headlight problems tribeca

Asked by Jan 18, 2012 at 10:32 PM about the 2008 Subaru Tribeca Limited 7-Passenger w/ Navi and DVD

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Ihave constant problemwith bulbs burning out every couple months

76 Answers

I doubt their is any electral problems,when you change out the bulbs,DONT tuch the bulb part or glass of bulb,the skin oils in the hands & fingers somehow stay on them causeing them to blow,its hard to replace without tuching them,just be carefull & only tuch the plastic while installing.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
145

I agree that any oils (such as from your skin) could cause a bulb failure, there are several additional questions to ask. Such as the make and brand and model name of the bulbs you are installing and the condition of the electrical contacts that the bulb plugs into.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
10

I have the same problems even after factory certified techs install....why? mine is a 2006. I even have issues with the brake lights.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
85

Better option is to replace the factory bulbs with some HID bulbs. Do a google search for it. Shouldn't cost more than $50 for the pair. The nice thing is that they last a lot longer than the factory bulbs.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
50

My 2010 Tribecca has the same issue... My mechanic says he has 7 other subarus w same problem. He can't figure it out -and he's good.

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.
10

I have replaced both headlights at least 4 times in my 07 Tribeca and both tailghts once each. I did the first couple headlights myself, then dealer said you need to use the factory bulb to last longer. Dealer has replaced the last 2 headlights same result.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
210

I am at my local Subaru service dept for the 6th bulb replacement on my 09 Tribeca. My car has less than 50k miles on it. I'm so sick of this. What to do?

19 out of 19 people think this is helpful.
50

Wow I have a 2012 and keep having this issue as well. I have asked the dealership and they have no idea what to do. My car also has fewer than 50K miles and this has happened since I got the car!

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.

I have a 2008 Tribeca that also blows a headlight every 4 months! I'm so sick of this! I have learned how to replace the bulbs on my own thank God in order to save some money. The Subaru dealer said this is a very common problem and he is well aware of it. He states his mothers Subaru Tribeca does the exact same thing. Subaru should be ashamed, what an easy problem to fix.

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.
10

I have a 2006 Tribeca and have been dealing with the same problem. I've been pulled over three times for not having a headlight. My son is able to fix this for me, but recently, I had some major issues with some hoses in the engine and Subaru told me that who ever fixed the headlight the last time, did not replace the battery correctly and that caused some overheating which melted a hose and then caused some additional problems.... not a happy customer! Oh well, I guess the 800.00 spent is about equal to the money I've saved over the years by having my son replace the bulb rather than Subaru.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
20

I've had this same headlight issue on my 2009 Tribeca. When I remove the old bulb, I can definitely see where some electrical arcing has taken place between the two connecting terminals. The arcing is on the base of the bulb itself between the terminals. I'm going to try and grease the terminals this time with dielectric grease to see if this might help the problem.....it can't possibly get any worse.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
10

I have the same exact issue with my 2010 Tribeca. Headlights, fog lights, running lights all keep blowing bulbs. What hasn't Subaru addressed this?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
210

They told me that it was a light bulb manufacturer defect. After bringing my car in for "beeping noise" when outside temp was below freezing (dealership said other Tribeca owners experienced same issue), I went online to do some research…discovered that the Tribeca has been recalled in all countries, with exception to the US…after a couple of friends (who had Tribecas) were dealing with same/worse problems (same beeping noise, other electrical malfunctions), I decided to invest in a used Volvo XC60. I'm so glad I did. All of my Tribeca friends are driving different vehicles now as well (this has all happened in one year).

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
120

I have 2010 Tribeca WITH HID low beams and 1st one went out at about 50k miles. Not the $180 Subaru bulb but the $354 bulb ballast was bad! DO NOT PUT IN HID. I have stock HID and they do not last. AM lookiing to convert to older halogen which are only $20 / each.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
10

Same here......2012 Tribeca and on about my 8 headland since i bought it new. It's disgusting. I've already been ticketed once for it. Shoddy craftsmanship.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
120

Please, when you post, note if you have halogen bulbs or HID (High Intensity Discharge) bulbs. One is $20 to replace and the other $184 bulb and $385 for 'bulb ballast'. Both types may be a problem but cannot tell. Thanks and keep up the good reporting.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
100

I have a 2011 Tribeca and have replaced bulbs 12 or more times. I've tried to tell the dealership that it's got to be a manufacturer defect and not the bulbs. At momonthego how did you find out they have recalled in other countries the Tribeca?

