Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
jpjr
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:46 am

Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by jpjr »

Subaru has a problem with some of its models (specifically for me - 2016 Outback) where the electric system constantly drains the battery to the point it dies - often suddenly and unexpectedly. Subaru dealers were put on notice back in 2017 via internal memo but Subaru has not come up with a fix. My question is how have you been treated by your dealer if you have expereinced this problem? My dealer initially blamed me for leaving the internal lights on after exiting the car - I didn't - but they have changed the battery twice in two years at no cost. The change in batteries helped for the moment, but I have to carry a portable charger just in case. Just curious how different dealers have handled this issue.

Thanks
oldfatguy
Posts: 1027
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:38 pm

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by oldfatguy »

You should probably post this on the subaruoutback.org forums. Your questions doesn't seem actionable.
maineminder
Posts: 96
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2011 9:48 am

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by maineminder »

I had the same problem with a 2017 Forester. Dealer replaced the first one under warranty only to have it fail as well.

oldfatguy gave good advice. Go to the forum and you'll find that most people gave up and just bought a higher CCA battery. I haven't had any issues after I replaced the second one.
mw1739
Posts: 843
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2011 5:44 pm

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by mw1739 »

No experience with Subaru’s but my wife used to have an Acura with this problem. It was apparently common in this model year that the Bluetooth would drain the battery while the car was off. Disconnecting the Bluetooth module fixed the issue.
GuayaquilEcu
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:02 am

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by GuayaquilEcu »

We had same problem for 2017 Forester, they upgraded some software/firmware that fixed the problem. It's been 18 months and no problem since.
Ron
Posts: 6785
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 7:46 pm
Location: Allentown–Bethlehem–Easton, PA-NJ Metropolitan Statistical Area

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by Ron »

GuayaquilEcu wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 12:45 am We had same problem for 2017 Forester, they upgraded some software/firmware that fixed the problem. It's been 18 months and no problem since.
Same situation with my wife's 2015 Legacy. Once they upgraded the software, it solved the problem.

What the dealer told her (if they/she got the story right) was since she used the car only for short trips around town (2-3 miles), the battery never got a chance to recharge with the original software design. They kept the charge rate low in order to increase MPG, assuming most folks use their car's 10-15K/year, whereas she has a hard time getting to 5K/year.

As to the truth? Who knows. All I know is for the last three years the problem has not arisen.

- Ron
ondarvr
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2020 6:03 pm

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by ondarvr »

This was a problem across several brands, normally a glitch in the software, combined with how the charging systems work now.

Honda had the same battery going dead problem, it was due to certain systems not shutting down correctly and purposely undercharging the battery to get that last .0001 improvement in MPG.

The dealer would check everything, charge the battery, and say there's nothing wrong.

A week later the battery would be dead. This would be repeated until the battery tested bad and the dealer would replace it under warranty. This may happen several times under warranty.

Honda released service bulletins for the fix, but oddly enough, few dealers paid much attention to them. The car owner would need to tell the dealer about it to get the work done.

Also, the charging systems are designed to float at about 12.4 to 12.5 volts if there's no big draw on the system. This leaves the battery under charged. On a Honda, if you turn on the headlights it bumps up the voltage to 14.2, which properly charges the battery.

The charging system, software, and extremely small batteries combined for lots of failures. Subaru went through the same thing.

Some manufacturers are increasing the size and design of the batteries again, I sold my Subaru and bought a Honda, so I don't know if Subaru increased the battery size like Honda did.
Last edited by ondarvr on Sat Dec 26, 2020 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
GCD
Posts: 1188
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:11 pm

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by GCD »

If it's a new car, under Virginia's lemon law you could force them to take the car back and refund you your money. It's only necessary that the car be in the shop for repairs a certain number of times. The size of the problem doesn't matter, just that they can't get it fixed. I know because I recently forced Subaru to take back a malfunctioning 2020 Ascent. It took an attorney who specializes in lemon law stuff, but it was really quite painless, relatively quick and cost free to me.

