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2008 Subaru Legacy Outback 2.5i (143k miles, automatic)
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I purchased a 2008 Subaru Legacy Outback about a month ago. Everything in it worked great during the test drive, including the AC. It's middle of summer where I'm at, so checking the heat didn't even cross my mind; all of the fluids were good and I took it on an "extended" test drive to make sure it wouldn't overheat or anything.

Just the other day, I got to noticing that when the AC was turned on, it had only one setting; cold. Turning the temperature knob (blue dot on the left for cold, red dot on the right for hot. aka not "climate control") so I thought to check the heat to see how hot it got, but there was no heat. When you turn the AC button off and rotate the temperature knob to red (hot) there is no heat; it just feels like regular air blowing through the vents. I've switched vents from defrost to feet heat and everything in between and there's absolutely no heat coming through.

I'm fairly mechanical inclined..I'm no mechanic, but have always done a fair job at doing self-repairs as long as I have the tools for the job. So, I got to diagnosing the problem. Again, I checked the coolant levels and they were fine. So I felt the hoses going into the firewall and both were hot..Just to be safe, I disconnected the hoses and flushed the heater core.

Which leads me to believe that there is something going on within the dash. I'm not very comfortable disassembling the dash and it's components without a diagram showing me how to do it and how to put it back together.. but I did what I was comfortable with. I took off the plastic interior pieces that surround vent knobs and radio which aloud me to (kind of) see behind the temperature knob. There is a wire w/blue rubber housing (think: like a hand brake on a bicycle) attached to the temp. knob and that wire runs up into the dash on the driver's side of where the radio slides into place. It is attached to one side of a white-ish lever thing and when I turn the temp. knob, it pulls and pushes the wire to manipulate that white-ish lever..but it looks like that lever should also be attached to something that it isn't..but I can't tell because it's too far up in the dash. Maybe the white lever shouldn't be attached to anything else..but that's what it looks like from my awful view..

In order to explore this further, I would really need a diagram explaining what I'm looking at or at the least how to get to it and put everything back together once I'm done.

To recap; I have checked the coolant levels and flushed the heater core. neither showed any signs of malfunction or damage. There is absolutely no heat coming through the vents when I turn the heat on, it just blows regular air. The knob does have tension on it and the wire is moving when I turn the knob back and forth. the wire is attached to something up in the dash and that "something" is moving when I manipulate the temp knob..I can't see that white lever good enough to tell if it's movement is doing anything or attached to anything else.

If anyone has any ideas on what may be wrong or where to find the documents that I'm looking for; please comment and let me know.
 

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2008 Subaru Legacy Outback 2.5i (143k miles, automatic)
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Also, the previous owner has done some sort of modification to the dash because there are two aftermarket switches; one is to the left of the steering wheel and the other is in the dash storage space (where the screen would be if it had navigation).. they don't control anything that I can tell and I have manipulated them in any and all ways that I could to see if they had anything to do with the heat.. but just the fact that they are there tells me that the previous owner did have them installed and that the components behind the dash have been messed with. I'm afraid that whoever did it may have unplugged something from that white lever or messed some sort of actuator up.. the vents work fine and all of the modes function properly (feet, dash, defrost, etc.) it's just that there is no heat. Also, there is no "overheating" problem. The temperature gauge sits perfectly in the middle and never goes above normal operating temperature.
 

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On the Super Mod Squad
2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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moved to 2005-2009 section,

does that one have "dual climate control"?
 

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moved to 2005-2009 section,

does that one have "dual climate control"?
If there's a bicycle cable from the temperature knob going back to the HVAC box, then it's probably manual control; the auto HVAC with dual climate uses electronic controls for the temperature.
@itsnorml

There is a wire w/blue rubber housing (think: like a hand brake on a bicycle) attached to the temp. knob and that wire runs up into the dash on the driver's side of where the radio slides into place. It is attached to one side of a white-ish lever thing and when I turn the temp. knob, it pulls and pushes the wire to manipulate that white-ish lever..but it looks like that lever should also be attached to something that it isn't..but I can't tell because it's too far up in the dash.
See attached. Looks as if there's two levers involved with "air mix door linkage" #20 that moves the "air mix door" #4. The door directs air through or past the heater core, depending on the temperature setting.

The mod work that the previous owner did could have been a factor. But, also, was the front passenger airbag recall done on the car? That work often requires disassembly of the dash, including removal of the HVAC controls. In either case, I wouldn't be surprised if the linkage wasn't restored properly.
 

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2008 Subaru Legacy Outback 2.5i (143k miles, automatic)
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It is not Automatic Climate control.. it doesn't have the "temperature readout" and dual climate setup... from left to right; knob w/ blue on left, red on right- used to control how cold or how hot the air is. knob in middle is used to control fan speed and works fine. knob on right is used to direct the air out of the different vents (dash, mixed between feet and dash, feet, feet and defrost, defrost) and this knob also works fine.
 

