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Discussion Starter #1
I've noticed that the Air Conditioning on my 05 Outback XT doesn't put out air at a steady temperature. Rather, the air comes out for 5 seconds ice cold, then it comes out warm for a few seconds, then back to cold, and so on. My car is equipped with the climate control package, so I have tried this while it was set to "auto" and a manual setting. I have also tried at different temps. It does this no matter what the setting is.

This doesn't seem normal to me, and while living in a warm climate, I love that ice cold air on me all of the time.

Has anyone else experienced this and/or resolved this issue?
 

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nolescorp said:
I've noticed that the Air Conditioning on my 05 Outback XT doesn't put out air at a steady temperature. Rather, the air comes out for 5 seconds ice cold, then it comes out warm for a few seconds, then back to cold, and so on. My car is equipped with the climate control package, so I have tried this while it was set to "auto" and a manual setting. I have also tried at different temps. It does this no matter what the setting is.

This doesn't seem normal to me, and while living in a warm climate, I love that ice cold air on me all of the time.

Has anyone else experienced this and/or resolved this issue?
I haven't tried my ACC in A/C mode yet as I bought my car in late fall. But from what I know of this ACC, I'd say that is not normal.

In Auto mode it should vary the temp and fan up and down a bit to maintain it's temp, but the changes are normally very slow. In manual mode the temp should remain steady at whatever temperature you set on the dial.

I'm thinking perhaps it is low on "freon" .
 

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I read about this problem in a car magazine. Their long term test Legacy had the same problem. Road and track or Automobile, can't remember which one.
They took it back to the dealer but the said it was normal, if I remember correctly. But it doesn't sound normal to me. Mine doesn't do that, not that I've noticed.

Viktor
 

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Nolescorp I've noticed it goes crazy initially then settles down after 5 minutes or so, in warm weather it works very hard to cool down and then settles. I've also noticed the sun sensor on the dash makes a huge difference, if that's getting shaded by something intermittently it will create the sort of symptoms you're talking about.
 

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I've only had mine about a week & 1/2 but it doesn't seem to behaving like yours. It's been in the upper 80's and low 90's for the last few days so when I start up in the afternoon I set it to 72 or 73. It's cools down quickly and blasts the fan at the 6 setting. Once things cool down I bump it up for 75 or 76 and it maintains the temp pretty well. I do notice that it will vary the temp of the air coming out of the vent slightly as needed to maintain the setting but it's nothing that makes the car uncomfortable.
 

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This ACC (aka HAL) was either designed by a committee or by Dr. Evil--or both.
 

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I sell commercial air conditioners but am definitly NOT familiar with the Subaru AC specific details...

But... here are a couple things that might be happening...

Short Cycling - this might be a design flaw for the Subaru's. Depending on where the temperature sensor is on the car it will sense the setting at which you have set your car at and once it's reached it will warm up the air. The main cause for this is super cold air cooling air surrounding the sensor but not cooling the mass of hot air in the car.

Another factor could be the outdoor enviroment. Depending on the outside humidity the heat rejection to the outside surrounding air could be very poor creating warmer air.

But IMO this is just how Subaru is, mine does the same thing... '05 LL Bean. I never use the auto function, I set it around 70 and adjust it accordingly. I live in Fresno CA, typically 100 degrees with lil humidity.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks all for the help.

I went to the dealer with the problem - they said there was nothing wrong. I am sure that when the air conditioner is on, set to 65, and on manual mode, the temperature should not vary. They seem to disagree. I do believe, as has been stated many times by many people, that this is an unfortunate design flaw.

Having cold air followed by warm/stale air and cold air again makes me feel queasy.

It seems better recently, or I am getting used to it.

I still love my car
 

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Same thing with mine.

I am not satified with "it's normal" I will continue to investigate. It could be overcharged. I am going to put some gauges on it and check pressures.
 

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newer AC units (made in the last 8 yrs or so) operate by cycling the compressor on & off... i believe the theory was to compensate for low HP... you will notice a slight change in temp even in manual mode... you need to purchase a "pencil" thermometer and stick it in one of the air openings and watch the temp fluctuate... it shouldn't fluctuate more than 3-4 degrees (depending on outside temp & whether or not you're sitting in shade)... another option is to have an independent mechanic to check your system
 

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Let me preface this reply by stating that I've only had my Subie [Atlantic Blue, Outback XT Ltd 5M] for about a week now.

To be honest, I've been surprisingly pleased with HAL... err the ACC. I played some paintball over the weekend outdoors in 90+ degree heat and when we got back into the car the air was consistently cold for the entire trip home (this was on Auto at 65 degrees). Give the heat/humidity of the day, it took it about 2-3 minutes to get going, but once it did everyone seemed to be impressed.

