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A New Lawsuit Is Filed Against Subaru - More Dead Batteries Surface

A new drained battery lawsuit against Subaru claims defective electrical components in Subaru Forester, Outback, Ascent, Legacy, and WRX vehicles. See which model years have a potential issue.


A new defective battery lawsuit has been filed against Subaru of America and Subaru Canada. The recent case covers more models, including the 2015-2019 Subaru Forester, 2015-2019 Subaru Outback, 2019 Subaru Ascent, 2015-2019 Subaru Legacy, and 2015-2019 Subaru WRX.

The plaintiff, Steven Scott from British Columbia, is represented by McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP and joins similar class-action lawsuits against Subaru of America. According to the statement of claim, the lawsuit alleges Scott's 2016 Subaru Outback, with 4,076 miles on the vehicle, had electrical system problems saying the passenger window and the battery drained after leaving the power tailgate open for 15 minutes.

Subaru Forester, Outback, Ascent drained battery lawsuit

The lawsuit alleged in June 2019, Scott's Subaru Outback wouldn't start, so he had the vehicle towed to a dealer where the technician gave the battery a boost and told the plaintiff he needed a new battery.

Scott says he purchased a new battery and battery charger, and in July 2019, Subaru technicians determined the battery was at medium health, and no parasitic drain was found. The plaintiff says he charged the battery twice and had to use a spare battery on numerous occasions.

Subaru Forester, Outback, Ascent drained battery lawsuit

Plaintiffs in an earlier lawsuit against Subaru of America also said defects with Forester, Outback, Ascent, Legacy, and WRX batteries make it necessary to replace the battery in their cars far more often than is typical with other, non-defective vehicles. Owners say they must replace their batteries frequently as a result.

The class action against Subaru claims the automaker has known about the problem and has issued multiple TSB service bulletins filed with the NHTSA over drained battery issues since 2015. The class actions say Subaru has failed to recall the vehicles and fix the problem under its warranty obligations.

The new class action says, "The class vehicles are subjected to a continuous parasitic drain on their batteries, including when the class vehicles are turned off and parked. When the engines are not running, the batteries are not being replenished by the charging system. Therefore, any drain on the batteries at this time is being powered solely by the stored charge contained within the batteries."

What should 2015-2019 Subaru Forester, 2015-2019 Subaru Outback, 2019 Subaru Ascent, 2015-2019 Subaru Legacy, and 2015-2019 Subaru WRX owners do if you have experienced the same battery issues? You should first report a problem to the NHTSA. Affected Subaru owners/lessees can contact McKenzie Lake Lawyers here.

You Might Also Like: The Updated 2022 Subaru Model Preview And Why the New Forester and Crosstrek Models Are Delayed

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Helmut Welker (not verified)    July 12, 2021 - 10:39AM

Need some help! I totaled my Forest because the accelerator stuck. I understand you had a n article about that. May I see it?

Alan Mohn (not verified)    July 12, 2021 - 7:38PM

This has been an ongoing issue with any Subaru model that has a power lift gate and it also affects 2020 Forester. I have previously contacted Subaru and per their factory service rep, " We are aware of the situation but currently there is no work around". One work around I found is to trick the computer but closing the lift gate latch when the gate is open. I use the end of a bungi-cord to close the latch and the car thinks the gate is closed. This shuts off the computer and decreases the power drain. Your have to manually close the gate and then cycle it open and closed for the gate to latch again. When camping I also carry a solar trickle charger and a Noco battery jump starter just in case my battery fully drains again. I have not had any problems since I have been using this method.

Elizabeth Kafati (not verified)    July 12, 2021 - 8:16PM

My Subaru 2017 3.6 R. Battery died. Charge went down apparently because I didn't drive in 2 or 3 days. Advance auto said battery needed charge.

John Tobias (not verified)    July 13, 2021 - 4:50AM

I have a 2018 Subaru Outback Limited with the exact same problem as your other Subaru owners in this story. If I leave the rear liftgate open it kills the battery over a short period of time. Even if I make sure that the interior light is in the off position. It's happened to me 3 times now. So I've even hon out and spent over 200 dollars to buy a CTC 1500 amp lithium ion booster pack to keep in the car because I can't trust the battery to do its job. Really, this is rediculuous. I'm 70 years old and have owned many new cars over the years and none have ever had this kind of irritating and inconvenient problem. When the car was brand new, the battery was replaced at the Subaru dealer after only a few months of it's initial purchase. JT

LindaRae Gruenewald (not verified)    July 13, 2021 - 11:42AM

In reply to by John Tobias (not verified)

I’m am so happy to see this. We have a 2015 and a brand new battery. And I left my back lift gate open as well. My battery is deader than dead. Won’t even take a charge. Had to have it towed as we also thought there is something wrong with the car. As it is/was a new battery.

