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Discussion Starter #1
I have the hatch electronics failure described in several other threads:

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/80-electrical-electronics/19618-third-brake-light-license-lights-out-most-time.html

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/66-problems-maintenance/25713-hatch-lock-failure.html

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/66-problems-maintenance/12794-05-hatch-lock-problem.html

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/73-outback-6-cylinder/20718-rear-wiper-does-not-return-park-home-position.html

Basically every wire in the harness is broken or cracked. I could patch them, but that seems like a potential waste of time - the fatigue presumably extends to more of the wire than just the current break, so I wouldn't expect the repair to last, especially in a cold climate. Plus, 18 or so splices are going to be fatter than the original wires, which may accelerate wear.

Does anyone have experience replacing the whole wiring harness? The dealer quoted me $450 for that - somewhat irksome as I had this repaired under warranty at 50k miles, and that fix just patched a few wires. I understand that the harness part is under $100, but replacing it would seem to require getting into the roof in the trunk area. It would be good to hear that this is a reasonably straightforward thing to do before I shell out for service manuals etc.

Does anyone have experience doing this?
 

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but replacing it would seem to require getting into the roof in the trunk area. It would be good to hear that this is a reasonably straightforward thing to do before I shell out for service manuals etc.
That's right. The harness, on the body side, goes down the D pillar to two connectors behind the RH side cargo area side trim. Access requires removing the interior trim on that side. (See attached photo).

Similarly the trim on the rear gate has to be removed.

One thing that I'd want to know is whether the replacement harness has better wires, otherwise it's just as likely to develop the same problem in future. If that's the case, and given that removing the trim provides access to the wires on either side, instead of replacing the harness or patching the wires where they broke at rubber boot area, I would consider cutting out a length of each wire further along at the body and rear gate ends and replacing with a length of better (more flexible, especially when cold) wire. The splices wouldn't be where the breaks were, and can be spaced out so that there isn't too much bulging where the new wire inserts are connected.

By the way, it's good to see someone doing the homework and finding those earlier threads first.

Please let us know what you decide, and any observations about the new wiring harness, if you go that route. Also, if you do-it-yourself, regardless of what approach you take, a "how to" (or "how I did it") thread, with details and photos, would be much appreciated. There's a sub-forum here specifically for "do-it-yourself" threads.
 

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2017 Outback 3.6 Touring, which replaced '05 Outback XT
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One thing that I'd want to know is whether the replacement harness has better wires, otherwise it's just as likely to develop the same problem in future.
I doubt the new harness is any more durable than the old one. There are high flexibility wires made for industrial and robotics applications. The catch is that the stuff is $500 per hundred foot roll. On the positive side, the problem would be unlikely to reoccur.

#2671 Ultra Flexible Sub-Miniature Wire - U/L STYLE 1568, 1692

Otherwise, about all you can do is use a heavier gage wire in the hopes it'll be more durable.

This post is very timely, as my '05 just lost power to the radio antenna preamp, probably due to a broken wire.
 

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The $500 quote is for the part and the time it'll take for the shop to replace it. Its mostly shop hours, but shouldn't take more than 2 hours to change.

If the car were mine, I'd pull the C pillar rear trim and the tail gate interior trim, and pull the wiring harness back out of the rear of the car, through the gator at the tail gate hinge area, and partly out of the tail gate, but leave it connected to the lights and lock/wiper components.

This would give you about 3 feet of harness to solder/splice/reinsulate the broken wires.
If it would be easier for you to do the job on a workbench, then disconnect the harness from everything. Just be sure to take some pictures of the wiring route throughout, so you can get it back into place correctly.

Two hours of my time is a heck of a lot cheaper than $500 at the dealership. Good Luck!
 

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I have mine apart right now. I was about to upload the pics to the thread I started last week. I only have the one wire to my rear hatch solenoid that is broken. The wire is just too short in my case. I can't even get the ends to touch, so it's been under a heck of a load for a long time. I'm going to guess a lot of us are about to experience this. As soon as I get the pics uploaded I'll tie my thread to this one.
 

