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99 Legacy Speedometer Problems


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21 replies to this topic

#1 mikeshoup

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Posted 19 November 2009 - 12:38 PM

My mom's 99 Legacy's speedometer intermittently stops working. It has an automagic, about 115K miles.

Did some searching, appears to a common problem with the speedometer head, couldn't find much more beyond that.

Is there an easy way to test this to verify its the speedometer head?
Any directions on pulling out the instrument cluster?

Thanks a bunch.

#2 OB99W

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Posted 19 November 2009 - 01:21 PM

See if pressing on the trip odometer reset causes the speedo to temporarily begin working.

Edited by OB99W, 19 November 2009 - 02:18 PM.
Corrected typo


#3 grossgary

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Posted 19 November 2009 - 02:09 PM

Yep, common. What is odd is that it's relegated mostly to 99 year only. Even more odd is that this and the delayed transmission problems are basically 99 only issues..with a few 00 bleed overs.

#4 bheinen74

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Posted 19 November 2009 - 02:12 PM

The solution for this on the 1999 Outback and speedo not working, is to replace the dash odometer speedo cluster.

Again, this solution is for the 99 problem year of defective clusters.
ANY SUBARU dealer will know about this and will most likely have them in stock ready to go.

#5 OB99W

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Posted 19 November 2009 - 02:45 PM

See http://www.automotiv...om/t408416.html for some further insight.

#6 bkvail

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 09:10 AM

I have a '97 Legacy Outback that the speedo quit working on (and CEL now is on because of it), thus the odometer/tripmeter/cruise are not working either. My brother (Nissan master mechanic) tells me the dash cluster needs to be changed. What are the compatible years if I find one in a junkyard? Are regular Legacy's compatible too? It has 150K miles on it, and my brother just changed the clutch in it. My son (who was using this car for his first 2 years of college, then it sat for 6 months waiting for a new clutch) - he said that the speedo quit working for him before and banging on the dash got it to work again. No amount of banging on the dash has gotten it to work for me though :(

#7 ivans imports

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 09:59 AM

Never see problem with dash always the senser on trans has a reluctor wheel on it it whears funny and make speedo jump and quit and mess around .Seems to happen on standards and auto cars but changing the speed sensor has always fixed any iv'e come across. Even high mile cars 400000km or better never seen a failed speedomiter head. I have seen the screws come loose on the back of cluster but very rare.

#8 bkvail

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 10:11 AM

Never see problem with dash always the senser on trans has a reluctor wheel on it it whears funny and make speedo jump and quit and mess around .Seems to happen on standards and auto cars but changing the speed sensor has always fixed any iv'e come across. Even high mile cars 400000km or better never seen a failed speedomiter head. I have seen the screws come loose on the back of cluster but very rare.



interesting, thanks for the info! I'll check into the price of the speed sensor.....

#9 grossgary

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 12:30 AM

Never see problem with dash always the senser

it is *always* the sensor...unless it's a 99 Subaru.

it's a very common issue only seen on 99's (and some 00's - bleed overs no doubt). since it's so common simply google "99 Subaru speedometer" and see all sorts of stuff about it all over the internet.

given that this guy has a 99 then it's *most* likely to be in the cluster - not the speed sensor. but the speed sensor could be the culprit too - just statistics at this point, someone will need to get their hands dirty from here.

#10 Mike104

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 07:59 AM

For the '99 the best way to check if its the speedo or speed sensor is to engage the cruise control when the speedo is not working. If the cruise works, the speed sensor is ok.

There is a soldering fix that has been reported to fix the issue:

http://www.ultimates...ighlight=speedo

#11 bkvail

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 11:21 AM

so, since my speedo/cruise doesn't work on my '97, then it's the speed sensor that's bad it sounds like? I think I'm going to try to find one at the junk yard since they are well over $100 :( I just had a new clutch installed, so don't have much extra cash to spare right now! :(

#12 Mike104

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 12:00 PM

If its the VSS there should be a check engine light and code? The VSS codes are P0500, P0502 or P0503?

