2019 Subaru Outback, Crosstrek, Subaru lawsuit, Starlink issues
Denis Flierl's picture

Subaru Slapped With Another Lawsuit; Have You Had Starlink Problems?

2018 could be described as the year of the lawsuit for Subaru. They are slapped with another one. See what they are being sued for now.

Subaru gets slapped with another lawsuit and this one doesn’t involve the Subaru Boxer engine. This one involves their Subaru Starlink infotainment system in the 2018 Subaru Outback, 2018 Crosstrek, 2017-2018 Impreza, 2018 Legacy, and 2018 BRZ.

Subaru’s Starlink offers a suite of onboard technology bringing multimedia content with smartphone connectivity, navigation, and extra safety to Subaru vehicles. A driver can use the Starlink system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth. The technology also includes the screen for the backup camera, controls for the radio and audio system.

According to a report from carcomplaints.com, the new lawsuit alleges the Subaru Starlink infotainment systems “freeze and malfunction because the head units fail, and updates offered by the automaker have allegedly failed to fix the systems.” The Starlink systems consist of Harman Gen 3 audio and navigation head units, and the lawsuit alleges it's the head units that create safety concerns for Subaru drivers.

The plaintiff, Chad Udeen, from Tennessee, represented by Chimicles & Tikellis, and J. Llewellyn Mathews, says shortly after he leased his new 2018 Subaru Outback, he began experiencing problems with the Starlink system. Udeen claims the screen went blank multiple times and continued to get worse until the head unit failed in April 2018. After multiple trips to the Subaru dealer, and having the head unit replaced, his problem was still not fixed.

10 alleged Starlink problems

The lawsuit alleges there are 10 problems with Starlink including the backup camera freezing/or shutdowns, loss of audio functions, complete system lockup, display shutoff, inability to shut radio/audio off or turn high volume level down when backing up, radio comes on at high volume when the car is turned on, smartphone favorites aren’t saved, audio/radio functioning is erratic, touchscreen controls are unresponsive, and Bluetooth connectivity issues.

Even though Subaru has issued at least two Starlink software updates to fix the head units, the lawsuit claims some customers weren't helped much by the updates or by technical service bulletins (TSBs) issued by Subaru to dealerships. The lawsuit also says new TSBs are supposed to be sent in July 2019 to correct the problem because the past updates have failed to work on the 2018 Subaru Outback, 2018 Crosstrek, 2017-2018 Impreza, 2018 Legacy, and 2018 BRZ. You can go here to check on any current Subaru recalls for your vehicle.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA

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I have had alot of issues with the audio system--especially with Car Play.
Make sure with CarPlay you're using a high quality data cable. Also, there are a lot of settings in the phone, and in the mapping programs (especially Google) that need to be set just right so that the phone can "play nicely" with the car. Your dealer should be able to set it all up correctly for you.
I have a 2016 Wrx. Have had it back to the dealership 6 times for the radio head issue. I have given up. Class action participation maybe my only resolution.
Consumer Reports continues to rate Subaru highest in reliability, while not mentioning the record number class action lawsuits. CR's credibility has been lost.
Interested in 2019 similar issues also.
What about the 2019 Outback? Wouldn't it have the same issues?
Yes, the 2019 has some of the same issues (for things that are actual problems, see my below post), and there is a software update from the factory available now. Your dealer should be able to perform this update for you.
I purchased a 2018 Subaru Outback limited trim in April (2018). This by the way is my 6th Subaru. I'm really happy with most everything but have the Starlink system fail and have had a replacement done in November The dealership was excellent in allowing me a loaner until the system was replaced.
It's no secret that there are some problems with the 3.0 and 3.1 Generation head units and Subaru has been slow to react. However, some of these 10 "problems" listed in the article are just the way Subarus roll, and nobody has filed a lawsuit about them in the past. Subaru doesn't let you do anything with the dials and touch screen in the car while you're backing up; that's a safety feature. Beginning in 2018, the volume button when given a quick press is a "mute" button, not an "off" button. The radio doesn't stay muted; the next time you start the car, the radio comes back on at the volume you last left it at. Learn to turn it down when you leave the car, instead of muting it. The "favorites" screen built into the phone screen of the car is for the driver to manually designate contacts loaded into the car as a favorites, not to pull in favorites from the smartphone. For display shutoff, press and hold the volume button until the screen shuts off. All computer screens, whether on your desk, phone, laptop, or car, occasionally lock up. Shut off the car and restart it, or, long press the volume button until the screen reboots. Reading the owner's manual will clear up some misunderstandings about the cars - most of what I just listed are somewhere in the library of books that every owner receives with the car. You might hate some of those "features", but they aren't unexpected if the dealer is doing their job in explaining the car at the time of the sale.
And when we get the Black Screen of Death on our Infotainment screen? Nothing shows up, no radio, GPS and no back up camera...… so what now????? Dealer tells me there are NO estimated delivery dates for all of their customers with Head Unit problems..... Go team Subaru..... sarcasm....
The BSofD is definitely the end of the road. Our dealership is able to order replacement radios which is the only option for that. There are now also software updates for the HK 3.0 and 3.1 Generation units in the '18 and '19 cars. Much of the time the update or the replacement solves the various problems, but sometimes not, and that's the REAL frustration for all of us. Harman Kardon needs to figure this out fast.
I am so glad someone is doing something about this problem. As much as Subaru would like to pretend it's not a problem and claiming that "everything works fine on our end" it's a problem. I have taking my 2018 Subaru Crosstrek to the dealer multiple times wasting all day trying to get firmware updates to address the Android Auto disconnects, favorites getting removed, the fan running on the radio even when the radio and the car is turned off <--WTF is that battery draining s*it all about? Now, I have a 2018 vehicle with a radio that doesn't fully work and Subaru with the impression that I need to live with it.