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after programming keyless fob / intermittent starting issues

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I recently purchased a used 2005 Subaru Legacy 2.5i.


I struggled to figure out if I had keyless entry or not.


After calling a local dealership and giving them my VIN number, the dealership was able to say the computer showed I could buy keyless fobs.... So I bought one (used off ebay) and following the owner manual instructions, I got it to work. That's the good news....


Now the bad news.... immediately after getting the keyless remote fob to work, using the standard metal keys, the car does not turn over, the first time, and it seems to be random how many times it takes trying to start the car before the starter motor actually works.


Can anyone tell me what is going on, before I take the car to the dealership to sort all this out?


Thanks in Advance,

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Thanks for the feedback, ehsnils.


Unfortunately, it did not work to separate the keyless entry fob from the key.


I did try separating the fob and keeping it far from the ignition switch


To be clear, I just have pure metal, old fashion keys, (without engine immobilizer circuitry) which worked flawlessly until I programmed the keyless entry fob.


Seems a lot of non-conclusive posts on this forum about non-starting....


I have checked the battery posts, and have cleaned and coated, and put felt pads on the terminal posts.


I think this has something to do with programming the fob somehow, as this issue never happened once prior to programming the keyless entry fob.


Any other ideas ?

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OK, I thought all 4th gen legacies had immobilizers.


If you do have a flashing key indicator when the engine is turned off in the instrument panel then you have an immobilizer.


But as you wrote - you couldn't separate the fob, but if you try to wrap it in aluminum foil you may also disable any immobilizer signal. My idea (just an assumption) is that the car has an immobilizer that isn't matched to any key at all for some reason and when you have an immobilizer key/fob close and the code can be read the immobilizer still catches in and says "hey - I don't recognize you" and shuts down.


But it can also be something completely unrelated. The ignition lock may have decided to mess with you or some interlock circuitry preventing the starter to engage for safety reasons may have chosen to act up right at the same time. Or the starter itself may start to go bad. There are ways to figure that out, but you want a wiring diagram and at least one test lamp. Catching the control signal to the starter at various points and see where it's stopped is the way to go.

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Hi ehsnils,


First, thanks for your help.


This morning it started up the first time.


I think that it is just a coincidence that the lock started to fail as I stressed it to program the fob (ie, turn the ignition switch 10 times in 15 seconds to enter the programming mode.)


I will take your suggestion and follow the ignition wires with a schematic diagram as I think that is the next step. After that, it's off to the dealersihp to let them solve the issue.


Thanks again for the suggestions and Happy Holidays !

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  • 4 weeks later...



Still have issue with intermittent start. The odd thing is, the car will usually start after exactly six attempts, however sometime it is 8, 12 or one time, 20 tries !! Then and only then will the starter motor actually work, prior to that it is just a light show, with the gauge needles going up and down as designed.


Took it to a dealership in Southern California. They had it for a day, but could not fix it, and wanted a higher estimate to resolve (around $300 USD, due to the fact it is electrical)


The odd thing is, it seems tied to a microprocessor or other logic element, as to the starting attempts required to start it.


Not rushing to the dealership, have little confidence they or any dealership are good at anything other than swapping components to fix things.


(Also tried putting in neutral before starting... read on this forum that some had issues with a 'neutral' grounding switch.... did not help)


Will update again when I figure this out.

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Seems to me that there may be a problem with the immobilizer synchronization.


Just for the sake of it it is possible that the stock key with immobilizer broke and that a previous owner tucked away the immobilizer part of the key somewhere near the ignition lock when he/she cut a new pure metal key. So look for small plastic items right around the lock that seems to be "out of place" or unrelated to the covers around the lock.


If you have a slowly flashing key in the instrument cluster when the ignition is off it's likely that you actually have an immobilizer.


I just want you to be absolutely sure that there isn't anything like that sticking around. You may need to strip the plastics around the steering column for that.


The following table is a guide that tells me that your car probably has an immobilizer:



And the regular interval at which it works seems to indicate that too.


And you should also take a look at: http://www.cars101.com/subaru/keyless.html#immobilizer%20keys


Your problem may lie within the body integrated unit.


But one thing that may have occurred is that the FOB you have do have an immobilizer code but your car doesn't recognize it and therefore behaves this odd way. Did you get any "tags" or code numbers with the FOB? That may be the immobilizer codes that needs to be registered with the car.


Also look at the "Dead Battery" statement here: http://www.cars101.com/subaru/keyless.html#05%20legacy

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I will look at them closely when I get home from work. Your chart does confirm that I apparently have a crypto type of immobilizer.... I have a 2005 Legacy. and both the normally aspirated, and turbo models show Crypto on the chart.


Will keep looking for an immobilizer chip stuffed anywhere closes to the steering column, etc....


Thanks very much for all the effort to help me !!


Happy New Year !

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Not sure how Subaru's immobilizer works, but I used to have Jeep that I cut a regular key for (unaware of the immobilizer) and it would start, but stall out after a few seconds, apparently the immobilizer kicked in AFTER ignition.


Does anyone know for sure if Subaru's immobilizer disables the starter before ignition? Just curious because this may help diagnose a starter problem. If it kicks in after, then the car should at least turn over, just not fire....

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It probably depends on market if it exists or not, I just want to be absolutely sure that it isn't the cause.


And the design of the immobilizer is that the car starts and then stalls according to other sources on the web.


However the following diagram may give you some leads:



I would start with circumventing the interrupt relay in the diagram first (unplug the relay and place a wire between connector 2 and 5. If that doesn't help then repeat with the starter interlock relay, (wire between 27 and 28) and if that doesn't help either then you are down to the ignition lock or the starter motor solenoid.


When doing this make sure that the gearbox is in neutral (or Park for automatic gearbox) or things can get awkward.


To determine if it's the solenoid or ignition lock just take a wire between 27 and plus 12V on the battery, but be ABSOLUTELY sure that the car is in neutral/park and with parking brake pulled hard first. And to avoid possible damage to the ECU the ignition shall be on.


At least this way you would be able to isolate the problem.

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Good additional info... thank you.


My car is not even turning over, and then once I turn the key the random but somewhat consistent number of times, the car starts. It never stops or shuts off by itself, another reason why I do not think I have an immobilizer.


but I will keep trying to figure out this issue.



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  • 1 year later...

Just happened to see your post, not active here, and no longer monitoring the email address.


Best of luck to you, I still suffer along with this, and the dealerships want $300 USD plus just to make up for their lack of knowledge in resolving this electronic gremlin.


After taking it in once, and having them screw around with it all day (for which I doubt they looked at it very long, sorry guys, but mechanics with electrical problems.... ha !)


When I came around to pick up the car, they told me they would bring it around front for me, and after a few minutes I realized they had no knowledge of how to start it, despite giving them the description of the issue, and how to start the car.


I now have sold myself it is an anti-theft feature, and moved on with my life.


Best of luck, for me, it's not worth the energy.


(last post on the forum, never to return)

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