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Discussion Starter #1
I've got a 2005 Outback that we've owned for about eight years now. It had 80k on it when we bought it and it's pushing 200k now and while mechanically it's in great shape, it's recently developed a slightly annoying problem.

Only on the driver's side, the vents either blow Very Hot or Very Cold air, with nothing in between. Passenger side works fine. I had it into the mechanic and they said that the mixing vents were working fine, that it seemed to be something electronic.

Now, I've had that whole unit out once before when I modded it to add an aux jack so I'm not afraid of replacing the head unit myself. What I'm curious about is if I can replace the (seemingly) defective 2005 unit with one of the newer ones from a 2009 Outback that already has an Aux jack. I would THINK it would just plug right in.

Any advice?
 

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2005 Outback VDC limited 3.0r
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I've got a 2005 Outback that we've owned for about eight years now. It had 80k on it when we bought it and it's pushing 200k now and while mechanically it's in great shape, it's recently developed a slightly annoying problem.

Only on the driver's side, the vents either blow Very Hot or Very Cold air, with nothing in between. Passenger side works fine. I had it into the mechanic and they said that the mixing vents were working fine, that it seemed to be something electronic.

Now, I've had that whole unit out once before when I modded it to add an aux jack so I'm not afraid of replacing the head unit myself. What I'm curious about is if I can replace the (seemingly) defective 2005 unit with one of the newer ones from a 2009 Outback that already has an Aux jack. I would THINK it would just plug right in.

Any advice?
Is it a limited model with dual auto climate control? It sounds like it is, did the mechanic check the mixing door for the driver side, sounds more like it's either opening all the way or closing all the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Is it a limited model with dual auto climate control? It sounds like it is, did the mechanic check the mixing door for the driver side, sounds more like it's either opening all the way or closing all the way.
It is, he did, and the issue is that the mixing door WILL eventually operate properly if you flip the temperature control on the head unit back and forth enough times, which makes it seem pretty likely that it's electronic rather than mechanical in nature.

In either case, even if it IS the mixing door, that's something I can fix myself, but if I'm going to tear the dash open to do it, I want to replace the head unit with one that already has an aux jack, so the question remains: Will a head unit from a 2009 swap directly into a 2005?
 

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2005 OBXT Ltd Obsidian Black 5MT
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Will a head unit from a 2009 swap directly into a 2005?
Yes, with a couple slight caveats.

The 2009 head unit most likely used an external amplifier that was located under the passenger seat, as opposed to the earlier years. That said, the stereo will work. I have a 2009 in mine. The biggest problem is that it won't get teeth rattling loud anymore. From about 25-40 on the volume level it all seems the same loudness. But it's still decently loud.

The second is that you will probably need an i85 adaper harness to do it correctly with the Aux in. There's an extra couple lines that need spliced.

But as far as fitment and operability, there is no difference.
 

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Yes, with a couple slight caveats.

The 2009 head unit most likely used an external amplifier that was located under the passenger seat, as opposed to the earlier years. That said, the stereo will work. I have a 2009 in mine. The biggest problem is that it won't get teeth rattling loud anymore. From about 25-40 on the volume level it all seems the same loudness. But it's still decently loud.

The second is that you will probably need an i85 adaper harness to do it correctly with the Aux in. There's an extra couple lines that need spliced.

But as far as fitment and operability, there is no difference.
Oh Snap. See, now that I know the i85 adapter harness is a thing, I found THIS, which has everything I needed. Thanks!!

 

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Discussion Starter #7
Excellent. I have the same harness from him. It can take a bit of time to get a response from him as I understand he's very busy.
It's ok, the Subie isn't our daily driver anymore and I'm not planning on ripping the dash out till the weather gets better. Thanks again for pointing me in the right direction, this is really helpful. What I'm probably going to do is hook a bluetooth receiver directly to the head unit rather than messing around with running an aux cable through the dash again, but it looks like he's got adapters suitable for that purpose as well.
 

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2005 Legacy Wagon Limited 4EAT
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Just a warning. The climate control built into the radio is only a control panel. It's dumb. It does nothing other than display things and register button presses. The actual brains of the HVAC system is located elsewhere, behind the glovebox I believe. In any case your problem sounds like a mixing door actuator. The passenger's side can be done without removing the dash but it's tricky. The driver's side is a dash-out procedure unfortunately.

I was using an '08 radio on my '05 and it worked and sounded perfectly. I did hack together my own i85 aux-in adapter using an i85 pigtail from the junkyard and it worked good. I didn't bother mounting the aux jack since it was only connected to a bluetooth adapter in the glovebox upper pocket.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Just a warning. The climate control built into the radio is only a control panel. It's dumb. It does nothing other than display things and register button presses. The actual brains of the HVAC system is located elsewhere, behind the glovebox I believe. In any case your problem sounds like a mixing door actuator. The passenger's side can be done without removing the dash but it's tricky. The driver's side is a dash-out procedure unfortunately.
The driver and passenger side each have their own mixing door that determines the temperature on that side of the car? Am I reading that correctly?
 

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2005 Legacy Wagon Limited 4EAT
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Yes that is correct. When they start to fail you’ll often hear weird gurgling sounds from inside the dash even after you turn the car off.
 

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Yes that is correct. When they start to fail you’ll often hear weird gurgling sounds from inside the dash even after you turn the car off.
Yeah, not getting anything like that. No noises, just... air is either ice cold or blazing hot, nothing in between, and not controllably. So the door is MOVING, sometimes, just not the way it's supposed to.
 

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2005 Outback Wagon 3.0 L.L. Bean
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Do not replace the control unit. The only possibility in there is a bad rotary encoder. Possible, yes, but highly unlikely. Blend door actuator has likely gone or is going bad.

Self diagnosis can be done through the HVAC controls.
-Turn ignition switch from OFF to ACC and wait for 2 seconds.
-Start the engine with the AUTO switch and FRESH/RECIRC pressed.
All the indicators will blink 4 times. It will then automatically change to inspection mode of sensor and potentiometer. The sunload sensor will likely indicate open circuit unless it is under direct sun. If there is no malfunction code 20 is displayed.
-Change to the actuator, blower fan, and magnet clutch inspection mode by pressing defroster switch. Every 4 seconds it will cycle through testing each. (or when A/C is pressed)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Do not replace the control unit. The only possibility in there is a bad rotary encoder. Possible, yes, but highly unlikely. Blend door actuator has likely gone or is going bad.

Self diagnosis can be done through the HVAC controls.
-Turn ignition switch from OFF to ACC and wait for 2 seconds.
-Start the engine with the AUTO switch and FRESH/RECIRC pressed.
All the indicators will blink 4 times. It will then automatically change to inspection mode of sensor and potentiometer. The sunload sensor will likely indicate open circuit unless it is under direct sun. If there is no malfunction code 20 is displayed.
-Change to the actuator, blower fan, and magnet clutch inspection mode by pressing defroster switch. Every 4 seconds it will cycle through testing each. (or when A/C is pressed)
This procedure doesn't seem to be working... Starting the car with the Auto and Recirc buttons pressed isn't doing anything I can see.
 
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