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95 Legacy Wagon - Starting Problems...(RESOLVED)

Starter grounding battery switches sensors

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#1 sorli

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 05:50 PM

Hello and sorry for the long message.

 

I've been here for a while as a non-member reading other people's posts and following suggestions relating to my '95 Subaru Legacy Wagon (Automatic AWD). 

 

My Problems:

  1. Are very similar to other people having issues starting my car when hot or after being driven for long or short distance. 
  2. Car works almost perfectly in the morning and at initial startup (no problems).
  3. Drive for 1 hour or so and then park to go inside to work with clients
  4. Finish up inside, then come back to leave and head home...car may start after 3 or 4 tries
  5. Car also dies after being driven for long distance locally in town or between communities in my areas.  When this happens, I can usually pop the hood and wait having the car cool down for 30 or so mins to 1 hour and will crank right up allowing me to finish my drive home

As I've mentioned, I've already implemented many changes and updates to my Legacy including many provided by Flatuous Blather suggestions (Thanks bunches) and other peoples suggestions, but still no go and my Legacy still runs intermittent.   What seemed to help for a while and then same old same old includes:

 

  1. New Rebuilt Gas Pump (recently swapped 6/23 with used Outback pump with a larger motor) Fixed over two years ago when initial problems occurred...no go and did not help...multiple diagnostics by my mechanic (testing voltage levels, gas pressure, and misc...)
  2. New Power Steering Pump - leaking badly, but not directly related to my problems besides fluid getting into Spark Plug Holes and needing cleanup on motor and underneath
  3. New Battery, Cables, and Connectors also years ago and recently, but even when new did not fix my problems or improve condition
  4. New Spark Plugs and Cables and Coil Pack also replaced
  5. Almost every sensor (Coolant Temp, O2, and recently both Crank Position and Camshaft Positions sensors) has been pulled and replaced with new after-market and bone yard pulls (trying to keep costs down years ago)
  6. Many many bolts/nuts/connectors that were rusted or corroded (wow I know I live in Florida, but not that close to the beach)
  7. Starter replacement (years ago), pulled and bench tested working at Advanced Auto last year, and recent rebuild (finding corrosion on solenoid contacts) replacing with new contacts and plunger parts suggested and still no go at this state
  8. Added additional Grounding Cable from Battery to Starter and replaced Positive Battery Terminal to remove older unit and possible problems
  9. Starter Relay Addition (thanks for the help) - thought this worked well and only lasted a few hours before same problems...sometimes my car gets lucky.
  10. Quick Test and Never Fail button/switch (thanks again Flatuous and many others) - added to Starter Relay above and helps most of the time, but not perfect and only provides an additional option when Keyed on starting fails.

Recent changes as of June 23, 2013, I swapped out from my 96 Legacy Outback U-Pull-It volunteer:

  1. Fuel Pump - much larger unit with short return line tubing into tank (no problems so far and much less noisy replacing my rebuilt unit swapped years ago)
  2. Cleaned/checked all Gas and Vacuum sender and return lines
  3. MAF Sensor and Idle Control Valve - swapped with used units that were cleaned and then reinstalled.  Also noticed the MAF and ICV both working, but took a while for them to register and level out properly
  4. The ignitor - also used replacement...but so far so good!

 

Other Notes:

 

  • Legacy works and runs MUCH Much better in the winter time...Summers in Florida are miserable without A/C (thank God that is still working)
  • What has not been replaced is the Ignition Switch and possible Neutral/Part Position Sensor, but if this was my problem...the Never Fail Button should resolve these issues
  • Others have mentioned Clogged Catalytic Converters causing similar problems...but checking air pressure shows exhaust volumes as normal and similar to other vehicles
  • Update - also forgot to mention on my previous post...NO Codes being reported...nothing, Nada, and suspect the 95 Legacy simply doesn't report very much
  • Also of note, people have referenced if I tried spraying "small amount of starter fluid into the air intake" and I did this previously, but it only had minor effect, car would not start, and continue to run as normal. (referencing my igniter issues)

My Legacy is running much better and I took it for a test drive 30 mins or so to warm things up and plan to wait a hour and test again when the problems usually occur with engine getting hot and then sitting for a hour or two.

