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What Does This Light Mean? | What Are These Symbols For on my Subaru Dashboard? | What Do I do When Dashboard Lights Come On? | Subaru Vehicle Symbols

Technical Schmecnical Lesson 6: Subaru Dashboard Lights; What Do These Symbols Mean? What Do I Do When They Come On?

Check the update at the bottom of the page for more specific information about what you need to do about one of these lights if it comes on.

Please refer to your Subaru Vehicle's Owner's Manual to learn more about the Vehicle Symbols, Warning, and Indicator Lights.

Here are two images from the Subaru Impreza WRX/STI Quick Reference Guides. (This model is chosen due to the abundance of available symbols to display.)

Please note the items in RED need IMMEDIATE ATTENTION, Yellow (Caution) items Need Attention Soon, and Green and Blue items are informational gauges.
If any of the RED Indicator Lights come on and you are unable to resolve the issue, please CALL Stanley Subaru's Service Department at 800-439-8989 and we would be glad to assist you. For more information, visit to learn all about Subaru technology, safety systems, and for complete, downloadable Owner's Manuals and Quick Reference Guides.

My "Check Engine" Light Has Come On, and What Should I Do When It Does?

When you start your vehicle, the check engine light comes on momentarily to test the engine/emission control system and bulb. The system is self-diagnostic and the light is a way to communicate trouble. The system is designed to function in a "limp home" mode when trouble occurs and the light comes on - and stays on. However, take your vehicle to Stanley Subaru's Service Department right away (or if you are traveling, to the nearest Subaru Authorized Service Center). Our Subaru Certified technicians have specialized tools and training to access trouble codes stored in the vehicle's memory each time the light is illuminated. This is a sophisticated system, with the ability to detect and store information about even the slightest changes.

One item which may seem insignificant but which can cause the system to detect trouble is a loose or missing fuel filler cap. Remove the cap, then tighten it until it clicks. If you are unsure whether the loose cap was the cause or if the light stays on, call Stanley Subaru at 207-667-4641 or toll-free 800-439-8989.

The light also can come on if you have installed electrically powered accessories (such as a radar detector or keyless entry system) that aren't compatible with your vehicle's systems. If the light comes on and such accessories are installed, Subaru technicians may insist they be removed or disconnected before any further diagnosis can take place. Subaru-approved accessories are thoroughly tested to prevent such problems.


We have some more detail on what each of these lights mean and what you can do about them to get them to go away (or stop beeping).

Part one: Seatbelts and Airbags


Part two: Fluids and Batteries PLUS How to deal with an overheating engine

Part three: Moving parts and lights which includes that snowflake (sometimes orange snowflake) that shows up!

Were you looking for why your lights are still on in your Subaru even if you don't have the key in the ignition? Check out our post here.

For more information, Check out our FAQ.

About Technical Schmecnical:
"Technical Schmecnical" is an ongoing series and serves as a helpful guide and resource for vehicle owners to better understand their vehicles. All of our information comes from Subaru Owners Manuals, Quick Reference Guides, technical manuals, and even our Subaru Certified Master Technicians themselves!

Have more questions? Need to know what other stuff means? Check out the Technical Schmecnical tag or try our FAQ.


What does the word, power appearing in green on the dashboard mean in a subaru impreza?
Post Follow Up
Jeanne Dennison
Hi Diane,
You must have an older Impreza! The light is there to let you know the car has kicked into 'performance' shift patterns for the automatic. In other words: When you mash on the gas pedal or climb a long, steep hill. It is a 'power mode' that lets the car shift at redline. Subaru discontinued this feature in the late 1990s since it confused consumers. If the power light stays on and won't go away, you can bring it to our Subaru Service Center and they can deactivate it for you.
If you want more information, you can always call our Service Department at 207-667-4641 or toll-free 1-800-439-8989 and our service technicians are happy to answer technical questions. Thank you.
Post Follow Up
Louise Delfatti
An orange symbol has come up. It is a symbol of a snowflake with the word "Hold" Next to it. Its just above the indicator that tells you if the engine is too hot or cold. I have a Suburu Forrester.
Post Follow Up
Jeanne Dennison
Hi Louise--It was a feature of some automatic Subaru models. Often called "snow mode". Basically it makes the transmission pull away in a higher gear so as to stop the chances of slippage when pulling away on mud/ice/snow. If you select 2nd, press hold and it will pull away in second (I.E. less powerfully) rather than using first gear then changing to second. The "Hold" indicates it is holding a particular gear in place. There should be a button on the shift lever to turn this feature on or off. 
Post Follow Up
I have a 2008 Impreza (5 speed).
Recently, the ABS, Hill Assist, VDC, and now the CRUISE indicators are all on.
The first three lights come on within minutes of driving; the CRUISE began flashing on and off a few days ago, and comes on after several miles of driving. What's wrong with Sube?

