Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety.


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
72,173 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2004 Subaru Outback electrical problems

electrical problem

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2004 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #6

Jun 112013

Outback 4-cyl

  • 162,000 miles


Drivers door started smoking and flaming. I pulled the part of door/armrest holding the window/mirror/lock controls and was able to pull over and blow out flames before fire spread.

- Orchard Park, NY, USA

problem #5

Feb 012013

Outback 6-cyl

  • 100,000 miles
The car burst into flames at 2:30 in the morning in my driveway. We last drove the car home at 10:30 the night before, so the car had been sitting for four hours in cold weather (around 20 degrees). The dogs started barking and I woke up to find my car burning in the driveway. Firetruck came around 5 minutes later and put out fire. Fire was burning around entire vehicle. Fireman said that fire appeared to be internal to the car and not caused by human intervention. Police put the fire down as a "routine" engine fire. I am very concerned about the safety of older Subaru vehicles.

- Vienna, VA, USA

problem #4

Oct 302010


  • 119,000 miles
Our son was driving our 2004 Subaru Outback into a target parking lot. As he entered he noticed smoke and heat coming from driver's door. He stopped, shut the engine off as flames were now coming from the door. He called the durham North Carolina fire department and they put out the fire. Interior of car in door, dash, windshield areas severely damaged. Appears to be electric problem although no windows or anything in this door area were in operation. No prior problems. Car towed to aaa and will take it to Subaru dealer next week. He avoided getting burnt, barely.

- Brunswick, ME, USA

problem #3

Jun 142005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,039 miles


My 2004 Subaru Outback sedan would idle extremely high. When I put it in reverse it would lurch back suddenly. As I was driving, I would take my foot off the pedal and it would remain at the speed I was going. It was looked at twice and was not able to be replicated. The service tech stated he had seen the problem before and would clean out the throttle box. Approximately 2-3 weeks later the vehicle would not go over 40 mph without lurching back and forth and making a violent banging noise, at this point the check engine light came on. The vehicle was towed to the dealership. They replaced the throttle sensor system with negative results and stated they were not able to rectify the problem. Currently vehicle is in shop waiting for tech support to call.

- Watervliet, NY, USA

problem #2

Jan 222005

Outback 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 16,000 miles
Upon starting the vehicle and shifting in drive or reverse, the vehicle will accelerate erratically with force. This has also occurred with normal driving. The vehicle has been to the dealer on several separate occasions, but the problem recurred. On each occasion the following repairs were made; electrical grease was applied on the tcs contact. 3 days later the problem recurred. Dealer adjusted the accelerator throttle, and 3 days later engine light illuminated while driving. Dealer replaced the ECM control module, and the next day vehicle stalled again while coming to a stop. Dealer was unable to correct the problem, which has been passed on to the manufacturer, and no response was received at this time.

- Harpers Ferry, WV, USA

problem #1

Jul 082004

Outback 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
On June 28, 2004, while driving between 25 to 30 mph, the speed dropped to 5 mph. The consumer depressed the gas pedal and the vehicle would not move. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, and the mechanic found nothing wrong. On July 4, 2004, while driving between 45 to 50 mph speed dropped to 5 mph and suddenly the vehicle accelerated from 5 to 70 mph in less than 10 seconds. The vehicle was towed to the dealership, after several attempts to fix the problem vehicle was still at the dealership. The dealer repaired the vehicle by replacing the entire computer system.

- Arlington, MA, USA

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