2009 Subaru Outback lights NHTSA complaints: Exterior Lighting

NHTSA — Exterior Lighting Problems

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hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
52,571 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 lights problems

lights problem

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2009 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #7

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 #6

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 #5

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 #4

Aug 102013


  • miles


The headlights on our Outback burn out frequently. We have had multiple different headlights burn out (at least 5) over the years that we've had the car. On each occurance the light burned out when the vehicle was started and not while driving. One time both headlights burned out simultaneously when starting the car and we had to drive back home from out of town with our brights on the entire time so we could see.

- Saint Paul, MN, USA

problem #3

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

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problem #2

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

problem #1

Jun 012009


  • 20,000 miles
The contact owns a 2009 Subaru Outback. The contact stated that he had difficulty seeing the road while driving at night with the low beam headlights on. The headlights failed to illuminate brightly enough to provide proper visibility of the roadway. An authorized dealer and the manufacturer were made aware of the failure and offered no assistance. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 20,000.

- Traverse City, MI, USA

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