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

Wheels, brakes and engine issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

Subaru has long been known for making a great, dependable car, so there were high hopes when it came to the 2020 Subaru WRX. Even the automaker claims that owners get a “WRX advantage” with this model. However, after driving it for some time, it becomes clear that there are major troubles with the engine, service brakes and wheels.

 

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2020 Subaru WRX

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
3
Visibility/wiper
3
Service Brakes
2
Unknown Or Other
1
Engine
1
Fuel/propulsion System
1
Air Bags
1
Seat Belts
1
Wheels
1

Problems with the Engine

As a performance-focused model, this WRX should be equipped to handle whatever comes it’s way, but the engine seems to be underpowered.

One Cars.com review states, “It has a very short power band, it just seems to only deliver good power for about 2,000 rpm then falls off.”

Even Service Bulletin #11-199-20 talks about engine troubles. In this communication, the Engine Control Module must be updated with new logic to prevent a hard starting condition. This seems to happen most frequently in colder climates and high-altitude regions. Basically, if a WRX owner wants to head to the mountains for a weekend of fun, there could be problems. Where is the “advantage” in that?

Problems with the Brakes

Another essential system is the service brakes. Without the brakes operating correctly, occupants could be in a lot of danger.

That’s what is revealed through this NHTSA complaint. “The contact owned a 2020 Subaru WRX. The contact stated that while his son was driving at 40 mph, he attempted to depress the brake pedal. However, the vehicle failed to stop, running a red light, the vehicle was T-boned. The contact stated that the impact caused the vehicle to hit a light post, the air bags failed to deploy and the seat belt failed to lock. The contact stated five days prior her son was driving and the brake pedal failed to engage while coming to a stop light. The driver had to depress the brake pedal to the floor to stop the vehicle. The driver stated that no warning lights or messages were displayed during either failure. The driver sustained a fractured wrist. The police report was filed. The paramedic came however, the contact was told to call the doctor for X-rays. The driver was seen by his doctor for his fractured wrist. The vehicle was totaled and was towed to a body shop. The contact called [dealership] and was told to call the manufacturer. The contact called the manufacturer and filed a complaint. The failure mileage was 2,100.”

While Subaru hasn’t wanted to discuss any brake defects, the company did warn technicians of extra servicing requirements when dealing with some brake models. Service Bulletin #06-76-20 states that the Brembo brakes require “extra care” while servicing due to the aluminum construction. At this point, it’s difficult to believe that Subaru is going the extra mile to deal with any WRX-related system.

Problems with the Wheels

The WRX is designed to turn heads, but the wheels and tires seem to be a problem that is gaining more attention.

Here is another NHTSA complaint. “I have recently purchased a 2020 Subaru WRX Limited. I have learned by inspection that the standard OEM tire on this vehicle is a Dunlop Sport Max RT. This is a high-performance summer tire. This class of tire is not recommended to be used in very cold weather and especially on ice and snow. I have previously owned such tires and they are terrifying on ice, that is, dangerous. I live in an area of the country where snow and ice are common. Subaru did not inform me of these tires and I am now confronted with purchasing a new set of all season tires so I can safely drive my car. By the way, I have previously worked in tire engineering. Is a less knowledgeable person expected to recognize such a deficiency and take the necessary precautions? Not drive in cold, snowy or icy conditions or purchase new tires?”

What a scary thought. However, Subaru doesn’t seem to care about the manufacturing of this WRX model when it comes to any system or part. Just look at Service Bulletin #07-173-20, which states that the rear trunk can open on its own after parking. Just imagine the surprise when owners come out of a store to find the trunk open. Hopefully, all of those precious goods are still located inside. The moral of the story is – the “advantage” to driving a WRX is stolen property, totaled new vehicles and an underpowered engine that only likes the warmer weather.

