My 2010 Subaru Outback recently surprised the hell out of me by simultaneously turning on the brake warning light, the traction control light, the check engine light and (just for a bonus!) disabled my cruise control while flashing the cruise control light. I pulled over, quickly surmising that all of those systems could not have failed at 70 MPH without instantaneous death to either me or the vehicle. Both apparently still being alive, I tried turning the car on an off to reset the lights. No go. Subaru was not going to miss this chance to get me to the dealership! (who I had avoided to this point!) As I was far away from home and the car being very healthy, it seemed, I decided to drive on. I proceeded to put a couple of hundred more miles on the car before I got back to town.
On to the dealer, who informed me it would cost me $120.00 to determine the cause of my problem. My car had 39,000 miles on it, 3,000 miles beyond the warranty end. How appropriate!! So I paid and learned that I have an error code of P0171, “Fuel Trim Malfunction (Air/Fuel too lean)”. They would gladly order the part and install it for another $375.00. This is a sensor I can buy online for $131.00…so OK I’m being screwed a bit, but hey they did throw in a car wash for my $120.00.
So I guess I’m wondering about a few things…why would this sensor set off every light on my dashboard and disable my cruise control? Seems a bit overblown for running a bit lean. My gut tells me Subaru has a sensor/software problem they are not owning up to. I’m a big fan of conspiracy theories and this really smells like one…
Second, jeez, I’m only 3K miles over warranty, don’t you think they’d cut me some slack. I mean I love my Subaru, or did anyway, until this happened. Now it’s just another POS car that breaks for no apparent reason.
I will probably go back and have them change out the sensor and beg for mercy on the charges. Has anyone else had this experience with their Outback??