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FYI ... I had a local mechanic (specializing in Subarus) do the repair of the wires rather than replacing the harness. Quite a common repair he said, and he was able to splice new segments in place to avoid the taughtness reported by aftCG.

Dealer quoted CDN$350 for new harness plus an estimated 3.5 hours of labour. Local mechanic charged 1hr labour ($100) which was well worth it.

My issue was headlights/fog lamps not working which took a couple of passes at the dealer to track down (see http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/80-electrical-electronics/35328-headlights-not-working.html).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
giving it a go

I'm going to take a look at it today. ... I was stumped on removing the right trunk panel until I found directions in a pdf in this thread:
http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/109-gen-3-2005-2009/40926-grocery-bag-hook-clip-repair-change.html

Tailgate trim removal directions are here
http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/attachments/problems-maintenance/17753d1288091512-removing-inner-rear-hatch-panel-2005-outback-231376-rear-gate-trim-65.pdf
Not sure which thread I found those in.

I'll take pictures as I go.
 

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I'm about to take my interior panels out too. I tried yesterday to at least put a crimp splice between the two ends. The wires are extremely brittle and break off with the slightest amount of being twisted.

I'm going to go several inches in each direction and splice in a new section.

I'll post up what I know too.
 

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I tried yesterday to at least put a crimp splice between the two ends. The wires are extremely brittle and break off with the slightest amount of being twisted.
I did the same today, with the same experience of wires breaking off. I was able to get the splice in for the reverse lights, but I think I'm going to pull the interior panels and do the same thing (add in a new section away from the break point) for the rest. There are at least 3 other wires in the bundle that I can see have cracks.

Thanks to everybody for the help here - now if somebody could magically make the wires longer I'd appreciate it. :cool:
 

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I think I'm going to pull the interior panels and do the same thing (add in a new section away from the break point) for the rest.
Let us know how it works out. Also, any chance you could record the steps in words and photos and post them here? It looks as if this would probably be most helpful to others in future.
 

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Let us know how it works out. Also, any chance you could record the steps in words and photos and post them here? It looks as if this would probably be most helpful to others in future.
So I found this thread, and others when I had discovered the wiring failure in my new-to-me 05 OBXT.

My problems started when I was inspecting the car before purchase last week. I noticed that the rear wiper was not working. The fuse had blown, so I replaced it and the sprayer started working but the wiper did not. I figured that the wiper motor had burned out.

After I got home with it, I noticed that the license plate lights were not working as well. Replaced one, and it did not light up. Tested the socket and found there was no power. That's when I began tracing and found this lovely surprise under the wire boot.





Dealer quoted me $245 for just the harness on special order. Well I invested about $20 in wire and a few hours of my time and replaced about 2 feet of the entire wiring harness.

I started on the hatch side and cut all the wires at varying lengths to keep the resulting bundle "bulge" to a minimum where I spliced.





I then fed the bundle of new wires through the rubber boot. All the new wires are between 18-20ga. There is one 16ga wire for the rear defroster.





I also took the inner rubber shield and moved it further up the bundle to help protect where the wires enter the roof of the car.

I then spliced every wire individually and heat-shrinked them.





I did the same with the hatch wires, but forgot to take pictures as I was going since it was 108 outside here in Phoenix.

It took about 5 hours total and wasn't overly difficult. Just have to be careful with the soldering iron.

Now everything works. The wiper, license plate lights, etc. :D
 

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Another thing I noticed that wasn't related to the wiring, but is related to Subaru's in general:

When I removed the inner lower plastic section of the hatch gate, a bolt fell out that was just rattling around in there. Upon closer inspection I discovered that the bolt was from the retainers holding the outside body molding to the car.

I replaced the bolt and inspected the rest of the bolts, about 8 or so. I found another bolt completely loose, but had not backed off the threads completely and the rest were between 1/2 and 2 turns loose. I tightened them all back down. But I'm wondering if I should have put some thread locker on it to prevent it from happening again.

