2011 Subaru Outback lights NHTSA complaints: Exterior Lighting

NHTSA — Exterior Lighting Problems

2011 Subaru Outback (Page 3 of 5)


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
34,999 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 lights problems

lights problem

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2011 Subaru Outback Owner Comments (Page 3 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #47

Feb 202012


  • miles


The headlights and tail lights have failed (burned out) multiple times in the 4 years of owning the vehicle. Some within 3 months of being replaced other might last 8 months to a year. I am wondering if this is a wiring issue causing such short bulb life.

- Nashville, TN, USA

problem #46

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

problem #45

Jun 212014


  • 65,000 miles
I have a 2011 Subaru Outback great car the problem is I'm changing a low beam bulb every 6 to 8 months. My wife has a 2006 legacy wagon and I've only had 1 bulb go out. I called my Subaru dealership I was told it was because I have running lights on the car. I told him I have running lights on my 06 legacy and don't have that problem. That was the end of our conversation. Maybe I'll call Subaru in NJ. Very helpful group. I worked with them when I had head gasket issues.

- Bristol, CT, USA

problem #44

Mar 042013


  • miles


I have had the car since August 2010 and the low light beams keep burning out. I have had to replace one or the other three times now. This time the new bulb lasted less than a year. And last year I also had to replace one of the high beams. I have never owned a car that needed headlights replaced so often (actually I've never had to replace a headlight on any other vehicle I've owned). Also, I have to bring it to a dealer every time this needs to be done because it's too difficult to change myself. It's very inconvenient. There are many other people who have the same complaint so it leads me to think it's a fault that should be addressed. Other than this, I love my car!

- East Moriches, NY, USA

problem #43

Oct 222014


  • 69,500 miles
Since the vehicle was purchased in 2011 we have lost both day time running lights, one tail light and the driver side head light twice. The driver side headlight issue happened within three months. This seems to only happen in cold weather (teens and twenties). We have received inspection tickets for this issue from the police. Looking on line there are several people complaining about headlight blowing very quickly. Also, Subaru has a very poor design for allowing owners to replace their own headlights. You have to take it to the dealership where the inner fender well has to be removed and then it is a very tight space to reach the headlight to replace it. This can get very expensive to the consumer as well as being a huge safety issue.

- Laurel, MD, USA

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problem #42

Sep 102014


  • 41,000 miles
The airbag warning lite on the passenger side came on and stayed on for several minutes. After several trips the lite came on again and has stayed on. The result is that the bag is not able to deploy if there is any type of accident that involves the front end. This is very concerning to my family, I try to avoid anyone from riding in the front passenger seat.

- Fair Oaks, CA, USA

problem #41

Jun 172013


  • 45,000 miles


After owning this vehicle barely 2 years, the 1st headlight (driver side) bulb blew out. To replace it at the dealership was $90 due to the difficulty of reaching the bulb housing - so I was told. Then about 3-4 months later the other headlight (passenger side) went out. Then about 6 months later the rear light bulb went out. Around 2 months ago (12/20/2014) the driver side head light went out again and then passenger side went out last Friday (1/17/2015). This is a great vehicle overall, but I have never owned a vehicle that I'm constantly replacing headlights (front or rear). This is very annoying, expensive and dangerous.

- Randallstown, MD, USA

problem #40

Dec 162014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
I own two 2011 Outbacks and each of them are consuming low beam headlights with at least 4 bulbs changed in under 50000 miles. I have filed a similar report for the other 2011 Subaru Outback I own and consider this issue serious based on the lack of life of the part regardless the type of bulb replaced. My previous 2003 Outback never had a bulb changed in it, yet this vehicle is plagued with bulb issues and costs.

- North Royalton, OH, USA

problem #39

Dec 162014


  • 75,000 miles
I have had to change the low beam headlight bulbs at least 3 or 4 times on this Outback based on them burning out prematurely. I owned a 2003 Outback that never had the headlights changed, and this is happening too frequently and is occurring on both 2011 Outbacks I own. The most recent light failure was last night as the car started. The first failed while under warranty and was replaced by the dealer, and the second one failed with 100 miles out of warranty and was not replaced by the dealer. This is an issue that needs to be addressed.

- North Royalton, OH, USA

problem #38

Dec 012013


  • 40,000 miles
This is a low beam headlight issue. I have replaced close to 6-8 low beam headlights over a year and half. No one can find the answer and Subaru doesn't deem it to be a safety issue, although I disagree. I have had my battery tested for power surges and this is not happening. I've seen countless other postings from 2011 Subaru owners and nothing is being done. The low beams are blowing and the projection of the light is not adequate for night time driving. Something has to be done. I've also had a situation where both high beam lights blew out at the same time. That only happened once. The replacement costs are adding up because the low beam light is impossible to do without being put on a lift at the garage. Thank you.

