2019 Subaru Forester Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Visibility, vehicle speed control, structural and electrical issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The Forester has been a mainstay in the Subaru lineup since 1997. To stick around that many years, it must have done something right. Ask anyone that owns one and it’s likely they’ve owned many models. Subaru tends to have a tight-knit group of followers. When it comes to the newest model, the automaker claims it is the “Subaru for all you love.” Sadly, enthusiasts don’t agree that the 2019 Subaru Forester has anything they like. In fact, the visibility issues, electrical problems, structure design and malfunctioning vehicle speed control are causing many fans to jump ship.

Click on other model years to view more problems:  2020   2021   2022   2023

Problems with the Windshield and Headlights

When a driver gets behind the wheel of a modern vehicle, it’s expected that there will be no difficulty seeing through the windshield. Unfortunately, the design of the newer Forester leaves a lot to be desired.

Read this one review left on Edmunds. “I just bought a 2019 Subaru Forester Premium.  This is my 5th Subaru. I love the car but I am very afraid to drive it at night.  When driving at night, there is a dark line across the entire windshield.  When driving downhill this line lowers down covering the windshield. It’s almost like pulling a shade down. The low beams do not illuminate the next uphill and it’s very scary.  It’s just not me the first time I drove at night there were 3 other people in the car with me who experienced the same thing.  Took it back to the dealer who said they could not replicate the problem.  My neighbor then drove my car and experienced the same problem.  I do not want to own a car that I can’t drive at night. This is my last Subaru.”

Other complaints are rampant regarding windshields cracking for no apparent reason. There are no service bulletins from the company about either of these issues. Between the visibility concerns with the headlights and trouble with the windshield, driving this car is like traveling down the road blind.

2019 Subaru Forester Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Visibility/wiper
367
367
Unknown Or Other
130
130
Electrical System
112
112
Engine
84
84
Visibility:windshield
31
31
Power Train
30
30
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
23
23
Structure:body
21
21
Service Brakes
20
20
Vehicle Speed Control
20
20

Problems with the Electrical System

The electrical complaints regarding this vehicle are endless. From the audio system to the malfunctioning tailgate, there’s no end in sight of the faulty wiring.

Just check out this review from an Edmunds user. “What is a problem is the software on this car – it’s extremely glitchy.  Within the first few hundred miles I had to take back to dealer to open the trunk for me –  it has the automatic gate lift and the system had to be rebooted manually by detaching the battery and draining the electrical system.  Dealer blamed it on the computer.  The infotainment system is a disaster – every other day something is not working – the CD player won’t play, there’ll be no sound on the radio, Pandora won’t load.  Even when working the system is poorly designed.  My concern is that all the safety features are computer-controlled and I don’t have a lot of confidence in their software.  Looking for an Apple operating system experience and I ended up with Windows Vista! Hopefully they’ll get their act together and put out some updates to their software.”

The company isn’t trying to hide that they have electrical problems to work out. They currently have 18 service bulletins for the electrical system ranging from air conditioning issues to the navigation system faults. As a driver gets behind the wheel of this Forester, they will likely experience one electrical problem or another, because very few seem to work correctly. It might be easier to list all the things that do seem to work instead, but the list won’t be long.

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Problems with the Vehicle Structure

One of the aspects that Subaru has always prided itself on is the safe and secure design of the vehicle. With the 2019 Subaru Forester, it doesn’t appear they got that right either.

Here is yet another complaint from Edmunds. “I have been to the dealer a lot, had the computer reset, done everything they’ve told me but it’s like this car has a mind of its own. Sometimes my trunk works,  sometimes  it doesn’t, sometimes my moonroof opens sometimes it won’t, sometimes the car voice assist understands me sometimes it doesn’t,  sometimes the volume when talking to someone hands free through the car works fine sometimes volume goes down and won’t come up. Dealer basically tells me everyone complains about the lift gate (trunk) but there’s no fix yet.”

Sadly, this isn’t the only structural complaint addressed by the automaker. In Service Bulletin #07-155-19, they talk about how the rear gate won’t open when it should. To resolve this, they recommend making adjustments to the PRG control module. In Service Bulletin #12-260-19, the company discusses trouble with a metallic rattle in the A-pillar while Service Bulletin #12-259-19 points out the gap left between the cowl panel and the windshield. With all these structural issues, one would think that a kid put this car together as if it were a set of LEGO bricks. That’s not true – the kid might have done a better job.

Problems with the Vehicle Speed Control

When it comes to the vehicle speed control of a car, everything must work the way it should. One small adjustment faster or slower could lead to a dangerous collision.

That’s exactly what Forester owners have found. Just read this review on Edmunds. “Cruise Control does not adjust in very small increments.  Seems like it speeds up or drops down in more extreme increments rather than more reasonable 2 mph increments.”

