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Old 09-20-2011, 10:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Dome Light Won't Turn Off

Hello - new owner ('05 OB Limited) and first post. Tryin' to get through some minor issues with the car. I searched, but couldn't find this specific issue.

My dome light, when placed in the middle position, will not turn off. Not with the doors closed or when I put the key in the ignition. It'll turn on/off in the manual positions. Map lights work fine, if that means anything.

Any ideas? Thanks...
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:26 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The light is controlled by by some kind of electronic module, not a simple switch, as evidenced by the way it fades out when the doors are closed. If your instrument cluster shows all of the doors closed, then I would suspect that the module has failed. Depending upon what else that module does, it could be an expensive component. If the dash shows a door open, then a door switch is the culprit.
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Old 09-21-2011, 08:20 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Yes, the "door open" warning lights in the instrument panel can be a great help in diagnosing this.

The body integrated unit, which is the module that slowly turns the light off, is not prone to failure (although I guess it can happen).

The switch has three positions, ON, OFF, and door. "Door" is the middle position (at least, on my 07), but have you checked the other two to see if the light responds to the opening and closing of the doors? If this is a problem that was there when you bought the car, I wouldn't discount the possibility that the previous owner(s) did some wiring modifications that is causing the light to stay on, or there's a short to ground in the wire between the dome light switch and the control module.

When the driver's door is opened, in addition to the dome light, the ignition switch area on the steering column should be lit by a red ring. When the door is closed (before the key is inserted) the dome light will (normally) dim to about 50% and then, about 10-15 seconds later, fade out. The red ring around the ignition switch should go out at the same time (after 10-15 seconds). If the red ring light does eventually go out, but not the dome light, it could suggest that the BIU light control is working. In which case, I'd look for a problem elsewhere before targeting the BIU.

Last edited by plain OM; 09-21-2011 at 08:53 AM. Reason: add tests
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Old 09-21-2011, 08:29 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks very much for the comments and suggestions. The instrument cluster does indicate when doors are open or closed, so I'll assume that particular module is not the culprit.

This condition has existed since I bought the car, which was this past Monday. While not out of the realm of possibility, I'd be surprised if the previous owner played around with the wiring as there's nothing done to this car from a modification/enhancement standpoint, other than tinted windows.

I noticed, in other threads, that the door switch can be problematic. I'll research the switch more this evening, but if I can be your typical car forum noob... where's this switch located and can it be repaired/replaced without needing an entire afternoon and a twelve-pack of beer?

Thanks again...
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:23 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Check your light dimmer knob. If you have the dimmer turned all the way up, it leaves the dome light on all the time. Turn it down just a notch, and it will behave normally. I've had this one several cars from several makers.
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
If you have the dimmer turned all the way up, it leaves the dome light on all the time.
Not in the 3rd generation OBs, that I am aware of. It doesn't do it on my 07. The only way to turn the dome light on manually (other than by opening a door) is using the switch at the dome light.

Does the dimmer on your 3rd generation 2009 OB turn on the dome light?
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Startiger View Post
Check your light dimmer knob. If you have the dimmer turned all the way up, it leaves the dome light on all the time. Turn it down just a notch, and it will behave normally. I've had this one several cars from several makers.
Would have to agree with plain OM regarding the dimmer. My dome light is only controlled by the three-way switch. The only dimmer I have is the dial that controls how bright my instrument cluster lights are.

Thanks though... I'll entertain any and all comments/suggestions at this point.

I'm a long standing member of other car forums (have even moderated a couple), but this is the first Subaru I've owned. That relegates me to noob status here.
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Old 09-21-2011, 06:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
the door switch can be problematic. I'll research the switch more this evening,
The side door switches are located in the body pillars behind the doors; for the driver's door, look on the pillar that has the door latch striker -- the rectangular metal piece attached to the pillar that the door latch engages. There should be a small (about 1 inch diameter, 1/2 inch deep) accordian-like rubber boot an inch or two below, near the weatherstripping, facing outward. The switch is inside -- the rubber boot protects it from moisture. When the door is closed the switch is pressed in and is electrically open. When the door is open, the switch is able to push out against the boot, the contact closes, and the warning light for that door will show in the instrument panel. If you press in on the boot, the warning light should go out.

If the side door warning lights in the instrument panel go on and off according to the position of their respective doors (open, closed), then the side door switches are okay. The side door switches only signal to the BIU when a door is open; they don't actually connect to any lights. It's the BIU that then switches the lights.

How about the rear gate (hatch)? When the hatch is open does the "door open" warning that show the rear gate is open come on, and does it go out when it is closed?

Also, just want to make sure, again, that the dome light switch is in the "door" position and not mistakenly in the On position.

We'll get to the bottom of this . . . .
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plain OM View Post
The side door switches are located in the body pillars behind the doors; for the driver's door, look on the pillar that has the door latch striker -- the rectangular metal piece attached to the pillar that the door latch engages. There should be a small (about 1 inch diameter, 1/2 inch deep) accordian-like rubber boot an inch or two below, near the weatherstripping, facing outward. The switch is inside -- the rubber boot protects it from moisture. When the door is closed the switch is pressed in and is electrically open. When the door is open, the switch is able to push out against the boot, the contact closes, and the warning light for that door will show in the instrument panel. If you press in on the boot, the warning light should go out.

If the side door warning lights in the instrument panel go on and off according to the position of their respective doors (open, closed), then the side door switches are okay. The side door switches only signal to the BIU when a door is open; they don't actually connect to any lights. It's the BIU that then switches the lights.
Thanks... good to know. All four doors show up on the dash as either being opened or closed, so all normal there.

Quote:
How about the rear gate (hatch)? When the hatch is open does the "door open" warning that show the rear gate is open come on, and does it go out when it is closed?
The rear gate also shows up on the dash as being opened/closed.

Quote:
Also, just want to make sure, again, that the dome light switch is in the "door" position and not mistakenly in the On position.
While in the middle ("door") position, the light stays on and will not fade out. It will also illuminate in the "on" position and turn off in the "off" position... which is good.

Quote:
We'll get to the bottom of this . . . .
That'd be nice and I appreciate the assistance. I'm also battling an intermittent non-starting issue (much higher priority than dome lights).

Since I bought the car this past Monday, it's not started on me twice. The first time was after stopping for lunch, only 20 miles from the dealership I purchased it from. Then again tonight after picking up dinner on the way home from work. The car apparently doesn't like me stopping for food. My solution at the moment is to stop eating. I've searched the forum quite a bit tonight and I believe I'm going to try swapping out the starter solenoid contacts. I seem to be having similar issues as others that had contacts problems. Hopefully, that'll fix the issue as I've grown fond of eating.
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Old 09-22-2011, 08:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
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How many miles on the car, and any history on its previous life? Seems to me most of the starter solenoid contact issues were reported with older, high mileage cars. Is there any sort of "click" or "clunk" from the solenoid when the key is turned to start, or is the no apparent action at all?

Did the car come with any form of warranty? If it did, and it's just a week since you bought it, are the starting and the dome light issues possibly covered? Did you buy it from a Subaru dealer?

Given that the "door open" diagram in the instrument panel (shape of a car, with doors at an angle on the side or at the back) goes out when the side doors and rear gate are closed, the signals to the BIU from the door switches and the BIU's "interpretation" of them are okay.

In post #3 above, I mentioned a red ring light ("key illumination") around the ignition switch. This is also controlled by the BIU. Does the red ring turn on when the driver door is opened? Does it go out some time (10-15 seconds) after the driver door is closed, with no key in the switch, or does it stay on continuously? If it stays on, does it go out when the key is inserted into the switch (with all the doors closed)?
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