2009 Subaru Outback electrical NHTSA complaints: Electrical System

NHTSA — Electrical System Problems

CarComplaints.com Seal Of


hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
57,756 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 Outback electrical problems

electrical problem

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2009 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #13

Dec 122016


  • 182,000 miles


After fuses blown repeatedly and replaced, rear wiper, washer pump and lock ceased to operate for perhaps a year. Recently the headlights got real funky - would not operate in normal "on" position. But then some strange behavior when shifted into reverse (ignition on without starting to allow shifting). Headlights still not lit in either off or on position, but then came on as switch moved back from headlights on to running lights position! I happened upon the video mentioned in an earlier post about rear wiring harness issue which easily could have been related to wiper/lock issue, so took a look. Inspection revealed 11 severed wires with a clump of 5 or so melted together and another 3 wires nearly severed (see photos). Dealer says he'll replace wiring harness for $350 -500, and had a same generation Outback in the shop for same work. Service mgr suggested a call to Subaru customer care line. If you have goofy electrical issues, especially in rear, check the wiring inside boot from body to door on upper right side. It's not easy to get at as wires are short, which may have led to quite a serious, um, short. Call Subaru before your headliner ignites...

- Wausau, WI, USA

problem #12

Feb 082016


  • 118,000 miles
Rear hatch wiring has worn to the point of fully breaking four and damaging five other wires out of approximately 14 total going through the flexible boot between the body and the hatch on the passenger side of the vehicle. Systems affected: Rear wiper, rear lock, possibly the brake light and license plate lights. This was damage incurred over time of normal use, opening the hatch no more than once per day.

- Grand Rapids, MI, USA

problem #11

Nov 202015


  • miles
The rear gate wiring harness failed, causing rear brake lights and tail lights to stop working. Without replacing the rear gate wiring harness ($88.80 parts + $448.80 labor + $51.07 tax) soon the rear wiper and defrost would not work and the back hatch would lock. This is a serious safety issue, I want to see a recall and reimbursement of $588.67 from Subaru of America.

- Shoreline, WA, USA

problem #10

Nov 142015


  • miles


Rear gate electrical cord premature failure at rubber accordion bend

- Florence, MA, USA

problem #9

Oct 242015


  • 99,500 miles
The brake lights, hatch lock, wiper and other electrical components on the rear part of my Subaru 2009 Outback stopped working or working erratically. I checked the rubber boot containing the rear wiring harness for damage and discovered 13 out of 14 wires were either completely broken, or the insulation was worn, exposing bare conductor. In addition to the rear electrical issues, I replaced the bulbs for the headlights at least four times in a two year period. The am channel on my radio no longer receives signals. The rear electrical problems are causing a safety hazard due to the brake/tail lights not functioning, or the rear windshield wiper not working. Subaru is not responsive to this design flaw.

- Affton, MO, USA

problem #8

Aug 082015


  • 38,000 miles
When it rained dash lights come on would not go out when turned car on for a few days next rain went to check car when started lights came on then all went out and a loud noise and fire under hood

- Olive Branch, MS, USA

problem #7

Feb 042014


  • 72,290 miles


When locking the vehicle, the rear lift gate will not lock. Subaru dealership found a broken wire leading to the rear lift gate actuator, and fixed. June 2015, problem occurring again. Just looked, and wire was broken again (found by removing passenger side rubber boot covering wires between lift gate and body). Will try to fix myself, this time.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

problem #6

Jan 162012


  • 35,251 miles
Problem 1: experienced rear wiper (station wagon) not working. Car still under warranty, took it to the dealer and was told the wiring harness that goes through the hinge area was broken. It was repaired. Now the car has 72,000 miles and I am having rear wiper problems again as well as the rear door not locking. Wires frayed and broken again. This is a known issue both with Subaru and on the forums on the web. This is a poor design and possibly dangerous as it can cause the rear lights to fail. Failure time frame was almost double mileage from the previous failure. (35,251 - 72,000). Problem 2: air bag light keeps coming on. Have had it to the mechanic several times to be checked out and reset. This is also a known problem with Subaru and on the web forums. This is a serious safety issue as the air bags could fail to deploy. Subaru may say the airbags are a "secondary" safety feature, but to me they are extremely important. Airbag deployment can be the difference between life and death in an accident. Please investigate!

- Sisters, OR, USA

problem #5

Nov 012014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 56,789 miles
"air bag" warning light in the instrument panel (combination meter) is on. The airbag light has come on since it has been cold out. It keeps on every cold day. It is a safety issue and if possibly not deploying the SRS to protect driver and passenger in a collision. This problem was reported by many drivers of Subaru, but Subaru company is still no response.

- Cheswick, PA, USA

problem #4

Feb 022014


  • 101,000 miles
09 Outback was blowing fuses on the door lock circuit. Put in a new fuse and it would blow in a few days, often when car washed or driven in rain (or perhaps when rear hatch operated). Last replacement fuse has held for a few weeks now, through summer. Then the rear wiper stopped working. Saw this video and then pulled the wiring boot connecting hatch with body (to right of hatch hinges) and sure enough four wires are snapped right where video shows - at bottom of right boot: Https://www.youtube.com/watch?V=amekptvgmhs.

- Wausau, WI, USA

problem #3

Apr 012014


  • miles


2009 Subaru Outback. Consumer writes in regards to vehicle shuts down while driving. The consumer believed the vehicle shutting down, was the result of a faulty ignition.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #2

May 152009

Outback 4-cyl

  • miles
The headlights on this vehicle are grossly inadequate when using lower beams. I have contacted Subaru and was told that there is no problem. I contacted the local dealer and was informed that they are aware of the problem, but nothing can be done - it is a Subaru engineering decision to have that 'quality' of headlight.

- Traverse City, MI, USA

problem #1

Jun 082013

Outback 4-cyl

  • 48,000 miles
Started my car at night to find out my headlights would not turn on, but the safely lights were still on. Upon further inspection, the brake lights and reverse lights would not work either. The lights above my rear license plate had been out for a couple of weeks also so I am not sure if that is related as well. Looked on-line to find out many other Subaru Outback owners had a similar problem and suggested looking at the harness that housed many electrical wires on the upper corners of the hatchback. Many of the wires were either broken or loose. I have read that because of its location, the wires become brittle and break because they are constantly being bent when you open and close the rear hatchback door. Took my car into the dealership and they had to resolder the wires and charged me $225 for the labor and parts needed. If I had to replace this, it would have cost me over $600 so the dealership discouraged me from doing this. I feel this should be covered by Subaru since it is due to bad design and performance and the service I had done does not guarantee that this will not happen again.

- Oakland, CA, USA

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