MY10 Liberty and Outback Sat Nav Bluetooth Phone Issues Solved – Sort Of!

I purchased a Subaru MY10 3.6R Premium Sedan recently and all in all things are going very well but I have a few niggling problems. One relates to the problem with the Bluetooth  when using the voice control.

Subaru Australia has finally released a bulletin to it’s dealers acknowledging the problem and providing a solution. In fact the solution is only temporary and has to be reloaded everytime the battery is disconnected.

Another problem that I have not suffered from is also identified in the document which relates to certain phones not even holding a bluetooth connection at all.  Many dealers have been confusing the two issues believing they are one and the same when they are completely different and each with their own fix or workaround.

In this case this is identified as not being a warranty problem even though the phones that cannot connect are from the most popular manufacturers in the world, Nokia and Samsung.

Below are some order Lyrica from canada extracts from the update (with the interesting bits highlighted) but you can also download it here :  SM0060 – MY10 Liberty & Outback Sat. Nav. Bluetooth Phone Issues – 23 March 2010





The following summary is an update of the current situation with Bluetooth phone connection
and voice recognition issues with MY2010 Liberty and Outback: –

1. Inability to maintain Bluetooth connection with Nokia, Samsung and LG models equipped with Symbian S60 3rd edition FP 1 & 2 operating system, see attached listing for effected models. All other model and brand of phones are not affected by this issue

Due to an incompatibility with the connection protocol between these model phones and the Kenwood Satellite navigation system, the system will initially pair with the phone but when the ignition is turned off then on again the system will no longer connect.

Both Subaru Japan and Kenwood have advised us that this is not a Kenwood system fault but one of incompatibility due to an incorrect communication coming from the effected phones software program. However Kenwood have developed a work around software solution to make it possible for these model phones to maintain the Bluetooth connection after cycling of the ignition.

This solution has been implemented on new satellite navigation systems from a certain serial numbers onwards and it is possible to upgrade earlier units. Unfortunately this upgrade requires removal of the satellite navigation unit and return to Kenwood for reprogramming.

This will require a request for an exchange unit to be supplied but please be aware that exchange unit availability is limited and heavily relies on speedy return of replaced units! Any delays in returning replaced units’ means that that unit is not available for future requests.

PLEASE ensure all new units are fitted to the owner’s vehicle ASAP and that the replaced units are returned immediately!

Kenwood have also advised that because this is not a system fault a charge will be made for the upgrade ($209) and as such it is not considered to be a warrantable repair. Subaru Australia however will consider each case individually and if you receive a customer request please communicate with your Regional Service Manager for instructions.

For your information this issue only occurred on the first few months of vehicle production.

Implementation date of the software update is as per the following table.

NOTE: VIN is approximate, the serial # is the most accurate method for determining if a system has the upgrade.

2. Voice recognition ‘Dial by Name’ failure all model phones The symptom of this issue is that following the adding of a name tag to a phone number in the Satellite navigation system phone book, initially the system will correctly ‘dial by name’ until the ignition is turned off and then back on again. When turning the ignition on again and operating
the dial by name function the system will reply with the phase “System is checking the disk please wait” but then nothing further happens.

This issue has been reported to FHI for rectification and we currently have a trial software patch
that we have been asked to test and report back to FHI.

This testing was successful with several trial installations being completed with no issues. We are currently awaiting confirmation of the final software solution from FHI/Kenwood. Once this confirmation occurs FHI will dispatch sufficient quantities of the patch for distribution.

Fortunately this software solution does not require return of the satellite navigation unit to Kenwood for reprogramming. The solution requires the software to be directly loaded to the unit via a CD disk into the map disk drive and can be easily completed at your workshop.

Unfortunately this software solution is not retained in the unit’s hard memory and every time the battery is disconnected the software needs to be reloaded. Therefore every Retailer will be issued with a program disc for loading into your customer’s vehicles as required. Ultimately this software will be incorporated into new vehicle production and will be hard coded into the satellite navigation unit’s memory.

We anticipate the software disk will become available after Easter and will be issued with full installation instructions as soon as possible.

19 thoughts on “MY10 Liberty and Outback Sat Nav Bluetooth Phone Issues Solved – Sort Of!”

