Why Won’t My Subaru Outback Start?

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The Subaru Outback is a mid-size crossover that has been on the market since the 1990s.

It has always been known for its ruggedness, reliability, and safety. The crossover is named after the Outback, a region of Australia that’s rough, dry, and barren.

With that being said, it is not a perfect vehicle. There have been cases of the crossover having issues, including one where it will not start.

Many owners have often wondered, “Why won’t my Subaru Outback start?”. There can be many reasons, some of which are:

  1. A Weak Or Dead Battery
  2. Corrosion On The Terminals
  3. Dead Key Fob Battery
  4. Faulty Starter Motor
  5. Malfunctioning Alternator
  6. Clogged Fuel Filter
  7. Failure Of The Fuel Pump
  8. Faulty Spark Plugs

These are the most common reasons why your Subaru Outback may not turn over. This article will discuss them in detail.

So, I suggest that you strap in for the ride, as this information is something you don’t want to miss out on.

What Would Cause A Subaru Outback To Not Start?

Get the list of the problems that cause your Subaru Outback to not turn over so you can fix the issues

If you did not skip over the introduction, you might have already seen six possible reasons why your Subaru Outback is not starting.

This section will cover them in detail, so you can understand each of them better.

1: A Weak Or Dead Battery

If your Subaru Outback doesn’t turn over, the problem could be as simple as a dead battery.

In case, you haven’t driven your vehicle for a while, the battery could have drained down to near-death levels, which will prevent it from providing enough power to start the car.

Moreover, if this is the issue, you can try jumping the battery with another vehicle or simply charging it with a battery charger.

What Should You Do About It?

  • If you have access to jumper cables and another vehicle that will provide the power needed to jump-start your Subaru Outback, that’s an option you could consider.
  • However, if you don’t have access to jumper cables or another vehicle with which to jump-start your vehicle, then you’ll need some other kind of assistance from a professional mechanic or auto shop near your location.
  • If the crossover cannot be jumpstarted, the only solution is to replace the battery. You should opt for an AGM one.
  • It contains the latest battery technology, needs no maintenance, and is more reliable than a traditional lead-acid battery. Your Outback will certainly benefit from it.

2: Corrosion On The Terminals

The first thing to do when your Subaru Outback doesn’t start is to check the battery terminals.

If they’re corroded, it may be preventing a good connection between the battery and the starter.

Corrosion can happen due to the chemical processes that occur inside the battery. It can interfere with the connection and prevent current from passing through.

Before you ask, corrosion will not result in the car turning off while driving. But it may result in the electronics not working as intended. If that is the case, then the vehicle may not start.

What Should You Do About It?

  • The first thing to do is ensure that all of the corrosion on the battery terminals is cleaned away. Corrosion can cause the car not to start, so check those terminals for any signs of damage or discoloration.
  • If there’s any corrosion, use sandpaper or steel wool to remove it—it won’t hurt your battery if it’s just surface-level corrosion, but if there’s any deep pitting or damage, your battery may need replacing.
  • If there’s no corrosion on your terminals and your car still won’t start, try jumping it off with another vehicle and see if that solves the problem.
  • If it does, you know that one of your battery cables has come loose or frayed along its length—it may be time for a new set of cables.
  • If jumping doesn’t work, you’ll need to check out other problems with starting your cars, like fuel flow or low voltage from a bad starter motor.

3: Dead Key Fob Battery

If you have a smart key fob, it could be why your Subaru Outback is not starting.

As this new system needs the key within a certain range to allow the vehicle to turn on, if the battery is weak, it will not be able to detect it.

In such cases, the crossover will not turn on, and you will be frustrated with the issue.

