fairly significant
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
15,700 miles
Total Complaints:
39 complaints

Most common solutions:

  1. not sure (27 reports)
  2. replace battery (9 reports)
  3. failed "brake light switch." (1 reports)
  4. replace trunk (or boot) light switch (1 reports)
  5. spider on sensors - check your sensors! removal fixed (1 reports)
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This problem may be covered under warranty. Ask your Subaru dealer.

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #19

Feb 152019

Outback Limited 3.6r

  • CVT transmission
  • 8,046 miles

Was left for 3 - 4 days. Went to start, battery low and car goes nuts, relays clicking and clacking but won't crank. Takes a few presses of the start/stop button to shut off this racket. Obviously battery low and won't start car. Got a jump from a kind friend and car starts. Placed on charger overnight and is fine. Subaru dealer consulted and "if it happens again bring it in and we will test battery".

- Les J., Ladysmith, BC, Canada

problem #18

May 032019

Outback Limited 2.5L

  • CVT transmission
  • 4,200 miles

The car has less than 5,000 miles on it and the battery has failed 6 times!. Mainly it seems to happen when the liftgate opens in the middle of the night. The dealer "can find nothing wrong" with the system and suggest that it has something to do with how I'm carrying my key fob. . So far I have tried 1. Not carrying key fob in pockets after coming in the house 2. Buying a rubber key fob "surround" 3. Purchasing a $120.00 Battery Charger from Amazon, which has saved me the last 5 times from having to get towed or waiting for roadside assistance. 4. Bought an RFID signal blocking pouch to put the key fob in. Last time failed was 2 weeks ago. Keeping fingers crossed that this last time will take care of it, but man, a lot of hassle to go through for a brand new $36,000 car!.

Also, the radio/GPS/Phone unit has failed on this car, currently waiting for replacement head unit. These two issues have apparently been going on for years with Outbacks and if I had researched them first, may never have purchased this car!.

I traded in a problem free 5 year old Nissan Pathfinder and am having regrets!

- Mark E., Chapel Hill, NC, US

problem #17

Apr 102019

Outback Limited 3.6L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,000 miles

Battery has died twice. Last time down to one volt. Dealership (Camelback Subaru) would not replace battery because it still showed that it was charged.

Was told by "battery expert" if the charge is "1" or less, the battery will not take a full charge again. They WILL NOT replace it because it took a half charge.

Was told by dealership that these new cars need to be driven 18 miles often in order to keep the battery charged.

My car is dead. There is no solution.

There is obviously some electrical system that is draining the battery when the car is turned off.

The 1st time when the Subaru tech came out to recharge the battery, I was his 12th customer that morning. I drove it to dealership over 18 miles and it got a partial charge.

I purchased a trickle charger to give it a little boost.

I AM SCARED to drive it because it could die at anytime!

- 2018outback, Phoenix, US

problem #16

Mar 242019

Outback Limited 2.5L

  • CVT transmission
  • 10,000 miles

Had 3 separate occasions where we had to have the Subaru jump started. Took it in to the dealership where they cannot find anything wrong with the battery or electrical system. They replaced battery just for good measure. Had to get it jumped again at an airport lot where we were gone for 4 days. But hey, nothing wrong with the car right?

- Henry S., Beaverton, US

problem #15

Mar 302019

Outback 3.6R V6

  • Automatic transmission
  • 9,038 miles

Drove to hardware store approximately 6km away, the car started with no problem. Came out of store 1 hour later and battery was dead. Had to call Subaru for tow truck. Vehicle started after a boost. This is the second time I have had problems with the battery going dead. Subaru replaced the first battery. So will be going back to the dealer for them to figure out the problem again. Weather at the time was wet snow and rain and no lights or other electric parts left on. Maybe I should have stayed with Volkswagen!

- Barry K., Orillia.Ontario, ON, Canada

problem #14

Mar 262019

Outback Touring 4 cyl

  • CVT transmission
  • 8,000 miles

2nd Dead battery March 26, 2019. Car parked in garage for most of day. Needed to go out in early evening. Battery Dead, Called Triple A who jumped started car, checked charging system, battery voltage way down. suggested I should drive car for 30 - 45 min to recharge battery. Drove car around for 45min to an hour but afraid to stop to do the errand I originally had to do because I didn't want to turn off engine. 5 days later repeat incident.

Update from Apr 8, 2019: Need to correct mileage: approx 9400miles

- Susan H., Santa Fe, NM, United States

problem #13

Mar 312019

Outback Touring 4 cyl

  • CVT transmission
  • 9,658 miles

3rd Dead Battery March 31, 2019 Car parked in garage most of day. Needed to go out in early evening Sunday. Battery Dead. Called Triple A who jumped started car but this time before he jump started he showed me how the battery was leaking a little bit of acid, the battery showed 9.5 volts when he started charging and moved to 11.5 then 12.5 volts and the Alternator was "fluctuating". He said I should take the car into the Dealer have them check both the Battery and the Alternator - tell them that the Alternator "fluctuated" even tho his tester machine showed that the charging system was OK. He found that suspect. He also commented he had seen these problems before in 2018 Subarus and that the 490 Cold Cranking rated battery was underpowered for all the electrical demands of these Subarus.