Seems to me that would be a quick way to get a company's attention on issues like this. If they were besieged with lemon law returns they might take it more seriously.
dbr
Posts: 36435
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:50 am

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by dbr »

You can get a device like this to monitor what is going on: Jebsens 4.8A 24W Dual USB Car Charger Volt Meter Car Battery Monitor with LED Voltage & Amps Display in Red LED

Note with Subaru and many other cars the cigarette lighter is not connected until the ignition is switched on. Before starting you will get a reading of the battery voltage and after starting you will see the charging voltage. I usually see battery voltage between 12.0 and 12.4 and charging voltage at 14.4 when the engine is running. Engine off battery voltage less than 12.0 is a significantly undercharged battery and under 11 volts is a discharged battery.
RudyS
Posts: 2228
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:11 am

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by RudyS »

Great suggestion. I just ordered such a device for around $15. I drive my car so little that when I do, I would like to see how the battery/alternator are doing. From reading reviews, if you order one, get the red LED display, not blue because the red is more readable.
A440
Posts: 708
Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:46 am
Location: NJ

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by A440 »

I had this repaired in October of 2020 for my '16 Outback. It was covered even though my warranty was just expired.
Here is the https://www.tsbsearch.com/Subaru/11-176-17Techinical Service Bulletin (TSB).
Here is the link to Subaru forum where I learned about it:https://www.subaruoutback.org/threads/b ... 025/page-2
So far...no more issues.
I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds my future.
dbr
Posts: 36435
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:50 am

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by dbr »

RudyS wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 3:10 pm Great suggestion. I just ordered such a device for around $15. I drive my car so little that when I do, I would like to see how the battery/alternator are doing. From reading reviews, if you order one, get the red LED display, not blue because the red is more readable.
There is a difference also in the size of the display, but it is true red is easier to read, especially at night.
Carguy85
Posts: 531
Joined: Thu Mar 19, 2020 6:26 pm

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by Carguy85 »

GCD wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 12:16 pm If it's a new car, under Virginia's lemon law you could force them to take the car back and refund you your money. It's only necessary that the car be in the shop for repairs a certain number of times. The size of the problem doesn't matter, just that they can't get it fixed. I know because I recently forced Subaru to take back a malfunctioning 2020 Ascent. It took an attorney who specializes in lemon law stuff, but it was really quite painless, relatively quick and cost free to me.

Seems to me that would be a quick way to get a company's attention on issues like this. If they were besieged with lemon law returns they might take it more seriously.

Interesting... from what I remember when I looked into it some years back, it seemed like the stipulations were made to be extremely difficult to the point of pretty much making any sane non retired person saying to heck with it and just trade for something else. It’s good to hear your experience. I know the frustration of spending a lot on a new vehicle only for it to have issues...I’m not so forgiving of problems, especially on new vehicles.
User avatar
Gort
Posts: 691
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2007 5:07 pm
Location: Idaho

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by Gort »

GCD wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 12:16 pm If it's a new car, under Virginia's lemon law you could force them to take the car back and refund you your money. It's only necessary that the car be in the shop for repairs a certain number of times. The size of the problem doesn't matter, just that they can't get it fixed. I know because I recently forced Subaru to take back a malfunctioning 2020 Ascent. It took an attorney who specializes in lemon law stuff, but it was really quite painless, relatively quick and cost free to me.

Seems to me that would be a quick way to get a company's attention on issues like this. If they were besieged with lemon law returns they might take it more seriously.
What was the problem with the Ascent? I'm considering purchasing one. Thanks!
sport
Posts: 10383
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by sport »

It should also be noted that having the battery undercharged for long periods of time will permanently reduce the capacity of the battery. So, depending on your climate, the car may not start on a very cold morning, or it just may fail earlier. The reduction in Reserve Capacity can be very bad in an emergency situation. Reserve Capacity is the number of minutes the battery can provide 25 amps at 80F. This is important if you lose charging capability, such as a broken fan belt. The battery may be needed to provide headlights and a defroster fan until you can get to a safe place to stop. So, if you "solve" this problem by installing a larger battery, you will not have the battery capability that you are paying for.
User avatar
wander
Posts: 3789
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 9:10 am

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by wander »

Unless there is a re-call, I would treat it as a problem and will troubleshoot to find out what is draining the battery. Cases are different.
GCD
Posts: 1188
Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:11 pm

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by GCD »

Gort wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 4:49 pm
GCD wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 12:16 pm If it's a new car, under Virginia's lemon law you could force them to take the car back and refund you your money. It's only necessary that the car be in the shop for repairs a certain number of times. The size of the problem doesn't matter, just that they can't get it fixed. I know because I recently forced Subaru to take back a malfunctioning 2020 Ascent. It took an attorney who specializes in lemon law stuff, but it was really quite painless, relatively quick and cost free to me.

