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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

We have a 2006 XT (manual transmission, original owners). The car has 120,000 miles on it. About 7 months ago, an "Er-Hc" error appeared on the dash and the check engine light came on. We brought it in to the dealer (which services the car regularly) and after about a few weeks of working on it, they determined that the ABS computer needed to be replaced. $1300 and about 4 months later, at the end of August, the same error and CEL comes on. This time, the oil temp gauge shot up to hot (even though we had just turned the car on, in a parking lot). Turned the car on/off, the gauge went back to normal, the light and code stayed on, and it drove fine. The next time we turned it on/off, the code and light went off. We brought it in to have it checked out. That was 10 weeks ago. After a slew of potential diagnoses (they thought it needed a new ECU computer, a new EGI computer, etc.), and after a SOA tech came to check it out, apparently, they have determined that we need to replace the wiring harness at a cost of $4200, exclusive of tax.

Help? Has anyone had this problem? Does the price seem excessive? Would it be worth it to pay the diagnostic fee and bring it elsewhere for another opinion, or would this be the final opinion given that it's at the dealer and SOA has been consulted, as well?

Thanks!
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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16,120 Posts
That error is indeed an ECU/Module communication issue.

What harnnes are they replacing. If it is the engine wiring harness, that cost is insane. Dealer retail on that harness is about $340. I know, because I need one for my 2006. It would take a maximum of 2 hours to replace the engine harness.

If it is the body wiring harness, our side of the firewall, that is much, much more involved. Including the engine side harness, I could see parts being $1000.00 and labor at 16 - 20 hours. My math still brings the bill to $2800-$3000. I think the $4200 is a rip off.

But then again, so was $1300 for the ABS module....
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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16,120 Posts
It's the body wiring harness.
So body side only?

I think the price is too high. Unfortunately, I am not sure I would trust this type of rabbit-hole repair to a shop other than a dealer. or certified independent. You get a year warranty standard, and with wiring, if it's not right...it will be a rabbit-hole.

Make them justify the estimate. Of if you have a written one post it. Part numbers are easily searched for $. As well are the standard/billable time frames for the labor. Labor costs are posted.

Make them show you their numbers, and do the math. Then negotiate a separate price. Use the mis-diagnosed cost as leverage. I would love to see an estimate sheet.
 

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2005 OBXT Limited, VF37, STI intake, 5MT
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The ECU should store any "communication error" codes as Uxxxx codes. If the ECU cannot cycle or power on, the cluster freaks-out, shows "Er-HC", and the water temp will skyrocket.

I had a similar issue during my motor swap. My problem was a mixture of things: several blown and/or missing fuses from the engine bay (and interior fuse box) AND a broken ground eyelet for the engine wiring harness (the large, multi-wire part). The ECU will not operate (nor the major ignition relays) if this wire bundle is not grounded. IIRC, this point is on the driver's side, anchored to one of the large, green brackets.

This can also occur if the green test-connectors under the passenger side carpet, near the firewall, are connected. Or if you have an OBD2 reader/scanner connected and it tries to communicate with the ECU during start-up.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you. They've quoted us the part at $1700 and labor at $2500 (I think it's $100/hour, so that works out to 25 hours). I'm assuming that doesn't include the 30-odd hours they've put into diagnosing the issue. I'll try to get the part(s) number and will also confirm whether it's just the body side only... It seems like our only options would be trying to get the price down and then going ahead with the fix, or giving up the car, which is in otherwise excellent shape. :(
 

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Outback 2.0XT, Audi TTq, Ducati M750
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I just got his when I was getting my immo reflashed, it turns out the #7 30amp fuse in the engine bay fuseblock had blown, which is the ECU power; make sure it's properly installed and has a solid silver breaker.
 

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2005 OBXT Limited, VF37, STI intake, 5MT
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Thank you. They've quoted us the part at $1700 and labor at $2500 (I think it's $100/hour, so that works out to 25 hours). I'm assuming that doesn't include the 30-odd hours they've put into diagnosing the issue. I'll try to get the part(s) number and will also confirm whether it's just the body side only... It seems like our only options would be trying to get the price down and then going ahead with the fix, or giving up the car, which is in otherwise excellent shape. :(
Did they try HARD to get you to trade it in? I think some "I don't want to fix it" is at play.

The bulkhead harness (the main harness under the dash that connects the ECU to the car and other harnesses is only <$600 retail. 81402AG43A is the part number for an 06 XT 5MT. At $1700, they should be replacing EVERY harness from the dash forward. All 4 harnesses are approximately $1700.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks again. I got the part list and breakdown. It looks like the price that was quoted is for the front wiring harness, the instrument panel wiring harness, the bulkhead wiring harness, and the integrated unit assembly. All the prices check out except for the integrated unit, which they quoted at $628. Is it safe to assume they don't know what's causing the error and so they want to replace anything that it could possibly stem from?

There's been no push to trade in.
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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16,120 Posts
I think they are covering their bases and hoping if they replace all of them, there should be no issue.

25 hours seems excessive. But Then again, this is not work you want you neighbor doing. You want no hassles after it is back.
 

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2005 OBXT Limited, VF37, STI intake, 5MT
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That is 100% a shot-gun approach to repairing a CANBUS error. I would consult with an independent (if possible/local) and get the error codes it is throwing. The Subaru FSM (factory service manual) has VERY exact steps to diagnosing and procedures for repair and NONE of them say "Replace everything". IF there is a faulty connection (or wiring problem), then have the tools to trace exactly where.

It sounds like the dealer isn't going to donate/spend the diag time and rather try a blanket fix. If you let them tear the harnesses apart, you will not get the same car back, assembly-wise. I'd almost guarantee you'd be back for a panel misalignment, squeak, rattle, something unplugged, clips missing, etc. Replacing the bulkhead and front harness is not an easy task.
 
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