Windshield, braking, engine, and powertrain issues are among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners
It wasn’t that long ago that Subaru was synonymous with reliability. So, how does the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek stand up? The automaker claims it is the “most fun-to-drive Crosstrek ever.” Yet, the internet is riddled with complaints, including problems with windshields that chip and crack, allegations of defective engines, and malfunctioning powertrains. High-tech EyeSight Driver Assist Technology is another problem and owners maintain it is directly linked to random braking.
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Most Common Problems with the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek
By far the most common problem owners of the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek are experiencing are linked to windshields that crack, usually for no apparent reason. Nearly half of the complaints lodged with the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) by the end of February were due to this phenomenon. Most are regarded as visibility/wiper or simply visibility issues, but a few are listed as an “unknown or other” problem.
Both powertrain and engine problems are also common. These range from shuddering, jerking, and stalling, to transmission and engine failures. The engine compartment of a brand-new 2021 Crosstrek ignited, resulting in it bursting into flames and exploding while on the road. Fortunately, no one was injured.
Another common problem owners are reporting relates to Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. Punted as a major safety feature, it is designed to optimize cruise control, monitor traffic movement, and warn drivers if they “sway” outside their lanes. But there are numerous complaints that EyeSight and the Lane Keeping Assistance (LKA) feature are defective. In particular, EyeSight detects dangers that aren’t there and causes sudden, unexpected, random braking that puts the safety of those traveling in a Crosstrek at risk. Unsurprisingly, complaints about EyeSight malfunctions are listed as forward collision avoidance and lane-departure issues.
There are also lots of problems with spontaneous acceleration, and batteries draining rapidly or failing to function.
2021 Subaru Crosstrek Complaint Summary
|Complaint Category||Number of Complaints|
|Unknown Or Other|
|Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking|
|Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control|
|Lane Departure: Assist|
|Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings|
Problems with Windshields That Crack
The durability and integrity of Subaru’s auto glass have been in question for some time now. There are more than 100 manufacturer communications including technical service bulletins (TSBs) on file with the NHTSA. But not one mentions problems with windshield glass. Owners, on the other hand, have plenty to say about Crosstrek windshields. Apart from anything else, they are complaining that they are forced to use Subaru windshields when they replace cracked windshields.
An owner from New Mexico says that “Subaru claims that windshield replacements must use Subaru glass due (to) the optical clarity of the windshield.” On top of this, their EyeSight system (see next section) must be recalibrated. This is a $1,339 cost (via Safelight) to replace the windshield. I have 8,400 miles on my vehicle and I am getting ready to have the second windshield put on the car. The glass simply breaks too easily.”
Another owner is also “concerned about the high replacement costs for the windshield and required EyeSight recalibration.” In the 18 months he has owned the Crosstrek, “The windshield has picked up 7 chips … more than the total of chips I’ve had in my 29 years of driving. Only one of the chips had a notable sound that accompanied its creation, and that was from the impact of a large insect while driving on I-77. This windshield seems to be easily damaged, if not fragile, and gives me concern about the potential for injury if it was faced with any substantial impact.”
Examples of Random Cracking without Impact
Many complaints state that nothing hit the windshield prior to it cracking. For example, an owner from New York states that “the windshield cracked without any impact while parked.”
“My windshield all of the sudden got a massive crack,” an owner from California whose car is only 6 months old says. “I don’t remember a rock ever hitting it. It has been growing rapidly and I worry it is affecting my driver assist system.”
Another owner from New York discovered a crack about 7 inches long in the bottom center of the front windshield. “Nothing hit the windshield as far as I know.”
An owner from Arizona discovered a crack while reversing out of the garage. “The crack was not there when I entered the garage because I had to use the garage remote on the mirror to open the garage door. I would have noticed it.”
The windshield of a 2021 Crosstrek belonging to someone in Missouri cracked while driving over railroad tracks. The result is “spiderweb cracks that are small to see unless driving into the sun.”
A California owner heard a pop, looked at the windshield, and a crack appeared out of nowhere. A third-party windshield repair firm said the vehicle must “be taken to Subaru since there is no cause for crack.” Subaru, in turn, said it would cost the owner $1,800 for replacement “even though there was no reason for (the) crack.”
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Problems with EyeSight Technology
Subaru boasts that EyeSight Driver Assist Technology is the “culmination of everything Subaru engineers know about safety.” They’ve sold more than 1 million vehicles equipped with EyeSight, but owners are discovering that it isn’t all it’s made out to be. The NHTSA has an increasing number of complaints that it malfunctions, detecting non-existent hazards and slamming on the brakes.
EyeSight and Lane Assistance Problems
An owner from Illinois experienced EyeSight and LKA issues when a new 2021 Crosstrek Limited had only 90 miles on the clock. The vehicle began jerking “aggressively” when the adaptive cruise control and LKA were on. A dealership mechanic had the same experience, but said to continue driving and take it back if “the condition persists.” This, says the complaint, “would mean risking a fatal collision.” A field technician and service manager from Subaru test-drove the vehicle independently and both confirmed the same issues. As a result, they calibrated the EyeSight camera, but this didn’t work.
