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2003 Forester XS Auto
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
I've scoured the forums here and elsewhere for an answer to this and I think I know what the issue is, but can't find a solution.

Back story:
I currently performed a full interior swap from an SG5 XT to my daily SG5 XS. Leather seats and black/grey interior is so much nicer than the tan/beige colour... but enough about what's nice. After swapping out the dashboard and gauge cluster I noticed that I don't see the gear indicator lights nor does the temp gauge move. Other than those everything else lights up and works as it should. No CEL - I checked codes and nothing is thrown. All the bulbs work and speedo, tac, revs, and fuel all function normally.

I first checked to see if I was missing something but I didn't. I also check that all the connectors are secured, and they are. I then thought it might have been a fuse thing. Went through every fuse inside and out. Nothing. Then it dawned on me. What about the two main dashboard connectors up behind the coin slot. I pulled the panel and unplugged them again. Upon deeper inspection I saw that the pin positioning were ever so slightly different. I then checked my old dash (which now lives in the donor car) and the same is true. The harness connectors and pins don't all line up. There are 3-5 different positions for the 30+ pins that make up those 2 connectors. poop! Now I gotta figure out what wiring will trigger those gauges that don't work. Now that I think of it I never tested cruise control. Cruise light comes on, fog lights come on and wiper heaters come on so I know most of those functions work. Just the temp and gear indicator.

Current issue:
Now it's come down mapping those two pins to match. Unless I'm totally off base, this is crux of my problem. The XT and XS were not identical. I'm sure the X and XS also vary in some way. Anyone know how I can pinpoint the wiring/pin sequence for the gauge cluster? I'm not so keen on trial and error using a ton of wires as jumper just to figure it out. I've seen this done with harnesses under the hood, as well as radio installs and no one has time for that. I'm also not trying to bring the car in so the shop can spend 3hrs (or 30 mins) doing the same job and charging me boat loads. Any help to point me in the right direction would be greatly appreciated.

FYI, I do have a Haynes manual with all the wiring diagrams and I have a 2003 Subaru Forester Wiring System Section PDF. I will provide images when I can to update this thread. I'm keen on a DIY approach but if it's a take-it-to-the-shop thing then I guess I will forego the cost. Doesn't affect the car's performance, but gauges not working is unsettling at best.

PS:
For those wondering if I swapped the VIN tag on the dash, the answer is yes (y)
 

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Registered
2003 Forester XS Auto
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Ended up resolving this by doing the work I should have done from the start, swapping the dash wiring harness. I took two approaches to this to figure out which way was the easiest. In the XT I removed the dash completely, which included the center console (climate control, radio, cigarette lighter and shifter housing), the glove box and panel under the steering wheel. Once off I had to remove the right vent ducting (just left of airbag in pic below) to access a couple screws that hold down the harness.
20201010_095413.jpg


Once completely out, I also removed the main ducting that feeds the center vents, just for ease of access.
20201010_095918.jpg


In the XS however, I just removed the glove box and the dash pocket... and the passenger seat. This allowed me to lay down and look up under the dash. This way was much more difficult in regards to visibility and access, and I would recommend having a super stubby phillips #2 and a small light source at hand. Access to 4 screws in particular were super tight and at odd angles. Stubby to the rescue. I also had to remove the same ducting mentioned above.

For the extra screws, bolts, radio and center console removal required to pull the dash out in the XT, I would still opt for the subjectively shorter, but harder dash-in method for this swap.

At the end of the day it got done and everything's back to normal. Gauges light up and are reading, all functions A-OK.
 

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2004 Forester XS 5MT
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814 Posts
I am honored to post my 800th post to you to say, well done! And having spent ungodly amounts of time under dashboards, respect!
 

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Registered
2003 Forester XS Auto
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11 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I am honored to post my 800th post to you to say, well done! And having spent ungodly amounts of time under dashboards, respect!
Congrats on 800, and thanks for the kudos. I've been through this car in full. Stripped down to nothing but the steering wheel and shifter. Respect for anyone willing to put in the time.
 
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