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2005 LL Bean
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138 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So, as I continue car shopping, I am finding plenty of decent gen 2 OBW's out there. I am looking for an H6 and the LL Bean trim. My question is whether VDC is worth it or not. I live in New England and take trips up north quite often in the winter. The VDC models aren't usually priced much more than the LL Bean ones, but I started wondering if I should hold out until I find one that I like.

At the moment, I am torn between a gen 3 with high miles or a gen 2 with lower miles. The way I see it, if I can deal with the less attractive gen 2's, I could get a much lower mileage car for the money.

I have also noticed that OBW prices are all over the place. I have seen the same models listed thousands apart for no apparent reason. (well, nothing apparent from my PC screen, things may be different when I start test driving them.)


edit: I know it adds weight, but I also notice it seems to never have issues as far as break downs etc. I also assume that is the only difference between the LL Bean version and the VDC besides badging, right?
 

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So, as I continue car shopping, I am finding plenty of decent gen 2 OBW's out there. I am looking for an H6 and the LL Bean trim. My question is whether VDC is worth it or not. I live in New England and take trips up north quite often in the winter. The VDC models aren't usually priced much more than the LL Bean ones, but I started wondering if I should hold out until I find one that I like.

At the moment, I am torn between a gen 3 with high miles or a gen 2 with lower miles. The way I see it, if I can deal with the less attractive gen 2's, I could get a much lower mileage car for the money.

I have also noticed that OBW prices are all over the place. I have seen the same models listed thousands apart for no apparent reason. (well, nothing apparent from my PC screen, things may be different when I start test driving them.)


edit: I know it adds weight, but I also notice it seems to never have issues as far as break downs etc. I also assume that is the only difference between the LL Bean version and the VDC besides badging, right?
VDC is just advanced logic subaru put in the higher trim models the L-Bean models. Basically Subaru's version of ESC early on. They listed VDC as a selling point from 2001 through 2004 at which point all of their cars were more or less equipped with VDC like technology and capability.

What would be most important for you buying a car that is getting up there in age is Maint history and condition. A lower level trim model with low miles and fantastic maint history one owner is a far FAR better deal than a L-Bean with more miles and less known history at or near the same price.
 

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2005 LL Bean
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138 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
VDC is just advanced logic subaru put in the higher trim models the L-Bean models. Basically Subaru's version of ESC early on. They listed VDC as a selling point from 2001 through 2004 at which point all of their cars were more or less equipped with VDC like technology and capability.

What would be most important for you buying a car that is getting up there in age is Maint history and condition. A lower level trim model with low miles and fantastic maint history one owner is a far FAR better deal than a L-Bean with more miles and less known history at or near the same price.

Thanks for the reply. Yea, I understand that condition and maintenance history is everything when finding a used car. I have decided that my needs and wants are: wagon, leather, auto, awd, 6cyl and dependable engine. The Bean versions just make it easier to know that's what I'll get. (assuming the specific car is worth it) The only difference I see between them is VDC. I am a capable driver and have had just about everything under the sun. I was just unsure if it made that big a difference. If my current '98 OBW didn't need head gaskets (at just under 220k) I'd still be driving it. It was the first car I've had in a long time I was sad to see die. Just too many other issues to justify the cost of repairs and, even though I am capable of doing them myself, I really don't have the time.
 

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2005 Outback 2.5 XT Limited, 1995 FWD Legacy sedan
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29 Posts
There's another difference: McIntosh audio in the VDC. If it's still there and in working condition, you may consider this a desirable feature; it certainly cost a lot to add it to the model. On the other hand the more ordinary double DIN CD/cassette plus CD changer add-on that you might find in the LL Bean isn't bad; it's better than what you'll find in many cars, including later (2005+) Subarus.
 

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2005 Legacy 2.5i Wagon 4EAT; 2005 Forester XS 4EAT
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672 Posts
The VDC has stability and traction control, but it's deeper than that.

Subaru equipped the VDC model with their most advanced AWD system at the time - the AWD test bed for what has become the WRX.

The AWD system is 45/55% split under normal conditions, RWD biased. The system will split the torque up to 50/50% for optimal traction. Also known as Variable Torque Distribution (VTD).

