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

Electrical, windshield cracking and steering issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The 2020 Subaru Outback is an SUV model that started as a station wagon model back in 1994. Since its inception, American families have flocked to the Outback for its versatility and space, but the 2020 lineup appears to be a disappointment. Besides being hailed by the company as having “go-everywhere capability,” this Subaru SUV suffers from an easily-cracked windshield, malfunctioning vehicle speed control, faulty steering, hard-to-see electronics and blinding lights.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2021   2022   2023

Problems with the Windshield Cracking

Automotive glass was designed to help occupants see what’s around them and provide protection from the elements. With a 2020 Subaru Outback, owners have to worry about the windshield spontaneously cracking, which affects visibility and safety.

Here is what one NHTSA review states. “The car was parked on 12/28/2019 in perfect condition as new. Upon entering the vehicle at 11:50 am on 12/29/2019, it was obvious that the windshield had cracked overnight. The crack is 24 inches in length and runs from the bottom driver’s side under the left side of the windshield wiper heading in an upward direction then turns toward the right side of the vehicle at an elevation of one third the height of the windshield. The vehicle was parked and stationary when this occurred. I have been exclusively the sole driver of this vehicle for all of its 2,260 miles. The windshield has never been struck by an object. The vehicle was purchased new by me on 10/31/2019.”

At first, it might seem that this is simply a fluke, but that’s not the case. In fact, the internet is filled with reports of exactly the same scenario by other Outback owners. Still, Subaru has nothing to say about the complaints and hasn’t issued any statements at this time. Drivers might be able to “go everywhere,” but it’s unlikely they will be able to see clearly.

2020 Subaru Outback Complaint Summary

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

Vehicle Speed Control Issues

With today’s sophisticated automotive systems, there’s no reason for anyone to worry about speeding. Drivers can simply set the cruise control and have peace of mind unless there is a malfunction as with the 2020 Subaru Outback.

One NHTSA report discusses what happened to the respondent’s wife. It states, “She was following a brown van. The cruise control was still on, was maintaining a speed of 68 mph and safe distance. Cruise was set at 70 mph and distance at 4 bars. The van exited the interstate at which time the Outback started a hard acceleration and had reached a speed of 87 mph before I realized what was happening and turned off cruise control. Acceleration factor was set to normal, I then set it to ECO.”

What a frightening situation that isn’t uncommon with the Outback. For some drivers, it requires using the brakes to stop this acceleration, which reveals another problem. It appears that Subaru issued a massive recall related to a missing or loose brake pedal bracket bolt (NHTSA Campaign Number 19V664000). Because this problem leads to brake pedal deformation, it puts owners at risk of a crash if the braking performance is hindered. What’s worse, accelerating at frightening speeds or not being able to brake when the inevitable occurs?

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Problems with the Steering

During all of this, it’s vital that owners have control over the steering in order to prevent an accident. However, it’s clear that the steering system is just as defective.

One NHTSA complaint says, “The contact owns a 2020 Subaru Outback. While driving 55 mph with the cruise control engaged, the contact lost control of the steering and the vehicle veered to the left. The contact managed to regain control of the steering. [Dealer] was contacted and scheduled a diagnostic test. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 600.”

Again, Subaru has nothing to say about these issues. Instead, the automaker hopes people simply don’t notice when the SUV loses steering ability. Maybe it’s the vehicle’s way of taking occupants “everywhere,” with or without approval.

Headlight Problems

While some automotive owners complain about headlights not being bright enough, the Outback drivers have the opposite belief.

Just look at this NHTSA review. “The low beam headlights are too bright, or angled too high. I’m constantly having other vehicles ‘flash’ me at night thinking I have high beams on. This has happened with people I know telling me and strangers. Both on highway and city streets.”

While Subaru isn’t making a statement regarding this issue either, it’s clear what is going on. The automaker is simply letting others on the road know that this vehicle with defective steering and malfunctioning speed control is coming. Maybe it’s to serve as a warning to other vehicles to get out of the way before this SUV “goes everywhere.”

Problems with the Electrical System

While the headlights are too bright, just the opposite is occurring inside the cabin of the 2020 Outback. Owners are struggling to see the backup and front camera images, which puts them in danger.

This NHTSA statement says, “The backup and front camera are downgraded from previous models of Outback. Subaru of America denies this. The night visibility is dangerous. The dealership agrees. I have purchased four Outbacks in six years and I know what I am talking about. It is totally dangerous at night. Subaru will not tell me if they plan to change the cameras or upgrade the software. Also, the equalizer will not hold its setting every time you get in the car. I am sure this is a software setting as well. To change the setting, you either have to pull off the road or do it while driving which creates a dangerous maneuver.”

Instead of discussing customer complaints about the electrical systems, Subaru sent a bulletin (NHTSA ID Number 10168621) to illustrate how happy owners are with the new infotainment system. It appears that the company is more concerned with patting itself on the back than listening to the drivers. While the Outback might be able to “go everywhere,” it wasn’t designed with the user in mind.

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.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • Mary C

    My 2020 outback has 53500 miles. The thermostat went out and had to be replaced in November 2022. All 4 tires wore out exactly the same from the inside. They looked good from outside edge when I would check them. The dealership did not tell me this was going on only that they needed to be replaced. They told me after I got new tires that this happens with the 2020 outbacks causing tires to wear out sooner than normal 10000 miles sooner than they should.

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