('19+) Starlink problem caused by custom audio install; Warranty concern - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Unread 04-08-2019, 06:22 PM Thread Starter
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Starlink problem caused by custom audio install; Warranty concern

I started a thread a couple of months ago but now that I know details of my problem I'd like to start a fresh thread.

I have a 2019 non-nav Limited. Good sound is really important to me, so I decided against buying a factory audio upgrade and having a custom audio system installed. Details of the install are here. The install consists of an external 6-channel power amp (125 watts per channel) connected to the stock head unit, and six new speakers replacing the stock speakers.

Some time after the installation was done the red error light on the overhead Starlink console came on. I got an email warning saying the STARLINK emergency services in my car may be inoperable. The STARLINK Emergency Services such as Automatic Crash Notification, SOS call, Stolen Vehicle Locator and Enhanced Roadside Assistance—may not be available. Since these functions deal primarily with your safety, security and remote services, it's important you stay connected. Please contact your Subaru Retailer right away.

I checked some of these services, which work fine: calling SOS (red button) and Info (blue button), as well as Vehicle Locator from my computer. Other stuff I'm not sure.

Eventually I took the car in to service. They checked the problem, it has to do with Telematics, and I took a picture of the three error codes that appeared - see photo. 1. Left Speaker/Audio Circuit 2. Right Speaker/Audio Circuit 3. Mute Line Circuit. They cleared the codes, and the red error light went away. But a few days later the red error light returned, along with the same email warning. The service department said the amp was changing the voltage level of the audio connections, causing the error. The car's electronics are very complex and can't be altered like this. The bad news is he told me my warranty could be voided because of this.

Before I go back to the audio shop, I was hoping to get some advice here. Could the installer have done something wrong to cause the error? My hunch is that the installation is not messed up, and the amp is creating the problem, like the service guy said. But shouldn't the car be able to handle an amp install like this without causing problems? I appreciate any advice.

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Last edited by citysoundman; 04-09-2019 at 10:59 AM.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Unread 04-08-2019, 06:34 PM
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This is what I followed in upgrading my HU, https://www.reddit.com/r/SubaruFores...dunit_install/
And a couple of others the telemetrics in my 2018 Premium is still hooked in and the harness I used from IDatalink had a connector to the STARLINK cable. This kept the SOS and Info button green.
Warranty I am not sure others may have better insight. If you paid for STARLINK plus you have remote access. The SOS feature will know if the air bags are deployed.
Yes by not having the telemetric unit not active you will get emails from the mother ship.
By not using the telemetric you loose the front speakers and the sos and/or info tries to talk to it supposed to mute the front so you can have a two way conversation with them in an emergency.
The STARLINK cable needs a certain amount of voltage to think everything is working. Not sure what they did the might need a small cable from Brian at Auto Harness Warehouse that could correct the problem.
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Last edited by LouCioccio; 04-08-2019 at 06:42 PM.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Unread 04-08-2019, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Lou and thanks for replying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LouCioccio View Post
Yes by not having the telemetric unit not active you will get emails from the mother ship.

I'm a bit unclear here - not sure if you're suggesting that I'm getting the errors and email because the telemetric unit is inactive?

I tested both the SOS and Info call buttons and I spoke with someone so I know the Starlink communications work.

Do you think the amp/voltage issue is the cause of my problem?

Last edited by citysoundman; 04-08-2019 at 06:57 PM.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Unread 04-08-2019, 11:02 PM
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Yes you are correct that part works what is not working is the STARLINK wire is not connected to let them know about the air bags etc that needs to have some voltage to let them (Subaru STARLINK) that the system is working. If you would just scan the link you’ll see where it shows the STARLINK wire I thinks it brown or pink.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Unread 04-09-2019, 07:49 AM Thread Starter
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Hi Lou,
This is all pretty new to me so please bear with my questions if you can!

