The Subaru brand is famed for its unique style among its competitors with features like a boxer engine and the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. It goes out of its way to push performance, technology, and safety features. Driving a Subaru, should afford you maximum comfort and peace of mind. Issues like a faulty brake light switch might come as a surprise, so let’s dive deeper into this problem.
This issue became a severe problem for a couple of years for Subaru, warranting a recall of most of the vehicles by the manufacturer. As of February 2019, over 2.3 million vehicles had been recalled. These included:
- Subaru Foresters produced from December 18, 2012 – April 28, 2016
- Subaru Crosstreks produced from May 17, 2010 – June 13, 2017
- Subaru WRX 4-Door models produced from April 26, 2007 – January 15, 2014
Symptoms of Brake Switch Defects
- This defect can hinder the brake lights from turning on when a driver presses on the pedal to slow down.
- It could also disable certain ignition and transmission functions and make it impossible to start the engine due to ignition interlock. This makes it impossible to shift out of park.
- It will also illuminate the vehicle stability control warning due to disabled Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) and the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system.
Subaru released a Technical Service Bulletin in 2016 that outlined a change in design to the brake light switch to reduce the possibility of improper illumination of the ABS and/or VDC warning lamp. Consequently, they introduced a new switch with fluorine grease to lubricate the plunger and prevent silicone contamination. The failure was highly attributed to contamination caused by liquids used to clean the interior of the vehicle.
DIY for your Brake Light Switch
Below are ways to deal with the defect if you’re feeling confident in your DIY skills:
Override the electronic shift lock
When the gear shift is stuck, you will have to override the electronic shift lock. Shift lock generally refers to the shift interlock system for automatic transmissions. Its chief function is safety. It prevents the vehicle from being put into any gear other than park unless the brake pedal is pressed.
The slot is covered with a small plastic cap and is located near the shifter lever on the shifter console. You need to remove the cap and insert a screwdriver or similar object and push it down to release the shifter lever.
Press the brake pedal repeatedly
Try pressing the brake pedal repeatedly. This could unstick the brake light switch if it is stuck. This could also remove debris or silicone on the switch’s internal electrical contact that affects conductivity. Remember that this is a short-term solution to assist you to get to our trusted Subaru specialists in our shop.
Disconnect the wiring pigtail from the switch
The wiring for the switch is held in place with plastic housing. Disconnect the plastic housing by pressing the clip. Make sure you don’t pull the wires themselves to avoid tearing them away from the harness. Visually inspect the inside of the plastic for burning or melting. Connect the pigtail again and try starting the engine.
Swedish Auto Service: Your Subaru Experts
A brake light switch is a very important component in your car. Its failure might result in health hazards as other road users may hit you from behind while braking. It can also be a huge inconvenience, as it may take a long time to start your vehicle or override the electronic shift lock. If you experience any of the symptoms we have mentioned above, bring your Subaru to us right away for a proper diagnosis.
We welcome you to Swedish Auto Service. We proudly serve clients in and around Cedar Park, Round Rock, Leander, and Austin, TX.
At Swedish Auto Service, we specialize in Volvo, Saab, BMW, Infiniti, Lexus, Subaru, and Mercedes. Here, we understand how important taking care of your car is to you, and our mechanics are committed to ensuring your car always gets the best service possible. We keep our shop fully equipped with the latest factory-grade tools and equipment available to ensure quality and accuracy with all services.
We are open Monday through Saturday for your convenience, so call us at 512-836-0022 today!