2020 Subaru Legacy Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Our analysis shows that electrical system, forward collision avoidance, powertrain, and windshield cracking issues are among the top complaints.

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

While midsize cars continue to disappear from America’s roads, the 2020 Subaru Legacy seems to hold its own. Originally launched in the U.S. in 1989, the 2020 model is the first of the seventh-generation Legacy. The automaker says it’s the most advanced model in the car’s 30-year history. That may be so, but customers who experience serious safety system failures or battery drain, or whose windshields fracture without impact, question the relevance of this claim.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2021   2022

Most Commonly Reported Issues

Increasing dissatisfaction with the 2020 Subaru Legacy is illustrated by the many complaints issued by owners to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The most common problem is windshields that crack, often spontaneously, and often more than once. A common complaint is that owners are “forced to drive with the crack as Subaru will do anything to not honor a warranty, ever.”

Windshield problems are filed with the NHTSA under visibility, visibility/wiper, and unknown or other. While these amount to more than 72% of all complaints, more than 23% are about the electrical system, powertrain, and forward collision avoidance. Other components and systems that are seen by consumers to be problematic include backover prevention, brakes, the engine, exterior lighting, the fuel/propulsion system, lane departure, structure, tires, and vehicle speed control.

There are also six recalls that affect the 2020 Subaru Legacy. These include recalls due to airbags not deploying, fuel pumps failing, the rearview camera shutting down and reducing driver visibility, and loose or missing brake pedal mounting bracket bolts. There are also two that relate to the powertrain. Both warn of a programming error in the transmission control unit (TCU) that may allow the clutch to engage before the drive chain is completely clamped. This causes a loss of drive power and increases the risk of a crash.

However, none of these recalls relate to the many complaints on file with the NHTSA from owners.

2020 Subaru Legacy Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Power Train
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
Vehicle Speed Control
Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking

Windshield Cracking

Driving down the road safely is only possible if drivers can see clearly out of the windshield. If they can’t, the risks of a crash increase exponentially.

While dealers do occasionally confirm that cracking isn’t due to impact, a large number of owners complain that they insist that there was. Many more complain that Subaru refuses to fix windshields under warranty.

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While driving at about 15 mph, an owner from Michigan “noticed a fracture at the bottom center of the windshield that was approximately 12 inches long.” It wasn’t the first time this had happened. The complaint states it was the fourth windshield to fracture suddenly without impact in about 18 months. The owner took the vehicle to the dealer “who confirmed the fracture was not caused by an impact.”

An owner from New York states, “A crack appeared in the windshield overnight while parked in the driveway with no sign of impact or other causes. This seems to be an ongoing problem with Subaru since they changed to acoustic glass for their windshields.”

An owner from Illinois also experienced the front windshield cracking without impact. It started at the side and spread quickly. “I had it replaced by Subaru and four months later it happened again. The crack again came from the side with no reason. Two replacements out of my own pocket. My 2020 Legacy windshield must be defective.”

And he’s not the only one!

An owner from Missouri was driving home from the dealership. “After paying to have the side windows tinted (the windshield was not altered) there was a loud pop. The windshield spontaneously split in two while I was on the highway. There were less than 300 miles on my car and when I returned to the dealership they told me it would not be covered because it didn’t fit a business card completely through it. Also, this windshield is over 1000 dollars to replace and ‘calibrate’ because the Drive Focus feature only works with the Subaru windshield, so I must return to the dealership to keep my warranty intact.”


Complaints to the NHTSA about the 2020 Legacy are varied. The most common problem relates to battery issues. However, several complaints describe how the infotainment system crashes. This can lead to the malfunction of connected safety features like EyeSight, the driver assistance system, and adaptive cruise control with lane keep assistance. An owner from Rhode Island says this is not only annoying, “but having all of the safety systems in my car unexpectedly shut down is extremely unsafe.”

Another electrical system problem that complaints highlight is a thermo control valve malfunction. This causes electrical problems and disables driver assistance features. An owner from Pennsylvania states that when the thermo control valve failed it caused a short that “affected all electrical components on its circuit. The car became inoperable in traffic.”

Battery Issues

Multiple complaints report rapid battery drain leading to complete loss of power and the need for jump starts. This can be dangerous, especially when it happens while driving.

