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That moment when your car won’t start

I parked and went into our bank last Friday to deposit checks.  When I came out, the Subaru let me down.

All the dash lights came on as normal, but when I turned the key to start all I got was a few clicks from behind the dash.  No starter engagement at all.  I tried for 5-10 minutes to get her started, but it was a no go.

The fact that I didn’t have a cell phone made things worse.  (Long story, involving a swim in the Gulf of Mexico.)

Embarrassed, I walked back into the bank and asked to borrow their phone.  I arranged a pickup and went back to the car to wait.

Of course it started right up.  Doubly aggravated, I went back inside (doubly embarrassed now) and cancelled the pickup.  I got it home that night, but have been driving the Ol’ Rustbucket since.

DIY Car Repairs Save Money

I’m a firm believer in DIY car repairs.  If you can turn a wrench and have a few hours, you can save tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime.

Kids and teens should learn basic car repairs.  Even if they never do the work themselves, they’ll have a working knowledge that may someday prevent a shady mechanic from taking advantage.

Is it worth it?

DIYing car repairs is all about the cost / benefit ratio.  How much of my time will this take, and how much would it cost to have someone else fix it?

Also, what are my chances of actually fixing this problem?

A great example is when I replaced my wheel bearing / hub assembly.  While the dealer quoted over $600 for the repair,  I spent a little over $100 in parts and burned about three hours of a Saturday afternoon.

Spending 3 hours to save $500 is a win in almost anyone’s book.

Diagnostics

Back to my current breakdown….first I needed to diagnose the problem.  So I used my google-fu on a few internet forums and searched for 2005 Subaru Outback starting issues.

I drilled down, read a few threads, got pointed to a few others, and struck gold.

Turns out this is a known issue with the 2005 model.

It’s an electrical problem.

I am not good with electricity.  You can’t see it, smell it, or know where it is without tools, but if you touch it – it can ruin your day.

Specifically, I’ve got an error sometimes being reported to a thing-a-jig called the Body Integration Unit (BIU), which is preventing something else called the Security Relay from engaging and forwarding power to the starter relay (I know what that last one is, Yay!)

The hitch is that I don’t know what the error is.  It could be a crankshaft sensor, or a problem with the key fob / door locks.  Or another sensor in the motor.  It could even be as simple as a battery needing to be replaced.

A lot of information is fed into the BIU, so there are multiple sources to troubleshoot.

This sharpens my decision making a bit.  It’s not a simple part replacement.

Add in the fact that I’d need to test continuity at the BIU, and the BIU is behind the center console or radio somewhere, and the security relay is buried behind the glove box somewhere, and I’d have a lot of work just to get to those two parts, and no guarantee that I could fix the problem when I did get there.

Cost / Benefit?

Looking at the cost / benefit ratio, I still don’t have an idea of what it’d cost to fix, no idea if I can find and fix the problem, and I have a feeling that it would take a lot of my time to figure it all out.

So, the old Subie is going to the mechanic.  I’ve got a good one who I go to church with and I trust him.

But, with mechanics I operate on the GIGO principle (Garbage In, Garbage Out).  The better I explain the issues and potential causes, the easier his job will be (hopefully).

Saving him time saves me money.

So I’ll write a synopsis, or just print this post…..and leave a copy on the dash before I drop my keys in the mail slot.

In the meantime, I’m getting reattached to the Ol’ Rustbucket.

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