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Starting Legacy in Cold Weather ?!?!HELP?!?!


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28 replies to this topic

#1 trxeslr66

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 10:50 AM

It is about 5 degrees here and when I start my Legacy it turns over fine but starts like the battery is almost dead. Is anyone else having the same problem? I thought it was dying last winter also but when the weather warmed up it was ok. It is the original battery from a 99. When I started it cold last night and this morning it scared me it sounded like it wasn’t going to make it. When I started it after it was warmed up and I had been driving around it was better. I'm very afraid it is going to fail me soon. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE
-I went to Autozone to get a free test and they said the battery was not fully charged. Since it wasnt fully charged they couldnt give me Cold Cranking Amps. I assume its because of its age. I already had the alternator re-built a year ago, I dont want to have to replace it again because it is being overworked. So I went to Sears to get the DiHard Gold (#1 for battery size 35 foreign cars by consumer reports) and damn, my old battery did suck. It starts like its summer time now. I am very glad you all suggested a new battery. Thanks for the prompt advice.

#2 frag

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 11:09 AM

It is about 5 degrees here and when I start my Legacy it turns over fine but starts like the battery is almost dead. Is anyone else having the same problem? I thought it was dying last winter also but when the weather warmed up it was ok. It is the original battery from a 99. When I started it cold last night and this morning it scared me it sounded like it wasn’t going to make it. When I started it after it was warmed up and I had been driving around it was better. I'm very afraid it is going to fail me soon. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


A six year old battery is at the end of it's uselful life + all your symptoms relates to a weakened battery. The cold temperature lessens the number of cranking amps available. That's why you can start during the summer or when the engine compartment has had the chance to warm up but not when it's cold. It's minus 25C° here this morning and my Legacy start no problem with a three year old batt.
Buy a new battery but take time to check your charging system (alternator) first cause a bad alt will drain your new battery and damage it. With an alternator in good condition your should have around 14 volts at the battery posts when charging.
Easier yet have the place were you're going to buy the battery check your alt. They will do i for free.
Good luck!

#3 muzeeshun

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 11:26 AM

Frag is right about the 6 year old battery. I am kind of old school and still use Sears for my basic automotive stuff like tires and batteries. They have a great warranty on their batteries and are easy to find in most cities if you travel. I have also been told that in extremly cold weather to turn on your headlights for about 30 seconds then shut them off prior to cranking over your engine. It has to do with battery temp.

#4 99obw

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 12:20 PM

Also keep in mind the kind of oil you are using. 10w-30 is generally considered acceptable down to about 0°F, but at that temp it will be quite thick. 5w-30 is generally considered acceptable down to about -15°F. These are just rules of thumb. The thicker the oil when cold, the harder the starter and battery are going to have to work to spin the engine.

#5 swi66

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 12:28 PM

Bitter cold weather drains a battery for sure, It was -2 degrees for me, my 98 Legacy with it's second battery cranked a bit slow as well this AM. This is a check of any battery, cold weather and slow cranking means time to replace. Just about any battery store has a device to check the battery.

swi66

#6 northguy

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 01:05 PM

Six years for a battery is not a good rule of thumb. !996 Legacy= battery still chugging along fine, even in -30 temps. 1997 Ford F-150 = same thing. 1983 Brat = I don't know how old that battery is, but it's cranking like my a meth junkie in a trailer cooking up a new batch.

#7 cookie

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 01:37 PM

of effective battery life. I change mine about every four years to prevent battery problems before they happen.

#8 mattocs

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 03:02 PM

but it's cranking like my a meth junkie in a trailer cooking up a new batch.



What brand? I'll have to pick one of them up! Posted Image

#9 Snowman

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 03:43 PM

Likely reasons:

1. Battery is getting tired
2. Oil is too thick
3. The starter's electrical circuit is problematic. Not to the point that it has trouble starting under normal conditions, but that problems arise when a larger demand is placed on it.

Remember that cranking at 0 degrees takes 350% of the power that it takes to crank at 80 degrees, and the battery has substantially less power available.

#10 unverviking

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 04:28 PM

Mine too. It was about 1 degree this morning. My 1 month old battery in my work provided Dodge (ewwww) 1500 van had trouble. It sounded like a good ole 1950's / 60's Chrysler trying to start up though...

I should have said like the General Lee chasing Roscoe... Sorry got the 1st Season on DVD for X-mas...:burnout:

#11 powderhound

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 07:33 PM

I still have the original battery in my 98. It has been around -15F to -20F the last couple mornings and it strained to start. It was about +10F today and it started just fine. I refuse to buy a new batt until it dies. I'm guessing your oil is too thick. I have a custom blend of mobil 1 that is about 2.5W-30 and it is too thick at -20F.

#12 Tom Dunn

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 08:08 PM

I have also been told that in extremly cold weather to turn on your headlights for about 30 seconds then shut them off prior to cranking over your engine. It has to do with battery temp.

In a sense that is true, the amp draw will warm the battery. However draw is draw so I much prefer to put those amps right to the starting circuit.
My 1991 Legacy was last driven sunday night, but I don't recall how cold it got. Last night, we hit -25 and at 2 PM today we were at -5 still. Looking at -25 again toinight. I've only had this car a short while, and I really dislike starting a motor for no reason. But I might fire her up tomorrow, early, just to see what she does. Not sure about how old the batter is, and it's too cold to check at the moment!
It was SO cold here today, I saw a Lawyer walking down the street with his hands in his OWN pockets!

#13 99obw

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 08:18 PM

FWIW the outback started effortlessly this morning at 0°F with an 18 month old battery and 0w-30.

