Subaru Dashboard Warning Lights Explained

Subaru Dashboard Warning Lights Explained

Difficulty: Very Easy
This guide will explain the Subaru Dashboard Warning Lights. 
Subaru Service Engine Soon IndicatorSubaru check engine lightCheck engine light


Service Engine Soon / Check Engine Light

The check engine light or service engine soon light when the on-board diagnostic system detects a problem with either the engine, emission system, or transmission. 

A fault code is stored in the Engine Control Unit (ECU) and can be retrieved with an OBD-II scanner to determine what is wrong with the vehicle. 

Common problems that cause the check engine light on a Subaru vehicle:

  • Loose gas cap
  • Bad oxygen sensor
  • Dirty Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor

Subaru  Air Bag Warning Light


 Air Bag Warning Light

The airbag light turns on when you first turn on the ignition, but after a quick system check, it turns off if all the airbag components function properly.

If the airbag light stays, it means the airbags have been disabled and may not deploy in case of an accident. 

To troubleshoot the airbag light on a Subaru, you will need to read the fault codes with an airbag scanner


Subaru Engine Temperature Indicator

Subaru Engine Temperature Indicator

Engine Temperature 

This is the warning symbol indicating that the engine has overheated. Pull over immediately and shut off the engine. Wait at least 30 minutes or more for the engine to cool down fully. 

Once the engine cools down, check the engine coolant level.

If the engine overheating continues, do not drive. Tow the vehicle to an auto repair shop near you. 

Common problems that cause a Subaru engine to overheat include:

  • Low coolant level 
  • Bad water pump
  • Broken coolant hoses
  • A faulty thermostat
  • Damaged heater core or radiator
Subaru Charge system Trouble Indicator

Charge System Trouble / Battery Light

The charge system indicator warns the driver there is a problem with the charging system. If the battery light comes on, the vehicle may shut off when driving. Have the vehicle diagnosed and serviced if this light is on.

Common causes of the charging system light on a Subaru vehicle:

  • Alternator not charging
  • Broken serpentine belt
  • Bad battery not holding charge
  • Loose battery cable
Subaru  Low Washer Fluid Indicator

Low Washer Fluid Symbol

This light means that the fluid in the windshield washer reservoir is low. Refer to the owner's manual for the location of the reservoir. Alternatively, you can look under the hood for a blue cap with the same symbol. Check its level and fill it appropriately. 

Subaru  Low Fuel Indicator

Low Fuel Indicator

This light means that vehicle is low on fuel. Find a gas station and add fuel. Check the information display to estimate how many miles until the vehicle completely runs out of fuel. It is always a good idea to keep a vehicle from getting low on fuel as this causes the fuel pump to work harder and leads to excess and premature wear on it.

Common low fuel indicator causes on a Toyota vehicle:

  • Low fuel
  • Faulty fuel pump float

Subaru Oil Warning Light

Subaru Oil and Oil Level Warning Lights

Oil Warning Light

This light means the oil pressure is outside of acceptable limits. Immediately check the pressure gauge on the dash to see the oil pressure level. Pull the vehicle over and turn the engine off when it is safe to do so. Check the oil level to see if it is low. If the oil level is acceptable and the pressure is still low, this indicates a greater mechanical failure within the engine, such as a failed oil pump, worn piston rings, or blocked oil passages. Have the vehicle towed to a Subaru technician to have it diagnosed and serviced. Do NOT drive the vehicle with low oil pressure as it will cause almost immediate and serious damage to the engine.

Common causes of the low oil pressure indicator on a Toyota vehicle:

  • Bad oil pressure sending sensor
  • Failed oil pump
  • Worn piston rings
  • Blocked oil passages
  • Low oil or oil that has turned to sludge from never changing it
Subaru Brake Trouble Indicators

Brake Light

If the brake light is on, the brake system may need to be serviced. We do not recommend driving the vehicle with the brake light on. Use your best judgment to determine if the vehicle is safe to drive. If in need of repairs, have the vehicle towed to the shop; driving in this condition could be dangerous.

Common causes of the brake indicator light on a Subaru vehicle:

  • Brake system malfunction
  • Low brake fluid level
  • The parking brake is on (light may illuminate yellow instead of red in this case)
Subaru High Beam Indicator

High Beam 

This light means the high beams are turned on. You should only use this setting if you are the only vehicle on the road. Do not keep the high beams on if you are coming in the opposite direction or other vehicles in front of your vehicle. 

To turn off the high beam, pull the turn switch towards the back of the vehicle. 

Subaru Stability Control Indicator

Stability Control 

This light means that the stability control has been disabled. The vehicle can be driven but keep in mind stability control is off. 

In most cases, this light comes on at the same time that the ABS light comes on. If that is the case, there is a high chance one of the wheel speed sensors is faulty. 

