2011 Subaru Outback electrical NHTSA complaints: Electrical System

NHTSA — Electrical System Problems

2011 Subaru Outback (Page 1 of 2)


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
44,741 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.

2011 Subaru Outback electrical problems

electrical problem

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2011 Subaru Outback Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #39

Jan 082017


  • miles


My headlights have gone out 6 times! the last time I switched to an led system and now it has blown my rf headlight in 6 months! led it supposed to last longer! I definitely have some kind of electrical issue!

- Trooper, PA, USA

problem #38

Dec 182016


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owned a 2011 Subaru Outback. While driving approximately 30 mph, the steering lost power without warning. The vehicle was pulled to the side of the road and smoke appeared underneath the hood. The contact quickly exited the vehicle. Within a couple of minutes, the vehicle became engulfed in flames and was destroyed. A police report was filed. The fire department arrived and extinguished the fire. There were no injuries sustained. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 80,000.

- Menands, NY, USA

problem #37

Oct 312016


  • 72,000 miles
Ongoing failure of both passenger and driver side headlamps. Same complaint that others have documented that this is an ongoing issue and the headlamps are difficult to replace. Serious safety hazard and can also lead to traffic violations. Subaru needs to provide a fix, not just a one-time reimbursement of replacement headlamps.

- Centennial, CO, USA

problem #36

Aug 052016


  • 62,000 miles


Frequent replacement of low beam bulbs. Not easy to replace and Subaru service best equipped to do procedure. Labor costs at various dealers for this service widely vary and can increase without reason. Subaru of America recently sent out letter saying warranty on bulbs has been extended (not that there is issue with electrical system). Soa will replace or refund, however, this does not solve the issue of continued (perceived) deficiency in the lighting system overall and refund requirements are very stringent per the letter they sent. I consider this issue as a safety defect. We have both an Outback and legacy that are both affected by this. Have owned legacy since new and replaced both bulbs four times since taking ownership. Have tried other brand bulbs to no better result (hence my belief it is electrical system). Per one of the service advisors I've spoken to in the past, the system is designed such that when one bulb burns out, more current flows to the one bulb still working and will burn it out prematurely (furthering my belief that it is a safety issue). They said this in recommending replacement of both bulbs at once. Would like to see recall or greater effort on soa's part.

- Wayne, PA, USA

problem #35

Jul 092016


  • 59,500 miles
I have replaced the passenger side low beam lights multiple times also when I started the car the brake light, traction control light, and multiple other lights started blinking while driving. This scared me very much. The owners manual seemed to imply brake failure and to stop immediately, which I did. Called aaa and they towed my car to thoroughbred transmission in laurel. They checked the codes and nothing made sense to them. The called Subaru and described the problem ans Subaru said it was a software problem and it needed to up upgraded. Since I had an extended warranty with Subaru I took the car to them. I also took the Subaru wvu31 bulletin with me. Subaru said they did not see the codes and even though I took the thoroughbred documentation with me they refused to upgrade the software. It is clear that Subaru was not interested in fixing the issue, refused to accept the warranty and charged me $70. So next time this does the same thing and I keep driving I may in fact have a serious problem but not know it. I need Subaru to install the software upgrade.

- Columbia, MD, USA

problem #34

Mar 312016


  • 38,000 miles
Started vehicle and center counsel would not light up. Headlights and fog lights worked and electric windows were ok. Second incident: Same as first - also heard sound in dash that acted like a loose wire or stripped wire that had touched metal and shorted out. Latter on after resting, the electrical came back to the counsel.

