Testing is always preferred over just changing parts. If the sensor is bad, you can usually verify that by just unplugging it. That should make the fan run. (See my correction at the end).
What I would do next is to look for the fan relay under the hood. That will let you instantly split the circuit in half to see which half works. I couldn't find a listing for an Outback in '96 so I used a Legacy. Here's a photo of what the relay looks like from rockauto. Com. I added the two red arrows to show the switch contact terminals. You will likely find those two wires are fatter than the other two. You can jump those two fat wires together with a stretched-out cotter pin or piece of wire. A stretched-out paper clip is my favorite tool but they can get hot.
You can also pry the cover off the relay, then squeeze the contact arm to turn it on. Either way, if the fan runs, it's the low-current control side that has the problem. More commonly the fan will not run and the high-current side is at fault. Then you have to test for voltage on one of those two fat wires, (red arrows). If one has voltage, the fan motor, the wire going to it, or the ground wire is bad. If neither has voltage, a fuse or fuse link wire is burned open and most likely it's because the motor is tight.
I also noticed they listed a "Radiator Fan Switch" which is different than the two-wire computer sensor. It appears to me the Engine Computer is not involved with the fan, just a temperature switch. Unplugging the connector and grounding that wire should turn on the relay and fan motor. If it does, that switch is defective.
Images (Click to enlarge)
Saturday, February 18th, 2012 AT 9:28 PM