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dashboard blues

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12 replies to this topic

#1 Sweden


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Posted 04 November 2003 - 03:23 AM

It seems that my '96 Legacy Outback (2.2) has been suffering from a number of dashboard-related problems over the past few years, and I'm starting to tire of them...
Has anyone had such problems (and possibly knows a remedy to them)?

-Noisy speedometer (cable?), especially when my foot is on the accelerator and especially during colder months. It sounds as though it needs some grease.

-A thermostat that doesn't function. I've replaced the thermostat and the temp sensor in the block. Still, the needle stays down on 'C' or sometimes bounces up slightly. Do gauges go bad, or is there something else I can change next?

-Is it simple to replace the bulb that illuminates the temp-A/C control panel? Mine is totally dark and it makes for adjusting the heat rather amusing after dark...

-(under the dash problem) My keyless entry system took a dump. I have replaced the battery in the small unit and I have retried numerous times to reset/reteach the unit (as stated in the manual). Did I burn out the receiving unit somehow?

-Lastly, (a gas gauge problem) It seems that the fuel economy of this vehicle has gotten progressivly worse over the past year. Are there any obvious reasons for this? Plugs were checked by a mechanic a few months back and he stated that they looked good. Anything else? At $4.50-$5/gallon for gas here in Sweden, this is a HUGE issue!!!


#2 Cougar


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Posted 04 November 2003 - 10:32 AM

You could replace the cable or ask about what kind of lubricatiom you could use in it. Perhaps moving it in a different position will help this also.

The temperature sensor may not be the problem and you really should get it fixed. It is very important to keep an eye on the engine temperature. Hopefully you replaced the right one as I believe you have two of them. The other one may have two leads to it and it is for the ECU, not the temperature gauge. If you did replace the right one then you have a wiring problem to the gauge or the gauge is bad. I don't think the gauges go bad very often so I would suspect a wiring problem. A ohmmeter would help a lot in finding your problem with this.

Replacing the bad bulbs can be done but it is slightly difficult to do from what I have read from others. I thought someone had a procedure to look at on the board here somewhere but I could not find it.

It is hard to say which of the units is not working in the keyless entry system, hopefully it is the transmitter. I would check out a shop that works on this type of thing and see what they say. The transmitters are fairly cheap on Ebay if you need one.

There are a number of things that could cause your mileage to drop. You may need to replace the O2 sensor as they can go bad after time.

#3 frag


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Posted 04 November 2003 - 11:42 AM

Just one thing to add (or correct). On a 96 Subaru, the temp sensor and the sending unit for the gauge are one and the same thing. Only one sensor.

#4 rbsmith


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Posted 04 November 2003 - 12:47 PM

Try this link to replace the HVAC lights.

#5 Sweden


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Posted 05 November 2003 - 09:09 AM

Thanks for the advice!

If I recall correctly (a year or so back), the speedometer noise is common for a lot of Subies. Is lubing or replacing the cable been proven to be the solution to this noise? My worry is I'll spend half my month's salary replacing the cable here in Sweden only to find out that it was the speedometer itself...

The play-by-play on replacing the HVAC lights will be most useful! Thanks!

Lastly, Is the O2 sensor for a '96 (2.2) the same as for a '97 (2.5)? They didn't have the Outback here in Sweden in 96.


#6 Setright


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Posted 05 November 2003 - 11:11 AM


I expect the HVAC link is good enough, but be aware that the socket on the unit can break the solder points and cause the lights to go out. I resoldered mine when I replaced the bulbs.

I would suggest replacing all the bulbs by the way, also the dash bulbs. This will also give you access to the speedo cable. I haven't heard of noisy speedo cables before, so I don't have any specific advice.

Are you sure the engine actually reaches operating temperature? Non-genuine thermostats tend to have weak springs that open to early and over-cool the engine. It could also be air in the coolant system, preventing a stable reading.

#7 Sweden


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Posted 07 November 2003 - 03:12 AM


Thanks for the additional advice!

You could be on to something with the thermostat... It might also explain why the car gets such poor fuel economy.

The thermostat was replaced with a genuine Subie one, I bought it when I was visiting Minnesota and took it back to Sweden with me (the car is originally from MN). It behaved the exact same way--needle down toward/at C.

I see it highly unlikely that two thermostats could be bad, or act in the same exact manner. That's why I moved on to replace the temp sender, which also had no impact.

