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1999 Subaru Forester S
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17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I got my car in late November, meaning it was dark until after I got to school and dark before I left, so driving with burnt out heater and shifter (Automatic) bulbs was not great. To remedy the problem I knew I needed to get new bulbs, but I wasn't sure how to do so, so I went onto the Youtube, and came across this video. While they changed the lights red, it acted as a great manual as to how to go about the light changes, and even better, below they linked to the bulbs that they used. I went to their link for the heater/shifter and got the bulb size. From there, I found that any T5 LED bulb will fit into the heater and shifter, which you can buy on Amazon for cheap. I don't have the exact link I used, but I got 10 for 4$ shippedwith Prime.
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The next thing that I had to do was pull apart the center console. If you've done so before, its really quite simple, but if you haven't I would recommend that you watch the video above to see step by step instruction center console dissasmbly, pulling the panels out is the easy part, its taking the shifter off that is tricky.
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The picture above is not from when I changed the bulb, but rather when I was doing a deep cleaning when I first got the car, however, you can see the shifter bulb next to the shift lever on the drivers side. To get that out you can simply take the bulb and its socket, twist it, and then pull the old bulb out. Put the new in the socket, and then turn the key to on and turn on the headlights, if the bulb turns on you know that the bulb is in the correct way. If the bulb doesn't turn on, you have it in backward. Turn the key off flip the bulb and it should turn on. Then, simply slide the socket back into place. Next you will need to pull the facia off from around the heater and the radio. because of the USB port from my aftermarket deck, I couldn't pull it all the way off, but I could pull it off quite a ways. You also will need to unscrew the deck and pull it forward as well as unscrew and finness the heater controls out of the stack. The heater is attached to wire that control the heat and vents, so don't pull to hard and don't pull it all the way out because you will break something. Again, you should watch the video for better instruction on this step.
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The image above shows how I pulled the center stack apart, and you can also see the socket for one of the bulbs sitting on top of my deck. Note that at this point you should not have put the shift lever back on as it will only make your life harder. There are two bulbs in the heater control unit, and the easiest way to access them is from the back. Some people say that you can pull the front piece of the heater until, but that is simply not true from my experience (your mileage may vary, but be weary as it is very likely you'll damage the front piece). One of the bulbs is on the right side and the other is on the left. One is at near the top and the other is near the bottom of the unit on their respective sides, although I do not remember which is which (again, watch the video). It took me about maybe 20-25 minute of work to change both of the bulbs in the shifter. I found that using the camera of my cell phone to give me vision behind the unit worked well and made it much easier to see what I was doing. In the same fashion as the shifter bulb, simply twist the socket out, pull out the old bulb, insert the new bulb, test and then replace the bulbs. Even if you do not need to, I would recommend changing both heater bulbs as it won't look right if you only change one. Changing the bulbs in the heater was tricky, and it was hard to get my hands in to work, so I found that using a pair of needle nose pliers and my phone camera made it much easier to get the sockets out and back in again.
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When I was done, my whole center console lit up again and it made it so much easier to drive at night. While the photo may make it look overexposed and white, the white bulbs come through the plastic in the same green hue that they factory bulbs did, and it was cheap and relatively easy. I was able to do it at night by the light of a headlamp. However, if you are not familiar with the center console and the way that it comes apart, or even if you are, you should watch the video linked above, which also has parts numbers and instruction to change bulbs or LED swap the gauge cluster and domes lights, which I will be doing in the relatively near future. For reference, the Shifter and Heater use T5 LED bulbs, and you want to get bulbs that light on three or fives sides, not just the top. If you look at the bulbs I bought, they illuminate on three sides. It illuminates the shifter cavity and the whole heater unit much better than a focused one sided light. Please ask if you have any questions, I've done this and may be able to help you!
 

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1999 Subaru Forester S
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17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
@2.5x_sleeper The bulbs that I put into the shifter and the heater do dim with the dimmer switch on the light stock, although I like to leave my lights on high since I have a burned out bulb in my gauge cluster, so I don't know if leaving them dimmed long term has any negative effects.
 

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1999 Subaru Forester S
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17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
@2.5x_sleeper It's been a couple months since I bought the bulbs, and honestly I don't remember if they were advertised at dimable, however they were advertised as automotive interior LEDs, and they dim fine, but I don't remember the amazon link I bought them through.
 
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