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-   -   ABS light is ON and rear break lights stay ON (

zxj24 09-19-2008 12:32 PM

ABS light is ON and rear brake lights stay ON

I am looking for help on resolution to my problem. I have Subaru Outback Ltd 2001, 75K miles. Around three days ago the ABS indicator came ON and would stay on ever time I drive. Just yesterday I have been told that my brake lights stay also ON. I don’t know what is going on. When I press on brake pedal the brake lights illuminate brighter, I am guessing the brake pedal switch must be working.

I tried to read codes with Kragen's ODBII code reader but shows zero codes.


Bimmer 09-19-2008 01:09 PM

I don't know, but since nobody else is responding, I'll take a stab...

Your OBDII reader is only for the ECM, not the ABS. It won't help you.

1. Make sure that your brake lights are working, or not. If they're on all the time, then there's not only probably some connection to the ABS problem (I don't believe in coincidences), but you should also STOP driving the car in this condition!

2. Disconnect the battery. If the ABS system really has a fault, then the light will come back on once you drive it some more. If it's just ghosts in the machine, then this might solve your problem.

3. I think that there's a trouble-shooting guide for the ABS in the FSM. You'll have to check the sensors at every corner, etc. etc. etc.

4. If all else fails, take it to the stealership, or a good independent shop which works specifically on Subarus. They should have a special diagnostic tool that can read the fault codes from the ABS.

Good luck,


zxj24 09-19-2008 01:25 PM

OK, I will follow your advice and get post the results here tomorrow.

zxj24 09-19-2008 04:55 PM

Ok, I disconnected the battery but it did not reset the ABS light. It is still ON. Regarding the brake lights I found out the following. When I turn off the light, all lights are off and brake lights are working only when I step on the brake pedal. When I turn the parking lights ON, the rear window stop light turns ON. that happens also when I have the lights On, the rear window brake light is ON. Brake lights illuminate brighter when I press on the brake pedal.

ABS dashboard's indicator is ON. I don't think these two things are correlated but both appeared in the past few days.

Bimmer 09-19-2008 06:02 PM

I teach writing. Forgive the spelling lesson:

To Brake/Brakes: to slow down your car, something that slows your car down. "The brakes don't work." "He brakes hard before turning sharply."

To Break: to make something not work anymore. "He breaks a glass every time he does the dishes." "Subaru ABS systems don't usually break down."

This is weird, and I'm basically clueless. Before you go to a mechanic, do some basic diagnostics:

Check the electrical system to figure out what's wrong with your brake lights. This might be something simple.

Troubleshoot the ABS system, as the FSM recommends.

And search here and and nasioc (make sure you spell "brake" correctly).

Good luck,


Blacky 09-19-2008 07:39 PM

Come on now, give the guy a brake.;)

zxj24 09-19-2008 08:07 PM

It is not a big of a deal, I am not upset. I appreciate the language correction. In fact English is my second language. The problem is that spell checkers only correct misspelled words as I wish they were checking for the proper words too, but hey.... spell checkers are not intelligent yet. :)

tirolerpeter 09-19-2008 08:47 PM

Electrical Gremlins

Originally posted by zxj24
It is not a big of a deal, I am not upset. I appreciate the language correction. In fact English is my second language. The problem is that spell checkers only correct misspelled words as I wish they were checking for the proper words too, but hey.... spell checkers are not intelligent yet. :)
Don't worry about it. The vast majority of "native speakers of English" display an astonishing lack of proficiency themselves. I taught a foreign language to American students for many years and the lack of knowledge about their own language frequently hampered their progress. Spelling aside, their grasp of grammar was pitiful. BTW, English is not my native language either.

In regard to your electrical gremlins; check every bulb in your lighting system to make sure none are burned out. I have owned cars that exhibited very strange electrical symptoms when certain bulbs were not functioning. I am new to Subaru and have limited experience with their systems. Good luck.

Bimmer 09-19-2008 09:04 PM

As somebody who teaches at the university-level, I'm constantly disappointed by the my students' lackiadaisical writing skills (or exhibition of a lack thereof), and these are supposedly "above average" people. I do what I can to make them improve...

Your English is wonderful. I speak German at home (my wife is German). I'm brushing up my French (again), and I'm constantly reminded how difficult it is to learn a truly foreign language.

Seriously, if you're searching this site or the Factory Service Manauls (FSMs), then you need to make sure that you're searching "brake" and not "break."

Otherwise, Tiroler is right, you should check ALL the bulbs. In any case, there's something seriously wrong if your brake light is coming on with your running lights.
I still suspect that the brake light being on all the time and the ABS warning light being on are related.

Good luck,


zxj24 09-19-2008 09:12 PM

OK, I think the car has a serious electrical problem. On my way home the ABS indicator was off all the time, although front lights were ON despite they are set to be off. I parked the car on a driveway and set the hand brake and noticed that when I pull the hand brake the front lights go off as they should stay off. If I release the hand brake the front, ONLY front lights are ON.

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