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97 outback
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,
I'm a long time viewer of the site, but this is my first post so bare with me.

A couple of weeks ago, my 97 outback (5spd manual) began demonstrating a bizzarre symptom. Upon startup, the doors lock automatically as they always have. However, now, at seemingly irratic intervals, the locks will actuate 3 times with the dome light flashing 3 times as well. This happens while the car is going down the road, stopped at idle, and even with the motor off and the key in the "on" position.

My origional thought was that it could possibly be in the keyless entry module, which is located strangely close to where my left foot sits when i'm not using the clutch. However, i checked the area for any signs of a short, and so far nothing.

I also discovered today that, possibly coincidenally, the locks will also do this when the front washer pump is actuated (for the windshield). It doesn't trigger the locks every time, but on occasion it will.

I also figured out that sometimes, if i adjust the tilt on the steering wheel, the issue will subside for a little while, but have not been able to maintain the condition for long.

I should also note, that when the car is not demonstrating these symptoms, the car does respond to the remote fob. However, when it is demonstrating these symptoms, the car does not respond to the fob.

I'm definitely more of a mechanical guy, i don't have much experience with electrical aside from installing a handful of aftermarket stereos, a couple of ignition switches, and the basic splicing of wires...blah blah blah. i can pull a motor in a relatively short amount of time, but the delicate nature of electical work has always taunted me! So any suggestions on where to start would be much appreciated.

i have tried to dig through the forums on here for a few days and have turned up nothing. If this is an obvious repost, i appologize!

Thanks!
 

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97 outback
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Discussion Starter #2
Ok quick update: I pulled off the kick panel and steering column cover to do a little exploring. First thing I noticed is 5 or so disconnected wire harnesses. I hear this is normal, so no biggie.

Next I pulled down the keyless entry control unit, to see if any of the wires were shorting... Nothing. I did, however, need to reprogram my remote. I also found a brown wire coming from the harness that had been cut, connected again with a butt connector, and had then come free again. I'm not sure what it is for but I reconnected it as well... Still no resolution. The control unit was clicking a lot after startup, but no lights were flashing. Not sure if this is related or not.

Anywhere else I should look?
 

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97 outback
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Discussion Starter #3
No ideas yet? Maybe this is a rare case...

Well here is an update!

Now, not only is the switch for the washer fluid pump activating the door locks, but so is the window switch for the driver side window! I'm thinking the next step is to open up the driver's door panel and see if the short is there. I'm going to review the wiring diagram, but I'm having a hard time linking the washer pump to the window wiring... It's very strange!

Any input would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks
 

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Upon startup, the doors lock automatically as they always have.. . . .
I've not heard of any recent Subarus automatically locking the doors. Interestingly, there's a few posts here where new owners have asked if the car can be set to do exactly that (the owners come from other makes that do) and the answers have consistently been negative. Perhaps it was a feature on the earlier models . . .

But if it isn't normal, that suggests that your car either has had a fault for some time or it was modified in some way.

Generally-speaking, the fact that the locking system seems to respond to the washer and window controls might not be due to a direct connection but something indirect. The keyless entry module or door lock timer might be picking up magnetic signals from the washer and window wires (a small magnetic field is generated whenever current flows through a wire) and is mistakenly interpreting this as a lock/unlock command. This could be due to an internal problem in the keyless entry or security module, or something like a broken wire or poor ground.

You did mention that brown wire that had been cut, then crimped back together. That suggests someone was working in that area, perhaps for a modification. There might be more wiring that appears intact, but might not be correct (e.g. going to the wrong place).

Also, when you use the key to lock or unlock the driver door (using the door lock on the outside), does it automatically lock or unlock the other doors? From the wiring diagram I believe this might be correct, but it also suggests that there's wiring to the doors that could cause the system to lock and unlock at unusual times.

I can't see a connection between the dome light, or the washer, and the door locking system. But faulty wiring, including missing or poor grounds, can cause strange symptoms, and on a car that might have had wiring modifications at some time, it's all the more possible.

This will probably require a fair amount of detailed inspection and testing, and unless someone else has had a very similar experience, it's less likely there will be any "the problem is . . .look here" type responses.
 
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