Seems to me that would be a quick way to get a company's attention on issues like this. If they were besieged with lemon law returns they might take it more seriously.
What was the problem with the Ascent? I'm considering purchasing one. Thanks!
Below is cut and paste from the lemon law notification I sent to Subaru.

5/18/2020

Subaru
Customer Relations Department
Subaru of America, Inc.
One Subaru Drive
Camden, NJ 08103-9800

Re: Final Repair Attempt, Request for Informal Dispute Resolution pursuant to 15 USC 2310 and Revocation of Acceptance

Dear Customer Relations Department:

I am writing this letter to provide you notice of the defects in my 2020 Subaru Ascent, VIN XXXXX. GCD bought this vehicle on 01/23/2020 at Ultimate Subaru, Inc. in Fredericksburg, VA. Due to current COVID-19 related restrictions, the vehicle has been minimally driven and only has approximately 2238 miles on it.

The problem(s) that I have had or currently have with my vehicle are as follows:

1. On approximately 1/30/2020 numerous dashboard lights turned on, including the check engine light, while idling in a parking lot. I turned the engine off for a few minutes and when the car was restarted the lights did not come back on. I took no further action at that time.

2. On 04/13/2020, on first starting the engine for the day numerous dashboard lights came on. The engine idled roughly and there seemed to be some non-driver initiated braking/stuttering of the car when driven. The car was returned to our home garage after being driven approximately 1/10 of a mile and another vehicle was driven that day. Ultimate Subaru advised to drive the vehicle to their shop in Fredericksburg. We took it to Ultimate Subaru on 04/14/2020 and they repaired it that day. The technician said a “TB connector appeared to not be fully seated.” The technician fully seated the connector and told us the car was fixed.

3. On 05/07/2020 many dashboard lights, including the check engine light, came on upon first starting the vehicle for the day. The engine idled roughly. The car was driven and the lights eventually turned off on their own while running errands. On 05/08/2020 we took the Ascent to Ultimate Subaru. They said the throttle body would need to be replaced and we returned the Ascent to Ultimate Subaru on 05/13/2020 for servicing. On 05/13/2020 they replaced the throttle body and returned the car to us the same day.

4. On 05/15/2020 I was driving on the interstate when the Ascent began involuntarily braking. This occurred on southbound I-95 just North of Fredericksburg, VA with 2 children in the car as passengers. All the dashboard lights, including the check engine light, came on. Less than 10 seconds later the car began braking against the will of the driver. The Ascent slowed to 20 mph in under 100 yards. The vehicle continued to resist my attempts to accelerate. Due to the rapid deceleration in interstate traffic we were tailgated by a semi-truck. We were not able to immediately exit the interstate because of concrete barriers and lack of a shoulder in that area. We had to drive 20 mph in moderate interstate traffic (with traffic flow at or above the speed limit) for approximately 1 mile before we could access the shoulder. The Ascent was taken by tow truck to Ultimate Subaru on 05/15/2020 because it was not safely operable.

I have no copy of a Repair Order for this latest incident because the vehicle is still under repair at Ultimate Subaru as of this date 05/18/2020..
I have attached copies of my Repair Orders for incidents 2 and 3.

Please contact me as soon as possible to address these continued serious safety defects. Also provide me with information on your informal dispute resolution procedure. I revoke my acceptance of this vehicle and I request you buy it back or provide a new replacement Ascent with the same features.

Our contact information is:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And that's basically it. They brought out a "Field Engineer" from Subaru HQ to try and figure out what was going on. Their eventual diagnosis was that some air intake port was improperly attached during construction of the car at the factory and this caused the vehicle to go into "limp mode" spontaneously on the highway. Limp mode is a thing on all Subarus that keeps you from driving the car at a high rate of speed and causing further damage to the engine. Which is all well and good except when you are on the interstate in the middle lane in moderate traffic traveling at 80+ and you get shut down to 20 mph against your will with nothing you can do about it. This function very nearly caused a wreck. The trucker behind us had to slam on his brakes to avoid slamming into us from behind because our deceleration was spontaneous, without warning and for no apparent reason. Good on him.