- Santa Clara, CA, USA

problem #33

Nov 202015


  • 70,000 miles


Ascended steep hill and stopped at stop sign. Processed to drive through intersection uphill. All lights on dash began to flicker on and off and car stalled out going down the road. After this occurred, I lost all electrical functions of car. I was not able to restart car, place car into park, apply emergency brake, turn on hazard lights, and the power brakes and steering were not present. I spent 5-7 minutes trying to restart the car and trying to figure out a way to stabilize the car since I was currently going down a steep hill without anyway of stabilizing it. After this time, smoke began coming out from under the hood. I had to coast car down hill into busy intersection and turn it onto next road in order to find a flat area to stabilize car so I could get out of it. When I got out, I began seeing flames drop down from front driver side of engine area. The car quickly caught on fire and most of the engine burnt out before flames were extinguished. The fire appeared to start in computer area. This car was bought new and have had no previous problems with the car, except we have had to change the low beam headlight bulbs several times while owning it. After I witnessed my car catch on fire and afterwards discovered Subaru has a service bulletin for the torque converter, I believe the headlight issue and the torque converter issues are all connected. I believe what happened to my car is the torque converter failed that day causing an over voltage/over draw of power that was so bad it took out my computer unit, I then believe the battery continued to feed the computer unit, in its unresponsive state, until it caught on fire. The fire inspector told me sometimes bulbs will burnt out due to an over voltage situation. Something is definitely overdrawing power and it needs to be looked into because it endangers every driver, passenger, and anyone around these cars.

- Lancaster, OH, USA

problem #32

Jan 132016


  • 90,000 miles
Have owned the vehicle since new. After one year of use began having trouble with low beam headlights burning out. At this time I have replaced at both sides at least 5 times. I do not have this amount of trouble with any other vehicles. I always use gloves when replacing the lights. Replacing the bulbs is not easy as you must go through the wheel well. This can lead to delay on replacing the bulb. Given that they fail frequently, my concern is they will both fail at the same time. I am not having this issue with the high beams.

- Anderson, SC, USA

problem #31

Jan 012016


  • 80,000 miles
Vehicle has repeated loss of lighting due to frequent headlight bulb failure. The low beam light bulbs have suffered electrical failure 3 times in the last 1.5 years. Both sides of the vehicle have been affected each time at the same time. The bulbs fail in the same manner each time, in which the filament breaks off inside the bulb. This failure is typical of excessive voltages being applied to the bulb, and not of "normal wear." All 3 replacements, the brand of bulb was changed to determine if a faulty bulb was made. However the issue persists. Continued failure could result in an accident should the unpredictable failure occur at night. Please investigate as this failure appears to be common among many owners.

- Saint Paul, MN, USA

problem #30

Nov 032015


  • 75,000 miles
Headlights continue to burnout

- Woodridge, IL, USA

problem #29

Sep 012015


  • 53,000 miles


Driver's side headlight bulb burned out three times in three weeks, harness apparently needs to be replaced. Common problem on legacy wagons and vehicle is out of warranty. Lots of deer around here, so two headlights are a safety item for sure.

- Lewiston, ID, USA

problem #28

Sep 252015


  • 70,000 miles
This vehicle must have an electrical problem. Since this auto was purchased I have experienced low beam head light failure four time...two were covered under warranty. The taillights/stop have been replaced three times. Lights are an essential part of safety on the road. Subaru has a problem which they have not come up with any remedial help for the consumer.

- Valparaiso, IN, USA

problem #27

Sep 242015


  • miles
I purchased the car (2011 Outback) new in October of 2011. Since then headlights have been replaced at least 4 times and now (September 2015) other exterior lights are starting to fail. It appears this is a common problem. I replaced the driver's side headlight less than a month ago and it is already burned out again. This is a repeated problem and it seems that we're getting less and less life out of the headlights as time goes on. The Subaru dealer seems to think this is just an effect of driving with the headlights on (what am I supposed to do, drive without light?) and not an actual problem with the car.

- Damascus, MD, USA

problem #26

Sep 022015


  • 44,620 miles
The battery was not producing power after 4 yrs. Service. Replaced battery without any complications other than the fact that the electronic parking brake is nonfunctional. Search for error codes using obdii was non-productive. A brake should work whenever needed, not when the computer (or other peripheral device) decides when it should work. The electric parking brake should be eliminated from automobile design. This should be a high priority safety concern as property and people are at risk from non-functional brakes.

