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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just got a 2013 Outback.

The automatic headlight switch seems too sensitive (or not sensitive enough). When the switch is set to "auto", and I start the car in the garage, the headlights come on - that's OK. However, in the mornings on the way to work, it seems light enough to me that the headlights should switch off. The sensor seems to really need a lot of sunlight to get the headlights to switch off.

In the afternoon, when I drive home, the headlights stay off. But it seems once they come on, they really need a lot of light to turn them back off.

I haven't had enough time to experiment at different times of the day.

Is there a way to adjust this? I thought I saw in the manual that there was a way the dealer could reprogram it, but does anyone know any tricks?

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edit: D'oh! I really did search the forums before I posted this, but apparently didn't use the proper keywords. I found several other threads on this topic. Time to read them.
 

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2013 2.5i Outback Limited w/ moonroof
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If you have a 2013 limited you can adjust it very easily without going to the dealer. All other models and years you have to take it in I believe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If you have a 2013 limited you can adjust it very easily without going to the dealer. All other models and years you have to take it in I believe.
I have a 2013 Premium, not the Limited. The manual says there are around 4 different sensitivity settings, but I think it also says the dealer has to do it.

I've read other posts where people have complained about the lights coming on too quickly when going under an overpass and then turning right back off again, making it look like they are flashing their headlights. I haven't had the car long enough to notice that.

In my case (for the 2 days I've driven it to work so far), the lights come on when I expect them to, but they don't seem to go off when I think they should.
 

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2010 2.5i Outback, 2015 2.5i Legacy w/Eyesight
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I have a 2013 Premium, not the Limited. The manual says there are around 4 different sensitivity settings, but I think it also says the dealer has to do it.

I've read other posts where people have complained about the lights coming on too quickly when going under an overpass and then turning right back off again, making it look like they are flashing their headlights. I haven't had the car long enough to notice that.

In my case (for the 2 days I've driven it to work so far), the lights come on when I expect them to, but they don't seem to go off when I think they should.
Don't forget to turn your headlights on when it's raining, snowing, or foggy. I cannot say how many times I see people who don't think to turn them on ever anymore in situations where lights are needed to increase the visibility of their vehicle to other drivers even though there is enough light to keep the sensor from turning the lights on.
 

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2013 2.5i Outback Limited w/ moonroof
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Yeah - that sucks. Hopefully they won't charge you to change it.

Mine can be updated here - I have it set to "low" - I've found that to work pretty well for my needs.

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's pretty nice you can adjust it right away like that, at least you get a chance to see the difference and change it to a different setting right away.

The book for the Premium says the auto headlight settings are "Min/Low/Mid/Max" and the default setting is "Normal". It does not say which of the settings is "Normal".

I played around with it again this morning - the headlights turned on in the garage, but it was bright enough outside that I figured they'd turn off right away. They stayed on. I even turned off the headlights and turned them back on again to see if they'd stay off, but they came back on. Apparently, it must be set in such a way that even a cloudy day could turn them on - I don't need them to be that sensitive.

I doubt the dealer will charge me, I hope not. I'm heading over tomorrow to talk to the service guy about some other things anyway and I'll see what they can do. There may be some trick that doesn't require any equipment and I can get them to show me how to do it myself.
 

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2004 Outback Wagon, 2.5, 4EAT, All weather package.
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I think it is a pretty good idea to have your headlights on when it is cloudy *shrugs*. I keep mine on all the time unless it is actually sunny out. So in the winter they are pretty much always on.

And x2 these automatically headlight systems cause people to forget that sometimes your headlights DO need to be on, even if it is not dark enough to kick them automatically on. In fact in Pennsylvania it is a state law that your headlights have to be on when your wipers are on, regardless of ambient light. I think another problem is these clusters that are constantly lit up. It used to be that your cluster only lit up when your headlights are on, now the cluster is illuminated in many new cars (looks like including new Outbacks) regardless of whether the headlights are on or not, so I think a lot of people don't realize that their headlights are not on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Kansas has the "wipers on/headlights on" law now, too.

I'm used to the auto headlights operation because my wife's car has them (Camry), so I'm aware of the drawbacks.

I've got just over 100 miles on the car, and there is still a lot I'm getting used to.

