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I have an 03 Outback 2.5 A/T w appx. 184k miles.  Trans has been replaced and the previous owner took good care of and maintained the vehicle well.

The past several months I have had starting/idling/stalling issues.  This general is worse when the vehicle is cold.  It is hard to start without giving the accelerator a little help it most of the time will not start and keep running.  It will stall if the idle is not kept up but when it does it runs fine.  Sometimes it will idle and or start on its own without help, but that is generally only when it is warm, however can periodically do so on a cold start.  When it stalls out, often the "AT Oil Temp" light flashes.

The car is not throwing any codes.

When these issues first started the symptoms where worse and the idle on a few occasions started to run high on its own, yes while driving which was quite dangerous!

A few weeks back I ran some Seafoam into the intake into two different areas as per the bottles instructions to try to ensure that all cylinders where feed properly with the remains in the fuel tank.  I also cleaned the throttle body out the best I could (air filter good, pcv valve iffy.)  I did not get the standard heavy white smoke on start up that I normally do on other vehicles leading me to question whether the process took properly.  I had a mechanic tell me to reset the computers values by disconnecting the negative lead & touching it to the positive side and leave set for 15 minutes or so.  All of this seemed to do the trick.  However, it started again and I brough it to my mechanic.  The only thing they could find was a reported vacuum leak next to the intake.  That certainly could do it and assumed that when I reassembled the air cleaner, I must have not made a proper connection and was gald that was the problem.  It was not.  THe car is still doing the same thing.

I am going to try and replace the fuel filter and pcv valve next but if that doesn't do it, I am stuck!  Suggestions!?!

Btw: The TPS switch was tested and all that seems to be good.

Please HELP!?!

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Addition to above.

It seems to correct itself after resetting the computers values following the process mentioned previously, but does not last long.

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just throwing out some pssibilities;

Engine Temp Sensor (on newer cars, it's combined with the temp gauge sensor nowadays.) depending on how it fails, it might never 'choke' a cold engine.


Might be worth pulling the fuel pump assembly to look for a cracked metal cap and displaced o-ring problem.

58866d1384311999-2002-outback-2-5l-sohc-

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Touching negative to the positive????? Asking for serious trouble there!! Unhook it and let it sit a couple of hrs or overnight but don't touch negative to positive, your creating a direct short to everything electrical when your doing that ,

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Touching negative to the positive????? Asking for serious trouble there!! Unhook it and let it sit a couple of hrs or overnight but don't touch negative to positive, your creating a direct short to everything electrical when your doing that ,

 

 

in theory, it just shorts any residual charge (caps in the radio? in the ECU?) to the car's chassis. I might prefer to step on the brake pedal or, as mentioned, wait for a few minutes - but it might not be all that bad.

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Positive to negative not negative to positive, grounding positive cable to neg drains power from them, putting ground to the positive terminal creates an direct short.

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well, I may be wrong but, I assumed he was told to disconnect the negative lead of the battery(the terminal) with the engine off so, the only power left in any system would be minor.

 

certainly, one needs to be careful around a car battery.

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Yes 1 Lucky Texan you are correct.  Disconnect then reset.  As a matter of fact here are the exact instructions:

 

Perform the adaptive idle memory. Reset the adaptive values by
disconnecting the negative battery terminal, touch it to the positive
battery terminal, then leave the negative cable disconnected for about
15 minutes, and reconnect the negative cable. In most cases this will
resolve the idle concern you are describing.

 

Apologies if I put out anything that gave another impression.

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Totally agree and please don't take me wrong, not arguing here lol. But to drain power out of system it would be positive cable to ground, otherwise you would be trying to drain all power from battery doing it neg to positive, if that makes better sense.

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Another forum suggested:

Check battery  and connections in particular the negative and ground points

and for other leaks, vacumm etc as well as IACV.  This apppears to be another quite costly item and do not want to randomly replace parts nor certainly have the funding for such, but clear directions show how to remove and clean.  I think I will try that next.

 

Btw: Thanks willwright and 1 Lucky Texan for previous posts.  I will make sure that I am careful with the batttery and if the IACV cleaning doesn't do it, I will have the fuel pump checked and inspected for cracks as previously suggested.  Of course will have the engine temp sensor inspected as well!

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Totally agree and please don't take me wrong, not arguing here lol. But to drain power out of system it would be positive cable to ground, otherwise you would be trying to drain all power from battery doing it neg to positive, if that makes better sense.

 

 

You have a logical point. On a car, the 'true' return ('earth' or 'ground')  IS the neg. battery terminal. The car's frame, engine and body are just a conductor.

 

maybe mechanics are just accustomed to removing the neg. term. so often that it becomes their standard starting point?

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The car has been running fine the past several days, so I have done nothing.  I figured it best to wait for it to act up again, that way I would know that anything that I did to try and retify the problem was successful or not.  I will be sure to update as I go.  Thank you much for the follow up!

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Update:
Just started having difficulty again & I pulled the IACV (2 screws on top of the intake assembly.)  It didn't look too dirty but I started cleaning and the black build up that I thought was part of the part came off easily.  After several times of doing this and making sure it was dry I inserted and wella.  Started like a champ!
Hopefully this will do it but I will keep y'all posted if not.  Thanks very much :D for the help! 

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