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UPDATE Subaru Outback, Ascent, Legacy Recalled For A Defective Drive Chain

The 2020 Subaru Outback, 2020 Ascent, and 2020 Legacy have been recalled for a defective drive chain that may break, causing loss of power. Here are the complete details.


The 2020 Subaru Outback, 2019-2020 Ascent, and 2020 Legacy have been recalled by Subaru of America and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a defective drive chain. The NHTSA says the drive chain may break, causing a loss of drive power and could result in an accident.

The recall is likely for models with the 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine. The 2020 Outback XT, 2020 Legacy XT, and all 2019-2020 Ascent vehicles use this engine.

2020 Subaru Outback, 2019-2020 Ascent, 2020 Legacy recall

The potential number of affected vehicles is 198,255 models. The number of potentially affected Outback vehicles is 35,257. The number of potentially affected Ascent vehicles is 160,941. The number of potentially affected Legacy vehicles is 2,057.

What is the Problem?

Subaru says 2019-2020 Ascent, 2020 Legacy, and 2020 Outback vehicles have a programming error in the Transmission Control Unit (TCU) that may allow the clutch to engage before the drive chain is completely clamped. An improperly secured drive chain may slip and break, causing a loss of drive power and increasing the risk of a crash.

2020 Subaru Outback, 2019-2020 Ascent, 2020 Legacy recall

How will Subaru fix the problem?

Subaru retailers will reprogram the TCU, inspect TCU data for chain slip, and visually inspect the chain guide. The transmission will be replaced if evidence of chain slippage or damage is found. Repairs will be performed free of charge.

Subaru Outback and Legacy have three other recalls

2020 Outback and Legacy models had three other recalls. Subaru recalled the two vehicles in September 2019 because a brake pedal mounting bracket may have had an insufficiently tightened or missing bolt. Get the details here.

Subaru issued a recall for the 2020 Subaru Outback wagon and 2020 Legacy sedan models late last year. The recall notice was for the car's rearview camera that may shut down, reducing the driver's ability to see cars or people behind the vehicle when it's backing up.

Outback Ascent and Legacy recalled for possible fuel pump failure

In July, the 2018-2020 Outback, 2019-2020 Ascent, and 2018-2020 Legacy were recalled for a possible fuel pump failure that could cause the engine to stall while driving, increasing the risk of a crash.

When will Outback, Ascent, and Legacy owners be notified of the drive chain recall?

Interim owner notification letters are expected to be mailed on February 7, 2022. The remedy is expected to be available in April 2022. This recall includes all vehicles previously recalled under 19V-855, and those vehicles will need to have the new remedy performed for this recall once available. 2020 Subaru Outback, 2019-2020 Subaru Ascent, and 2020 Subaru Legacy owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-844-373-6614. Subaru's number for this recall is WRK-21.

Owners can also check Subaru's VIN, lookup tool, and check for the latest updates.

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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


Christine (not verified)    December 16, 2021 - 7:29AM

Yeah I’m aware as my 2019 Ascent just got a whole new transmission that the drive chain damaged. I took it in to the dealership when the transmission started slipping. I didn’t get a recall notice either. I found out the hard way.

jg (not verified)    December 16, 2021 - 12:31PM

Hardly “complete details”, especially with the bulk of the text prefixed with “likely” and “potentially”.

One thing owners can do is keep your foot firmly on the brake while moving the gear selector between forward and reverse and not accelerate until the transmission stops making noise. Unlike old automatics that you used to be able to “rock the car” out of various situations when stuck, the CVT takes a couple seconds to motor internal components into position. This is entirely speculation (based on 50 years of working on cars and aircraft), but I’d guess this is where the bulk of the damage from this particular issue is occurring (since the chain is being clamped after the input shaft is already spinning).

Christine (not verified)    December 17, 2021 - 12:37PM

In reply to by jg (not verified)

The problem is a defective TCU unit (electronic brain damage) and a loose drive chain. How you drive will not change this. And my Ascent with a loose drive chain was never stuck anywhere.

Lioness (not verified)    December 17, 2021 - 9:48AM

I have a 2022 Outback with the 2.4 turbo.
Will these problems be in the 2022?
How will.I know B 4 the damage is done?
Obviously the 2020-2021 will be addressed 1st and the owners won't be notified of the recall until.Feb. What does that mean fir the 2022's?

Christine (not verified)    December 17, 2021 - 12:48PM

In reply to by Lioness (not verified)

If you hear/ feel ANY thunk on accelerating take it in. I took mine into the dealer in August when it first started that, was only on hard acceleration ie pulling out into traffic …at first. They “ran diagnostics” and said it was fine. It continued to worsen/ was happening more often and I took it back in October, said it’s NOT fine. That’s when they found the loose drive chain and extensive damage requiring a new transmission. Just plugging it into a computer doesn’t find mechanical issues. ( mine is a 2019 Ascent).

David (not verified)    December 20, 2021 - 4:08PM

My current impreza has had multiple recalls including valve defect requiring major engine disassembly. Subaru is growing too fast to maintain their previous "bulletproof" build quality. My last subaru was my last subaru.

edward. bretzfelder (not verified)    January 1, 2022 - 6:04PM

my Subaru Outback has had a problem. with starting Then stalling in driving
any reason for this malady

Christine (not verified)    January 2, 2022 - 9:51AM

In reply to by edward. bretzfelder (not verified)

How old is the Outback?
This issue is with a drive chain and affects shifting not stalling. Stalling could be a lot of things, although my previous Outback had a stalling issue twice, both with sensors for oxygen and fuel mix.

E. Wood (not verified)    September 28, 2022 - 9:00PM

my 2020 Outback (turbo) was brought in for the CVT belt recall and their testing found the transmission was damaged. I felt slight transmisstion slipping at low speeds on occasion, or maybe that was my imagination with my first CVT. The dealer used a scope to verify the slipping. Took 1.5 months to replace the transmission. At least i had a loaner. The service dept at the dealer were professional.