2006 Outback, Lost (then Found?) Acceleration

Yesterday, my wife was driving her 2006 Outback home from our vacation, and after about 2 hours on the highway, she heard a "bang" and the car lost all
acceleration. The engine was still running, lights and radio worked, etc, but pressing the accelerator did nothing. She pulled off the road as the car drifted to a stop. I was driving behind her, and, as far as either of us saw, she hadn't hit anything.
We had to get towed about 80 miles to the Subaru dealership. And today, the Subaru guys tell her the car runs fine. They said they found the battery dead from leaving the lights on all night (I don't know about that -- maybe something the tow truck driver did), but they say the car can be driven with no problems.
Any ideas about what is going on here???
Wife thought that the accelerator cable had broken, because that happened to her quite a few years ago (with GM car), and the sound and the effect were similar. But, Subaru says the Outback's accelerator is all electronic, no cable.
We're out about $250 for the tow, plus $100 to the Subaru dealership which claims there is no problem. And of course, the wife now has no confidence that the car can be driven beyond convenient towing distance. The car is maybe 8 months old.
Advice, please???
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and
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I should add, the car has automatic transmission. Thanks.
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Ted Kerin wrote:

It's hard for me to imagine a failure mode such as you're describing. If it does happen again, you're going to have to do some troubleshooting of your own, like shutting down the car, restarting it and trying to drive it.
Was the engine idling smoothly when she stopped the car?
Something just doesn't seem right here...
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and
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Thanks, Jim, for the reply. I of course agree that it's pretty strange.
Yes, the car idled smoothly -- she just couldn't get the engine to run any faster when she stepped on the accelerator, or make the car speed up when it was moving. Even if she had somehow knocked the geadshift into neutral, or if there was a transmission problem, I expect she should have been able to gun the engine -- instead, the engine just faded down to an idle and could not be speeded up.
If the accelerator is all electronic, does anyone think it could be a problem with a chip or other computer-type part?
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A couple questions. How can the lights be left on when the ignition switch is off? Why didn't the Subaru road side warranty cover towing?
Chris

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etc,
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Ted Kerin wrote:

Perhaps some exhaust baffle/part came loose and blocked the exhaust? It might then 'fall down/away' after being stopped or towed. I assume they tried to read a code.
Even if the tow truck driver used a flat bed (PLEASE tell me he did!) he likely would have to unlock the steering to get the car on and off the towtruck. He probably hit the parking switch on top of the steering column reaching through the window.
Did she hear only or also feel a bang? maybe something weird with a differential?
how odd
Carl
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Along the same lines as Carl's question about whether the bang was only heard or also felt, a better description of what it was like ("like somebody hit the body with a brick" or "like somebody hit the underside with a small hammer") might help. My instinct says figuring out what the bang was about is the key.
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest the nature of the failure was electrical (electronic, even). I base that on the accelerator "doing nothing." I think if it did something but not much you would have described it that way. It sure sounds like the electronic throttle control quit.
I agree with your wife; I think it is going to happen again, with or without the bang. I also am not ready to rule out a charging system problem, causing the electronic throttle to shut down.
It's a strange one, I'll say.
Mike
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the
maybe
with
Transmission or Suspension Better take it back to Subaru and have tthe ENTIRE driveline checked. My guess is they'll find a nice dent in the transaxle case or somewhere else along the drivetrain and/or suspension
DO THIS:
Take it in an empty parking lot. Get it up to 20, let go of wheel keeping acceleration constant. Apply brakes and still do not touch the wheel. Do it again at 40 and 50 MPH. If it pulls to the right or left you have suspension impact damage. (I run a body/collision shop and see this all the time in many models of cars beside's Subaru)
Any clunking or odd noises? Ditto! Tranny and/or driveline damage.
Note: A BIG problem with Subaru is that external Tranny filter mounted on the driver's side of the case. I've seen 5 of em get bashed in, leak, person drives on, fluid leaks, and tranny goes into self destruct from lack of Dex-II hydro oil. This is a MAJOR design flaw with Subaru.
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crazedrabbits wrote:

I don't doubt you encounter the issues you write about - but how would they cause loss of acceleration/gas pedal function?
Carl
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Ted Kerin wrote:

I've been thinking about this some more and wondering if the dealer checked for ECU trouble codes...
Give them a call and find out. If they didn't, a trouble code mights still be set and worth a trip to a repair shop or parts store to get it checked.
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Just a quick note.
I have an 05 obxt, about a year ago the car started making a really awfull rubbing noise. I thought something got caught in the suspension system but never found it.
Anyway...I brought it in for service recently and the tech found a scuff in one of the wheel wells.
So I suppose there is a chance that something got wedged in there, maybe in or around the disk, caliper or somewhere that was interfearing with the rotation of the wheel.
The question I would ask is whether or not the car was getting dragged to a stop or did really just not respond to the accelerator. When you stepped on the gas did you hear the engine laboring?
ANyway....this seems like an incredible long shot but the replies that say check out your drive line make some sense to me. You have roadside assistance. If it happens again just call them.
Keith Jim Stewart wrote:

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I think Subaru has a towing number that is good for some years (3/36,000?). The tow should be reimbursed unless you chose not to use the Subaru Road Assistance number. You incident sounds strange, especially with the bang-before the power loss. I wonder if something was hit on the road and it triggered the roll-over switch which was reset where the vehicle was restarted. I would certainly have the computer checked for a code and many of the codes are stored in memory and may not trigger a continuous CEL. A do believe the Subaru rep. should be informed of this oblivious safety issue and to get it on Subaru's documentation for future reference.
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