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Discussion Starter #1
So it's been a long time since I've posted on here between home remodels, work and life's other adventures; but this issue kicked my ass enough that I felt that I needed to share my horror show.

My 2013 GR is just shy of 19k miles, has always been babied, maintained carefully, etc. and had always run great until about 2 weeks ago.

So, here goes:

I hadn't driven the car in a couple of weeks and the car started up last week without trouble and I made a real short drive to my son's bball practice. When I went to leave the practice, it would crank and crank, but wouldn't catch but on about the 5th try it caught and drove just fine to my next errand (also a short drive) and I assumed maybe my battery was giving up the ghost and just needed to run a while. Leaving there though, I couldn't get it start even after trying to get it jumped. Sometimes it would just light up the dash, other times it would click the starter solenoid, and other times it would crank the starter but it wouldn't catch. I got a ride home, got the kids settled and came back with my wife's car to try again and it started up right away...wtf, right?

Got home, charged the battery overnight put it in the car and still nada. Tried again several times over the next couple of days and more of the same behavior but occasionally it would start and run/drive without problem. Swapped batteries with my wife's battery (she has a Subie also, so same battery) and her car started right away with my battery but mine continued with the same behavior with a known good battery. Took both batteries to be load tested and both tested fine. Given the intermittent cranking, I convinced myself that either the starter solenoid or starter itself was pooched so I took the intercooler off and removed the starter. Starter tested fine at home with a battery and load tested fine at AutoZone, O'Reilly's and I even had a starter shop take the thing apart to check all internals and everything checked fine. I put everything back together hoping that maybe it would just work after reassembling?! Yeah right....

I'm checking fuses, unbolting, rebolting and cleaning grounds, checking every wire I can find, probing signals from ignition to starter, etc. The car was pretty empty of fuel so I ran back and forth to fill cherry cans with fresh gas to fill the car up thinking maybe I had some sediment in the tank/lines. Totally grasping at straws as the intermittent behavior was killing me as I didn't feel like I really even had one single direction to chase.

At this point, I'm feeling pretty annoyed at having spent so much time only to be no closer to a resolution and now faced with a potential tow charge and God knows what kind of bill from a mechanic.

To the interwebs I go and I spend hours reading the service manual and just about every damn component connected to the engine only to really get no farther along.

And then as these things tend to happen, I had a brain fart, grabbed one of my other keys from the safe to try it and the car started up immediately and then every single time after that at 15 min intervals. I was relieved as all get out that it works and now convinced that it was something with the immobilizer, but beyond confused as to how a passive RF device like the immobilizer could fail.

I had done the key swap to the switch-blade key back when I bought the car, so I took it apart and found this:

Immobilizer by mtnbikr1, on Flickr

Circled in yellow is where the immobilizer was supposed to be and circled in red is about where it was when I opened it up. A distance of about 0.75".... Erf. Apparently after 6 years the glue came loose and somehow rattled it's way around the case to the back without me noticing or hearing anything.

After testing with and without the immobilizer and testing its effectiveness at various distances, I found that with the immobilizer chip NOT present, the key would turn with the security light illuminated solid and the dash would light up. When it is present, the security light goes off and the car should crank and start.

Apparently the intermittent behavior I saw is a result of it being close, but not close enough....ridiculous.

I figure if I save even one person that trainwreck of a few days that I had it would be worth the time taken to type this up.

Hard to be too pissed as my car is back to running and it cost me nothing beyond a lot of time, some gas to run around to have parts tested and a pile of anger and cursing, but all is well that ends well.

Cheers....
 
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