Use an ABS Scanner to read the fault codes from the ABS and traction modules. 

Subaru  Electronic Power Steering Trouble Indicator

 Electronic Power Steering Trouble 

This light means there is a problem with the power steering. This warning may display as red or yellow. If the steering wheel with the exclamation mark next to it comes on, pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. Turn the wheel to the end of its travel to see if it binds or takes greater effort to steer. Check the power steering fluid reservoir to see if it is low, and listen while turning the wheel for any whining sounds coming from the power steering pump. Take the vehicle to a trained Toyota technician to be serviced.

Common power steering system problems on a Toyota vehicle:

  • In electric power steering equipped vehicles: the power steering motor may be faulty, or a sensor can be defective. 
  • In hydraulic power steering equipped vehicles: the power steering reservoir may be low on fluid, the pump seized, or rack and pinion faulty.

Subaru Antilock Braking System ABS MalfunctionSubaru Anti-Lock Brake System Fault Indicator

Anti-Lock Brake System Fault 

This light means that the anti-lock brake system has been disabled. In most cases, the problem is due to a bad ABS wheel speed sensor. While the vehicle can be driven, the anti-lock brake function is disabled, and the vehicle may take longer to bring to a complete stop and may skid under hard braking or if there is rain or snow on the road. 

To find out why your Subaru ABS light is on, use an ABS scanner to read the ABS Control Module's fault codes. Generic OBD-II scanners may not be able to read airbag scanners. 

Subaru Tire Pressure Monitor Indicator

Tire Pressure Monitor 

This light means there is low tire pressure in one of the tires. Check the tire pressure and correct it to bring it to the recommended air pressure, as shown on the sticker on the driver's door frame. 

If the TPMS light stays on after you add air, there may be a problem communicating with one of the TPMS sensors, or the TPMS system is faulty. 

Subaru  Turn Signal Indicator

Turn Signal Indicator

The turn signal indicator should flash when the stalk is switched on in either direction. If the light blinks fast, it is an indicator of a bad turn signal bulb. If the light stays on steady when the turn signal stalk is switched on, it indicates a bad stalk/switch. Have a Toyota technician replace the bad bulbs or faulty switch.

Common turn signal indicator problems on a Toyota vehicle:

  • The turn signal switch is faulty. 
  • Burnt out/ bad turn signal bulb
Subaru Door Ajar

Door Ajar

This light means that one of the doors is open or is not closed completely. Pull over, park the vehicle and check to ensure all the doors are fully closed. 

Subaru Park Lamps ON Indicator

Park Lamps ON 

This light means the parking lights have been turned on. Typically the low beam switch controls the parking lights. Turn the switch one more click to turn on the low beams. 

Subaru  Seat Belt Reminder

Seat Belt Reminder

This is a reminder to fasten the front driver or passenger's seatbelt. An audible chime can usually be heard indicating this. Fasten the seatbelts for this indicator to go off.

Subaru  Stability Control OFF Indicator

Stability Control OFF 

This indicator comes on when the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) is off. It is either off due to malfunction or was manually turned off. It is recommended to have VSC keep the vehicle from slipping and losing control in hazardous situations. It can usually be turned on and off with the button on the dash.

If the light stays on constantly and traction control can not be turned on, then the system has been turned off due to its or ABS problem. 


Subaru Security Indicator

Subaru Security Indicator

Security LIght

This security indicator will blink every three seconds when the vehicle is OFF, LOCK, or in the AUTO ACC position. All the entry points are locked properly, indicating it is functioning normally. If it does not flash while the vehicle is locked and entry points are sealed, the system is not functioning properly. If the light stays solid, the vehicle has been immobilized and will not start or move.


Subaru Hybrid Ready Indicator

Hybrid Ready 

The ready indicator light on a hybrid vehicle means that the systems checks have passed. The high voltage electrical system, motor, and battery packs are all functioning properly, and the hybrid vehicle can be driven. This light stays on as long as the vehicle is on to indicate it is still driveable. This light will go off when the ignition is off.

Subaru Hybrid Charging IndicatorsSubaru Hybrid Charging Indicators

Hybrid Save and Charge Mode 

This hybrid save mode means the vehicle will use its gasoline engine to drive only, and it will not deplete or charge the hybrid battery pack. To turn this off, push the save/chg mode button on the dash.

The hybrid charge mode (CHG) indicator means the vehicle will use the gas engine to charge the battery packs while driving. This allows for continuous travel without having to charge the vehicle. To turn this off, push the save/chg mode button on the dash.

Turning these modes off will return to normal hybrid vehicle operation switching between the EV motor and gas engine operation.