When the owner drove back on the highway and turned on LKA, the steering malfunctioned and the Crosstrek was “jerking all over the lane and flashing, telling me to keep hands on the wheel when both hands were very tight on the wheel.” It continued to jerk while using LKA, “and when I try to override the steering to avoid a collision the wheel feels like it’s fighting me. It’s extremely dangerous … I fear there is a serious defect with the Eyesight and LKA.”
Random Braking Issues
Here’s a complaint from an owner in Texas. “The automatic braking system engaged at highway speed while changing lanes with no other vehicle or object in front of the vehicle. I was accelerating to change lanes when the sensor started beeping and the car slammed on the brakes causing a sliding skid. I was able to maintain control and fortunately, there was no one behind me.” He believes that the EyeSight control malfunctioned. “I do not believe this is a safe feature as it not only puts my safety at risk but also the safety of anyone on the road around me.”
An owner in Ohio mentions random braking. “Subaru Pre-collision braking activates when no danger (is) present. It detects exhaust steam or smoke as an obstacle. While accelerating from a stop light in winter, “EyeSight falsely detected the exhaust of the car in front of me as a danger and slammed on the brakes to a full stop causing the car behind me to bump into me. Thankfully this driver was paying attention and no damage was caused. This function overrode my foot being on the accelerator.” In late spring of the same year while using cruise control on the highway, EyeSight “detected the exhaust as a hazard and slammed on the brakes, causing the drivers behind me to take evasive actions and put them at risk for no reason. During both incidents, the collision warning lights fully activated.”
The owner spoke to the dealership about these incidents and was told to “turn off the pre-collision system on cold days and watch out for diesel exhaust.”
Problems with the Engine
A well-running engine is the most important part of any vehicle. Still, Crosstrek customers are having serious motor issues.
An owner from Tennessee reports engine failure in a complaint. “I was crossing two lanes of a very busy oceanfront street when the engine ‘bogged down.’ I let off on the gas pedal and then depressed it again, which then caused the engine to go off. Then he quickly restarted the engine and was able to get out of the way of oncoming traffic. “This was the only time the engine failed, but on about three or four previous times, the engine ‘bogged down’ when I depressed the gas pedal but recovered after I quickly depressed the pedal again.”
Another owner, this time from California, experienced a total loss of power intermittently for about half a mile. An owner from Delaware experienced shuddering, jerking, and hesitation. The complaint states that the Crosstrek won’t go when the gas pedal is pressed. It also “hesitates or pauses for a moment after the gas pedal is engaged.”
There are a couple of service bulletins, including 09-77-21R, that relate to a lack of power and hesitation during acceleration. Subaru says that the reason for the problem is that vehicles sometimes detect the control module processor, the multifunctional indication lamp (MIL) illuminates, and the vehicle goes into failsafe mode. This results in a reduced amount of power. To correct the problem, Subaru initiated a service program to reprogram the engine control module (ECM) on some 2021 model-year Crosstreks equipped with 2.0L engines and continuously variable transmissions.
Problems with the Powertrain
The powertrain works hand-in-hand with the engine to create the power needed to tackle any terrain. However, some owners are reporting that the new Crosstrek powertrain is lackluster. Issues include shuddering, jerking, jittering, stalling, deceleration, and transmission failure.
An Alabama owner experienced shuddering, jerking, and hesitation. It happens “when pulling out into traffic or crossing over lanes in a left-hand turn. This malfunction can cause a collision and is a huge safety concern of mine. I do not feel comfortable putting my life at risk driving this vehicle.” The incident happened two days after the second service bulletin was issued on July 28, 2021. Perhaps the dealer hadn’t read it yet.
Transmission issues are even more serious. There are service bulletins about an “alleged chain slip condition” in some transmissions used for 2021 Crosstreks that deal with abnormal sounds and unusual vibrations. But they don’t address transmission failure.
An owner in Massachusetts was aware that the transmission was about to fail when the Crosstrek started making noise at low speeds in drive and reverse. There were no warning lights or error messages. A Subaru dealer confirmed the transmission needed to be replaced.
A serious drivetrain transmission issue ended particularly badly for an owner in Texas. The car was running in park when he got out to pick up a flyer from the yard. The Crosstrek accelerated, drove through the garage door, and crashed into the back wall of the garage. Nobody had inspected the vehicle at the time the complaint was made.
What if your 2021 Crosstrek is a Lemon?
Problems that keep recurring and affect the use and value of your vehicle could be symptoms that make it a lemon. If you think that your 2021 Subaru Crosstrek might be a lemon, consider letting the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Subaru pay the legal fees for lemon law cases, so you’ve got nothing to lose. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace, or pay cash settlements to thousands of lemon owners.
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