2020 Mitsubishi Outlander Problems Summary

Airbag, engine, powertrain, seat belt, and electrical issues are the most commonly reported problems according to our research.

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

Busy families are always looking for a comfortable, amenity-packed SUV, which is why many of them choose the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander. The automaker claims it is the “featured-filled family SUV.” But customers who are faced with major engine or powertrain problems, electrical malfunctions, or seat belts that simply don’t work, don’t relate at all. They’d rather stay at home to keep their families safe than feel threatened on the road.

Click on other model years to view more problems: 2019   2022   2023

Most Common Problems with the 2020 Mitsubishi Outlander

Complaints sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other platforms, including Lemberg Law, indicate that while there aren’t individual pivotal issues with the 2020 Outlander, there are lots of problems. And some of these are major. From discontent with extended warranties to vehicles that smoke, splutter, stall, and shake, owners are complaining.

Unsurprisingly, a varied selection of components and systems are affected by malfunctions. These include the engine, powertrain, electrical system, seat belts, and airbags. The fuel/propulsion system, forward collision avoidance, brakes, and vehicle speed control also have issues. Some complaints related only to the 2020 Outlander Sport.

There are also two recalls that affect Outlander vehicles, including 2020 models.

A total of 3,241 2019-2020 Outlander and 2020 Outlander PHEV vehicles have incorrectly assembled seat belts for right-side second-row seats. The recall warns that these may not restrain passengers properly, which increases the risk of injury in a crash.

Additionally, 76,508 2019-2022 Outlander Sport vehicles equipped with continuously variable transmissions and mechanical key ignition systems have a powertrain issue. A software error in the transmission control unit (CVT-ECU) may incorrectly reduce the transmission gear ratio at high speeds, which can result in an engine stall. Of course, if an engine stalls, this increases the risk of a crash.

Engine and Powertrain Problems

While not all engine and powertrain problems are the same, some are. So, we have combined the two components.

An owner from Pennsylvania states that blue smoke suddenly started coming out of the exhaust. Additionally, “the car sputters and stalls like it’s about to lose power, accompanied by thick blue smoke, and engine noise. I suspect the piston rings in the cylinder head or valve seals are bad.” The complaint states he is forced to “take Uber or Lyft to work,” and the dealership will only do a diagnostic if he pays a fee. “I think Mitsubishi used poor quality parts, piston rings don’t go bad at 50,000 miles, (and) neither do valve seals.”

An owner from Texas also reports abnormal shaking and stalling. “The check engine warning light illuminated on and off. The vehicle was taken to the dealer where it was diagnosed and determined that the CVT-ECU software needed to be updated.” The complaint states that this was related to the powertrain recall. However, at that point, no repairs were done.

Another owner from Pennsylvania reports that the Outlander started to “knock and buck.” This issue was diagnosed by the dealer as transmission failure. He told the owner that the vehicle needed a new transmission — at 5,500 miles.

At 81,000 miles an owner experienced sudden deceleration plus the check engine warning light. The dealer diagnosed a fractured spark plug and said that the Outlander needed a new engine.

Other engine problems include:

  • The timing chain coming loose, preventing the Outlander from starting up
  • Fuel pump failure, causing the Outlander to randomly shut down
  • Low speeds even when pressing the gas

Electrical Problems

The electrical problems highlighted in NHTSA complaints are varied, ranging from unnecessary forward collision avoidance warnings to radio digitizer touch screens failing. For example, a complaint that states the touch screen isn’t working says “I cannot pair (my) Bluetooth phone to comply with hands-free laws. Unable to access some vehicle settings. Dealer said this is a very common issue.” Nevertheless, the dealer says that the “warranty expires at 36,000 miles and (the) repair cost is $3,000.00!

An owner from Pennsylvania states that the infotainment screen began to be “insensitive to touch” after less than 60k miles. A further 6k miles later “it no longer works” at all. “This is a safety issue due to the driver focusing their eyes on the infotainment screen, while repeatedly pressing the same button, instead of the road.” According to the complaint, “Mitsubishi will not do anything to honor this failure, and based on discussions in various forums, the screen dies within the first couple years of owning the vehicle.”

Another owner, this time from West Virginia, also experienced a touch screen radio failure. He reported the problem and was told by the dealer “they couldn’t fix it (and I) had to go to another dealer. That dealer said they could fix it and sent us back. By the time they had time for us, the warranty was out and they wanted us to pay for it after only 2 years. A family member had this same issue and sued — and got a settlement and (the) radio fixed.”

