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2002 Outback VDC H6
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Discussion Starter #1
My reverse lights in the rear trunk trim panel aren't getting power (not a bulb issue) on my 2000 Legacy GT. Same car as a 2000 Outback Sedan. Any ideas where/what to check?
 

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2008 Ford Escape XLS - 2002 Subaru Outback
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Wiring itself. Many feet of wiring from the front of the car to the back that could be cut.
 

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'00 Legacy OBW Ltd
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306 Posts
I would check the bulbs, fuse then the switch (easiest to difficult).
* Bulbs - self explanatory
* Fuse - I don't have it memorized but searched online for the fuse layouts. From the grainy picture it appears as the Back, Cruise Control and ABS are on the same circuit (assuming Back = backup lights). Do the other functions work? Cruise control is the easiest to check.
* Back up light switch - probably in the shifter mechanism in the center console or on the transmission. (I am out of time to search for you.)
 

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01 Outback H6 VDC, 97 GT wgn w/ ej22, 98 OBW w/ej22
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auto or manual trans?

maybe the neutral safety switch, or what ever they call it. it has a different name on manual trans than on auto trans. but it is the doodad on the trans that tells the car/ comp /lights that it is in reverse.

it is not uncommon to have trouble with this on the auto trans but usually it causes a no start problem. the car / trans does not know it is parkso it will not let the car start. not a for it to have a similar problem with reverse. maybe?
 

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If you've checked the back-up light bulbs for continuity or replaced them, what about the fuse? It should be #18 in the in-cabin fuse panel. Not sure of its location on the panel, but your Owners Manual should have a numbered diagram.

Is the transmission automatic or manual? If a manual, the back-up light switch is on the transmission; the switch could be bad.

It's not uncommon for a wire to break at the switch, or corrosion to build up, preventing a good contact at the connector.

Also, it's not unusual for the bulb sockets to corrode. The bulbs might be fine, but they might not be making a good electrical connection with the wiring.

I doubt the wiring is faulty. The only exceptions might be at the back-up light switch or where the wires have flex at the rear hatch or trunk hinges. Otherwise, wires, especially those in a harness, rarely fail.

The circuit is relatively simple. See attached.
 

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2002 Outback VDC H6
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431 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
If you've checked the back-up light bulbs for continuity or replaced them, what about the fuse? It should be #18 in the in-cabin fuse panel. Not sure of its location on the panel, but your Owners Manual should have a numbered diagram.

Is the transmission automatic or manual? If a manual, the back-up light switch is on the transmission; the switch could be bad.

It's not uncommon for a wire to break at the switch, or corrosion to build up, preventing a good contact at the connector.

Also, it's not unusual for the bulb sockets to corrode. The bulbs might be fine, but they might not be making a good electrical connection with the wiring.

I doubt the wiring is faulty. The only exceptions might be at the back-up light switch or where the wires have flex at the rear hatch or trunk hinges. Otherwise, wires, especially those in a harness, rarely fail.

The circuit is relatively simple. See attached.

Thanks all for the replies. It is a manual transmission
 

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2002 Outback VDC H6
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Discussion Starter #8
If you've checked the back-up light bulbs for continuity or replaced them, what about the fuse? It should be #18 in the in-cabin fuse panel. Not sure of its location on the panel, but your Owners Manual should have a numbered diagram.

Is the transmission automatic or manual? If a manual, the back-up light switch is on the transmission; the switch could be bad.

It's not uncommon for a wire to break at the switch, or corrosion to build up, preventing a good contact at the connector.

Also, it's not unusual for the bulb sockets to corrode. The bulbs might be fine, but they might not be making a good electrical connection with the wiring.

I doubt the wiring is faulty. The only exceptions might be at the back-up light switch or where the wires have flex at the rear hatch or trunk hinges. Otherwise, wires, especially those in a harness, rarely fail.

The circuit is relatively simple. See attached.
Not a fuse, next step is to check the switch
 

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1989 Subaru XT6, 1989 Subaru RX, 2004 Outback 3.0 SUS
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The wiring harness likes to break right where the trunk harness plugs into the main body harness. You'll find the wiring is connected to the trunk hinge on the passenger side. Follow it into the trunk until you find a plug. Seems to be a fairly common issue.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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yep the wiring around the trunk to body connections. take it all apart and find the broken wire in your trunk area. sometimes you have to give a gentle tug to the wires to seem them finally pull loose - they can be "cut" but appear fine without close inspection due to being taped and held in place by conduit.
 

