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So, I have a 2004 Subaru Impreza. It's never had any issues, but all of a sudden starting problems. We put a brand new starter on it and the next day it did the same thing--didn't start. It has a new battery. It starts always when it's cold (Seattle weather). I drive to work and go back out 8 hours later and it starts again. But, from there I drive 3 miles to the store, go in for 15 minutes, come back and it won't start. Engine is cooled down, but not cold when it happens. I took it to a good Subaru dealership and they couldn't "re-enact" the non-starting issue, so it looks like I'll be getting it back in the same condition (after $120 diagnostics). It turns over (cranks), and frankly sounds terrible when it's not starting (almost like it's coughing, sputtering etc.). This was ALL explained at the Subaru place, but they can't figure it out. Could any of you give me an idea? Eventually the car does start (after 10-30 minutes of sitting someplace), but this is tough to live with. PLEASE HELP.

Zag
 

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Captain James of the SS Impreza has gone down with
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Start with the crank position sensor and work from there...
 

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Dealership won't help without a "code"

Thanks for the tip about the Crank Position Sensor. The dealership won't do anything until they can replicate the non-starting issue, but it seems to want to start for them. Can these sensors be bad even with the car not showing any code? What is a person supposed to do (I'm not somebody who can do this work myself)? Thanks.
 

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Captain James of the SS Impreza has gone down with
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Thanks for the tip about the Crank Position Sensor. The dealership won't do anything until they can replicate the non-starting issue, but it seems to want to start for them. Can these sensors be bad even with the car not showing any code? What is a person supposed to do (I'm not somebody who can do this work myself)? Thanks.
Absolutely. Cam sensors are notorious for a "no start" situation. It's located under the alternator. It's not too hard to get to, all you have to do is remove the alternator (not difficult.) You can either replace it or you can try and just wipe it off with a clean rag.
 

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Start with the crank position sensor and work from there...
Absolutely. Cam sensors are notorious for a "no start" situation. It's located under the alternator. It's not too hard to get to, all you have to do is remove the alternator (not difficult.) You can either replace it or you can try and just wipe it off with a clean rag.
Well, which is it? Crank or cam sensor?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the tip and maybe I could have somebody check that sensor....again, which one is it, the cam sensor or crank sensor (or are they the same thing)?
 

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SuperNova
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Well, which is it? Crank or cam sensor?
Check both, they'll both give you problems, but my money is on the crank position sensor as that is the signal the ignition system uses to fire.

Many engines that are equipped with electronic fuel injection also use the crankshaft position sensor signal to trigger the fuel injectors. So, if there's no spark and no injector activity, the problem is likely in the crank position sensor.
Distributorless Ignition Systems (DIS)
 

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If I were to "check" the crank position sensor, where would that be on an '04 Subaru Impreza? When you say to "check it", exactly what would I be doing? If there is no code telling me it's bad, do I just replace it or is it going to somehow show something that it is not working? Sorry to be so lame about this....I'm not someone who has ever dealt with these issues. It seems wierd that if that sensor was bad that no code would show up. I just got the car back from the dealership. They found nothing wrong and for 24 hours of being in their shop, it started up every time. Great.
 

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Thanks for starting this thread. Ive had this problem for years intermittently although in my case neither engine temp nor outdoor temp seem to be a factor. Dealership hasn't been able to resolve the issue either. They've kept it for days at a time and surprise surprise they can never recreate the symptom.. Will check out the aforementioned sensors- please let me know how your situation shakes out Zag.
 

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I will let you know what happens. The dealership didn't charge me anything for checking it out, so that was a nice surprise! (Happy New Year they said)!!! So, far I've not had a problem starting the car (one full day). Although I'm holding my breath every time I turn the ignition key! If you (Subie Doobie) solve the mystery, I'd like to know too. Mine has only been doing this for about 3 weeks, so something obviously has changed or is "going out" or something. The dealership won't just start replacing sensors with no code telling them they are going bad and with the car starting up for them. I'm not a mechanic. Just want the car to start!
 

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The cam sensor is behind the alt. The crank sensor is right on top of the block. Sometimes they just need to have the faces wiped clean. They are electromagnets. Next culprit might be the pruge valve for the charcoal canister in the EVAP system.
 

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Thanks for that tip (Donkey)...As I stated before, I'm not somebody who works on cars AT ALL, but I'm keeping track of all of these tips for somebody else to go by. I wonder why the dealership wouldn't have tried to at least do those couple of these simple things? I think all they did was to keep turning the ignition and when it started everytime for them, that was that--and they really didn't check anything else out. It's not like a person would make this type of problem up!!! I really appreciate all your help!!

Zag
 

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Thanks for that tip (Donkey)...As I stated before, I'm not somebody who works on cars AT ALL, but I'm keeping track of all of these tips for somebody else to go by. I wonder why the dealership wouldn't have tried to at least do those couple of these simple things? I think all they did was to keep turning the ignition and when it started everytime for them, that was that--and they really didn't check anything else out. It's not like a person would make this type of problem up!!! I really appreciate all your help!!

Zag
Completely agree on the dealership not checking stuff out. Every time I would take my car in for one thing or another under warranty I'd find new parts (clips, snaps, etc) left in my cup holder that they "forgot to put back". Recently, I discovered they never replaced my cabin air filter when they removed it last and today when replacing the valve cover gaskets I found several cables that were not fastened down after they worked around them so they were just hangin free. If the dealership isnt even thorough enough to finish a specific (often over priced) job I can't imagine they would spend much time investigating a problem that they cant reproduce.. I could be wrong but that's just my opinion.

Will update you if I get to the root of the problem. Good luck.
 

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My '95 Legacy (ok, sorry for intruding, Impreza people!) has been doing exactly the same thing for the past year or so. Occasionally won't start after it's been driven a few miles. Engine cranks ok, just doesn't fire. Let it sit for up to 45 minutes, starts right up just like nothing was ever wrong. It'll do this maybe once in 10 or 15 trips, hot or cold weather - same. No CEL. Coolant temp sensor, right? Replaced it. Same problem. Next, following leads from my Subie guy and posts on numerous forums, swapped in another ECM, then replaced the knock sensor, then swapped cam position sensor with my '97Outback hoping to transfer the problem to it. Nope, still the Legacy. I've checked spark and fuel delivery when it's doing it's no-starting thing and both OK. Seems to be a common but elusive problem. Runs great and no other problems except this one. Any ideas?
 

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Yep, primed by turning the ignition switch on for a few seconds before cranking. Also, disconnected the fuel line exiting the filter and it gushed out while cranking. Seems to be getting fuel that far anyway. Spark ok too. Baffling!
 
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