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94 Impreza Woes. Help/suggestions please? (Power, AC, Defrost, Idle related?)


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12 replies to this topic

#1 Scholzpdx

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 08:26 AM

Long story, but most (if not all) is pertinent.

SO I bought this car about a year ago. It's a Subaru Impreza L 1.8L/Auto with 193K. I'm at about 209900 right now. I use Castrol Syntec 10w-30 and plus octane gasoline. The Knock sensor is out.

Work done since:
New right CV joint
Fixed Head Gasket Oil Leak
New (recert.) alternator.

9 months ago my car stopped turning on while I was leaving work. The engine just wouldn't start up. I bought a new battery. I tried to get a jump from my brothers 91 civic. No luck. I got a jump from m dad a few weeks later and viola! It runs again.

Two months ago I was driving to my lady-friend's house and my headlights lights got real dim, my dash was completely black and my car was driving incredibly weird. I parked my car on the street at her house, and tried to turn it back on. Absolutely NO POST AT ALL. My battery was dead.

The next day I got a jump and drove it home. Nothing power wise worked in the car. I got home and turned off my car. It wouldn't start without a jump. I bought a new alternator and my father and I put it on. Problems gone until 5/6.

The past few months my idle while driving often dips to 200-400rpms, but usually stays around 600-800rpms. Not sure if this is related.

At approximately 230am while driving by Oregon City (20 miles away) my car died on the freeway. I was going about 70mph and I felt like I was losing control (speed wise) of the vehicle. I pulled over and parked. I turned my car off and tried to start it. It tried to turn over completely but wouldn't. It just wouldn't start. I got two jumps from a cop and a tow truck and nothing. I had it towed back to my new place.

At 4am I got home. My battery charger said the battery was completely dead. I hooked up my battery charger for an hour. Typically it always started up while hook up to it (previous two times it died). Even while on starter mode the car wouldn't turn on. It wouldn't turn on at all. Same thing as on the highway, but sounded a lot faster. Later that day (4pm) I went out to my car and tried to start it without help from the charger. It turned right on. I charged my batter for 5 hours (near complete charge) and it was drivable again. I also noticed two plugs in my car were not plugged in. The plug near my alternator that I'm pointing to (Pic 1) wasn't plugged in. I plugged it in. What is it? I also noticed a port with no matching connector. What is this to?

This morning at about 5am I went out to my car to drive. I turned it on without issue, but when I went to defrost my idle went from 1200rpm to bouncing at 100-400rpm. It made a loud screeching sound. I smelt something burning. I took it off defrost and it seemed to go away. I used heat and vent without isses. It was just defrosting of any kind. I was driving and turned it back on and it literally nearly turned off my car while driving (rpms to 0 multiple times in a couple seconds). The sound was really loud.

What is this to? Now that I think about it, my defrost was on while my car broke down the day before last. Are they related? Any suggestions?

Pic 1:
Posted Image

Pic 2:
Posted Image

Edited by Scholzpdx, 08 May 2010 - 08:32 AM.


#2 Mike104

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 09:05 AM

The first plug is for your A/C compressor. Sounds like there is a problem and the PO disconnected the A/C compressor. When you select defrost it activates the A/C and that's probably where the screeching noise came from (compressor is probably seized).

Not sure what the other connector is for, perhaps related to the A/C?

Sounds like you are still having alternator issues. Check the voltage at the battery with the car running. Some parts store Alternators have a poor record on Subaru's.

#3 Fairtax4me

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 04:47 PM

I'll second the AC compressor problem. It's possible the compressor is locked up. But I think the plug you are pointing to is for the rotation sensor on the compressor. You can turn the compressor by hand. With the engine off grab the hub on the very front of the compressor (with the 3 bars crossing it) and spin it with your hand. It should spin easily. If it is difficult to move or doesn't move at all then it's damaged internally or the bearings are locked up.

You could be having more alternator trouble, or it could be poor connections due to corrosion. There could also be corrosion inside the cables (under the insulation) which will impede the flow of electricity.

The plug in the second picture I'm not sure about. But are you sure you really want to plug it in? :lol:

Just kidding. There is bound to be a link on the board here somewhere for a service manual for your car. You can look at the wire harness connector location diagram and find out what 4 plug connectors there are in that area and what they're for.

#4 Allpar Mod

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Posted 09 May 2010 - 08:21 AM

The screeching sound on defrost was definately a/c compressor oriented. It sounds like the clutch is bound up. If the large connector at the compressor was disconnected since before you bought the car, it failed on the PO and he just disconnected it rather than having it fixed at some expense. When you switch an a/c equipped car to defrost, it cycles the a/c to keep things working better over the long run. You don't really notice it in the winter because you have the temperature control set to warm.

There is still at least one electrical gremlin there for the other issues. I'd check the things that you have already been suggested to check and add all grounding points. Grounding issues contribute to a lot of electrical woes, especially on cars with some age and those from this side of the country where corrosion is more prevalent. It won't hurt to have the alternator checked as it's not unheard of for a rebuilt one to fail prematurely. Some rebuilders don't have the quality control that others have and one is left to the mercy of the retailer as to quality of the parts you buy. I went through this with a starter quite a while back and fortunately, the retail chain is no longer in business as I was far from the only person to have this problem.

