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1998 Forester
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Discussion Starter #1
This may be a general question, rather than specific to a Subaru Forester, and it exposes my overall lack of knowledge and mechanical aptitude, but you have to start somewhere, right?

I have a 98 Forester, with the 2.5 L engine, and it's having some trouble starting. The battery is pretty new (about 20,000 miles), and I recently replaced the plugs and wires (after gathering information from this very site :)).

Sometimes it will have trouble catching at the start. Turn the key, and it cranks, but will take a while to start. Then, when it does start, it will sometimes sputter for a few seconds. The long crank almost feels like a bad battery.

For additional information, the coil pack is original. I called my mechanic about it, and he suggested a method to figure out if it might be the fuel pump. He said to turn the key into the on position for a few seconds, turn it back to off, then turn to start. If it starts immediately, it is probably the fuel pump. This had no change.

Any tips, advice, or recommendations?
 

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377 Posts
If car runs good and no flashing CEL (missing) after successfully starting, the spark module should be OK. However spark module is a weak point in the ignition system. I've had to replace mine twice, but in both cases it developed a dead miss on one cylinder.

Does problem only happen w/ cold engine and never happens w/ warm/hot engine? This may suggest a faulty air temp or coolant temp sensor. These faults will usually set a code, but one that was just off a bit might cause hard starting w/o tripping a fault code.

A good place to start is to clean the throttle plate (front and back), throttle bore, and idle air control valve (IACV) w/ throttle body cleaner. Avoid cleaner on IACV solenoid.

Is Check Engine Light ever on? If yes you need to access code. It's best clue to problem.

Long start has nothing to do w/ battery as long as engine is turning over fine. Note, Forester engine starter speed is not particularly high and may seem low compared to other cars.

good luck
 

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99 Forester
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205 Posts
Have you done a compression test? How many miles on the motor? Compression loss can cause long cranking as it takes a few strokes to build up some pressure.
 

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1998 Forester
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7 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
The engine has about 140,000 miles on it. The problem is slightly worse in cold weather, but the difference is not significant.

When the car has recently been on (within the last few minutes), it usually starts quickly.

The check engine light does not come on.

I'll pick up some throttle body cleaner in the next few days and give that a shot.
 

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Try cracking the throttle just slightly and see if that improves starting. If yes, then cleaning throttle plate, throttle bore, and IACV will likely help or cure the problem.

good luck
 
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