2009 Subaru Forester electrical NHTSA complaints: Electrical System

NHTSA — Electrical System Problems


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
44,695 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.

2009 Subaru Forester electrical problems

electrical problem

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2009 Subaru Forester Owner Comments

problem #15

May 122016

Forester 4-cyl

  • 49,000 miles


The contact owns a 2009 Subaru Forester. While driving 25 mph, the air bag light illuminated occasionally. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed that the front passenger side seat bottom had a short in the ods. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 49,000.....updated 07/05/16 the consumer also stated the lights on the instrument panel lit up and the vehicle would stall when coming to a stop. The dealer worked on the battery terminals. However, the problem happened again, twice. Updated 07/14/16.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #14

Feb 282016


  • 60,000 miles
The past month or so I noticed that the driver side seat heater didn't seem to feel right on my butt. The seat seemed to almost burn me in one spot. I thought it was odd, but didn't look into it further. Just this past week I noticed that only the back heater was working. While cleaning the car out today I noticed a very small burn hole in the cloth seat. I decided to remove the seat and investigate the issue since the vehicle is no longer under warranty. During my investigation I noticed that it was definitely a burn mark and there was melted/black areas under the cloth. I did not dig too deep into the seat since I didn't want to have an issue putting it all back together. I have two pictures. One of the hole and one under the cloth. I did the best I could photographing under the cloth. I removed the power to the seat heater.

- Tunkhannock, PA, USA

problem #13

Dec 192015


  • 98,613 miles
On 12/19/2015 after starting the vehicle the radio, cigar lighter, temperature/time, and electronic mirror control would not operate. The vehicle was driven on a secondary street. After shutting the vehicle off and on the aforementioned items began to function again. Fuses were checked and all fuses seem to be in tact. The inability to control the external mirrors are a safety concern.

- Glastonbury, CT, USA

problem #12

Nov 222014

Forester 4-cyl

  • 41,312 miles


I have a Subaru 2009 that I bought last yeay with around 25000 miles under an extended warranty. VIN [xxx]. and this as happened te times so far. While driving or just starting of the car shakes very hard, and the stability control light comes on the check engine ad cruise control and as the car tries to shift the whole car shakes. Then as you are driving down the highway it loses power almost as if it is stalling out. It did this to me on interstate 85 at 65 mph and I barely missed a truck. I have contacted the dealer ship twice and taken it in once and they said nothing was wrong ? now that I almost wrecked last night I am contacting you. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Charlotte , NC, USA

problem #11

Nov 172014

Forester 4-cyl

  • 45,000 miles
I was going around a cup-de-sac to stop to a have my passenger exit the car to her house, I heard engine rev and push forward into her hollow tile wall, garden and down the other side of her property and stop on the wall before I thought of turning the engine off.

- Kaneohe, HI, USA

problem #10

Jul 272014

Forester 4-cyl

  • 92,000 miles
While traveling at highway speeds in rainy weather, vehicle began to misfire and lost power, forcing driver into an unsafe situation of coaxing car to shoulder. Check engine, stability control lights came on, and cruise light flashed. After shutting engine off and restarting, same lights remained on but engine ran normally. We have also another 2009 Forester which experiences misfires, same lights, after starting cold on a rainy day. Although we have received recall notices from Subaru on other less critical topics, there does not seem to be an inclination on their part to address this engine electrical malfunction which could have resulted in disaster. Our online researches suggest that many other Subaru owners are experiencing similar malfunctions, and we don't detect any serious effort by the manufacturer to fix this.

- Hicksville, NY, USA

problem #9

Feb 052014

Forester 4-cyl

  • 103,000 miles


While vehicle was parked outside, noticed side lights were on, car was not on. After entering the vehicle noticed a smell of burned plastic. Tried multiple ways to shut off the side lights, couldn't do it. Finally traced the smell of the burning plastic to the rear of the vehicle, by the lift gate, by the spare tire. The electrical cable that connects the vehicle to the trailer hitch wiring harness was burning and smoking. Disconnected it and the power failure stopped, by then the wiring harness had melted and wires burnt. Took photos of the wiring to show it, problem seems to be with the condensation in the area and moisture caused a short in the harness. Without intervening car could have caught fire and burnt down.