I read through the links you sent, thank you for that. I'd just like to confirm when you say the Starlink Wire - I'm not 100% sure which wire you mean. Is it one of the wires in the two large gray multi-wire connectors? As opposed to the three smaller colored connectors (brown, green, gray). Here's what is that link tells me:
This module has 2 gray connectors and 3 radio connectors. The radio connectors are the cellular and GPS modules. The gray connectors house front speaker wires (for starlink communication), stock microphone, and various starlink buttons.

And what's confusing to me, is the error codes I have refer to the left and right speaker/audio circuit. Does this mean the issue is specific to audio wiring?

Thanks!
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Unread 04-09-2019, 08:14 AM
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Had to find the right link https://forums.nasioc.com/forums/sho....php?t=2873882 Its the next picture after the movie its pink This all depends on the installer and what they used for connection and the images are from a 2017 and did match my 2018. What we don't know is the 2019 different. The connector I think was a 5 or 6 pin but had only one wire which was Starlink and the idadtalink SU2 cable had a mating cable to the Starlink. All the cables should be plugged in the telemetric unit. Also how did they hook up the speakers? These are questions that you may have to ask. Now Brian at AutoHarness Warehouse does make a custom cable to hook to Starlink that takes 12 vdc from the radio and probably has some sort of resistor to bring it to the voltage to let Starlink know its working. That cable from Brian may be all you need. If you did the install look for a connector you did not use on the car side may be the one.
I was reading from an iPhone previously and did not realize what you did in your first question. Easier using the computer at least I have a 27 ice screen.

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Unread 04-09-2019, 09:49 AM Thread Starter
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OK cool I see that pink cable. Odd that it's the only cable in that connector. So I'm assuming that connector goes into the head unit - not the telemetrics unit, right? But this is the WRX, not Forester. Do you think it's the same cable on the Forester?

FWIW I'm attaching photos of both the 2018 HU (from your first link) and my 2019 HU. Similar but not the same. 2019 has an additional telemetrics port (brown). The 2019 HU has 3 small ports.

As for my hookup - My installer spliced into the stock speaker wires, adding speaker wire extensions to my new amp. The output of the amp has speaker wires that re-connect to the stock wires that feed the speakers. So no new connectors were added to the head unit. Because of my new amp, if these wires are now getting a different voltage than expected, could this be causing the errors? (that's what my service guy told me). But like you're suggesting, maybe the Starlink wire did not get reconnected properly. I will likely need my installer to pull the head unit and check all the connections - but I just want to be sure to know what to look for - to be able to identify this Starlink wire.
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Last edited by citysoundman; 04-09-2019 at 11:28 AM.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Unread 06-13-2019, 09:27 AM
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Hey @citysoundman , Did you ever find out more about the issue? My wife just bought a 2019 Forester Premium and I'm looking at adding an amp and subwoofer like you've done (redirect speaker signals from head unit to Amp, then send amp's output back to the factory speaker wires). Pretty sure my wife would murder me if I added stuff to her car that caused a bunch of annoying error messages!
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Unread 06-13-2019, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KEtheredge87 View Post
Hey @citysoundman , Did you ever find out more about the issue? My wife just bought a 2019 Forester Premium and I'm looking at adding an amp and subwoofer like you've done (redirect speaker signals from head unit to Amp, then send amp's output back to the factory speaker wires). Pretty sure my wife would murder me if I added stuff to her car that caused a bunch of annoying error messages!
What I found out is not good news - another member here who added an outboard amplifier is having the same Starlink console red light error. This tells me that the error is likely not due to a problem with my audio install, but is happening because the Subaru doesn't like seeing a change in it's voltage/resistance on the speaker outs of the head unit. Other than having the red light on and getting annoying emails (if you're signed up for Starlink service) I'm really not sure if there is any actual malfunction going on. I'd say if audio quality is important (as it is to me) than I don't mind the trade off of having to deal with the problem.

