Subaru Forester 2003...Anyone else have this problem-engine suddenly dies?


Asked by May 06, 2015 at 11:49 AM about the 2003 Subaru Forester

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Check Engine light on response OBDII Code "PO519 SUBARU" pointed to faulty Idle Air Control Valve, Vacuum leak, Idle Control Valve harness open or shorted, Idle Control circuit connection as the possible solutions to this issue. Subaru Forester 2003. The engine suddenly and completely died as I turned a corner on a road out in the desert - no power, brakes, and super stiff to turn. Started up again immediately, but the check engine lights went on.  Suddenly died and the check engine light came on. It was paved, not steep, but I had just driven over a 100 yards of gravel road. It happened again going downhill on an extreme grade, curvy mountain pass after I downshifted to second and pulled over at a cutout to let vehicles pass. The check engine light stayed on long enough to check the problem on his OBD (In the mountains far away from my home). The local mechanic said it was a complex layer of possible issues, even serpentine belt. But he was so unclear and it was very expensive and maybe it wouldn't correct the problem, he said. He did clean out the Idle control valve. The check engine light is off now most of the time. Does come on after I drive for long periods of time. I'm afraid this issue will happen again in a very dangerous circumstance, yet I am also not willing to believe a problem "maybe" could be fixed by  a multitude of things. Thank you for your replies. PS Mileage 153,000.

5 Answers


I have an 03 and 04 forester and I've not had this issue yet. Have you checked or NASIOC yet? I didn't think the IAC's were very expensive for these.. like 30 bucks range? IAC's do go bad and will either stick open and make you look like an idiot at red lights because the engine is revving and idling and revving and idling out of your control. Or it will stick shut and turn off the engine because of a lack of air. Additionally, if you unplug your IAC (some older cars you can and it will still run) but the ECU needs the input and will turn off. I am not a tech nor engineer, so I can't explain the design there, electrically or mechanically or other. However, you might try some circuit cleaner (dissipates extremely rapidly with low residue) that you can pick up at auto zone / advance / other and clean that connector. Maybe you just have a weak/dirty connection. The best thing to do is start cheap/simple and work your way up. I'd also suggest a cheap ebay manual (e-version, buy, get the code, download the manual) or research google images to trace that wiring loom to see if it is near anything that could pinch/cut one of those wires. Additionally, you could check the resistance per wire if you know where the next connector is and your multimeter reaches. "vacuum leak" sounds interesting.. is that AT the IAC or just a vacuum leak in general? I think the IAC is a very small piece with two internal holes with a spring loaded valve, basically. Older vehicles used hoses. Unless the gasket is flawed. You could try turning on your car and spraying some of that cleaner on the matting edges and see if the idle raises. Additionally, you'll want to make sure that there is not a vacuum leak in the intake tubing because your sensors at the front end are inputing one value and your IAC may be trying to offset the leak? Like the mechanic said, potentially there are a lot of variables. Cheap and simple first.

Best Answer

and like you said at the end.. it's not fixed by many things, but fixed by one of many things.


Thank you so much, Walth. This is very helpful and clear. I will print out and study it some more, eventually get back here. Starting with simple first. Thanks again. I think the sticking shut and dying is more the case. Oxygen at higher altitudes could affect the "mountain pass" incident; and the gravel dust the other "desert road" . I like learning this and working on it as best I can to be informed before I talk again to a mechanic. It's a girl thing, really - try to get myself up to speed so I can talk intelligently with a mechanic and help solve the issue. Only fair on both sides. So thanks, again, so very much.

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Glad to help. Kudos to you for getting into all the lingo and getting your hands dirty. I'll be here and get notifications to replies. Also, check for discounted parts and then compare to ebay, etc. RA is great if you are getting multiple things from the same distribution center / same shipping route. You can figure out interchange parts on RA as well. A huge favorite of mine!! tootles

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Thanks for the reply. Appreciate your support.

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