Full disclosure: I am no mechanic but kinda know my way around a car.

So I have a Subaru Impreza ('95 automatic) and a weird problem. When I let the car sit for two or three days it does not want to start when turning the ignition (No cranking noises at all or spinning noise, the only noise is all the hydraulic pumps and relays tick) . To get it to start I put it into neutral and let the car roll a few inches (3-5) and then turn it again and all is good (i.e. with no struggle "just like new").

My current thoughts:

  • It's not the battery or wiring since it starts with no struggle after the small roll.
  • It's not a petrol problem (gas) since it does not even crank.
  • It's not a bad starter since it starts fine after the roll (and while in neutral it's not that the roll is turning the engine much, I may be wrong since it's an automatic and has a permanent coupling to the engine via the torque converter)

So I'm basically out of ideas... Anyone have a theory?

Thank you for your time :)

  • When starting after the roll, do you keep it in neutral, or is it back in park?
    – Spivonious
    May 23, 2017 at 19:15
  • I have tried both and it starts fine
    – 0xGiddi
    May 23, 2017 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


Sounds like a position switch is failing due to oxidation on the contacts. Typically there is a park or neutral position switch at the shifter and possibly one at the transmission. In a manual transmission, which does not have park, they may be called a neutral safety switch.

Next time you have this problem, instead of letting the car roll, I would move the shifter into and out of park once or many times to try to remove enough oxidation to see if you can get it to crank. If you can, you have isolated the problem.

The second thing I might try would be disassembling your shifter and finding the switch or contact and using alligator clips to force a contact.

Finally, if your car does also have the second type of neutral switch at the transmission, by rolling the car you may somehow be allowing that switch to make proper contact again.

Here is a diagram that may represent a shifter similar to your automatic.

Good luck.

  • Thak you for your thorough answer. Will definitly try the methods mentiond. If it will not happen again till the weekend Ill go directly to option B and see whats hiding under the shifter. Many thanks :)
    – 0xGiddi
    May 23, 2017 at 22:21

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