2021 Subaru Outback, features, specs, pricing
Denis Flierl's picture

Update - Subaru Outback, Ascent Battery Drain Lawsuit What You Should Know

What is going on with the Subaru Outback and Ascent battery drain lawsuit? Here is the latest update.
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Subaru of America was hit with a class-action lawsuit concerning the Subaru Outback wagon and Ascent 3-Row SUV last year. The class-action lawsuit filed in April 2020 alleged 2016-2019 Subaru Outback and 2019-2020 Subaru Ascent SUVs have problems with the batteries draining prematurely. The alleged defect may also be present in the 2020 Outback, according to the filing.

A new report from Car Complaints says multiple lawsuits were filed, and they have been consolidated into a new class-action titled, In regard Subaru Battery Drain Products Liability Litigation.

2021 Subaru Outback, Ascent features, specs, pricing

The original lawsuit contends plaintiff Dustin Dalen's 2017 Subaru Outback had 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 filing stated Dalen's Outback left his 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.

2021 Subaru Outback, features, specs

The class action 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 2016-2019 Outback and 2019-2020 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."

The latest Subaru dead battery consolidated lawsuit was also filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. Subaru made a motion to dismiss the case, saying the battery drain lawsuit "is a classic vague and inconsistent 'shotgun' pleading that 'asserts multiple claims against multiple defendants without specifying which of the defendants are responsible for which acts or omissions, or which of the defendants the claim is brought against."

Subaru says the plaintiffs lack standing over claims for Subaru models the plaintiffs never owned or lease but can only pursue claims related to the Subaru vehicles they own. Additionally, Subaru says the plaintiffs cannot represent owners of other vehicles equipped with different batteries, components, and software files alleged to be at the heart of the defect allegations. Subaru says the plaintiffs do not have the standing to assert claims based on the marketing of products they did not purchase.

The judge in the case has not ruled for or against Subaru's motion to dismiss the case. Torque News will keep you updated on further developments.

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.

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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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Comments

Thanks for this article. Any news if the battery issue was corrected for 2021 Outbacks?
3 months into owning our 2021 Subaru Outback and the battery died out of the blue. Lol, the dealership blamed in on COVID and recommended we fix it by getting jumpstarts when needed. I wish I was joking. I'd seriously reconsider a brand that sells defective cars and does even have the decency to take responsibility for it.
Have a 2017 subaru outback. Had to have a hot shot twice in first month. Dealer said nothing wrong. Battery died a few months later while on vacation. Dealer there said the battery was bad and replaced. This all happened in summer of 2017. Bought May 2017. I turn everything off when i get home. Haven't had issue since.
So glad I saw this as I was planning to get rid of my 2014 Honda CRV which has the same issue (only 23,000 miles and on it's fifth battery) and go back to Subaru. I've been stranded too many times and had to cancel too many plans so will start considering other makes.
My wife has a 2015 Forrester which we have had to jump start more times than I can count. Subaru always said 'no that is the correct battery for the car'. I convinced her to buy a much bigger battery which she finally did and that appears to have solved the problem. Both of our sons have STI's and it seems they are OK. Subaru makes great cars!
It's not just those models. The Crosstrek Hybrid we have drained the battery in less than 2000 miles because of short trips. Instead of the car charging the 12v while charging the traction battery, I have to charge the 12v manually every month.
We have a 2020 Outback that we just had to jump this past weekend. This is our third Outback, we love them, but if this happens again it might be a deal breaker.
In November 2016 I bought a new 2017 Outback. In the summer of 2018 I left the tailgate for about 4 hours while I was unloading bags of mulch, etc. I made sure that all passenger doors were closed, and all the interior lights were switched to off, so they wouldn't drain the battery. Outcome: dead battery when I tried to start the car 4 hours later. I jumped it off, took it the the dealer that day, they could not diagnose the problem. I found a blog on the internet that suggested simply having the tailgate open somehow drained the battery because sensors were constantly sending signals to the motherboard. Then an unrelated thing happened in 2019 when I had to park on a narrow residential street to attend a short meeting - I turned on the hazard flashers and 45 minutes later when I returned to my car - you guessed it - a dead battery. That doesn't speak well of Subaru safety if you break down on the highway and have to wait 2 hours for a tow truck, your emergency flashers could give out before the tow arrives!
I have a brand new plug-in hybrid Crosstrek, leased in July, with 1,400 miles. Before this, I had a plug-in Prius and a plug-in Volt, with which I had no problems whatsoever. The Crosstrek has had a dead battery around 13 times since then. The dealership replaced the telematics module and have deep charged the battery several times. In the last 2 weeks, the battery has died 3x, and again today. Roadside service told me the car must be driven for 30 minutes every 5 days (which in and of itself, is a ridiculous thing to require of a car owner without telling them before they've bought the car). But I was about to drive it after 3 days. No lights are on. Another roadside service said to turn off the "auto" function for the headlights as they sometimes drain the battery. Which I had done. This is despicable. I do not trust that this car will start, don't trust it to take on a trip, and am paying nearly $500/month for a big ornament for my driveway. I would NEVER get another Subaru after this. Never.
Bought a 2017 Outback Limited in August 2016. Had to jump several times. Open tailgate ran the battery down, Alos could not play the radio for 15minutes. The dealer updated the charging to the ecu. No help. Finally, after the dealer telling me the battery was fine. I replace the factory battery with an Autozone Duralast with more power it has worked ok. I am still leery of opening the tailgate or playing the radio. I carry a jump box in the car because of this issue.
I also had my battery die at 13,000 miles and 17 months old. Battery replace under warranty. From what I read, it will hsppen again.
There have been multiple tech service bulletins for Forester and Outback tailgate modules draining batteries, so replacing your battery without addressing that will certainly get you in the same situation again. It should be no surprise that the batteries the manufacturer purchases are cost effective for them and provide marginal performance for you, so I would submit that getting the same battery is a waste of time and money. I have both a Forester and Outback each with under 8,000 miles and both batteries died within weeks of each other. I chose to get NorthStar AGM batteries which are quite a bit more expensive than the original technology, but -- you get what you pay for. Even without any tailgate TSBs being addressed, I haven't had any battery issues. Also, you may find that writing a nicely-worded letter to Subaru explaining your situation and suggesting it would be nice if they would help out with a partial reimbursement of your new battery costs, may just get you more than you would expect.
About to buy 21 outback; thanks so much for your feedback on the battery issue !! I have contacted many Subaru parts depts- none have admitted to battery problems (!!) but all mentioned that they have replaced‘quite a few’ tail gait modules. I am trying to find out if those modules have been updated- do you have any more news about this? Also, I hope that your solution of a higher cold cranking amp battery holds up over time-
Bought a 2020 Outback in June 2020. Within 2 week, we had a battery drain and dead cell. Now, 10 months later, the same problem happened. On the 3 rd battery in 10 months, leaves us with no confidence in our new car.
I have a 2020 outback with only 5,000 miles and my battery is dead after leaving it for 6-7 days