Why is Subaru Cruise Control Light Flashing on My Car Dashboard?

Driving can be fun, but long-distance driving can be fatiguing as you keep pressing the gas pedal to keep the car going at your desired speed. Thankfully, cars now feature cruise control — a system that lets drivers set a desired speed and relaxes their feet when traveling a long journey.

You can activate the system by pressing the cruise control button and the vehicle will keep you at the current speed. So you don’t have to depress the gas pedal to keep the car running. Cars with advanced cruise control systems use sensors at the front bumper to detect vehicles ahead of them and keep the car at a distance to prevent collision.

Like other system components, the cruise control does have issues. And these issues are common with Subaru cars. Most Subaru owners complain of Subaru cruise control light flashing on the dashboard as they drive.

subaru outback check engine light flashing cruise control traction control

Why does my Subaru cruise control light keep flashing?

The most common reason why the cruise control light is flashing on your Subaru is due to an electrical or mechanical problem. Remember, when the light is flashing, the cruise control system is disabled, so don’t try to turn it on because it won’t work.

In some other cases, the cruise control light may be flashing due to a defective or loose gas cap, a blown fuse for the cruise control, a failing brake pedal switch, or a defective vehicle speed sensor. Let’s have an in-depth look to see how these issues could cause cruise control light flashing on Subaru Outback and other Subaru models.

Blown fuses

The cruise control system consists of several electrical systems protected by a fuse. The fuse can blow up if there’s an electrical power issue, preventing the key components from failing. If that happens, it will disable the cruise control system. In some cases, the car computer will start flashing the cruise control light on the dashboard to notify you that there’s an underlying issue that needs urgent attention.

If you suspect the fuse is blown, replace it and see if that fixes the cruise control system and clear the blinking light on the dashboard.  If that resolves the problem but the fuse blows in no time and the light starts blinking again, you have other electrical issues. Contact your mechanic for a thorough diagnosis.

Defective speed sensor

The vehicle speed sensor is one of the essential components of the cruise control system. When you activate the cruise control, the onboard computer collects information from the speed sensor to know when to increase and decrease the engine speed.

The vehicle speed sensor is mounted at the tail end of your transmission, and if it malfunctions, the cruise control light will start blinking on the dashboard. The speed sensor is needed to ensure that the speedometer and the odometer work correctly, and without it, the cruise control system will be affected.

If you notice the cruise control light flashing and check engine light is on, check the vehicle speed sensor. A bad speed sensor triggers the check engine light and disables the cruise control system. This sensor cannot be repaired. So, if it is the root cause, the only solution is to replace it with a new one.

Loose gas cap

Believe it or not, the gas cap plays a crucial role in your vehicle’s overall functionality. The gas cap can affect the performance of the cruise control system. For instance, in Subarus, a loose gas cap can cause the cruise control light to blink as you drive. It can also trigger the check engine light to pop on the dashboard. So, a loose gas cap can cause the Subaru Forester check engine light with flashing cruise control to pop on the dashboard.

Faulty mechanical component

If you own an older Subaru car, the cruise control light could be flashing due to a faulty mechanical component. In older models, the cruise control system has a cable, connecting the throttle to an air actuator, which regulates the cable to keep the vehicle at the set speed settings.

If any of the mechanical components go bad, it can disable the system and trigger the blinking light on the dashboard.

Malfunctioning brake pedal switch

Under perfect conditions, the brake lights shine as you depress the brake pedal. There’s a component attached to the brake pedal — the brake pedal switch, which tells the brake lights to light up as you depress the pedal.

If the switch goes bad, the brake lights won’t know when you step on the brake pedal. But aside from this, a bad brake pedal switch can also affect the cruise control system.

When you activate the cruise control system, the system will deactivate and switch to manual mode whenever you step on the brake pedal. If the switch malfunctions, it may send wrong signals to the cruise control system, telling it the brake pedal is always depressed, preventing the cruise control system from turning on.

System malfunction

If your Subaru check engine light is flashing along with the cruise control light and the brake pedal switch, fuses, and vehicle speed sensors are good, you have a problem somewhere in the cruise control system.

To determine the root cause of the malfunction, you need a mechanic to diagnose the vehicle. The mechanic will inspect all cruise control components and may plug in a scan tool to pull out all the error codes in the vehicle.

It’s okay for the cruise control light to be on when you activate it, but if the light comes on when you are not using the cruise control, or the light starts blinking when you activate it, there’s a problem that needs to be addressed. In most cases, a flashing cruise control light on Subaru is accompanied by the engine warning light.

What to do if your Subaru cruise control light flashing?

Whenever the Subrau cruise control light starts flashing on the dashboard, the cruise control has malfunctioned or disabled. Hence, do not turn on the cruise control system. If the light starts flashing after getting gas, locate a safe spot and pull over. Check the gas cap and re-tighten it. It could be you did not secure the gas cap properly.

If that do not solve the problem, drive straight to your mechanic and have them diagnose and fix the problem.

Does the cruise control stop working when check engine light is on?

If the onboard computer detects a problem with your transmission or the engine, it will display the check engine light and disable certain vehicle functions, like the cruise control system, to prevent further damage until you address the issue.

Let’s be clear here; this does not mean that the PCM must disable the cruise control whenever it detects an issue with the engine or transmission. It will only disable the system if the issue is causing unstable engine performance.

Subaru Outback check engine light flashing, cruise control, and traction control light blinking can all come up due to engine performance issues. Contact your mechanic to proffer solutions to the problem. 

Final Words

To be precise, the flashing Subaru cruise control light shows there is a mechanical or electrical problem in your car. The cruise control light should be green and steady when you turn on the system. But if the light is flashing, turn off the cruise control until you address the problem.

If you are a DIYer, you can fix the issue yourself. But if you are not, contact your mechanic or dealership. The solution can be easy, quick, and quite affordable.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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