Additionally, my passenger-side door no longer responds when I open or close it. When I am inside the car and lock the doors, I hear a whirling sound from the door - sometimes it locks, sometimes it does not. I had an aftermarket alarm installed years ago - could this now be a problem?

Post Follow Up
Jeanne Dennison
Hi Dawn, I will talk to one of our Subaru Certified Master Technicians and get some answers for you shortly. Thank you--Jeanne for Stanley Subaru.
Post Follow Up
Jeanne Dennison
After speaking with our Service Manager, he informed me that there is no easy way to determine what is wrong with your Subaru unless you bring it in to have a technician look at it. If you are local to our area, you may call 207-667-4641 and we'd be happy to take a look at it. If you are not local to Eastern Maine, we recommend you find the nearest Subaru Service Center and have it checked out. Thank you for your question.
Post Follow Up
I have a red light that flashes and I can't determine what it says because it flashes to fast it is near the bottom of the speedometer. Help
Post Follow Up
Jeanne Dennison
Hi Ellen,
The little red light is considered a 'theft deterrent' light. It's only purpose is to indicate to a potential criminal that the car is equipped with an alarm system and to leave it alone. It flashes about every 60 seconds, as it is designed to do. Whether or not the alarm is active, is up to you and whether your vehicle is equipped with such a device. Don't worry, it does not harm the vehicle or drain the battery by flashing every 60 seconds. 
Post Follow Up
Shaun Reen
I have that flashing light but it flashes every 5 seconds. If the car is locked, it flashes about every two seconds. I have also found the battery dead twice in the last week. I'm guessing that this light is draining the battery. Any ideas on what the problem is?
Post Follow Up
I had 2 episodes of not being able to get into any gear on my 5-speed 2007 forester, then all of a sudden it worked fine, any suggestions
Jeanne Dennison
I'll pass this along to our Subaru Service Technicians and get an answer for you. Thanks!--Jeanne for Stanley Subaru
Jeanne Dennison
Our Service Manager Neil suggested that you check the bushings for any debris or wear and tear. Aside from that, if the problem continues, it is best to see your local Authorized Subaru Service Center to have it checked over. Hopefully you no longer have the difficulties you were having. Happy Driving!
Jeanne Dennison
Hi Derrick,
The shift light is customizeable. The driver has the ability to set it to come on at a specific RPM. The salesperson or service advisor should be able to show you where and how this customization can be made. Enjoy your '13 STi!
Derrick Morrow
I test drove a '13 STi a couple days ago. The shift light would come on even in 6th gear and just stay on. Is this a malfunction or a feature? I'mm 95% sure I'm going to buy this car but was curious about this. Thanks :-)
Jeanne Dennison
Hi Brian,
The light is there to let you know the car has kicked into 'performance' shift patterns for the automatic. In other words: When you mash on the gas pedal or climb a long, steep hill. It is a 'power mode' that lets the car shift at redline. Subaru discontinued this feature in the late 1990s since it confused consumers. If the power light stays on and won't go away, you can bring it to the nearest Subaru Service Center and they can deactivate it for you.
If you want more information, you can always call our Service Department at 207-667-4641 or toll-free 1-800-439-8989 and our service technicians are happy to answer technical questions. Thank you.
brian Chipomho
my Subaru forester is showing a power light on dashboard
Thomas Gara
I just bought s subaru legacy t/wsgon. the battery ws flat and I jumpep it, it startef perfectly but the engine suddenly stopped. I switched of the engine and changed the batterry. suddenly when the contacts touched the engine started without the key and it failed to switch off. I drove for 60km. When I stopped the car fsiled to start. it is showing POWER in green on the dashbord every time I want to start the engine. dashbord lits but it wont start. what may be the problem.
Thanks for the indicator mapping - made it easy to look up via Google what my dash lights were trying to tell me... low-tire pressure...
Low presuure warning came on.
Restarted engine and light remains.
What should I do?
Hi there,

