Subaru Brake Light Flashing And Traction Control Light: Why?

Modern Subaru models are quite well-equipped, ensuring drivers will instantly recognize the car’s technical problem when there is one.

The brake light/ traction control light is a part of this inclusive system, hence the importance of learning the meanings and indicators of their messages.

My experienced team has compiled a detailed guide behind a Subaru brake light flashing and traction control light being turned on. Keep scrolling.

What Is The Brake Light and Traction Control Light on Subaru Cars? 

2012 subaru outback brake light flashing

What Is The Brake Light?

Brake lights on Subaru are indicators that will light up to alert you whenever there are issues with the car’s braking system.

Though the designs may vary across different Subaru series, these lights are usually represented by exclamation marks within a circle, enclosed by the caption “Brake system” or “Brake.”

What Is The Traction Control Light?

Unlike brake lights, the TC lights might have different meanings depending on the shown image/icon. Observe carefully: 

  • If there is a car image paired with a skid mark: the TC is just doing its intended job (controlling the traction) as a safety feature, in order to keep danger at bay.
  • If there is a triangle with lines cutting through it: the traction control system is experiencing problems.

Regardless of which case you fall into, both these lights will pop on the car’s dashboard.

Take extra caution when the light blinks and your car refuses to accelerate: it indicates the TC feature is in use, meaning your car has just lost its grip around sharp curves, wet pavements, or similar terrains.

For a more thorough breakdown, tune in to the next section.

Why Is The Subaru Brake Light Flashing And Traction Control Light Turned On? 

2014 subaru outback check engine light brake light flashing

If both lights are turned on, keep an eye out for these possible culprits: temporary traction loss, the TC system being turned off, faulty steering wheel position/wheel speed sensors, ABS malfunction, and broken TC/ABS modules.

Temporary Traction Loss

As briefly discussed, a temporary traction loss is among the most popular reasons behind TC/brake light flashing Subaru.

This is extremely common during trips through loose gravel, heavy rain, or snow. 

Even just one moment of lost traction will push the system into action, prompting the light to blink and inform you that its TC feature is in operation.

Most of the time, the Subaru flashing brake light and TC light are nothing to be worried about.

However, if other warning indicators are also activated simultaneously with them, the traction loss might be more serious than you would think.

It would be best to take your car to a dealer for repair and further traction inspection.

TC Systems Are Turned Off

Another possible reason behind the blinking lights might be that you have accidentally turned off the system.

Sure, the default design is to keep the TC on all the time, but most drivers can easily disable it by pressing the button.

Hence, before heading to an automobile center for help, take one second to locate the “TC off” dash button near your steering wheel and press it.

If that fails to turn off the light, you can continue your trip to a Subaru technician or consider other reasons in the list.

Faulty Steering Wheel Position/ Wheel Speed Sensors 

No traction control/braking system on Subaru cars can do well without steering wheel position/wheel speed sensors.

They ensure the Subaru cars & trucks can safely run in opposite directions of the wheel without losing control and grip.

When one or both of those sensors fail, the TC/braking light will illuminate to inform you.

ABS (Anti-Lock Brake System) Malfunction

In Subaru, the TC and braking ABS systems work very closely with each other and even use identical control modules.

Long story short: potential issues with the ABS also lead to problems with the traction controls, especially when the TC feature tries to engage your emergency brake to steer off a skid.

So when both TC and ABS lights come on, your car might either suffer low brake fluid levels or bad brake pedal sensors.

Broken ABS/TCS Control Module

That’s quite self-explanatory; when the module controlling both the ABS and TC systems is broken or malfunctioning, both the ABS and TC warning lights will turn on to send warnings.

Even other lights will be activated, too, such as:

  • Subaru outback check engine light and brake light flashing
  • Oil temp lights
  • Dash lights
  • Fog light
  • Cruise control lights
  • Fuel warning light flashes
  • Tire pressure warning lights
  • Operation indicator lights

In that case, only a fool would choose to ignore these driveability issue.

Bring your car to repair shops immediately to confirm what is going on with these Subaru check engine brake traction control cruise light features.

For more symptoms of bad ABS modules and ABS codes, click here.

Can I Keep Driving My Subaru For A Long Period of Time Without Fixing These Lights? 

subaru brake light flashing and traction control light

No. Unless it is the indicator lights themselves that malfunction (which you could never know until having them properly checked), then ignoring them/refusing to address the problems would be a foolish move.

These lights indicate critical issues with the traction control/braking systems, both of which play a huge role in ensuring the car’s performance and safety.

Even with just one of them malfunctioning, your vehicle stability control, steering capabilities, and fuel efficiency will be severely compromised, leading to higher risks of road hazards/accidents on slippery roads or in poor weather.

Take your car to professional service departments / auto repair shops as soon as you can.

And if you cannot do that yet, at least stop driving and pull the car somewhere safe. Keeping driving will not do anyone good, trust me.

FAQ Section: Quick Questions and Quick Answers

Can Brake Light Switch Affect Traction Control? 

Yes. As mentioned, Subaru’s braking and TC systems are quite closely interconnected.

Do not be surprised if faulty braking switches can also trigger the TC lights – along with the brake light flashing Subaru outback.

Can Traction Control Cause Power Loss? 

Yes. The Subaru’s vehicle speed sensor will detect whether any drive wheel spins more than the rest (a signal of loss of traction).

Once receiving the data, Subaru’s computer will apply parking brakes or reduce power on that wheel.


Since the relationship between TC and ABS systems is tight, problems with either of the two will lead to the Subaru brake light flashing and traction control light being activated.

Diagnose the issue based on my guide above, and write to me if you still need more help with your Subaru outback flashing brake light check engine and traction control.

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