I drive a 97 Subaru Legacy. The engine was resealed with mostly new parts within the last 6 months. The oil was changed recently. The battery is 2 years old.

Normally I get NO TROUBLE, ever, whatsoever, with starting this car. Ever. Period.

Since the temperature dropped abruptly the past few days though, up here in Boston, suddenly my car is taking 3-5 attempts before the engine turns over. As soon as I put the key in, all the lights turn on-- the battery seems to be fine-- and if the car runs for a little while and is then turned off, it starts again effortlessly. It's just the cold start that's a problem.

Wwhen I first turn the key, it just clicks. Same with the second try. The third try usually gets a brief sound from the engine, and the 4th or 5th is successful.

What can I do to combat this? What could be wrong? Is there a solution? I didn't have this problem last winter. And new cars don't have this problem at all.

  • 2
    How old is the starter motor?
    – Bob Cross
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 12:47
  • As far as I know...16 years. But I suppose the prior owner must have changed it at some point...right? Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 6:14

1 Answer 1


There are 3 areas to focus on:

  • Battery: Make sure your battery can still hold a charge well as cold is going to show problems first. Double check that your battery cables are tight and not overly corroded.
  • Starter: As Bob asked, if the starter is the original it could be going bad and struggling under only tough conditions
  • Electrical/Ignition Switch: If there other two items appear fine, then you might need to look to your ignition switch or something else on the electrical end that could just be having trouble in the cold.
  • Follow-up on the starter: perhaps the selenoid is sticking. If it's not extending to engage with the flywheel, nothing useful's going to happen.
    – Bob Cross
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 13:06
  • 1
    The other area I would check is the charging system. Make sure your battery is getting a full charge and there are no parasitic draws beyond normal.
    – mikes
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 14:54

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