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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m one of the many unlucky Subaru owners who were affected by the “ghost touch” issue on the HK head unit. My local Subaru dealer and SOA denied my warranty claim, and said the issue must have been caused by water from a wet wipe or cleaning spray entering the CD slot.

Here’s the problem: I’m the original owner, and I clean the interior myself. Water has never been anywhere near my CD slot. Their explanation didn’t hold water.

Since their only fix was a $2,500 head-unit replacement, I decided to investigate by removing and partially disassembling the head unit.

For everyone affected, here’s what I learned:
1. The bubbles causing the ghost touches are inside the digitizer. (The digitizer is the clear screen that sits in front of the LCD and registers touches.)
2. On the back of the front panel there is a thick line of glue running below and along the entire length of the CD opening. If water drops did enter the CD opening, they would be blocked by the glue before they could fall on the digitizer.
3. The digitizer is glued in place along its edges and appears to be sealed. Meaning, even if water did reach the digitizer, there is no apparent way for water to get inside it and create bubbles.

TL; DR: I would bet my Outback that water intrusion from the CD slot is not the issue.

So if it’s not water damage, what is it? I’m not an electrical engineer, so I can’t say for sure. However a quick Google search turns up a lot of articles about touchscreens delaminating and developing bubbles due to manufacturing defects. It’s widely reported with Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge infotainment units (which notably lack CD slots) in addition to Subarus.

Is Subaru is attempting to blame owners for a manufacturing defect in order to avoid the expense of a warranty replacement? I don’t know, but I intend to find out.

If anyone has insights/theories that would help confirm or disprove my theory, I would love to hear them.

As a side note, it’s also frustrating that Subaru insists the only fix is a $2,500 replacement of the entire head unit. The front panel and digitizer were easy to remove, and would be easy and inexpensive to replace if they were sold separate from guts of the head unit. It would be about as difficult as replacing a cracked smartphone screen.
 

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2020 Onyx
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19,438 Posts
I'm curious if this problem is more likely in places like Arizona where it can get very very hot, or cars that are often parked uncovered where there are frequent heat cycles.
 

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I'm curious if this problem is more likely in places like Arizona where it can get very very hot, or cars that are often parked uncovered where there are frequent heat cycles.
I do live in Georgia and park outdoors.
I would think it would be more likely to occur in places of high humidity- the southeast US for example (such as Georgia)
 

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2018 Outback Premium with eyesight 2.5 CVT
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7 Posts
My 2018 developed delamination and bubbles but it has never had water on the screen nor near the CD slot, at least not in the year that I have owned it. I live in SE Tennessee and the car is not garaged, but we do not have Arizona-like heat; it appears that these head units will delaminate even if not exposed to liquids or used in extreme climates.

Fortunately, we bought an extended warranty when we purchased the car last November that will cover the replacement, but we are still waiting for the part after 21 days—the dealer cannot tell me when the replacement unit will be available.
 

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2018 Subaru Outback Touring 3.6
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What evidence has the dealer and/or Subaru corporate provided to you to support their position? e.g., dried drop(s) of water or other liquid(s)? This is a known and acknowledged issue by Subaru. I assume your display/screen has "bubbles" visible. I ask after having my head unit replaced...at least the display/screen replaced. I cannot nor know how to verify what is behind/under the dashboard.
 
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