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SUBARUPictures of how I replaced the vehicle speed sensor (VSS) on the Subaru Legacy Outback.


The speedometer and odometer quit working, suddenly and totally. This was immediately followed by the check engine light (CEL). Also the engine stalled a lot when coming to a stop. This is a 5 speed manual transmission, I think there are some differences in the automatic.

Señor Google tells me that this can be caused by a fault in the odometer circuit board, the speed sensor in the transmission, or the wiring in between.

But first, lets pay some bills:
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  1. First I took apart the dash to get to the odometer and the wiring behind it. I lowered the steering wheel to the lowest setting to give me room to work.
    adjust wheel


  2. Removed four screws holding in the cover over the instrument panel.
    top screws     bottom screws


  3. Next I had to remove the switches behind the instrument cover. Each connector has a unique shape, so no worries wiring them to the right switch later.
    switches wiring


  4. Then four more screws holding in the instrument panel.
    instrument panel screw locations


  5. There are more electrical connectors attached to the back of the instrument panel. One big one on this side.
    instrument panel electric connections


  6. Two big electrical connections to the back of the instrument panel on the right side.
    instrument panel electric connections


  7. Two small electrical connections in back of the instrument panel. These are the speedometer odometer (far) and the tachometer (close).
    instrument panel electric connections


  8. I had to turn the whole instrument cluster upside down and backwards to slide it out from behind the steering wheel.
    remove instrument panel     remove instrument panel


  9. Here are a lot of pictures of the speedometer. According to the Google machine, a solder point gets loose in the back of this circuit board, but I couldn't find any broken solder points. I don't really know what I am doing at this point.
    speedometer     speedometer     speedometer     speedometer


  10. So I went on to checking the vehicle speed sensor. I put some wires into the electrical connector for the speedometer odometer. This picture has a couple of extra wires I was using for testing something else, but this is the best picture I have of the pins inserted into the connector. The pins are just little cut pieces of wire.
    wiring


  11. I hooked up the wires to a multimeter and set it to measure AC volts. The speed sensor is supposed to read about 5 v AC above 20 mph. My speed sensor is sending zero point zero volts at how do I know if I was going 20 mph, I have no speedometer.
    multimeter ac volts


  12. Next I want to see if the wiring is ok from the sensor to the connector in the dash. I put some pins into a long piece of speaker wire.
    pins in wire


  13. I put the pins into the wiring that takes the signal from the vehicle speed sensor in the transmission and leads to the connector at the back of the speedometer.
    wiring


  14. I brought that long wire into the front seat, and tested for continuity, zero or nearly zero resistance, measured in ohms, with the multimeter. 2.9 ohms is nothing, if the wires were broken, it would read -- or 1* or OF, and wouldn't give any measurement in ohms.
    wiring     low resistance


  15. So that leaves the VSS. Bummer because that is $150 at the dealer and even on Rockauto. Subaruparts.com had it for $100, but I got mine at the dealer because I have never used them and really I needed it that day. FHI VSS pn 85082AC012. That's Fuji Heavy Industries, Vehicle Speed Sensor, part number. Cool.
    soa vss part number


  16. Looking down on the passenger side behind the engine, down to the transmission, the VSS is circled.
    VSS


  17. Here is the VSS wire connector, unhooked.
    vss wire


  18. I couldn't fit a regular open end wrench into the narrow space on the VSS to loosen it. I used a pipe wrench on the black plastic part and it came out easy. On the old one the little metal tab thing in there is loose, like it broke or came out of its socket or something. New one went in easy. Test drive, everything works.
    pipe wrench


  19. Next I sold out to make 02¢ so I can fulfill my lifelong dream of owning a 1986 944 with blown head gaskets.
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    But no minivans!


  20. Then I finished my beer.
    Beer


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Think: Cars are expensive, powerful, and heavy.   Before I start work, I face the possibility that I will destroy my vehicle, my own life, and innocent pedestrians' lives.   If anyone messes with a 4000 lb machine capable of 100 mph, these are real possibilities.   If I get in over my head, I call a professional mechanic.   The information on this website is provided only for entertainment purposes, and it is not intended as advice on how to service a vehicle.   For all you know I made this up.   Don`t believe everything you read on the internet.

Disclaimer: The technical information in these documents is provided without any warranty whatsoever and at no cost.   All information is in general terms and is not meant to apply to your particular situation, be current at the time you read it, or even be correct in the first place.   Improperly maintained vehicles can lead to serious injury, death, or unavoidable accidents. The author is not responsible for any errors on this site, and does not make any claim at all about the validity, safety, or veracity of the information contained on this website. Any work you choose to do or not to do on your vehicle is done at your own risk. The information on this site is not intended to serve as a replacement for professional advice, professional workmanship, dealer service, union labor, or psychological counseling.   The author disclaims any and all liability directly or indirectly arising from the application or use of any information or idea contained on this or any other web site.   By opening this page, you agree to never sue anyone ever or allow anyone to be sued on your behalf.   The appropriate professional should be consulted regarding your specific condition.    BeerGarage.com does not take responsibility for the information posted on other sites to which it links.

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Last modified: 11/25/2014
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