 

Update (possibly final update) - looks like one of the options above has finally solved my problem!  I suspect my problem was finally either Fuel Pump or Ignitor related, but I'm not going to switch either now they are working just to test my theory

 

In the end, I went through a bunch of different suggestions, Fuel Sender issues, Clogged/Leaking Fuel/Vacuum Lines, Relays, Sensors, with the final changes listed above.  As noted, I got he car hot this afternoon and let it sit as usual for one or two hours as when the issues usually occur. Car cranked and turned over starting without hesitation and on
the first try, which never happened before after driving and then sitting for a couple of hours.

 

I'll know more in the coming days when I drive and test things out on a full day of driving in town and will update if I notice anything.   I'd also like to hear form everyone on what you think my final problems were???

 

Thank You and appreciate all the feedback and patience with my efforts and questions!  Sorli...


Edited by Legacy777, 27 June 2013 - 09:06 AM.


#2 Legacy777

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 08:09 PM

Welcome to the USMB.

 

When the car won't start, do you hear a click coming from the starter area?



#3 sorli

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 09:24 PM

Thanks for the reply, and I was beginning to wonder if my questions were too complicated (just trying to cover the bases).

 

No actually it starts just fine just intermittent when it gets hot and the sits a while. The starter turns over trying to crank, but won't start and the Never Fail button also helps sometime, it also doesn't always work.

 

Wish there was a way to check the fuel pressure when things act up and the engine gets hot.  I'll just have to add a fuel pressure gauge under the hood and check it manually to see if there are any fluctuations.

 

Thanks again for the reply, Sorli...

 

 

Welcome to the USMB.

 

When the car won't start, do you hear a click coming from the starter area?



#4 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 11:02 PM

was the Engine Temp Sensor (not temp gauge sender) replaced?

 

maybe run a can of SeaFoam thru a tank and/or use the SF Spray to clean the throttlebody.

 

wondering still about the crank or cam sensors. but looks like they've been replaced?

 

might be worth looking at vacuum readings cold/vs hot.

 

might scan for 'pending' codes.

 

wild ideas but, the car seems to be in the twilight zone already.



#5 Gloyale

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 10:53 AM

Sounds like you have "starting" problems..... not "starter" problems.

 

You are saying the car will crank over, but not fire and run.

 

Does the Check Engine Light come on when you turn key on/engine off?

 

Do you hear the fuel pump run to prime the engine?

 

Are you sure all Vacuum and PCV hoses are hooked up? No unmetered air leaks?

 

And lastly have you changed the Fuel filter and Air filter?



#6 sorli

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 02:28 PM

Engine Temp Sensor may be a great option and I'll see if I can hunt that down and have it replaced.  

 

SeaFoamed it just the other day and it actually is running better...not sure if it freeing some Engine Bearings/Valves clogged with deposit or the Throttlebody for that matter.    Yes the Crank and Cam Sensors were both replaced (easy to get too), but did not help.  

 

Vacuum leak and check cold/hot would be usefuly, but I'll have to have my mechanic do that since I don't have any tools to measure pressure and volume variations.

 

Thanks for the suggestions, Sorli...

 

 

was the Engine Temp Sensor (not temp gauge sender) replaced?

 

maybe run a can of SeaFoam thru a tank and/or use the SF Spray to clean the throttlebody.

 

wondering still about the crank or cam sensors. but looks like they've been replaced?

 

might be worth looking at vacuum readings cold/vs hot.

 

might scan for 'pending' codes.

 

wild ideas but, the car seems to be in the twilight zone already.



#7 sorli

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 02:37 PM

Yes and what I'm beginning to think.   No the Check Engine Light does not come on beside the initial keyed on and then goes off instantly like every other light.  
 
Fuel pump is running and you can hear it priming...still need to place a pressure gauge on the Fuel Line intake to see what they volume is when running normally and baselining, and when having problems and not starting.  I've checked for vacuum leaks and misplaced PCV hoses, but I'll double check and good suggestion.  Air Filter is clean...checked that and cleaned the Mass Air Flow Sensor.  Hard for me to check vacuum levels and a good suggestions by you and others...so I'll check into it.
 
