2012 Subaru Outback electrical NHTSA complaints: Electrical System

NHTSA — Electrical System Problems

CarComplaints.com Seal Of


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 3
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
39,884 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.

2012 Subaru Outback electrical problems

electrical problem

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2012 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #9

Nov 092016


  • 70,000 miles


The low beam headlamps are constantly burning out on my 2012 Subaru Outback. I have replaced the bulbs several times in the past two years, approximately every 3-6 months or 3,000-6,000 miles. One side burns out right after the other. I cannot say if the headlight bulbs burn out while driving or stationary; I drive mostly in daylight then notice the outage at night. Replacing the bulb involves removing the tire and having a mechanic or dealership perform the work. What should be an infrequent simple task is getting very expensive! I am primarily concerned about safety as the bulbs could easily both burn out while driving at night.

- Montclair, NJ, USA

problem #8

Sep 192016


  • 97,000 miles
Driving on interstate 95 the engine caught on fire and very quickly engolfed the entire car - bumper to bumper.

- Hrpswell, ME, USA

problem #7

Aug 122015


  • 20,125 miles
Car had fire at starter with lots of smoke coming from transmission and alternator.vehilce had been having shifting issues and traction from all wheel drive not working. I had vehicle taken to different dealers but no one was able to fix problem until the day car caught fire which told them which parts where at fault. My vehicle is truely a lemon, for it has been one problem after another for the past 3 years

- Staunton, VA, USA

problem #6

Apr 132011


  • 91,982 miles


While driving with cruise control engaged, suddenly the cruise control disengaged, the brake warning light and the ABS warning light came on. The required repair was only the forward oxygen sensor, a non-emergency repair. Yet cruise control and ABS were disabled, ABS being an important safety feature. I was told Subaru has purposely programed the car this way. Not only was I unable to make a decision as to the critical nature of the actual repair but had an important safety feature disabled unnecessarily.

- Duluth, MN, USA

problem #5

Jul 212014


  • 44,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Subaru Outback. When the vehicle was taken to the dealer for a routine inspection, the mechanic discovered that all four brakes were rusted and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was taken to three other mechanics who did not indicate that the brakes needed replacing. While driving at an unknown speed, the vehicle stalled and was towed to a mechanic. The mechanic stated that someone unplugged and misplaced the wiring under the hood and the clip was fractured. The contact was informed that the clip needed to be replaced and the wires re-adjusted. The vehicle was not repaired and the manufacturer was notified. The approximate failure mileage was 44,000. Updated 9/18/14 updated 02/12/2015

- Wolcott, VT, USA

problem #4

Mar 032014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 29,000 miles
I was driving into work on the morning of 3/3/14 when I notice a smoke/burning odor. I discounted it but kept alert waiting for a engine light to come on. It became evident that it was from my Outback. I got the car parked. Shortly after flames erupted from underneath the hood. I was able to reach a fire extinguisher and put the fire out. Based on conversations with fire department and insurance investigators it appears that the source was from wind shield wiper motor.

- Spokane, WA, USA

problem #3

Mar 282013

Outback 6-cyl

  • 1,800 miles


Update I took the 2012 Subaru Outback to the dealer, about the key fob not working in a certain area. Never had a problem with the key fob until recently. The key fob will not work in one particular area where it did work before with no problem. I took the car to the dealer for evaluation and this person said he was with Subaru corporate and he informed on April 16 2013, that rfid interference does happen with these vehicles and there is nothing they can do. He informed me that though the key fob may not work in one area. This is crazy, never heard that Subaru cars should be subject to rfid interference. Though this does happen according corporate rep at the dealership. So now my Subaru Outback 2012 is now subjected to rfid interference and the corporate rep says there is nothing they can do. This is a safety issue.

- Willoughby, OH, USA

problem #2

Apr 092013

Outback 6-cyl

  • 1,300 miles
Radio frequency interference is affecting the security system on the car. Imagine if the rfid interference could affect steering and braking controls, this is just the start. The key fab does not work in certain area, and you have to manually unlock the car which sets off the security system. We have tried two different key fabs and they work in many areas but when standing right next to the car in a certain area the doors will not unlock, and or lock. This is a safety issue this seriously needs to be addressed with Subaru. We are taking the car to the dealership to have the keys reprogrammed, but it is very worrisome to know that rfid interference is affecting the security feature on the car which becomes a safety issue, if the keys do not work, and you are stranded outside this is not safe. The security feature was built in during production from Subaru. This could lead to another massive recall like Toyota, Subaru engineers need to ensure measures are in place as not to allow rfid interference happen in their vehicles. The dealer has not encountered this issue. We will see if this gets fixed.

- Willoughby, OH, USA

problem #1

Jul 192012

Outback 4-cyl

  • 3,750 miles
In early December of 2011 my wife and I purchased a 2012 Subaru Outback with a 4 cylinder engine, cvt transmission. We had to wait a day for our Outback because it was being repaired do to a brake system recall. Ever since purchasing the Outback we have had a serious issue when using the paddle shifters to slow down for a stop. When the tach slows to about 1100 RPM in first or second gear the engine then accelerates to up to 2500 RPM, slowing down and then speeding up again then repeating the cycle over even if you apply the brakes. Sometimes it would just run at 2500 RPM until you braked to a stop. I took the Outback to our dealer and the Subaru service advisor was very surprised when I drove it to demonstrate the very serious issue. It did exactly as I have described and even stayed at 2500 RPM. The service advisor and who I presume was the overall manager of the dealership took it for a drive without me. When they returned I was told that the way it operated was the way it was supposed to operate because of the engine needing to be more environmentally friendly. I stated I did not really believe that excuse and left. Since that first visit, the Outback has started doing the very serious acceleration issue also in automatic drive at low speeds. I returned on July 19, 2012 to get my first service done. I left the car for the service and tested an exact (except for color) 2012 Outback. This Outback had none of the very serious acceleration issues that my Outback has. When returning to pickup my Outback I told the service advisor of this outcome and he stated I would have to contact Subaru of America to elevate the issue. Respond as soon as possible as to where I can take the Outback for repair of this very serious acceleration issue. My wife and I will be traveling via the Outback very soon and need this very serious issue resolved before we leave.

- Lampe, MO, USA

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