Subaru Touchscreen is Not Working

There was a time when touch screen technology was a real novelty but today they are everywhere from our phones to the DMV, fast food restaurants and even our car dashboards. In those early days they were very prone to glitches and breaking but over time they have become more reliable.

Even though they have become better in quality over the years they can still suffer problems. In this post we will be looking at Subaru touch screens although many of these issues may also translate to the touch screens in any make and model of vehicle.

Why Are Touch Screens Important?

Touch screens have been in cars since as early as 1986 when one was first built into the Buick Riviera. This was a rudimentary system that could not do much but today touch screens have become extremely hi-tech.

What once required knobs and switches to operate can now be done with the press of a fingertip. You can control audio settings, environmental controls, driving set ups and more using a single screen. The ultimate bonus being you spend less time turning a dial and more time with your eyes on the road.

Convenience of use is obviously a big factor with touch screens but also so is safety of use. We get daily practice at using touch screens on our phones so navigating the screen in our car quickly becomes second nature.

Dealing with dials for the AC, radio and specific driving settings can be very distracting. They are usually spread throughout the driver's side dashboard. With a touch screen everything is right in front of you and there is no searching the dashboard for a dial to turn or button to press.

Reasons a Subaru Touch Screen Might Not Be Working

We do get reliant upon our touch screens and when it comes to Subaru models we have some fancy options of how to use them. One of these is navigation which means we can get a better experience when using it to find our way.

A bigger screen and the use of the car's audio system gives us the edge over a handheld navigation device such as our smartphone or independent sat nav system. Often we can connect our phones to the touch screen as well

When it comes to our touch screens not working there are three main reasons that this may be the case.

  • Bug or problem in the operating system
  • Short circuit
  • Power supply issues

Obviously there are other potential issues but the above three are most commonly the main problem when our Subaru touch screen is not working.

What if a Touch Screen Is Not Responding?

The whole idea of touch screens is that they are supposed to be operated by, yes you guessed it, touch. A tap of the screen with a fingertip should help you achieve your goal. Therefore one of the most frustrating issues some people experience is the screen not responding to touch.

There can be numerous reasons that a touch screen is unresponsive, one of the main being a bug causing the screen to freeze up. This is not an uncommon issue and thankfully it is often very easy to fix. A soft reset will usually do the trick in terms of unfreezing the touch screen.

In order to effect a reset you usually need only press the power button, tune/scroll button and CD Eject button at the same time. Hold all three for 10 – 15 seconds until the screen turns off. The screen should then turn back on automatically and hopefully will be unfrozen and fully responsive again.

If a soft reset does not work then there may be a bigger problem such as a fault in the operating system. This then may mean that you would need the assistance of an expert to remedy the problem.

Randomly Turning On and Off

Issues with a touch screen turning off and on randomly for no reason have also been a commonly reported issue especially with certain model years of the Subaru Forester. Generally speaking the main reason that this might happen would be a short circuit.

Essentially there is some disruption in the power flow through the circuits which could be caused by a faulty fuse or even a loose wiring connection. Those with the electrical know how to deal with this could check the fuses and wiring to see if anything needs to be replaced or simply tightened.

However if you do not have any experience dealing with electrical issues then it may be better to contact your dealership and get an expert to make the repairs. In fact if your vehicle is still under warranty you should probably do this rather than risking invalidating your coverage.

The Touch Screen Won't Turn On

A very obvious sign that there is a touch screen issue would be the screen failing to turn on at all. This is a clear sign of a power supply issue. Again this can be caused by faulty fuses or loose wires that are preventing the power reaching the device.

A blown fuse for example will stop the electrical current in its tracks preventing it from circulating the circuit. As a result the unit will not power on. So you may need to replace the fuse or have it replaced by an expert.

There is always the possibility that the power supply issue goes deeper than your touch screen. Occasionally the issue might be the car's battery. With so many electrical elements in some Subarus there just isn’t enough battery power to run them all.

It May Just Need a Software Update

You may have experienced this with your phone that sometimes they run slowly or glitch until you go ahead and allow the most recent update. We have to remember these touch screens are extremely hi-tech and often need software updates.

A glitch may develop because the old software is not working as well as it used to and the system needs the updated information. So if you are being asked to update the system software go ahead and do that as it might actually fix any issues you have.

Can I Fix My Own Touch Screen?

I often have people ask this question regarding various aspects of their cars and unfortunately you can’t really answer this question definitively. It very much depends on your personal capabilities. Most people who are strong enough can change a tire for example. The average person however can’t change a car engine.

When it comes to a touch screen anyone can perform a reset or allow the software to update. If this is the only issue then yes they can fix it themselves. There are also people who can change a fuse in an electrical system and identify a loose wire.

It takes some know-how to deal with car wiring and fuses so if this is something you have never tried before it might not be the right time to just give it a try. Remember anything you try to fix yourself that could result in worse damage can affect your warranty.

If your car is still under warranty make the most of that and have an expert help you with the repair. Only touch the electronics of your car if you know what you are doing.


Touch screens can be temperamental and may not work for a number of reasons. They are prone to freezing up and often may need resets but also electrical faults can stop them working.

Older cars with dials and switches have fewer things to go wrong but they do not have the clear advantages of a touch screen. We pay the price for technology and as I was once informed “The smarter the electrics the more things that can break.”

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