Subaru VDC & Brake Warning Lamp & LED 'bulbs'

Hello, this applies to various Subaru’s of similar model years to 2010 thru 2014; and possibly others. I am guess on the model years - I own a 2011 Outback with a 3.6L and Auto Transmission.
If you go and ‘upgrade’ by changing out the tail lamps, etc. in the rear to LED - specifically the BRAKE lamps… you will encounter the following two problems… 1. Remote Start will no longer work. 2. While driving - after 5 or 10 minutes or so… the orange/yellow VDC lamp will light up; and the BRAKE warning lamp will start flashing…
So - WHAT is the terrible problem?? You replaced the incandescent rear brake lights - with LED’S! Simple FIX… purchase (1) 33 ohm / 10 Watt resistor; and put that in Parallel (across the two wires) on the Brake tail light. Use some of those blue scotch connectors & some heat shrink tubing; bit of solder to connect the resistor, etc.; and problem solved. Now, if you also changed out the Turn Signal lamps for LED’s - than you either need to purchase & install an LED flasher unit (to stop hyper flash blinking) when using the turn signal - or install a couple of load resistors (which would require around 6 ohms on both sides (and don’t use the above 33 ohm…) - however if you replace the flasher unit with like a ‘tapturn’ flasher or some such - than you don’t need the load resistors; however if you also replace the BRAKE incandescent with LED’s than in addition to the replacement flasher - either purchase a 6 ohm load resistor (which has a large metal case that needs to be attached to metal for heat dissipation) OR just use a 33 ohm 10Watt resistor (available from your local electronics store or online for NOT much money); get it installed in parallel across just ONE side of your BRAKE lamp - and no more VDC & Brake warning light when driving; or non working remote start… Hope this helps. And believe me - I was blown away when I found out that my VDC and Brake Warning light errors; and non working Remote start - were ALL because I had installed LED’s for my Brake lights!

I have no idea what you are talking about but I printed this in case I need to give it to my mechanic!


Why would you want to switch out the incandescent bulbs to LED in the first place? The change in power usage we be so small that you probably wouldn’t notice any improvement in gas mileage. I know that LED bulbs last longer, but it really doesn’t take that much effort to change a bulb.

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A big advantage to LED brake lights is that they come on faster than incandescents. It takes an incandescent almost a quarter of a second to illuminate when voltage is applied where an LED illuminates almost instantly. At 60 mph, it gives the tailgater behind you about 20 ft of extra notice that you have applied your brakes.

The only other advantage of LEDs for brake lights, tail lights and turn signals is their long life, probably longer than the vehicle.

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I don’t see power savings as being a motivation to switch to LEDs. Any potential power savings is lost with the parallel circuit needed to make them draw enough current to work with the existing electronics.

By simulating the load of an incandescent bulb with parallel resistors you may not get a bulb out warning for an LED lamp failure (unless it results in a sufficiently unbalanced load). LEDs can fail and the reliability of aftermarket LED bulb replacements is anyone’s guess. Another thought: a filament bulb failure is unlikely to cause a short circuit but it’s conceivable that failure of the LED’s drive electronics could cause a short and take out something else, certainly a fuse (possibly more) with the result that you could loose all brake lights, etc., They do turn on quicker, an advantage for stop lamps, but do you really trust potential unvetted aftermarket vendors?

Installing aftermarket flashers, using scotch-locks (the bane of every automotive technician), and soldering resistors into the brake light harness. Sounds like a list of reasons to not install LED lamps.

I have yet to see LED upgrades and HID conversion kits that functioned and lasted as well as factory ones.

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We used Sylvania Zevo Led lamps - which have a lifetime warranty; if they ever fail - free replacement.
You are correct in that it is easy to replace incandescent bulbs. Now, it is just as easy to replace the Led’s - except that they probably will never burn out…
These model year Subaru’s (2010, 2011, etc.) don’t have a Lamp burn out indicator. At least ‘on purpose’. If both of your brake lamps are burned out - the VDC warning lights up; and the Brake Warning light starts flashing - after some minutes of driving (and instantly resets if you shut off the vehicle). But this was not intentional by Subaru. In searching/reading for reasons WHY (what sensor, etc.) or combination of problems - my VDC was lit (and would just reset if shut off vehicle); and the Brake warning light starts Flashing - I came across a few posts mentioning Led bulbs… So, just wanted to make a more concise post about the problem, reason, and fix… One person in 2012 was told by a Subaru dealership that they needed to replace their wiring harness for $2700; they went a few other places; and eventually someone caught that their brake tail lights were both burned out… So Subaru does not have a ‘lamp burnout’ indicator - except for this messed up little combo situation of the VDC & Brake warning lamp flashing…
We replaced the brake lamps with led - so that I wouldn’t have to be wondering if they were burned out…
Energy Savings - yes - that was amazing. The small amount of energy ‘saved’ by using led bulbs had a huge difference in our gas mileage. We went from a vehicle getting around 18 mpg city and bit of hghwy - to 180 mpg - just by changing out the bulbs! Why that’s a 1000% increase for only a few dollars and the small amount of time to change out the bulbs and add (1) 33 ohm 10W resistor… This change in gas mileage would be amazing if true…
We just changed the bulbs for reliability; and posted about the VDC and Brake Warning lamp to help out anyone else driving a Subi - who switches to led… Blessings and have a good day!

Is that with or without activating the Flux Capacitor ?


Yes!! Flux enabled…:grinning:

Just avoided an incredibly catastrophic accident by saving that quarter second. Thank God for LEDs.

Yawn… ZZZ… You’re the man.

I spend my driving career hoping to avoid electronic gremlins and now I have a chance to introduce a bunch of them. My lucky day.