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Discussion Starter #1
2013 Outback chewing through all manner of exterior lights like they're going out of style. I'm really at a loss. Tonight after my pass fog went out I decided to get on it. Oh, low and behold, driver's headlight goes out, high beam out too. By the time I'm done, 2 mini lights out back, plus the mini cosmetic on passenger front are also dead. 6 freaking lights. Checked ground on a few plugs and the settle down on the multi-meter with no spikes. Method was one probe on batter and one to the negative on the light socket. While running the car was sitting at 14.2 to 14.3v while running shortly after starting, neg to ground, red positive to positive socket terminal while running.

I'm at a loss. This car, since we've had it (2.5 years), has always seemed thirsty for headlights. This seems to be getting worse at an inverse relation to my frustration level. I hate electrical and only feel comfortable doing minor trouble shooting. I'm going to take it to a local dealer to see what they can make of it. But, my local dealer is....special. I had a **** of a time getting the bottom half of the engine replaced under the oil consumption issue. Not because of a denial, but because they kept screwing things up. So I would appreciate some suggestions or guidance anyone might have on some trouble shooting I could do, or some detailed notes I can give to the dealers, questions I need answered to ensure they're doing the work correctly.


2013 OB Limited
120k
Owned 2.5 years
Main headlights cheap bulbs weeks, OEM bulbs 4-6 months.
Small bulbs 6+ months.
 

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Typically, when a vehicle has a tendany to burn-up bulbs, the stability of the voltage is suspect.

A poor ground under the hood can lead to voltage spikes in other parts of the electrical system. (The voltage regulator does not have a stable reference to work from)

If I was asked to work on such a problem, I would:
1) Disconnect the battery
2) Remove, clean and snug down EVERY ground connection I can find
3) Remove and clean the wires on the alternator
4) Remove and reseat EVERY fuse and relay.
5) clean battery posts and reconnect the battery.

After you have done the above, if the problem persists. Troubleshooting with a voltage meter is the next step.
 

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I have owned several Subaru’s over the years that seemed to have prematurely burnt out bulbs.

The solution every time was to purchase and install a new battery. I have since spoken with an auto electrician who confirmed that a faulty battery can cause bulbs to prematurely burn out.

Might not be your problem but I thought it would be good to share the knowledge.

Seagrass
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have owned several Subaru’s over the years that seemed to have prematurely burnt out bulbs.

The solution every time was to purchase and install a new battery. I have since spoken with an auto electrician who confirmed that a faulty battery can cause bulbs to prematurely burn out.

Might not be your problem but I thought it would be good to share the knowledge.

Seagrass
Shoot, forgot to add this. When we bought the car we had the battery replaced. Spent way too long at the dealer and when we finally went to leave, the time it took to program phones into the bluetooth killed the battery. 2.5 years later, that battery is dead and replaced under warranty. We don't live in extreme hot or cold so I know it wasn't that that killed the battery. New battery was an OEM from Subaru.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Typically, when a vehicle has a tendany to burn-up bulbs, the stability of the voltage is suspect.

A poor ground under the hood can lead to voltage spikes in other parts of the electrical system. (The voltage regulator does not have a stable reference to work from)

If I was asked to work on such a problem, I would:
1) Disconnect the battery
2) Remove, clean and snug down EVERY ground connection I can find
3) Remove and clean the wires on the alternator
4) Remove and reseat EVERY fuse and relay.
5) clean battery posts and reconnect the battery.

After you have done the above, if the problem persists. Troubleshooting with a voltage meter is the next step.
I'll work on these steps tomorrow. Can you assist with some of the ground locations? I've looked near the top of the firewall and didn't seen any obvious ones.
 

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Did you do the voltage check with the engine just idling or did someone run the rpms up and down?
I suspect alternator/regulator issues. Sometimes it is noticed as the battery electrolyte is boiled off, but these days with sealed batteries it is hard to realize.
Some auto parts places can test the alternator on the car. If you don't like your dealer service dept, you might try that first.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Did you do the voltage check with the engine just idling or did someone run the rpms up and down?
I suspect alternator/regulator issues. Sometimes it is noticed as the battery electrolyte is boiled off, but these days with sealed batteries it is hard to realize.
Some auto parts places can test the alternator on the car. If you don't like your dealer service dept, you might try that first.
I got the 14.3v when the car was at idle for a few minutes. Not sure how long I should wait in order to get a clean running voltage without the alternator running high after startup, or if it's actually running 2v or so high all the time.
 

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14.1 to 14.3 volts is exactly what the alternator should be putting out, this is NOT 2 volts too much.

Seagrass
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Haven't really resolved this. I'm adding a crap load of dielectric grease to see if that helps (don't see how it could be contamination etc).

Thanks for confirming the voltage Seagrass.

Any help on the ground point from anyone?

Thanks for all the suggestions so far.
 
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