Partha Mishra (not verified)    July 13, 2021 - 9:53AM

I've noticed a similar problem in my 2018 legacy in two scenarios
1. If I turn on the electronic parking brake and don't drive the car for a few days, the battery drains.
2. Turning on the emergency blinkers also drains the battery fairly quickly
I'm managing right now by not using the electronic parking brake since my driveway is level ground but am concerned if I have to use it for a extended period of time. Same with the emergency flashing lights. This needs to be addressed at some time. Thank you for this information.

Robin Benton (not verified)    July 13, 2021 - 12:27PM

In reply to by Partha Mishra (not verified)

2017 Outback. On third battery. Turns out that besides the tailgate, leaving the sunroof open drains it quickly. Convenience light left on drained it overnight; I changed every lamp out to LED's to draw less.

David Johnston (not verified)    July 13, 2021 - 3:59PM

In reply to by Partha Mishra (not verified)

I noticed my 2019 Ascent and my 2015 Outback running a motor at the rear (sounds like it is near the electronic parking brake motor) constantly in the middle of the night in the garage. I have to replace batteries very frequently.

Alan Mohn (not verified)    July 16, 2021 - 11:46PM

In reply to by David Johnston (not verified)

The noise your hearing most likely has to do with the evaporator control unit. It takes gas fumes to store to be burned when the engine is running. This helps to control unburned hydrocarbons from entering the atmosphere.

Brandi karlsen (not verified)    July 13, 2021 - 11:24AM

Yes we have also experienced many dead batteries!!! We have a 2019 ascent. We have had a dead battery on the ferry in the grocery store parking lot and the home driveway sevn times times we have had to jump the battery and they say it is normal. I have never had a vehicle die while just trying to pack up the trunk for a trip before this. It is quite unnerving. We have children and pets and bought this car to adventure into the woods and travel. Quite unsettling and unreliable if your battery could die from maybe a door left open the e brake left on or music playing for 15 min.

June Chafin (not verified)    July 13, 2021 - 12:45PM

I have a 2020 Forester and I have had a problem with my battery not charging. The dealership said I needed to drive it at least every two to three days. I told them I am 71 years old and we are in a pandemic (it was in the middle of it) and I don't need to drive it that often. The reason I bought a new car was so I could have dependable transportation. If not for that I would have kept my 2002 Toyota that had over 250,000 miles and had never failed me.

Mary A (not verified)    August 1, 2022 - 11:38AM

In reply to by June Chafin (not verified)

June, I’m having the same problem. Had my 2020 Forester for 2 years. Just started having problems with the battery drainage. I’m 73 and bought this car for dependability. I don’t need to drive everyday and even with a full charge it drains completely overnight. Dealer said I should buy a new bigger battery. Then why don’t they put them in the new cars?

David Noel Parks (not verified)    July 13, 2021 - 2:06PM

I've had issues with the driver's window. On several occasions I have tried to close it, either auto or manual, and it has gone most of the way up and then came back down. This seems to happen on days when it rains. I've also had problems removing the key from the column. I'll turn the engine off and it will not go all the way to the off position. I have to restart the engine, turn the wheels back and forth and then I can remove it.

Jason (not verified)    July 13, 2021 - 4:37PM

This is a very strange issue with Subarus in general. I do roadside assistance and see this issue frequently and even experienced it on my own 2018 WRX. However, I believe the issue is not with the car or the electrical components but, more so with the batteries. I owned my car for about a year and a half when I took my vehicle to Subaru for a recall on the exhaust manifold bolt tightening. While there they tested my battery and told me it was in need of replacement. Knowing the issues with Subaru batteries, I declined and bought my own AGM battery. Since then I haven't had a single issue even after the car sat for a month.

What most people don't know(this includes the people that work at your local dealership) is that all new cars have changed the changing parameters of the alternator. They use a sensor on the negative terminal of the battery to determine how much load is being put on the battery and the computer then makes an adjustment in the voltage output of the alternator. If you do not have a heavy load on the electrical system it will only charge at 12.6 volts not 14-14.5 volts. This will create a condition known as sulfates. Sulfating will not allow your battery to take a full charge and diminishes the reserve capacity. The reserve capacity is how long it takes you battery to drain when load is applied and the engine is off. Add this to the industry's lowest rated reserve capacity and it is a huge headache for customers that expect their vehicles to work as their past vehicles always did.