An owner from Michigan highlights the danger of sudden battery drain leaving the driver stranded and potentially in unsafe situations. “The battery discharged to the point where I was unable to start the car. I had been driving all day and was waiting for my wife for half an hour with the radio on. This left us stranded about 15 miles from home. I had to call to have someone take my wife home while I waited for a tow truck. My battery also discharged to the point where I couldn’t start my car after the car sat overnight. I needed to take my son to a doctor’s appointment, and I had to cancel the appointment. And no, I didn’t leave the lights on or a door open.”

An owner from Ohio showcases how a battery problem can lead to a safety hazard (a car shutting off in traffic) and frustration due to a lack of resolution from the dealership. He and his wife were left stranded twice due to a low battery. “Once the car died in the middle of a major intersection when I stopped to allow oncoming traffic to pass and the auto start/stop turned the car off. When I attempted to restart the car the battery was dead. This left me in a very unsafe condition. I had to exit my car, dodge traffic, and physically move my car from the middle of the intersection.” A Subaru service department inspected the car and declared there was nothing wrong with it!


There are varied complaints about the 2020 Legacy powertrain, but the most common issues relate to transmission and coolant system problems.

Transmission problems include a complete failure to shift, jerking and hesitation during acceleration, and a potential software issue with the CVT. All these issues can lead to difficulty driving and can increase the risk of crashing.

When coolant bypass valves are faulty, this can lead to overheating, potentially causing engine damage.

An owner from Missouri describes how several warning lights suddenly illuminated while driving, and the gear shifter was inoperable. Quite simply, “the transmission failed to shift as needed.” At the time of the complaint, the failure had not been diagnosed.

An owner from Indiana states that the car “begins to jerk or pulsate, as if power is being applied and removed quickly, while the car is under load. I first noticed this problem while driving up long inclines on the interstate. Then I noticed it while accelerating from relatively slow speed to highway speeds. Today, while driving on a level highway maintaining speed, the car kept doing it in a very noticeable (hard) manner.” He took the car to the dealership, but they said it wasn’t showing any codes. “My car has between 18,500 miles on it and the problem continues to get worse. It is becoming more noticeable and more common.”

Another issue is described in a complaint by an owner from Pennsylvania. While in a parking space with the transmission in drive and her foot on the brake pedal the car “independently accelerated without warning.” The vehicle drove over the parking median, but luckily she managed to stop the vehicle before accelerating up a hill. It was towed to a dealer and, again, they couldn’t find a defect.

Forward Collision-Avoidance

More often than not, forward collision avoidance complaints are combined with issues that relate to other components or systems. These include backover prevention, the electrical system, land departure, structure, and visibility/wiper (which in this context is cracking windscreens).

However, the two main issues that forward collision avoidance complaints focus on are EyeSight system malfunctions and false positive braking. In some instances, it is the EyeSight system that triggers emergency braking when there is no imminent danger of a collision. In others, the EyeSight system shuts down together with the infotainment system, making it partially an electrical system fault.


An owner from West Virginia tells how the EyeSight system started causing emergency braking to activate when no other vehicles were nearby after a software update was performed. It’s happened eight to ten times, usually “when entering a left-hand gentle curve with a guardrail nearby. But it has also happened going straight ahead. The audible and visual alerts appear and hard braking occurs. The braking is severe enough that on rain or snow-covered roads a crash might occur. The dealer inspected the vehicle and claims they found the calibration was off. But the problem has occurred three more times since the calibration. I have contacted the dealer again but they have refused to acknowledge the problem further.”

An owner from Pennsylvania states that about once a week while driving, “the entire system will shut down and the screen will go dark.” While the system reboots after about 30 seconds, “This is a major safety issue because you lose systems that help with safety. The dealership said it’s a known software issue and there’s nothing they can do until an update is available.” In September 2021, this owner was told there would be a software update available by the end of October. It still wasn’t available by the end of November.

According to manufacturer communications on file with the NHTSA a service information bulletin had been issued on January 28, 2020, that described “how to proceed when doing EyeSight (Version 3) system diagnosis.” The only other correspondence is a bulletin that details error codes encountered with an adjustment/calibration of the EyeSight system after body repair procedures have been performed. It doesn’t mention software.

Next Step If You Have a Lemon

Regardless of the problems you are facing, if you think you have a lemon, you can do something about it. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace, or pay cash settlements to thousands of owners.

All you have to do is call the Lemberg Law Helpline or fill out a contact form and we’ll assess your 2020 Legacy problems 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

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