Subaru was professional the whole time. We got a free loaner every time the car was in the shop. We were polite too, but I got an attorney and moved forward with the lemon law thing after the limp mode incident. In Virginia they get 3 tries to fix something and that's it. Doesn't matter how insignificant. I think the vehicle has to be within 18 months of new. They never did really figure out what was wrong because the light problem continued a couple more times. But it was all over after they blew the 3rd try.

After it was fully resolved, we bought another Subaru. I think we got exactly what the law calls it - a lemon. We have had no trouble with our new Subaru. You have to go off a company's sustained average, not your own personal one-off experience. Subaru has an excellent repair and safety record overall.
Jack FFR1846
Posts: 13864
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am
Location: 26 miles, 385 yards west of Copley Square

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

I cruised around various Subaru forums and there are a lot of these reports. A "solution" is for the car or something on the key fob to be programmed so the car doesn't continuously look for the key. I would suggest you type the problem into google and look at forum posts. This took me all of 3 minutes to find. Is your key someplace close enough to the car that it's sensed? I have never had this problem with our 17 limited Legacy or 19 crosstrek premium, but the keys are a good 100 feet away in the house on the key chain, so I know they're not sensed. I do notice with the Legacy that if I'm working on the car with the key in my pocket, the car beeps. I would not be surprised if it's drawing more current at these times.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid
rebellovw
Posts: 1133
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2016 4:30 pm

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by rebellovw »

GCD wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 6:03 pm
Gort wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 4:49 pm
GCD wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 12:16 pm If it's a new car, under Virginia's lemon law you could force them to take the car back and refund you your money. It's only necessary that the car be in the shop for repairs a certain number of times. The size of the problem doesn't matter, just that they can't get it fixed. I know because I recently forced Subaru to take back a malfunctioning 2020 Ascent. It took an attorney who specializes in lemon law stuff, but it was really quite painless, relatively quick and cost free to me.

Seems to me that would be a quick way to get a company's attention on issues like this. If they were besieged with lemon law returns they might take it more seriously.
What was the problem with the Ascent? I'm considering purchasing one. Thanks!
Below is cut and paste from the lemon law notification I sent to Subaru.

5/18/2020

Subaru
Customer Relations Department
Subaru of America, Inc.
One Subaru Drive
Camden, NJ 08103-9800

Re: Final Repair Attempt, Request for Informal Dispute Resolution pursuant to 15 USC 2310 and Revocation of Acceptance

Dear Customer Relations Department:

I am writing this letter to provide you notice of the defects in my 2020 Subaru Ascent, VIN XXXXX. GCD bought this vehicle on 01/23/2020 at Ultimate Subaru, Inc. in Fredericksburg, VA. Due to current COVID-19 related restrictions, the vehicle has been minimally driven and only has approximately 2238 miles on it.

The problem(s) that I have had or currently have with my vehicle are as follows:

1. On approximately 1/30/2020 numerous dashboard lights turned on, including the check engine light, while idling in a parking lot. I turned the engine off for a few minutes and when the car was restarted the lights did not come back on. I took no further action at that time.

2. On 04/13/2020, on first starting the engine for the day numerous dashboard lights came on. The engine idled roughly and there seemed to be some non-driver initiated braking/stuttering of the car when driven. The car was returned to our home garage after being driven approximately 1/10 of a mile and another vehicle was driven that day. Ultimate Subaru advised to drive the vehicle to their shop in Fredericksburg. We took it to Ultimate Subaru on 04/14/2020 and they repaired it that day. The technician said a “TB connector appeared to not be fully seated.” The technician fully seated the connector and told us the car was fixed.

3. On 05/07/2020 many dashboard lights, including the check engine light, came on upon first starting the vehicle for the day. The engine idled roughly. The car was driven and the lights eventually turned off on their own while running errands. On 05/08/2020 we took the Ascent to Ultimate Subaru. They said the throttle body would need to be replaced and we returned the Ascent to Ultimate Subaru on 05/13/2020 for servicing. On 05/13/2020 they replaced the throttle body and returned the car to us the same day.

