About one in twenty times I try to start my 2005 Subaru outback, it doesn't start. However after periodically trying to start the car, it will usually start within 1 to 6 minutes. Here is a video of the car not starting. This problem has been going on for about 3 years. It is not the battery since I had that replaced within a couple of months of when the problem began. I have an outback 2.5i which according to cars101.com does not have an immobilizer key.

  • Is it by chance a manual transmission? Apr 18, 2019 at 16:20
  • No it is a automatic transmission
    – Jeff Bloom
    Apr 29, 2019 at 19:12
  • I decided to replace the starter/solenoid. Everything worked great for about 3 days and then the problem happened again. At least the starter has been eliminated as a possible problem.
    – Jeff Bloom
    Apr 29, 2019 at 19:13
  • 1
    Yeah I would suspect it’s not the starting or charging systems at all. I had a car with the exact same symptoms. I had other issues with it and never did figure it out, but it has to be an electrical connection of some sort. Possibly a low voltage sensor connection that has minor corrosion? Apr 30, 2019 at 17:09
  • My guess for my case was clutch switch but I’m your case I would suspect a transmission sensor or possibly a wonky ignition switch. Apr 30, 2019 at 17:11

2 Answers 2


I have the same car.

I would recommend getting an inexpensive multimeter and learning how to use continuity mode which will tell you if two wires are connected or not.

Next time you get a no start condition, use the multimeter to determine if the starter solenoid is getting the signal to start. If the multimeter indicates continuity, you know it's your starter.

If there is no continuity at the starter, you know the problem is further upstream. There's several switches that can prevent the signal from getting to the starter. Transmission safety switch (only lets the car start in Park or Neutral) or clutch safety switch (only lets car start when depressed). There's also the ignition switch itself (that's the switch that is activated when your key turns).

  • 1
    That was it. It was the Neutral safety switch. Thanks. Now, if I can't get the car to start, I just jiggle around the transmission control, and it starts.
    – Jeff Bloom
    Sep 2, 2022 at 15:58

In this case, it was the neutral safety switch. The mechanic discovered this by switching the car into neutral and then back into park. The car then started. I can also "resolve" the problem by just jiggling around the transmission control, before starting. The long term solution would be to replace the neutral safety switch, but at this point the car is 18 years old and has numerous other problems, so it is not worth it.

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