  1. Thank you very much for posting this article. My Liberty has had this concern since new and I will not be paying for an alleged ‘upgrade’. Mr Ashby will be receiving my email shortly.

  2. Hi,
    I have a 2010 Outback Limited. I have had persistent issues with the quality of the bluetooth cell phone call and with the voice recognition system.

    The dealer has replaced the microphone, as per a bulletin put out by Subaru. The cell phone issue is slightly better, but people still cannot have a conversation with me. As such, I am still using my old-fangled headset!

    The voice recognition system is accurate less than 1/20 times.

    I would appreciate any insight into these issues!


    Today was the third time my vehicle was in for this issue with no resolve.

  3. Kfior,

    Have you tried another phone with bluetooth. Bluetooth is only the transport protocol for the data. The actual quality of the voice I would have though would come from the phone itself as long as the bluetooth connection is up.

    There are problems with symbian based phones with syncing but if it is not synced it should be a matter of no voice.. not bad voice.

    Re the voice recognition.. I find the system needs each word said separately. As Australian we generally blend our words into one and when we do that it will not register. When I clearly say each word without rushing it I don’t have any problem.

  4. Glenn,
    Quick question. Does your transmission ‘kick down’ violently under light throttle at around 25-30Kph; especially when cold? If so, Subaru (and Derek Ashby) know about it and are currently trying to find a software upgrade to correct the concern.
    On the bluetooth issue, after speaking with Derek, the navigation unit will be replaced gratis although I currently have to wait an additional 2 months for the new unit to come through.

  5. Craig,

    I have the 3.6. The main problem I had was a hesitation when accelerating out of a slow rolling acceleration. The best way to explain it was when breaking or coasting into a set of lights and then they turn green and you press the accelerator it would just sit there and do nothing for a second.

    I will probably write a blog article on that soon but Subaru dealer connected my car up to the laptop, took it for a drive and sent the file through to Subaru Australia. The fix was ready a few hours later. This is a documented problem in several overseas markets.

    After the fix when you accelerate in the same situation you get instant power but for the first second it is at say 50% even when applying full throttle then after a second or so you get the full surge. I guess this is to stop whiplash effect going from a deceleration to full power in one movement.

    As to your effect of violent kicking down at that speed I have not specifically noticed but will be give it a try it under light throttle. You do get it under medium and full throttle but that is standard for an auto but the total effect depends upon your engine setting.

    In “I” the car sort of expects more gentler throttle so if you press hard then it can rev for a second whilst it kicks down.. then you get that typical auto jerk when it changes gear. I find if I know I am in “I” and I want to accelerate hard such as overtaking I hit the paddle down.

    In “S” it is certainly less pronounced. It is though the reaction time to your throttle is better.

    “S#” is even better again.. but driving in that all the time is a little overkill.

    I am an “S” man myself.. with “I” for long trips.. and “S#” for the occasional blast 🙂

  6. Craig… I tested this on the way home… I am wondering if what you are experiencing is the hesitation issue.

    Prior to my fix at 20km an hour was the problem area I was getting. There was a pause with no power (the hesitation) then power got applied on full.

    This is the official US Service Bulletin description. Could this “harsh shift below” be your violent kick down? :-

    ECM Reprogramming Files

    Service Bulletin #11-94-09
    Pages: 1 Bulletin Description: This is to announce that ECM reprogramming files are now available to rectify a “delay” feeling after depressing the gas pedal. The usual customer description is a “hesitation”. It is most noticeable when attempting to accelerate after a slow “rolling stop” (very slow speed / not quite fully stopped), and sometimes may be accompanied by a harsh shift as the transmission shifts at the same time of acceleration.

  7. Hi there Glenn,

    I have a 2010 Outback premium sat-nav diesel, NO symbian (I have a Samsung HD icon and a Nokia 6300) phones will communicate at all with my sat nav unit.

    I have reported this to Subaru Australia but their response is as mentioned in their service bulletin but this is NOT my problem, the units will not recognise each other at all!

    I wonder if anyone else has the same problem.