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Complaint Data

CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateSep 22, 2022
StateCA
Description
Battery drainage occurring often. I have been left stranded at night time in unsafe areas. The car was taken to the dealer twice and both times the battery has been “recharge”. I”ve had the car for less than 3 years. No symptoms occur before this happens. This seems to happen when the car has not need moved for more than a day.
CategoryElectrical System
DateMay 22, 2022
StateVA
Description
Have had this car since late 2019 around november and it is now 2022 and I'm at 25k miles in my battery is already failing I have had it tested and the cold cranking amps are why below where they should be causing the car not be able to start at time . I've had other car batteries that lasted long than 2 and a half years.
CategoryElectrical System, Engine, Fuel/propulsion System
DateJan 30, 2022
StateCO
Description
The vehicle seems to randomly die and bog out then all of the lights appear on the dash, I myself had to pay out of pocket for a new battery because autonation subaru arapahoe in colorado decided not to check it like I had asked and after getting my car back the issue was still there which is why I replaced it today. Not only this but they sold me a highly modified vehicle without disclosing any of that info to me in the sale process.
CategoryVisibility/wiper
DateJan 12, 2022
StateGA
Description
Got in the car to drive to work and the front windshield just cracked on its own with nothing hitting it.
CategoryElectrical System
DateMay 17, 2021
StateMO
Description
I have owned the car for ~15 months and driven it for 2500 miles. The battery has failed four times. Each time subaru has replaced the battery under warranty and told me that nothing is wrong and that the car simply needs to be driven more. I now see that this is a systemic problem for subarus (e. G. Https://www. Torquenews. Com/1084/subaru-battery-drain-lawsuit-new-claims-now-include-forester-wrx-and-legacy) a recall is needed to force subaru to address this problem.
CategoryService Brakes
DateFeb 16, 2021
StateGA
Description
Upon applying parking brake to the maximum extent possible, which is beyond 11 clicks as stated as required by subaru, and the vehicle is on an incline greater than 8 degrees, the vehicle will not remain in place. I am also concerned that if the brake is required in an emergency situation, it will not effectively stop the vehicle as the wheels are still allowed to turn more freely than expected given its inability to hold the vehicle on a hill. I took the vehicle to subaru twice expressing the complaint and was summarily denied service. The technician refused to even inspect vehicle even after requesting an inspection. The service technician informed me that you must apply the parking brake to 11 clicks and put the vehicle in gear. The force required to pull the parking brake to 11 clicks is more than many people are able to apply in a single motion as required by federal law. In addition, air compression is explicated stated in federal law as not allowed as a mechanism of force for use in a parking brake system. Air compression is what is used in the engine as a means to prevent the wheels from moving when in gear. Further, the parking brake system shall according to federal law, use an accumulation of force independent of other systems for the parking brake, which is not the case per the instruction from subaru. Lastly, subaru also instructed me to put a wheel stop behind the wheel as a standard practice in this common parking scenario, which isn't possible to do if I have to take my foot off the brake to get out of the car to place the wheel stop. As soon as I take my foot off the brake, the vehicle moves so I am unable to safely exit vehicle in order to place the wheel stop. This is a serious safety issue both for keeping a parked vehicle in place and also in an emergency brake scenario.
CategoryVisibility/wiper
DateJan 16, 2021
StateCO
Description
Sitting at a stoplight, a loud pop occurs and when I look back, there is a hole in the middle of the rear windshield. It is approximately 2 inches tall and at least 18 inches wide. It was likely an implosion. No objects were found near, on, or in the car. The windshield crumbled after that, as each acceleration dropped more glass inside the car. Nothing prompted it, just sitting stationary at a stoplight. Defroster was not on, temperature was approximately 45 fahrenheit with minimal wind. Had been driving for 10 minutes. My rear facing car seat, with child in it, collected a fair amount of the glass.
CategoryVisibility/wiper
DateOct 26, 2020
StateCA
Description
Windshield cracked for no apparent reason. Car was stationary.
CategoryAir Bags, Seat Belts, Service Brakes
DateApr 30, 2020
StateMD
Description
Tl* the contact owned a 2020 subaru wrx. The contact stated that while he son was driving at 40 mph, he attempted to depress the brake pedal however, the vehicle failed to stop, running a red light, the vehicle was t-boned. The contact stated that the impact caused the vehicle to hit a light post, the air bags failed to deploy and the seat belt failed to lock. The contact stated five days prior her son was driving and the brake pedal failed to engaged while coming to a stop light. The driver had to depress the brake pedal to the floor to stop the vehicle. The driver stated that no warning lights or messages were displayed during either failure. The driver sustained a fractured wrist. The police report was filed. The paramedic came however, the contact was told to call the doctor for x-rays. The driver was seen by his doctor for his fractured wrist. The vehicle was totaled and was towed to a body shop. The contact called heritage subaru ownings mills (9808 reisterstown road owings mills, md 21117) and was told to call the manufacturer. The contact called the manufacturer and filed a complaint. The failure mileage was 2,100. *dt*jb
CategoryWheels
DateDec 30, 2019
StateVA
Description
I have recently purchased a 2020 subaru wrx limited. I have learned by inspection that the standard oem tire on this vehicle is a dunlop sport max rt. This is a high performance summer tire. This class of tire is not recommended to be used in very cold weather and especially on ice and snow. I have previously owned such tires and they are terrifying on ice, that is, dangerous. I live in a area of the country where snow and ice are common. Subaru did not inform me of these tires and I am now confronted with purchasing a new set of all season tires so I can safely drive my car. By the way, I have previously worked in tire engineering. Is a less knowledgeable person expected to recognize such a deficiency and take the necessary precautions? Not drive in cold, snowy or icy conditions or purchase new tires?

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 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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