Tail lights won't shut off.

70

Asked by Feb 11, 2014 at 11:31 PM about the 2003 Subaru Forester

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

The running-tail lights will not shut off. The brake lights are fine. They shut off. It's the
automatic tail lights that will not shut off. I have read the manual, worked every switch and
dial and nothing turns them off (emergency brake, engine key) all of it. So...any thoughts?
(I undid the negative cable on the battery so I could go to sleep for the nite - what I am
about to do right now. I'll check for replies in morning. Thanks for your help.

43 Answers

5,625

Are you familiar with the switch on top of the steering column, between the steering wheel and the gauges? It is a forward / backward button and turns on "parking lights" mostly for legality over in the UK. Check that and make sure they're off, it's easy to hit and one that isn't common here in the states, I don't think anyway. Keep in touch :)

144 out of 144 people think this is helpful.
5,625

any updates?

15 out of 15 people think this is helpful.
80

Thanks for posting this was just about to disconnect the battery. Now I remember bumping it while vacuuming.

8 out of 8 people think this is helpful.
5,625

Certainly! I wish all questions could be answered so simply.

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.
40

Thank you I had the same problem, I was about to disconnect the battery until i ran across your post! Thank you very mmuch, i was so irritated now all is good again.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
70

Thanks internet and Waith. Washed my STI, wiped down the interior with armour all. Then as I am packing up notice the tail lights and front running lights are still on. They always go off when the engine is off. Damn did I get wiring wet....oh no. Pulled the fuse, so the car will still start, have been doing that everytime I drive, fuse in and out. But what a poor design. I was set to go to the dealership to fix this.

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.
50

I just had my 2005 Subaru Outback detailed and had the same problem with tail and front running lights still on after I have left the car. The answer was in the switch on top of the steering wheel. Thank you, thank you, thank you to "With" for posting! Saved my bacon on this one. Now I can rest knowing my car will start in the morning! Thanks so much again!

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
50

That was supposed to say thank you to Waith for posting. Sorry, auto correct changed it. Thanks again!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
40

Ha Ha, this issue had me going too. I'm a 3 time Subaru owner and couldn't figure it out. Saved me money! Stupid switch! Like others probably just bumped it cleaning my steering wheel. THANKS!

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
35

Just want to keep this thread relevant. Top post fixes problem. Was treating my interior and afterward noticed my driving lights would not shut off.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
5,625

Glad it helped MaynardW!

40

Lifesaver... After we had two neighbours and a random stranger knock on the door to tell us that we had left the lights on, this post helped us work out why, thank you very much....

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
40

THANK Waith we're saved! I had the same problem with my SUBARU FORESTER 1998. I used my windows phone for navigation and i put it in front of the gauges board. I must have bumped the switch (i never knew what it's for) accidentaly while taking my phone back to my pocket.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
70

All of these answers are so specific to this question. I am amazed by the response and hope Subaru designers are watching this. Eegads, what a simple thing to fix. Thanks everyone. I'm posting another question about Subaru Foresters today, an idle issue. Thanks again.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
5,625

Hi Sunny, This is actually a useful tool and is required in the UK as a safety feature, if I'm not mistaken. It's just something most mfr's don't utilize on vehicles here in the states, so people are unaware of it. I like the button because I can check my trailer lights or whatnot without the car running (since the lights are off with the key off). Anyways, take care and I'll look for your question later tonight. Gotta get to work. Additionally, to everyone reading this thread, I mark just about every response as helpful because it's great that this is helping so many people and it's great that everyone has come here! Best regards,

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.
70

Thanks. Walth...I wouldn't have thought of that. Good application, but could be just a effective somewhere else, I guess. My other question is posted. It's about idle issues. Thanks again.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
10

Same prob 03 Forrestor but they remain on

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
5,625

Ah, okay. Just sent you a PM MrMatts78.

10

I just want to say Thank you for you answers, you guys just saved me $90 for some electrical diagnosis which mean a push of a switch.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
20

OMG, I just bought a Subi. Battery was dead in the morning with lights barely on. I removed the fuse to have them off. Then read this and hit myself in the head lol. I thought that switch was for the hazard lights...stooopid, HA ! Hey, where are the hazard light ???

