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2008 Subaru Outback PZEV,2010 Impreza 2.5i
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Dear All,

My 2008 Outback TPMS dash warning light flashes as soon as I start the car and becomes steady after a few minutes. All of my tires are currently at correct pressure values according to multiple pressure gauges. According to what I see from other TPMS threads, this could most likely be due to a malfunctioned TPMS sensor. (10 years is a reasonable time for the sensor battery.) I have a few questions on how to fix the issue.

(1) How can I find which sensor is bad? Can I use FreeSSM to determine that bad sensor?
(2) If the sensor is bad, for 2008 Outback, is the correct replacement part # 28103AG00B?
(3) I wonder if any tire shop will be able to install it correctly and program properly, or, do I need to install it at any place and need to go to the dealer to properly reprogram?
(4) Would it be possible to install an aftermarket TPMS sensor and have teh same aftermarket service center reprogram?

Thank you for your advise.
 

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'14 Subi OBW, '18 Subi Forester
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1) The Subaru system uses one omnidirectional antenna. While SSM should be able to see and report on the status of each of the 4 sensors, it won't be able to tell you which corner is reporting bad data. I would suggest that you go to any tire shop and ask them to take a handheld reader (ATEQ VT55, Autel TS401, etc.) and walk around to each tire. The reader will ping the sensor at close range and read out the ID number, the tire pressure, tire temperature and battery voltage. In five minutes and for about $20 to the shop you'll have a full data dump on the health of your existing sensors and a path forward. Ask for a printout of all data.

2) Schrader is the OEM supplier of TPMS to Subaru, and it looks like 2008-present all use the same system and sensors. 28103AG01A, 28103AG01B, 28103AG01C, 28103AJ00A all look to be valid OEM part numbers. I don't see the AG00B suffix, but I suspect that this part might be the first generation (2007?) sensor? Schrader shows their model 28203 (yes, that's correct...) as a valid replacement for any of the various revisions 2008 and up. The 28203 or any of the Subaru 28103xxxxx come preprogrammed with an ID# and the Subaru transmission protocol. The other option is to go with a 315 mhz Schrader EZ programmable sensor or any other multi-vehicle programmable that can be made to function like a Subaru sensor. There are even full cloneable sensors that take both the Subaru transmission protocol AND the ID number from your originals!

3 / 4) Any reputable tire shop should be able to either get you or program a valid set of sensors and write the codes thru your OBD port. But you can save a considerable amt of $$ by buying them yourself and handing them to the installer. I've done this multiple times equipping cars with winter tire/wheel sets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you Fibber2 for your advise.

1) The Subaru system uses one omnidirectional antenna. While SSM should be able to see and report on the status of each of the 4 sensors, it won't be able to tell you which corner is reporting bad data. I would suggest that you go to any tire shop and ask them to take a handheld reader (ATEQ VT55, Autel TS401, etc.) and walk around to each tire. The reader will ping the sensor at close range and read out the ID number, the tire pressure, tire temperature and battery voltage. In five minutes and for about $20 to the shop you'll have a full data dump on the health of your existing sensors and a path forward. Ask for a printout of all data.
I made an appointment with Costco Tire Center and will ask them to ping at each corner and let me have a printout of full report.

2) Schrader is the OEM supplier of TPMS to Subaru, and it looks like 2008-present all use the same system and sensors. 28103AG01A, 28103AG01B, 28103AG01C, 28103AJ00A all look to be valid OEM part numbers. I don't see the AG00B suffix, but I suspect that this part might be the first generation (2007?) sensor? Schrader shows their model 28203 (yes, that's correct...) as a valid replacement for any of the various revisions 2008 and up. The 28203 or any of the Subaru 28103xxxxx come preprogrammed with an ID# and the Subaru transmission protocol. The other option is to go with a 315 mhz Schrader EZ programmable sensor or any other multi-vehicle programmable that can be made to function like a Subaru sensor. There are even full cloneable sensors that take both the Subaru transmission protocol AND the ID number from your originals!


3 / 4) Any reputable tire shop should be able to either get you or program a valid set of sensors and write the codes thru your OBD port. But you can save a considerable amt of $$ by buying them yourself and handing them to the installer. I've done this multiple times equipping cars with winter tire/wheel sets.
Costco said that they use Universal sensors and found one works with 2008 Outback. It costs $48. I asked the guy if I buy Subaru (OEM) sensor myself, will he will be able to program it using their tool. He was not 100% sure about it, but, said that if they can communicate with the OEM sensor it then, yes, they can reset the dashboard light. The dilemma that I have right now is to go with the universal sensor(Costco's responsibility in reprogramming) or Subaru part. Yes, if I buy it on my own I can save significantly for the OEM part and use the OEM part. At the same time, if Costco tire center says that they cannot reprogram the OEM, then I need to take the car to the dealer.
 

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You're welcome! There's just so much bad info out there on TPMS....

Dill sensors should work fine. My data says they are made by VDO (owned by Continental, but a lot of the technology comes from Siemens Corp).

I cross-referenced to another source and it confirms that the Dill 9203 is a compatible replacement for the Subi/Schrader OEM 28103/28203, while the Dill 7003 / VDO 7003 is the multi-app programmable (it's a VDO Redi-Sensor under the skin) and functions like the Schrader EZ programmable sensor. As long as they have the programming tool and the software, they should be able to make Subi-compatible sensors. Then it's just a matter of uploading the 4 ID codes to the TPMS computer in the car thru the OBD port.

If they aren't already assembled, you may even have a choice of continuing with the rubber snap-in valve stem (Subaru standard), or upgrading to the metal style (my preference).

Please report back on how this goes once you have it done?
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Fibber2,

I will try to have either Costco Tire Center use Dill 9203, or, buy it myself and have them install it. Let me talk to them. Thank you very much for your advise again.

