2020 Subaru Outback
Denis Flierl's picture

Subaru Hit With A New Lawsuit Over An Outback And Ascent Dead Battery Issue

Subaru is hit with a new lawsuit alleging the 2016-2020 Subaru Outback and 2019-2020 Ascent have defective electrical systems causing premature battery failure. What should owners do if you are experiencing the same issues?
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Subaru of America is hit with another class-action lawsuit concerning the Subaru Outback wagon. The new Subaru class action lawsuit alleges 2016-2019 Subaru Outback and 2019-2020 Subaru Ascent SUVs have electrical problems. The alleged defect may also be present in the 2020 Outback according to the filing.

The lawsuit contends plaintiff Dustin Dalen’s 2017 Subaru Outback has a defective electrical system causing his battery to drain prematurely. Dalen represented by Tina Wolfson, Bradley K. King, and Ruhandy Glezakos of Ahdoot & Wolfson PC., says his Outback’s battery failed with only 12,000 miles on the odometer. The vehicle left Dalen’s wife and two children stranded at a park. When he took the vehicle to an Oregon dealership where he purchased the wagon, the technician could not diagnose the problem, the filing states.

2020 Subaru Outback
2019 Subaru Outback

The lawsuit contends Dalen has since had to change his vehicle’s battery regularly at home to keep it from going dead. On a business trip to Seattle, the Outback’s battery failed again and Dalen was forced to take an Uber to purchase a battery charger and jumper cables so he could get the car started and drive home the next morning, the Subaru class action lawsuit states. At his next scheduled oil change, Subaru technicians determined the battery's voltage was low and replaced the battery under warranty.

The lawsuit also contends Subaru has known about the problem since 2017 and issued a technical service bulletin addressing potential battery discharging after repeated periods of short-trip-driving resulting in a dead battery. The lawsuit says if owners of Outback and Ascent models take their vehicle in for diagnosis of the problem, dealers replace the old battery with the same OEM battery “and is thus a temporary fix only.”

2020 Subaru Outback
2019 Subaru Ascent

The lawsuit contends the 2019-2020 Subaru Ascent 3-Row family SUV also suffer from the same battery problems. The plaintiff says his Subaru Outback has lost its resale value and the drained battery caused him stress, money, and time.

Another class-action lawsuit has been filed by a California woman, Virginia Tomasian alleging her 2017 Subaru Outback also has battery problems. This recent lawsuit also alleges 2016-2020 Subaru Outback and 2019-2020 Subaru Ascent SUVs are equipped with batteries that drain and die. The Subaru dead battery lawsuit was also filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Subaru of America has been hit with a number of other lawsuits concerning the Outback wagon. There are lawsuits concerning the vehicle’s Subaru Starlink infotainment system, defective windshields, and an Outback airbag causing serious injury class-action all in the past 18 months.

What should 2016-2020 Subaru Outback and 2019-2020 Subaru Ascent owners do if you have experienced the same battery issues? You should first report a problem to the NHTSA, and you can contact attorneys Ahdoot and Wolfson or Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLP.

You Might Also Like: Subaru Outback, Ascent, Impreza, Legacy Recalled For Defective Fuel Pump

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!