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
5,625

Your hazards button is most likely in the controls area (center of the dash) with the radio / temp switches or up between the top vents in said section. Just depends on the Subie.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
30

For the last 2 months my husband has been disconnecting/reconnecting the battery of our '06 forrester. He was saying someone told him it was a universal switch. Finally, today, after scouring the inter webs trying to get a ballpark figure for what that will cost to replace and coming up empty, I googled the problem and this answer popped up. I immediately ran downstairs, told him about it, and we marched outside. I could see the disbelief in his eyes, and sweet victory was mine when those gosh darn lights turned off when he hit that button. He also thought that was the hazard lights button, so didn't think twice about it causing the problem. Thank you! Who knows how much we would have spent at the shop having it diagnosed and "fixed" and who knows what!

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
5,625

WOW!! Well, don't feel too bad, we all start somewhere / make mistakes / live and learn. Glad to hear you found the source. It's better than the one tail light situation I tried helping with that turned out to be the radio harness ground connector. He figured that out through a friend.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
70

I am so glad to keep reading replies where this question I posted so very long ago has helped. Don't all of you think that Subaru could weigh in on the subject, that maybe they should-rewrite the owner's manual to accommodate the possibility that this problem will arise? I hope so. I am still at issue with the Idle Control Valve, mostly because it is so expensive, according to local mechanics, to get to it. I'm about to leave the Subaru fan club.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
5,625

I would just buy one from Ebay for 9.99 (from china) or 14.71+ in the US. Same part number as the $222.00 units on RockAuto (and probably 300- 350+ from the dealer). Ebay search for:: 22650-aa192

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
5,625

So are you having trouble with it starting / running? When you come to a stop does it idle REV idle REV idle REV?

30

Hey all. Just got a 2008 Subaru Legacy. I thought my issue was the same as everyone else's, just flicking the switch back to normal. It turns out I have a more farfetched issue. My issue is with the inner headlights. So I'm parked outside of the bank late at night and noticed when I had my lights switched to "off", there were these very dim inner headlights that would remain on - all other parking lights were off except these 2. Then when I set the car's back to normal, those 2 inner lights turned off and the normal, outer more headlights turn back on... In other words, my headlights will never shut completely off. I think the car may think they're off when they're on, and on when they're off, or something of the sort. When reading multiple sources on the web on the issue, only issues related to this parking light switch would appear. So, I decided to post to one of the forums about my issue to see if anyone may know what I'm dealing with here. It may seem like a stretch but hopefully someone with more car expertise will lead me in the right direction. Thank you.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
5,625

Have you read the thread with the radio ground? Have no idea if it is related. Electrical gremlins are just that!! Read:: http://www.cargurus.com/Cars/Discussion-t26437_ds585679

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
30

Hello walth - Thank you for the timely response. I am by no means a car expert, so I don't really know what you mean by a "radio ground". I took a look at the thread and saw something about a radio ground; but it did little, as i did not know what to look for really. Is there some menu on my car's radio that gives me control what lights are on or off? Sorry i am untrained in the world of cars my friend. I may just have to take it in to the shop. Thank you for your help.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
5,625

I would recommend asking around, people familiar with imports and/or a good reputation, honesty, etc. Don't just assume that a dealer will be the best place, or vice versa. I kind of agree on the shop as I would not want this issue to be my first lesson with fixing cars.. And if you'd like, start a new question, combine your posts and then keep updating it with what is happening, etc.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
20

Mahalo plenty for first answer to this query! Just had daughter's 2004 Forester detailed - pulled car into garage - bleeding tail lights were on, WTF??!! Read this answer, flipped switch, all good! I'd have had a dead battery and a ton of angst if I hadn't seen/googled issue. Next beer on me :)

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
20

Hazard switch is in off position and lights are still on. Any Ideas? 03 Subaru Legacy

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
10

For months I have been pulling out the stupid fuse everyday!!! I was finally bringing the car in Friday to get fixed and wanted to check on cost.. and found this. I so wish I would have looked it up a long time ago. I feel like such an idiot.. Thank you!!!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
10

Thank you for your spot on response! I was getting pretty steamed at the car repair shop. I picked up my 2004 Forster and then this "problem" develops. Of course, I had taken the car to get it cleaned after its new R&P, and valve cover gasket. No doubt the detail guy hit the switch in his cleaning zeal! Saved me a great deal of heartache. You are my hero today!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
20

THANK YOU!!! I had sat my phone up there to use my GPS and must have clicked the switch. Problem solved! THANKS SO MUCH!

