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2003 Outback Electrical Fire


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22 replies to this topic

#1 awol

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 10:58 PM

I had an electrical fire in the driver side door yesterday. Seemed to start in the control panel towards the front (near the mirror control). The entire door was engulfed in flames within 10 minutes. After the fire department put it out, the car is likely totaled. I owned it for just under 3 years. Anyone else have this happen? I saw that someone with a 2001 outback had a similar situation. Very unhappy as I really liked this car.



#2 Suzam

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Posted 08 October 2005 - 08:18 AM

I see you found this other thread:
http://www.ultimates...read.php?t=2462

I really wonder if the heated mirror switch has anything to do with it. Do you have the winter package? I consistantly find the mirror heat switch on by accident after adjusting the mirrors or fumbling for the door lock at night. I wish that there was a timer on the circuit or the mirrors could be tied into the rear window defrost, which does shut off.

Does anyone know if the newest models have a timer or is it just on forever?

#3 nipper

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Posted 08 October 2005 - 08:32 AM

i would suggest that you report this to NHTSA website .. if it seems like a pattern is starting up.
There isnt that much there to go bad, except for that heated mirror switch. The entire controller is on PC board, so there may be an issue with it.

nipper

#4 awol

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 09:59 AM

I DID have the mirror defrost on to burn off the mist from that morning. It had only been on for less than 10 minutes. But it is interesting that you mention that. I'm pretty sure the 06 models have the same switch (no timer like the rear defrost).

I see you found this other thread:
http://www.ultimates...read.php?t=2462

I really wonder if the heated mirror switch has anything to do with it. Do you have the winter package? I consistantly find the mirror heat switch on by accident after adjusting the mirrors or fumbling for the door lock at night. I wish that there was a timer on the circuit or the mirrors could be tied into the rear window defrost, which does shut off.

Does anyone know if the newest models have a timer or is it just on forever?



#5 shortlid

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 10:12 AM

We should all watch this very closly and ask the people that come forward to contact NHTSA. I will warn my Mom to be carefull not to leave hers on in her '03 Legacy GT sedan.

#6 kickson

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 10:20 AM

Yikes, definitely some worthy info to know about. I need to make sure I don't ever leave mine on by accident.

#7 awol

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 12:47 PM

I found out the 06 Forrester has a timer switch on the mirrors defogger. Still not sure if this was the cause of the fire but it sure looks suspicious. Wish me luck with the Forrester. Wanted to give Subie another chance. Made the dealer throw in a 100K bumper 2 bumper warantee to "buy back my trust". Made the move from OBW to the Forrester for the headroom for a big dog. Very comfortable seats for the people too.

Looking forward to driving this car past 200K.

#8 Cougar

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 12:57 PM

Glad to hear you are not soured with Subaru from this incident though it isn't good. I guess you received a fair settlement from your insurance company and depending how much you paid the dealer (they have ways of getting even) for the new car, really stuck the dealer's feet to the coals by getting that extra long policy. It sounds like the the dealer really wants to keep you as a satisfied customer, which is good for everyone.

#9 Subie Gal

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 01:14 PM

even my 2002/3 wrx with heated / winter package had a timer...

the rear defrost does not stay on. it's timed.
when depressed, stays on for a short time then shuts itself off

this defrost is / was also tied into my heated mirrors

this is probably just a fluke thing. :(
wiring/ electrical fire.


glad you are okay, and sorry about your car

Jamie

#10 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 02:28 PM

I just saw this thread. My wife drives an '03 OBW and I have seen the switch on accidentally at least once.

Is there a specific fuse for the circuit or an easy way to disable it?

tia

#11 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 01:08 PM

bump for input due to safety

#12 danz75

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 01:39 PM

I had an electrical fire in the driver side door yesterday. Seemed to start in the control panel towards the front (near the mirror control). The entire door was engulfed in flames within 10 minutes. After the fire department put it out, the car is likely totaled. I owned it for just under 3 years. Anyone else have this happen? I saw that someone with a 2001 outback had a similar situation. Very unhappy as I really liked this car.


