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Is the starter motor dead?

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Hello all,

I was wondering if you could help me diagnose a problem.

So recently I've been having trouble starting the car, the key is turned, ignition on, radio turns on, sub turns on, dash lights up; I push disable the immobiliser and turn the key: *nada*.

1 of three things will happen:

1. Nothing at all, everything (excluding sub) turns off, no clicks, no nothing just the faint plees of myself: "please, not now"

2. everything in 1 happens except there is a fairly high pitched buzzing sound then a loud click/clunk, then nothing happens.

3. the car starts normally, albeit 2-3seconds of whirring before the engine comes to life

I have tried to establish whether it is related to weather, but warm (12celcius +) or cold (<0celcius) means nothing to this problem.

The only thing I can think of is it is just due to the way the position the motor internals stopped in but if I turn the car off and immediately turn it back on it starts up every time guaranteed.

If I sit in the car and repeat the following steps like a while loop:

while (Started == false){

    disable immobiliser

    pause 2 seconds

    turn key

    if (engine.isEnabled == true){
          Started = true


    else {

        turn key back



Eventually it will start, this could take 30 seconds, it could take 3minutes. I believe my frustrated truffle shuffle helps, but that could just be a coincidence. :mellow:

All the other electricals work, if I turn the interior light on and blast some dubstep there is no dip in illumination. :huh:

It's only done 55,000 miles, would anyone have a scooby:laugh: as to why? 

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Could be a host of things alternator not changing the Battery starter motor or a fuel issue, Ie fuel pump not working as it should either on its way out or something to do with mobilisation circuit to it.

Have you run any diagnostics ?

Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk

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As said above check the Battery and engine earths / starter motor live are clean and making a good connection.

In the early imprezas they have a "fuesable link " in the under bonnet fuse box , its basically a 30amp bit of wire with a spade connection on either end . This is the main "cranking" fuse , so if yours has 1 , it might also be worth checking too

If all else fails Halfords sometimes does a free winter Battery check , they might stumble across the fault and at least you might be able to rule out the Battery (if the test is ok ) [emoji6]

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It a 12yr old starter and if done lot of short trips it had more use than a car with 120k on it.

Sounds likely mechanical solenoid issue to me BUT always check power and grounds, we do this with voltage drop test with a dmm having tested Battery charge state/drop test, also use infra red heat gun these days too and see temps at cable joins as shows a high resistance connection in seconds without getting fingers dirty.
You also want check the ignition 12v trigger signal to starter solenoid as if ignition switch related or immobilizer related that 12v feed will be 0v .
If the ignition trigger is 12v and getting to the solenoid and wiring to starter and voltage good (you can use jump leads as temporary leads/earths as a test procedure) then starter needs pulling and bench test and repair/replace .


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That would be my hunch from his comments and experience but assume nothing and test everything .
We would diagnose that in 10 to 20 minutes unless something more odd with immobiliser or ignition switch needing more testing pinpoint part and repair options .
Do get odd one with simple Battery terminal issue, had one before xmas where lady had ordered a Battery online and fitted it herself, she hadn't loosened clamps off enough to fit fully down on new terminals and not done them very tight, wiggling them could see was loose and pushing down on them cured the intermittent no crank issue lol . easy fix with a 10mm spanner .
Charged her hour and half labour and recon starter :-D no i didn't, only joking lol .

Plenty starter motor option used or recon and easy fit so no big deal if that the issue .

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I have no idea how old the Battery is, but haven't replaced it in the 3 months I've owned the car.

As far as I am aware the car was sat on the dealers lot for 2 years at least, would've imagined they needed to change it in order to sell it to me as working.

I'm not too sure how to run diagnostics on it aside from the old volt meter and patience way.

How would I go about testing the fuel pump? I'd have thought that the car running as normal would indicate the fuel pump is coolio, but idk.

How long would a Battery (fully charged) last without the alternator charging it? The car always seems to start up and the problem has been around for at least 2 weeks.

When the weather finally picks up (I've nowhere to maintain the car except the drive in the rain), I'll be checking what I can. I'll try to post back soon, if the weather doesn't pickup I guess I'll just put on a coat and deal.

Hopefully one of those turns up positive, leaving hopefully just the starter and immobiliser. Think I'd be replacing the starter before the immobiliser.


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Nothing to do with fuel pump so don't waste any time in that area.

If you got multimeter check Battery voltage, should be 12.2 (low charge state) to 12.8 roughly pending on Battery type(full charge no surface charge state)
Also check Battery voltage with aid of helper when no crank present and key held in crank position, if voltage still high all good if dropped to like 9v Battery likely iffy

with engine running and alternator working you should see 13.8v+ (normally 14v to 14.4v)

turn on headlights fan and rear demister and check voltage, increase revs if voltage bit low and see if goes up again .

This very basic battery and alternator test as not checking amp output from alternator or actual capacity of battery but it will be helpful if readings are all on high side .

If that passes, use multimeter at starter and check battery voltage to starter cable side and starter terminal side and do resistance check earth side, also want do voltage drop test when under load (cranking) "google voltage drop testing for instructions.

Only other wire on starter is smaller gauge ignition trigger wire which is what activates the starter solenoid when you turn the key to crank, if this shows 12V when turn key it fine and if shows 12v with key turned to crank and starter not working you instantly know immobiliser fine and starter or starter wring issue .

My hunch from 30yrs experience, 20 on subaru and your description is starter/solenoid or if lucky simple wiring issue such as loose or corroded terminal .

other simple test you could do with a helper is have them hold key in crank position while no crank fault present then first off tap on starter/soleniod with wood hammer handle repeatedly and see if springs into life (if does solenoid/yoke level worn/sticky, replace starter assembly) 
If doesn't spring to life try tapping pushing wiggling battery terminals and cable terminals at back of starter and if springs into life you found the area of fault .

This all easy stuff but needs some experience fill the gaps and make most of test results you get .
Don't go throwing parts at it without testing as just throwing money away . test don't guess . starter and battery good place learn some basics and plenty tuition on google for multimeter use on starter and battery tests .

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Looks like I'm gonna be carrying a volt meter around wherever I go for the odd occasion when nothing happens. The ignition trigger wire might be a difficult one to test but when it happens I'll be ready :cool:

Thank you so much Mr B for the advice! :biggrin:

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If that intermittent then harder test and less likely anything battery/alternator .

at the least take a poking device so when happens can hit/tap starter with it, if good hitting/tapping on starter/solenoid results in it cranking then pretty conclusive and will ideally want replace starter if all wiring checks fine. These things get worse but don't leave it too long or you may get stranded and if got no breakdown cover it gets pricey before even fixing issue .

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