This is one of those instances that Subaru has chosen to remain silent instead of fixing the problem. Maybe they felt if they addressed anything else, they might lose valuable customers that didn’t recognize this car is a lemon. The trouble with that thinking is, most owners already know that. It doesn’t take the automaker to acknowledge the problem, especially when the drivers are the ones experiencing it. While the Forester has been around for more than 20 years, it’s likely it won’t continue in the lineup much longer like this. If future models continue to be made of this quality, the Forester will be a distant memory.

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 Subaru 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.

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.

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10 COMMENTS
  • Paul

    I have had on and off issues over five years with:
    Radio volume not adjusting, coming on, switching stations
    Back fender panal not staying attached
    Windshield cracking TWICE
    Eyes sight for lane lines going off for no reason
    Moon roof not opening several times
    No replacement part available for the cargo shade rubber stopper. I was told I have to buy a complete new cargo shafe
    I often have to shut off the car to reset the above electrical issues

  • Michael O

    I have a 2019 Forester that I purchased in Oct 2018. All I can say is that my car has been in and out of the dealership almost every 2-3 months for issues from recalls and major ones. Naming but a few, tailgate will not open, seatbelt, radio, electrical harness, grill shutter valve, engine coolant control sensor issues. I can keep going on and on. The only place I service this car from the date of purchase is the certified dealership. All I hear when I turn on the AC or heater is a hissing noise.
    This is not what I thought about Subaru.

  • Bill E

    Slow to start barley starts some times ,now leaking anti freeze , new brakes squeal dealer says all is fine 5 times in ..???

  • Mary A

    My computer panel goes blank, I hear a buzzing noise, then it comes back in. But, the phone won’t stay connected and the GPS many times doesn’t Work. Dealer says they cannot replicate the problem and gave done nothing.

  • Kelly C

    We are concerned with the ride of the car. Sometimes it acts like it needs to keep us in a lane when we want to change lanes. Sometimes it jerks. Sometimes it feels like the front floats. And, it really catches the wind. After driving distance we really feel like we’ve been through a wrestling match.

  • Steve B

    I lease a 2019 Subaru Forester Sport, a week ago we had some rain, meanwhile the car had been parked and locked down the whole week. Due to the rain, the car’s frame got flooded and water is soaking the floor on the driver’s side. Electrical stuff is all gone and the car needs to be jumped to start the engine.
    Dealer is trying to tell me it’s normal and this and that. Looks to me like the car is defected.

  • Roger

    I have had my 2019 Subaru Forester Touring since December 2018 and have had issue with losing the radio presets. However, it was fixed by updating the infotainment software at the dealership free of charge. My tailgate did not open once but I followed a forum instruction (don’t have the link anymore) and it has not happened since. I leased the car because it was a brand new model. After over two years of living with it, I am likely going to keep it after the lease ends. My brother has one in the Sport trim and has not had too many issues either.
    The cruise control ‘surges’ because it is an adaptive cruise system. It will accelerate pretty rapidly (this can be changed in settings to accelerate more gradually) to your set speed once the car ahead that was travelling slower than your set speed clears out of your way or you change lanes. The set speed can be changed in 1km increments by holding up or down the right toggle. A single flick will change the speed by 5km either way.

  • Tony K

    I also have all the issued mentioned in this article. The trunk opens sometimes, not all the times – yesterday it didn’t open. The moonroof opens sometimes, not all the time. The radio removes all the saved channels all the time. My windshield cracked (and it is still cracked) and even though I purchased the warranty, Subaru of Ontario still does not cover it since it is larger than 4 inches long. I had issues with the A/C, it wasn’t working properly. Went to the dealership 3 times to get that issue fixed. The eyesight also speeds up very aggressively. This car has non-stop issues. I would not recommend it to anyone else. I tried to get my money back from the dealership and they wont even work with me.

  • NINA

    I have a 2019 forester as well and my eye sight and all safety will turn off while I’m driving on the road even if they is no reason for the eye sight to turn off and all the the safety features as well. I have radio issues as well where i will set up my radio stations and a few weeks sometimes a months I will turn on my car and all my stations will be gone. I got this fixed once and its annoying . I also have a crack on my windshield as well after driving on the freeway and a small rock hit it. I HATE THIS CAR AND WILL NEVER BUY OR TELL A FREIND TO GET ONE.

  • Matt G

    Hello, I have a problem with my 2019 subaru forester that two dealerships have refused to admit even exists. The car surges when on the highway with cruise control when going up hill.

    I purchased the car 10 months ago so I would have to have this case move fairly quickly. What should my next step be and why should I go with your law firm?

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