Subaru Battery Problems: Causes, Solutions, & Prevention

(Last Updated On: March 13, 2024)
Subaru Forester with common battery problems and prevention tips, highlighted by GmundCars.

Key Points:

  • Subaru models, especially the Outback, Forester, Legacy, and WRX, have faced common battery problems such as premature battery failure and parasitic battery drain, affecting models from 2015-2023.
  • These widespread issues have led to class-action lawsuits, resulting in a settlement that offers extended warranties and reimbursements for affected Subaru owners.
  • Subaru’s battery problems have been significant compared to competitors like Honda, with factors like design, component quality, and maintenance practices contributing to the prevalence of these issues.
  • Owners can prevent battery issues by ensuring proper maintenance such as regular checks of the battery and electrical systems, adjusting driving habits to ensure full battery charging, and monitoring vehicle electronics to prevent unnecessary drain.

Subaru cars have a reputation for dependability, yet certain models have reported battery problems which has been a source of irritation for their owners. The issues vary from early battery breakdown to power drain, resulting in unexpected inconveniences and repair expenses.

In this detailed guide, we’ll explore the common battery problems faced by Subaru owners, the affected models, lawsuits and settlements, comparisons with competitors, and tips for prevention. 

By understanding these issues and taking appropriate steps, Subaru owners can ensure a positive ownership experience.

Let´s dive in.

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Common Subaru Battery Problems: Be On The Lookout For These Issues

Subaru Battery Problems infographic showing issues like Battery Drain, Premature Battery Failure, and Defective Electrical Systems in models like Outback and Forester.

Premature Battery Failure

One of the most common battery problems experienced by owners is a Subaru car battery dead situation due to premature battery failure. Models such as the Outback, Forester, and Ascent are known to face this issue, resulting in dead batteries and the need for early replacements. 

Some Subaru Legacy and WRX owners have also reported similar battery failure problems. Premature battery failure can leave drivers stranded and rack up unexpected expenses.

Battery Drain

Battery drain is another common issue in these vehicles, particularly in the 2016-2020 Outback and 2019-2020 Ascent models. This problem can be caused by various factors, including a bad alternator, a dead battery, or Subaru parasitic battery drain. 

Drivers experiencing battery-draining issues should address the problem promptly to avoid being stranded and having to call roadside assistance.

Defective Electrical Systems

Defects in Subaru’s electrical systems can also lead to battery problems. Lawsuits have alleged that models such as the 2016-2019 Outback wagon and Ascent 3-Row SUV were equipped with faulty electrical systems that drain and kill the batteries. 

These issues have resulted in legal actions against the automaker.

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Subaru Models Affected By Battery Problems: Outback, Legacy, Forest, Ascent, & WRX

Several Subaru models have been reported to experience battery problems in recent years. The most affected models include:

Infographic showcasing Subaru Models with Battery Problems including Outback, Forester, Ascent, Legacy, and WRX.
  • 2015-2023 Subaru Outback
  • 2015-2023 Subaru Legacy
  • Subaru Forester
  • Subaru Ascent
  • Subaru WRX

Among these models, the Subaru Outback and Legacy equipped with 2.5-liter engines have been the most affected. These cars have been known to experience premature dead batteries due to parasitic draws from various electronic components. 

Battery drain issues have led to customer complaints, particularly in the case of the 2018 Subaru Outback, with an average mileage of 16,750 miles when problems arise and an average repair cost of $160. 

The electrical system, especially the Controller Area Network (CAN) system, allegedly suffers from continuous parasitic drains, failing to enter sleep mode when the vehicle is turned off.

The Subaru Forester, Ascent, and WRX models have also faced battery problems, as highlighted in lawsuits filed against Subaru of America (SOA). These lawsuits shed light on the battery drain issue that has affected multiple Subaru models in recent years.

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Subaru Battery Problems: Lawsuits & Settlements

Class Action Lawsuit

Subaru of America faced a class action lawsuit related to defective electrical systems in certain Subaru models, resulting in battery failure and stranding some owners. 

