— Subaru dead battery problems have caused a lawsuit that alleges 2016-2020 Subaru Outback and 2019-2020 Subaru Ascent SUVs are equipped with batteries that drain and die.
The class action lawsuit alleges a dead battery is caused by a lack of capacity to power the electrical components when the SUV is turned off.
California plaintiff Virginia Tomasian purchased a new 2017 Subaru Outback in 2016, but she says the battery died three times in 2019.
In January 2019, her Subaru was parked outside when it allegedly failed to start, forcing her to jump-start the Outback battery.
The following month her Outback was parked outside when it wouldn't start. The plaintiff says an employee from a nearby Infiniti car dealership tried to jump-start the Outback's battery but the procedure failed. She says the SUV was towed to her local Subaru dealer where technicians successfully jump-started the dead battery.
Then the next month the Outback was parked outside when it failed to start, causing her to call AAA roadside assistance to jump-start the battery.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff finally called her dealership to have the battery replaced under warranty. However, Tomasian says based on the previous incidents, it's likely dead batteries will occur once the Outback warranty expires in June 2020.
New York plaintiff Roger Baladi purchased a new 2018 Subaru Outback but the battery allegedly died several times within months of owning the SUV.
The lawsuit alleges the plaintiff had to cope with a dead battery multiple times between October and December 2018 and then again between January and March 2019. Each time the plaintiff had to jump-start the dead battery, causing him to take the Outback to a dealer to have the battery replaced.
However, the plaintiff says the new battery died several times, including incidents at JFK Airport and at a shopping center in northern New Jersey.
According to the class action, Mr. Baladi eventually purchased jumper cables for $35 and a portable jump-starter for $150.
The lawsuit alleges hundreds of Subaru owners have complained about dead battery problems, including these two drivers of 2018 Subaru Outbacks.
"I have now experienced a dead battery 6 times in my 2018 Outback. Each time nothing was left on in the vehicle and it is parked inside a temperature controlled garage. The first time, the hatch opened during the night by itself (keys were nowhere near the vehicle as I live on the top floor of a high rise). Subsequent times it has occurred when the car hasn’t been driven between 2-7 days. Dealer replaced the battery after the 4th time with the same size battery. It has happened twice since then. I have been told repeatedly that the battery may die if it isn’t driven enough. This is a ridiculous response."
"Wife returned to car after lunch to find rear hatch open and battery dead. This is incident #6 like this but the first time the hatch has opened itself. After the second time I bought a TackLife jump start battery for $80 and have used it to 'save myself' four times and counting. Dealership says our days of short runs don't keep the battery charged. I make a point of making a 20 minute run each day so that's not it. This car, and judging from the many similar complaints...this model in general has some electrical problem. They should come with a jump battery kit."
Subaru allegedly refuses to permanently fix the SUVs, but instead replaces the dead batteries with batteries that will fail just like the originals.
The Subaru class action lawsuit argues the automaker should stop selling the SUVs and recall, replace or buy back the Outback and Ascent vehicles.
The automaker allegedly knows about the battery problems because a technical service bulletin (TSB) was issued to dealers in June 2017 which was revised in October 2017.
TSB 11-174-17R concerns 2015-2017 Subaru Legacy, Outback and WRX models, along with 2017-2018 Foresters, and titled, Reprogramming File Availability for: DTC P05A0- Battery Discharge after Repeated Short-Trip Driving High Engine Idle RPM After Depressing Clutch Pedal.
"This bulletin announces the availability of reprogramming files to optimize the ECM and address the following customer concerns."
- Check Engine light coming on (with DTC P05A0 stored in memory).
- Potential battery discharge (dead battery) after repeated periods of short-trip driving.
- A high (or “hanging”) engine RPM after depressing the clutch pedal (Forester only).
The Subaru dead battery lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey: Tomasian, et al., v. Subaru of America, Inc.
The plaintiffs are represented by Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLP, and Girard Sharp LLP.