#14 unverviking

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 09:26 PM

It was SO cold here today, I saw a Lawyer walking down the street with his hands in his OWN pockets!

You mean that he wasn't chasing Ambulances ??? That's right the Caldwells retired... No more out of town Ambulances in Inlet... :)

#15 Tom Dunn

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 10:19 PM

Ha! Thats funny! Bruce Caldwell is still here and his Ambulance dealership is going pretty good. Dealer for "Road Rescue" Ambulances I think. Helps him supplement the disability income he gets from the town since he hurt his back on a town job.:rolleyes: Man oh man........

#16 rayhanm

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 11:10 PM

my battery does the same, when very cold
a battery warmer would help starting in the mornings
i think there around $30

#17 99obw

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Posted 18 January 2005 - 11:22 PM

In a sense that is true, the amp draw will warm the battery. However draw is draw so I much prefer to put those amps right to the starting circuit.


Funny you should say that, I had basically this exact conversation with two guys at work today. They insisted that heating the battery with the headlights is somehow preferable to heating it with the starter. I'm still not convinced.

#18 Setright

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 01:10 AM

Hello all!

It seems no-one has yet suggested that this NORMAL. My Sube's have always cranked for a little longer on cold starts. The colder the ambient temperature, the longer it cranks. I believe this is a good thing: The engine is priming itself, during cranking the oil pump is running and getting pressure up in the entire engine before the ignition system is allowed to actually start the engine.

I do agree though, that a six year old battery could be showing signs of age. Depends very much on the conditions faced the battery is subjected to.

#19 unverviking

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 08:50 AM

Ha! Thats funny! Bruce Caldwell is still here and his Ambulance dealership is going pretty good. Dealer for "Road Rescue" Ambulances I think. Helps him supplement the disability income he gets from the town since he hurt his back on a town job.:rolleyes: Man oh man........

Good to hear that they're still doing well. There must be another Road Rescue dealer closer to Rochester than Inlet... I dealt with them a number of years ago...
Kinda off the subject... Now back to our regularly scheduled Subaru conversations...

#20 trxeslr66

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 09:48 AM

Thanks a lot for the quick replies. I think I might look at new batteries this weekend. I had the alternator rebuilt 1.5 years ago so I hope it isn’t the problem. The car has 62k miles on it. I had a starting problem which is what brought me to this site in the first place.....

It started out happing rarely...turn the key and nothing happens, turn the key the second time and it starts fine. This started happening more and more over a few month period. Sometimes with weeks in between when it wouldn’t do it. No one in town had an answer but some one on here described it exactly. I started to think it was attributed to cold weather, but some of the coldest mornings it would start. There was no pattern except that it was happening more. Eventually it would require me to turn the key more than 2 times. When I turned the key and got nothing, I could still hear 1 "click" I believe from the started solenoid. I replaced the contacts and plunger in the solenoid and 3 weeks later it as started every time with out a problem. Only time will tell me if the problem is fixed for sure.



One other note on the battery, a few months ago I moved. Now I am a half mile from work. So I start my car 2 or 4 times (depending if I go home for lunch) and it gets minimal charging time. And as for the oil, I have been running Mobil 1 Synthetic 10w30 for a few years.



One question, when you all say -25 are you saying 25 degrees or negative 25 degrees. I'm about frozen in 5 degree weather; I can’t imagine my car starting in negative 25 degrees.



Thanks again for the feedback

#21 Tom Dunn

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 10:40 AM

-25 as in negative 25. The fuel injected cars are MUCH better at starting in the cold than carbed motors ever thought of being. HOWEVER, in my experience, if you flood an injected motor, they are MUCH more difficult to get to fire off than a carb.

#22 ron917

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 10:55 AM

FWIW the outback started effortlessly this morning at 0°F with an 18 month old battery and 0w-30.


Mine started easily this morning at -1°F, with a 5 year old battery and 10W-30 (Mobil 1). It did crank a little slower than usual, and the piston slap was espcially loud.

#23 powderhound

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 11:39 AM

Yes negative 25 Fahrenheit! I was watching the morning news show from new york and they we're going on and on about how cold it was and it was like +8F. I guess like most things cold is relative. It's not as bad as you think esp. if there's no wind and the sun is out. The hardest thing is riding my bike to class causes me to breathe hard and that can hurt. You cough up some nice things from the depths of your lungs though. Bundle up.

#24 subie94

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 12:16 PM

in my legacy(94) i have a yellow top spiral battery with about 900 total amps with 750 cold cranking amps.starts perfectly fine,normally on the second engine turn.that's with the temp being about neg 5 to 10.granted it's not the cheapest battery($180.00)but in the long run i wonder just how long it'll last.

#25 rcousins

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Posted 19 January 2005 - 09:44 PM

If the battery cranks the engine over ok, but car is slow to start, you may have a fuel pump problem...car is not getting fuel fast enough. I agree about the ancient age of the battery. I hate to spend money, but a new battery can help avoid tow truck fees. A seasonal check of all hoses helps to cut down on service calls also. -19 below in the state of Yooper (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) last month and our 99 Legacy kicked over like it was new.



It is about 5 degrees here and when I start my Legacy it turns over fine but starts like the battery is almost dead. Is anyone else having the same problem? I thought it was dying last winter also but when the weather warmed up it was ok. It is the original battery from a 99. When I started it cold last night and this morning it scared me it sounded like it wasn’t going to make it. When I started it after it was warmed up and I had been driving around it was better. I'm very afraid it is going to fail me soon. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.






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