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2001 Subaru Outback 4cyl wagon 195k+ and goin strong!
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I purchased a 2010 Outback 3.6L (6cyl) July of 2016 that had under 6,000 miles on it. It was parked in a covered outdoor lot and sat for well over a year (maybe 2). When I went to look at it, I had to replace the battery as it didn't have enough charge to unlock the doors.

It has been a great car for my wife and newborn but the issue is that the airbag lights on the driver side and passenger side come on and off randomly with no common cause. It has come on in the dead of winter (Eastern WA temps are well below freezing) and the hot of summer (getting over 100 degrees in July/August). Sometimes they will come on upon starting the vehicle and sometimes when going down the road. They do not work together either....it is one or the other.

Along with this issue, the center dash indicator (with the mpg, miles until empy) sometimes ONLY illuminates the time. Everything else is not on and will just come on at a random time....this can be traveling 5 minutes and it works and then it can be over an hour of travel and it works. I will get a picture of the passenger airbag illuminating as soon as it reoccurs.

I took it to the local Subaru Dealer to get the oil changed and they had a look. They said that they couldnt get it to replicate and they would need to see it with the lights on in order to get a read off of it. They also said that the indicators did not have a direct impact to the bags deploying (which was a concern for me) but it did mean that the bags would not deploy if they indicators were saying they were off (illuminated)

Please look at the pictures and let me know what you think. I cant help but wonder if the alternator is shot since I had to replace the battery.....but I think the Subaru mechanics would have tested that when they diagnosed (and charged me for) the issue.

thank you for your time...this is a concern since my wife and kid are in the vehicle!
 

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2012 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited, with custom-added always-on auxillary power for an inverter, 3x DC jacks, and a radio transciever.
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638 Posts
No one has any input on this one?
So you mean the seatbelt-unbuckled light (and it probably also dings at you)?

I've experienced random passenger seatbelt alarms when I place items in the seat as I drive - seems the weight sensor "sometimes" trips depending on how things are positioned and that includes hitting a small bump or turn that makes the bag/box/whatever shift. Whether the passenger airbag is on/off depends on some combination of weight in the seat and if the belt is buckled or not.

Driver's side I presume you always wear your seatbelt except maybe as you first start to move or finish pulling into your parking space so it would be less frequent but may still happen.

Within the first 10-20 seconds of starting the car you should get ALL the lights coming on at least briefly as it self-tests everything along with the dial sweep.
 

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2001 Subaru Outback 4cyl wagon 195k+ and goin strong!
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13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the reply! Actually the pictures indicate the airbag, not the seatbelt. And then the middle dash picture shows the whole console off except the time
 

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Registered
2012 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited, with custom-added always-on auxillary power for an inverter, 3x DC jacks, and a radio transciever.
Joined
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638 Posts
Thanks for the reply! Actually the pictures indicate the airbag, not the seatbelt. And then the middle dash picture shows the whole console off except the time
Ah, ok - it was difficult for me to see the picture and I haven't figured out how to "zoom" on it.

Without any other ideas I think I'd try checking and re-inserting (or just replacing - they're cheap) any fuses related to the SRS, instrument panels, and seatbelt stuff. Maybe one of the fuses is defective (e.g. cracked but not blown) and not making a good connection randomly. The panel going partially blank makes me wonder if something is losing power. It may not help but $5 and a few minutes of time to swap them is easy to try.

It also wouldn't hurt to do a visual inspection of the wires under both seats and if you can see it both front seatbelt buckles to make sure one isn't damaged/sliced/rubbed and intermittently shorting or something making the system detect a fault.

A possibly more serious issue, do you know if yours was part of the airbag recall and if so was it fixed? I wonder if the shop that replaced the passenger side Takata airbag either damaged/pinched a wiring harness or didn't push a connector in firmly enough. I think if you go to the Subaru recall website it will tell whether yours was recalled AND the repair status if it was done or not.

Here's the Subaru recall checker page, just need to plug in your car's VIN and it should show anything that applies and if it's been fixed yet. I think 2010-2012 is part of the recall depending on what part of the country the vehicle was in (my 2012 hasn't come up for recall yet in Virginia)
https://www.subaru.com/vehicle-recalls.html
 
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