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Speedometer at 0 mph?


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  • I Donated

So I'm increasingly starting to think that my parents' 2010 Outback 2.5i 6MT is a POS. I'm posting here because it's mechanically identical to a 5th gen Legacy and this forum gets more traffic than the 4th gen Outback forum.

 

My dad just called me and let me know that he's traveling somewhere between 55 and 75 mph, but the speedometer is reading 0. No CEL or ABS light on. I'm assuming the 5th gen operates the speedometer the same way as the 4th gen, where the ECU synthesizes the speed from the ABS sensors, so it makes no sense that neither of those lights is on.

 

Anyone have any idea what might be going on, or any idea on where to start diagnosing? What do people use for datalogging these days? Can you even datalog a 2.5i? I still have my Vag-Com cable from when I had my 05 LGT, so I guess that's a good place to start if anyone has any advice on what software I can use to log a 2.5i.

 

Another note: he recently brought the car in for a couple other issues, and besides the sunroof drain they couldn't unclog, the TPMS system is on the fritz. Apparently pressure is fine, and they said the sensors are fine, but the light is on. Leads me to believe there are some electrical gremlins.

 

Combine this with the clutch going out at 54k, the perpetually reclogging sunroof drains, the fact that the sunroof tilts but doesn't slide, the ever-burning-out taillight bulbs (to say nothing of headlights and markers), and I'm thinking Subaru couldn't be bothered to make sure its cars were reliable this time around.

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You might ask Perscitus for his opinion on which method would work best to ascertain what the ecm is seeing vs what the speedo is outputting. I would say from the information provided, either the ecm is seeing no speed input and therefor is happy with the lack of information and therefore displaying exactly what it sees. Or, it is seeing speed and is passing on all the requisite signals from the sensors to the BIU and either the BIU isn't passing them on or the guage has simply stopped working. Or more likely the BIU has been on the fritz for some time, playing hell on the lights and other electrical systems as a result. But I am just guessing. Was the car bought new, used? How long has the issue been present, does it display the mileage and odometer correctly?

 

More than one of those issues can be attributed to maintenance (lack of), user error, and/or environmental factors.

 

When you take into account the Outback has been a really good seller, especially, since it grew up so normal sized adults could fit in the back seat comfortably. It seemed kind of silly to call it a POS based on a limited number of issues and instances of failures.

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Or more likely the BIU has been on the fritz for some time, playing hell on the lights and other electrical systems as a result. But I am just guessing. Was the car bought new, used? How long has the issue been present, does it display the mileage and odometer correctly?

 

More than one of those issues can be attributed to maintenance (lack of), user error, and/or environmental factors.

 

Car was special-ordered by my parents and has been owned by them since. Issue occurred for the first time today (my dad called me back after I wrote the OP and said the speedometer is working again, but who knows if we've heard the last of it). Maintenance has been done by a combination of the dealer, a reputable independent shop, and me, and has never been deferred (and even if it had, I don't see how that would cause the speedometer to suddenly stop working). No idea whether or not the odometer ticked up while the speedometer was dead. The only things that aren't working properly at this point are this, the sunroof, and the TPMS system, and all of those items were fine fairly recently.

 

When you take into account the Outback has been a really good seller, especially, since it grew up so normal sized adults could fit in the back seat comfortably. It seemed kind of silly to call it a POS based on a limited number of issues and instances of failures.

 

Sorry dude. I've never seen a car as unreliable as this one with this little mileage on it (93k at present). Even my 05 LGT, which was a POS in its own right, had more failures due to maintenance issues and mods than clear defects. Even my mom's 06 A4, which required a $2500 engine repair 10 days out of warranty, was marginally more reliable than this car.

 

And can you honestly say you don't see the majority of 4th gen Outbacks on the road with one or more burnt out taillight bulb? It's a frikkin epidemic. :lol:

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Car was special-ordered by my parents and has been owned by them since. Issue occurred for the first time today (my dad called me back after I wrote the OP and said the speedometer is working again, but who knows if we've heard the last of it). Maintenance has been done by a combination of the dealer, a reputable independent shop, and me, and has never been deferred (and even if it had, I don't see how that would cause the speedometer to suddenly stop working). No idea whether or not the odometer ticked up while the speedometer was dead. The only things that aren't working properly at this point are this, the sunroof, and the TPMS system, and all of those items were fine fairly recently.