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Comments

Known issue since mid 2000's. Stock/spec battery half the CCA/Ah rating of most other OEM'S. Some vendors classify them with ATV batteries. Known drainers include auto headlight switch, dealer installed remote starts & bad door/courtesy light switches. Common Gp 24 battery fits tray, & buffers common voltage regular issues that cause accelerated headlamp burnout. If you have to replace headlamps more often then 2:years, order 21-24v rated bulbs. OEM 18v rated get toasted by 17.8-20+ v spikes. "Subie Thing"...
I'm ready to get a Subaru outback but got put on hold because of the recall on the fuel pump now that I have read this about the battery I just might not buy one of these cars and go and get a Toyota like my car I'm driving now I think I'd be better off.
We purchased a 2015 Crosstrek one month ago. Being as the virus had kept us cooped up mostly at home, it has not been driven much. After having it for a week, I went to us it and the battery was at 11.40VDC. I charged it up and then drove it. Upon starting it to drive back home, some 25 miles, it cranked over but hesitated in starting. Got home, checked the battery's voltage and it was 12.87VDC. The next morning, the voltage had dropped to 10.50VDC. The puzzling thing is that at the Infinity dealership, the car started just fine when I first went to see it, when my wife test drove it, and the next day when we went to sign papers and finalize the deal. I've since had to buy a new battery for it. The old battery was a Subaru battery. I replaced it with one from Sam's. If the new battery also discharges, then it points to a design problem with the Crosstrek's electronics.
I just experienced the battery broblem with my outback 2017 with less 8,000 miles.
All the complaints I have read about dead batteries in SUBURUS have been mostly with the outback and after thousands of miles. How about this: My 8-month old 2019 Impreza battery has died TWICE in one day. It tests “good”, I have not been to the dealership yet but every review I’ve read, almost 100, says the dealerships claim the battery is good. And they do nothing, or else what they do (even replace batteries or relays) doesn’t help. A jump is still soon needed. I have read in these that the people who got better batteries out of their own pocket, have not had further problems. So I would be willing to do that (buy a more powerful battery) but my concern is Would that void my 3-year warranty?!!!
My battery failed in less than two years. Leaked acid and corroded the bracket that holds the battery in. Dealer replaced the battery under warranty but refused to replace the corroded bracket. I had to spend a day sanding all the paint, rust and corrosion from the bracket, re-paint it and put it back on. Not good customer service from this Dealer, who had just charged me almost $600.00 for the 30,000 mile service. They never mentioned the corroded battery, and I never looked until my battery would not turn the car over...
My 2017 Outback had/has the battery problem described above. The battery has been replaced twice under warranty, the second one is a better battery than original equipment but if the vehicle sits for any long period it loses it's charge. I have purchased a trickle charger to maintain the power needed to start the outback.
Replaced with a larger capacity after 3 months ownership on our dime. Keeping the fob near does not let the computer sleep. Leaving the hatch open drains the battery overnight. A map light will drain it. Not being sure the car was totally turned off will drain it. Have a couple of Faraday bags coming to stop first problem when camping. Other hack is a caribiner in the hatch latch to fool the car into thinking it is closed, and computer goes to sleep.
Steve, These are the same problems I've had on my 2019 Outback, especially leaving the back hatch open while I work out of the car. Dealer says the motor to open the hatch runs constantly when the hatch is open (3.67 amp draw). How did you determine that putting a carabiner in the latch mechanism fools it into thinking the hatch is closed? I tried it, and the interior light tied to the hatch still stays on. Gib
My battery died and I never got a warning from my Starlink System. I called the systems manager and informed them that this should be a warning, I get warnings when service is due or oil change his needed. The manger ask me to send him the receipt for battery replacement they would reimburse me, I did and never received any payment.
Our 2020 Ascent also lost battery power while at the Oregon coast. We were parked watching the evening sunset. Went to start the car and the battery was "dead." We used Starlink to send us help. Help was coming from a town 1/2 hour away? About 20 minutes into waiting, I decided to try start the car again. IT STARTED! Called Starlink to cancel the service call. I was told that letting the battery rest lets it recharge? That's my story and I am sticking to it. We did take it in when we got home for service. I can't really say what they did? It has acted normal ever since.(last November 2019) Our service provider is Capital Subaru, Salem, OR
