Subaru's leaking tallights

My 2001 Outback’s tail lights leak water (in) whenever it rains or the car is washed. I’ve already replaced both bulb sockets due to corrosion, even though I take the bulbs out and let the fixture dry out before plugging them back in. (I overlook the fact that some of my tail lights don’t work in the meantime.) Two questions: 1. is there anything that can be done about this to prevent the leak? and 2. is is true that new tail lights, and even new Subarus, have the same problem?

Isn’t it just the rubber seals that are supposed to keep the tail-lights water-tight are deteriorating after 13 years of sunlight and ozone? Have you removed the seals and inspected them for cracks and tears?

“is is true that new tail lights, and even new Subarus, have the same problem?”

No, the problem–as George mentioned–is that the seals on those 13 year old tail lights have dried-out. I doubt if you can buy just the seals, but you might be able to fabricate something with a tube of caulking if you don’t want to buy new tail lights, complete with new seals.

Do new Subarus have this problem?
Well, none of my 3 Subarus have ever had this problem, but–then again–I have only kept them for up to 10 years. My latest one is now 3+ years old, and does not have this problem–or any other problem for that matter.

Whoever told you that the problem lies in the brand of car is…wrong.
Instead, it is a problem of old, dried-out seals.

The only new Subaru known for this problem is the BRZ (shared with the Scion FRS) I’m not aware of a problem with the tail lights of the other Subaru’s

You could add a little clear caulk to the seal and reinstall the lens.

Um, I never commented on this but yet I got two emails and two notifications that you guys mentioned me in your comments. Huh?

Used to have this problem on Nissan pickups(front signal lights) I just drilled a small weep hole in the bottom of the lens,they shouldnt leak anyway,but it happens-Kevin

If you remove the entire lamp assy. you should be able to see the water entry point and seal it with Silicone. Making a drain hole in the very bottom is also good advice.

I’ve contacted Subaru regarding this issue. Thy’re aware of it and do not have a fix for it. The gasket supplied by Subaru tends to warp over time. Gasket replacements tend to warp within a year. The Subaru tech that I spoke with recommended that i drill a small hole to allow the water to drain. It’s worked for even since and I no longer have bulbs that corrode water in my tailights.

Good for you now quit emailing me.

I just happened by this thread and, because I have the same issue, I thought I would share that purchasing new taillight gaskets was not a fix for me. they cost me $50 with the shipping. I like that idea of sealing with silicone caulk or making a drainage hole. I would suggest NEVER making the $50 gasket replacement a priority for anyone in the future who has this issue.

The water is most likely going in around the seal between the lens and the body, running down the backside of the housing and getting in around the bulb. My suggestion would be to make a dam of caulk (or silicone gasket sealer) shaped like an eyebrow above the bulb socket on the housing. This would divert the water and make it go around the bulb.

A weep hole in the bottom of the housing, not the lens, is a good idea too but start with the eyebrow diverter.

OK, buy new tail lights, now quit emailing me.

@Bing; I really don’t know whats up.
These guys were praising you up one side and down the other …in almost every post.
Knowledgable, kind, trustworthy…someone even compared you to Mother Terisa.

Next time I looked they all just had edited you right out.

What Did You Do!!!


The thing with this particular discussion is that whenever Ms Liz or somebody responds, I get a personal email about it. Not a car talk email, but on my personal account. Don’t know how or why but just when I think the subject is dead, someone else chimes in again on leaking tail lights. Other than that I try to be respectful but I draw the line at those promoting socialism/communism. We went down that road in 1945 and should have learned.

lololol Hi bing, i hope you gwt a notifacation email
Anyways, thanks for this post problem solved, seal it up…