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Subaru Legacy Difficult To Start

Q. My 1995 Subaru Legacy L sedan doesn't start easily. It has 2.2 liter, automatic transmission with 75,000 miles. I had the battery replaced in Oct 2002. A year later I have problem starting the engine. I replaced serpentine belts in Sept 2002, spark plugs 28,000 miles ago, and timing belt two weeks ago. The person at the auto station tested the battery and the result showed 25% charge so I replaced the battery two weeks ago as well.

Subaru Legacy Difficult To Start

Snap-On tester from them showed that battery, alternator, and starter passed. I took the starter to two different auto parts stores for testing. Within an hour the results were different: AutoZone showed around 150 amp, Advanced Auto Parts showed around 100 amps. I'm not sure if one has a better tester.

I have not replaced the fuel filter since I bought this car in 1996 but plan to replace it next few days. I notice in the past year there's a strong smell of gas when the engine starts. Starting problem occurs intermittent; sometimes in the morning, afternoon, evening, cold or warm engine. Sometimes it cranks slowly then starts. Other times it cranks slowly but not start.

Yet other times it just clicks. I can hear the hum sound when I turn it to ON (not START). Once it starts, it runs fine. It doesn't stall at all when stopping at red lights or stop signs or when I let the engine idle.

I contacted Subaru and was told that their record shows the cam/crank sensors (recall) were replaced in September 1998. I appreciate any help or advice you could offer.


A. The problem is when you go to have it tested, everything is working thus no problem shows up. It really needs to be tested when the problem is actually occurring for any testing to give a diagnosis.

I would let a Subaru Dealer take a crack at this one. They can check the PCM and see if any codes are stored. The gas smell could be due to a bad Coolant Temperature Sensor, leaking injectors or bad fuel pressure regulator.

They can also do a charging system check and starter current draw test. The latter can only be accurately done with the starter in the car. And we can't rule out the possibility the new battery is bad. That car needs a battery that is, at least, 500 Cold Cranking Amps. Anything less will give you problems starting the engine.

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