Shep2112 Posted January 5, 2007 Share Posted January 5, 2007 Hi all, So I had a defective battery after 2 1/2 years and had it replaced in December. Car started just fine, so we hit the road from Florida to Massachusetts later that day. Continually started fine but a couple days in Mass around 30 to 35 degrees and the starts were getting slower. Cranked slower and took a couple extra seconds to get running. I decided to have it checked when we got back to Florida as it always started fine. On the ride back to Florida, we had rain almost the entire way. Every start was fine, perhaps better as the temperature outside went up a few degrees between rest/gas stops. At some point, we stopped to fill up, restarted fine. Drove 2 miles on the highway, stopped at a rest area for a pit stop, left it idling. A minivan next to me had their headlights and the lady driving was sleeping with a pillow against the glass. Obviously planning on staying for a bit of time. I couldn't hear if her engine was running or not being next to my car and the highway, so I got in my car and turned it off.. Her engine was off too.. Okay, so I asked my wife to knock on the lady's window and tell her the lights were on. Now here's the kicker, in the meantime, I went to restart and the dash lights came on, but no start, no click, no tick, nothing at all. ("It's just lights sir, they seem to have no function whatsoever"). I turned the key back and tried again, same thing. After a few tries, I noticed some of the lights flickering rapidly and still the same thing, no clicks, ticks, engine sounds, etc. I turned it off and immediately checked this forum on my ipaq pda phone.. I was panicking as it was about 5am, super downpour outside, car won't start and we're hundreds of miles from Florida.. On New Year's Day morning, so who knows if I'll even FIND an open mechanic later that morning? I found several posts on here about flickering dashes, bad $7 pieces in the starter, bad solenoids, bad starters, etc.. I tried switching my car's alarm to valet mode and starting again. No luck.. Checked the manual, nothing.. After more than an hour in the car in the rain and too much Powerade, I had to use the bathroom again. I went back in, came out, waited for the rain to let up a little, ran to the car, got in and was going to call the highway patrol number posted by the building but decided to give it one more shot.. Turned the key forward, the lights were solid and then the car started without hesitation or roughness.. (on second thought, THAT is the kicker, no? :-\ So everything was good. We drove for a few hours, stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast, came back out, car started up just fine. Okay, maybe it was a fluke.. Drove til the tank was low again and stopped for gas.. Maybe we stopped in between too, I don't recall.. Anyway, stopped for gas, left the key turned forward (my alarm auto-arms itself if you pull the key and all the doors are closed). Parking lights were on, maybe headlights too (I was in the backseat sleeping, not sure where the switch was set). Filled up, ready to start up and the dash flickers again! Tried it a few times, turning the valet mode on and off on the alarm again, no luck. So we rolled the car away from the pumps and tried it again, same thing. Flickering lights, no engine sounds, no clicking/ticking. I checked the battery voltage with a meter and it read 10.20 volts.. Not exactly bursting at the seams with power, but usually enough to get the job done. I asked some guys for a jump start and they hooked up their mazda or whatever pickup and my dash lights still flickered when I tried to start it. Still no sounds at all. We kept our batteries attached like some weird mating ritual of two sea creatures far from their watery home (the rain had nearly stopped by this point) for about 10 minutes. Then they told me they were going to be late for something and had to go. My car still made no sounds whatsoever. They left and we sat in my car. Decided to give it 5 minutes and try it again..The dash lights were solid before starting and it turned over immediately, like it was just messing with me and once it decided it was no longer funny, it gave up the game and acted like nothing was wrong. We filled the tank the next time with the engine running and each subsequent stop we left it running.. I drove the car today and it was fine when I left the house.. When I left from the office about 3 hours later, it took 6-8 seconds to turn over, the engine turning slower and slower until it finally found a spark it liked and started up. I was amazed it actually was turning fast enough to kick over. I turned on the headlights and when I hit the brake to put it in reverse, the radio went dead and back on a couple times. I put it in park and ran it around 2,000 to 2,500 rpm's for a minute and then backed out. At some point the ABS light came on for a second or so when I pressed the brake again. The radio went out again at the end of the parking lot, so I shut it off.. While driving, the headlights were bright but seemed to dim briefly when the A/C compressor kicked in or I hit the brakes. Acceleration was fine.. I drove back to AdvanceDiscount Auto and said I have battery problems again, I think it's defective.. I pulled the battery and they tested it. Sure enough, it was defective.. I mentioned the starter cut-out and the sales guy said maybe the computer didn't like having the positive terminal pulled and needed to have some kind of reset procedure. But I explained this happened more than a week after the new battery was put in and hadn't happened when I had the last battery installation, nor did it happen when I pulled the battery to install amplifiers, new radios, etc. So with the (new) new battery, it started up just fine again. I've started it twice now with the new one and it seems great.. So is the problem with the subaru starter cutout? I called LoJack (who installed my alarm) and they said unless I have a chip on my key, the starter cutout was originally on the car and to talk to a Subaru dealer.. I can't predict when this will happen, if in fact it will again (so I don't know where to test), but some kind of time amount seems to correct the problem. It's not related to battery strength as it turns over just fine when it decides to finally give me control back once again. There seems to be no problem starting when it does start, so I don't think anything is worn down to the point of near-failure. All I know for sure is that it was raining for about 1,200 miles of our trip. I smelled a faint oil smell on some stops, which I think was oil sitting under the engine getting washed up onto something hot from all the rain coming off the road. It went away after a few seconds of being stopped and the dipstick looked good. The battery was low when I checked it. The battery was tested and found to be defective and was replaced. The only aftermarket things installed were my radar detector and Kenwood head unit. I unplugged the radar and turned off the radio and that didn't stop the flicker. But each time this happened, the lights flickered and then when it wanted to work, the lights were solid. The alternator was tested while bolted to the engine when I got the first battery replacement a few weeks back and tested fine. What happened and will it happen again and how can I fix it? I don't know if I can trust my car now and that's a sucky feeling Thanks in advance, anyone! -Eric Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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