4. On 05/15/2020 I was driving on the interstate when the Ascent began involuntarily braking. This occurred on southbound I-95 just North of Fredericksburg, VA with 2 children in the car as passengers. All the dashboard lights, including the check engine light, came on. Less than 10 seconds later the car began braking against the will of the driver. The Ascent slowed to 20 mph in under 100 yards. The vehicle continued to resist my attempts to accelerate. Due to the rapid deceleration in interstate traffic we were tailgated by a semi-truck. We were not able to immediately exit the interstate because of concrete barriers and lack of a shoulder in that area. We had to drive 20 mph in moderate interstate traffic (with traffic flow at or above the speed limit) for approximately 1 mile before we could access the shoulder. The Ascent was taken by tow truck to Ultimate Subaru on 05/15/2020 because it was not safely operable.

I have no copy of a Repair Order for this latest incident because the vehicle is still under repair at Ultimate Subaru as of this date 05/18/2020..
I have attached copies of my Repair Orders for incidents 2 and 3.

Please contact me as soon as possible to address these continued serious safety defects. Also provide me with information on your informal dispute resolution procedure. I revoke my acceptance of this vehicle and I request you buy it back or provide a new replacement Ascent with the same features.

Our contact information is:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And that's basically it. They brought out a "Field Engineer" from Subaru HQ to try and figure out what was going on. Their eventual diagnosis was that some air intake port was improperly attached during construction of the car at the factory and this caused the vehicle to go into "limp mode" spontaneously on the highway. Limp mode is a thing on all Subarus that keeps you from driving the car at a high rate of speed and causing further damage to the engine. Which is all well and good except when you are on the interstate in the middle lane in moderate traffic traveling at 80+ and you get shut down to 20 mph against your will with nothing you can do about it. This function very nearly caused a wreck. The trucker behind us had to slam on his brakes to avoid slamming into us from behind because our deceleration was spontaneous, without warning and for no apparent reason. Good on him.

Subaru was professional the whole time. We got a free loaner every time the car was in the shop. We were polite too, but I got an attorney and moved forward with the lemon law thing after the limp mode incident. In Virginia they get 3 tries to fix something and that's it. Doesn't matter how insignificant. I think the vehicle has to be within 18 months of new. They never did really figure out what was wrong because the light problem continued a couple more times. But it was all over after they blew the 3rd try.

After it was fully resolved, we bought another Subaru. I think we got exactly what the law calls it - a lemon. We have had no trouble with our new Subaru. You have to go off a company's sustained average, not your own personal one-off experience. Subaru has an excellent repair and safety record overall.
Wow what a read thanks. Yeah - I'd like to get the new Forester - glad to see you bought another. But yep - that is how you do it.
CurlyDave
Posts: 2746
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 11:37 am

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by CurlyDave »

My 2017 Outback had a problem of the battery becoming less and less charged over the course of several weeks. I took it back to the dealer and they had just gotten a service bulletin on that problem. The solution was to reprogram the on-board computer which limited charging current in order to save a thimbleful of gas every month. Check to see if this is your problem.

The original battery died a few months ago. Costco carried the replacement and even better, the next size up had much more capacity and CCAs and it fit in the space allotted for the battery. Best of all, it was very nearly the same price.
Answering a question is easy -- asking the right question is the hard part.
folkher0
Posts: 381
Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:48 pm

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by folkher0 »

2018 outback. Had numerous issues with dead batteries, weird electrical behavior, etc. the dealer swapped out the Head unit at least twice. They repeatedly tested the battery and told me it was fine.

I had enough. I told them how disappointed I was with the product. In late 2019 I was nearing the end of the warranty. I got them to pay for an extended warranty 10 yrs, 1000,000 miles. I then went to Walmart and bought the highest CCA battery that would fit in the car, as recommended on Subaru forums.

Haven’t had a problem since. I had been a lifetime Subaru buyer. Probably will go a different way for my next vehicle.
User avatar
Ruprecht
Posts: 556
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2007 10:34 pm
Location: a very nice cardboard box
Contact:

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by Ruprecht »

I'm not active on facebook anymore, but one place you can find more info is "Subaru Ascent Dead Battery Club". Lots of Subaru owners with the same problem, including not just the Ascent, but also the Outback and Forester. There is now a class action lawsuit but I'll be surprised if it gets anywhere.