I have a 2006 sti and the cruise control light is flashing whilst the engine light being solidly on. What does this mean?

wayne Sanderson
Hi there
I have a gb270 impreza and its showing a yellow headlamp indicator on all the time.
ive had the lights checked and they have been altered but the light is still on.
How do i cancell it
My VDC and Brake light come on at the same time. This was only happening when I was driving, and not a major issue It is a 12 imprezza and I'm thinking of trading the car in anyway, but lately, it comes on when I start the car and I can't seem to shift it into Gear. I have to try several times and finally it lets me. I think it is a steering control sensor, but any ideas? Thanks,
rose shadduck
On my 2015 subaru outback there is a light that comes on at times it is 2 lines with a snowflake it seems to come on as the temperature out side has gotten colder. tonight I noticed the same light that said road might be ice. can you tell me what these light are ? I can't seem to find them in my book
I have a 2006 B9 Tribeca, the traction control light, the abs light along with the sport light (flashing) have come on. If I turn the engine off and restart they disappear. Have taken it to my dealer but they can not find anything wrong as it is not showing up on the diagnostics and the lights only come on of course after I leave the shop. Thoughts?
I have a sport, abs, check engine and cruise light on in my tribeca what does this mean???
Light came on for a couple minutes on 2005 suburban looked like a wagon u pull with wheels. What does that mean?
benjamin matthews nkhoma
am very interested in subarus. currently i have a legacy b4, 2001 model. no problems so far but i love your advise. i will need to be ordering genuine parts for service and repaires.iam also planing to buy a subaru GC8.
Hi i have a gt wag 94. The speedo is not going and my second turbo will not go. It cuts out at 4.5 rpm. And my cheek engine light is on.
Spencer Patterson King
Hi, Rick,

That is a confluence of issues that you should DEFINITELY take to a trusted mechanic right away. If we're not your closest Subaru dealer here in Ellsworth, Maine, you can find your closest dealer at
Spencer Patterson King
Hi, Debbie,

I'm pretty sure that is your tow/haul indicator light. It's activated by a button at the end of the column shift lever.
Spencer Patterson King
Hi, Rose,

You're right! It's the "icy road surface warning" indicator light which goes off when the air temperature is below a certain point. It's there to let you know you may want to be careful. You can read more about it in the moving parts and lights blog post, if you like.
Spencer Patterson King
Hi, Thomas,

That could be a number of different things from a low-voltage battery to a mechanical adjustment to a parts replacement. It's really impossible to say without taking a look at it. If you haven't already, it should be taken to a dealer to be checked.
Spencer Patterson King
Hi, Wayne,

It's entirely possible that it's a daytime running lights indicator. You may want to consult your manual or your local dealer, though, if you're still concerned.
Spencer Patterson King
Hi, Adam,

That could honestly be a couple things, from a potential issue with your anti-lock brakes to a wheel speed sensor, and honestly, it's hard to say without taking a peek at it. If you bring it in, we'll be sure to let you know!
Spencer Patterson King
Hi, Jo,

There's a possibility about what it could possibly be, but I really wouldn't even want to hazard a guess without looking at it first. If your dealer has looked at it after you've brought it in and haven't been able to diagnose it, your best bet is to try to bring it by while you the issue is happening, and have someone look at it while it's still running before you turn it off.
Spencer Patterson King
Hi, Stephaney,

Chances are it's an emissions issue, actually, but you should definitely take it in to get serviced to find out for sure.
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