The class action lawsuit, known as In re Subaru Battery Drain Products Liability Litigation, included models such as the 2015-2020 Subaru Outback, Forester, Legacy, WRX, and the 2019-2020 Ascent. The lawsuit eventually led to a settlement in the U.S. District Court.

Subaru Battery Settlement

As part of the settlement, Subaru of America agreed to provide an extended warranty and cash reimbursements to affected owners, totaling around $6.25 million. 

Here’s a video going more into detail about the lawsuit and its associated settlement.

The Subaru Battery Settlement website provides detailed information about the terms, conditions, and eligibility criteria for owners to receive reimbursements and warranty extensions. To claim benefits under the settlement, owners must fill out a claim form and provide supporting documentation, such as repair invoices or proof of expenses.

Comparisons With Competitors

When comparing Subaru’s battery problems with those of competitors, such as Honda, it is important to consider the overall reputation and quality of their respective electrical systems. 

While the automaker has faced multiple class-action lawsuits related to Subaru parasitic battery drain issues, Honda vehicles generally have fewer reported battery problems. However, it is essential to note that no automaker is immune to potential defects in their cars, and Honda owners can still encounter battery problems. 

Factors that may contribute to differences in the prevalence of battery problems between these automakers include engineering and design approaches, the quality of components, and maintenance practices.

Another problem to be aware of: Subaru Head Gasket Problems: A Complete Overview

Subaru Battery Problems: Tips & Prevention

To prevent dead batteries in Subaru vehicles, owners can follow these tips:

Tips for preventing Subaru battery problems, including setting interior lights correctly and cleaning terminals.
  • Interior Lights: Ensure that interior lights are set to the “door” or “off” position to prevent battery drain. Regularly check the vehicle’s interior to ensure that all lights are turned off before exiting.
  • Proper Battery Maintenance: Perform regular battery maintenance, including cleaning battery terminals to prevent corrosion. Ensure that the battery is securely fastened in its tray, and regularly check the battery voltage and the alternator’s charging output.
  • Pay Attention to Driving Habits: Avoid frequent short trips, as they can lead to battery drain due to insufficient charging time. Combine short trips with longer ones periodically to allow the alternator to properly recharge the battery.
  • Monitor Electrical Components: Keep an eye on the vehicle’s electrical components, such as the audio system or aftermarket accessories, as they may contribute to battery drain. Disconnect any unnecessary electrical devices when not in use and consult a professional if you notice abnormal behavior.

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Recap: How Subaru Owners Can Overcome & Prevent Battery Problems

Subaru owners facing battery problems can take proactive steps to address these issues and ensure a positive ownership experience. 

You should also know:
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Summary of Subaru battery problems affecting models like Outback and Forester, with care tips and legal advice.

By understanding the common battery problems, staying informed about lawsuits and settlements, and following preventive measures, owners can overcome battery-related challenges. 

Maintaining a healthy battery and electrical system is crucial for reliable vehicle performance. With proper care and attention, owners can enjoy their Subaru vehicles with peace of mind.

Keep reading: How To Recondition A Car Battery

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which Subaru models are known to experience battery problems?

Subaru models such as the Outback, Forester, Legacy, and WRX have also experienced battery problems, particularly those built between 2015 and 2023. The Subaru Outback and Legacy models with 2.5-liter engines are notably affected, often leading to scenarios involving dead batteries.

What are the possible reasons for battery problems in Subarus?

Subaru battery problems can arise from parasitic draw from electronic components, such as the infotainment and navigation systems, undersized batteries that cannot meet the power demands, and faults in the charging system that fail to keep the battery adequately charged.

How can I resolve Subaru battery problems?

To fix battery problems with your Subaru, consider upgrading to a larger-capacity battery, checking the charging system for proper functioning, and addressing any parasitic draws. Consulting a professional mechanic may be necessary to diagnose and fix electrical system issues.

Will Subaru replace my battery for free?

Eligibility for free battery replacement may depend on the specific circumstances of the battery problems and whether the vehicle is included in the settlement. Contact your local Subaru dealership or refer to the settlement website for more information.

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