This system is great, but it does cause a lot of inconveniences, even if it happens once every few years.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Fortunately, there are many fixes for such an issue. If you stopped for gas or are in the middle of nowhere, there is a fix. Manufacturers have built a safety mechanism to help you start your engine.
  • You need to push on the start button using the key fob. This will allow the engine to turn on, bypassing the system and preventing it from doing so.
  • If there is a convenience store nearby, all you need to do is grab a new battery for your key fob.
  • You can remove the cover and check which one it is. Insert the new one, but the cover is back on, and you will be back in business.

4: Faulty Starter Motor

The starter motor is an integral part of starting your Subaru Outback. It’s located in the engine compartment, turning over the crankshaft to start the engine.

If you’re having trouble starting your vehicle, this could be one of the problems. So, how can one know the starter motor is faulty? Well, that is easy to identify.

If you turn on the ignition, you will hear a clicking sound instead of the low engine rumble. That is the starter motor, which is causing an issue.

This is a common problem with Subaru’s that are pretty old. Starter motors have not been designed to last forever, so you can expect them to fail after a few years of usage.

What Should You Do About It?

  • If your Subaru Outback doesn’t start because of a faulty starter motor, you will need to replace it with a new one.
  • This replacement should be done by an experienced mechanic who has repaired and replaced many starter motors as they are not easy to repair.
  • Moreover, this repair requires special tools or equipment to complete successfully without damaging other parts of your vehicle, such as its battery cables or electrical system components.

5: Malfunctioning Alternator

If you’ve tried to start your Subaru Outback and it won’t turn over, it could be because the alternator is malfunctioning.

The alternator is an electrical component that provides power to the vehicle’s electrical system, which includes the battery and other components.

If this part stops working properly, it can cause many issues with your crossover’s electrical system, including the possibility of your vehicle not starting.

Malfunctioning Alternators can leave your battery drained, so you may have to jump-start your vehicle periodically when it doesn’t start.

This problem can also prevent you from using electric accessories like your headlights or radio while driving at night or in bad weather conditions (like heavy rain).

If left unchecked, a malfunctioning alternator can lead to more serious problems like engine overheating or even complete engine failure due to lack of power.

What Should You Do About It?

  • The first step to fixing a malfunctioning alternator is to have the problem diagnosed by a professional.
  • This can be done anytime but is especially important if your car won’t start.
  • Once the cause of the problem has been determined and it has been diagnosed that it is indeed the alternator that is at fault, your only option is to replace it.
  • It does not end there. You may also need to buy a charger because the battery may be depleted, and it may need to be charged before you can take your Subaru Outback back on the road again.

6: Clogged Fuel Filter

This is one of the most common reasons your Outback won’t start—and it’s also one of the easiest to fix.

When you’re trying to start your car, and nothing happens, it’s usually because there’s something in your fuel filter that is preventing fuel from reaching the engine.

This is a common occurrence as a vehicle ages because the fuel filter collects debris over time.

Furthermore, this happens constantly and comes at a time when it cannot let any fuel pass through. This results in no fuel reaching the engine, which prevents it from starting up.

What Should You Do About It?

  • Although you could clean the fuel filter and be set for a few more years, it is advised to replace it entirely.
  • An old one may also not adequately filter the fuel, which may result in debris entering the engine. This can be pretty harmful to it and can result in its lifespan being reduced significantly.
  • The actual fix is easy: just get a new fuel filter. You can find them at auto supply stores or online, and they’ll only cost you about $30 or so.
  • Once you’ve replaced it, try starting it up again—you should hear the engine firing up like normal! This is the recommended solution as your Subaru Outback’s engine will benefit from it.

7: Failure Of The Fuel Pump

The fuel pump is responsible for sending gasoline to the engine, and if it fails, you will not be able to start your Subaru Outback.

A failed fuel pump can be caused by a number of different issues, such as an electrical shortage or over time.

One way to determine if your fuel pump has failed is by checking the fuel pressure.

If the pressure is too low or nonexistent when cranking the engine, then this may be an indication that there is something wrong with your fuel system.

