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2002 outback wagon VDC 3.0
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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, having a long running tail light problem with several different "things" happening. This first started several months ago when the fuse would blow, sometimes several times in a row and other times very random. Took it in and a new multi function switch was installed, seemed to help for about 3 weeks. Next noticed water in the tail light housing, removed red Subaru lens and siliconed it, solved the leak problem. Newest problem is the tail lights will randomly go on and off not blowing the fuse but dash lights will go out and climate control lights will brighten, usually doesn't last long. Noticed sometimes if you adjust the steering wheel it will cause this to happen or you can sometimes get the tail lights to come back on by doing this. Two days ago lights went out again and blew the fuse, tried to replace it several times and it would instantly blow the fuse. Checked the housing and all is dry. Help! Not sure what to do next
 

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A very common problem on those years seems to be defective bulbs or sockets.

A blown fuse indicates a short, which in some cases can be melted/flattened contacts on one or more bulbs, or, the socket has developed a short between the contacts.

First thing would be to remove all the bulbs at the back, especially the dual filament stop/tail light ones, and either examine them or just replace with new ones. At the same time, check the sockets for dark traces near the contacts, or physical damage.

Do some searching here. There's lots of posts with similar, if not identical, symptoms.
 

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2002 outback wagon VDC 3.0
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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the info, I am seeing its a common problem. Any ideas of the problem when it's not blowing the fuse? The tail lights will go out along with the background dash light and the lights for the climate control get brighter. When this happens I can hear a clicking in the dash kinda behind the steering wheel as the lights go on and off. Thanks again for the help!
 

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Often, one of the two filaments inside the dual-filament stop/tail lights will break, and one end of the broken filament will come in contact with the other. So, for example, let's say a stop light filament breaks at one end and comes in contact with the other filament, which is for the tail/clearance lights. Now, whenever the brakes are applied, power will go from the brake light circuit to the tail/clearance light circuit. All of a sudden, the tail and clearance lights seem to come on (most likely very dimly, and perhaps only one or two) every time the brake is applied. And because the tail light system is tied into the dashboard control lighting, those bulbs might also appear to come on.

A similar situation can arise when the contacts on a bulb, or a socket, are melted or flattened, or water gets into the socket and an electrical path is formed between the contacts.

When the problem is a crossed filaments, or a flattened contact, the resistance might not always be low enough to cause the fuse to blow, and yet it will at other times.

See this post and following posts in the thread for pics of bulbs and sockets that were causing similar problems. I can't say for sure that this is your problem, but it is common, and I think the first thing to check out carefully before looking for anything more complex. (All the more so if water was getting into the housing.)
 
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