To clarify:
- Subaru's OEM batteries have too-low Reserve Capacity, but they are functional batteries - the battery isn't the problem
- the problem is a non-stop parasitic draw from the electrical system

I've made several changes on my own (dealer will only and always be useless for this, as Subaru has very strong incentive to never admit this is a problem):

- turned off my key fob (have to hold it up against the start button to start car - inconvenient but worth it)
- turned off car alarm
- replaced OEM battery with the largest physical size that would fit with largest Reserve Capacity.
- I decided not to bother with an AGM battery, but if I did, I would still want to use the largest physical size that would fit (without modifications required). It's immediately obvious that my car was made for a much larger battery than what subaru actually included with the car. I say this because the battery tray is perfectly sized for a particular battery size, and Subaru sold me a tiny battery floating around in the tray
- take great care to never leave the back hatch open any longer than is absolutely necessary. And it's not the interior lights. We all remember how older cars would go dead if the door was left open with a dome light on. That's not the problem here. All lights can be off and this thing will still go dead if the door is open - it's constantly "thinking" about the door being open. Computer just runs and runs until battery is dead.

I realize other manufactures have other problems, and I guess I'll "never say never" about anything. But there is almost no chance I will ever buy anything from Subaru, new or used, ever again.
Last edited by Ruprecht on Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
Bb073084
Posts: 117
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2019 10:24 am

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by Bb073084 »

See if you can point to other car owners having the issue and get a better resolution since it may not be fixable.
Topic Author
jpjr
Posts: 28
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:46 am

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by jpjr »

Thanks everyone for your responses. I am aware that the problem stems from 1) Continued battery drain when the car is off. 2) Subaru battery is underwhelming / lacks capacity and 3) There is probably no actual recourse at this stage for my 2016 vehicle.
I look at some of the suggestions and the most critical is whether the dealer has done any re-programing - which per my records, they have failed to do. When I set the appointment for my last visit- which was the reason for my rant, I had a problem with the service manager's response to my issue. He simply stated that he was not the problem and that he personally had not experienced the issue with many (he said about 3) other vehicles and he was not responsible for what was being noted by the various Subaru forums. This attitude really got under my skin. When I actually arrived at the dealership he made himself scarce and let a flunky deal with me. I got the "we find nothing wrong with the system and we will slow charge your battery" - to which I said I want a new battery as it has a 30 month guarantee and I am at 25 months. Apparently he got the manager's ok to get rid of me by installing a new battery. I did research the idea of getting a more robust battery, and will if the current one fails, but I shouldn't have to spend the money for a problem inherent with the vehicle.
As a few have stated, I too have been a loyalist with Subaru for almost 30 years, battling the snowbelt in Syracuse, but I will be hard pressed to buy another once the day comes to replace my Outback.
sport
Posts: 10383
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by sport »

Since your dealer failed to properly address your problem, is there another dealer you could go to for better service?
CurlyDave
Posts: 2746
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2016 11:37 am

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by CurlyDave »

jpjr wrote: Sun Dec 27, 2020 11:16 am ...As a few have stated, I too have been a loyalist with Subaru for almost 30 years, battling the snowbelt in Syracuse, but I will be hard pressed to buy another once the day comes to replace my Outback...
At least at that dealer.

I like my Suby and would not be adverse to another one, I just would not go back to a dealer who refused to even read his own technical bulletins.

Can an independent shop reprogram the computer? Might cost a little bit, but if it removes a lot of frustration that might be worth it.
Answering a question is easy -- asking the right question is the hard part.
Nearly A Moose
Posts: 1195
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:28 pm

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by Nearly A Moose »

Ron wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 8:39 am
GuayaquilEcu wrote: Sat Dec 26, 2020 12:45 am We had same problem for 2017 Forester, they upgraded some software/firmware that fixed the problem. It's been 18 months and no problem since.
Same situation with my wife's 2015 Legacy. Once they upgraded the software, it solved the problem.

What the dealer told her (if they/she got the story right) was since she used the car only for short trips around town (2-3 miles), the battery never got a chance to recharge with the original software design. They kept the charge rate low in order to increase MPG, assuming most folks use their car's 10-15K/year, whereas she has a hard time getting to 5K/year.

As to the truth? Who knows. All I know is for the last three years the problem has not arisen.