I had no start once on my 2016 Legacy. But started a while later. I think it was position of steering wheel. Moving it slightly allowed ignition to work as designed.
So, I had the battery problem on my 2017 Outback, HOWEVER I forgot about the device I plugged into the OND II plug which used Bluetooth to talk to my phone. Since I unplugged it, no battery problem. Might be coincidence....
Had the same issue with my wife's WRX. After two years all of the cables are corroded and she is on her 3rd "Subaru" battery. After the 3rd battery, I noticed that the battery is only good for one year. And the dealerships only charge $179 for this great battery.
We are on the 3rd battery in 2016 Outback with 65k miles. Dealer cannot find the issue. Since we have extended service plan we have to buy Subaru battery ( not covered). Made it through the last winter ok by not using remote start ( dealer installed) maybe that is the problem.It would start via remote, run, shut off as it was suppose to, you get in and car is dead no lights, nothing, zero. Sometimes it would just be dead in the morning. We carry jumpstart battery pack and keep it charged since it saved us already. Except the wheel bearing at 40k, we didnt have other problems.
I am now going to watch to see if this issue applies to my 2019 Outback 3.6 in Australia, even though ours are made in Japan. A few weekends ago my battery failed while I was in a wilderness area miles from assistance. According to some forums I read afterwards it may have just been that I'd left the powered tailgate open all day. Even though all interior lights were off, apparently the tailgate motor works to keep it in a raised position and drags a fair bit of power. Luckily I had a day to spare and some solar panels that I connected to get more battery charge. I'll be carrying a Lithium Jump starter in future. The battery did charge fine and has worked fine for our short trips since
I am now going to watch to see if this issue applies to my 2019 Outback 3.6 in Australia, even though ours are made in Japan. A few weekends ago my battery failed while I was in a wilderness area miles from assistance. According to some forums I read afterwards it may have just been that I'd left the powered tailgate open all day. Even though all interior lights were off, apparently the tailgate motor works to keep it in a raised position and drags a fair bit of power. Luckily I had a day to spare and some solar panels that I connected to get more battery charge. I'll be carrying a Lithium Jump starter in future. The battery did charge fine and has worked fine for our short trips since
I owned a 2019 Outback,and like so many others, the batt kept dying. My Subaru dealer in Monterey CA suggested I “keep the key fob in a steel container when parking near the house, or working in the garden, as it activates the computer whenever they are in close proximity to the car. Their answer was to replace the battery several times over. After contacting Suburu National headquarters in NJ and getting no help from them, I decided to sell it back to the dealer for a considerable loss. Apparently the battery is being drained whenever leaving the keys in your car while gardening, or even In your house while your sleeping!
Our 2017 Outback is on its second battery. The original battery died at about 15,000 miles without warning. The dealer said that we don't drive the car enough. I doubt if our next car will be a Subaru.
Own a 2019 Outback 3.6R Limited (new 4/15/19) and a 2019 Subaru Ascent 2.4 Touring (new 5/30/19). Outback battery flaky mid-January, dealer replaced with new battery (same model) 1/28/20. At that point, I was only vaguely aware of battery issues. Mid-April the Ascent battery died, having sat in the driveway due to virus lockdown for about 3 weeks. Recharged battery, 3 days later it was dead again. Researched issue, called SoA, offered me a one-time courtesy refund if I send them a receipt for a battery of my choice. Still debating replacement options, but will join lawsuit and send complaint to NTHSA.
Just bought a brand new 2020 Outback. Didn’t drive it for 7 days due to COVID. Car wouldn’t start - less than 70 miles. Called Subaru and they told me this is a common issue and I need to drive it more. Might be true, but also a new car shouldn’t die after a week in my opinion. Might need to change the settings so it doesn’t drain as fast.