Edited by Allpar Mod, 09 May 2010 - 08:23 AM.


#5 edrach

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Posted 09 May 2010 - 09:54 AM

All things point to a faulty alternator and possibly battery. The screeching noise is likely a seized A/C compressor. Turning it by hand with the engine off doesn't tell you much since the hub is a clutch which is dis-engaged while the engine is off. If you can live without the A/C, also dis-connect the green wire to the clutch to eliminate the compressor.

You're in luck if you live in Portland, OR. Check out www.fixmysuby.com. The owner is a USMB member in long standing and will be able to save you time and effort in resolving this problem.

#6 johnceggleston

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Posted 09 May 2010 - 02:25 PM

pic #2 looks a lot like the MAF connector on a 970bw. did 94s have a maf?

#7 edrach

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Posted 09 May 2010 - 07:33 PM

pic #2 looks a lot like the MAF connector on a 970bw. did 94s have a maf?

EJ18 engines like in the '93 to '96 Imprezas have MAFs.

#8 Fairtax4me

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Posted 09 May 2010 - 11:32 PM

Turning it by hand with the engine off doesn't tell you much since the hub is a clutch which is dis-engaged while the engine is off. If you can live without the A/C, also dis-connect the green wire to the clutch to eliminate the compressor.


The hub in the center is directly connected to the main shaft on the compressor. The pulley that the belt rides on will spin freely if the clutch is disengaged, but if the compressor is locked or damaged the hub will not. It works just like the pressure plate on a flywheel. The only difference is the clutch, which is normally disengaged, is engaged electro-magnetically when the AC or defrost is switched on. It pulls the hub in towards the compressor locking down on the pulley.

#9 adema2626

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 02:32 AM

pic #2 looks a lot like the MAF connector on a 970bw. did 94s have a maf?


Wrong, I'm guessing you don't have cruise control correct? Because that is your plug for it. The cruise control unit usually sits right there. The maf plug is different and yes 94's had mafs. Same with all EJ series motors. The mafs were usually Jec's.

If you need help replacing your AC unit I can help you with that. I also have AC unit I can sell you :) 2 in fact haha.

Edited by adema2626, 10 May 2010 - 02:35 AM.


#10 Scholzpdx

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 07:28 AM

So last night my father and I raised the idle to approx 700-750. It was idling around 500 in neutral. Tell you what, my Chilton book has the WORST pictures for changing that. I looked up something unrelated (wiring i believe) and found a much better sketch there.

The first plug turned out to be the AC unit. It is BLOWN. I tried to turn it by hand and it wouldn't budge. I unplugged the cable again. I don't need A/C at all. Is the belt OK just spinning there although it's not being used? Should I unplug the cable that is right next to the recently unplugged cable as well?

The second port most likely isn't my cruise control, as it works just fine. When I bought it I reattached it to the steering column (i believe that's the right term) and it works great.

My father and I also checked out my alternator and my battery. My alt was putting out 14.01 and my battery was putting out 13.98. This was during 700rpms at Idle in neutral. Is that amount of Vdrop (computer term, but i'm sure it's the same) acceptable for a car?

If I was to buy an AC unit off of anyone it would have to be exceptionally cheap. I just lost my job, so luxury car repairs/addons come last.

Also, the car seems to be running just fine now. I really don't want more problems down the road though. Beside motor oil, how often should I change out my spark plugs and my air filter? I also have no records of the transmission fluid being changed. It has enough oil (my father checked that) and it functions fine, but I want to keep on top of things. I heard that changing your AT oil this late in the game (210k) on an original transmission (I believe) is a terrible idea. And flushing it is even worse. What do I do?

Thanks everyone for your replies.

#11 Scholzpdx

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 07:43 AM

One more thing...

I've never seen inside of my trunk. I took it to a locksmith and they said the lock was completely destroyed. I tried pulling out the backseat to no avail. Where do I grab or push or pull it out?

I have the 4dr Sedan model.

#12 JT95

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 08:50 AM


Sounds like you are still having alternator issues. Check the voltage at the battery with the car running. Some parts store Alternators have a poor record on Subaru's.




Yeah, I bought a replacement alternator from Advance several years ago for a Caprice the family had at the time. It had a lifetime warranty. I think Advance replaced that alternator with another one off the shelf five or six times before I sold the car. While redeeming my lifetime warranty one time shortly after buying the first one, I noticed that they no longer offered a lifetime warranty on it.

I also had an Auto Zone alternator go bad on a little Civic I was driving way back in the day. Major PITA too. In a RWD Chevy it takes 10 minutes to replace an alternator...the Civic was an operation. That Honda was horrible to work on...my first and last I will ever own.

#13 kami333

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 08:14 AM

The second port most likely isn't my cruise control, as it works just fine. When I bought it I reattached it to the steering column (i believe that's the right term) and it works great.


It's for the cruise control. You might have an aftermarket one, so the knob for the cruise control had to be reattached to the steering column? If so, it's probably a universal aftermarket, the OEM one sticks out from the steering wheel at about the 4oclock position and to attach/remove you have to take out the drivers airbag.




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