1. Don't think that a replacement warranty battery from Subaru will fix your problem. Go to any battery supplier(other than Subaru) and get the replacement battery for your vehicle. Check the RA rating look for 90 to 120 minutes.

2. Drive with your blower motor on high. This will force the computer to max out the alternator preventing sulfating.

3. Don't listen to the radio or use the phone with the engine off. Most Subarus will turn the headlights on when in auxiliary power mode and drain the battery very quickly.

4 if you have an Outback or Forester be very careful with the light in the cargo area. If it is on the roof the switch is situated in a way that it can be bumped into the on all the time position when removing items from the cargo area. If it is turned on it will not go off automatically, it only shuts off if it is in the on when doors are open position.

5. Lastly, if your battery drains and your passenger window is inoperable, this normal. There is nothing wrong with the window motor or switch. It simply needs to be relearned. It must be done on the passenger door by simply, rolling the window all the down and holding the button for 5 seconds after it is down followed by rolling the window up and holding the button for 5 secs after it is up.

Sandra magnifi… (not verified)    July 13, 2021 - 10:54PM

I've had issues with my original battery and to have it replaces. I also have electric issues too and the battery that is in my car now has battery corrosion on all terminals. I own a 2017 outback. I've had electric issues with the car since I've owned it. Another problem is that sometimes I can't get the key out of the ignition. I have to restart the car several times and then it finally comes out.

Niki (not verified)    July 14, 2021 - 12:43AM

I had issues with the battery of my 2016 subaru too. Researched it, bought a bought a different that was recommended... not a single issue since

Steve Pierce (not verified)    July 14, 2021 - 2:42AM

Same problem with 2014 Outback 3.6. Subaru dealer for years denied this was a problem and charged me over $300 to do a parasitic test. While I am waiting in the showroom I spoke with another owner having teh same problem. I go back to the Service Manager and say that he jsut told me that they are not seeing this problem with other cars and I came to learn that 2015 was in for the very same problem. You lied to me. he jsut shrugged his shoulders and said he would let me know when my car was ready.

Then the car abandoned me ont eh side of the road all electrics dying and the tranny locks in gear. Towed to a different dealer they and a Subaru tech from Ann Arbor went through every connector and module in the entire car. Said they found a defective fuse and charged me $2.80. Since that day I have not had a single problem with battery drain and I have had the same battery for almost 4 years now. Prior to that visit I had already burned through three batteries.

Don't even get me started with the false shifting problems anyone with a non-CVT tranmission has from that same period. Again Subaru denies this is a problem even though I can replicate it on any day and have even been able to demonstrate the problem in other Subarus. Subaru's response it is shifting as designed.

I will not be buying another Subaru.

Andrea DeLuna (not verified)    July 14, 2021 - 3:41AM

I have been having an issue with the tail gate malfunctioning and not opening or closing. Could this be related?

Robby (not verified)    July 14, 2021 - 11:45AM

My 2017 Forester had the same problem. Bought a new battery. Unfortunately totaled that car in deer hit last fall. Love my Honda CRV though, it is a superior vehicle.

Virginia Norton (not verified)    July 14, 2021 - 9:23PM

2020 Outback -- 7500 miles -- began having dead battery a few months ago. Jump started and took to dealership last week. Was told that they couldn't find anything wrong. Battery was at full charge. Dead again today -- after 5 days.
I am sure they knew about this problem with the electrical system!!

Jane McLearie (not verified)    July 17, 2021 - 12:12PM

I have a 2007 Forester and bought it used. I had driven a Jeep for over 25 years!
Immediately I had trouble with the battery and bought a good one to replace.
I have to sit in my car every 2 days for 15 minutes to keep the battery charged if I do not drive it.
With my Jeep I could leave it at the airport for a month and it would start right up.
Subaru has a serious issue with battery connections.
Love the Subaru, but not the battery.
I know an older model, but keep it up.

C freilinger (not verified)    July 23, 2021 - 2:30PM

So many problems with my Outback battery!! Been left stranded, late to appointments. Dealer was helpful, but still having issues!!

Andy GARREAU (not verified)    December 2, 2021 - 7:16PM

battery in 2018 subaru outback has failed 3 times now on fourth battery in 3 years only 9000 kms dealer keep saying no known problem

Beth (not verified)    January 24, 2022 - 10:07PM

2016 Outback battery dead at 18 months,replaced by AAA- guy said “Subaru batteries are too small and are crap”. No problems since (daughter has car). 2019 Outback battery dead at 23,000 miles after not being used for 3 days. On charger now, going to dealer soon. No interior lights were left on, no tailgate use, etc. we will see what they say.