Fuel filter could also be a problem and has been a while since I've checked it...pretty easy to find and check manually to see what comes out of the unit. I'll look into that since I did have the Fuel Pump replaced and maybe just maybe it is clogged and only effects things every so often. 
 
Thanks for the suggestions!   Sorli...
 

Sounds like you have "starting" problems..... not "starter" problems.
 
 
You are saying the car will crank over, but not fire and run.
 
Does the Check Engine Light come on when you turn key on/engine off?
 
Do you hear the fuel pump run to prime the engine?
 
Are you sure all Vacuum and PCV hoses are hooked up? No unmetered air leaks?
 
And lastly have you changed the Fuel filter and Air filter?


Edited by sorli, 04 June 2013 - 02:43 PM.


#8 Legacy777

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 07:31 PM

I changed the title of your thread to more accurately reflect your problem.

 

I think checking fuel pressure and/or replacing the fuel filter are good troubleshooting steps.  The temp sensor may also be a good thing to replace.  I've seen more times that they fail the other way and work fine when hot, but not when cold.  They are pretty cheap to replace, so it may not be a bad idea to just replace it since the ECU has a lot of engine temperature related correction factors built into it.



#9 Cougar

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 07:58 PM

You appear to be having problems with the ignition system going from what you state about the problem. It sounds like the starter is turning the engine over with no problem. Get a can of starting fluid and keep it in the car for when the troubloe happens again. When it does spray a small amount of the fluid into the air filter and then try cranking the engine. If it now tries to run then there is a fuel delivery problem. If you still have no response from the engine then you need to look for an ignition problem.



#10 sorli

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 08:11 AM

When you reference Temp Sensor are you referring to the Engine Coolent Temperature sensor that I've already replaced? Does the Subaru Legacy 95 have another Temp Sensor that I've missed.

Either way, I plan to pickup a Fuel Pressure gauge from Harbor Freight and see who my fuel pressure levels are fluctuating and with Gas as crappy as it is now (10% Ethanol) changing out the Fuel Filter couldn't hurt.

Thanks for the thread title update! Sorli...

I changed the title of your thread to more accurately reflect your problem.
 
I think checking fuel pressure and/or replacing the fuel filter are good troubleshooting steps.  The temp sensor may also be a good thing to replace.  I've seen more times that they fail the other way and work fine when hot, but not when cold.  They are pretty cheap to replace, so it may not be a bad idea to just replace it since the ECU has a lot of engine temperature related correction factors built into it.



#11 Legacy777

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 08:37 PM

When you reference Temp Sensor are you referring to the Engine Coolent Temperature sensor that I've already replaced? Does the Subaru Legacy 95 have another Temp Sensor that I've missed.

Either way, I plan to pickup a Fuel Pressure gauge from Harbor Freight and see who my fuel pressure levels are fluctuating and with Gas as crappy as it is now (10% Ethanol) changing out the Fuel Filter couldn't hurt.

Thanks for the thread title update! Sorli...

 

Yes I was referring to the engine coolant temp sensor.  Sorry I must have missed that you already replaced it.



#12 sorli

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 09:30 PM

Actually, originally I wasn't being specific, the part is cheap and worth swapping again if the replacement done years ago has also failed. Kinda hard to know, but I also found the service specs for that sensor that will allow me test and see how it is performing and if in operating range. Thanks, Sorli...

Yes I was referring to the engine coolant temp sensor.  Sorry I must have missed that you already replaced it.



#13 Legacy777

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 08:08 PM

I've found that sometimes the sensor can still be bad and read in spec.  So just something to keep in mind when you're testing.  Try testing it at cold and hot temps.



#14 sorli

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 10:34 PM

I've found that sometimes the sensor can still be bad and read in spec.  So just something to keep in mind when you're testing.  Try testing it at cold and hot temps.

