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Subaru Outback/Legacy Electronic & Lighting Problems



  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    It certainly involves the starter. You should check the battery cables for corrosion and makes sure they are tight at all connection points. The negative terminal mounts to a bracket, which in turn is held in place by the upper starter bolt - if something is loose, this is the most likely spot. If all looks tight, I think you should replace the starter solenoid and call it a day.

    If you are driving the highway this time of year, definitely get it fixed unless you plan every stop in a populated area. It is not going to get better without intervention, but it could always get worse!
  • turns out the alternator was overcharging and putting out 17 volts. As a result all headlight bulbs were blown and also caused the abs light to turn on. 40$ to find out and 70$ for an alternator that I will put in. Thanks for your help! :shades:
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Nice, glad you solved the problem!

  • seanuseanu Posts: 7
    Hi everyone. I have a problem with both front power windows on my 2005 outback. The drivers side window always had a "sticky" switch, and now both front windows are completely dead. I checked the fuse, and it is ok (and the back windows are working). Any ideas on a do-it-yourself repair? I'm really disappointed that I'm having these problems with the car (my first Subbie) just about 10k miles out of warranty.
  • jfljfl Posts: 1,346
    On my 2000 Legacy, all you could do was to replace switch cluster. There was no easy or simple way to take the cluster apart.

    You might find the part at They are a dealer in Washington state. I call to confirm the online prices and send Subaru bucks to pay for the parts. Definitely less expensive than my local dealers.

  • crcyrcrcyr Posts: 1
    I have a 1998 Subaru legacy/outback limited. My problem is the tail gate is locked shut. The remote or key doesn't work. What a pain not have access. It stuck on me a few times before but would "fix" itself, now nothing. Besides a pry-bar any fuses, key tricks anything I need to know. Please send me any helpful information out there. Thanks
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    when you hit the remote can you hear the mechanism cycle but it won't open when you press on the latch?? had this on my 98, first thing to try is just spray some WD40 into the mechanism where the latch is on the outside, if thats not helping you may have to replace the latch.
  • Hi there,
    I was in here perusing Outback problems because I am researching buying a used one...

    Anyway, I suggest checking the ground wiring. This can be the sole source of all your issues! I had a very similar problem with my father's Dodge Caravan. Headlights wouldn't work right, turn signal lights were out/non-functional on one side...list goes on. It wasn't an Alternator problem like I initially considered. A mechanic at my local Advance Auto store suggested that it could be very simple - grounding issue. Turned out that was exactly what it was! If the grounding wire is either completely de-attached or connected, but seriously corroded, it will cause headlight/turn signal/dash indicator light 'brown-out' or non-functioning.
    Get the proper book for your make/model and search out where the grounding wires are suppose to be attached when they exit that section of the harness that connects to those headlights/turn signals/dash lights and (after disconnecting from the Battery) undo the nut holding it to the car body and visually inspect for corrosion/disconnection. (there's more than one usually, one on each side at least..)
    A new connector can be purchased for pennies and installed on that ground wire in about 10 seconds. REconnect ground wire to car and screw nut back on, tightly. Reconnect the Battery. Test everything. Be aware there could be more than one ground wire problem. And buy yourself a line testor! Make it easy on yourself to find ground on your car! They are fairly cheap and valuable to have.

    I hope this helps!

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I agree. Try a search for "Single Point Ground AND Subaru" on your favorite search engine.
  • Recently purchased a 2003 Outback wagon. My left headlight stopped funtioning, so I bought a new pair of headlight lo-beam bulbs. When I replaced them, my left headlight still was not working. Bought another bulb, same result. Went through and checked all fuses, and replaced headlight fuses for good measure. Still nothing. Any suggestions on what I might be able to check next. Last thing I want to do is spend $80 for a diagnostic check.
  • My Subaru Outback 2000 has been sitting still in the snow and rain while I was on holiday for a couple of weeks. The car started fine this morning on the first day back, but unfortunately it seemed to develop an electrical issue on the way to work.

    The symptoms are apparently dependent on the speed of the engine:
    Below about 1500 revs everything looks and works fine
    Above about 2000 revs: Radio switches off, Caution and battery warning light on
    Car is running absolutely fine at all speeds and all the main lights seem to work.

    When I left the office this evening my battery was flat. A jump start from a friend got it going just fine. Not sure what I'm going to find out tomorrow morning.

    I've never replaced the battery (I've had the car from new), so that was my first thought, but I don't understand :confuse: how that would mess with the radio at different engine revs.

    I'd appreciate any insight that someone might have on these symptoms.

    Thanks, Steve
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Probably the Alternator. I do an alternator and battery replacement.

  • Thanks, I'll try that today and let you know how I get on... (for future reference!)
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Yep, it sounds like alternator to me as well. If the alternator is putting out very little juice, higher engine speeds are going to demand more power for spark, etc. If there is not enough to go around, the radio is the first thing to shut down. If the alternator was dead altogether, you would continue losing auxiliary items, including gauges, before finally the engine would die.
  • Good call both paisan and xwesx.
    Both battery and alternator were faulty... I guess it's been a while since I've messed with cars, so I was surprised that the on board computer was able to shut-down non-essential services so quickly and allow the engine to continue to run.
    Also, I *thought* the engine was running OK, then after the replacement of both components, it definitely had more zip. I guess 2 1/2 weeks away from the car and I forgot what it sounded like!
    Because I'm basically a mug I took it to the dealership to get it fixed, worried that a generic garage would not be able to diagnose anything other than the Alternator and Battery. Yesterday was an expensive day!

    Quick newbie question though, are Subaru's computer diagnostics generally supported by non Subaru garages?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Most of the codes in OBDII are readable by a generic garage, but there are some items that are only accessable by the Subaru Computer Diag.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Just for reference, the work involved with replacing the alternator and battery is about 30 minutes from start to finish. That, plus around $250 for the two parts. Auto parts stores can usually check those items to determine if they are within spec or not as well.

    I don't blame you for going to a service department though. If you are not familiar/comfortable with the vehicle's mechanicals, there is peace of mind knowing that the car will work right when you get it back.
  • Recently, I noticed that when i used the key fob to lock my car, the parking lights did not blink. Then I was told that I had no tail lights when leaving a parking lot one night. Checked the fuse, it was blown. Tried a new one, blew immediately. Checked accessible wiring in hatch to no avail. Is there a relay on this circuit? anyone have any ideas?
    Also, where can one find an easy to use electrical diagram and t.s. guide for the car?
    Thanks in advance for answers/suggestions!
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    You have some kind of short in the lights. I'd look for a cracked bulb to start with. Unfortunately if it's not a bulb it may get tricky to chase down.

  • Thanks! Found a tail light with the lead contact melted into the ground socket.
    I thought I t-shot the problem by disconnecting the the main plugs in the hatch, but apparently, the ground circuit was still intact (doh!) Being at a loss of what to do next, I took your advice and began pulling bulbs... voila!
    This all began with a leak in the tail light lens. Everytime I opened the hatch after a good rain, I'd get a dribble out of the interior panel ever since the car was new. The dealer claimed they could not find the source and implied it was my imagination. Finally, after 140K miles, I tore into it and found that when it was assembled, a gasket had been folded over that is just below a little vent in the top of the lens housing. Cleaned it up, and sealed the vent slot with silicone. The car is now sitting in the sun getting the lens housings dry and I'm on my way to the A/P store for some bulbs and fuses ;) Thanks again!
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