An owner from California states that while driving at 40 mph, if he turns off the radio and lights, it continues to work. It usually sends a warning to check the electrical system. “This happens to me 3 times a day.”

Seat Belt Problems

We mentioned that there is a recall for 3,241 Outlander vehicles that may have seat belts that have not been correctly assembled. This recall doesn’t apply to 2020 Outlander Sport models. Yet, all the complaints about faulty seat belts come from owners of the Sport model who report problems with the buckles.

An owner from Tennessee states that the seat belt on the back passage seat doesn’t come out far enough, making it difficult to buckle up.

Similarly, an owner from West Virginia states that the rear passenger seat belt is “way down in the seat and I have tried everything to get it to pull out more. I don’t know what it could be, but it’s almost as if the seat belt buckle is too short.”

An owner from Texas who shares rides finds that “The buckles for the side seats in the rear are so short they’re almost hidden inside the seat.” This makes it very “difficult for anyone who is not child-sized to find and/or buckle.” The complaint adds that “this is an issue for 90% of my rides.”

Problems with the Airbags

Airbags are an essential safety feature that must work to keep occupants safe. When they fail, people can get hurt, as complaints about the airbags in 2020 Outlander models prove.  For example, an owner from Mississippi reports that four people were injured when a 2020 Outlander was struck in the rear end and slammed against a solid foundation in the front. This “caused the dashboard to break and all the seats to break from the floor of the car. The airbags did not deploy and severe injuries resulted. The vehicle was stationary on the highway in route to turn when struck.”

An owner from Virginia experienced a medical emergency while driving at between 25 and 35 mph. That was bad enough. But worse, when the vehicle crashed into a tree, the airbags failed to deploy. The passenger sustained head injuries that required medical attention at the scene of the accident.

The Kentucky driver of a 2020 Outlander was injured when the airbags didn’t deploy on impact during an accident. The other vehicle ran a red light and crashed into the front driver-side door. The vehicle “was knocked across the two-lane road and hit a telephone pole on the passenger side of the vehicle.” The driver was taken to the ER for treatment, checked with a CT scan, MRI, and x-rays, and treated for pain and stiffness.

What Can You Do?

Not every vehicle problem indicates that it is a lemon, but when it recurs and affects your use and/or its value there’s a good chance that it is. Did you know that every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace, or pay cash settlements to thousands of lemon owners? Furthermore, the law states that the automaker must pay the legal fees for lemon law cases. So, if you think you have a lemon, call the Lemberg Law Helpline or fill out a contact form and we’ll assess your case free of charge.

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
  • Gary A

    Fraud: I bought an extended warranty based on the pamphlets and information given to me at the time of purchase. The materials explain that service is provided, without cost to the consumer. I was lead to
    believe that I was buying a protection plan. Things started going wrong from the first two months of ownership. The moldings on the roof of the vehicle would blow off of the roof during a car wash which was in February and March. I had to get into a serious argument with the manager in order to get one side of the vehicle. Knues Mitsubishi Madison Wisconsin was an awful experience. The Mitsubishi Corp. was sent a copy of all complaints and they have not acknowledged my complaint.

  • Cassandra c

    I have a 2020 Mitsubishi outlander sport bought in late august of 2022 with only 55,000 miles on it. It’s had problems with it first week brought it home till now and every time I take it to the Mitsubishi dealership that can’t find the problem or replicate it and now it’s not under warranty it does have an extended warranty on it but I’ve had it while go 70 down the road and it would shake really bad and the service engine light will come on abs light come on as well only done it twice and has not happened again now. It’s hard to handle on any road to where it’s like you have no control of the steering wheel it has you all over the road worse when windy but does it all the time. Hit a small pot hole and the steering feels so loose and all over the road have to jerk back to your lane to keep from hitting oncoming traffic I’ve taken it to a different shop and they said there is something really wrong with it but can’t figure out what. They said they can guess what it is than at that point be guessing and throwing money in it not knowing the problem so again not fixed and I’m scared of driving it with my kids and crashing with them in it and can’t trade it in owe to much on it and don’t know what to do I drive an hour one way for work everyday and risking my life for something no one can figure Out what’s wrong with it. It’s very disappointing.

  • Alice W

    My radio in my 2020 Mitsubishi Sport bounces up and down in volume and sometimes won’t even change stations or you can’t answer the bluetooth phone or you can’t change it to another function such as telephone or stations such as AM/FM. I have taken it back multiple times when it was still under warranty and gotten the upgrades and was now advised by the dealership that Mitsubishi got the radio from a third party who is refusing to replace the radio.

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