Putting a fuse in the FWD slot in the fusebox under the hood will NOT disable AWD, as in all other Subarus of this generation. It will only disable the VDC system electronics - stability and traction control - and (I believe) ABS.

As for the McIntosh, I'd rather mine didn't have it. The head units nor speakers hold up well with age, and it's rather complicated to put an aftermarket stereo in. It's the worst I've ever done. I did it, but it wasn't fun, easy or quick.

There are others here who are more technically familiar with exactly what all is involved in the workings of the VDC Outback.

I originally wanted an LL Bean, but I'm glad a nice VDC came along instead. It's a pure tank in the snow.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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14,317 Posts
The VDC programming doesn't disable the ABS. It only cancels the engine and transmission parameters that would help control engine torque and gearing in situations like skids and wheel spin. If you install the fuse in the FWD slot and cruise then slam on the brakes, you'll feel it. With the fuse in, full engine power and transmission torque is available all the time and AWD is retained. In this manner, the VDC model is superior to the other models in that it can truly go anywhere more effectively.

Clarion makes McIntosh, so any Clarion DD fits in using the same bracket. The wiring harness is the PITA unless you are good with electrics. I rebuilt my whole sound system. The only OE parts are the tweeters.

Other than the AWD all the time and the extra dynamics programming and the 11 speaker surround, its comparable to the LL Bean in trim and options. Same heated seats, wipers, sideviews and rear window. Same wheels. Same suspension. Same engine and gear train within the transmission. It will come down to a test drive in the same snow/ice with an LL Bean, then in a VDC. The VDC comes out on top. Whether the programming is running or not.
 

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2005 Legacy 2.5i Wagon 4EAT; 2005 Forester XS 4EAT
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672 Posts
Thanks cardoc. I was hoping you'd jump in with more details.

The wiring harness is what I was referring to as being difficult to work around. I had to build a custom harness using RCAs and a 13-pin DIN cable. It wasn't fun...

The Bean is still a great car that's almost identical, but I totally agree with you on the abilities of the VDC in foul weather.
 

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2011 Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab Long Box
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The only thing the Bean may have that the VDC doesn't is the auto-dimming rearview mirror. Can't remember which years that was the case. Regardless, that's one thing I'd never want to do without again. Once you get used to having it, you never want to go back to flipping a manual mirror! I think the wiring would be there, so it's easy to add after the fact.

I had a 2004 L.L. Bean and now have a 2008 L.L. Bean. The 2004 did not have VDC or VTD, but the 2008 does. I don't really notice the torque split difference, but I've gone to play in snowy parking lots with the 2008 and the stability control is quite good. It's surprising how quickly it'll straighten you out. With VDC on, it will cut power to prevent spinning, but it's not really obtrusive like many vehicles that do that and I've never come to a dead stop because of it. Plus, I can turn that off just by pushing a button (a feature that they added to the 2002 VDCs).
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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I haven't been in many, if any, situations where the VDC would have straightened me out of trouble or pulled me out when stuck (it will send the power to the only wheel that has traction), but I would like to have the torque bias to the rear in the snow, just for fun.

If you like to push the envelope in the snow I'd say it'd be nice to have. If I was shopping for another car for my wife I'd seek it out. If it were a car I'd often be driving the family in I'd seek it.

Of course if I had VDC I might not slow down in the snow even more than I don't now...
 

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OBW '03 H6 VDC Euro
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86 Posts
I haven't been in many, if any, situations where the VDC would have straightened me out of trouble or pulled me out when stuck (it will send the power to the only wheel that has traction), but I would like to have the torque bias to the rear in the snow, just for fun.
Well, you can temporarily kill VDC by the switch button. I don't know about USDM version, but in EuroSpec Outbacks it turns on again only if your speed exceeds 30 km/h (not sure about correct speed, i looks something like that). So you can get a fun in the snow at low speeds. Or you can take a fuse out to kill VDC permanently and enjoy your AWD in snow on full scale :)
 

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2011 Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab Long Box
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Well, you can temporarily kill VDC by the switch button. I don't know about USDM version, but in EuroSpec Outbacks it turns on again only if your speed exceeds 30 km/h (not sure about correct speed, i looks something like that). So you can get a fun in the snow at low speeds. Or you can take a fuse out to kill VDC permanently and enjoy your AWD in snow on full scale :)
I don't think the VDC in my 2008 automatically turns itself back on...or if it does, the VDC Off light stays on anyway. Not sure about the older models.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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That's right, Subaru put a kill switch in the cars in 02 doing away with the need for a fuse insertion. Push a button, no VDC. Push again, its on.