 

 

 

Sorry dude. I've never seen a car as unreliable as this one with this little mileage on it (93k at present). Even my 05 LGT, which was a POS in its own right, had more failures due to maintenance issues and mods than clear defects. Even my mom's 06 A4, which required a $2500 engine repair 10 days out of warranty, was marginally more reliable than this car.

 

And can you honestly say you don't see the majority of 4th gen Outbacks on the road with one or more burnt out taillight bulb? It's a frikkin epidemic. [emoji38]

I don't see 4th gen taillights very often, so I'll take your word for it, ;). The 4th gen biu does control some of the marker lights iirc so again that may be the issue. Depending on where the sunroof drains leaked to, it may be possible the biu caught some moisture, or there is a ground issue in the dash wiring harness.

 

Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk

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when you connect a data logger to it, what does the ECU think the vehicle speed is? it could be faulty stepper motor for the cluster... if the ECU shows speed and the speedo does not, it will narrow down what to look for
Well, that maybe answers one of my questions: according to you, it's possible to data log a 2.5i.

 

What program should I use at this point?

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When the speedo drops out, what happens to the selected gear indicator? That's calculated based on engine speed and wheel speed, just thinking that if it continues to show the correct gear, it could be the gauge itself flaking out.
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When the speedo drops out, what happens to the selected gear indicator? That's calculated based on engine speed and wheel speed, just thinking that if it continues to show the correct gear, it could be the gauge itself flaking out.

 

Great question. I'll ask.

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Fulton, I'm no help but the tail light issue reminds me of my wife's 2000 Jetta. Constantly burning out. Then we had a the driver's side front door lock die (electrical). Replaced it and the tail light problem was fixed. The lock had been quirky for years as was the tail light.

 

Modern cars. Modern electrical issues seem to be a huge gremlin in today's cars. Waaaaay too complicated.

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The ABS signals are read into the ABS modules and sent to the cluster via can bus. The TPMS sensors signals are picked up by the TMPS module (under the driver seat) and sent to the cluster.

 

If the dealer can't find the a bad TPM sensor or low battery, with knowledge of the speedometer issues I would think the issue is related to the cluster. I think canbus errors, ABS Module, or TPMS module would set codes.

 

I have replaced one rear tail light in my 105k miles of ownership. I replace the headlights after 60k miles once, never replaced any of the side markers. I know the early 5th Gen had headlight issues, but I think some of its due to regular use of automatic headlights. I have only noticed 2 other 5th Legacy's with the tail light out and I live in a high Subaru concentration area. My ex-wife had Toyota Highlander and it ate threw a few taillights, but eventually I ended with two lights out, one on each side diagonally . It turned out one of the good bulb sockets was melting from heat causing electric distribution issues. After that I notice about 50% of the Highlander with that taillight design on the road had 2 nonfunctional tail lights.

 

At 54k miles was the clutch replaced due to the throw out bearing? I have seen a few (Mostly GT's) replace early due to throw out bearing, most of them seem to be lasting 125k miles before the clutch disc wears out.

 

I actually thought my 6MT 2.5 5th Gen was one of more reliable cars I have own, I think only my 84 Toyota Truck was reliable than that. I haven't had my 3rd Gen 2.5i Outback very long, but the prior repairs on that vehicle are notable higher than my Legacy. It is kind of funny how the same cars can dead reliable for one owner or seem like a POS to another owner.

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Cluster issues is a good thought to look at during diagnosis.

 

The tali light bulb thing is primarily an Outback issue, I think. Seriously, next time you see a 4th gen Outback with its lights on, take a look at the tail lights. I'd bet dollars to donuts that at least one of the bulbs is burnt out. My dad's are all good right now (I think!) because I've been conscientious about replacing them, but I'm pretty sure I've replaced all of them at least once and one or two twice.

