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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?


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 Outback2019 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 Outback2019 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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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Terry O'Brien (not verified)    April 25, 2020 - 8:53PM

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"...

Terry O'Brien (not verified)    March 23, 2023 - 1:30PM

In reply to by Terry O'Brien (not verified)

Update: thanks to the Reddit family, removing the DCM fuse ( for the Starlink *help" button only) has shown to eliminate about 90% of these issues. (2019 Outback it's #9 fuse in engine bay fuse box). A dealer reprogram of the alternator is also available ( many dealers don't know!); many Asia spec cars are limited by law to voltage output below what is required to fully charge the battery. This same issue negates any benefit from using a gel battery; they cannot fully charge in the car. A BIG Thanks to those that kept digging!

BONNIE MITCHELL (not verified)    April 25, 2020 - 9:02PM

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.

Humberto C Martinez (not verified)    April 25, 2020 - 9:32PM

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.

Misty (not verified)    May 21, 2021 - 5:50PM

In reply to by Humberto C Martinez (not verified)

2019 Crosstrek 1,000 miles, battery died. Jumped it. A week later, battery died, jumped it. Took it to Subaru to no avail. 2 weeks later, battery died, jumped it. Pandemic hit before I could get it to dealership. When quarantine was lifted. Battery was dead again and no way to jump it. Emergency service came out to jump it. It died again same day. Emergency service came out to jump it. The next morning it was dead. Purchased auto battery jumper. I’ve had to use it 4 times. Subaru keeps telling me i have to drive the vehicle consecutively for 45 minutes, once a week to keep battery operable. They say there is nothing draining it. I live 15 minutes from work, in town, and my entire family lives within 15 minutes........ finding reasons to jump on the interstate for 45 minutes once a week sucks. Hmm.......

Bill (not verified)    May 22, 2021 - 9:08PM

In reply to by Misty (not verified)

You may need to charge once a week. I bought a Noco Genius5 (5 amp) charger for my 2016 Outback. May be more convenient than the 45 miles on the freeway.

Or, maybe a larger battery (higher AH), if there's a physical fit.

Ronald Simon (not verified)    April 25, 2020 - 10:14PM

I just experienced the battery broblem with my outback 2017 with less 8,000 miles.

Hank (not verified)    June 2, 2020 - 12:33PM

In reply to by Ronald Simon (not verified)

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?!!!

Matthew C Welch (not verified)    July 20, 2020 - 4:25PM

In reply to by Hank (not verified)

We have a 2016 Outback. Even with a very high end (Optima Red) replacement battery, this problem persists. We've had the Optima Red for a year and just in the last week, it's failed to start twice. This is our THIRD battery on this 2016 Outback with the seond and third being out of our own pocket.

Not a happy camper right now.

Roxanne Howard (not verified)    September 17, 2021 - 1:01AM

In reply to by Matthew C Welch (not verified)

I bought a new 2016 Outback in March 2016. I just had to put the fourth battery in my car with 60k miles. The first 3 batteries were supplied by Subaru. This 4th battery I purchased from AAA because I couldn't get the car to the nearest dealer. I have thev3rd bad battery and plan to take it to the dealer and complain. There is a obvious problem with draining batteries every 14 months.

CM (not verified)    December 26, 2020 - 11:12AM

In reply to by Hank (not verified)

So our 2020 Ascent battery is dead. It is over 1000 miles and we (for the first time) opened the rear hatch for getting out and putting in Christmas presents. It happened over night so this issue continues. I too want to know if I get a more powerful battery, does it void the warranty and extended warranty that I have purchased? I get that I can go to to Subaru and get another OEM battery but if it only lasts for less than a year as well, why would I want to?

Vang Yeeleng Xiong (not verified)    January 2, 2021 - 1:46AM

In reply to by Hank (not verified)

Hi. I've been having the same problem with my 2015 used outback I bought from Ohio. I'm currently living in MI and my battery has died multiple time. I've done extensive research and I finally found a guy who can answer your question about beefing up your battery to fix the problem. I have yet to change my battery and going to do so ASAP. Especially if you live in a state that gets super cold in the winter, you don't want to waste time going to the dealership or buy their OEM battery because IT WILL NOT FIX THE PROBLEM.

If anyone has questions about buying a bigger better or better yet a battery with a higher cold start or CCA, go and watch Charles Cupp youtube channel and search for "2016 Subaru Outback group 24 Battery".

Hope this helps and good luck!

Rodney A Bennett (not verified)    April 26, 2020 - 12:24AM

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...

Tom Stull (not verified)    April 26, 2020 - 7:12AM

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.

Steve (not verified)    April 26, 2020 - 12:32PM

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.

Gib Charles (not verified)    June 2, 2020 - 5:34PM

In reply to by Steve (not verified)


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.


Bryan Knedler (not verified)    October 2, 2020 - 8:13AM

In reply to by Gib Charles (not verified)

I've had 3 jump starts in 10 days. 2020 Outback. Less than 8,000 miles. Drove 100 miles and the next morning battery was too low to start the engine. I did have the hatch open by itself on one occasion and when the battery is low, I hear the rear hatch making a noise like it's closing (as if it hadn't been closed completely beforehand). On first occurrence, the battery was completely drained and I had to be towed. I was told I had left the hatch light on (but I had never touched it). Have made sure all lights are off since then. AAA tested the battery and said it was defective. Going into dealership on Monday and let's see what excuse I get this time. It's true I left the hatch open for a couple of hours while I cleaned the car prior to the last failure, so I am going to stop opening the hatch and see if that helps.

Edward Magowan (not verified)    May 7, 2021 - 12:25PM

In reply to by Steve (not verified)

Turn off the fob. Press and hold lock button then two quick presses of the logo button. Indicator light on fob flashes 4 times. Press any fob button to wake it. Extends the fob battery life also.

Thomas E. Briglia (not verified)    April 26, 2020 - 12:51PM

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.

Richard Noyes (not verified)    April 26, 2020 - 3:41PM

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

Art (not verified)    May 25, 2020 - 4:03AM

In reply to by Richard Noyes (not verified)

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.

Jude Varnum (not verified)    May 14, 2021 - 11:07PM

In reply to by Richard Noyes (not verified)

I bought my Subaru crosstrek 2019 new and after one year I would be running errands and get back in the car and the battery would be dead. I have taken the car back to the dealer 65 miles away. They put a new battery in once but after a couple if months the problem reappeared. The service always told me something different that was causing the battery drain which they said I was doing something wrong to cause the problem. My car was just back in today due to the two new recall. I have my fingers crossed hoping it won't start having battery problems but am not going to trust it. I wish Subaru would admit it has a problem and quit blaming it on me.

Al Roth (not verified)    April 26, 2020 - 4:00PM

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....

Diane Endres (not verified)    March 14, 2021 - 8:52PM

In reply to by Al Roth (not verified)

I have a 2017 outback 43,000 miles we are on our third battery,dealership says nothing wrong.i keep asking why was told normal, I know better than that
Now rear wheel bearings went bad

james (not verified)    April 26, 2020 - 10:34PM

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.

mac (not verified)    April 26, 2020 - 11:26PM

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.

Stephen Crocker (not verified)    April 27, 2020 - 6:20AM

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

Stephen Crocker (not verified)    April 27, 2020 - 6:21AM

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

Al jardine (not verified)    April 27, 2020 - 11:54PM

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!