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Subaru 2000 Outback Electrical Problems

I have a 2000 Subaru Legacy Outback & have taken my car to the mechanic several times for the same issue but the mechanic is unable to replicate the problem because it occurs intermittently.

Here’s the deal: Sometimes, usually when the weather is warmer, when I put my foot on the brake & shift into reverse the windshield wipers (front & back), radio, seat warmers, & side mirror defrost short out. Sometimes it’ll come back on all of the sudden while driving. I have taken the car to the mechanic 3 times for this. They took out the middle console & checked the grounding wire & said the connector seemed loose, so they made sure the connection was tight. I have played with the brake & shifter & can sometimes get it back on. This helps when it’s raining & the wipers go out. Ugh!

Has anyone else experienced this problem?? I can’t find an answer anywhere even though it has been posted on other forums.

Thanks in advance for your help!!


When you say the wipers, etc, “short out,” what, exactly do you mean? A short circuit should result in a blown fuse, or in this case many blown fuses, but you say the systems will “come back on all of a sudden while driving.”

If the fuses are not blowing there is no short circuit. Rather, I think there is a loose electrical connection somewhere under the dash, and either moving the brake pedal or moving the shifter is tugging on something and causing the circuit to disconnect.

A loose ground connection is possible, as your mechanic suggested, but obviously they haven’t found it yet.

Here’s another guess: perhaps there’s a heat-sensitive circuit breaker in the system, which is overheating from the high current draw of all those accessories operating at once, and then resetting when it cools off again.

Does jiggling the ignition key have any impact on this?

Like Mcparadise stated, the trouble is most likely due to a bad power connection and not a short in the wiring. I would suspect the problem is near the main power panel under the hood but it may be in a wire connector leading to the dash fuse panel. The main fuses in the engine compartment feed a number of other fuses and circuits in the dash panel. You may be able find the trouble by tapping on suspected trouble spots with a screwdriver handle. I will be able to get more detailed wiring info when I get back home Friday if you need it so keep us posted on the progress. I’m sure we will be able to find the culprit that is causing the trouble.

Yes, calling it a “short” is incorrect b/c it is not fuse related. My car vocabulary maybe lacking. I can hear a “click” in the brake & shifter & have tried “toggling” between them but this doesn’t occur consistently.

I’m not usually using all of these at once, rarely in fact. I hardly use the seat warmers or side window defrosters. Usually I notice it’s occurring because the radio goes out.

I haven’t noticed anything related with the ignition. I have also tried turning the car off altogether, then turning it back on & the radio, etc. come back on but when I press on the brake & go into reverse usually it stays off until it decides to come back on.

Thanks for you help!

Interesting, I’ll let you know what happens. I picked it up from the mechanic & he switched out light bulbs on the car but still could not replicate the issue.

I only care about the windshield wipers b/c it is our rainy season.

Thank you - I’ll KIT!

The click is normal. When you step on the brake you activate a switch under the dash, which works the brake lights and the transmission shift interlock. The click might be the switch or the interlock working as they should.

If you’re not usually applying a large load with all the heaters, I’m sticking with my loose-connection-somewhere-under-the-dashboard theory. The problem is, there are LOTS of connections, including grounds, and finding the one that’s loose may not be easy.

My concern is that safety-related things like the wipers are affected by this, and that’s not good.

You’re welcome Nicole. It is strange that going into reverse effects this problem. I could understand the brakes contributing to the trouble but the shift to reverse has me a little puzzeled right now. I would do some tapping on the electrical areas under the hood first to see if that shows up any problem.