120

Melody you did not state which model Tribeca you have or if the bulbs are HID or usual halogen. If you tell me the cost they charged you for a bulb, we can probably tell which one. I am referring to the VERY expensive HID headlights which come on only some top models of the Tribeca. So far I cannot tell which specific models or years.

100

I have a Subaru Tribeca Li 2011, I have purchased the highest grade of Hid lights and the lowest I've had a Subaru dealerships change them every time. This is a manufacturer problem of some sort not just the type of bulbs. I've tried keeping my headlights on as told to I've tried only turning them on when needed and neither made a difference. The lady who owned my car prior had changed them 52 times in 2 years prior to my ownership. I purchased used in 2012. The dealership has 3 other Tribecas of different years but same problem.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
120

Melody. Thanks for update. What are they charging you for 1 headlight. I'm thinking they are calling it a 'bulb' but is actually the HID ballast which drives the bulb and is solid state. Very susceptible to electrical problems. I have changed one and am looking for a cheaper, more reliable source of this part. Bulbs only arc and not much to go wrong with them.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
100

They are only replacing bulbs Hid bulbs. They are not changing a ballast, Subaru will not warranty if the ballast is messed with unless it is a definite ballast defect. A ballast should not be changed each time on a headlight.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
120

Melody. I'm glad you are overseeing the dealer if replacing bulbs or ballasts. Since bulbs are only arc devices my guess they are being over voltage and over current-ed and destroying every new bulb. If a ballast has never been changed, then this might be the cause since the original owner. Information on electrical specs on the Subaru ballasts are non existent... and I speak as an electrical engineer who wants to know why mine are failing.

100

bbbttt, I am in touch with Subaru and will be speaking to them quite frequently about this issue. I'm going to be taking it further as well. It's a costly matter for consumers that purchased a Subaru for peace of mind and reliability on the road. However; a headlight can be a tragedy on the road at night if they both go out at the same time. Hence they no longer build Tribecas no longer, but I am hearing it's the new Outback as well as the Forrester as well now that this problem is happening to.Also, the bulbs that are being replaced in my vehicle are what are recommended in my manual by Subaru. Do you work on autos? Or an electrical engineer? Thank you for your response.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
120

I am a retired engineer and work on only my own vehicles. I am just as frustrated by Subaru's response to this as you. So I am trying to solve this in an 'engineering way'. What are the specs and what is going on to destroy the parts: bulb or in my case ballast? I know my problem was a ballast as I replaced the bulb and still not work. Put in new ballast and now OK ... for how long? and the other side is next? Please stay in touch. Surprised no one else on this site is responding.

100

Dear bbbttt, I am responding as this like I mentioned can be a tragedy if on a highway. My eldest daughter had to use my Subaru last Friday and was terrified as she drove on highway and had only the running lights to guide her as a headlight went out and she could not see, the other reason is of course the headache of having to replace headlights so frequently on a vehicle. My Nissan had Hid headlights and I had that vehicle for 4 years and never had this problem. I just realized your picture of the ballast is the one I mentioned to the dealership. Have you been in touch with the dealership as well as Subaru?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
120

Melody. Yes I have talked to several dealerships, part houses, salvage yards, and viewed Hella manufacturer materials. Some how Subaru locked this part up with Hella and no one will talk to me. So only Subaru gets to service, sell and take advantage of customers in this predicament. I will keep digging. Also researching changing over from HID to all halogens.