Next morning Monday called Subaru service - bec they are overwhelmed with replacing airbags was told 1st appt would be in the following week. However I asked for and got same day while-you-wait-appointment to have battery and charging system checked. Service rep had someone - not dressed in sevice uniform take car away to test, test results report showed "Normal" just as Triple A guy's test had shown, but I asked service rep to take into account that there had been leaking battery acid and "fluctuating Alternator" And because there had been 2 episodes in 5 days could they please consider replacing the battery. Athough he was courteous he absolutely refused to consider replacing battery let alone replacing with a higher rated Cold Cranking battery.

Told him that I rely on my car starting and have to know that I can get to work and appointments on time and because of the unpredictability of the battery-electrical system I will have to try starting my car way in advance of when I would normally leave - to be able to call Triple A to jumpstart car and then having to drive around wasting time and gas; and when I have passengers in car being afraid that car won't start and will inconvenience more people than just myself. And that this is a safety and security issue.

What could he say to that? Was told there was nothing they could do, I would just have to put up with these incidents. I asked for his direct # to report/record these incidents as they occurred and he agreed to give me his tel# at work.

- Susan H., Santa Fe, NM, United States

problem #12

Jan 112019

Outback Touring 3.6r

  • CVT transmission
  • 45,000 miles

About two weeks ago, I accidentally opened the rear hatch from inside the house with the fob. It was open all night. Next morning, dead battery. I fussed around trying to recharge it with a Battery Tender, no go. By the time I purchased a good battery charger from NAPA, the battery was totally stone dead, beyond saving. This was the OEM battery. I purchased a high quality NAPA AGM battery with much higher Cold Cranking Amps, 625 CCA.After installing it, I found that the audio/nav head unit had failed. Nothing on the screen at all.

Took it to my dealership, they verified I had a failed head unit. They offered me a good-will replacement, for which I am grateful, as they are quite expensive and it was out of warranty. However, they take awhile to get. So I drove around for the next two weeks or so with no stereo, phone connection, or navigation. Two days ago, I noticed when I started the car, it seemed to turn over a little sluggish. Mental note made. Later that day, I had the hatch open for a few hours, loading the back with camping gear. Next morning, got up to finish loading and the battery had discharged itself to 7 volts. I am certain no lights were left on, no key fobs were close to the car. I put the charger on the battery and let it run for around 24 hours until the green light indicating fully charged came on. Then low and behold, when I started the car, the head unit came back to life.

I was going to do some car camping in Arizona over the next two weeks, but now I don't trust the car not to discharge the battery on me overnight, leaving me stranded in the boondocks. Vacation is on hold until the dealership tracks down the problem. I will post the resolution when I get it.

- Dusty R., Silverlake, WA, US

problem #11

Feb 032019

Outback Touring 4 cyl

  • CVT transmission
  • 30,000 miles

First instance of dead battery- Feb 3, 2019 at night on side of road. Was able to start car at airport parking after being away 5 days. Did several errands, stopping and restarting car. Then headed home for home an hour away - had phone call and pulled off the road to speak on my cell phone (plugged in but car turned off). Talked for approx 20min. Could not restart car. Battery dead. Called Triple A. Waited for 30 min for service in cold Feb temperatures. Annoying! Then there were more incidents occurring in March, 2019.

Update from Apr 8, 2019: Not "30,000" miles - Correct mileage "approx 8000miles" for first of 3 repeat incidents with Dead Battery - Battery goes DEAD unpredictably

- Susan H., Santa Fe, NM, United States

problem #10

Jul 192018

Outback LX 2.5L

  • CVT transmission
  • 3,120 miles

Overnight the battery was dead for no apparent reason. The dealer reprogrammed the passenger window operator motor.

- Don W., Sanborn Ny, US

problem #9

Dec 262018

Outback Premium 2.5i

  • CVT transmission
  • 4,000 miles

I have a 2018 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium still under warranty. I did experience the same problem, car not starting 3 days in a row. Either it needed recharge or jump start. Recently couple of days ago even after recharge after a stop to pickup coffee needed a Jump Start from a good Samaritan. A check at dealership, it revealed the battery fails the test, so they replaced it with a new battery. So get it checked and replaced. I heard from dealership service staff that some of 2018 Outback have battery problems, probably bad supplier of batteries to Subaru. Also the battery in Subaru doesn't have enough CCAs, it is only 400 CCA capacity. I am planning to replace this battery with a battery that has more CCAs that will stay alive for cold winters.

- Jag P., Herndon, US

problem #8

Oct 262018

Outback Touring 3.6L

  • CVT transmission
  • 7,500 miles

For the second time in a month, I've had to call to get a dead battery jumped. The first time I just assumed I had left something on, but this time I know there was nothing on or running - it just went dead after only two days without starting it. I'll just keep calling for my covered road-side assistance until they get tired of it and fix it for me.