 

Good to note and remember.  Sadly, I'm left with using parts from U-Pull-It and am presently waiting for Tornado watch to pass over this weekend so I can snag some vacuum hoses and other parts that may be better then the ones I'm using.   I find U-Pull-It parts like hoses pretty reliable as long as I get them before they sit in the sun too long and get dry rot.  Sensors are also a flip of the coin, but for the price worth getting just in case and much less expensive then newer parts manufacturer or 3rd party parts.   EIther way, thanks for the suggestions!  Sorli...



#15 heartless

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 09:09 AM

why, pray tell, are you using used vacuum lines? new vacuum line is cheap! and will make better seal/connection and last longer than using old semi-hardened vacuum line...



#16 sorli

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 02:39 PM

I guess it all comes down to perspective.   What do you define as cheap?   

 

Last time I purchased a vacuum hose from our local Subaru dealer...it cost me $15...that is not cheap unless you can identify specifically what hose is causing your problems.  Yes, I'm sure buying parts directly from Subaru would be a better options and guarantee what you are getting, but I'm still hunting and pecking to find my problems and keeping it less expensive it key right now.

 

I'm a Full-time Engineering student surving thru the summer months (means very little income) and trying to get my Legacy back running before Fall 2013 cranks up in a few months.  Went by U-Pull-It and snagged every hose (all factory in great shape...damaged and otherwise left behind) and sensor (including Temp Sensor, Knock Sensor), and few misc...like Idle Air Control Valve (since I had to remove it to get to the Temp Sensor) all combined for just under $35. 

 

Honestly, I have no clue if I even need the Air Control Valve (usuall goes for $80 bones used on Ebay), but if I am having vacuum problems it certainly makes since picking it up and getting it from U-Pull-It makes the decision even easier!   Sorli...

 

 

why, pray tell, are you using used vacuum lines? new vacuum line is cheap! and will make better seal/connection and last longer than using old semi-hardened vacuum line...


Edited by sorli, 07 June 2013 - 02:40 PM.


#17 heartless

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 10:15 PM

why buy it from a dealer? Vacuum line is NOT a necessary "dealer only" item - it comes in various sizes and can be purchased elsewhere quite cheaply.  I can get vacuum line by the foot from my local auto parts store for a little less than $1 a foot. about 3 feet is usually enough to do the entire engine. larger hoses do cost a little more, but for the small vacuum line - peanuts.

 

I am also a full time student - Accounting - and have been unemployed since 2009 - so I know what living on a budget means.

 

Certain things should probably come from a dealer - but vacuum line is not one of those things. :rolleyes:



#18 sorli

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Posted 07 June 2013 - 10:26 PM

Yes actually those are good points and began to realize that later after sending my initial reply.  The only hoses I pulled, were dealer specific parts that had the bends designed specifically for Legacy and fit in tight places going around corners.   The more standard hoses can be replaced and relatively cheap and thankfully so. 

 

Good to hear someone else in school, though this is my second (maybe third) degree first in Sociology (pretty useless) and now in Engineering, which is what I do now for a living part-time.  Either way, I'm hoping for some better weather this weekend so I can work a little on my car and see if I can make some headway on my issues.  Never enough hours in the day.  Sorli...

 

 

why buy it from a dealer? Vacuum line is NOT a necessary "dealer only" item - it comes in various sizes and can be purchased elsewhere quite cheaply.  I can get vacuum line by the foot from my local auto parts store for a little less than $1 a foot. about 3 feet is usually enough to do the entire engine. larger hoses do cost a little more, but for the small vacuum line - peanuts.

 

I am also a full time student - Accounting - and have been unemployed since 2009 - so I know what living on a budget means.

 

Certain things should probably come from a dealer - but vacuum line is not one of those things. :rolleyes:



#19 heartless

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 08:49 AM

I replaced even that little tiny U bend vacuum line on my 90 legacy - passenger side, behind the intake manifold - with standard, off the shelf, by the foot vacuum line with no issues - the one that was on there was so hard & brittle it snapped when I tried to pull it off.

 

There is only one hose on my car that I have not actually replaced with aftermarket hose - and that is the main PCV hose that has a pretty tight bend near the top - also pretty hard - that one I would probably have to get from a dealer. If I could just figure out how to make that bend, I would do it in heartbeat!

