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Here's the story...

For a few months our 2002 4cyl outback was developing a problem where the you would turn the key and hear "click" but not start. Try it again and it would start fine and strong. As time when on there were more "clicks" before a start. Eventually, it just clicked, and no start.

I tested the battey, it seems fine. so I ruled out the battery.

I put the key in the On position and bypassed the relay with a jumper wire between the starter and the battery and just got the "click". So I ruled out the relay

I removed the starter.

Just for kicks, I attached the starter to the battery. The pinion gear popped into place and spun just fine (with no load on it).

Should I be worried, or is it still the starter?

 

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Welcome to the USMB, Nelson.  Sounds like a common problem--there are copper contacts inside the solenoid that carry the current to the starter motor.  They get burned and pitted after years of use.  Remove the starter, open the rear plate and you can access them for replacement--new contacts are available from a dealership, an auto-electric shop or online.

 

Good luck!

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