10

Sell you Subaru's. This has been a systemic problem with Tribeca's and outbacks for 7 years. As an ASE certified mechanic I can tell you with certainty the problem starts with the main ballast and the back voltage is not regulated properly through the wiring harness (hence the problems with internal dash lights) I've gone round and round with Subaru engineers and they never give me a straight answer. The fix would cost them in the neighborhood of 8-12 million dollars to rewire all the effected vehicles. Just sell the car and buy something else, anything else.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
100

Ehuffhine, I have not had any problems with my internal lights ( dash lights) just my main headlights going out within a month.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
120

I've had no dash lights problems either. Just HID lights.

10

I have a 2006 Subaru Tribeca and have the same problem. Started when the car got around 80,000 miles and now it's just routine. We've tried the cheap replacement lights and the HIB ones. The last time I had a mechanic put them in and that was in Sept. 2015, when they both blew at the same time. Tonight I got home and one had blown. The car has 112,000 miles on it now. I drive 4 hours a day for work and it's dark when I leave and almost dark when I come home. Now I'm disgusted to think this is going to be a routine problem.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
120

malder Are you talking halogen or HID? Not sure what you mean by HIB? Where do you get "cheap replacement lights"? My cheapest HID bulb source is still almost $100 / each!

@bbbttt: Thanks for sharing the ballast issue together with the picture. I have a 2008 Tribeca and the light went out on driver's side. So I ordered the bulbs, replaced it and it does not work :-(. I noticed moist in the headlight, so I am 100% sure the issue is with the ballast containing water. I need to make a picture of the ballast - is it accessible when I remove the battery? Is it at the bottom of the headlight? Thanks!

120

Sorry the ballast is screwed to the bottom of the headlight assembly. Mine was on passenger side so got to it by removing the air cleaner. Not sure if you can with battery out. I used a mirror to see what I was doing. My pass. headlight also had moisture but ballast has a good gasket around connector so not sure if water affected ballast or affected bulb and that killed ballast. Either way another ballast (used on ebay) fixed the problem... temporarily. I will be converting to halogen.. eventually.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Thank you bbbttt - if it was accessible on the other side for you using a mirror, should be the same also on the driver's side. I just need to take a picture of it to be 100% sure. Btw. would you have the link to the used ballast in Ebay? I see two different types: http://www.hidconcept.com/d1-hella-gen5-oem-hid-replacement-ballast/ http://www.ebay.com/itm/2x-NEW-OEM-08-14-Subaru-Tribeca-Xenon-BALLASTS-HID-CONTROL-UNIT-MODULE-ECU-SET-/351256420512

I have a 2008 Tribeca and and I've had it for about a year and a half and just the other day my headlights went off and I took it to the Dealership but they told me that don't know what is causing the lights not to turn on. All I'm asking is what should I do now or what should be the next step forward

120

Linet. The dealer cannot tell what is wrong? I know they have an option to connect to Subaru tech support. You should ask them to tell you what they say.

50

I just took my car to the dealer as we have had multiple headlight issues. We replaced the regular bulbs with HID but after some time those did not work as well. Apparently the HID were drawing too much power so kept shorting out. The dealer recommended going back to long lasting OEM (factory) lights. We have done that and they are working....for now. The dealer did indicate the many of these cars have headlight issues and it is not just Tribecas. I would like to see Subaru come out with a solution but do not see that happening.

I am having all the same issues with my 2011 Tribeca , glad to hear I'm not alone but dismayed that Subaru cannot address this issue....I am on headlight #9 and have had both fog lights go out as well. A shame, because otherwise I like my car very much. ..

120

Peggy: you did not mention if your HID or halogen headlights are going out? So far my passenger's oem HID bulb and ballast went out.

I had the same problem with my wifes 2012 Tribeca. Until I found Osram Rallye 65 W bulbs. They cost less than the Sylvanias and Phillips bulbs I was replacing every 6 months, and they have lasted 3 years now. You have to get them online from Europe... they don't sell them in the US... but I got a 10 pack for a great price.

100

DonFJH, My bulbs are going out every 2 months, not 6 months. I've tried every bulb there is to try. Subaru knows this problem exists as the new Foresters and the new out backs and crossovers. I don't have to pay ft my bulbs any longer as my Subaru dealer is awesome and takes care of me! But it's still a pain in the neck to constantly have to go to the dealer just for a bulb change. I wish Subaru knew that this could be a major problem if an accident happens on a highway at night!