- Ken O., Huntsville, AL, US

problem #7

Sep 092018

Outback LTD 3.6r

  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,500 miles

The Outback was parked for six days in a lot while we vacationed offshore in our summer home. On the sixth day, we returned to the lot and fortunately the owner was still there. The battery was dead but revived after the lot owner charged it and the Outback started after a period of time. We frequently leave the car for days, and fear that the battery will be dead after the car is parked at our airport or elsewhere. The initial reaction by the Subaru dealer was to advise detaching a battery cable and reattaching it on return. This is totally unacceptable, especially if we travel on a subzero day with sleet or snow or are dressed up.I will contact Subaru tomorrow. One would expect a great deal more for a $37000+ automobile.

- James S., Freeport, ME, US

problem #6

Jul 142018

Outback 2.5i

  • CVT transmission
  • 750 miles

This is the FOURTH time I've had to have my car jump-started in the past two weeks. And that's just because I don't drive it constantly, but rather every couple of days for grocery shopping and whatnot. I do not leave lights on. I don't even drive at night, but I've checked anyway. I do not leave ANYTHING on. I've checked everything I could find and the guys doing the jumps (pros) have also checked.

I drove my car yesterday (after getting it jumped and letting it run for a good half hour or hour to charge up). It was dead THIS MORNING.

This is not an issue of leaving the car for weeks on end. It's an issue of 'this car has a faulty electric problem and IT NEEDS TO BE FIXED'. Car will be going into the dealership for fixing soon, but meanwhile I'm having to call for a jump every time I want to use it for any reason.

I paid for Starlink. I hope they have to pay more for these jumps than I pay for my membership, when all's said and done, because they NEED to fix this problem for 2018 Outbacks. It's just not right to sell a car that can't function as sold.

Update from Jul 31, 2018: We solved the problem. And it shocked me.

A SPIDER had made its home in my car. It was up on the sensors, at the front of the vehicle near the front windshield.

Its moving around was causing the sensors to go off even when the car was parked. It also blocked EyeSight from functioning on occasion. The battery drained because the car was trying to figure out what was going to hit it, or whether it was going to be hit or something. Basically, we had a literal bug in the electrical system.

- Rachael P., Denville, NJ, US

problem #5

May 182018

Outback Limited 3.6r

  • Automatic transmission
  • 6,000 miles

Fairly confident that I did not leave anything on (headlights, dome light, etc.), and I think it turns off the headlights automatically anyway, even if I had left them on. Car is in the garage - won't start, no lights, no locks, no horn, no nothing. Completely dead.

- Eve P., Bothell, WA, US

problem #4

Apr 252018

Outback 2.5 Premium 2.5L

  • CVT transmission
  • 1,553 miles

Had the car for a week (demonstrator) before going overseas for 3 weeks. Started up straight away on return - but went directly from Sydney to a cold part of Australia - Armidale. It stood in the drizzle for 2 days with nothing on - attempting restart - battery was completely dead.

Hoping the farm's battery recharger will fix the problem. Definitely anxious about next few restarts.

Wondering if the company should supply a replacement battery.

Update from Apr 24, 2018: Sadly unable to bring the battery back from the dead - completely not registering with recharger.

So will purchase replacement battery under warranty.

Sounds like poor quality battery - what do you think?

- Graham C., Terrigal, Australia

problem #3

Dec 202017

Outback 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 550 miles

Drove the car yesterday. Didn't leave anything on (that I can tell).

I can't get it to jump start from my other Subaru: I try, with very bizarre results: basically the dash, LCD screen, etc is ON (when I connect the jumpers) and the start button is green but the car is not running (obviously). When I push the start button, the LCD screen turns off, the dashboard displays stay on, the start button goes orange, and nothing happens...that is, the car doesn't start.

I'll see if the tow truck driver can jump.

Update from Jan 3, 2018: Continuous clicking indicated a failed "brake light switch." If the switch isn't working right (and therefore, the assumption goes, your brake lights aren't working), the car won't start. Period. Can't jump it or anything. Bad design; why can't it just warn me that the lights/switch aren't working and then let me drive to the dealership!

- William B., Santa Rosa, US

problem #2

Nov 252017

Outback 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 300 miles

Did not leave anything on (lights, etc.) that we can determine. Battery was then ruled "bad" at dealership. Had a similar problem 2017-12-20 (see that separate complaint).

- William B., Santa Rosa, US

problem #1

Dec 102017

Outback 3.6r

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,600 miles

Apparently Subaru has not fixed the problem w/ the Outback battery discharge. I was lucky to have my battery die in my garage and not out in the wilderness. And no, I did not accidentally leave the hatch light on overnight. Service manager at delearship was great, but no one mentioned this problem until I found it on this forum. Surprise, it’s not an anomaly. My fix so far: replaced the new battery w/ another stronger battery. Will update if the problem reoccurs.

- D S., Stockton, US