Subaru Forester Owners Forum banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
1998 Forester S
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I just bought a '98 Forester S yesterday for my daughter, and embarrisingly found the tail lights don't work. Of course I changed the bulbs. The strange thing is the brake lights work. The tail lights & brake lights are different filiments on the same bulb, so the wiring is probably OK (I think). Auto Zone told me the tail lights have a 10 amp fuse, so I changed all of them as well - under the hood and behind that ashtray looking thing under the driver's dash. Still no tail lights. I suppose it's possible the light switch isn't making a connection. However since the headlights come on, and changing the switch means breaking down the stearing colum, I hoping the problem might be that I got the wrong fuse, or a relay switch.

As you can tell I'm working blind here: no fuse block/relay diagram, and no repair manual.

Can any of you with more experience make a suggestion as to where to look next? Also, I'd like a repair manual recommendation. It seems neither Haynes nor Chilton make a manual for this car.

Thanks.
 

·
Registered
1998 Forester S
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
More info & questions

Additional info:
1. The license plate lights also don't work.
2. The emergency switch on top of the steering column turns on tail lights, license plate light, and front parking lights so that's a temporary solution.

Questions:

Browsing this forum there are 3 things usually brought up when a similar situation is posted here:

1. Tail light/illumination relay: I've browsed my favorite online parts stores and this relay is not listed for earlier (1998 - 2002) Forester models. So it seems the relay is not part of the Forester electric system prior to 2003. Can anyone confirm this?

2. Ground wire: The Tail/Brake lights and license plate light share a common ground designate GB-8 according to the schematics available to me on ALLDATAdiy.com . If this is the problem then wouldn't the brake lights also not be working? Can anyone tell me where this ground is physically located and how to access it (ie: do I need to remove any body panels)?

3. Headlight Switch: This seems to be the most consistent with the emergency toggle being able to turn the lights on. Has this worked for anyone, and would you be kind enough to post replacement instructions?


Thank you

- Jim
 

·
Registered
1998 Forester S
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I just thought I'd ask again if anyone can recommend a repair manual for my daughter's 1998 Forester S ?
 

·
Premium Member
2014 Impreza Ltd CVT
Joined
·
3,319 Posts
Yes you do have an illumination relay, but that also controls the dashboard lights, so IF they come on with the normal light switch, the relay is good.

I would suspect the switch on the top of the steering column or the wiring to it. Here's why:

It's a SPST switch with the common center going to the front clearance lights and tail/license light. The ON side is +12v from the main fuse box ( under the hood ). Since that illuminates the lights, then all the wiring from there, thru a fuse and grounds are all good.

The OFF side comes from the contacts of the illumination relay. The same relay that supply power to the dashboard lights. So if the dashboard lights are working, AND your tail lights work with this switch turned on, the wiring leaving this area is good.

You either have a defective switch ( the OFF pole ), or broken wire from the illumination relay ( mounted in the top rear of the interior fuse box ) to that switch.

BTW .... WELCOME ...... Just noticed this was your first ... second AND third post in this thread !!!
Sit down , browse and feel at home here. Many many things, not just Foresters, are discussed here.
 

·
Registered
1998 Forester S
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Hi ferret,

Thank you for the thoughtful answer. I didn't suspect the parking switch until you pointed it out.

The frustrating thing is, I looked for that also in my usual online Subaru catalogs and couldn't find one listed. I'll keep trying. It can't be a very expensive item.
 

·
Registered
1998 Forester S
Joined
·
34 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I guess the only thing more embarrassing than buying a car and realizing the tail lights don't work is posting the problem to a public forum and then realizing they now in fact do work.

Supposedly the tail lights now work because when I checked to see if the parking switch turned the lights on, and then turned the switch OFF. It may have previously not been turned completely off or accidentally bumped out of the off position but not all the way to being on.

It's a good thing too, because it only comes as part of a complete combination switch (headlight/turn signals/parking/windshield washers) for a total of $329 from my favorite supplier.
 

·
Administrator
2018 2.5i Premium CVT
Joined
·
19,081 Posts
Thanks so much for getting back to us on this. It's a new one, and we'll try to remember it the next time somebody checks in with the same problem!
 

·
Registered
1999 Forester S
Joined
·
1 Posts
Hello, I am a new member here - I've got a '99 Forester, had it for about two years....