Subaru Remote Charge Timer Setting Indicator

Remote Charge Timer Setting 

The remote charge timer indicator shows that a time has been set for a hybrid vehicle to be charged. This time can be set with the owner's preference in mind. While it's plugged in and this timer is set, the vehicle will charge at the set time. 

Subaru Fog Lamp Indicator

Fog Lamp 

This light means that the fog lights are turned on. Some vehicles are equipped with rear fog lights as well, and an illuminated symbol that is red or amber and pointing to the right will usually indicate the rear fog lights are on.

Subaru Keyless Start Fault Indicator

Keyless Start Fault 

This is an indicator that the key fob is faulty or not detected. If the vehicle is running, it is possible to drive to a mechanic/dealer as long as the vehicle is not turned off to have it serviced. 

Common causes of the keyless access start fault indicator light on a Subaru vehicle:

  • The key fob battery is dead.
  • The key fob has been damaged or is faulty.
  • It is also possible the module reading the key fob is faulty, but it is less likely. 

Subaru Blind Spot Warning Indicator Subaru Blind Spot Warning and OFF Indicators

Blind Spot Warning 

This light shows when the blind-spot warning system is on and other vehicles are detected within the blind spot. This indicator is usually shown on the driver and passenger side mirrors. The BSW can be turned off with the vehicle's information display. 

Subaru All Wheel Drive Trouble Indicator

All Wheel Drive Trouble 

This all-wheel-drive indicator means that the AWD is disengaged. It may be disabled or faulty. To turn it back on, check to see if there is an AWD Off button on the dash/console and press it; if there is not a button, check to see if a fuse is in the FWD slot under the hood and remove it.  

If the AWD indicator is flashing, the system is malfunctioning. The tires may be mismatched in size, or they may be underinflated. If the tires are correct, then this may be a greater mechanical failure. Take the vehicle to be serviced.

Subaru  Pre-Collision Breaking Indicator

Pre- Collision Breaking  

This warning light indicates the Pre-Collision Braking (PSB) has been engaged. The system has detected a possible collision from sensing a vehicle in front that is approaching too quickly. The automatic emergency braking system will automatically take over, decelerate, and brake the vehicle to give the driver time to react and prevent a collision. It is part of the Eyesight system developed by Subaru.

Subaru Cruise Control Indicator

Subaru Cruise Control Indicator

Subaru  Cruise Control Indicators

Cruise Control 

This light means that cruise control has been enabled. The vehicle will keep a constant speed. Cruise control will turn off if you press the brakes. 

Note that in this case, there is no adaptive cruise control. The vehicle will not keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front. 

Subaru SPORT mode Indicator

Sport Mode  

The sport mode indicator means that the sport mode is active. Sport mode automatically makes adjustments to the transmission, throttle, and steering for a sportier feel. Shifting is quicker,  acceleration is quicker, and the steering is more responsive. To turn the light off and return the car to normal driving mode, push the sport mode button or normal button on the dash. 

Subaru EV ON Indicator


The EV on the indicator means the hybrid vehicle runs on battery power, and the gas-powered engine is turned off. This indicator means the hybrid vehicle is working properly. This light will remain when the vehicle is still using battery power and goes off when the electric motor or gas engine turns on.

Subaru Hybrid Battery Overheat Indicator

Hybrid Battery Overheat 

The hybrid battery overheats indicator means that the hybrid lithium-ion battery pack has overheated. When it is safe to do so, pull the vehicle over, and let the battery cool down. After fifteen to thirty minutes, start the vehicle and see if the warning lamp returns. If the warning lamp still exists, have the vehicle towed to a trained hybrid technician to be serviced. 

Do not attempt to work on a hybrid electrical system unless you are a trained professional; improper equipment and service could lead to death from the high voltage currents running through a hybrid system.

Subaru Charging Indicator

Charging Plug

The charge indicator means the hybrid vehicle's main battery is being charged. This light will go off when the charger is unplugged.

Subaru intelligent drive mode operation indicatorsSubaru intelligent drive mode operation indicators

Subaru intelligent and sport drive mode operation 


Subaru intelligent drive mode is the equivalent to eco mode on other makes. It is a mode that maximizes fuel efficiency. This mode effectively boosts fuel economy by smoothing out throttle and mapping different shift points in the transmission. 

Subaru sport drive mode lets the driver open up the throttle and maps the transmission to higher shift points. This effectively gives a quicker response in acceleration, boosts torque output, and puts peak power to the wheels giving the driving experience a sportier feel.

To turn this light off, switch the drive mode back to normal using the controls in the console/dash center.


Subaru Hill Descent and Terrain Mode IndicatorsSubaru Hill Descent and Terrain Mode Indicators

Hill Descent and Terrain Mode 

The hill descent and terrain mode indicator means that the brake and throttle are being adjusted to prevent tumbling down steep terrain. It is also to avoid getting stuck or slipping on slippery or difficult terrain. This light will be on when this mode is active. This mode can be turned off completely by pushing the button on the dash, and the light will also turn off.