You mean the dash lights behind the instrument panel? I saw some screws there. Is this an easy job to get to the speed. cable?

Tack (thanks)!


#8 paladin_w


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Posted 07 November 2003 - 09:14 PM

I had the same problem on my 92 Legacy W, my little brother has to deal with it now, I tried to get that thing out to regrease it, I spent all day without luck, the steering collum really gets in the way even with it pushed down. I am sure it is cold where you are but mine would quiet down after several miles and I found it helpful to run the vent heat to push some warmth there, and at one point poped a hole in the plastic heat pipe aimed at the inst. cluster but that didn't do much. For your keyless system, you might check what fuse it is on, and pull the unit down from the drivers kick panel and check all the harnesses to make sure they are tight, you can do this also by disconnecting the battery, there should be a sticker by the battery warning about the keyless/security system and that it will reset it. so I believe you get something when you reset it, you get parking lights flashing when you reset the keyless&security system. And lastly for the gas milage, if you haven't done a tune-up in the last 5000 definatlly do a comprehensive one, filters (air, fuel, oil) plugs, and oil.
Couger you mentioned remotes were cheap on ebay, I paid $54 USD for mine what did you put into the search field, I haven't been able to find any.

#9 Setright


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Posted 08 November 2003 - 03:13 AM

Sverige, it sounds like air in the coolant system. Not reaching operating temp will certainly affect mileage - the lamda sond won't start until the engine is heated up. That way, you are likely running a rich mixture all the time...

Or the dash board meter is bad and the engine really is running the right temp.

I HAVE AN IDEA!!! Cold engine, disconnect the cable that attaches to the lamdba sond. Drive the car....as soon as the engine reaches the correct temperature the Check Engine light will come on. If it doesn't come on, you are not reaching op temp.

Suddenly, I love myself for that idea :banana:

#10 theotherskip


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Posted 08 November 2003 - 08:46 AM

i'm pretty sure that there is no speedometer cable. it is electronic, so see if you can find a junkyard one and swap it out...

also... check the condition of the grounds under the dash. a lot of intermittent, seemingly random problems in different systems can often be traced back to a corroded common ground...

#11 harborseal55


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Posted 17 November 2003 - 09:23 PM

I had to replace my heater/fan/AC control lights too. It was actually easier than I expected, but I had to wing it because the books don't give very good instructions for this. The biggest problem, however, was getting the correct light bulbs from the dealer. This was a year ago now, so my memory is a bit hazy, but I remember that the dealer diagrams simply showed a light bulb, but gave two part numbers (as it turned out, one for a long bulb and one for a short bulb) with no other comment. As it turns out, the heater cluster takes one of each, and you can't tell which one until you get the bulb out of the back of the cluster plate.

#12 slideways


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Posted 18 November 2003 - 02:19 AM

There definately is a speedo cable, disconnecting it was part of dropping my tranny. I am on my second subaru now (both 1G legacys)and they have both made loud noises and read way too fast when its real cold. You know somethings up when it reads 120 at 3K in 3rd. Anyways, all I do is blast the heater and it goes away when the cabin warms up. Seems to do no harm.

#13 alias20035


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Posted 18 November 2003 - 05:10 AM

I am not sure when the Legacy's went from a mechanical to electronic speedometer, I thought that it was 1994 overseas and much later here in North America. Seems that I was incorrect.

If your speedometer is reading unusual speeds, your speedometer head is likely gone bad, as cables make noise or are broken and don't spin at both ends, they either work or don't.

but here is how to confirm:

Disconnect the speedo cable from the transmission and from the speedometer head unit end spin it with a drill at low to medium RPM. If it is noisy your cable is bad, if not its your head unit. Just don't loose the any of the transmission side components. You can also spin the speedometer head to check for noise with the drill by using a drill bit that is approximately the size of the speedometer cable end.

Not sure if you want to do this in the cold.

I would replace your entire speedometer cluster with a used one as odds are the thermometer gauge you replace had its needle installed incorrectly and is no longer servicable (if your cluster is like the North American models). You can roll the odometer to match yours if required, but I recommend leaving the new used cluster together and just noting the before and after mileage.

My 1993 Legacy's speedometer was noisy and eventually failed (at about 300,000km). I had to replace my speedometer and was quoted over $200 for it, while I got the whole cluster used for $45.

As Gilles from Montreal indicated there is one temperature sensor on the engine for both ECU and gauge.

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