- Ron
We have a similar problem with our 2015 Forester, and similarly low annual mileage.
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.
cheapskate
Posts: 853
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:05 pm

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by cheapskate »

(Sorry to resurrect this old thread, but I thought it better than start a new one).

I've run into this battery issue with my 2019 Subaru Outback as well. I've had it 2 years, and the OEM battery died unexpectedly on me (I am very careful not to leave headlights/internal lights on). I charged it to full using my trickle charger on Thursday, but the car would not start again on Saturday morning. I will call the dealership Monday, since this is still under the 3/36K warranty, but I expect the dealer's service center to be extremely unhelpful.

One thing I heard someone recommend is to get a higher CCA battery. My usual source is Costco, and the one they have is a 550 CCA. Is that considered high enough ? If not, has someone who has put a higher CCA battery in a recent model Outback give me some pointers ?

Is there a fix for this battery drain issue ? I am wondering if I should clean the car, and dump it to CarMax and live off our spare older car for now, to take advantage of the insane used car prices and wait until the dust settles down to get a Honda or Toyota.

I am kicking myself. Every time I've succumbed to temptation (I bought the Outback new because I negotiated a killer price) and bought anything but a Honda or Toyota I've had problems and regretted it.
tomd37
Posts: 3643
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:39 pm
Location: Middle Tennessee

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by tomd37 »

Cheapskate - That is scary to hear. My 2019 Subaru Outback 3.6R Touring trim line turns two years old next month, but I only have 8,000 miles on it. Sorry for your problems. Post back after you have contacted the dealer please. :annoyed
Tom D.
User avatar
TexasPE
Posts: 433
Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:41 pm
Location: Southeast Texas

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by TexasPE »

cheapskate wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 8:46 pm (Sorry to resurrect this old thread, but I thought it better than start a new one).

since this is still under the 3/36K warranty, but I expect the dealer's service center to be extremely unhelpful.

One thing I heard someone recommend is to get a higher CCA battery.
Had a different dealer experience with my 2017 Forester. At the 30,000 mile oil change they proactively did a battery load test (part of their free standard 'multipoint inspection'), found that the battery was failing, and replaced it with a higher CCA Subaru battery under warranty. I only found out when I was settling the bill.
At 20: I cared what everyone thought about me | At 40: I didn't give a damn what anyone thought of me | Now that I'm 60: I realize that no one was really thinking about me at all | Winston Churchill (?)
cheapskate
Posts: 853
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:05 pm

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by cheapskate »

Did a CarMax "sell your car" exercise, online they offer about $1800 more than what I paid for the vehicle 2 years ago. I expect them to lowball me when I actually take the car into their store to complete the transaction, but worst case, if I can dump it for the same price I bought it 2 years ago, all I would lose is the taxes and license fees. I need to think about this.
sport
Posts: 10383
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by sport »

cheapskate wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 8:46 pm (Sorry to resurrect this old thread, but I thought it better than start a new one).

I've run into this battery issue with my 2019 Subaru Outback as well. I've had it 2 years, and the OEM battery died unexpectedly on me (I am very careful not to leave headlights/internal lights on). I charged it to full using my trickle charger on Thursday, but the car would not start again on Saturday morning. I will call the dealership Monday, since this is still under the 3/36K warranty, but I expect the dealer's service center to be extremely unhelpful.

One thing I heard someone recommend is to get a higher CCA battery. My usual source is Costco, and the one they have is a 550 CCA. Is that considered high enough ? If not, has someone who has put a higher CCA battery in a recent model Outback give me some pointers ?

Is there a fix for this battery drain issue ? I am wondering if I should clean the car, and dump it to CarMax and live off our spare older car for now, to take advantage of the insane used car prices and wait until the dust settles down to get a Honda or Toyota.