Subaru Hill Hold and Start Assist Indicator

 Hill Hold and Start Assist 

The hill hold indicator means the parking brake will be engaged automatically when traveling on an incline, and the vehicle comes to a stop.

The start assists indicator means that the parking brake will be applied automatically when starting the vehicle on an incline to prevent it from rolling back before accelerating.

The hill hold/start assist system will trigger a warning message on the information display if malfunctions. Have it serviced by a dealer if this warning light illuminates.

Press the hill hold/start assist icon on the center console/ center dash to turn this light off.

Subaru Steering Responsive Headlight Warning

Steering Responsive Headlight OFF 

The steering responsive headlight off indicator means the steering responsive headlight system is turned off. If flashing, this means the system has had a malfunction occur, and the vehicle needs to be serviced. To turn the light off, turn the SRH system back on by pressing the switch on the dash.

Subaru LED Headlamp Out Indicator

LED Headlamp Out 

The LED headlamp out indicator means one of the headlamps has gone out by either a bad LED bulb, blown fuse, or faulty wiring. A message may appear on the dash alerting the driver to the position where the fault is occurring. To get this indicator off, the vehicle must be serviced, so the headlamp is functioning again.

Subaru Headlamp Leveler Fault Indicator

Headlamp Leveler Fault 

The headlamp leveler fault indicator means that one of the leveling system's parts is not functioning as it should, such as the leveling sensors in the front or rear or the motors that actuate the headlamp movement. This can also happen when a vehicle is lowered, and the system maxes out its ability to level the headlight upwards. The vehicle must be serviced to get this indicator to disappear from the dash.

Subaru Automatic High Beam Indicator

Automatic High Beam 

This light means that the high beams will turn on automatically when there is no incoming traffic. The automatic high beam switch needs to be on, and the high beams are turned on for the automatic high beams to work.

Subaru Hybrid Fail Indicator

Hybrid Fail 

The hybrid fails indicator is the hybrid vehicle's equivalent of a check engine light. Take the vehicle to get serviced. Do NOT try to service a hybrid vehicle unless you are an expert. Accidents can lead to high voltage shock causing death. Take it to a trained professional. 

Subaru Snow Mode Indicator

Snow Mode 

The snow mode indicator means the vehicle is in snow mode. It controls the vehicle's throttle response to be less aggressive, and the RPMs and shifts point to be lower to give maximum traction in slippery conditions. This mode can be turned off by pressing the button on the dash.

Subaru Lane Departure OFF Indicator

Lane Departure OFF 


The lane departure off indicator means the EyeSight Lane Departure system had been turned off or malfunctioning and disengaged. Lane departure is used to reduce the number of collisions on the road by correcting the steering of the vehicle drifting over the lane indicators of the road and pushing it back into the center of the driving lane. To turn the lane departure off indicator off, turn lane departure back on in the information display settings.

Subaru  Reverse Automatic Braking (RAB) IndicatorsSubaru Reverse Automatic Braking (RAB) Indicators

Reverse Automatic Braking (RAB) 


Reverse Automatic Braking System (RAB) system will engage if the vehicle is in reverse with a speed less than nine miles per hour, and it detects a collision from the rear. It uses the Rear Sonar System (RSS) with sensors in the rear bumper to sense any objects or vehicles behind. When it engages, the vehicle will automatically brake, preventing any collision. The RAB can be turned off within the information display.

Subaru Electric Park Brake and Fault Indicator

Electric Park Brake and Fault 


This electric park brake indicator means the parking brake is on. It can illuminate either red or yellow in color. If the parking brake is off, this light indicates the parking brake system needs to be serviced. 

Common causes of the electronic park brake indicator light on a Subaru vehicle:

  • Park brake module failure
  • Improper cable adjustment
  • Worn-out/low park brake shoes
  • Greater electrical/wiring failure
Subaru Transmission Temperature Indicator

Transmission Temperature 

This warning light is an indicator the automatic transmission is running hot. Pull over immediately and turn off the vehicle. Any overheating of the automatic transmission runs the risk of burning the transmission fluid and completely ruining it. Have the vehicle towed to be serviced at a mechanic/Subaru dealer. 

The purpose of many of these lights on a Subaru is to inform the driver when a system is enabled. 

A few of these lights indicate a problem or malfunction and inform the driver that that particular system has been disabled.

diagnose Subaru warning lights

To find out what is wrong with these systems, use an All System Subaru Scanner to read the corresponding module's fault codes. 

Note that most OBD-II scanners can only reach check engine codes and cannot diagnose other systems such as airbags, ABS, traction control, etc. 

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