98' Outback / Ghost Inside?

Discussion in 'Subaru Outback' started by [ evL ], May 22, 2005.

  1. [ evL ]

    [ evL ] Guest

    Hello folks, I have a problem, perhaps someone could help;

    My 98' Outback wagon has the 'winter package'. With this package
    is a switch next to the outside rear-view mirror adjustment 'joy-stick'
    located to the far left of the dash-board. What this switch does
    is de-frosts the outside rear-view mirrors. When you push the switch
    in a little light on the switch lights up.

    A couple of weeks ago I noticed this little light was dimly lit.
    I push the switch in and it lit up brightly as usual. I thought
    nothing of it. Sometimes it was lit and sometimes it wasn't.

    The other day I am driving down the road and all the door locks
    started locking and un-locking at the same time. I noticed the
    door-timer relay was also clicking. Then the locks wouldn't work.

    It used to be that with the key out of the ignition one could
    select to lock or un-lock all the locks by using the switch on
    either the driver or passenger door. This is not working now.
    When I take the key out of the ignition all of them lock but then
    the switches don't work. When I put the key in the ignition to
    start it, they all lock as soon as the engine starts to turn over.
    With the key in the "on" position or with the car running all the
    locks work correctly with both switches. But of course now and then
    they all start locking and un-locking on their own.
    This I tell you is very freaky.

    So here's the kicker. Now when I de-press the rear-view mirror
    de-froster button all the doors lock. When pressed again they all
    open. While this switch is pressed in none of the lock switches

    Now I have checked all the fuses. I have a keyless entry box under
    the dash and the two in-line fuses for it are good. I have never used
    the key-less entry since I bought the car. I think there silly. Anyhow
    I not only checked all the fuses to see if they were blown, I also
    checked them for continuity. This was done to every fuse in the car.

    Because none of the fuses are blown and the locks all work, the switches
    work, I don't think I have a short. I am thinking a relay or who knows
    what. It would seem a lot easier if the problem was just contained to the
    door locks but with the de-frost button thrown in I am at a loss.

    Any and suggestions would help, meanwhile I am going to start running the
    multi-meter on everything.... This is a real bummer....

    [ evL ]

    [ evL ], May 22, 2005
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  2. [ evL ]

    johninKY Guest

    Remove the driverside door panel and look around. Bet you find the source
    of the problem there.
    johninKY, May 23, 2005
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  3. [ evL ]

    Guy Macon Guest

    Hi! I am an electronics engineer with a fair amount of auto
    electrical experience. I don't know your skill level (or the
    skill level of someone who reads this in an archive later),
    so I will try for a simple explanation.

    Here is how I would troubleshoot this:

    Run a wire from the black lead of your multimeter to the negative
    post of your battery (it's important that you do it there and not
    to any other ground). Put it in the lowest DC voltage range that
    will display the voltage on the positive post of the battery.

    Now start measuring things with the red lead while they are
    operating. You should see three kind of signal:

    The kind that are always within a fraction of a volt of being 0V.
    Those are "ground".

    The kind that are always within a fraction of a volt of being
    the same as the positive terminal of the battery. Those are "hot".

    The kind that change between being within a fraction of a volt
    of being 0V and being within a fraction of a volt of being the
    same as the positive terminal of the battery. Those are "switched."

    For example, when that little light is dimly lit, it should either
    have hot on both sides of the light bulb or ground on both sides
    of the light bulb. (one of each would make it be bright, not dim)
    The fact that it's dimly lit tells us that the voltage on one
    side or the other is wrong.

    Small changes in these voltages are normal. measure a few things
    that are working correctly to get a feel for what is normal for
    your meter and your car. What you are looking for is a place
    where the voltage doesn't come close enough to making it all the
    way to hot or ground. Here is what to do if you find one:

    GROUND: Let's say you find a ground that is at 2 volts. Follow
    it back towards the battery or frame. when you find the place
    where it changes to being a lot closer to 0V, you have found a bad
    connection - good on one side, bad on the other.

    HOT: Same as above, but this time you know that it won't connect
    to the frame.

    SWITCHED: Same as above, but the "bad connection" might be a bad
    switch or relay.

    If you get stuck. take notes of what voltages you see, where you
    see them, and anything that changes them, and post them here.

    I once rented an outback that would honk the horn every time
    you slammed the door...
    Guy Macon, May 23, 2005
  4. [ evL ]

    [ evL ] Guest

    Hello Guy and johninKY,

    Well I must thank you for taking the time
    to respond to my post. The both of you have
    helped me with your suggestions.

    Not that I want to, but I am going to start typing...

    This morning I got johninKY's post, take off the door
    panel. I thought, "ya, I should, but later on after work".
    In warming up the car this morning; yes we still do that
    this time of year in Montana, I noticed that the de-froster
    worked on the passengers side mirror but not the drivers
    side mirror. BINGO! A definite reason to remove the drivers
    side door panel, thanks johninKY!

    So I removed that today after work. Then dove into Guy's
    suggestion. I noticed nothing odd on the meter. I did notice
    something odd if the door was closed or open. You now know
    where I am going... I even noticed something odd when the door
    was semi-shut. I think I obviously have a problem in the
    harness running directly between the door and the body. It
    appears that it is getting smashed, although I still need to
    dive into that, dinner was ready and I called it a day. But I
    did get closer to understanding the problem. Some very good
    points were made by Guy in just simply using a multi-meter
    so the info was printed and saved for future reference.
    Thanks Guy!

    In summary, when I took off the door panel I had to unplug the
    two plugs; the one to the window switches and the one to the
    door switch. After doing so I noticed no problems. I thought hmmm.
    So without putting the door panel back on I just removed the
    switches from the panel and plugged them into their respective
    wires. And ya know what? Everything worked perfectly fine.
    Until I closed the door. Or closed the door half-way. So obviously
    something is getting pinched and I am sure to solve the problem
    with some more "looking into" which I plan to do tomorrow.

    Despite my lengthy posts, I'll try to keep you updated. I must say
    that the response from the both of you has put me closer to
    finding the problem, and I appreciate it. Who knows how much you've
    both saved my wallet. I just fired up a site that I am going to
    start working on and it will be dedicated to trouble-shooting,
    modifications, and what ever else needs to be there for Subaru's.
    There is nothing there now but the URL is :: http://subaru.sent.org
    and this info will be in there... [ Guy I really dug the multi-meter
    tip! ] I'll be working on the site for the next couple of months.

    [ evL ]

    [ evL ], May 24, 2005
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