120

DonFJH and Melody - you obviously both have Halogen bulbs. Be glad you do NOT have HID. Those bulbs cost $180 Each ! I know I've already replace one. 2010 Tribeca with 55k miles.

I am in the same boat. Bought my 06 Tribeca in Sept. 2015. It's going in today for its 4th drivers headlight and 2nd passenger. These are the H7 halogens and I'm not impressed at all. How can there be so many of us with identical issues and it not be recognized and rectified?

40

Got my Tribecca 2013 about a year ago. 10 bulbs between low- beams and fog lights. Really frustrating. They are using Phillips branded bulbs. Anyone had any luck getting smth from Subaru? Like lifetime supply of bulbls?)

After reading all of these comments, I am glad to see I am not the only one who owns a Subaru with this problem. I own a 2010 Outback and have replaced bulbs in headlights too many times to mention. I am certainly going to now question the service manager at the dealership about how they are installed, and what types of bulbs they are replacing. Thanks to all!

2014 cross trek with the same issue. Bought new from the dealer replaced the lights 6 times in 2 years. Didn't happen for the first 9 months but now it happens very often. I recently got in to drive at night and to my surprise neither of my headlights worked one of which had been replaced 3 weeks ago. So disappointing for an otherwise outstanding vehicle. Halo lights

40

My fix to this was to get original bulbs at Amazon. Subaru uses Phillips bulbs. So, I found $20 per pair for fog lights and about the same for headlights - they actually were brighter than originals coming with the car. Upon installation about 3 months ago - no problems and issues, "knock on the wood"))) I believe for my 2013 Tribecca they were H3 and H7 bulbs, they come in pairs and $20 per pair in cheaper than $30-40 per one bulb at dealership. Headlights I replaced myself, really easy. Fog lights - you need a lift, so i went to my mechanic to do that.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.

Has anyone tried putting in led bulbs?

100

I have actually used LED bulbs and had the same issues. I have now had my ballasts changed and had no problems as I did recently. I have had my current bulbs for almost 4 months now? Maybe even longer.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
120

Melody, When you had LED bulbs, what did you use for lenses? I doubt oem lens will have the correct focal length between HID arc and LED. What/who replaced ballasts? Do you have a part number? I believe there is an updated part that may last longer. If you did not get that, then probably looking at same problem in a couple of years.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
56,285

My 2 cents worth. Has anyone check the body grounding? A poor ground MIGHT contribute to this problem.

120

Good suggestion but seems a poor ground would lessen the current to the bulb, just like reducing voltage for Day time running lights.

56,285

Poor electrical connections can cause high current draw with overheating.

10

I have a 2010 Tribeca and have replaced my headlights about every 6 months. Both went out at the same time one time, while I was driving with 2 kids in the car! I bought a Subaru for safety....... Now my headlight is out again, and the dealership won't even call me back. Obviously something is seriously wrong with the electrical system on this car. Even if I drove my car 24/7, the headlight specs show them lasting far longer than what I have experienced. Subaru needs to fix this problem.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
56,285

Have you tried complaining to Subaru of America directly? Maybe they can provide some technical assistance to your dealer or maybe just a kick in the pants.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
120

Full_of_regrets. Thanks. I have contacted Subaru and they are of no help and only refer to dealer. "a kick in the pants" is right.

120

tribeca_headlight_problems WOW. No headlights! Are these the halogen or HID lamps? I just put a new battery in thinking both poor connections and a low capacity to limit surges in voltage. So far not enough time to see any problems.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Hey bbbttt is the picture you posted the one from the Tribeca ballast? or just a random one

32 years with Subaru. One headlight replacement. It is very disappointing that my daughter's Tribeca needs new headlights.

Has anyone tried the LED conversion kits to fix the issue?

. Has anyone tried to LED conversion kits to fix this issue

120

I have looked diligently and found no LED conversion with the same optical and focus properties to fit into existing OEM headlight assemblies. Even written to suppliers to see if theirs does 'fit'. Has anyone else.

