Subaru Legacy warning lights on



1996 Legacy wagon

Battery and Brake warning lights came on same day

Starts fine, all auxiliary functions (wipers, antenna, horn, etc) work,etc

Brakes fine, emergency brake is off, no grinding, no fluid leaks.

Is it a coincidence? The mechanics want to check and replace everything ofcoarse!! Could it just be the light panel, fuses, electrical system?


I suspect that your alternator is about to give up the ghost, as I had those exact symptoms on a '97 Outback just before the alternator died. Have your mechanic test the output of the alternator today, before it dies and strands you in an inconvenient location. (Incidentally, if I am correct, I am not very impressed with your mechanic.)

A second possibility is a bad ground, perhaps inside the instrument panel.

Please post back and let us know what was actually wrong with your car.


While I also suggest checking out the charging system first, I don’t agree that your mechanic is wrong. Hey we are talking about a potential issue with your brakes, you know, those things that stop your car and keep it from rolling in front of that Semi truck at the intersection.

It is likely that the brake light is minor or the result of an electrical issue, but please don't consider any indication of a brake problem something that can be put off.


As others have stated, there is a problem with the alternator. You may need to replace it or there is a wiring problem to it. The reason both of the warning lights you mention came on is because they are used in the alternator field circuit. This is a common setup used in a number of vehicles. It may be wise to replace the battery also if the alternator is replaced. At least have the shop check the battery condition to see how good it is. A good shop would do this anyways. A weak battery can cause further problems to the alternator later on, so some preventive maintenance now can help later on.


Thanks for your comments…you were right…it was my alternator. Brake systems all OK.



I’m glad that my diagnosis was correct.

Incidentally, you might want to check with the Subaru dealer to see if this is a covered repair. When the alternator on my '97 Outback quit, I paid nothing, even though the car was then several years out of warranty. Apparently Subaru got a bunch of defective alternators from a supplier and they replaced them free-of-charge when they failed. Most likely yours is too old for this coverage, but it doesn’t hurt to check!