- Lehighton, PA, USA

problem #37

Dec 022013


  • miles


Hello, my front headlights went out after having the vehicle for 3 years, I replaced them and then within the year of replacing, the one was burnt out again. I think there is a problem since I'll have replaced the light 3 times within 4 years. This is especially a pain since you have to take the tire off to replace a lightbulb.

- Anchorage, AK, USA

problem #36

Dec 012014


  • 40,000 miles
This car is subject to premature and frequent headlight burn out. For example, both headlamps were replaced by dealer in late January 2014. They both are burned out by December 2014, creating a very unsafe situation.

- Granville, OH, USA

problem #35

Dec 022014


  • 42,000 miles
We have had to replace both front headlights multiple times since we bought our Outback. It seems my wife is driving with one headlight way too often. I have researched this problem and we are not alone. Online I have found hundreds of other people with the same problem. I am convinced that this is a safety problem that needs to be addressed by Subaru not to mention it's a huge financial burden since access to these bulbs is difficult even for repair shops.

- Towson, MD, USA

problem #34

Feb 222012


  • 20,000 miles
Headlamps (either side) tend to go out yearly. This is ridiculous! in addition, in order to change them out yourself, you need to have little girl hands. Not only is this a nuisance, but a safety issue. I can barely see with one lamp out and there are deer everywhere...right now it's freezing in denver and I do not have access to a heated garage to fiddle with this for an hour. Subaru needs to get on their horse and address this wiring issue. It is a wiring issue. No other explanation!

- Castle Rock, CO, USA

problem #33

Nov 032014


  • 105,000 miles
This vehicle buns out a set of headlights each year.

- Siren, WI, USA

problem #32

Oct 032011


  • 5,000 miles
Over the span of 4 years owning my Subaru Outback, I have had to replace the same headlight twice, as well as a parking light and a tail light. The headlights are impossible to reach unless you are a mechanic. My understanding is that this is a common issue with Subaru Outback. I would like Subaru to acknowledge and fix this costly and potentially dangerous problem.

- Fairbanks, AK, USA

problem #31

Mar 142012


  • miles
The first time the headlight went out was during the cold months two years ago and it was on the driver's side. A year later (2013), the passenger's side headlight went out. I just replaced the driver's side headlight again on November 2, 2014. I have never had a vehicle, nor heard of anyone I know having a vehicle, that requires annual headlight replacements.

- Bowling Green, KY, USA

problem #30

Jul 202011


  • 15,345 miles
After owning this car for less than one year, I had to change the left headlamp. I do my own work and have never had as much trouble with changing a bulb than I have with this Outback. I had no idea that this would become a "routine" service, alternating from left to right headlamp(s). After changing out the 5th one (3 left headlamps & 2 right headlamps) I phoned the dealer to see if there had been a recall, tsb or if other owners of this Outback had the same trouble. I was told they could fix the problem at my cost. I was told they knew of a problem however there was no tsb issued and no recall for this issue. Just yesterday (26-Oct-2014) I have discovered the 3rd headlamp on the right side is out again (right on "schedule"). I don't remember how many low beam vs. High beam bulbs I have changed but know I have also changed out the fog light on the left side once.

- Moravia, NY, USA

problem #29

Sep 262014


  • 79,000 miles
Car was just inspected Sept 2014. Three light bulbs replaced. Prior to this, we have been replacing lightbulbs every few months. It is expensive because we cannot change the front lights ourselves....it had to go into the shop. We actually now store bulbs in the glove box because the headlights burn out so often. Our mechanic said Subaru has a problem with its wiring harness. Subaru needs to step up and address this as I see it is a common complaint here.

- Downingtown, PA, USA

problem #28

Sep 302010


  • 1,100 miles
Our 2011 Subaru Outback was purchased new in summer 2010 at Continental motors, anchorage, Alaska. The driver's side low-beam erratically dimmed and after three service requests over the next two years the dealer finally agreed that my complaint was valid and repaired the problem. The driver's side headlights have worked continuously since. Last summer (2013) the pax-side low-beam died and the bulb was replaced. This summer it died again and is in the shop today for replacement (as is the small marker light in the same unit). I asked the service rep if this is a chronic Subaru problem and he acknowledged that it is, especially in the lower 48. According to him the dealer(s) have submitted complaints to the manufacturer requesting a "fix" or redesign of the electrical circuitry. It certainly seems to warrant a recall and repair.

- Anchorage, AK, USA

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