I am kicking myself. Every time I've succumbed to temptation (I bought the Outback new because I negotiated a killer price) and bought anything but a Honda or Toyota I've had problems and regretted it.
The first thing you should get checked is why the battery did not hold a charge. There are two possible causes:
1. There is a short in the battery. Replacing the battery will resolve this.
2. There is something in the car that is draining the battery. The dealer should check for this. If this is the problem, the cause of the drain will need to be identified and corrected.
If you need to replace the battery, the Costco unit will be more than adequate.
User avatar
Nate79
Posts: 7300
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:24 pm
Location: Delaware

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by Nate79 »

Auto parts stores will do a free load test on your battery (should get a printout). This will tell you if your current battery is healthy. Subaru batteries are weak, upgrade as soon as possible (and dont leave the back hatch open).
I put our Ascent on a charger every few weeks just to keep it charged and healthy since it mostly gets random short trips.
sport
Posts: 10383
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:26 pm
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by sport »

A load test will not identify a battery with an internal short. When it is charged, it will act like a good battery. However, it will lose charge gradually when not in use.
dbr
Posts: 36435
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:50 am

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by dbr »

cheapskate wrote: Sat Jun 12, 2021 8:46 pm (Sorry to resurrect this old thread, but I thought it better than start a new one).

I've run into this battery issue with my 2019 Subaru Outback as well. I've had it 2 years, and the OEM battery died unexpectedly on me (I am very careful not to leave headlights/internal lights on). I charged it to full using my trickle charger on Thursday, but the car would not start again on Saturday morning. I will call the dealership Monday, since this is still under the 3/36K warranty, but I expect the dealer's service center to be extremely unhelpful.

One thing I heard someone recommend is to get a higher CCA battery. My usual source is Costco, and the one they have is a 550 CCA. Is that considered high enough ? If not, has someone who has put a higher CCA battery in a recent model Outback give me some pointers ?

Is there a fix for this battery drain issue ? I am wondering if I should clean the car, and dump it to CarMax and live off our spare older car for now, to take advantage of the insane used car prices and wait until the dust settles down to get a Honda or Toyota.

I am kicking myself. Every time I've succumbed to temptation (I bought the Outback new because I negotiated a killer price) and bought anything but a Honda or Toyota I've had problems and regretted it.
I have finally replaced my 2015 Outback stock battery with an Interstate MTZ-34 AGM battery. This is the vehicle's fourth battery. I won't even recite the series of bizarre problems we had in the first two years owning the car that traced to a marginally defective original battery. My car definitely does not have parasitic drain but does struggle with the consequences of little use and short drives. There is also a service campaign to program the charging cycle differently for short, low speed driving cycles that I have to take up with the dealer.

As to battery specs it is not just CCA but also reserve capacity and battery design, hence AGM type battery. An MT-25 battery specified for an outback has 550 CCA and 100 RC and the MTZ-34 has 800 CCA and 125 RC. If what I read about charger programming is really true that would actually be the key for battery life for short trip drivers. We shall see. The AGM design is supposed to help that as well.

One thing that may be of interest is to buy one of these: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000E ... UTF8&psc=1 so that you can keep track of the charge level on your battery before you start everyday. In the Subaru you can check each morning by turning on the electrics without starting the car and taking a reading. A good battery should hang in at >12.5V, but even my new battery seems to hang around 12.4V. Also by this device I know I am not getting parasitic drain if I leave the car sitting for days. What does happen is batteries go bad in only about 2 years. I was seeing batteries running at no better than 11.5V due to internal shorts when they would develop.
cheapskate
Posts: 853
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:05 pm

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by cheapskate »

AAA battery service guy tested the battery and said it is almost completely dead (I charged it 36 hours, but the car still wouldn't start). He said even if he were to jumpstart it, it was going to die the next day. I put in a new battery from Costco just now and the car starts. Next up is to take it to the Subaru dealer to see if there is a parasitic battery draw somewhere. And make an appointment with CarMax and see if will be able to match the online price they gave me for the vehicle (if they come close to it, do I want to dump it and wait and buy a Honda or Toyota).
cheapskate
Posts: 853
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 1:05 pm

Re: Subaru Outback Battery Problems - Dealer Response?

Post by cheapskate »

Things are truly insane in the used car market right now, CarMax offered $23.8K online. Carvana offered over $25K online. IIRC, I paid like $22K + tax/license/doc fees 2 years ago for the vehicle.

I've uploaded my docs to Carvana, if they come anywhere close to what they offer online, I think I'd be pretty stupid not to take the cash and run.

Just for grins, I wanted to see what Vroom would offer. Pretty close to Carvana at $24.7K.

We live in truly crazy times ! I might be making a huge mistake. When I need to buy another car to replace this one, the base price of anything might well exceed $100K, the way prices are going :D
Post Reply