park it, it starts right back up even after sitting parked all day long.


After my next oil change I'm going to switch to synthetic oil. It may be that the standard oil is just not up to the cold. I'll wait and see if this changes anything. It always started, just seems to be struggling. Mine is an '05 as well with just under 7K.

Are you sure it's not a battery-related problem?
 

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#8 Post ho
1999 Subaru Forester
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A few options

Engine block heater (little more difficult to install)

Battery heater (not too bad)

Upgrade to a better battery
 

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Discussion Starter #9
SenorSubie said:
A few options

Engine block heater (little more difficult to install)

Battery heater (not too bad)

Upgrade to a better battery

Right now, the last option appears to be the most viable, but I should find out after the vehicle is parked for a few days.
 

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McGruff said:
Are you sure it's not a battery-related problem?
It is definitely battery related. I never pump the gas pedal, I don't think that is applicable to a fuel injected car, although I could be wrong. I just keep the key turned until it starts. It just takes a quite a few strained cranks sometimes. Sounds like the starter is struggling. That is either because the battery truly is week, or the oils viscosity is thicker and putting a greater strain on the starter to get the engine moving.

The fact that it is a new car, only 4 months old, makes me skeptical that the battery is at fault, although the car may have sat so long on the dealer's lot that the battery is a little screwed up. I think I'll mention it the next time I go in for service.

Unfortunately, parking on the street means no block heater. Is a battery warmer powered by the battery or externally? Either way, I've never owned a car that had this problem. I had a Maxima for 6 years and it never had a starting issue no matter how cold it got. Just doesn't seem right to me. Particularly from a car that is designed to encounter harsh conditions.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Galager said:
McGruff said:
Are you sure it's not a battery-related problem?
It is definitely battery related. I never pump the gas pedal, I don't think that is applicable to a fuel injected car, although I could be wrong. I just keep the key turned until it starts. It just takes a quite a few strained cranks sometimes. Sounds like the starter is struggling. That is either because the battery truly is week, or the oils viscosity is thicker and putting a greater strain on the starter to get the engine moving.


That sounds similar to what I've encountered except I've found that just turning the key does not get the vehicle started and I need to pump the accelerator. As for the oil, what weight are you using?




The fact that it is a new car, only 4 months old, makes me skeptical that the battery is at fault, although the car may have sat so long on the dealer's lot that the battery is a little screwed up. I think I'll mention it the next time I go in for service.


Could be an old battery or a defective one. I checked for a replacement at Costco and according to their book with the sizes and specs, the stock battery has 520 cold cranking amps, while the replacement that they sell, has 640 cca's.


Unfortunately, parking on the street means no block heater. Is a battery warmer powered by the battery or externally? Either way, I've never owned a car that had this problem. I had a Maxima for 6 years and it never had a starting issue no matter how cold it got. Just doesn't seem right to me. Particularly from a car that is designed to encounter harsh conditions.

Agreed. Years ago, I had an '83 Celica that started up without any problems after it sat overnight when the temps were close to zero.
 

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#8 Post ho
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A little grunt to not want to start in cold temps is perfectly normal. My forester always starts, but sometimes it just cranks weak, =normal.

Car started in -40 (windchill) last winter :p
 

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Discussion Starter #13
SenorSubie said:
A little grunt to not want to start in cold temps is perfectly normal. My forester always starts, but sometimes it just cranks weak, =normal.

Car started in -40 (windchill) last winter :p

Unfortunately, this has been more than "a little grunt" and the other day it wouldn't start at all after numerous attempts, and it was only about 31 degrees outside.
 
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While the battery may pass a load test, temps below freezing will significantly reduce the ability of the battery to supply the amperage to start when cold.

Try boiling a kettle, and pouring it over the battery before starting the car. Warming the battery may allow it enough power to overcome the added stress of a cold motor and oil.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
wocka said:
While the battery may pass a load test, temps below freezing will significantly reduce the ability of the battery to supply the amperage to start when cold.


That's why the next load test will be after the vehicle has sat for several days, and first thing in the morning when it's cold outside.



Try boiling a kettle, and pouring it over the battery before starting the car. Warming the battery may allow it enough power to overcome the added stress of a cold motor and oil.


Interesting idea, but it wouldn't be too practical trying that outside at 05:30 in the morning.
 

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wocka said:
Try boiling a kettle, and pouring it over the battery before starting the car. Warming the battery may allow it enough power to overcome the added stress of a cold motor and oil.
You're kidding about this right? I wouldn't recommend pouring anything boiling on anything frozen. Isn't that what you would do if you wanted to crack the frozen item? Sounds like an explosion of battery acid waiting to happen.

A battery with more amps would be the answer I believe.
 

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Optima Red Top to the rescue!

 

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NahdaDamdyke said:
wocka said:
Try boiling a kettle, and pouring it over the battery before starting the car. Warming the battery may allow it enough power to overcome the added stress of a cold motor and oil.
You're kidding about this right? I wouldn't recommend pouring anything boiling on anything frozen. Isn't that what you would do if you wanted to crack the frozen item? Sounds like an explosion of battery acid waiting to happen.

A battery with more amps would be the answer I believe.
This won't work. The reason is that the hot water will run off, warming only the outside of the case. It will not warm the electrolyte solution in the 10 seconds it is on the battery. The lead and water (acid) in the battery will take a lot of heat to warm it up from30F.

If it is the battery, a load test should tell, as well as a cranking test to check the starter draw. Even when done warm, these normally indicate the general condtion of these two items.
 
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Hm, if you are not sure if you have a battery problem why do not u just get a battery booster for some $40 and next time this happens jump it and see if it does help...
By the way how are you dealing with the room inside? I am waiting for my forester to come in, but I am not sure if I will keep it too long because I feel a bit cramped in it.
 
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