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2008 Subaru Legacy Outback 2.5i (143k miles, automatic)
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
[/QUOTE]See attached. Looks as if there's two levers involved with "air mix door linkage" #20 that moves the "air mix door" #4. The door directs air through or past the heater core, depending on the temperature setting.

The mod work that the previous owner did could have been a factor. But, also, was the front passenger airbag recall done on the car? That work often requires disassembly of the dash, including removal of the HVAC controls. In either case, I wouldn't be surprised if the linkage wasn't restored properly.[/QUOTE]


That file will be extremely helpful! I'm pretty positive that is what is wrong..do you have any resources that would explain to me how to get into that area? From what I'm seeing, I would either have to take the entire top of the dash off (which also seems to be glued down for the most part instead of popping/unscrewing like most of the lower dash) or go in from the bottom and actually un-bolt/unscrew the actual metal framing within the dash in order to access it..

I've had the entire bottom half of the driver side dash off, too out the radio and the storage space above the radio (where the navigation would go on the Limited versions) but this still isn't enough to access or even see, really, the mechanism that's moving back and forth whenever I twist the temperature knob.



p.s. I'm trying to do this myself before Monday because I have an appointment with my mechanic on Monday to look at this for himself. I explained to him exactly what I have explained to you all and he seems to thing that it's the temperature actuator...and that may be, but what I've found on the internet as far as "2008 Subaru Legacy Outback actuator" is a guy changing the vent actuator (but the temp actuator is immediately underneath the vent actuator) and all of that stuff is on the passenger side in his vehicle. The interior does look identical to mine, however. I trust my mechanic with my life. He's worked on all of my grandpa's vehicles, my dad's (who owned 3 different subaru's), and all of mine..he's more than fair in price and has always solved the problem, even when it turned out to be something much easier and cheaper to fix than I initially thought, but I'm a cheap-ass and would love to fix this issue myself before Monday.
 

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Somebody had the dash apart for something, and that often involves disconnecting the heater blend door control cable. That's the bicycle cable you found.

I bet it got disconnected and never reconnected. Hopefully they didn't get mad at it and yank it and break something.

I haven't had to do it in a Subaru but I understand it's quite the gymnastic reach to get in there and work on it in the driver's side footwell.

This cable is frequently disconnected & reconnected as part of an aftermarket stereo installation, without having to remove the entire dash.

It's possible that if you follow the stereo installation instructions you'll get into it far enough to fix the problem. Crutchfield has them posted on their site, and there are other guides elsewhere.
 

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2008 Subaru Legacy Outback 2.5i (143k miles, automatic)
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It's possible that if you follow the stereo installation instructions you'll get into it far enough to fix the problem. Crutchfield has them posted on their site, and there are other guides elsewhere.
Do you know the link to that site right off? I've looked everywhere online for instructions on how to access that piece and can't find anything relevant. Also, I have removed the radio in past attempts to reach it and it really didn't seem to get me any closer..there's a lot of large pieces of metal "framing" inside the dash that seems to get in the way of visually inspecting it or reaching it.

Thanks for the help!
 

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The current recall program to replace the front passenger airbag fundamentally involves taking the top of the dash off (the black part that goes from side to side beneath the windshield). Techs in Subaru shops are probably quite familiar now with that process. I believe it involves removing the instrument panel, center console/radio etc, glove compartment assembly and the disconnecting the front passenger airbag. The cover is bolted in place, but it looks as if it's an involved process. There might be others here who have been there, perhaps to replace the heater core.
 

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Do you know the link to that site right off? I've looked everywhere online for instructions on how to access that piece and can't find anything relevant. Also, I have removed the radio in past attempts to reach it and it really didn't seem to get me any closer..there's a lot of large pieces of metal "framing" inside the dash that seems to get in the way of visually inspecting it or reaching it.

Thanks for the help!
Looks like crutchfield now sells them rather than giving them out.

There are some guides posted on legacygt.com, and there may be others on this site.

From what I understand (mind you I have the auto HVAC so mine is different) the work happens in the driver's footwell. I'm not clear if you actually need to remove any panels to gain access to it- the access is already there, just very inconvenient up above the accelerator pedal.
 

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01 Impreza RS EJ207 V7 and V8 6 Speed :: 08 Outback
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This actually happened to my sister's car last week, 2011 Legacy. Similar symptoms and I checked the heater core too. I reversed the hoses and there was heat. I let it cool and it still did the same thing. I put them back to their original locations and it just turned out there was a massive air pocket in the system. I just burped the system for a good half hour to so and heat was back. So far so good.
 
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