80

I just ordered a set last night for my 2008 Tribeca factory Halogen: https://www.carid.com/2008-subaru-tribeca-led- lights/lumen-led-headlight-conversion-kit- 175100948.html I guess we will see. Hopefully the answer to all our prayers!!!! I have spent hundreds on headlights. For some reason always low beams

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
15

Thanks Travis. https://www.carid.com/2008-subaru-tribeca-led-lights/

100

I purchased HID headlights, I have no idea as to why I put LED lights for my one's that I replaced. I have had to replace so many times that the dealership in which I have purchased this Tribeca promised that they would always cover my bulb replacements for the length that I have the vehicle. Which, I am thankful for as I had spent a lot of money on lights of all different kinds, lower end to higher end thinking you get what you pay for. I did have my last bulbs a bit longer this time, as for the ballast I am not sure as what they put into my car? I just know they said they replaced it.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
120

So help me understand.. You purchased it with original "HID headlights"? Then put in LEDs? So which have you "had to replace so many times"? HIDs or LEDs? I ask because I am considering replacing my OEM HIDs with newer LEDs

15

Hi Travis, Have you had a chance to install the LED lights yet? If so how difficult was it and how do they work/look? Thanks Mike

80

So i have stock halogen bulbs. I don't believe there is stock led. There is either HID (high intensity discharge) which uses a gas filled bulb. (Think flourecent to simplify) and standard halogen (most automotive). What I found on the website I provided is actually LED. (Light Emitting Diode) it withstands voltage variations and actually requires much less DC voltage. Most of The kits I found have special constant current CPU built in that reduce fluctuation in voltage producing a consistent lumen output. No gas or bulbs to burn out. Many are backed by a 5 year warranty. Also standard halogens are usually 1200 to 1500. These led are reaching 4000 lumen. Much brighter. I have not installed these new led bulbs but will update when I do.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
80

Please feel free to research the difference in HID, Halogen, and, LED . All very different. Please check out the website I found and do some reading. Very informative. https://www.carid.com/2008-subaru-tribeca-led- lights/

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
120

Travis. Good answer. My concern is: are the LEDs of the same focus point as the halogens? If yes then you can install them into the 'standard halogen halogen assembly'/ If Not then what can you put LEDs into?...or the focus will not be correct or so poor as to blind oncoming traffic or not see well at all.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
80

To bbbttt, I do not know of the focal points but I do know they are specific to my model and whether they are HID or Halogen . I do know that I can adjust my bulb focal points on the headlight fixture itself. I can have better information for every one soon. LED lights shipped last Friday. Just a matter of time now! :)

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
80

This is the set I ordered: https://www.carid.com/2008-subaru-tribeca-led- lights/lumen-led-headlight-conversion-kit- 175100948.html

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
120

Travis. I had chat with them and finally they said "Mason Glover 1:31 PM So there is only fog lights available for your model with HID headlights..." Apparently NO HID replacement headlights available for 2010 Tribeca with Stock HID headlights. Let me know if you find out differently.

80

So I just got off the phone with customer service and they confirmed that there is a conversion if your headlights are halogen. NOT HID. Unfortunately the bulbs are separate so low beams 160 a pair and high beams 160 a pair. Getting spendy.... but worth bing the trouble. I wonder if the whole light fixture could be swapped from HID to older halogen and then converted??? Is it worth it???

120

Travis. Thanks, at least you got an honest answer which is more than I did on their Chat line... that NO conversion if HID. Yes I am considering swap to older halogen. Let me know how you make out especially with the focus issue. I'm concerned they will not focus properly and be blurry and not pass vehicle inspection.

80

So I just finished my LED upgrade this weekend for my stock halogen 2008 tribeca. They work great! BUT..... it was not an easy install. If you are considering this upgrade please note it is not for the average person. Plan to dedicate 4-6 hours and have some skill. It will involve removing the headlight assembly (not an easy task) and some modifying. The new Led plugs into existing wiring harness but it took some brain power drilling and force2fit to get a good clean secure install. Please message for further detail.

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