    I am not convinced yet that they will fix the issue, though having said that, it has only been four of five days since I reported to Subaru Australia and passed on their response to my local dealer.

    I agree with Craig, there is no way I will expect to be paying for this to be corrected as having spent 51K buying a car I expect the sat-nav to work on all mobile phones in the current market, not only half of them!

  8. Thanks Glenn,

    I had a call from a chap at Subaru Australia yesterday and he was very interested in my problem; he had never heard of my particular issue but was aware of the problems mentioned on your site.
    We went through step by step to confirm what was (not) happening.
    I called him today and they are baffled saying this is the only occurrence of the problem, I should go to my dealer and check my phone with another similar sat nav equipped Outback!

    I am beginning to suspect from the forum that firmware 8400 (mine is 8300) may be the answer though as yet no confirmation from anyone at Subaru.

    My dealer is also onto it and doing his best but when the service manager is away it doesn’t help.

  9. Went to my dealer yesterday, very nice helpful folk (a country dealership) and they spent hours with me going thru all options.

    Turns out my phone worked with all other Subaru’s in the dealership, also the dealers iPhone didn’t work in my car but a Nokia E71 did on this occasion!

    Anyhow to cut a long story short, the service manager dropped every other job, took out my sat nav there and then, got the number and is reporting to Subaru Australia and he is getting me another unit.

    Looks like I might just have a one off faulty unit.

  10. I have an early Liberty 2010 (Sep) and have had nothing but trouble with the Bluetooth. If they are admitting certain phones then you can add HTC to the list.

  11. I have a Liberty 2010 wagon. The bluetooth connects for phone calls but I can’t download my contacts into the phone book. Everytime I press download, the bluetooth disconnects. Has anyone else had this issue? Subaru claim that no phone books can be added and that numbers can only be added manually but I do not believe this as the manual provides instructions on how to do automatic downloads.

  12. Michelle, I also have a Liberty wagon. When I attempt to download the phone book my iPhone disconnects as well. I still have the ability to make calls and stream music however no phone book download.
    The manual does provide the instructions on how to do it!

  13. Michelle and Matt,

    I just got a new 2011 Subaru Outback ( is this the same as the Liberty in the USA?) and I also cannot download my phone book in to the the NAV-bluetooth system! It disconnects my bluetooth as soon as I press the download button!

  14. These posts are great as I have a 2010 outback 3.6 premium and the shift from low speed is quite noticable. Like others it seems to be when approaching a slowdown and then you go to accellerate the clunk is very pronounced to a point where I fear it is doing damage. my local dealer tells me it is because of the AWD system but I am not so convinced. Also my iphone 4 has problems during a call but only in the suby. it seems that almost every 60 seconds(literally on the mark of 60 seconds.) I lose call quality with a series of cutouts that last around three seconds and causes me and the other party to have to repeat ourselves and its driving me nuts……
    any ideas anyone?

  15. My 2010 Liberty with Premium sound unit will allow my Nokia E52 to connect and make calls however the voice from the receiver is severely broken up with words missing and static. The dealer has upgraded the sytem with the new disc but the problem remains. He tested his non Nokia phone on my bluetooth system and it worked perfectly. He then took my Nokia phone to his own private Liberty and the same problem occurred. At this stage he is saying it is a Nokia problem and not a Subaru problem.

  16. Michelle, Matt and Norm,

    I have had the exact same problem with my iPhone and Liberty Wagon. Glad its not just me, but that doesn’t really help fix the problem!

  17. Helen, Michelle, Matt, Norm,

    I have the adress book problem with Outback 3.6 and iPhone 4 as well. Did some investigation. The problem is that iPhone and Subaru use different Bluetooth profiles to upload addresses. iPhone uses PBAP, and Subaru uses OPP. My opinion is that Subaru is to blame in this case, because PBAP is better choice to implement the adress book upload function.

    The isuue is discussed in detail here:

  18. I have the 2010 Liberty Sports Premium. Spent an hour trying to figure out the voice guidance system to dial the phone. I still don’t get it…it either says “Pardon!”, “Dial By Name” or directs me to the only phone number in the car phone book. Doesn’t seem to recognize a single command from the list. Any thoughts out there?

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