Anyway, I was looking for a post that would give me insight into a tail light problem I was having - turned out to be virtually the same as 'Mister'!

I was paranoid though, because my son and I just had the car all apart (head gaskets, all idlers, tensioner, water pump and timing belt!) and all seemed to be well with the car: it was running better than it had in a long time. Only thing was when he drove it out of the garage there were no running lights! That was yesterday and today after work I was looking all over for a compromised ground and rechecking fuses to no avail. There was only one fuse that said 'Tail clearance' that had no power whatsoever and I was about to post a new thread asking for advice when I saw this one. Curious thing too, I've never used (and not even really noticed) the parking light switch on the column before and so I went out to try it and the second I excercised that switch - BAM! - lights back on, problem solved!

Anyway, I am grateful for this support network! Thanks everyone!
 

·
Registered
2005 Forester
Joined
·
1 Posts
Thank you so much, Ferret

Hi. I have a 2005 Forester. We love it! I had the problem with my rear lights staying on. After going nuts for 2 hours, I googled and found your answer to mister. I ran to the car and flipped the switch on the top of the steering column. Thank you so much!!

We have had a terrible year and I thought no, not another thing to fix. But you saved me the battery, and the embarasement of having to go to the dealer for such a problem.
Thanks again so much.
Happy Holidays
MJ
 

·
Premium Member
2014 Impreza Ltd CVT
Joined
·
3,319 Posts
Glad to be of help ...

WELCOME MJ ..... I see this is your first post. Don't be a stranger. Sit down, relax and feel free to jump in our little corner of the internet.

As you can see, much more is discussed here than just
Foresters.
 

·
Registered
1998 Forester
Joined
·
951 Posts
So try the switch and see if they come on with the normal light switch off. If they do, you know all the wires to the rear are ok.
On one car, I rocked that switch on/off several (many) times. it cleaned up the contact and they started working.
Most likely, its the park switch or the light switch.
 

·
Registered
2000 Forester
Joined
·
1 Posts
I just registered to say thank you to all of you. I have a 2000 Forester with the same problem as Mister. I was all out of ideas for troubleshooting, and the mechanic couldn't fit me in today. I read this thread, went outside and flipped the column switch, and now everything is working just fine. Thank you!
 

·
Registered
1998 Forester L
Joined
·
24 Posts
relay

HI: I have the same problem as the original poster, but my dash lights also don't work, so I assume, as one reply indicated, it is the relay. There are relays that are round and attached to the side of the fusebox. is it one of these? Mine is also a 98. The reply mentioned it being behind the fusebox, is that correct? If so how do I get it off? I tried removing the one nut on the top(only one I could see)but that doesn't get it loose. Tried looking this part up to get a picture of what it looks like but I can't find it as a parking light, and or illumination, relay. Help!
 

·
Registered
2002 Forester
Joined
·
1 Posts
Thanks from Australia

Hi, just joined the Subaru Forum, to solve the tail light problem.
Now fixed, turned the rocker switch on the top of the steering column on/of several times, now working a treat.
Thanks
 

·
Registered
98 Forester Auto
Joined
·
1 Posts
I am having the same problem with my forester. It started lastnight I've checked all the fuses, tried the switch on the steering column with the head lights on and off. Still no rear running lights and if I hold on the breaks the passenger side turn signal stays on steady. Any more ideas?
 

·
Registered
1997 Legacy
Joined
·
1 Posts
Similar symptom different cause?

I have a 1997 Subaru Legacy and the Parking / running lights are not working. The brake lights, turn signals, and reverse lights work. The dash lights work and come on when the headlight switch is turned on. I checked the bulbs are all good and measured at the wiring harness before the bulb and no voltage is getting there.
I have replaced the fuse in the Main box and the interior box, I have changed the tail light / illumination relay. I have tried changing the multi-function switch assembly and that didn't solve the issue either! I measured voltage at the interior fuse block and I am getting voltage there when I turn on the headlights running lights switch however I am not getting voltage there when I use the parking light switch on either the replacement or original multifunction switch. Though it is unclear if I should get voltage there when the parking light switch is toggled.

I am guessing that it is a wiring issue somewhere, I am hoping that someone who has more experience has an idea of where I should start looking for bad connections. Maybe I missed something obvious.

Oh and I have a keyless entry unit that used to flash the parking lights when the battery was disconnected until it was reset and now it only flashes the dash lights
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top