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Subaru Outback/Legacy Electronic & Lighting Problems

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  • 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.

    -mike
  • Thanks, I'll try that today and let you know how I get on... (for future reference!)
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,679
    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.
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • 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.

    -mike
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,679
    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.
    2010 Subaru Forester, 2011 Ford Fiesta, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup, 1974 Ford Pinto Wagon
  • 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.

    -mike
  • 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!
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    No problemo, glad to help a fellow subie owner out!

    -mike
  • dingledingle Posts: 1
    I've got a 93 Legacy wagon ... brake lights working ... no tail lamps ... manual missing and I need to chase it down ... can't decipher fuse box under hood, nor find interior fuse box where fuse puller may be hiding ... but it may be more than that ... suggestions welcomed ... dingle
  • Hi,
    I have a 2000 Subaru Outback Limited that I purchased about a month ago. The other day the heater didn't work when I turned it on and I noticed a burning smell which I hope was just the fuses blowing. Later that night I checked the fuses. Both of the 15 amp fuses on the top right of the fuse panel (marked "heater" on the fuse diagram) were blown. I replaced them and the heater still didn't work, except on the highest fan speed. Well, it worked for one day, and now both fuses are blown again.

    Does anyone know why the lower fan speeds would drop out on the heater, and what might be causing these fuses to blow?
    Thanks
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I believe its a combo of a bad relay for the fan and possibly another short on it. The high selection has it's own relay so that you can have a blower if the other one blows in an emergency.

    I'm not sure what's involved in repairing it though.

    -mike
    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • yuyaxyuyax Posts: 11
    This morning when I started my car I noticed a Tic Tac sound coming from behind the ignition switch or lock cylinder, .

    - This sounds repeats itself approx every 5 seconds.

    - The car does not have to be running for this sound to occur. Just having the key turned to the ON position will start the sound

    - I can notice a slight interruption of the blower/fan and the light on the ignition lock when the Tic Tac occurs

    - Car seems to run fine and do not notice any irregularities besides this sound

    Anybody experienced this before?

    This is on a 2002 Subaru Legacy Outback with 90,000 miles

    Thanks in advance
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Is the electric fan under the hood also turning on and off with the tic/tack/relay sound?

    -mike
  • yuyaxyuyax Posts: 11
    It doesn't quite turn on/off. It is more like a 'brown out'. Like a drop in power.

    Another thing, the radio was removed by the dealer (warranty work) two weeks ago but there were no tic tacs back then. I could be wrong but I don't think this is related to the sound.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Sounds like someone connected the test circuit wire and put the car into closed-loop mode. It's hard to describe which wires need to be disconnected but when they are connected these symptoms are what you get.

    -mike
  • yuyaxyuyax Posts: 11
    Thanks Paisan.

    If that was the case, wouldn't the Tic Tac happen right after I picked up the car instead of manifesting itself today?

    Also, when the car was in for warranty work (another long story) I don't think there were any computer checks or diagnosis performed on it. The radio/tape player was removed and sent to Subaru for repair or replacement and that should have been it.
  • yuyaxyuyax Posts: 11
    I went to the car again and it does sounds like when you hook up a code reader.

    I also noticed that the daylight driving lights also dimmed when it clicked/clacked.

    Very puzzling... ??
  • yuyaxyuyax Posts: 11
    UPDATE

    I worked on my car on Sat. The sound was coming from the power window circuit breaker which is located under the dash, next to the steering column.

    It is a little white rectangular tab like box with two wires going to it. The source of the sound was the circuit breaker tripping due to some electrical overload. The breaker was doing its job.

    Every now and then, the circuit breaker will not click/clack and electrical power was normal and the windows became operational.

    I took the car back to the dealer in Northern VA on Monday so they could complete a warranty repair/replacement on the stereo. I left them a detailed note of my findings. According to them, once the radio was re-installed, the problem went away. Very interesting.

    So far, so good but I wonder, why re-connecting the radio solved the problem?
  • ohzee00ohzee00 Posts: 3
    My Outback rear driving lights fail to turn on. The front turn on fine, turn signals, brakes, flashers, headlights all work, but the rear driving lights do not turn on.

    I am wondering if there is some module in the rear somewhere which regulates those lights ? I for the life of me can not figure out what it is, fuses all check out fine.

    Any help or pointers would be VERY much appreciated.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Are your front marker lights (The Yellow Ones) on?

    -mike
  • smcinroxsmcinrox Posts: 1
    Can anyone tell me the exact location of the ECU in a 96 Legacy L. My ABS light came on and I have read that I may be able to get a code from the blinking LED sequense on the ECU. Any help on this would be appreciated.
  • hi; go to "www.legacy central.org" click on "the library" under the heading "tech doc" click on "ecu error code instruction and glossary" i dont think you have to remove the ecu yet , but if you want to know, they are mostly located under the carpet of the front passenger side, it is like if the passenger is sitting with the feet out streched on the slanted section going to the fire wall the would be over the ecu, you have to remove the mat and lift up the carpeting.
  • ohzee00ohzee00 Posts: 3
    Yes they are Mike. Any info would be very much appreciated.
  • ohzee00ohzee00 Posts: 3
    You ever figure this out ? I have a similar issue.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Hmm, I'm stumped, other than a bad fuse to the rear possibly.

    -mike
  • hirschberghirschberg Posts: 3
    I'm trying to fix what seems to be a problem on the 1997 legacy also. (there was a recall issued) the hazard switch can become stuck resulting in the turn signal becoming inoperable. now i pried the button out with a key. and no longer have turn signals. because the blinkers still actually work, i believe i did not short out the turn signal circuit, which is slaved to the hazard switch. so did i just push a contact off and need to reconnect it?
  • hirschberghirschberg Posts: 3
    my biggest concern here is that I could have damaged the circuit between the hazard switch and the turn signal switch, or shorted one or the other out, however I highly doubt this, and if anyone could confirm my belief it would help isolate the problem to perhaps, a loose switch.

    A. The hazard switch works, and i can push it in and out now. When pushed, it acts normally, with blinking lights outside and on the dash panel. So it isn't my flasher fuse, all fuses that i looked at checked out.

    B. I was messing around with the hazard switch using a brass key, my worst-case thinking says that pushing around this conductor in there somehow shorted the circuit, but then, wouldnt the blinkers not work at all including the hazard lights? I cannot find any fuses that seem to have anything wrong. I just want to get under the dash and see if there is a connection loose.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. It's particularly annoying because this happened hours after I drove the vehicle off the lot.
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