Sorry about your loss.
I have the 03 OBW with the winter package as well. The heated mirrors are the only thing that does not have a timer on it. I try to remember to turn it off after the mirrors clear up.
I definitely have to pay more attention to it from now on.
Would definitely like to find out if it is a potential problem.

#13 zyewdall

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Posted 19 October 2005 - 05:12 PM

Yikes! This is one reason I carry a small 5# ABC fire extinguisher under the passenger seat. A quick reponse by the driver can keep a small wiring fire from turning into a totalled vehical. Especially on the more remote highways where emergency response may be 40 miles away. I started carrying it after I saw a minivan with a small engine electrical fire go to a burned out shell (tires, doors, seats & trim, windows, everything, gone) 30 minutes later when the fire department arrived.

Zeke

#14 forester2002s

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 12:43 PM

My 2002 Forester has the following switches:

- Rear Window Defogger: Cancels itself after 15 min, and also when ignition switched off.
- Side Mirror & wiper-blade Heater: Only cancels itself when ignition switched off.
- Seat Heaters (toggle-switch): Never cancels. Stays on forever, unless switch is turned to off.

I have rewired the seat heaters with the addition of a relay and a pushbutton switch. Momentarily pressing the button will latch-in the relay, which allows the seat-heaters to energize. The relay drops out when the ignition is switched off.

Ideally, all of these switches should be the same as the Rear Window Defogger, which cancels itself after a set time.

#15 dlrallyx'r

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Posted 20 October 2005 - 09:31 PM

I have seen this once, 02 obw h6 drivers door , not sure what started the fire, but burned the door panel and wiring harness, and all switches (mirror and window/lock) but car did have heated mirrors. person caught it in time-still quite a mess.

Mike

#16 awol

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 12:51 PM

Excellent advice. My new Forester has a couple of cubby holes in the "way back" and a small extinguisher fits nice and tight back there.

#17 cookie

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 01:04 PM

My fire extinguisher is behind the passenger's seat where I can reach it. I think it is also good to have a tool large enough to pop a few door snaps in the glovebox.

#18 shortlid

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 01:43 PM

I noticed when I drove my Mom's '03 GT sedan that she had engaged the mirror heaters AWHILE ago and had not noticed. What is the easiest way to disable even if just for the summer?:-\

#19 scoobyclimbs

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 12:16 AM

My fire extinguisher is behind the passenger's seat where I can reach it. I think it is also good to have a tool large enough to pop a few door snaps in the glovebox.


If theres a fire in the door ...with a few fasteners there is no way to get the fire out in time! I have taken off the door panel assembly many times !('03 outback) All you need it is the two screwdrivers (phillips/slotted)Subaru gives you when you bought your car ..in the black pouch with tire iron.
just geta pair of side cutters and hack off the wiring through the door near the hinges! or pull the right fuse! Have an extinguisher ready! electrical fires burn quickly! I've put out a few!

Infact I just helped rewire the aftermath of a rally car (friends team ) It was ugly ! melted everything ! we got the car up and going an hour later! Good thing there was no interior to deal with other than steel!

#20 nipper

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 12:26 AM

I noticed when I drove my Mom's '03 GT sedan that she had engaged the mirror heaters AWHILE ago and had not noticed. What is the easiest way to disable even if just for the summer?:-\


you can get a timer relay that would dtake care of that


nipper

#21 shortlid

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 09:50 AM

you can get a timer relay that would dtake care of that


nipper


Would Radio Shack sell such a thing. a timer relay that could handle the current?

#22 nipper

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 10:02 AM

Would Radio Shack sell such a thing. a timer relay that could handle the current?


HAHAHA you funny, radio shack actually selling something useful beside light bulbs.
i buy my widgets from http://www.alliedelec.com/ allied electronics. If they dont have it no one makes it.

nipper

#23 Zephyr

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Posted 22 May 2006 - 10:03 AM

I'm wanting to hard wire the arm rest accessory outlet to remain live after I turn the ignition off; however I would like the outlet to still shut off after a period of time but I don't know anything about electronics.

The relay timer mentioned above, is that what I should be looking for?




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