Strange battery & non-cranking problems - please help ??

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This is about our 2011 Outback.

We’ve had a very strange couple of days with it & now it is parked where the towing service put it - and will go no farther until it can be fixed somehow.

Monday 11/14 it started & was used to get to work with zero problems - then after work its battery was suddenly too weak for it to crank.

(No interior lights or anything were left on during work time.)

After having a co-worker offer a jump, it did crank over & start.

It got home OK (~20 miles) - and again had not enough juice to re-start.

Oddly, the battery read 12.7V on the DVM...so it was put on to charge for ~3 hours with our 10A charger - after which it was still too weak & again still came up with 12.7V somehow.

The next day that battery was totally flat - as if there had been something draining it all night.

Later a spare, used battery was installed & it started right up with no problems & no trouble lights of any sort.

Since that battery was years old & marginal at best the OB was driven ~45 minutes away to go buy a new battery - again - no problems indicated.

Came out with the brand new battery - swapped it into the car - and that is when the troubles began...

Attempting to start it had the dash lighting up normally, but when cranking was attempted all that was heard was a very quiet relay type sound seeming to be on the passenger side - but zero cranking.

(Sort of like what happens when cranking is attempted with just a plain steel, unchipped key...)

Thinking the new battery was weak somehow, the booster pack was attached - same result.

Swapped the old battery back in - no change.

Our OB has the genuine Subaru remote starter - so the car was locked & that was tried - it made 3-4 attempts with just the same results & quit.

Being totally baffled - the OBD reader was attached & showed 1 code, for CPS bank A as I recall.

At that point, after trying what I could, AAA was called to tow it home.

While waiting, I spoke with a friend who is a trained mechanic (though only seldom works on Subarus) & he said that to his knowledge there was no super secret decoder ring or other arcane stuff needed - just swap the batteries, and all SHOULD be well.

He also commented that most likely the CPS code should not have prevented it from cranking normally - whether it could then start, or not.

At this point all the above has created concern & of course confusion as doing such a simple thing should have been just that - simple - but turned out so badly.

Hopefully someone here can shed some light upon this situation before the OB has to be towed in for service.

Thanks for any helpfuly replies !!
 
Wow.
9 days since posting & nary a peep in response.
Wow twice.
So this is going to be a guess since I am not looking at the car. I also am new to Subies, but they are not all that different than most Japanese cars.
Has the starter motor been tested off the car? The issue MAY not be the battery. You MAY have a failing starter motor.
Messing with the batteries will probably not confirm the condition of the starter motor one way or the other.
Starters, like all high torque electrical motors, eventually fail. In the past I have seen this occur on cars, ceiling fans, A/C blower motors, etc. They all work on the same basic principal, and they all will fail eventually.
Intermittent starting is a common sign of a dying electric motor.
You also did not mention whether you have a Lead Acid or an AGM battery. 12.7 volts is about right for a Lead acid, and a bit low for an AGM. but again; voltage alone WILL NOT tell you the working capacity of any battery, even a new one.
They MUST be load tested to know for sure.
There is an outside chance that the Starter Relay has taken a crap. the relay is essentially an on/off switch. If it acts up, so will your ability to start...
This car is 15 ish years old. That is a LOT of starts...may just be your time.
Good Luck!
AMLOR
 
Thanks for replying after all this time (Nov 16, 2022) !!

As it ended up...
After I had it AAA towed home on that cold night, just for yuks I took my small hammer to it & gave it a couple of whacks - and it cranked right up fine.

So after finding out that it was a non-rebuildable model from someone that does that work, I ordered a new one, had it put in & it has been fine ever since;
Thank Goodness !!
 
Thanks for replying after all this time (Nov 16, 2022) !!

As it ended up...
After I had it AAA towed home on that cold night, just for yuks I took my small hammer to it & gave it a couple of whacks - and it cranked right up fine.

So after finding out that it was a non-rebuildable model from someone that does that work, I ordered a new one, had it put in & it has been fine ever since;
Thank Goodness !!
Glad I could help! and in my defense I have only been on the forum since July 9!
AMLOR
 
Thanks Again Amlor.
The OB is a daily driver & needed fixing ASAP.
If it had been OOC more than a few days the problems would have become immense.
Fortunately, between the hammer & fast shipping it got resolved pretty quickly.
 

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