2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical system, brake and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is one of the top-selling plug-in vehicles on the market. Even the automaker tells customers that the newest models “can take you anywhere,” but current owners wish to leave their SUV at home to avoid an accident. The defective electrical system, malfunctioning service brakes and poorly operating powertrain are all a disaster waiting to happen.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Power Train
Electrical System
Service Brakes
Vehicle Speed Control
Fuel/propulsion System
Unknown Or Other
Electronic Stability Control
Exterior Lighting

Problems with the Electrical System

A plug-in hybrid, such as this Outlander, relies on the electrical system even more than a traditional model. Sadly, Mitsubishi doesn’t take this seriously.

One Edmunds review states, “If you forget to unplug the car from the charger and push the reverse button a signal will appear on the dashboard alerting the driver to unplug the car. This puts the car in a pause state but you must push the PARK button; otherwise, after exiting the car, walking around to the passenger side, and unplugging the charger will result in the car spontaneously reversing without a driver. This happened in our garage and nearly killed my wife.  The car was also damaged because it hit my house. Mitsubishi was unconcerned that a human life was in danger and said to file a claim with your insurance company for damages to the vehicle.”

There’s a recall related to other electrical system concerns as if the above situation wasn’t scary enough. NHTSA Campaign Number 18V62100 says that some safety systems might turn themselves off when they should be on. This affects nearly 60,000 vehicles and related to the Forward Collision Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, Electronic Stability Control, Brake Auto Hold, Anti-lock Braking and Electric Parking Brake. When these systems aren’t in place, it’s impossible for an accident to be automatically averted, putting occupants at risk of injury. So, yes, this Outlander PHEV could take people anywhere, but most smart drivers don’t want to risk it.

Problems with the Collision Avoidance System

It’s essential to have properly functioning brakes in order to stop on time, but the Outlander PHEV struggles to maintain braking integrity.

Here is one complaint left on the NHTSA website. “On multiple occasions, I have received a brake alert when nothing was in my way. Today, when driving down a side street at about 20 mph, I was given a brake warning and then the automatic brakes turned on and my car skidded to a stop. I was fortunate no one was behind me or we would have been rear-ended.”

The Outlander PHEV’s safety systems can’t decide if they want to fail or work over-actively. It shouldn’t come as a shocker that there is also a recall related to this problem. NHTSA Campaign Number 18V620000 states that the Collision Avoidance System might apply prolonged braking, which results in rapid deceleration and leaves occupants at risk for a rear-end accident. Does the Outlander PHEV have a split-personality? One minute it doesn’t want to keep those in the cabin safe, and the next minute it is overreacting to a speck of dirt or a leaf on the road.

Problems with the Transmission

When it comes to the powertrain, the most important component is clearly the transmission. This system doesn’t operate much differently on a plug-in hybrid and can still face numerous problems.

One problem is documented on this NHTSA complaint. “Parked on a 25% grade pointing downhill. When I tried to start the Outlander, the screen produced a RBS error. The gas based engine would not start. The EV motors seemed to come on with vehicle little power. When I called Mitsubishi to tow the car they said, quote ‘That doesn’t normally start this soon.’ This tells me they know there is a problem. My PHEV has been in the shop since Monday, I’m being told they reset the Check Engine Light error and they don’t see a problem. This is not a fix. I took pictures after I restarted it the third time. The one thing that remained was the driving range for both gas and EV only had dashes, they should show how many miles are available for EV and gas.”

With the acknowledgment of so many other problems, it’s no surprise that Mitsubishi has nothing to say about powertrain-related problems. From their standpoint, there’s nothing unusual to see. Maybe the Outlander PHEV should be renamed, the Elephant in the Middle of the Room. Clearly there are problems that must be talked about, especially if people are going to remain safe on the road.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Mitsubishi pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Michael B

    This spring my new 2020 Outlander PHeV mysteriously developed 8” vertical dents on both upper rear sides from top of tailgate to bottom tip of rear side window frames. There are no scratches nor any evidence of collision. (See pics) The Dealership says it’s never happened before and reject responsibility for this as the result of a manufactures defect. They want me to claim vandalism even though vertical dents are identical on each side. They tried to pull one dent but that left many dimples. I had had a MITSIBUSHI trailer hitch installed by the dealer, but only towed an empty utility trailer and a small aluminum fishing boat both under 1500lbs. Our rides do have significant bumps, potholes and some washboard. I feel the outlander frame may not have been redesigned and strengthened adequately to withstand the extra weight and stress of the heavy PHeV batteries in the rear area. Responsibility for corrective action is still being denied by MITSIBUSHI.

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