Jump to content
Ultimate Subaru Message Board

Odd Brake/Neutral Safety Switch/Starter/Gremlin Problem?

Recommended Posts



I'm having a really weird problem and having been able to pull up anything in my repair book, online or on the forum here. A lot of that has to do with not really sure how to word the searches.

The temperature has started dropping and ever since it got below zero if the car has sat for a few hours while at work or over night when you go to start it (pressing the brake, turning the key) nothing happens, no crank, no start, nothing. If you let go of the brake and turn the key it starts up. Drive five minutes, turn off the car, go into a store or something and when you come back the car starts fine with pressing the brake. The other morning I tried not pressing the brake when starting the first time of the day and nothing happened. Tried with brake and nothing happened. Without brake, nothing. Moved the gear shifter through the gears a few times and nothing. This may have been a coincidence and may not have started if I did my usual first try with the brake. My wife tried a couple hours later in the morning and it started up fine. On occassion you have to use your foot to raise the brake to get it to start. About 1/3 to 1/2 of the times when it starts it kind of half dies before fully starting.


I'm thinking it's the neutral safety switch but the brake thing and the starter being weird on occassion is throwing me off. As I said it only started once the temperature dropped. This has happened on a couple occassions since we bought the car three years ago, maybe once or twice in a winter but never constantly.


Any thoughts? Thanks in advance for any help. If there's a previous topic I missed my apologies!

Edit: It's a 2001 Legacy.

Edited by potter2010
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's an automatic with 239,000km, purchased it three years ago with 209,000 on it. With the initial startup after cold it won't start in neutral or park when the brake is pressed but let go of the brake and I believe it has started in both park and neutral. There aren't any CEL lights but I just replaced the knock sensor a couple weeks ago. The downstream O2 pops up every couple of months and then but it's pretty much welded on so I might have to get a mechanic to change it.

I was thinking the neutral safety switch but I'll give the starter a good wack tomorrow morning and see if that fixes it. I'll let you know!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well it's been a few days now of no trouble starting. Thank you all for the advice! I gave the starter a good number of hits with a hammer and cleaned up the terminals. Since then no issue, even in the cold and sitting over night without being plugged in. I have a safety on Monday to pass so this is perfect. Thanks again!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

yeah, if the terminals were tight and fairly corrosion free, you just need a rebuild kit installed for the contacts and maybe the plunger. Check ebay.


If there WAS corrosion on the cables - that may have been the only problem.


try not to use a hammer too vigorously - I think the magnets inside are brittle. better to just whack it with medium light force with a piece of wood. That is really not a longterm solution though, just to diagnose that the contacts are worn.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...