- Libertyville, IL, USA

problem #8

Oct 142012


  • 38,000 miles
While driving I noticed the center dash display was dark: Radio and cd changer, outside temp, ave mpg, clock. The wind shield wipers would not work. After stopping the car, turning off the ignition and restarting, everything worked ok. There has been a total of 3 additional occurrences since. Also see one similar reported case:

- Salem, VA, USA

problem #7

May 102013


  • 80,000 miles
Compass display in rear view mirror went out, no longer displays direction. My friend has the same vehicle and his went out also. I believe this is a safety feature because it helps tell the driver what direction he's traveling when traveling in unfamiliar place.

- Lake Forest, IL, USA

problem #6

Jun 202013


  • miles
The contact owns a 2009 Subaru Forester. The contact received a recall notice several months ago but was informed that the parts were not available. The manufacturer was notified, but could not provide a date that the parts would be available. There are no failures at this time. The VIN was not available.

- Aurora, CO, USA

problem #5

Aug 292012

Forester 4-cyl

  • 45,000 miles


I went to the grocery store today; it was off and on rainy weather, so I had been running my windshield wipers a little. Turned off car; went in store, came back out, started car up - I noticed the time/temp/mileage display was black, then, I noticed the radio had lost power; then I noticed the wind shield wipers did not work, but not until I was out in the highway and needed to use them. This was dangerous and should never have happened. I made another stop, turned off car, went in store, came back out, started up car - at that time, the wipers, radio and display were back to normal "?" this undependable will not do. Subaru needs to repair my car at no charge. I believe my love affair with Subaru is over, especially after reading all these complaints and what I experienced.

- W. Columbia, SC, USA

problem #4

Sep 222009


  • 3,411 miles
2009 Subaru Forester. Consumer states vehicle was remote started an within seconds, the wire harness burnt, melting some plastic parts the consumer was able to turn off the vehicle. However, it wouldn't start again. The vehicle was towed to the dealer and upon inspection, it was determined that the electrical wire harness going to the seat belts, air bags and other components had burned out. According to the dealer the vehicle caught fire.

- Ossining, NY, USA

problem #3

Sep 222009


  • 3,411 miles
Fire erupted without warning from the driver side panel below the trunk cover on 2009 Subaru Forester with less than 3,500 miles. The wire harness burnt. This happened almost 2 months ago and Subaru is in discussions with the insurance as it seems to be a total loss.

- Ossining, NY, USA

problem #2

Jun 202009


  • 7,064 miles
Vehicle: 2009 Subaru Forester limited, on 6/20/09 I experienced an incident of unintended acceleration. Cruise control was on. Before our exit I canceled the cruise control but left it "on". on the ramp, I let the car slow. At about 40 mph I moved the shift lever into 'sport┐ mode, downshifted to 3rd gear, then 2nd, then braked to a stop. The car was stopped, in gear, idling. My foot was on the brake. Without warning, the engine raced and the car jolted forward about a foot; it would have continued but I increased pressure on the brake and stopped the car. The engine, with the car stopped and in gear, ran up over 2000 RPM. I immediately shifted into regular drive mode and then into neutral. Once in neutral, the engine briefly raced higher but then dropped to idle at about 700 RPM. I switched the cruise control off. Please note: To stop the car I did not move my foot; it was already on the brake, and I merely pressed harder. This is not a case of pedal confusion. The floor mats are in place. This is not a case of a floor mat interfering with the accelerator. At the time of the incident, we were not moving. I was not on the phone. I was not looking over my shoulder. I was not otherwise distracted. I was sitting still, waiting for the light to change, with my Focus on the traffic stopped in front of me. In my view, this represents a dangerous defect in the vehicle, and needs to be corrected immediately. Please advise regarding your proposed resolution. I have advised Subaru via their website today but have not heard back. I am happy to be contacted for further details if needed.

- Sammamish, WA, USA

problem #1

Dec 082008


  • 4,615 miles
Ignition doesn't recognize valet key, "security" light on dash comes on, key won't turn and car won't start.

- Hooksett, NH, USA

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