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I vote for the neutral safety switch. I must be particularly unlucky, but I've had to replace 3 of them over my lifetime on various vehicles: Ford F150, Toyota Camry and Honda Odyssey. Two out of three times it only impacted the backup lights, once it also impacted other features.
 

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Just a note on terminology that could affect where one looks for the source of the problem. The "neutral safety switch" and the "back-up light switch" are two, distinct, switches. Neither has any connection to the other's circuit. The back-up light switch, or the wiring to it, could be the problem here, but not the NSS.
 

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2002 Outback VDC H6
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Discussion Starter #13
Bump from the dead. I finally tested for continuity. blubs/sockets are fine, nothing coming to them. How would I find/test the back up light switch to narrow it down to the wiring?
 

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Been a while . . .

The switch should be on the left side of the transmission. There's two switches on that same side --- the more forward one is the back-up light switch. See attached diagram.

With the ignition key at ON (IGN), check with a Voltmeter that there's 12 V at one of the two pins on the wiring harness connector going to the switch.

The other pin of the wiring harness connector goes to the bulbs at the back of the car, and through the bulbs it should go to ground. Check resistance between this pin and a good ground point -- it should be fairly low with the back-up bulbs installed -- probably less than 10 Ohms; certainly not zero, and not a lot higher.

With the gear in reverse, there should be continuity (close to zero Ohms) across the two connector pins on the switch.

Hope this helps. Let us know how it turns out.
 

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My reverse lights in the rear trunk trim panel aren't getting power (not a bulb issue) on my 2000 Legacy GT. Same car as a 2000 Outback Sedan. Any ideas where/what to check?
Mine did the same thing when I by accident cut the wires on the right side that ran into the trunk lid. I had a hand truck laying across the trunk and when I shut the lid the wires were cut by the share edge on the hand truck frame. I simply soldiered the wires back together and all was fine again. Guessing you have the same issue.
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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A single circuit in the inhibitor switch on automatics failing for the lights will not cause a no start.

The reverse light switch on the transfer case only controls the rear lights and is your battery feed, look for the single wire plug check for battery voltage on one side, then the other with the key on and in reverse. Then, if that passes, follow it back into the harness and look for a brake. If its oily under the car, the detergents eat up the plastic and harden with weather and tend to crack open. The common ground for the lights is under the rear shelf in the center, but you can check the ground at the bulb socket itself.
 

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2002 Outback VDC H6
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Discussion Starter #17
For the future reference of others I found out on SL-I that the harness plug for the NSS and reverse lights is underneath the air intake box, one brown/one grey, both 2 wires plugs. They grey one is the reverse light switch. It was dark out, and I was having trouble getting multimeter on the pins from the plug, so I ran a jumper wire to the rear plug and they lit up, meaning either the switch itself is bad, or the wiring from it. The switch is only like 25, so I'm going to just replace it rather than muck with more wiring.

So here's my noob question for anyone that's replaced one of these before: How easy it to replace and will I lose any tranny fluid in the process from that location? I've replaced a knock sensor on it and that was straight forward, wondering if I'll need any additional tools/prep to swap a new one in.

Thanks guys!
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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So here's my noob question for anyone that's replaced one of these before: How easy it to replace and will I lose any tranny fluid in the process from that location? I've replaced a knock sensor on it and that was straight forward, wondering if I'll need any additional tools/prep to swap a new one in.

Thanks guys!
Just clean around the switch good before you take it out. If it is trouble breaking loose, a shot of PB Blaster and let it set a few minutes and try again. You won't lose any fluid.
 

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2002 Outback VDC H6
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Discussion Starter #19
Look familiar?

Thanks for all the input guys. Nice to have fixed, $30 part, had a $10 off coupon. Was able to access easily with ramps, didn't even need to jack up the car. For those in the future looking to do this, all you need to to do to access the plug is pull off the air intake box to access the harness, follow it down to where it bolts in the transfer case and remove with a 3/4" open ended wrench. Mine was super grimey, but came free easily. Also, no loss of fluid or gear oil. Took all of 10 minutes
 
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