You can check this by using an automotive scanner tool, or if you have access to one at home, you can use an analog gauge instead.

What Should You Do About It?

  • This issue can be fixed by replacing or repairing the fuel pump. It’s important to know that this problem can often be caused by problems with other components in your vehicle, such as your ignition system or ignition coil.
  • It’s recommended that you have these checked out as well if you experience this issue.
  • A new fuel pump is not cheap, but you should get one. It is better than repairing it as it is a pretty important part of the vehicle.
  • It may fail once again, which may lead to you possibly being stranded somewhere. So, you should replace the pump.

8: Faulty Spark Plugs

A faulty spark plug can cause your car to not start. This is because your car’s engine needs a spark to ignite the fuel mixture in the cylinder and produce power.

If any one of the four spark plugs fails to function, there will be a problem starting your Subaru Outback.

You will also need to check for other issues such as dirty or oily ignition points, damaged wiring, or a weak battery which could also cause problems starting your vehicle.

If you have ruled them out already, then you may have worn out spark plugs.

What Should You Do About It?

  • The first thing to check is the spark plugs. If they are damaged, then you need to replace them.
  • The spark plugs for your Subaru Outback can be found at your local auto parts store.
  • You can check which one you need by taking one out and showing it to an employee or finding one yourself.
  • I would recommend changing all spark plugs because if one has failed, there is a good chance that the others are close to the end of their lifespan. So, you should change all of them.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

If your Subaru Outback doesn’t start with a new battery, the issue may be related to a problem with the alternator.

The alternator is in charge of charging your battery, and if there’s an issue with its charge or output, it can cause all kinds of problems for your Subaru.

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

First, the battery might not be charging properly. If it’s older than a few years, you might need to replace it.

Second, there could be something wrong with your starter, which could be fixed by replacing the starter motor.

Third, you may have an issue with your alternator or other electrical parts that are connected to it, which would require an alternator repair or replacement.

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

If your Subaru Outback won’t turn over, but the lights work, it could be a couple of things. First of all, double-check that you have gas in the tank. If there’s no gas, then it’s not going to run!

If you’re sure there’s gas in the tank and it still won’t start, try checking the fuses to see if you can identify any issues.

If there is, then you may have a bad switch or relay somewhere in your electrical system.

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

This happens because there is no spark in the combustion chamber. To fix this problem, you need to check the spark plugs.

If they are working properly, then there must be something else wrong with your ignition system or ignition coil.

This is another issue that is common with older models of the crossover.

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

The first thing I’d recommend is checking the battery. A weak battery could be the culprit, so make sure it’s fully charged.

If you’re still having trouble, try removing the negative terminal on your battery and letting it sit for a minute before reconnecting it.

This will help to reset any electrical issues that may be causing your Subaru Outback to click.

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

This is because not all batteries have been designed to be used in extreme weather conditions.

If you live in an area with cold temperatures, then you need to purchase a battery with higher cranking amperes.

The number of 1000 or even more is preferred. A normal battery will work, but it will take many tries.

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

If your car won’t turn over after you get gas, the most likely cause is a clogged fuel filter. The fuel filter separates dirt and debris from the gas that is entering your engine.

As these particles accumulate, they can block the flow of fuel to your engine, which in turn prevents it from starting.

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

The most likely cause of this issue is a bad ignition switch. If the car won’t start, but the radio works, it’s likely that the ignition switch is bad.

In this case, all you have to do is replace the ignition switch and then check all of your fuses. This should fix your problem.

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


I hope this guide has been helpful! If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you are wondering, “Why won’t my Subaru Outback start?”.

Don’t worry. I know it can be frustrating, but I am here to help.

If you find yourself in this situation again, check out the list of common reasons why your car won’t start and see if any of them apply to your situation.

Once you’ve checked those off the list, then consult with a mechanic to get your crossover back on the road as soon as possible.

There could be other reasons, too, but there is a very high probability that the reason is present in this article.