2008 Subaru Outback electrical NHTSA complaints: Electrical System

NHTSA — Electrical System Problems

2008 Subaru Outback (Page 1 of 2)

CarComplaints.com Seal Of


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
68,961 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.

2008 Subaru Outback electrical problems

electrical problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2008 Subaru Outback:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2008 Subaru Outback Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #25

Nov 262016


  • 120,000 miles


Wire harness going to rear hatch had multiple wires severed by repeated opening/closing of rear hatch. Lock and tail light wires were broken though. 4 other wires had their insulation cut and the conductor was exposed. In searching the net this appears to be a very common problem. Why hasn't a recall been issued? failure of brake lights or tail lights are a safety issue.

- Marlborough, CT, USA

problem #24

Sep 012016


  • 70,000 miles
Rear hatch wiring insulation failed after 8 years & 70,0000 miles resulting in (among many other problems) failure of all brake lights. Wires shorted out resulting in blown brake light fuse. There was no indication of failure of brake lights on any dashboard warning light. It is unknown how long this vehicle (known to have unsafe airbags) was also driven without brake lights. This is a known common failure point and should be a safety recall.

- Bozeman, MT, USA

problem #23

Aug 192016


  • 128,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Subaru Outback. The contact stated that the ABS, traction control, engine, and other unknown warning indicators illuminated. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, but the failure was unable to be diagnosed. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 128,000.

- Washington, OH, USA

problem #22

May 152015


  • miles


Bought a used 2008 Subaru Outback in April of 2015, and shortly afterwards began seeing the airbag dash light occasionally upon startup. The airbag light would remain on until the vehicle was turned off, and would often come on and stay on when the vehicle was started again. Overhead passenger airbag indicator also was malfunctioning, and did not indicate on or off. Vehicle was serviced at dealership on 3/22/2016, and the overhead console (part # 92151ag13aor) was replaced to remedy air bag code 26. Total cost was $182.95; $130.45 for the new console, and $52.50 for the labor. This malfunction is far too common in Subaru vehicles across several years, and is an extremely important repair and a dangerous safety concern. The airbag system is inoperable when the dash light is on, and should be a recall situation for all Subaru vehicles that have the defective console.

- Appleton, WI, USA

problem #21

Dec 162015


  • 86,700 miles
The dashboard lights blinked off & on and the heater stopped working, then started working again. This happened three times. It gives the appearance of involving a short circuit. This happened both when the vehicle was stationary and while moving.

- Mechanicsville, VA, USA

problem #20

Oct 152013


  • 37,000 miles
The contact owns a 2008 Subaru Outback. While driving 5 mph, the audio and the whole panel related to the heat/air and defroster failed without warning. The contact stated that the audio and H-back control panel lights were blinking. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic, but was not diagnosed or repaired. The failure recurred. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 37,000.

- Denver, CO, USA

problem #19

Mar 012015


  • 112,000 miles


(vehicle has 112K miles) beginning approximately in the March 2015 timeframe, the radio controls/display began to malfunction intermittently. At first, the radio display would blink off/on, and then preset station buttons stopped/started working, then the cd/radio/aux control knob stopped/started working, etc. Controls from the steering wheel appear unaffected. There would be one problem on one day, which would seemingly "go away." Then, at random (sometimes days or weeks later), another problem would present itself. It, too, would "go away" in short order and the process would repeat itself. The problem would occur on start-up as well as suddenly while in motion (in May 2015, I had the radio go off about midway on a 150-mile trip.) on Sept 16, the radio controls became completely inactive, but the unit functioned and the display was on. Then, on Sept 24, I was travelling at night when the headlights and radio/ac displays suddenly went dark. This is clearly a safety concern. The high beams and running lights remained functional, but the regular lights no longer function. I did not test the fog lights and I am no longer driving the car. I am using my wife's car. Until I can take the car for service, its use is limited to daylight hours. The issue has remained and does not appear to be "going away". when you turn on the headlights, the radio/ac displays go blank and the headlights do not light.

- Bridgewater, NJ, USA

problem #18

Sep 242015


  • 115,234 miles
HVAC fails to operate. Defroster will not operate. Symptoms accompanied by flashing control panel for HVAC and radio. Widespread reports of this problem shared on car owner internet forums.

- Silver Spring, MD, USA

problem #17

Oct 012014


  • 55,000 miles
The airbag warning light is frequently on for extended periods of time (days, weeks, months). The issue and Subaru's unwillingness to address it are well documented in complaints filed with NHTSA by other Subaru owners and on various Subaru owner websites. For example, see there is conflicting advice on whether illumination of the dashboard warning light means the airbags are disabled or not. Either way, this is a serious safety hazard that needs to be addressed immediately.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #16

May 012015


  • 74,000 miles
The wiring for the rear lift gate lock is broken. The same problem occurred in 2013. Definitely faulty design. Subaru says to replace the entire wiring harness to the lift gate for $500+.

- Saint Paul, MN, USA

problem #15

Apr 292015


  • 120,000 miles


The wires in the boot between the hatch and body become brittle over time and can snap with hatch usage. I removed the boot and found one wire completely severed (operating the hatch lock which had stopped working). Others were frayed and required repair (including the wires for the brake lights).

