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Mystery Malfunction While Driving (93 Lgcy/08 Otbck)

subaru failure 1993 2008 legacy outback

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18 replies to this topic

#1 ifil

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 05:57 PM

Hey everyone! New to the forums but I thought I would start out with a great mystery for everyone that I still can't seem to figure out  :P

 

I have a 93 Legacy L, just a hair over 200K and just did an oil change and a battery pull roughly 30 miles before this incident. I'm driving about 4 miles, cold car, doing a little under 30mph. My AC is on but engine temp is low and no cel or anything. I slow to turn and clutch in to shift into second, when I suddenly lose power steering part way through the turn! I safely pull over and notice CEL, Battery, and maybe one other light (Oil?), I really can't remember because I shut it off so quickly. 

 

I stood there for 20 minutes just inspecting the engine trying to figure out what could possibly cause all those symptoms. Turned the AC off and it started up like nothing had happened and drove the 1/2 mile home. The idle was erratically low but it has been all week because of the battery negative pull. The car is also showing no data for the check engine either.

 

Now I know my negative terminal clamp needs to be replaced, but if it fell off it would be totally dead and not partial. All fluids were normal, no power steering leaks, and the belts were perfectly fine (no burnt smell either indicating seized AC compressor). I've heard suggestions of an alternator, but the alternator is somewhat new and tests fine for voltage. I really have no other problems with this car besides a chattery clutch when cold :rolleyes:

 

So here's where it gets weird...This was my dad's car previously (Bought New), and he said it's done this once or twice randomly before with the exact same symptoms and no lasting effects or symptoms. Now he also owns an 08 Outback that he claims has done this once before too, which adds to my utter bafflement. Now take his claims with a grain of salt; I wasn't there and it they could have been different enough to just be another matter entirely, but still odd nonetheless.

 

I've been over this a thousand times and I just can't make heads or tails...If anybody has any insight it would be greatly appreciated! :)  Hopefully I didn't break any rules already by making such a huge wall of text, but thank you all for reading/submitting, and I look forward to posting some of my own responses around here in the future!  :D  


Edited by ifil, 25 March 2014 - 06:00 PM.


#2 john in KY

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 06:34 PM

Do you have a bunch of junk hanging from the ignition key? 



#3 ifil

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 06:37 PM

Nope, maybe 4 keys and a bullet casing...I did just take apart the dash, could that be related? Also, the car never actually died, I shut it off after the power steering failed.



#4 WoodsWagon

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 08:19 PM

On the 90-94's if the clutch switch isn't working right it doesn't tell the computer that you pushed the clutch in so it stalls if it's in coasting fuel cut mode. A failed switch will set a code in memory but not turn on the check engine light.

 

If you just had it apart maybe you didn't plug it back in?

 

Next time it happens just pop the clutch back out with it in gear and bump start the engine.


Edited by WoodsWagon, 25 March 2014 - 08:21 PM.


#5 ifil

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 08:49 PM

On the 90-94's if the clutch switch isn't working right it doesn't tell the computer that you pushed the clutch in so it stalls if it's in coasting fuel cut mode. A failed switch will set a code in memory but not turn on the check engine light.

 

If you just had it apart maybe you didn't plug it back in?

 

Next time it happens just pop the clutch back out with it in gear and bump start the engine.

Hmm interesting theory, but I'm not sure about the clutch. I mean, the engine didn't stall and the check engine did come on until i shut the car off and restarted it.

 

My dad's theory was that the alternator might have temporarily malfunctioned, but I'm thinking it could be due to the poor idle. Does anyone know if idle drops dangerously low it could cut power to accessories like power steering? It's a stretch but this is so strange.



#6 heartless

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 09:28 PM

Hey everyone! New to the forums but I thought I would start out with a great mystery for everyone that I still can't seem to figure out  :P

 

I have a 93 Legacy L, just a hair over 200K and just did an oil change and a battery pull roughly 30 miles before this incident. I'm driving about 4 miles, cold car, doing a little under 30mph. My AC is on but engine temp is low and no cel or anything. I slow to turn and clutch in to shift into second, when I suddenly lose power steering part way through the turn! I safely pull over and notice CEL, Battery, and maybe one other light (Oil?), I really can't remember because I shut it off so quickly. 

 

I stood there for 20 minutes just inspecting the engine trying to figure out what could possibly cause all those symptoms. Turned the AC off and it started up like nothing had happened and drove the 1/2 mile home. The idle was erratically low but it has been all week because of the battery negative pull. The car is also showing no data for the check engine either.

 

Now I know my negative terminal clamp needs to be replaced, but if it fell off it would be totally dead and not partial. All fluids were normal, no power steering leaks, and the belts were perfectly fine (no burnt smell either indicating seized AC compressor). I've heard suggestions of an alternator, but the alternator is somewhat new and tests fine for voltage. I really have no other problems with this car besides a chattery clutch when cold

 

based on the bolded part of your post - I am going to guess that because of the bad cable clamp, there was too much draw/strain on the electrical system with the AC on, and coupled with the low speed during the turn, reducing the alternator's output - that is the source of your "power" failure.

 

get your battery and cables back up to snuff and I bet things will run much more smoothly for you.



#7 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 10:36 PM

weird

 

maybe the rubber is failing in the crank pulley?



#8 ifil

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 10:47 PM

Hmm could be a battery cable issue, I'm looking into replacing that now but if it's a rare problem I may never know if that fixes it. I always figured it was all or nothing with a cable clamp, like as long as it isn't loose it should be ok.

 

And is the crank pulley covered in rubber? I always thought it was straight metal, but that might explain why it was power steering, ac, and possibly an alternator issue all at once. The belts were definitely within spec for tension and in good condition.