- Incline Village, NV, USA

problem #25

Jul 112015


  • 125,000 miles
We were coming home from a fireworks display at night and my son told me to turn on my lights which already had done, and the low beams on both sides and the marker lights didn't work. I tried turning switch to all positions and they still didn't come on. The high beams work okay and turn signals front and back & brake lights work. We drove home with the fog lights which still work. We need the car to go on vacation and the dealer can't fix it right away as well as what it will cost there or if I have to have some else fix it. It's definitely a safety issue because the road we drive home on has very little if any lighting and there are twists and turns and you could easily drive into a stone outcropping or into he water at any point. I had my wife and two young nephews with us as well. I checked the lights again to make sure what ones were out, I checked the fuses as well to see if something had blown and they were okay.there have been multiple complaints on this and other websites about the Subaru lights. With all the recalls of every vehicles of every 'description, the whole auto industry is totally out of control and needs to be reigned in, it's a huge safety and overall quality issue not to mention the millions of work hours and time lost by tens of thousands of people having to deal with problem

- Branford, CT, USA

problem #24

Jun 192015


  • 60,000 miles
My 2011 Subaru Outback has had a continue problem with light bulbs(headlight - brake light - parking lights) burning out. This model does not have a diagnostic light telling you when a light has burned out. And when I asked the Subaru service rep about the diagnostic light, he said that even the 2015 models don't have one. At my 60K service, the Subaru service dept. Had to replace a parking light. Two weeks later, I had to bring the car back in to have them replace a brake light and another parking light. In the past, I've had to replace a headlight and parking light. I feel this is a dangerous situation since I have no warning when these lights burn out, in particular my brake lights. When I bring the car for service, I have to pay for the bulb replacement. I feel that Subaru needs to resolve this issue, and add a diagnostic light to all there models.

- Hamden, CT, USA

problem #23

May 102015


  • 100,000 miles
Driving on highway at approx. 65 miles per hour. Heard loud clicking and engine lost power. I was just able to get off the highway without being hit by others. There was no warning lights or anything before this happened. The car has received regular checkups/oil changes and was not due for another oil change yet.

- Randolph, VT, USA

problem #22

May 062013


  • 30,000 miles
Low beam headlights keep burning out both sides. Lights burn out independently of each other. So far have replaced lights 3 times 6 in total. Problem reported as an issue in Subaru forumn

- Sleepy Hollow, NY, USA

problem #21

Mar 052015


  • 59,000 miles
Merging and accelerating onto interstate and engine cut out for approx 3 seconds with no engine power. Check engine lights illuminated and stayed lit. Drove ok after that. This is a repeat of the same problem that occurred three different times last year. Dealer advised both then and now that an electrical harness connector was working itself loose and they will tighten it. No assurances given that it won't re-occur at an inconvenient time such as a rail crossing or when a semi is bearing down on me.

- Clifton Park, NY, USA

problem #20

Oct 162013


  • 44,760 miles
Purchased this car 7/2011. No problem with exterior headlights until about one year after purchase. Highbeams are fine. Never had to replace them. Running lights have never had an issue. Around 11/2012, regular headlights(both bulbs in the headlight housing )have been repeatedly replaced. In Oct 2013, both bulbs on driver side were replaced. Went several weeks later for my state safety sticker, the small bulb needed to be replaced on the driver side. Then in Feb 2014, the large bulb on the driver side burnt out and was replaced. May 2014, both lights on the passenger side where out. Replaced them. These needed to be done at a garage each time. Jan 2015, both replaced on the passenger side.now, Feb 12, 2015 and again, both on the passenger side are out, and need replacing. Going to try more heavy duty bulbs. Husband has learned how to replace the bulbs through the wheel well. I have paperwork for at least 7- 8 bulbs in 3 1/2 yrs needing replacement. Think Subaru needs to acknowledge a problem in exterior lights in the Subaru 2011.

- Agawam, MA, USA

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