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #14

Dec 022013


  • 80,000 miles
The airbags light is on intermittently. The tech at the Subaru dealership said it was a problem in the connection in the map light console. He indicated the airbags would deploy correctly. It appears to be a common problem with 2008 Outbacks and other posters have indicated the airbag system will not work if dashboard airbag light is illuminated. Apparently many folks have found a weak/aged solder point to be the cause of an intermittent connection. Given the large number of owners encountering this problem, Subaru should initiate a recall based on the safety concerns of a an airbag system failure in the event of an accident.

- Sand Lake, NY, USA

problem #13

Feb 172015


  • 55,000 miles
Having airbag light coming on intermittently along with passenger airbag light. Mechanic said airbags probably are not functioning properly. Cost for repair would be between $350-$400. From reading other complaints, this is an easy and cheap fix but dangerous if it's not repaired. This should be a recall!

- Caledonia, MI, USA

problem #12

Feb 032015

Outback 4-cyl

  • 71,000 miles
I'm updating my 2/3/15 complaint 10680982. I contacted Subaru directly on the same day and included a copy of the complaint I filed with NHTSA and my bill for the replacement of the overhead airbag control module. In the report the Subaru tech said the unit was shorting out, showing code "26 for passenger?S airbag indicator failure and S8 airbag light on." I also gave Subaru my tally of my first cursory search of the NHTSA complaints database on the word "airbag" for all models of Subaru from 2000 to present. The search resulted in 145 complaints. After I looked through the first 60 complaints I found 45 of them that seemed to be about this exact problem - the airbag warning light on the dashboard and/or passenger side airbag overhead indicator going on and off intermittently. These complaints were across every model of Subaru and years from 2003 to 2013. My 2008 Outback had the most complaints - 13. Other searches for different key words and spellings of airbag resulted in many hundreds of results, too many for your database to display, probably many of them were about the recent airbag recall issue. Subaru's customer service department responded immediately and on 2/12/15 they promised to reimburse me for the entire $352, the total cost of parts and labor to replace the module. I urge all Subaru owners to test their passenger airbag lights and those with problems to lodge a formal NHTSA complaint and report it to Subaru. Since the airbag doesn't work when the light isn't working properly this is a very dangerous problem! enough complaints to the NHTSA will help pressure Subaru to finally let all potentially affected owners know about it.

- Palo Alto, CA, USA

problem #11

Feb 032014


  • 28,000 miles
Was driving vehicle in heavy snow, suddenly lost power, the dash light flashed, the instrument cluster needles moved as if the car was starting up. Could not restart engine, would not crank. All other electrical equipment worked. Sat in heavy snow for two hours (no tow trucks available until next day). Suddenly after attempting to restart after many failed attempts, it did. Drove it home fine. Stalled next day on way to repair shop. Had car towed and shop found one code, but nothing else wrong. Drove home fine, ran can for 45 mins, fine. Next day drove for 35 min to work, fine but left work and immediately stalled just like few days before. Towed to Subaru dealer and took a day to figure out was main engine compartment wiring harness. Replaced with minimal charge of $50, even thought three months out of warranty. Vehicle has been fine since then.

- Chicago , IL, USA

problem #10

Nov 172011

Outback 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
Dash airbag light comes on intermittently, and this disables the airbag. Dealer states this is a known problem, but can only fix by trial and error replacing (expensive) components. It happens most on cold wet weather days, often goes off when car warmed up, so probably electrical. Has continued for years now, still happening at 105,000 miles. Many many examples on internet boards of people with this same problem. Should be a safety recall!

- Jaffrey, NH, USA

problem #9

Dec 152014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 81,000 miles
Recently replaced headlights did not illuminate on a return trip home. They turned off without warning while driving. According to the dealer, the wiring harness failed.

- Park City, UT, USA

problem #8

Nov 182014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 67,000 miles
HVAC / radio (cd 6 disc changer model) fast flashing, all functions stay enabled but can not be controlled from the panel. Can not turn on defrost unit or adjust temperature or radio controls while flashing occurs. This happens intermittently for a year and has gotten significantly worse where controls are unavailable for 20 minutes or more at a time. Dangerous situation in winter when you can not use the defrost buttons to deice windows or control window fogging.

- Salt Lake City, UT, USA

problem #7

Aug 212013

Outback 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
Passenger side airbag on/off light malfunctioning. Sometimes ceiling console passenger indicator light comes on to indicate bag is off (supposed to happen when less than 25 lbs in passenger seat) and sometimes it doesn't. sometimes dashboard red airbag warning light comes on to indicate malfunction with bag and sometimes it doesn't. sometimes the passenger airbag on/off light shows dimly as if it's trying to illuminate. Seems like a wiring problem based on intermittent illumination but dealer said needed new $300 plus indicator switch but they were sure airbag working properly. Have already had serious problem with quality of work done by this dealer so unsure of whether they really know what's happening. Why no recall from Subaru? I see several other complaints here about the exact same problem.

- Kernersville, NC, USA

problem #6

Aug 012014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 44,000 miles
Air bag light in dashboard comes on and airbag light in overhead console does not display proper info. 55000+ hits in internet point to bad solder joints in overhead circuit board. Once loose resistors are re-soldered problem goes away. Dealers are charging up to $500 to replace overhead console. This problem of bad solder joints goes over several model years. Why has there not been a safety related recall over airbag issues which expire when warranty expires? there should be no expiration date on safety!

- Milford, MA, USA

Read the next 5 complaints »

Not what you are looking for?