Why Won’t My Subaru Forester Start?

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Sharing its platform with the Impreza compact car, the Subaru Forester is a compact crossover Sports Utility Vehicle that has been in production since 1997 and is still going strong.

The main concern that many people have are the issues that surround the Subaru Forester, which make owners ask, “Why won’t my Subaru Forester start?”.

The issues surrounding the Subaru Forester are fairly standard, such as battery, fuel, and various component problems, such as the alternator or starter.

The main problems that most owners of the Subaru Forester face are:

  1. Dead Battery/Battery With Low Charge
  2. Alternator Issues
  3. Starter Problems
  4. Fuel Problems
  5. Damaged Ignition

While all of these issues can sound very scary, getting them fixed and making sure they don’t happen again are very simple.

Which is why I will be taking a closer look at these problems to let you know how to identify them and how you should go about fixing them.

Furthermore, I will also tell you how you can avoid them in the future.

What Would Cause A Subaru Forester To Not Start?

Let's diagnose the Subaru Forester starting issues

There can be many reasons why your Subaru Forester is not starting.

All the components of your car must run flawlessly if you want to make sure that your car starts.

However, the Subaru Forester is known to have many of the issues listed above, which I will be talking about in-depth here.

1: Dead Battery/Battery With Low Charge

One of the most common issues any car faces is when its battery runs out of charge.

This issue is very common because batteries require a lot of maintenance and care if you want them to retain their charge and be capable of providing the power necessary for the engine to start.

A battery with a low charge or a dead battery will not be able to provide the power necessary to start the engine of your Subaru Forester.

You will begin noticing battery issues via dim lights, difficulty starting the car, and the check engine light.

What Should You Do About It?

  • The simplest way to fix any issue with a battery is to get a new one. This solution is recommended, especially if you have an older battery for 4 to 5 years.
  • If your battery is relatively new and you do not want to get rid of it, you should try jump-starting it and getting it back to full charge.
  • Look for corrosion or loose wires as they may be causing issues as well.
  • To ensure your battery keeps its charge, you must protect the Subaru Forester against bad weather, long periods of no use, and extended usage of internal lights.

2: Alternator Issues

The alternator’s main function is to ensure that the battery is charged while the car is running.

If the alternator does not function, the battery does not retain its charge and will not be able to start the car.

When the issue is not in the battery, chances are that you may have a faulty alternator on your hands, making it look like the battery is the cause of the problem.

One of the ways you can figure out if your alternator is faulty is by looking for growling or whining noises, jump-starting your car more than usual, and seeing dim or bright lights in your Subaru Forester.

What Should You Do About It?

  • If you think your alternator is the cause of the problem, you should carefully disconnect the component and look for any visible signs of damage.
  • If you cannot find any, you should reattach the alternator and take your Subaru Forester to the nearest mechanic and have him take a look.
  • If the issue is with the alternator, you can either replace it with a brand new one or have your old one fixed. I recommend getting a new one as it is much simpler and sometimes cost-efficient.
  • Avoid overheating the alternator and provide it with regular maintenance to reduce the chances of problems.

3: Starter Problems

You can figure out what the starter motor does by its name; it starts the car. The motor needs to be in top form.

If it is too weak, even though it may be able to work, it will not be able to generate the power required by the engine to turn it over, resulting in the Subaru Forester not starting.

If the starter is not working, you may hear a clicking noise or a harsh grinding noise.

The starter has a lot of components inside it that can cause issues and fail, preventing the starter motor as a whole to not working.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Since the alternator is built up from smaller components, it is too delicate and difficult to be checked out by a normal person. Hence you should immediately take it to a mechanic and have it assessed for issues.
  • More often than not, replacing the starter motor as a whole is much more cost-efficient and faster than trying to get it fixed.
  • To guarantee that the starter motor does not suffer from any more issues, you should carry out regular inspections and clean the component from time to time, ensuring it does not overheat or get damaged.

4: Fuel Problems

If your Subaru Forester can crank, but it does not start, then it may be because the fuel is not reaching the engine.

Either there is no fuel in your gas tank at all, or the fuel is being blocked from getting to the engine. You will have to go to either a gas station or a mechanic to resolve the issue.

Alternatively, the issue could be a weak or damaged fuel pump that may be incapable of pushing the fuel from the gas tank to the engine.

