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runnsfromcops

need some car advice — re: electrical issues

13 posts in this topic

Heyoo. I posted this in a Subaru forum and got no answers. Hoping someone might have some insight here. 

 

So I'm at a crossroads with my 2005 Subaru Forester XT. I've had a lingering electrical issue causing a CEL P0447 and the car has been worked over by various mechanics in the past year. A little backstory, the car got flooded with about 2" of water on the passenger side (where the ECU is) a couple years ago and the CEL has been on ever since. The ECU definitely got wet, and after a lot of back and forth, replacing the evaporation can, the CEL was still there. The mechanic swapped ECUs from another 2005 XT and was able to get rid of the CEL, but obviously couldn't start the car due to the immobilizer. Took the car back and drove it for a few months with the CEL and everything was unremarkable. Ran fine, but smog was coming up so I finally bit the bullet and took the car to the dealership, had them do a diagnostic, and we replaced the ECM.

Car ran pretty much fine for 2 weeks. No issues, no CEL. Then one morning I go out and it won't start. Try and try and try and one time it kicks over and run it for 15 minutes no issues. Try again later and it won't start again. Get it towed to the dealership and they can't figure out what's going on for a month. Finally today I get the final diagnostic report (attached below). $4400 to replace the wiring harness. Apparently there's a bad ground somewhere leading to the main relay. They're able to "trick" the car into starting by bypassing the main relay, but they think there may be other issues as well. They don't know exactly where the bad wire is, but it's SOA (Subaru of America) SOP to replace the whole thing if there are any issues at all with the harness. 

SO, a couple things: obviously it's not worth spending $4400 to replace the harness. For that money I could buy the exact same car over again at this point. Replacing the harness myself is beyond my skill level. Subaru suggested maybe contacting an electrical shop, but basically they're throwing up their hands if I'm not going to replace the harness through them (an aside, another Subaru dealership quoted me $3300 just for the harness). Has anyone successfully dealt with a bulkhead harness problem without going to Subaru and having them replace the whole thing? Seems a shame to junk the car because fixing it is more than the car is worth, but it looks like it's going in that direction. Is this the end?

Thanks in advance. 

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You may want to consider parting the car out , unfortunately once water soaks into the harness it really should be replaced . I worked on land rovers and volvos for twenty years. The wires in recent cars are much thinner and water turns them to dust . If you have someone try to repair the existing harness chances are once they disturb it you will have more problems . Good luck 

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See if the flood damage is covered by insurance, or sell and/or trade it and walk away. As said above, water and auto electrical do not mix, and any fix short of replacing the entire harness will only be temporary. Maybe see if there are any local subi experts who would take on the job? Maybe they can pull a used harness from a wreck and swap it out? It's not an easy job, but it can be done.

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I had a similar electrical problem with an 06 WRX.  It ended up being corrosion inside of one of the connectors in the wiring harness near the battery.  I cut the wires from the connector and connected them together with crimp style connections and shrink tube and the problem was solved.  

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thanks for the insight and advice, guys. i think the best thing at this point is to part out some of it and get rid of the car. i'm holding on to it like a bad relationship, thinking if i can do just one more thing it'll run again. this has been a year-long process and I've spent almost 3k in repairs in that time. i keep wishing there's gotta be a DIY fix for it, but I think you're right that the harness has to go and that anything less than that in this case would only be temporary. thanks again!

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One other option is if you could claim that mice chewed on the wiring harness then you can file it as an insurance claim as animal damage and just pay the deductible. My brother had an old imprezza that the mice chewed on wires up above the fuel tank and his issurance covered a full new wiring harness. 

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If you decide to go with the " mouse ate the wires " insurance fraud. I can send you some used gerbils to plant in the vehicle. They are intact, but smell like ****.     And cocaine. Maybe some lube. 

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sounds like those gerbils had an interesting life.... i might be able to sell their story to the Enquirer and get enough spare cash to swap the harness... unfortunately I think it's too late to wind up the old insurance-fraud fastball as there's already a couple Subaru diagnostic reports on the problem, and rodents don't appear in any of them.

 

 

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As a last ditch effort I'd go after every piece of that harness I could get my hands on and give it a few tugs here and there.  If your lucky you may fix your ground issue for at least a little while.

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On 2/14/2019 at 1:29 PM, lisurfexplorer said:

As a last ditch effort I'd go after every piece of that harness I could get my hands on and give it a few tugs here and there.  If your lucky you may fix your ground issue for at least a little while.

I agree.

Is there a Chiltons manual, or online wiring diagram you can get your hands on?

I would run every wire, feel it by hand, in the harness I could get my hands on to termination of the wire.

Un plug it, un screw it, what ever, and spray some contact cleaner on each one, and reconnect.

Start at one end, and work your way to the other.

Long, and tedious, sure...but how many hours is 4400 bucks worth to you?

WD40 drives out water, use it too.

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If theirs a bad ground on the main harness why not just t tap the ground wire back to ground again? It’s not that complicated to do so. I’ve fixed quite a few bad grounds in my time on old cars by doing that. Personally I would re ground anything that has to do with Ecu straight to the battery. I wouldnt be replacing the whole harness that’s for sure. It sounds like steelership is taking you for a ride.  

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just an update on this: insurance covered the electrical caused by flood damage; however they totaled the car as the work was more than 80% of the car's total worth. a look at the harness near where it plugs in to the ECU showed several cracked wires, and like Giant Basshole said, they were quite thin and crumbling apart. No doubt a more electrically savvy dude could piece it back together, but I really feel I would be back in this position again not long from now. Anyhow, insurance gave me $5500 for the car, which is more than I thought I'd get and I didn't have to buy any mice or gerbils to compel them, so that's good. Thanks for all the help, insight, and humor!

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