The displays like the radio, clock, thermometer, odometer, ... are normally at full brightness when the headlights are off (or the light dimmer is full on). But when the headlights turn on, the displays dim to the dimmer setting. I can always brighten the displays or turn off the headlights manually, but I'd rather the headlights switch off by themselves and rely on the DRL for what they are meant to be - when it's bright enough outside.
 

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With my 04 grand cherokee you could change all the "dealer" options with my overhead VIC - I really miss that.

Things like:

- Horn chirp when locking
- Flashers blink when locking
- Doors automatic lock / unlock when in drive or park
- Auto headlight delay time

And my favorite - option for turning the headlights on when the wipers are engaged. It's state law in NJ as well to have your lights on with wipers and with that option I never had to worry about it! It worked great - if used washer fluid or hit them manually they wouldn't turn on - only when set to intermittent, low or high.
 

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2004 Outback Wagon, 2.5, 4EAT, All weather package.
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With my 04 grand cherokee you could change all the "dealer" options with my overhead VIC - I really miss that.

Things like:

- Horn chirp when locking
- Flashers blink when locking
- Doors automatic lock / unlock when in drive or park
- Auto headlight delay time

And my favorite - option for turning the headlights on when the wipers are engaged. It's state law in NJ as well to have your lights on with wipers and with that option I never had to worry about it! It worked great - if used washer fluid or hit them manually they wouldn't turn on - only when set to intermittent, low or high.
My Grand Prix has a programming mode that you can enter via the keyless entry remote that lets you change settings on your remote locks, your automatic locks (in/out of park) as well as your twilight sentinel. There are a number of different combinations. Seemed kinda complicated to do but it is all explained in the owner's manual for the car.
 

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2013 Legacy Lim CVT Car: 2011 OB Prem 6MT Car: 2006 Miata GT 6MT mc: 2003 Honda GL1800A * Reunite Gondwanaland *
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I think it is a pretty good idea to have your headlights on when it is cloudy
*shrugs*. I keep mine on all the time unless it is actually sunny out.
I just turn the headlights on when I start the engine, and leave them on,
undisirregardless of ambient light or weather. Of our three cars, the OB
is the only one with auto headlights or DRL, so getting into the habit of
depending on the automatic feature/abomination would be a bad idea.

...simple is better than better,

Looby
 

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2004 Outback Wagon, 2.5, 4EAT, All weather package.
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I just turn the headlights on when I start the engine, and leave them on,
undisirregardless of ambient light or weather. Of our three cars, the OB
is the only one with auto headlights or DRL, so getting into the habit of
depending on the automatic feature/abomination would be a bad idea.

...simple is better than better,

Looby
I change mine constantly. Being an older Outback my headlight switch could just be left on and never touched and it would be fine. My GTP is full automatic lights with no manual override (well, the manual override would be leaving the parking brake set 1 click). Or you can turn the switch on, but the car decided when to turn the lights off.
 

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13 blk Outback 2.5i cvt AW package, bunch of other OEM accessories...12 blk F350 6.2 gasser 4x4...10 Goldwing red nav ...04 JD 4510 loader/bhoe
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I always leave my headlights in the manual mode. I often leave my keys in the ignition and when in auto mode the lights will not turn off. EVER!

Good way to kill a battery.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I always leave my headlights in the manual mode. I often leave my keys in the ignition and when in auto mode the lights will not turn off. EVER!

Good way to kill a battery.
Yeah - the book does say that the headlight switch is active whenever the key is in the ignition.

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The service manager went ahead and adjusted the sensor on my auto-headlights. With the '13 Premium he had to connect it to his computer to make the changes. He said the settings were "Dull/Normal/Sensitive/Very Sensitive" (which is different from what's shown in the manual) and the factory setting was "Normal". He changed mine from "Normal" to "Dull". So far, the lights are working the way I wanted. They turn off when it's bright enough that I wouldn't normally use headlights anyway, and they turn on just about the time when I figure it's time to turn them on - maybe about 1 or 2 minutes later. At the previous setting they stayed on too long after it was bright enough that I though they should turn off, but they did turn on at a good time though.

I'll keep them this way for a while and see if they work out - it's a pretty easy deal for them to change them back.
 
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