My appointment will be on Thursday next week. I will report the results back once I get some feedback from them.
 

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Don't be surprised if Costco doesn't stock the 9203 or any of the mfgr-specific sensors at the store. The whole idea of the programmable universal sensor is to minimize the need to inventory potentially 100's of individual part numbers. It's more cost effective for retailers to make an investment in a programming tool and a software catalog, and then just stock maybe 4 basic part numbers that cover 95% of all consumer needs. As long as Costco will stand behind the product and their programming skills, you should be OK going this route.

It might be possible to get the 9203 to a Costco store if you contact them in advance and special order it.

Last item to consider before going to all this trouble - first confirm that you really do have expired sensor issues! It would suck to spend a lot of time and money and then find out that the issue is the car's Tx / Rx / TPMS CPU.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Don't be surprised if Costco doesn't stock the 9203 or any of the mfgr-specific sensors at the store. The whole idea of the programmable universal sensor is to minimize the need to inventory potentially 100's of individual part numbers. It's more cost effective for retailers to make an investment in a programming tool and a software catalog, and then just stock maybe 4 basic part numbers that cover 95% of all consumer needs. As long as Costco will stand behind the product and their programming skills, you should be OK going this route.

It might be possible to get the 9203 to a Costco store if you contact them in advance and special order it.
I will inquire about using 9203. If it is not possible go with 7003.

Last item to consider before going to all this trouble - first confirm that you really do have expired sensor issues! It would suck to spend a lot of time and money and then find out that the issue is the car's Tx / Rx / TPMS CPU.
How do I find out if I have an expired sensor issue? Will FreeSSM be able to diagnose that? My car was made in 2007 (it is 2008 Gen 3 Outback.) and it has 143k miles as of now.

Thank you.
 

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I've not used FreeSSM, but if it has all the features of the real thing, it should be able to tell you if a sensor is exhibiting a low voltage output. Or as I mentioned in Post #2, a shop with a hand held tool can query each wheel.

Beware that if it says "Bad" or Low Voltage, believe it. It won't transmit reliability and needs to be replaced. But there are times when a sensor could be on the hairy edge and say "BAT OK" when you test it today after a drive, but fail occasionally (especially when cold). I would have preferred that they display an actual voltage, but instead they typically have a built-in low voltage trip point for the 3v coin cell battery and only transmit a 'yes or no' answer.

You've passed the 10 year point, so the original sensors owe you nothing... They likely need to go but there's always risk that the fault lies within the car's system. That level of diagnosis is above my pay grade!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Dear All,

I have an update. Costco Tire Center diagnozed the issue and identified that the front passenger TPMS sensor is bad. They also said that they can reprogram OEM sensor. Therefore, I ordered the OEM sensor with part # 28103AG00B as that is what comes on subrauonlineparts.com and SubaruPartsForYou.com. I gave the vendor (an online Subaru dealer) my VIN # so that they should be able to find the correct part in case if the above part # is incorrect.

I have another appointment next Thursday. Hopefully, I will have the sensor before then. I will update once I have more info. Thanks a lot for everyone's help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
OEM sensor installed

Dear All,

Final update. Installed the OEM sensor at Costco Tire Center and they programmed it to match the failed sensor and all is good. Thank you Fibber2 for your input. No more flashing TPMS lights.
 

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Cloneable Sensors?

There are even full cloneable sensors that take both the Subaru transmission protocol AND the ID number from your originals!
Fibber2, thanks for all the great information!

I have the dreaded flashing light that ends up steady.

I'm wondering if you can use a cloneable sensor, does that mean you would not have to mess with the TPMS "brain," instead only having to replace the failing sensor with the new cloned one?

Thank You,

Lee
 

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Without knowing more about how problems with your car began, it's hard to just give you a pat answer! But in general, if you clone your existing sensors, you can switch in your 4 winter tires for your 4 summer tires, and the onboard system won't know anything has changed. Same goes for if you have a single bad sensor. If you can obtain it's hex ID number (either as printed on the sensor body or by reading it out from the sensor or from the onboard computer), you can create a duplicate and make the substitution in the tire. The new one takes the place of the bad one, and the onboard system won't know anything has changed.
 

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Still reading up

I'm still reading on how the TPMS works. At the moment the flashing stopped. Was wondering if Pep Boys has the scanning tool needed, and if they would print me a report that shows the details of each sensor...
 

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A tire shop, most definitely. A parts place? Maybe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
While I do not have any affiliation with Costco, their tire center did have the tool to diagnoze 2008 Subaru TPMS system and install OEM Subaru TPMS sensor (even though it was designated for a slightly different Subaru vehicle.) Therefore, I would say that any reputed tire shop would be able to diagnoze your flashing TPMS and tell you what sensor is bad. I know that even Walmart tire center can do that.
 

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Reading and Learning

priyadar - I don't believe the Costco or Walmarts in this area have auto shops, and I'm not a member of Costco anymore!

Zedhead - Thank you, those links were great, especially the first one.

1) It looks like there might be a coin battery in those Schrader sensors, I assume the batteries are non-replaceable?

2) How do I decide if I want the metal valve stems or the traditional rubber?

3) How are the EZ sensors programmed? Do they clone to the existing ID on the existing sensor?

My hope would be I could buy a set of four and use them to replace failing sensors as needed.

Thank You,

Lee
 

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Most sensors use a 3v coin cell battery, but it's potted inside, sealed to reduce moisture damage. Non-replaceable.

Subaru typically supplies rubber stems with their cars, but I like metal. Your choice.

EZ sensors need to be programmed with an electronic gizmo. They can clone your existing sensors, or assign new random numbers.
 
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