The "Headlight ON indicator light" that is not. - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 11:34 AM Thread Starter
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The "Headlight ON indicator light" that is not.

An FYI for those that may not be aware. (searched around a bit but was unable to find another thread on this subject).

Was driving on the highway at dusk. The "Headlight on Indicator light" on the dash was illuminated (located just above the speedometer and as described on page 3-31 of the manual), so I assumed my headlights were on (reasonable assumption I thought). After about 20 minutes of driving and just prior to complete darkness, I realized that my headlights were not on.
My light control knob was in the position that apparently lights almost all exterior lights "except the headlights" (as described on page 3-49).
The symbol on the light control knob for this setting is the same symbol as the "Headlight on Indicator Light" on the dash.
I had to turn the dome light on to be able to view the position of the light control knob as the settings are not illuminated.

Am I missing something?

(A real headlight on indicator light would be nice.)

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 12:01 PM
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confirm the issue and consider submitting it at the NHTSA site.


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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 12:41 PM
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confirm the issue and consider submitting it at the NHTSA site.
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Originally Posted by valk97 View Post
. . .Am I missing something?

(A real headlight on indicator light would be nice.)
That dual-direction "Headlight indicator light" in the instrument panel has worked that way going back at least to 2005. It's the same on my 2007.

But on earlier models, such as mine, one of the headlights (low, or high, beam) is used, at reduced brightness, as the DRL, and are on whenever the car is being driven. The DRLs, while not full brightness, are still strong enough to illuminate the road ahead of the car. However, in some later models, perhaps your 2019, where LED strips are used for the DRLs, the effect is far less, so although other drivers can see the front of the car, there's nothing to really light up the road ahead. Looks as if the instrument panel design hasn't caught up to the exterior lighting design.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 07:00 PM
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I also have found Subaru (and other) vehicles having an “Auto” light setting to be problematic. The indicator lights are confusing (to me) and misleading. More than once I have assumed the lights were enabled in the Auto setting and they had for some reason slipped off. And I was driving at night or early morning with lights off except for the DRLs.

So I check now and then to make sure when the light is low but not dark enough to alert me otherwise. Has happened twice in the last two weeks.

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 07:16 PM
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I find when the switch is in the Auto position the headlights don't come early enough for my liking. On my 2015 the LED Parking Lights as we call them in Oz come on and the dash light is illuminated. When it gets darker the headlight then come on. I don't use it in Auto. I just turn my lights on when it starts to get darker than normal. This includes inclement weather or times of reduced visibility eg fog, dust or smoke which is law Victoria Australia.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-18-2019, 08:29 PM
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Funny that people have this much to complain about?

SO, you don't understand how the indicator lights work? Best thing to do is to complain to NHTSA?


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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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Funny that people have this much to complain about?

SO, you don't understand how the indicator lights work? Best thing to do is to complain to NHTSA?

ZedHead. Thank you for your valuable input...

The user manual clearly labels the dash light in question as the "Headlight On Indicator Light".
My conclusion, at the time: If the headlight on indicator light is on, the headlights should be on. Reasonable assumption I believe. Do you agree? If no, what does a dash light labeled "Headlight On Indicator Light" mean to you?

Now realize this is an error in the user manual and it may be beneficial to point this out to others so they do not make the same mistake. One of the purposes of this forum, or so I thought.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 12:50 PM
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ZedHead. Thank you for your valuable input...

The user manual clearly labels the dash light in question as the "Headlight On Indicator Light".
My conclusion, at the time: If the headlight on indicator light is on, the headlights should be on. Reasonable assumption I believe. Do you agree? If no, what does a dash light labeled "Headlight On Indicator Light" mean to you?

Now realize this is an error in the user manual and it may be beneficial to point this out to others so they do not make the same mistake. One of the purposes of this forum, or so I thought.
I do understand your concern for others making the same mistake.

However, notwithstanding "automatic" headlight operation, the Owners Manual does not actually label the "two sided" warning light icon as "headlights are on". (See attached, page 3-31)

Rather, it only indicates that the headlight switch is at either of its two operating (i.e., "on") positions, the first of which turns on the parking lights and interior controls, and the second retains all of the light of the first setting, plus the headlights (See attached, page 3-49).

Granted, it's unfortunate that Subaru uses that "two-sided" lights icon in the instrument panel for a dual purpose whereas the same icon on the headlight switch is uniquely for the parking lights.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 01:06 PM
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I do understand your concern for others making the same mistake.

However, notwithstanding "automatic" headlight operation, the Owners Manual does not actually label the "two sided" warning light icon as "headlights are on". (See attached, page 3-31)

Rather, it only indicates that the headlight switch is at either of its two operating (i.e., "on") positions, the first of which turns on the parking lights and interior controls, and the second retains all of the light of the first setting, plus the headlights (See attached, page 3-49).

Granted, it's unfortunate that Subaru uses that "two-sided" lights icon in the instrument panel for a dual purpose whereas the same icon on the headlight switch is uniquely for the parking lights.
Actually calling it a "HEADLIGHT INDICATOR LIGHT" would imply that it is a headlight on indicator, at least for most English speakers.

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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 01:27 PM
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Yes, more like "headlight switch indicator light".

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