As I saw in another thread when I was researching OB's was that if you hate rattles, then you'll hate an OB. Well from the looks of it, the rattles are from things loosening and need to be shored up. I noticed my driver's door has a significant rattle when the door is shut, but none of the others do this. I'm going to tear into it soon and see if it's just something else that has loose bolts.
 

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That's a great write up. Thanks, and make that a special thanks as this is your first post here. What a way to start!

Welcome to the forum!
 

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Great pictures. Had to do this exact surgery on an old Impreza wagon. The washer hose for the rear glass also needed a splice because it flattened and hardened at the bend, restricting the flow. My warning was a non-functioning trunk light.
 

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Has anyone actually replaced the complete harness with the factory part? How much work is involved? Is the replacement part upgraded from the original? I did a repair on the Wiper circute about 3 years ago, and now am having problems with the rear lock and license plate lights. If it is not too hard to get the entire harness out, I would just as soon replace it with a factory harness. The car will probably be done before I wear out another one. There are two harnesses depending on the VIN, one for about $90 and one about $240. Not sure which I need, and the dealer is closed now, so I'll have to wait till Monday.

So I found this thread, and others when I had discovered the wiring failure in my new-to-me 05 OBXT.

My problems started when I was inspecting the car before purchase last week. I noticed that the rear wiper was not working. The fuse had blown, so I replaced it and the sprayer started working but the wiper did not. I figured that the wiper motor had burned out.

After I got home with it, I noticed that the license plate lights were not working as well. Replaced one, and it did not light up. Tested the socket and found there was no power. That's when I began tracing and found this lovely surprise under the wire boot.





Dealer quoted me $245 for just the harness on special order. Well I invested about $20 in wire and a few hours of my time and replaced about 2 feet of the entire wiring harness.

I started on the hatch side and cut all the wires at varying lengths to keep the resulting bundle "bulge" to a minimum where I spliced.





I then fed the bundle of new wires through the rubber boot. All the new wires are between 18-20ga. There is one 16ga wire for the rear defroster.





I also took the inner rubber shield and moved it further up the bundle to help protect where the wires enter the roof of the car.

I then spliced every wire individually and heat-shrinked them.





I did the same with the hatch wires, but forgot to take pictures as I was going since it was 108 outside here in Phoenix.

It took about 5 hours total and wasn't overly difficult. Just have to be careful with the soldering iron.

Now everything works. The wiper, license plate lights, etc. :D
 

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There are two harnesses depending on the VIN, one for about $90 and one about $240.
That's a big cost difference. I checked the Subaru of America Parts - Genuine Subaru Parts from your Local Retailer website for the rear gate cord for years from 2005 to 2007. Interesting that only 2005 has those two widely different priced harnesses; 81812AG03A is the higher priced one, 81812AG03B is the lower. 2006 uses the same p/n ending in B, and 2007-9 uses the same number but ending in "C" at around the same lower price as the "B". Strange.

If your dealer has the three different harnesses in stock, perhaps you could look at them to see if there's any distinction. I wonder if perhaps the earlier 05s used better wire; a type that was less prone to breakage, and thus the much higher price. It's probably not the case, but I don't see any change in the actual wiring circuitry during the 2005 production year (there's nothing in the wiring diagrams), and there's not much else that would dictate a large difference in price.

Even if the "A" type is much more expensive, some might be interested in using it as a replacement, even in later model years, if it will avoid breaks in the future, especially as the cost to do the work (dealer labor or own work) is the same.
 

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Anyone know where the harness terminates in the body? i.e. How hard is it to access that end. I know about the tail gate part, and that isn't to difficult.

I guess I'll tear into it today, and maybe have the answer before the parts dept opens on Monday.
 

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Anyone know where the harness terminates in the body? i.e. How hard is it to access that end. I know about the tail gate part, and that isn't to difficult.

I guess I'll tear into it today, and maybe have the answer before the parts dept opens on Monday.
See photo attached in post #2 above. The interior trim on the right side of the cargo area has to be removed, as well as trim above the hatch opening so that the headliner can be dropped.
 
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