Maybe you should go with the Harmon Kardon upgrade if you want a sub-woofer system and want to stay away from any issues. Not great audio quality but much better than stock. From what I hear you will need to EQ out some bass, because it sounds too bass-heavy. Or you can opt for the Rockford Fosgate upgrade which improves the amp and the 2 front door speakers, but no sub.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Unread 06-13-2019, 10:35 AM
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Thanks for the response. I don't hold a lot of hope for this... but I emailed Subaru directly to see if they would comment on this topic. Somehow the theory of voltage/resistance fluctuations on the audio output signal lines causing StarLink errors doesn't make sense to me. I have no earthly idea how Subaru (or more likely Clarion) designed the signal path for the audio, but voltage and impedance on those lines will absolutely fluctuate as use the system. Voltage increases/decreases as we adjust the volume on the system, and impedance changes as the audio frequency being reproduced changes (impedance is simply a frequency dependent level of resistance in an AC circuit).

Heck... maybe this is actually a software/firmware error in the head unit? That would be a convenient way for an error message to show up, yet the features remain functional.

If Subaru actually responds to me, I'll do my best to post their response.

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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Unread 06-13-2019, 12:21 PM
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Hey @citysoundman , I think you may actually be right. I have nothing direct from Subaru yet... but I did stumble across something interesting from the NASIOC forums on this topic (link below).

Assuming nothing has changed in the 2019 Forester wiring setup, it's said that the head unit routes the wires for the Front Left and Right speakers through the StarLink telematics module before sending it to the speakers. This way the StarLink unit can use just the front speakers to connect the phone call for SOS and any of that concierge stuff. Supposedly there's also a feature to mute all head-unit output while the StarLink features are in use.

So... if we're re-routing the head unit signals to an amplifier before the StarLink system, then we're either reconnecting to the same spot and sending an amplified voltage signal to the telematics module (probably not rated to handle higher voltage), or we're connecting back to the speaker harness after the Starlink module, which would make it think our front left/right speakers are disconnected, and thus it throws a fault code for it.

I don't exactly like the "solution" proposed... tuck two other speakers into the dash somewhere for StarLink to use... but maybe there's a way to make that work.

Thought you'd like to know.

I can't post a link yet, but it's this without the spaces https :// forums.nasioc.com / forums/showthread.php?t=2848059
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Unread 06-13-2019, 12:31 PM
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Email Brian at https://www.autoharnesshouse.com/
He may give you some guidance and/or make up a cable that will give the impression that the radio is okay. In my 2018 I kept the telemetric so that all the speakers work and STARLINK will override if necessary. I don’t have an HK amp but the sound is much better and the STARLINK is green.
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post #13 of 24 (permalink) Unread 06-13-2019, 03:55 PM
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This is probably unrelated to your problem, but I also had a problem with the STARLINK system showing a red light and saying it could not connect with home base. My problem turned out to be an "Automatic" OBD-II dongle plugged into the OBD-II port. When that was removed, everything worked fine. If you happen to have anything plugged into the OBD-II port, try removing it and see if that remedies the issue.

2019 Forester Touring, Pacific Northwest
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post #14 of 24 (permalink) Unread 06-14-2019, 06:38 PM
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I got curious and paid the $35 for 72 hours of access to Subaru's technical info system subscription. Now I feel confident the fault codes that @citysoundman showed earlier are due to inserting the aftermarket amplifer between the telematics / data control module and the front speaker harness, just like he thought all along.

Turns out those DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Codes in Subaru-speak) show up when the data control module sees an impedance >10 Kohms for more than 100 ms (It thinks there's no speaker connected). By design, the input impedance of most mobile amplifiers is >10 Kohms to encourage full voltage transfer to the amplifier device... so I can see where the fault codes "think" there's a problem.

The system clearly still passes audio through the data control module because citysoundman reported his StarLink calling systems still worked despite the error message/light. Also, I didn't see him write anything about his front speakers not working after the error light showed up.

I haven't thought of an elegant solution to bypass this impedance check yet... so at least I understand what's going on.

Detailed service info attached :)
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post #15 of 24 (permalink) Unread 06-14-2019, 09:04 PM
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My radar detector runs power from the OBDII slot. I unplugged it and the red light stayed on. I agree with Bob and ketheredge. I think it is related to the telematics module. It would be cool if a harness could resolve this problem.

Cheers,
Scott
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