On the other hand, you may have fuel leaks which could reduce the amount of fuel the engine gets.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Inspect your Subaru Forester for any fuel leaks. If you find them, then you should patch them up as soon as possible.
  • Check the fuel gauge to see if you have fuel in your car. If you do not, then go to the gas station and get it refueled. Sometimes the gauges may also be faulty, so be sure to check them out as well.
  • If you are dealing with a blockage, then clean out your fuel filters and replace them with new ones, making sure they stay clean and are replaced frequently.
  • If you have faulty fuel pumps, then the best thing to do is to get them replaced.

5: Damaged Ignition Switch

If your Subaru Forester is not able to crank, then you may have a faulty ignition switch on your hands.

The ignition switch is responsible for sending power to the starter motor, and if there is a fault in it, then the starter will not be able to turn the engine.

The issue could be due to simple wear and tear, which tends to happen if you have a very heavy key chain attached to the key of your Subaru Forester.

Alternatively, it could be due to a manufacturing defect or simply bad insertion and removal of the key itself.

What Should You Do About It?

  • The fastest and most cost-effective thing to do if you have a damaged or worn-out ignition switch is to get it replaced as soon as possible, as this will solve all the problems related to it.
  • From here on, you need to make sure that the problem does not happen again by adhering to the points below.
  • Make sure the key is slowly and carefully placed inside and removed from the ignition switch.
  • Avoid using heavy key chains that may wear out the key and the ignition switch.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why Won’t My Subaru Forester Start With New Battery?

Getting a new battery should be done every 4 to 5 years if you want to avoid battery problems.

Make sure that the new battery you get is professionally installed; otherwise, you might not be able to start your Subaru Forester.

Alternatively, you should look for other issues such as corroded wires or frayed wires, as they can also just as easily prevent your Subaru Forester from starting at all.

Q2. Why Won’t My Subaru Forester Start Even With A Jump?

You usually jump-start your vehicle when you are facing issues related to the battery.

If you recently jump-started your Subaru Forester and it is still not working, then the battery must be fine.

You should check out the fuel system and the ignition system, as they could also have issues that may be preventing the Subaru Forester from starting.

You should have them checked out by an experienced mechanic.

Q3. Why Won’t My Subaru Forester Start But Lights Work?

If the lights of your Subaru Forester are working, but you are unable to start it, this means that you are dealing with a low-charged battery.

A battery with a low charge can power smaller things but not the entire car. You will have to get the battery jump started if you want to resolve the issue.

On the other hand, you can get a new battery as well.

Q4. Why Won’t My Subaru Forester Start But Cranks?

If your Subaru Forester is cranking but is still not starting, then you have a major problem on your hands that could be located anywhere from the ignition system to the fuel system.

Since the car is cranking, you can avoid checking the electrical system of the car, as that should be fine.

Instead, you can divert your attention to the aforementioned systems to find the problem preventing the Subaru Forester from starting.

Q5. Why Won’t My Subaru Forester Start Just Clicks?

Clicking is an even more annoying problem when it comes to the Subaru Forester, as this means that the car has an electrical issue that is preventing it from starting.

To fix this, you will have to visit a mechanic and have them look for the issue.

The problem can be an electrical fault in any component, big or small, which makes it very difficult and hard to diagnose and locate.

Q6. Why Won’t My Subaru Forester Start In The Cold Weather?

Most cars should be kept inside and away from the elements as both the heat and the cold can have major impacts on their health.

The cold especially is hard on the Subaru Forester as it prevents the car from starting.

It does so by reducing the power output of both the batteries and the spark plugs, both of which are essential in making sure that the Subaru Forester starts without any trouble.

Q7. Why Won’t My Subaru Forester Start After I Get Gas?

Getting a full tank of gas is not enough to ensure that your Subaru Forester starts correctly. Chances are that despite having a full tank, none of it is even reaching the car engine.

You should inspect the fuel filters, making sure to remove any blockages and patch any leaks.

The engine must get a good amount of fuel if you want it to start with ease and not cause any problems.

Q8. Why Won’t My Subaru Forester Start But Radio Works?

The radio works similarly to the lights of the Subaru Forester, they can both be powered up by a battery with a low charge as they have very minimal power requirements.

That amount of power is simply not enough to start the car itself.

Once again, you should go for a jump start to get the battery juiced up or think about getting a replacement battery if the battery is very old.

Related: What Are The Worst Years For The Subaru Forester?


When it comes to the Subaru Forester, a lot of people adore the 5-door SUV, despite all its faults and issues, which is why it is the best it has ever been in its 5th generation, but even now, problems occur which raise the question, “Why won’t my Subaru Forester start?”.

By reading this article, you should have all the required information you need to determine which area of the Subaru Forester is facing an issue and what is the best way to get it fixed.

Moreover, you should be able to ensure that your Subaru Forester starts without any issues whatsoever.