 

Have been playing with old Subarus for a few years now (I know there are others with way more experience than me, however), and with no dealer anywhere close to me, and no "U-Pull-It" junkyards either, and a shortage of Subaru parts cars in the junk yards that we do have, you figure out how to make aftermarket things work for you, even if they arent 100% correct. You also learn how to make use of resources like this board - I have gotten some good parts from some great people here over the years.

 

There is actually very little that you just "have" to get from a dealer.

 

School for me was kind of a necessity. I used to drive truck for a living, but developed a problem with my left foot - bone spurs - cant use a clutch anymore - too painful. Job market being what it is, I had to go back to school in order to make myself more "marketable"... and at nearly 50 yrs old - let me tell ya - it has been a challenge! LOL But that is ok - I like a challenge! I have on more semester - 3 classes - to finish my Associates Degree in Accounting (chosen from a practical standpoint - there will always be a need). Will also be receiving 2 additional related certificates at that time as well - anything I can add to the resume to make it look better, I am all over it! LOL


Ok, getting back to your starting issue...


Only does this when engine is hot? right? Vapor locking, perhaps? just for grins & giggles, the next time it does this - pop the fuel cap off, let it breath for a second, and replace, see if it will start then....I had an 80's era Ford Escort (long ago) that would do something similar...



#20 sorli

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 04:45 PM

Heartless,

 

Thanks for the reply and encouragement, I'll be 45 this year finishing my second degree in Engineering hopefully by same time next year.  

 

Either way, what exactly is Vapor Lock????

 

I just tried what you suggested below a few minutes ago including the following:

 

  • Tried to start the car that is been sitting all day in the sun...no go on first start
  • Popped the Gas Tank and Cap...releasing build-up and pressure
  • Got back in the car...vehicle cranks back up instantly!!!!

 

Bingo, I think you found it and would love to know more about Vapor Lock and why my Subaru isn't releasing this pressure automatically.  I'll do some more testing in the next day or so and testing it when out and about and when it is hot outside.

 

Thanks again!!! Sorli...

 

Ok, getting back to your starting issue...


Only does this when engine is hot? right? Vapor locking, perhaps? just for grins & giggles, the next time it does this - pop the fuel cap off, let it breath for a second, and replace, see if it will start then....I had an 80's era Ford Escort (long ago) that would do something similar...



#21 presslab

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 10:36 PM

Sounds to me like a problem with the charcoal canister, or the plumbing.  Try this: disconnect the fuel tank vent line.  It's located on the driver's side next to the two fuel lines going to the intake manifold.  The vent line is the smaller of the three.  Just leave the side from the body (the tank) free, and put some kind of cap on the metal tube from the manifold.

 

If this works, you should fix the real problem, which is likely a clogged canister.  Leaving this vent open is very bad for air pollution.



#22 sorli

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 10:40 PM

Would have never thunk...thanks!  Sorli...

 

Sounds to me like a problem with the charcoal canister, or the plumbing.  Try this: disconnect the fuel tank vent line.  It's located on the driver's side next to the two fuel lines going to the intake manifold.  The vent line is the smaller of the three.  Just leave the side from the body (the tank) free, and put some kind of cap on the metal tube from the manifold.

 

If this works, you should fix the real problem, which is likely a clogged canister.  Leaving this vent open is very bad for air pollution.



#23 Cougar

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 04:30 AM

I think there is a air vent valve above the fuel tank that is supposed to open every so often and releave the vacuum in the tank.



#24 Legacy777

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 08:30 AM

Typical vapor lock in the fuel line is pretty much uncommon with fuel injected vehicles if everything is working properly.

 

Have you tried the "opening the gas cap & relieving pressure" trick more than once?  Does doing that work every time?



#25 heartless

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Posted 09 June 2013 - 09:35 AM

Typical vapor lock in the fuel line is pretty much uncommon with fuel injected vehicles if everything is working properly.

 

Have you tried the "opening the gas cap & relieving pressure" trick more than once?  Does doing that work every time?

 

Was just a wild guess on my part, but yes - definitely needs to be tested out more to prove/disprove the theory. ;)







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