Maintenance: WRX Starter Problems

I am posting this to help anyone else out with a similar problem starting their manual Subaru. Since the COVID-19 shutdowns, I have had intermittent starting issues. I naturally assumed it was the battery since the car sits for weeks and it is a relatively small battery. And it started fine after I drove it to the store or something. I believe on a couple of those occasions it was the battery. Here were my symptoms:

Cold Start: Key on, lights work, fuel pump primes — click no turnover.

Warm Start: Started every time.

Sometimes I could jump it with another car, but even that was intermittent. Sometimes I could hold the key in the start position and the starter would eventually kick. But, since I wasn’t driving the WRX all that often, it was hard to find a pattern. And disconnecting the battery did seem to help for a while. That is until it didn’t and I had to push start it. The warm start threw me off too.

I checked my connections and they were all good. I cleaned them anyway and it didn’t help. Battery voltage was good too. I bought a booster pack to help start the car and it didn’t help. I was about to replace the battery until I remembered that the starter has almost 200,000 miles on it. And I found this video.

To summarize, the contacts in the solenoid can wear down – a stronger battery can help to bridge the gap – but eventually that too will stop working.

So I bought an open box new Denso starter and it fired up before I even had the key completely in the start position.



  1. Peter says:

    It’s funny how you forget that every single part of the car is as old as the things you obsess over, like the engine or suspension. I sourced a used starter from a junk yard, disassembled it and cleaned checked everything, including the solenoid and brushes. Of course I keep the old one on the shelf, it never gave up completely, I replaced it after just a few bad starts, so in a pinch I have an emergency spare. One thing you left out was the warning about how one of the screws securing the starter is 18 feet long.. lol


    1. A.A.Smith says:

      Those bolts take forever to remove. It doesn’t help that you are trying to keep from dropping the starter. I thought about rebuilding my old starter by replacing the solenoid but Subaru wants $95 for one (p/n 23343AA230) and I found my starter for a little bit more than that.


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