#9 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 11:14 PM

it's a 2-piece affair. inner connected to outer by a layer of rubber. Probably wobbles if it's bad.



#10 ifil

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 11:16 PM

It wobbles a bit actually, I really didn't think it was important as long as belts weren't being worn. Well that's interesting information, I'll look into replacing it soon. Are there any other effects a bad crank pulley could cause like shaky acceleration?



#11 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 11:26 PM

don't rely just on my guess. The parts are known to delaminate, but the symptoms you have may be rare. i think the pulley just starts throwing belts off. Another 'out there' possibility is a loose crank bolt and worn keyway.

 

hopefully, a close inspection will discover the problem.

 

i suppose it could be felt - dunno. It really isn't a harmonic balancer. But, if the alternator is being intermittently driven, and the belts are intermittently slipping, I'd expect some weirdness 'could' be felt under acceleration sure.


Edited by 1 Lucky Texan, 25 March 2014 - 11:29 PM.


#12 ifil

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 11:29 PM

Well good thing I've got my eye on an 02 Outback, a warn keyway is a deal-breaker with this old girl... Well thank you so much for the insight on the pulley (or balancer, not sure) I'll look into checking and possibly replacing it if that outback doesn't work out.



#13 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 25 March 2014 - 11:31 PM

supposedly, the keyway isn't that important for the pulley. Folks sometimes use incorrectly low torque I think when re-assembling after TB job.



#14 Fairtax4me

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 12:02 AM

Cel, battery and oil lights on means the engine stalled.
Probably trying to figure out its base idle settings since the battery was unhooked. It hadn't figured it out quite yet when you pushed the clutch in, and it stalled. Usually best to let the engine idle until the fan cycles once after unhooking the battery to let it figure itself out before you go driving around.

Not something I would worry about too much unless it happens again. Doesn't hurt to make sure all the vacuum, breather, and PCV hoses are connected where they're supposed to be.

#15 WoodsWagon

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 02:44 AM

Hmm interesting theory, but I'm not sure about the clutch. I mean, the engine didn't stall and the check engine did come on until i shut the car off and restarted it.

 

My dad's theory was that the alternator might have temporarily malfunctioned, but I'm thinking it could be due to the poor idle. Does anyone know if idle drops dangerously low it could cut power to accessories like power steering? It's a stretch but this is so strange.

Power steering is an all-mechanical system on your car, so for it to have failed means the pump stopped turning for some reason. Most likely the engine stalled. Are you positive it was still running before you shut the key off? You did say you shut it off quickly.

 

The other option is the crank pulley failing. Put a line of white-out up the face of the pulley so it crosses the band of rubber between the hub and the outer pulley ring. Run it and see if the lines still match.

 

Check the crank bolt torque. Put it in 5th with the e-brake on and haul on the bolt.

 

Be sure it didn't stall before spending time chasing red herrings.



#16 ifil

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 01:14 PM

Yeah I'm hoping it was just a stall. I'm really fairly certain it didn't stall because I was able to go another block before pulling over in a safe spot and my car doesn't roll well at low speeds... Well thanks everyone for the terrific insights, I'll be watching carefully for it to happen again.

 

It needs a new TB soon so I'll probably replace the crank pulley then too. I'll def check with that white line idea to see if it is failing. I thought these older 2.2 L's were just a crank pulley, is it actually a harmonic balancer?

 

As for the 08, I'm gonna assume that one was just a stall, I've just never seen a Subaru stall from a rough idle with the clutch in... :huh:  but first time for everything I suppose



#17 Fairtax4me

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 11:23 PM

My girlfriends car was sitting at a stop light in gear a few months ago and stalled for no reason. Running fine, smooth idle, then it just quit like the key was turned off. Restarted the engine, drove all the way home, let it idle in the driveway for almost an hour, no problems. Checked for codes and there were none. Wiggle tested all the wiring under the hood looking for a loose connector and came up empty handed. Ive driven the car several times since then, let it idle for long periods, no signs of any problems at all. Sometimes its just a fluke.

#18 geromer6

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Posted 30 March 2014 - 10:36 PM

Thus is not a Subaru problem. Your car is cold, and your AC is on. When you take your foot on the gas and stomp on the clutch the engine gets no gas and stalls. The idle may need bumped up a bit. Or you need to shift faster. I had an 80 mustang that I had to drive with three feet. When it was cold. As far as the power steering, a hose blew in my svx it was all arm strong steering after that

#19 Gloyale

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 12:36 PM

On the 90-94's if the clutch switch isn't working right it doesn't tell the computer that you pushed the clutch in so it stalls if it's in coasting fuel cut mode. A failed switch will set a code in memory but not turn on the check engine light.

 

It's actually the Neutral switch not the clutch switch that the ECU monitors to know weather in gear or not.

 

The switche(s) on the clutch pedal are for the Starter lockout, and the Cruise disable......neither are connected to the ECU.  An ECU switch on the clutch as well could be a good thing....but it's not there.

 

People sometimes use a Clutch mounted switch to mimic a nuetral switch when installing EJ engines in older cars.....or old trans in newer cars.

 

 

 

Combination of cold engine, A/C on, and coasting w/ clutch in but shifter still in gear through a turn (really a no-no......shift before or after the turn.....not in it....and definately souldn't coast through turns with clutch in)

 

If you are goin to coast.......move the shifter to Nuetral immediately and let clutch out........when you coast w/ clutch in but don't move the shifter the engine trys to cut fuel thinking you are rolling downhill in gear trying to engine brake. 

 

Combined w/ AC on and just an old engine.......you stalled....that's why the warning lights came on and power steering stopped working.







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