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Starter Issues (?) '96 Legacy Wagon


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8 replies to this topic

#1 freeman_jj

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 12:07 AM

Greetings! And Happy Christmas and all that--

My girlfriend has a 1996 Legacy wagon with a weird starter issue. The trick is that on the first start in the morning (cold here, in Minneapolis) the starter just spins without engaging the engine. The second try usually gets a bit of engine crank, but then a spinning starter, and the third try she starts like a dream. This really isn't a problem in the summer months, and only happens rarely once the car is warmed up.

From what I've gleaned, this is *not* a contact or solenoid issue, as the starter does spin, just without grabbing the engine. Are there any other bits that might be needing easy replacement, or am I best just getting her a reman starter?

Thanks for any input!

Cheers,
-John

#2 Tiny Clark

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 01:08 AM

If it is happening the way you describe it, sounds like there are teeth missing on your flex plate...

Tiny

#3 Legacy777

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 02:17 AM

what's the battery like? Has it been replaced recently?

Might be there's just not enough juice when it's really cold to make the starter fully engage.

#4 freeman_jj

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 08:34 AM

Sorry, should have given a bit more detail on the car's situation. The car was purchased last January with 57,000 miles on it. It now has 65,000 miles, and we just did the 60,000 mile service. Having someone else do the 60k service was instigated by my girlfriend having the car stall one day and then start back up with the check engine light on. When they pulled the codes, it turned out the crank angle sensor was failing, and they also found the battery to be failing.

So, in response to the question: the battery is brand spanking new, as are plugs, wires, timing belt, water pump and all fluids...

Flex plate teeth? That sounds uncomfortable.... Any more details or suggestions for how I might be able to diagnose?

Thanks, by the by, for the quick replies.

Cheers,
-John

#5 Commuter

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 10:24 AM

I don't think starters have changed that much over the years.

This sort of action was usually an indication of a starter pinion problem. The pinion engages the ring gear by sliding along a short shaft. The shaft has a couple spiral groves in it. There are pin(s) thru the pinion that engage these grooves. The turning of the shaft by the starter motor causes the pinion to engage the ring gear. If the starter just spins, then something is worn or broken or sticking in this area. I don't know if this is a part that can be changed on it's own. (I think it can.)

Given the age of the vehicle, you might run into the common solenoid contact issue as well. I'd probably just go for a rebuilt starter if the price is right.

Commuter

#6 cookie

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 11:51 AM

starter drive when I was a mechanic.
Yes it is a part that is fairly easily changed.
Usually you split the starter case with two to three bolts (after removing the starter of course), and remove the engagement fork before pulling off the drive.
Start by inspecting the flywheel or flexplate teeth to make sure they are OK, as if it was run long enough with a bad drive they can be damaged.
Most mechanics just install a rebuilt starter these days as they are more reliable and take about a third of the time to change as doing a rebuild.
In my college days I rebuilt many a starter on the kitchen table.
If you are going so far as to put in a starter drive you would be well off to service the entire starter as the contacts are known to be weak.

#7 SevenSisters

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 01:19 PM

With about 120K on my '91 Legacy, I suspect the starter contacts will be ready to go soon. In order to be prepared for this when this happens or even proactively replace the contacts before they go, what do I need and where do I get them?

Thanks

#8 cookie

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 01:28 PM

and I am in CA things may be a bit different.
All I would need to do is go down to my local forign auto parts store, tell them the make, year and model, and that I was going to rebuild the starter.
They would give me brushes, bushings, and a drive. If it has an integral solenoid I would get new contacts for that too. You can clean the ones you have also, but it is quicker and easier to replace them.
You can also order Subie parts off the web as many folks do here, or go to the dealer.
I have found my local dealer to be an OK but expensive place to order parts. They have dealer only items that parts stores don't have, but at about twice the price.
Develop a relationship with a good parts guy and he can be a great help to you.
You need someone who will make all the phone calls to trace a hard to find part, and who has intelligence and experiece.
I never seem to find this in my local discount auto parts stores as the turnover is so great.

#9 Tiny Clark

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Posted 27 December 2003 - 06:40 AM

You should be able to pull the starter out and operate it while removed from its mount. The starter gear should pop out pretty hard before the motor starts turnng. Just make sure you have a good hold of it.




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