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2004 Outback Wagon, 2.5, 4EAT, All weather package.
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Discussion Starter #1
Not sure if this is the proper place to ask this, but, has anyone thought about adding SWRC (steering wheel radio controls) to their 2nd gen Outback? It is from my understanding this was never available on 2nd gens, right? I've never seen one with SWRC. However, both my old '95 Pontiac Grand Prix and my current '99 Grand Prix GTP have them. It really is a feature I miss having. My thinking was taking a steering wheel out of a newer Subaru that has SWRC and wiring it in... but is this even possible without a tremendous amount of work? Any ideas?

Also, I am considering getting an aftermarket head unit. Not because I don't like my original basic stock CD unit... I do. I love it in fact, because it is simple and easy to use and has never given me any trouble, it works beautifully (more than I can say about the OEM CD head unit I had in my '95 Grand Prix that always skipped and barely read CDs). The only reason I want to add a head unit is because with this new job I am starting I am going to be traveling for work A LOT. My Subie is about to become my mobile office, and I'd like to add a head unit with Bluetooth so I can use my phone hands free. Also navigation would be a useful feature to have.

Any thoughts?
 

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2015 2.5i Limited Carbide Gray
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832 Posts
Though I don't need to do it on our OB I have done it on my Accord. The main difference in my case is that an upper model of my Accord came with the controls, and I switched over the wheel with controls and got a different clock spring out of a junk yard that had the additional wire. I also had to get an extra connector for the car side of the wiring to get the extra wire on the car side. Manufacturers typically use a common shaft size but may change the number of splines on the steering shaft/wheel that may be an issue. With some research and a friendly junkyard with some dead Scooby's you may be in luck. The main thing to verify is if your airbag will work within the new wheel, and that the new clock spring contains the proper connections for the airbag, cruise and obviously the steering wheel controls.

If you get all of this worked out you will still need to get the proper adapter and aftermarket radio to work. As for recommendations, I've had great success with the Kenwood in our OB. I've got an Alpine in my Accord that's good for what I need in there but prefer to have the Garmin nav in the Kenwood.
 

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2004 Outback Wagon, 2.5, 4EAT, All weather package.
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1,040 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Well it really depends on the car, I know that. I was just curious if anyone had ever attempted it on these cars... are the newer steering wheels even compatible with the older steering columns? I know to do it on a Grand Prix you just need to find a steering wheel with the controls built in (or in the case of the older cars you just need to pop out the filler panel in the center and pop in the control buttons), replace the turn signal switch for one designed to be used with SWRC and you're pretty much good to go.
 

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2006 WX8: my "Outback" > yours
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978 Posts
This function (SWRC) usually works through a BCM/BIU which has a data link to the radio, so retrofitting an entire OE set-up from a later model would be difficult, and in any case not compatible with an aftermarket head unit you're interested in. At the same time, equipment is available for adapting factory steering wheel controls to aftermarket head units. The switches are multiplexing type, that is they create different combinations of resistors, for each state of the switch, in the input circuit for the BIU. Aftermarket adapters can be adjusted for a set of resistance values produced by a specific switch. Perhaps you would be able to work something out along those lines.
I did that on a Dodge minivan where it was plug-and-play similar to lashlee's Accord, because the option was available on higher trim levels.
 
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