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
5,625

Rock On Mazie and Jodi!! No problem! I'm glad the OP asked!!

10

Thank you Walth you saved me from having to disconnect the battery !!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
10

I have a slightly different problem where the dashboard lights stay on after shutting off the engine and turning off lights. Any ideas?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
5,625

Craigy, is that turning off the engine from "on" to "acc" or is that from "on" to "off and pulling the key out"? I don't like electrical gremlins.. it could be a ground issue or melted/nicked wire or something. This might be something for your models forum (impreza/OB/forester/etc) where there are tons of gurus. The subie forum here is really quiet and unless one or two others chime in, idk that I'll be much help. I would like to know what it turns out to be though.

10

Thank You, My son and I went on a vacation and then suddenly started having the "lights on" problem. I was looking for relays under the hood and we were camping and did not have internet access in the boundary waters near Minnesota/Canada border so for the next two days I unhooked the battery every time we stopped for a long time. That resulted in ruining the cable clamp. Now I see this thread and sure enough I had asked him to wipe the dust down on the cars dash board and never thought there would be a lights switch that does such a damn thing as that. Thanks.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
5,625

Glad it helped Kerry. If you ever have another issue with sometime staying on and draining the battery, you might try pulling a fuse instead of disconnecting the battery each time. Fuses are probably in two spots, under the dash behind the coin tray and then under the hood.. just depends on the car. Best regards

10

I had this problem a couple years ago and forgot the fix, but remembered finding the solution online. Thanks! Flipped the switch accidentally while cleaning my interior. Which apparently I don't do often enough to remember that switch

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
10

Omg....just went insane removing fuses and bulbs and tail lights. My mind was fried. Had an appointment this morning for a diagnostic check. Figured I'd check the internet and found this post. THANK YOU!!! Now I feel like an idiot....a relieved idiot....but PHEEEEWWWWWW!!!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Your Answer

Add photo

Related Questions

Forester

Looking for a Used Forester in your area?

CarGurus has 19,621 nationwide Forester listings starting at $1,200.

ZIP:

Search Subaru Forester Questions

Subaru Forester Experts

#1 Nick Eidemiller
Nick Eidemiller
Reputation 3,310
#2 walth
walth
Reputation 2,640
#3 lifeson34
lifeson34
Reputation 2,310
View All

Related Models For Sale

Used Subaru Outback
365 Great Deals out of 29,816 listings starting at $1,500
Used Toyota RAV4
1,071 Great Deals out of 52,688 listings starting at $1,350
Used Honda CR-V
1,171 Great Deals out of 72,516 listings starting at $1,999
Used Subaru Impreza
194 Great Deals out of 6,793 listings starting at $1,899
Used Subaru Legacy
200 Great Deals out of 16,727 listings starting at $1,200
Used Subaru Impreza WRX
46 Great Deals out of 1,163 listings starting at $1,999
Used Ford Escape
1,578 Great Deals out of 83,422 listings starting at $1,499
Used Toyota 4Runner
354 Great Deals out of 19,443 listings starting at $2,995
Used Toyota Highlander
627 Great Deals out of 26,799 listings starting at $2,988
Used Toyota Tacoma
712 Great Deals out of 32,024 listings starting at $2,995
Used Subaru Impreza WRX STi
33 Great Deals out of 600 listings starting at $8,500

Used Cars For Sale

2017 Subaru Forester For Sale
11,245 listings starting at $20,970
2016 Subaru Forester For Sale
39 Great Deals out of 1,251 listings starting at $18,999
2015 Subaru Forester For Sale
93 Great Deals out of 1,742 listings starting at $13,988
2014 Subaru Forester For Sale
60 Great Deals out of 1,565 listings starting at $10,995
2013 Subaru Forester For Sale
20 Great Deals out of 410 listings starting at $9,994