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2020 Outback Limited 2.5i Autmn Green
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought a 2020 OB Limited about two weeks ago. When my wife is in the passenger seat the passenger airbag off light stays on. She's petite (about 5'0" and 90 lbs). If I switch seats with her the light functions normally. I've tried to have her shift her weight around, move the position of the seat, and even had her hold up to 25lbs of weights in her lap, all to no avail. Doesn't sound like keeping her in the back seats is a good solution. Anyone know if the sensors can be adjusted?
 

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2019 Outback 3.6R Touring
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748 Posts
I bought a 2020 OB Limited about two weeks ago. When my wife is in the passenger seat the passenger airbag off light stays on. She's petite (about 5'0" and 90 lbs). If I switch seats with her the light functions normally. I've tried to have her shift her weight around, move the position of the seat, and even had her hold up to 25lbs of weights in her lap, all to no avail. Doesn't sound like keeping her in the back seats is a good solution. Anyone know if the sensors can be adjusted?
Has she had this issue with other cars? I would think the system would work down to 75lbs in the seat....

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2020 Outback Limited 2.5i Autmn Green
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It is occasionally a problem with our 2014 Honda Accord. Only an off light there and it will come on sometimes. I didn't try the weights in that car.
 

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2020 Outback Onyx XT
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3,609 Posts
I believe this is one symptom of why injuries are more prevalent for short or lighter people (especially women) when air bags deploy. The standard crash test dummies are indicative of a typical male body and not lighter/shorter occupants.

 

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2020 OB Limited, Titanium & Magnetite Grays
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1,273 Posts
I assume the sensor is to save airbags in the event of a crash with an empty passenger seat. Or maybe prevent injury to a small person. Find out if it is safe to jump the sensor to always be on, even when empty. SoA should have a safety able to evaluate the jumper approach or at least provide more information.
 

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2020 Touring XT, Cinnamon Brown Pearl
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495 Posts
There is a section in the manual about the airbag operation. The first image show the sensor positions (which is not exactly how I would have envisioned them)/

490742


And the next image is instructions for what to do if the passenger is not sensed.

490743
 

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2020 Touring XT, Cinnamon Brown Pearl
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495 Posts
Thanks for directing me to the manual. Tomorrow I'll try to have my wife follow the procedure as described. Otherwise, it looks like a call to the dealer.
If your wife is only 90 pounds, she may not be wide enough to trigger the sensors. I would also try having her sit a little away from the center of the seat.

Its funny how the manual says "adult incorrectly sitting". I think it might be more accurate to say, sensors design does not work in all sitting positions. :)
 

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2010 2.5 CVT Limited
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1,924 Posts
Something that may help; the manual describes sitting with legs out forward. A passenger that puts their feet flat on the floor will place less force on the seat sensors as the mass of most of their lower legs is going thru their feet.
It may be less comfortable to extend the legs out, but it could make a difference.

Btw, I have a friend that doesn't weigh quite a buck and has similar problems with some seat sensors.
 

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2020 Outback Limited 2.5i Autmn Green
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for your help and suggestions. After trying out a number of seat back adjustments and sitting positions we had some success today. Besides the advice posted in this thread, the "Recommended Reading" listing had a number of threads th had some ideas. I find it interesting that this problem with passenger seat detection goes back ten years or more. Anyway, we've found a way for her to light the "passenger seat on" light.
First success was, with the car running, having my wife plop into the seat and sit with legs out, not flat on the floor. Also seemed to work after having her lower the seat. We drove a couple of miles to the bank. On the way, I pulled over and stopped, turned the car off and restarted. **** "off" light came on. Then I had her raise her arms and push down from the ceiling to put more force on the seat. That worked and once the on light came on the "off" stayed off and "on" stayed on until we parked at the bank. On the way back I stopped and restarted several times. In each case she needed to use a ceiling push to get the "on" on. Once lit, it seemed to stay li (acted normal).
At least this seems like a solution to get the airbag armed. We'll see if there are tweaks to positions that can be made so that it is automatic or maybe things will loosen up. We were going to see the dealer tomorrow (with her sitting in the rear seat) but we'll now cancel that visit and see what happens.
 