And there's this as another short answer how it operates: What is VDC in a car

I've thought about wiring in a(nother) switch to control deactivation of the VDC. Keep from having to install and remove the fuse. I mostly turn it off at the dragway or during testing. Its definitely on when it rains. :)
 

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2002 VDC Outback sedan
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In the 2002 I test drove, the VDC OFF light went out at 40mph. So you only get to play up to 40.
 

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2011 Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab Long Box
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In the 2002 I test drove, the VDC OFF light went out at 40mph. So you only get to play up to 40.
Hmm, I'll have to try that with my 2008. I can't remember how fast I've gone with it off.
 

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2011 Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab Long Box
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Hmm, I'll have to try that with my 2008. I can't remember how fast I've gone with it off.
Took it up to about 55 and the VDC Off light stayed on, so they must have changed that in later years.
 

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2011 Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab Long Box
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I've been to 122 mph with it off. I had to slow down or I would have kept going.
I'm sure the supercharger makes that quite a bit easier! My 2004 would get to 110 reasonably quick, but past that it did not accelerate too quick at all. I never went past about 115. This 2008 has never been past 85 or 90 with me, though it definitely gets there quicker than the 2004 did.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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In the 2002 I test drove, the VDC OFF light went out at 40mph. So you only get to play up to 40.
It shouldn't. Something wrong with the switch? Was it deactivated with the switch or was the light on due to an engine issue? Once the system is deactivated it stays that way until you deactivate it. It doesn't start back up on its own.

The light will come on with an overheating issue or other engine or transmission performance problem then go back off when the engine cools down. The VDC light will come on when there is a specific problem relating to VDC operation, like ABS or transmission failures and the VDC Off light will accompany it along with the light in the associated system.
 

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2002 VDC Outback sedan
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It shouldn't. Something wrong with the switch? Was it deactivated with the switch or was the light on due to an engine issue? Once the system is deactivated it stays that way until you deactivate it. It doesn't start back up on its own.

The light will come on with an overheating issue or other engine or transmission performance problem then go back off when the engine cools down. The VDC light will come on when there is a specific problem relating to VDC operation, like ABS or transmission failures and the VDC Off light will accompany it along with the light in the associated system.
I turned it off myself. I'm 90% certain I read it in the manual that vdc would reengage at a certain mph which is why I tested it out. Over 40 mph the light went out and wouldn't turn back on. When I slowed below 40 the "vdc off" light would come on again when I pressed the switch.

On and off at will below 40, it's on no matter what over 40.

Maybe someone else with an 02 can try it on theirs.
 

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2011 Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab Long Box
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I turned it off myself. I'm 90% certain I read it in the manual that vdc would reengage at a certain mph which is why I tested it out. Over 40 mph the light went out and wouldn't turn back on. When I slowed below 40 the "vdc off" light would come on again when I pressed the switch.

On and off at will below 40, it's on no matter what over 40.

Maybe someone else with an 02 can try it on theirs.
Sure enough, just checked a 2002 manual (The section in question is here: http://techinfo.subaru.com/proxy/69557/pdf/ownerManual/069557_2002_Legacy/MSA5M0201A_13.pdf) and found this:

If the vehicle reaches a speed of approximately 37 mph (60 km/h) after
the VDC OFF switch is pressed to deactivate the VDC system, the VDC
system automatically reactivates itself and the VDC OFF indicator light
goes off. While the vehicle is moving at a speed of approximately 37
mph (60 km/h) or higher, it is not possible to deactivate the VDC system
by pressing the VDC OFF switch.
 
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