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Kevin C.
Kevin C., Subaru Master Tech.
Category: Subaru
Satisfied Customers: 1727
Experience:  34 years of Subaru service experience, ASE Master Technician.
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My 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback w/ 2.2 L engine recently had a

Customer Question

My 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback w/ 2.2 L engine recently had a problem w/ the #3 cylinder not firing and the engine light came on. I had the spark plugs, wires, and ignition coil replaced, and the engine tuned up. The engine runs smooth w/ no hint of misfire. The engine light stays on and the OBD-II meter continues to give code P0303 'Cylinder 3 misfire detected' even after I attempted to reset with the erase key on the meter numerous times. The meter says the code is stored. The meter is an INNOVA 3040C. I disconnected the battery overnight and attempted to access the codes after reconnecting the meter and turning the key to the 'position' without starting the car. Theoretically, the codes should have been cleared based on other information I read on the internet. The code continues to show up. Do you have any idea as to how to clear the code, since the erase feature doesn't seem to erase the code and battery disconnect doesn't appear to work either?
JA: Have you seen this code before? Have you tried a hard reset?
Customer: I haven't seen the code before. The ignition coil crapped out and the spark plug wire to #3 cylinder was fried at the ignition coil. Replacing wires, plugs, ignition coil and tuneup worked. What is a hard reset?
JA: Are you fixing your Outback yourself? What have you tried so far? Anything else you want the mechanic to know before I connect you?
Customer: I have a recently retired auto mechanic (40 years experience) working on the car. He can't figure out why we can't get the light to go out with the procedures we have done.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Subaru
Expert:  david craig replied 10 months ago.

Hi Im David, thanks for visiting the site please allow me a moment to look up some possible solutions for you. thank you.

Expert:  david craig replied 10 months ago.

I would start by ohming out all the wiring from the coil to the pcm. checking the wiring for the coil to make sure no wiring is damaged/chaffed grounding the wiring.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
What is the "pcm"? What do you mean by "ohming out"? Are u just looking for a continuity check to see if there is a break in the wire?
Expert:  david craig replied 10 months ago.

im looking for a continuity check not necessarily for breaks but for damage that would cause high resistance shorts to give you that code. and the pcm is the computer.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I will check. But when the battery was disconnected, shouldn't the pcm have been cleared of codes until the engine is restarted and a new or recurring problem is detected? Since the code shows up without restarting the engine (and therefore the engine wouldn't have run to have the pcm detect a misfire), it seems like this is a memory storage/clearance issue rather than a continuity issue.
Expert:  david craig replied 10 months ago.

no, this is a hard fault problem. clearing codes will not clear a hard fault

Expert:  david craig replied 10 months ago.

checking in to see how its going

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I didn't get a chance to do the continuity check yesterday. I know a fair amount about computers and electronics and this still appeared to be a memory storage issue or one related to some default time/mileage delay to clear the signal to the dashboard error light and unlikely to be a hard fault issue. Later yesterday, I drove my daughter to and from San Jose State Univ., and on the return trip, the light went out and stayed out. I estimate that I drove the car somewhere between 50 and 70+ miles since I replaced the ignition coil, when the engine light went out. The engine light remains functional and I am convinced that this was an electronic memory issue rather than a hard fault.