 

Clutch was slipping at 54k. And before you say it, no, it wasn't my parents' fault. They taught me how to drive stick when I was 16. They know not to rest their foot on the pedal or slip the clutch a bunch. They do live on a steep hill, so their clutches go out faster than on the average car, but the least one has lasted before is ~115k. This one also suddenly and catastrophically failed on the highway (went from not slipping when getting on, to barely making it off onto an exit ramp). My theory was the issue was not the clutch itself, but rather the hydraulic system (either master or slave cylinder). Those and the clutch itself (flywheel, pressure plate, disk, TOB) were replaced by a dealer (SOA did 100% goodwill on the hydraulic parts and IIRC 50% goodwill on the clutch parts), and they then warrantied the pressure plate again a week later because the new one was defective.

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They should do the clutch damper delete, it has been a source of frustration with moving engagement points as the fluid gets hot. During spirited driving I would regularly stall for no apparent reason. After the damper delete no more issues with that, I can definitely see that causing problems with the clutch life.
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Sounds like my wife’s old RX350, a typically reliable vehicle but ours was plagued with problems.

 

To help rule out the cluster, does the speedometer still sweep at startup? If you can’t slide the open the sunroof you certainly can’t clear a clogged sunroof drain!

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • I Donated

So my parents brought the car in to the dealership. Apparently, at some point, the sunroof track got bent (it's a total mystery over how that happened, considering my parents never open the sunroof -- they occasionally vent it on hot days while parked, but never slide it) and that meant that the sunroof was never closed properly, which combined with clogged drains meant that water got into the car and shorted out the sunroof motor, the radio (this was a new development over the past week or so, as my dad uses the radio all the time), and the instrument cluster.

 

Their best guess on repair cost at this point is $4700, but they haven't opened that much stuff up yet, so it may go up.

 

I'm not too surprised about the drains (my parents' lot is fully wooded, so a ton of crud has the chance to get in there), but seriously, a bent track on a sunroof that's never used? WTF?

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I'm not too surprised about the drains (my parents' lot is fully wooded, so a ton of crud has the chance to get in there), but seriously, a bent track on a sunroof that's never used? WTF?

 

If they left the sunroof vented in wooded area, it would likely allow more than normal debris to get in the sunroof. Someone opened the sunroof (perhaps accidently when intending to vent) and very likely the debris cause the rail to bend and perhaps jammed or shorted the motor. Someone mechanically inclined could probably resolve the sunroof issue with much less of an investment than $4700 ( I understand that it included more than fixing the sunroof). It could resolve the other electrical issues if they sunroof is having an electrical issue. (I have some skepticism that a sunroof will cause cluster issues though)

 

Earlier you mention about the rear tail light bulbs going out and being an epidemic, I wonder if the 4th Gen OB is still plagued by the rear wire harness issue than the 4th Gen Wagons/3rd Gen OB have with the harness in hatch wearing out over time causing shorts and opens and odd rear lighting/wiper issues.

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If they left the sunroof vented in wooded area

 

They didn't. They only vent the sunroof in direct sunlight, i.e. in parking lots with limited foliage. They never do it at home.

 

Earlier you mention about the rear tail light bulbs going out and being an epidemic, I wonder if the 4th Gen OB is still plagued by the rear wire harness issue than the 4th Gen Wagons/3rd Gen OB have with the harness in hatch wearing out over time causing shorts and opens and odd rear lighting/wiper issues.

 

The issue happens just as often with the outer lights that aren't on the hatch. I have a feeling it's more of a heat management issue.

 

If the water leaked down the A-pillar and followed a harness into the dash area, completely plausible IMO.

 

Yeah, that's likely what happened.

 

Final update (I hope): the dealer managed to un-bend the track and un-clog the drain lines. They also dried everything out, and the cluster and radio seem to be working fine. My parents decided against replacing the sunroof motor, since they never actually use it. Final bill was $700-something. They are going to get an interior detail to resolve the cosmetic aspect of the water damage.

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