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91 Loyale 4WD Wagon starting diagnosis help


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19 replies to this topic

#1 PeterL

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 04:01 PM

I'd appreciate some help with this problem: When I turn the ignition key to on (not start) I hear a whirring sound and then a click. If I try to turn the key to start, the whirring sound continues at a lower pitch but car will not crank. Is this a fuel pump problem? Or a fuel filter problem? Local Subaru dealers say that they don't know much about Loyales -- PeterL

#2 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 04:20 PM

Not sure what the whirring noise it - could be your fuel pump. If so, then it's probably nothing to worry about. The click is some auxilery solenoid closing - also probably normal.

I would check your starter solenoid. One way to check it - smack the starter with a rubber mallet, or the handle end of a wood hammer. If the solenoid is stuck this will sometimes get it to work temporarily. If this is the case, the starter can be dissasembled and cleaned, or you can get a new or rebuilt one if you don't want to do that. Two bolts, and a couple wires and the starter comes off easy.

Another thing - try putting it in run, and jumpering the starter with a screwdriver. If it starts then your start circuit is messed up. There isn't much to that circuit other than the ignition switch, some wires, and the starter/starter solenoid.

GD

#3 Meeky Moose

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 04:21 PM

the click and whiring sound is normal in my experiences.. i'm pretty sure that click and whir is totally irrelevant to it not cranking..

if its not cranking at all, theres a few things to check.. make sure the battery is good. the cold weather tends to get an older battery.. its got to be getting some sorta power from the battery because the fuel pump is working. (thats what the click and whirring sound is)

next try cleaning your battery cables with a wire brush or battery terminal brush, sometimes they develop a coating on them and will not make a good connection..

if your car is a 5-speed and its parked on a hill, turn the key to the on position, let it roll a little bit and pop start it.. beings that is it fuel injected it should start right up....
if its not on a hill and ya don't have a few buddies to push ya don't try it, this will not work if its an automatic.

if you manage to get it started take it to a parts store (advance, napa, autozone, etc.. and have them check the charging system and battery..


heres a few symptoms that your fuel pump and/or fuel filter are bad.
car cranks but does not start, or starts then dies quickly
car will seem to stall intermittently..

your car will always crank even if your fuel pump and/or fuel filter are plugged or broken.

i'd really check the battery... ya might even hit walmart and get a cheapo battery and try it.. if it doesn't work simply take it back for a refund.. but i'm bettin the cold weather got your battery..

#4 PeterL

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 04:48 PM

Thanks for your comments.

I'm pretty sure it's not the battery. Lights are bright with the engine off and remain bright when the key is turned to start (crank). Even though the engine does not turn over, the lights remain bright. Usually, if the battery is bad, the lights will dim noticably when you try to crank the engine.

By the way, sometimes with no whirring sound or click, the car starts almost instantly! And usually after driving for a while, it starts right away. If it was the starter solenoid, it should have starting problems even when the engine is warm.

Is there a sensor of some kind that senses fuel pressure at the injectors and will not allow the engine to crank unless the pressure reaches some minimum level? This is a single point fuel injected engine.

Keep your suggestions coming and please tell me if my reasoning is faulty.

PeterL

#5 PeterL

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 05:07 PM

General..
Lets explore the starter solenoid as the cause. What exactly happens when you turn the key to start? At what point is there a heavy current draw from the battery for starting (that would dim the headlights)? In my case, I'm not getting there...
PeterL

#6 Cougar

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 05:25 PM

The short whirring sound you hear is the fuel pump pressurizing the system. When the pressure is up the pump turns off.

Your problem with the starter could be due to poor battery connections and you should clean them first if you have not done that already. Also check the main leads for internal corrosion that can cause this kind of thing to happen. If those things don't solve your problem then you may have some bad starter solenoid contacts. You can replace those seperately if need be. With the age of the car this is a real likely culprit.

#7 PeterL

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 05:53 PM

Glen,
If the battery contacts are bad/dirty, wouldn't the lights go dim when you turn the key to start (crank)?
PeterL

#8 Cougar

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 07:05 PM

The high current draw from a starter motor running is what causes the dimming. The battery voltage can drop to around 9 volts while running the motor. If the solenoid contacts are not really making the connection to the motor then you won't have the high current draw to cause the dimming.

#9 frag

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 08:33 PM

You have'nt said yet if it's auto or manual. If it's manual it could be the clutch pedal starter defeat switch. I had this problem with my 92 Loyale once.
If it's a manual try this next time it does'nt start. Put the ignition to start and pump the clutch pedal a few times to jolt the switch. If it starts then, you've found your problem.
The switch is at the top of the clutch pedal stem. A little hard to reach but doable.

