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Long-distance Subaru Repair - UPDATED
Posted 26 August 2003 - 08:38 AM
She said she was driving along and the car just died all of a sudden, and would not start. It doesn't turn over, but it just makes a 'click' sound (my guess is that it's the starter solenoid). The interior lights and radio still work. No warning lights came on before the car died. The car's oil and coolant levels were OK, and it happened very suddenly, so I don't think that the engine would be seized.
The only things I can think of it being are blown fuses/fusible links, or a dead alternator&battery (if the charge light is burned out). I'm going to bring along some fuses and fusible links, a multimeter, and my standard toolbox.
Is there anything else that it could be?
Posted 26 August 2003 - 08:43 AM
Posted 26 August 2003 - 09:02 AM
Posted 26 August 2003 - 09:14 AM
Posted 26 August 2003 - 09:22 AM
A timing belt can be checked easily, but you'll want to grab as many tools as you can if plan to replace it. You might want to find a source for parts near where the car is located before heading out there.
I don't think it's battery/cables/alt if it died while running.
Good luck, John
Posted 26 August 2003 - 10:19 AM
Posted 26 August 2003 - 10:24 AM
Would a broken timing belt make the engine not turn over at all? I guess it might be a combination of problems, like a burned-out started, and also a broken timing belt.
I had bought her this Subaru and fixed it up over the summer because I wanted her to have some dependable transportation. So far, it's not working out too well.
The ignition and cooling systems are almost completely new, so I'm leaning towards answers that don't involve those.
Posted 26 August 2003 - 10:49 AM
Bring a battery, an alt.. hell, bring a starter if you have a spare.. plus, some spare battery cables.. It could be something as simple as a loose battery terminal
Posted 26 August 2003 - 11:05 AM
Don't jump to conclusions just yet.
It could very well be the timing belt, but you need to be methodical about troubleshooting one step at a time.
I would check for spark first. That'll cut the job down to size in a hurry.
Negative spark could be loose wires or a bad coil (my hunch).
Positive spark would seem to indicate the timing belt, which you can verify (or rule out) by popping off the access hole plugs on the timing belt cover, and feeling around with your fingers. Replacing the timing belt isn't fun, but you only have to do it once every 60k. May as learn how to do one if you plan on driving Subes for awhile.
As far as being "reliable", a Sube is as good as any make, and better than most. The secret is to get the car up to a baseline standard (ie catch up the maintenance schedule). Sounds like you have a good start in doing the ignition and cooling systems. Just keep at it, and do EVERYTHING on your maintenance schedule for the amount of miles on your odometer.
good luck, John
Posted 26 August 2003 - 01:48 PM
Posted 28 August 2003 - 08:08 AM
Thanks for your help guys, it gave me a good list of things to suggest for my friend to look at, and it will make the fix go a lot easier (probably) t his weekend.
Posted 28 August 2003 - 10:14 AM
The alt would explain some, but not all of the symptoms.
If the car died while being driven, it would tend to rule out most of the electrical system, including the alt. Is this what happened when the car "died"?
Now, if it was parked and wouldn't crank over, it could very well be the alt. (The bad alt would have worn down the batt, resulting in the "click" while you were trying to start it.
I would try jump starting it if you haven't already. If it starts, you can safely focus on the electrical system.
good luck, John
Posted 28 August 2003 - 10:22 AM
If the car died while being driven, it would tend to rule out most of the electrical system, including the alt. Is this what happened when the car "died"?"
Not true at all. My car died due to a bad alternator. No warning lights. Ran crappy for about 2 blocks before it died. it just wasn't able to keep the line voltage necessary to fire the injectors and the ignition system. After it drained the battery, there was nothing to keep it running. Thankfully when it happened, I was less than half a block from home.. Changed the alt, jump started it. Two days later, started a 2400 mile trip. Problem never reappeared
Posted 28 August 2003 - 10:54 AM
I'm not ruling out that there are other problems than the alternator, but at this point, I'd say that any problems would be electrical. I'm definitely going to give the car a good look and long test drive over the weekend. I'll probably leave the charger on for the whole weekend when the car's not running.
I really should get a clamp-on ammeter to see how much (if any) current is being drawn from the battery with the ignition off. Maybe I have a small, low-current short to ground that's draining my battery, and making the alternator work harder than it needs to.
Posted 28 August 2003 - 11:36 AM
Sounds like you're getting warmer...
Maybe you misunderstood what I meant...
When I talked about the car dying while being driven, I was talking about "sudden death" (ie coil, timing belt). Not too many electrical problems I can think of that will shut a car down IMMEDIATELY (while driven), and result in a "click" when you crank the starter.
An alt shorting out will give you some warning, just as you described, especially on a fuel injected model where it would become obvious while driving. I suspected that Stepehen had a gradual electrical failure instead of "Sudden Death" and that's why I suggested the jumper cable test to confirm this, (and to eliminate all the other stuff).
good luck, John
Posted 28 August 2003 - 11:44 AM
Posted 28 August 2003 - 02:54 PM
That's interesting...I'll have to try it and see what happens on my 86 carbed model. I'll study the schematic as well.
If the plug dropped out, the alt circuit would no longer be grounded, and maybe thats what shut things down.
I don't think the Sube engineers would have intentionally designed the car to quit when an alt goes out "normally", as that would be a serious safety hazard. If anything, the alt dummy light (or guage) would be the warning device to let the driver know there was a problem.
Posted 29 August 2003 - 12:04 AM
I've also had the Alt go out on my old 92 Legacy, and I wouldn't think it would be instant, maybe these cars are different. But both times it went out it just came up with the battery light, and the engine eventually died due to the battery being drained.
Good luck y0!
Posted 29 August 2003 - 10:01 AM
Thanks for all the help!
Posted 29 August 2003 - 03:24 PM
Yes please do follow-up and let us know what it was.
This is valuable information to all Sube derelicts!!
good luck, John
Posted 29 August 2003 - 05:36 PM
My money is on the Alternator.
Posted 30 August 2003 - 06:16 PM
It's funny though, because my wife said the charge light never came on. Maybe it's been tampered with, or burned out. When I bought the car, the owner said that the alternator was a rebuilt, only 6 months old. It still even looks pretty new, so I never bothered checking it. It's a DL, so there's no voltage gauge, just the idiot light (that's supposed to work).
Posted 31 August 2003 - 12:09 PM
Might want to take it to an auto electric shop for a checkup now, or soon after you put on a new alt.
Posted 31 August 2003 - 12:20 PM
Posted 31 August 2003 - 05:16 PM
I also found out that my wife was cruising with the fan blasting at full and the headlights on when the car died. Then, she had left the interior light on for the last few days. I think the battery is toasted as well. It's been charging for 2 days, and still no good. Oh well. I think it still has a couple of years of pro-rated warranty left.
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