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Inconsistent seat heating and HVAC controls


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5 replies to this topic

#1 mountainwalker

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 05:38 PM

Within the past few weeks my wife and I noticed 2 minor electronic/control issues on our 2003 Outback VDC H6 -

1) the HVAC controls were doing some strange things, with the fan speed changing as you turn the interior temperature dial higher and lower, and with the A/C coming on by itself when just adjusting the fan speed. Since we just brought in our for its 90K servicing, and I was able to demonstrate this problem on the spot, the dealership is diagnosing and repairing it. What could cause such errors? I'm thinking it could only be a hardware issue (controller chip).

2) the seat heaters always worked fine and consistently. On our model year, you can press the toggle switch either forward or backward for different levels of heat. A few weeks back on a few occasions the seat heaters barely worked. On others they worked but were of inconsistent temperature.

What could be causing 2?

How could I prove to the dealership that 2 is happening, if it doesn't happen consistently? I'm thinking the only option would be to videotape the results on 2 thermometers temporarily taped to the seat bottoms and backs, to show the different temperature readings at different times.

The only reason it matters to show this, is that I have caught the dealerships trying to get out of their obligations under Subaru added security plans by saying that if they look into a problem you are having and can't see it, they will charge you a $$$ diagnostic fee ($100-200 range). They will only honor your $50 Subaru Gold Plus deductible if you can duplicate the problem for them on a covered system on the spot, and only then will they spend the time repairing/replacing parts for only the cost of your $50 deductible. I'll go into this issue in a separate post - it's a ridiculous attempt by the dealerships to get out of having to work on problems covered by your Subaru policy, and we all need to be aware of it.

I have carefully reviewed Subaru's policy line by line, and there is no language releasing Subaru dealerships from the obligation to diagnose/repair a covered failed system/part, whether observable at the time or not, and no provision to allow them to charge you a diagnostic fee if they say they can't replicate the problem.

It is simply a scam to get more money out of you when they have to do a bunch of repairs/parts on the same $50 deductible.

Edited by mountainwalker, 29 January 2009 - 05:40 PM.


#2 kingbobdole

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 02:11 AM

I have the same problem with my 03 VDC outback seats..... sometimes they work just awesome, sometimes I freeze going to work. I have also noticed it on other's cars I have driven as well and is seems to be more common in the leather seats.

No clue how'd you go about proving it though, that's a tough spot. Maybe try for a twofer and get the seats diag'd while they fix the HVAC?

#3 grossgary

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 09:05 AM

my 02 VDC seats are the same too. nipper suggested the seat heaters do go bad. that sucks since these are leather, side impact air bag equipped seats. i'm sure they're really cheap! luckily i have an extra LL Bean set, so i could swap those.

when you turn them on and they aren't working, do the lights in the switches still come on?

is there anyway to test the seat? just continuity, any resistance values or anything? the plug is easy to get to under the seat.

#4 OB99W

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 09:06 AM

The two problems may be related. I just looked at a 2001 wiring diagram (didn't have the 2003 one handy), and at least in 2001 the power for both the heated seats and the auto A/C control are routed through the same fuse. I wonder if your troubles are both due to supply voltage drop from a poor connection, possibly at or near the fuse box.

#5 mountainwalker

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 11:28 AM

OB99W I was pretty sure the 2 problems (HVAC controls and seat heaters) are related - they both started at the same time.

The only issue with getting the seat heater fixed, is that under the dealer's little scam, if he says he can't find the seat heating problem when he works on the car, he can charge a diagnostic fee that he won't allow to be covered under the deductible, which he's not allowed to do under the policy.

Since he had to fix the HVAC controls because the problem was obvious, and the fuse is likely shared, perhaps that will do it.

#6 OB99W

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 02:03 PM

I just read your other thread: http://www.ultimates...ead.php?t=95414
The VDC/ABS light issue described in that thread could be a sensor problem, but it might also be due to a resistive connection or even low system voltage. In conjunction with the other electrically-related problems, I'm inclined to believe that either there's a basic electrical system problem, or there are several discrete poor connections. You're obviously aware of electrical/electronic issues, and so know that resolving intermittent troubles can be very frustrating. Best of luck in getting the dealer to do the right thing.




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