I'd say that what you're seeing is not normal and would ask to have the sensors checked. Another thing you might check is the internal temp sensor. Make sure it's not blocked by your leg (FYI - the sensor is by your right knee -- the little gill looking portion) or obstructed by plastic/debris/etc. If the dealership still thinks it's normal, you might ask to sit in a comparable new car and test it there. See if it exhibits the same behavior.
 

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I've only noticed HAL like behavior when the ACC temperature and the outside temperature are close; say within 3-4 degrees of each other. If the difference is great like on a 90 degree day it is cool the whole trip.
 

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O5 Outback 2.5i, Manual not AutoClimateControl

Just want to clarify, the control in my vehicle is control knob manual. Also we have had approx 93-95 degree days and the inside of the car is comfortable, not frosty. I am just concerned with the 7 second on-5 second off routine. Is it kicking off by the pressure switch on the high side? or is controlled by the computer of the vehicle?? If it is the pressure switch might lead me to think the R134 charge is too high or too low of a charge. Does anyone know a Subaru climate control engineer?
 

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Dealer Service Visit Tuesday 7/26

I have an appointment scheduled for Tuesday on my 4 day old car. Hopefully they will find something. I'm leaning toward possible low charge or low charge specified by Subaru. Had similar experience on new Ford F-350 last year, short cycling caused by charge requirement by Ford too low. We will see...
 

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Re: Dealer Service Visit Tuesday 7/26

msk said:
I have an appointment scheduled for Tuesday on my 4 day old car. Hopefully they will find something. I'm leaning toward possible low charge or low charge specified by Subaru. Had similar experience on new Ford F-350 last year, short cycling caused by charge requirement by Ford too low. We will see...
Good luck and let us know how it goes!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
MSK - please let me know your results as our problems are identical.

Also - I will check the gauge around the knee theory - I am huge and my knee surely hits that area.

Thanks all!
 

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I *think* I understand the symptoms you're talking about and I think it has to do with a few things.

Assuming nothing's malfunctioning (where else can I start?), HAL seems to be trying extraordinarily hard to condition every last second of air...case in point:

One rather warm day, I was traveling down the road with the AC cranked. By now, the car had sufficiently cooled off, but the sun was baking hot so the AC was still icing away...perfect in my book.

Ok, so a big cloud suddenly covered up the sun and HAL switched immediately to warmer air to compensate. There was a very clear change in connection with the solar sensor.

Now, if the sun had stayed hidden and there was no change, I would have eventually been too cold, so I think it's pretty cool it can compensate for these changes.

On the other hand, the change was insanely fast, instantly increasing the temp at least 5 degrees (probably a few more) and I can see this causing at least as many problems as it solves.

Conclusion: I think auto climate control is a good idea, and mine/ours works ok, but "refinement" does not come to mind when I think of my '05 XT LTD's climate controls...especially when the cabin temp is close to the outside temp. So, I don't think there's anything "wrong" with your car, other than this was (as far as I know) subaru's first attempt at auto dual climate control, and it needs some work.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I checked the knee theory - although I am 6'6", my knee was not covering the sensor. I have plenty of room in this car.

I tried the AC today - temperature outside was 98 degrees. I tried the air on Auto 65, and it came on full speed. Air varied in temperature as it has consistently since my first road trip. Tried it at Manual 65 and 70 degrees. Same thing - No clouds or anything - just blazin sunshine and cold air for about 7 seconds, then warm air for 5 seconds, and back to cold air. Makes me sweat! I'll deal with it though because eventually the car does cool down and I rapidly forget about the air when I drive like I'm on a track..... it's just so fun.
 

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Hrm...you've planted a seed of doubt in me now...the precise conditions you describe have me suspicious.

When it's 85-90'ish outside and sunny, especially when I first turn the car on, I thought all I got was a steady blast of cold air...period.

It's rainy/cloudy outside today or I'd check it first thing after work, but especially with your stat pegged at 65 I'd think all you would get is steady icy cold air...I'm no longer convinced there's nothing wrong with your car. I will have to do some more careful observations when it's hot out.

PS. I think I may follow in your footsteps and get the slightly blue tint for my OBXT windows to aid the AC in its efforts. I have the Gold color, but I still think it will be a good match. I'll post pictures on the tint thread if/when I get it done.
 

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The sensor relies on a ventury and it works very slowly at the best of times and not at all at other times, which explains why the system reacts so slowly to temperature changes and tends to overshoot.
TYhis guy actually devised a fix for this problem:
Subaru Forester Climate Control Fix
 
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