My new 2020 Outback with less than 5,000 miles also had a dead battery when I didn’t drive it for two weeks due to the Covid quarantine. I had it to have it jumped. Drove it for over an hour. Ten days later, the battery was dead again. I contacted the dealer and the service rep initially said they would replace the battery with a more powerful battery. This did not happen. Battery was recharged and the recommendation and written instructions were to drive it every other day. If it sits for a week, drive it for 30 miles. I was also I instructed to take off the negative post on the battery when I leave it parked at the airport parking lot (I travel often) and reattach it when I return. I am a 65-year old woman and not a mechanic. The service manager admitted there was a design flaw, the electronics in the car drain the battery if it is not driven for a while, and there is no other higher powered battery to replace it as it is a “stop-start battery”. This means I can’t buy a better battery outside of Subaru as it won’t work with this model. This is ridiculous. Subaru needs to step up and fix this problem. I am stuck with an unreliable car.
I have a 2017 Forester with the same issues, this is the 4th battery I'm on and the dealership has told me it's "normal"
My wife has a 2017 Forester which we liked so much that I'm waiting for the 2021 Crosstrek but am now having second thoughts after reading the extent of this problem. We've had two Subaru batteries that went so dead that they couldn't be jumped or charged. The first failure was at 17 months and 2800 miles, the second 28 months and 9000 miles later.The service manager told me that these modern cars have a lot of electronics now that keep alive when the cars are turned off. This situation should start showing up in Consumer Reports reliability ratings of Subaru cars especially if Subaru doesn't recognize it as a serious reliability problem. With all the warnings in the 400+ page Owners Manual, one of them should really be "Do not drive this vehicle less than 5000 miles a year."
I bought a new 2020 Outback on Dec. 14, 2019. Didn't drive it for two weeks due to Covid. Battery was dead. Recharged, drove it for an hour or more. It sat for 10 days and wouldn't start again, battery dead. Dealer charged the battery, stated the battery was fine, but gave written instructions that I needed to drive it every other day. If it sits for a week, it must be driven 30 miles or more. The service manager admitted there is no replacement battery, this is a design flaw due to the electronics in the car. There is no upgrade bacause the battery is a "stop-start" battery, thus he recommended against going outside of Subaru to buy a higher powered battery. I was instructed to pull off the negative post on the battery when I travel and need to leave the car at the airport parking lot, then reinstall the negative post when I return. This is absurd! The car has less than 5,000 miles. Subaru needs to correct this design flaw. I am stuck with an unreliable car.
Got rid of my 2017 Outback 4-cyl Ltd this week - so glad to be rid of it. Constant battery/failure to start issues and the dealer couldn't have cared less. Over the course of my ownership of Outbacks I've tallied 9 roadside assistance calls due to the car not starting. Car was practically brand new having been driven less than 25K miles. Totally unacceptable. Thrilled so far with my new Honda Pilot EX-L AWD. Done with Subaru.
2016 Outback-purchased May 31, 2016- based on Subaru's claim on reliability. First battery dies after 30,000 miles around January 2019-with no warning. Electrical system checked out by dealer-said everything is in good working order-and gave me a new battery-no charge..About 11,000 miles-March 30, 2020 new battery dies -with car in driveway and again with no warning. I had AAA replace-with a new battery-cost $150. One month later car- no warning car-would not start--got a boost from AAA and was told the battery tested good---as the technician said there had to be a drain on the battery--and get it checked out. My Subaru dealer told me to bring it in and will check the entire system out. However, will be looking to sell the car--and get a different vehicle that I can rely on-not a Subaru.
Battery drained in my 2017 Subaru Outback 3.6r Limited on several occasion barely after a year of ownership. Filed a report with NHSTA and Subaru of America. Subaru of America was very conscientious and referred my case to a specialist who in turn made arrangements at my local dealership to troubleshoot this issue. I was given a loaner car and received a call from the dealer that they had diagnosed the problem. My electric brake was draining the battery and they ordered a controller and replaced the part. I was very impressed that the service department diagnosed the problem and fixed it! I was shown the utmost respect and received phenomenal customer service. My experience with Subaru of America was very postive! Thank you! That's why I have owned two Subaru's!!
I have a 2015 Outback Limited. 71 kmiles and on the third battery. Haven't had to pay for a new one since they don't make it to the 30 month limit for free replacement. Other than that have been very happy with it.
Battery drained in my 2017 Subaru Outback 2.5, exactly at 30 months after purchase date. I've always had superior service with Subaru, and I don't think there will be a problem with diagnosis. I don't mind getting the same battery free under warranty, however I would like it if they solved the underlying issue.

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