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2021 Outback Limited
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1,555 Posts
I'm having the same issue with my wife sitting in the passenger seat and the airbag remaining off. This wasn't an issue with our 2016 outback, nor was it an issue in any of our other cars.

I see this as a serious safety issue that Subaru should address. My dealer claims this is normal operation and they can't do anything about it. If this is true, they should clearly state passenger weight requirements and warn people not to buy the car unless they weigh x-lbs.

If it can't be corrected, even though I love the car, I'll have to get rid of it. I can't have her riding in a car that's not safe.
 

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2021 Outback Limited
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1,555 Posts
Ask your dealer to put it in writing because your lawyer said it was needed.
I will certainly do that. I've made also made a written request that if it can't be fixed for them to either exchange the car for an equivalent Outback with operational safety features or full refund. The car is only 2 weeks old.

Per their request, I'm going to the dealership with my wife today so they can run tests with her in the seat and try to convince me this is as designed. Subaru used to promote the safty of their cars. I don't know when that changed. Next step will be to contact Subaru corporate and the NTSB.
 

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2020 OB Limited, Titanium & Magnetite Grays
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They have tried to make it your problem, which it is not. Ask them to provide you an equivalent loaner for at least a week to evaluate if it has the same issue. It should be the same year as yours's. Does the sensor work for her in the drivers' seat? What ever the source of the problem, something related to the sensor(s), it is fixable.
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2021 Outback Limited
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1,555 Posts
What they did today was hook up the computer and monitor the sensors. It appears to toggle from the child and adult setting at 73-lbs on the seat. Even though she's over 90lbs, with feet on the floor the seat correctly measures her as less than her actual total weight. My wife is right at that threshold point, lift one foot up and it triggers to airbag on. We compared it with another outback on their lot and the readouts were nearly identical. Since all the measurements are repeatable and the same between Outbacks, it doesn't appear to be a component or electrical malfunction.

He recorded and saved all the measurements and I will contact SOA to review it. This may just be as designed and not an actual issue. At least it is now well documented.

503882
 

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2018 Outback Premium 2.5
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714 Posts
Clearly, you just need to modify your family's eating habits, you need way more fast food, ice cream, chocolate bars etc.

(Kidding of course)

Can you try having your wife sit in another car on the lot, see if it's the same issue?

That would rule out of it's an issue just with your car, or the design of the seat/sensors.

In my work truck(Silverado) the seat sensors are sensitive enough that it will do the seat belt warning if I have a heavy laptop bag in the front seat.


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2020 Outback Limited
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416 Posts
We just discovered that my wife is also not triggering the airbag to come on most of the time. And if it did come on, it shuts off if she moves around even while the car is in motion. She weighs 98 lbs fully clothed with shoes on.

Did anyone get a resolution to this problem?
Thanks.
 

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2021 Outback Limited
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We just discovered that my wife is also not triggering the airbag to come on most of the time. And if it did come on, it shuts off if she moves around even while the car is in motion. She weighs 98 lbs fully clothed with shoes on.

Did anyone get a resolution to this problem?
Thanks.
I'd try the seat position a little further back and more upright. That's helped for me.
Also I'd have the service tech hook up the computer to verify that the sensors are working properly like in my post above. Seeing the the reading was nearly identical between my outback and one on their lot convinced me that for my car this is as designed and not a mechanical or electrical issue.

It's looking like Outback owners prefer skinny wives ☺
 

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2020 White Limited Hybrid
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380 Posts
I totally had this problem with my 2010 Highlander - my wife is 80 pounds and 4'8"

They (Toyota dealer) said they could do nothing about it.

Now I gotta pay attention to the Outback, cuz it's absolutely correct that it would be, will be, is, dangerous for her.

In our Sienna, airbags saved lives when she was in a horrible accident, with a full car, including 2 small children in car seats.

So glad someone started this thread!
 
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2020 Outback Limited
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Yeah, I really don't get why it's disabled for her. The driver's airbag is always enabled, so if she was driving the bag would deploy on her. It would be nice if they provided an override for known adults.
 
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