2012 Subaru Outback Warning Light Issues

Two weeks ago I bought a new 2012 Outback. While driving in the manual auto mode, the cruise started flashing, the check engine came on, the traction control light came on and the brake light was on. The dealer said it was because I did not tighten the gas cap, letting air in. They reset it but a few days later it came back on again and this time they said it was miss fire code. Since they couldn’t figure out the issue, they did the right thing and traded it in for another, identical 2012 Outback. Now, 8 days later, all the same lights have come on. Anyone experience any of these issues before? Any suggestions on what to do? Thanks.

You apparently have a 4-cylinder “Partial Zero Emissions” model.
On this particular model, if the OBD system detects a problem with the Evaporative Emissions System, all of the warning lights that you mentioned will light up, and the traction control will be disabled.

However, the fix is actually quite easy if the service department is competent and up to date–which your service department may not be. The sequence for fixing it is as follows:

  1. Remove and tighten the gas filler cap. Then, make sure that you drive the car through at least 3 drive cycles (start engine, drive several miles, shut engine off) in order for the system to reset. Henceforth, make sure that the gas cap is properly tightened until it clicks. (It sounds like this has already been done, however)

  2. If #1 does not work, a new gas cap may be needed, as a result of a defective gasket on the cap.

  3. If #2 does not work, then the dealership should update the software of the car’s engine management system. The software patch for this specific problem is #WVU-31.

I suggest that you print this information, and show it to the service manager–NOT to the “service writer” at the desk.

#1 actually worked. I did talk to the service manager today though. This is apparently not an isolated incident, however the Subaru engineer has to schedule a time to come out to write a temporary code in order to fix it. Then when the new code is out, I would need to come back in and have it re-flashed with the new one, but that won’t be until sometime after the first of the year. Thanks fr your help on this. Does this sound right by the way?

I guess that it sounds right, but it seems that merely making sure the gas cap is properly tightened each time you get gas is also a solution–at least until the re-flash is done.

"Does this sound right by the way?"
What ? Are You Kidding ?
Two 2012 New Cars And The Problem Continues And May Be Fixed Next Year ?

Yow! Starting out this way with a new car (2 new cars, actually) does not bode well for the future. I’d tell them that I have decided to return the second defective car for a full refund. Tell them if or when they get it perfected that you might be back.

What’s the situation with the lights right now and what’s it going to be until next year ?
Get everything in writing and save all paper work.


I would like to change (or, as the less-literate younger folks like to say, “change up”) my previous response.
I really think that this dealership is “out of the loop”, or is trying to stall you for reasons unknown.

If the dealership has a properly-functioning satellite dish (which is required), they would currently have all software updates available to re-flash the ECM. There should be no need for “a Subaru engineer” to do anything on-site. Either they are too lazy to do what is necessary or are unaware of what is available, namely the WVU-31 software patch.

And, as to my friend, CSA, I have to say that he is revealing both his biases regarding foreign vs domestic makes and an apparent poor memory about the realities of the Lemon Law.

Although CSA usually posts very helpful, fact-filled advice, the reality is that he also takes every possible opportunity to try to characterize “foreign” cars as being unreliable pieces of junk and to extol the virtues of anything manufactured by “The Big Three”. In essence, while he is usually very helpful, he also serves as the chief apologist on this board for GM, and to a lesser extent, for Chrysler. (I don’t recall his feelings on Ford products offhand.) Trust me–if the car in question was made by GM, his answer would have been very different in tone, if not in content.

And, despite his advice to “return the second defective car for a full refund”, there is no legal mechanism for that advice. There is, of course, The Lemon Law, but even with the variations in these laws from state to state, in no state can a car owner simply say, “my car is defective–give me a new one”. The earlier vehicle exchange by the dealership was very nice, but they were under no legal obligation to do so. And, if you do want to avail yourself of the help that does exist under the Lemon Law in your state, in almost every instance, you have to give the dealership 3 chances to fix the problem before it can be ruled as a “lemon”.

My advice is to “kick it up a notch” by contacting Subaru Customer Service at the corporate level. Contact info can be found in your Owner’s Manual. Frequently, intervention by the corporate folks will spur a dealership to do what they are hesitating to do for you.

My advice let the engineer take care of it. He will either get the proper patch or simply fix the code.

Eventually a reflash will become available and take care of this issue. Seems odd Subaru has this issue though in 2012 since the redesign was 2010 unless something really changed.

“And, despite his advice to ‘return the second defective car for a full refund,’ there is no legal mechanism for that advice.” " My advice is to 'kick it up a notch . . . ’ "

I believe I was misquoted/misunderstood. I really didn’t intend for the owner to get a refund, but rather “kick it up a notch” by telling the good folks at the dealer that this was the direction this was heading if they didn’t make a better effort or take things more seriously. Although they issued 2 cars already, I doubt seriously they’d give a refund. You never know, though. I can’t believe this place issued car #2.

By the way, I wouldn’t car who the manufacturer was, I would still be after getting what I paid for, trust me.

Sometimes asking to be put in touch with the dealership owner(s)/principal(s) will get somebody’s attention. Also, they usually have some pull with corporate.