#10 Skip

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 10:05 PM

Peter, first let me welcome you to the board.
Lot of good info has been passed so far.
My expierence and findings differ on a few points
1) you ask about a pressure switch that senses fuel pressure and allows the starter to engage. I have never seen any such devise on a Subaru
2) Glen says the fuel pump runs to pressurize the system - this is true but to the best of my knowledge, it is controled by a timer in the ECU, .
3) Gilles has a good point about the clutch switch. If it's an auto the nuetral start switch could be to blame.
4) You ask why don't the head lights dim. What has been my problem on four separate Roos of this vintage is the ignition switch start contacts. They don't pass enough juice to pull the solenoid and then as Glen says the starter does not draw the battery down (dim head lamps).
You sound quite savoy in this endevour and I would suggest you catch it in this problem then take a piece of wire (16 AWG or so) connect one end to the positive battery terminal the other to the small spade connector on the starter (you will have to remove the factory connector.) If this "jumper" makes it crank, post here or email me for a relay fix I use. It could indeed be the starter solenoid contacts but I use this test first. Hope this helps


#11 Cougar

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Posted 01 December 2003 - 11:30 PM

One other good thing to check Peter is the small wire to the starter motor. This is the wire that provides voltage to the solenoid to turn it on. If you don't have voltage there when you turn the key to start then there is a problem back towards the ignition switch. Using a test light to check that will tell you real quick what way you have to look for a problem. If you have voltage there and you don't hear the solenoid click then the solenoid coil may be open.

Skip mentioned the fuel pump timer in the ECU and I beleive he is correct. Thanks Skip, right on as usual. This will not cause the symtoms you have with the starter Peter. Listening for the pump to run will tell you that some other things are happening though and can be real handy to know.

#12 hops

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 08:37 AM

Sounds like the same problem I had with my '91. Skip was right in my case and I'm sure he's right this time. I ended up getting a new starter and it fixed the problem.

Klaus

#13 PeterL

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 09:04 AM

Thanks all for sharing your knowledge and ideas!

Well, here what I have gathered so far. But first let me pass on a few facts a) my Soob is a 5 sp MT, so the clutch switch could indeed be the culprit. B) This morning, after about a 15 mile trip, I tried to restart after I shut of the engine: same problem, so it has nothing to do with the engine temperature.

So, here are the current suspects (pun intended)....

1. The clutch switch. Is there a simple way to jumper this switch to essentially take it out of the starting circuit? Is there a simple test with a voltmeter to confirm that this is the problem?

2. The solenoid is not energizing. I can't tell from any clicks. I hear the fuel pump whirring followed by a click, but from the posts above it sounds like the click may be the pump shutting off by a timer in the ECU. Any suggestions to test this theory?

3. The solenoid is energizing, but the contacts that brings cranking current to the starter is bad. How do I check this

If you have comments, please refer to suspect 1, 2 or 3

Also, thanks to you, I think the fuel system in my Soob has been falsely blamed by me!

PeterL

#14 Meeky Moose

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 10:27 AM

well, one other thing i can think of is the ignition switch.. i know my hatch is totally different from a loyale, but sometimes you can turn the key to start and it does absolutely nothing..

but keep tryin and wiggle the key and it'll fire right up.. think i got a bad tumbler in the ignition switch.. just something else to look into..

#15 frag

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 11:01 AM

About the clutch pedal switch.
1) Did you try pumping the pedal keeping it not too far from where the switch closes,when the pedal is near the floor ? It sometimes activate a failing switch.
2) The switch is up on the pedal stem. Contrary to the brake pedal rear lights switch it's a switch that closes by pushing on it. This switch - when closed - makes a ground for the starter relay (under the dash to the left if I remember weel)
If your remove the connector to the switch (two wires one comming from the starter relay and the other going to ground) and connect the two wires together one way or another it will bypass the switch.
On my Loyale and even now on my Legacy, I've permanently bypassed this switch. I still press on the clutch pedal to start just to disengage the trans but it's no longer necessary. No more problem with this switch .

#16 Cougar

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 12:18 PM

You need to see if you are getting voltage to the solenoid from the ignition switch first Peter. This would relate to your #2 question.

Following this procedure will tell you what you need to do, the fastest way I know of. You need to pin down the area of the fault and this is the way to do it.

Find the small wire on the starter solenoid and put a test light probe, or the positive lead of a voltmeter, on the connection. Tie the other lead of the tester to a good ground. When you turn the key to the start position you should see the light turn on or have 12 volts on the meter. If the starter does not turn on and you have voltage there, then you need to either replace or work on the starter ( I assume you have already cleaned your battery connections and checked your main cables for internal corrosion). You will need to do this check when the problem is happening but you can verify the operation while things are ok.

If you don't have any voltage there then you need to look at the safety switches, ignition switch, or bad wiring to the solenoid as your problem.

#17 MilesFox

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 06:04 PM

you can test your wire by jumping from the battery to the starter as skip suggested.

the fuel pump kicks on for a few seconds. then it recieves a signal from the dist. to stay on.

i dont know about 91, but all my mt's would start without depressing the clutch

if the starter works wit the jumper wire,
you can make a push button starter switch by connecting to the tab on the back of the starter. run a wire from the fuse panel, to a switch, and then thru the firewall to the starter. that will save you from having to take the dasboard and carpet out to find a relay

the power for the starter comes straight off the positive cable.
i have seen cables that looked intact, but had a break inside.
make sure your pos battery wire is good

#18 hops

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 08:18 AM

talk to skip

#19 PeterL

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 03:01 PM

Thanks to all your posts and some expert guidance from Skip (take a bow, please) my Soob is alive and well again.

Yes, it was the starter solenoid. The "clack" on start confirmed that it was not the clutch switch. And of course the fuel system was innocent all along.

I can't say enough about how helpful you all were. I think we can call this thread closed.

Peter :-)

#20 Skip

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Posted 04 December 2003 - 03:14 PM

Peter your welcome, I am glad we all could help, it was indeed a team effort




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