It could be multiple problems. Its more of a "if the cruise works its the speedo situation" and its only valid for the '99 that has a known problem with the speedometer as this was a response to the OPs post.

I'm not that versed on the manual transmission configuration but believe that they (Auto or Manual) transmissions have different number of speed sensors.

Edited by Mike104, 26 March 2012 - 12:05 PM.


#13 bkvail

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 12:17 PM

If its the VSS there should be a check engine light and code? The VSS codes are P0500, P0502 or P0503?

It could be multiple problems. Its more of a "if the cruise works its the speedo situation" and its only valid for the '99 that has a known problem with the speedometer as this was a response to the OPs post.

I'm not that versed on the manual transmission configuration but believe that they (Auto or Manual) transmissions have different number of speed sensors.



yes, the CEL is on - haven't gotten around to checking the code on it yet (just got the car back from my brother who put the clutch in for me on Thursday, then worked in the yard all day Friday/Sat./Sunday). I'll check the code before I head to town today though. The speedo/odo/trip/cruise all don't work. My son said that when he was using it for college, that occasionally the speedo would quit working and banging on the dash got it to work, but no amount of banging will get it to work now, for me anyhow. The car actually sat for about 6 months It needed a clutch, didn't want to mess up tranny - but it actually turned out that it was the pilot bearing that was toast, anyhow...... when I took it to my brother's after it had been sitting so long, that is when the speedo didn't work (worked when I parked it). Anyhow, I'll get the code reader out today and check to see what the CEL says.........

#14 grossgary

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 02:14 PM

I think I'm going to try to find one at the junk yard since they are well over $100 :(

they are so easy to replace that used is a great option here - don't worry about it. it's not uncommon for them to fail but it's not so common that i would be that worried about it either.

you could also post here, if i had a used transmission i'd only want $25 shipped for it. i junked one last year....actually i may have saved the sensor but i'd have no clue where it is...

#15 subarumax

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 07:43 PM

I have just tried the solder fix above, in my 99 outback, my speedo worked once in a while and came back on briefly if I held down the trip button. The post above explains in detail the fix for the speedometer. I followed it an in a hour was able to get my speedometer working again...a few screws, keep track of electrical and a small delicate but easy solder on the circuit board.
It has been a couple weeks and the speedo works great.

#16 Mike104

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 08:43 AM

I have just tried the solder fix above, in my 99 outback, my speedo worked once in a while and came back on briefly if I held down the trip button. The post above explains in detail the fix for the speedometer. I followed it an in a hour was able to get my speedometer working again...a few screws, keep track of electrical and a small delicate but easy solder on the circuit board.
It has been a couple weeks and the speedo works great.


Thanks for the update. This is on my to do list and glad to know that it worked for someone>

#17 hiropro42

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 10:09 AM

Wow. So glad I found this thread. Have been having this problem for quite a while now.

'99 OB Limited, 5 spd., 245,000 mi. Though, given that this has been going on so long, it's probably more like 280. Both the gearbox and speed sensor have been replaced. CEL isn't on, cruise works fine. Pulled the cluster last night to check electrical, and everything in the vehicle wiring was fine. Priced a new cluster, shat my pants, and hit the boards for advice. I'll try the solder fix and report back.

#18 hiropro42

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 04:52 PM

Works!! I'll update if that changes.

#19 later, Peter

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 08:31 PM

It turns out to be a simple (easy) fix! you need to remove the cluster & re-solder the correct wire (front & back of the circuit board) there are SPECIFIC instructions on this board.... I fixed it once (solder only the front) then again soldering both sides of board... try it.



#20 matt167

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 09:16 PM

You can also put a screw in the back of the connector and it works also



#21 Mike104

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 11:41 AM

I did the speedo fix and it worked for a while.  Eventually died again.  Found a new speedo head on ebay for $50 and put it in and it has worked for a long time.



#22 later, Peter

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 11:12 PM

yep, gotta make sure that soldering is secure & done on the front & the back of the PC board... & the screw fix is good until a nice bump...






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