2019 Subaru Ascent Top Complaints and Problems – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Electrical, brake, engine and transmission issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Subaru enthusiasts couldn’t have been happier to find out that the automaker was offering a three-row SUV. It seemed like the perfect way to expand the family with a car brand most people trusted. Even Subaru tagged this model with the “Love is now bigger than ever” tagline. The trouble is, there are lots of things that are bigger with the 2019 Subaru Ascent, including the difficulties.

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Electrical

When someone gets behind the wheel of a new car, they expect that it will start without a problem, but that’s not the case with the Ascent model.

Here’s one of many negative reviews on Edmunds. “The ignition has been cranking up like an old car. It happened twice for now. The second time it happened the engine did not start and it showed check engine light. The service said they can’t replicate the problem so they had to do nothing. Is this happening to anyone else with the new ascent?  The headlights are staying on for the whole time of the ride. The setting is in auto. I tried to change the settings but it’s the same. Before this happened I witnessed a ‘malfunction’ kind of situation. Like the headlights turning on and off several times in just a few minutes. (Even though I was driving I witnessed it because the console lights have also changed its intensity. – the console lights are less intense when the lights are on and vice-versa).”

With 20 service bulletins, it would be logical to assume the automaker would address these concerns, but it doesn’t happen. Instead, they document how to upgrade software, program the clock and connect to apps. While all of these functions are valuable, none of them matter if the SUV doesn’t start in the first place.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Subaru Ascent Electrical and Tailgate Problems:

THE BATTERY KEEPS DYING WHEN I HAVE THE TAILGATE (TG) OPENED FOR EXTENDED PERIODS OF TIME SUCH AS WHEN DOG TRAINING. THE FIRST TIME MY BATTERY DIED, I WAS THE LAST PERSON ON THE TRAINING GROUNDS. I CLOSED THE TG AND LIGHTS WERE FLASHING AND BEEPING FOR A FEW MINUTES. THE BATTERY DIED AND THE TG WAS SHUT AND WOULDN’T OPEN. I PANICKED B/C I COULD NOT GET MY DOGS OUT AND I WAS ALONE IN A VAST WOODED AREA. THIS IS A TERRIBLE SAFETY ISSUE B/C IF I DID NOT HAVE CELL PHONE COVERAGE THAT DAY, MY DOGS WOULD’VE BEEN TRAPPED IN THE CAR WITHOUT WATER AND I WOULD HAVE HAD TO WALK A VERY LONG WAY TO GET HELP SINCE THE SUBARU ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE WILL NOT WORK WITHOUT CELL COVERAGE.

I ATTEMPTED TO START MY SUBARU ASCENT AND IT WOULD NOT START. I CONTACTED SUBARU’S TOWING AND THEY CAME AND JUMPSTARTED THE CAR. THE TOWING COMPANY INFORMED ME THAT SUBARU’S ASCENT BATTERIES ARE DEFECTIVE AND THAT THEY HAVE BEEN FORCED TO JUMP A NUMBER OF THEM. I DROVE TO WORK. THE NEXT MORNING, I WOKE TO THE SAME PROBLEM. I CALLED SUBARU’S TOWING SERVICE, AND THEY CAME OUT AGAIN. I TOOK THE CAR TO THE DEALERSHIP AND THEY TESTED THE BATTERY, BUT THE BATTERY DID NOT EXHIBIT FAIL CODES. SUBARU WOULD NOT REPLACE THE BATTERY, DESPITE THE TWO FAILURES. SINCE THIS TIME, I’VE HAD MULTIPLE BATTERY FAILURES AND SUBARU CONTINUES TO DENY MY REQUEST FOR REPLACEMENT.

LET THE TAILGATE OPEN FOR 4 HOURS AND THE BATTERY DIED. USE THE CAR TO TRAVEL WITH DOGS. PURPOSE OF THE CAR IS TO TRAVEL WITH DOGS FOR FIELD WORK. CANNOT HAVE IT DIE OR MY DOGS DIE WITHOUT PROPER VENTILATION.

Service Brakes

Once a driver gets their Ascent running, there will be times when it needs to stop. The brakes are a vital component that makes this happen. When they don’t work correctly, the safety of the entire family is at risk.

One person wrote this about their new Ascent on Edmunds. “Waited a year to buy this vehicle. I was debating between the Subaru Ascent and Honda Pilot, and I chose the former because of how it drove and the 3rd row space. Right out of the Lot I drove to my brother’s house to show him the vehicle. I pull up and he tells me he hears a little squeak from the brakes. I figure the car just needs to be driven a little bit more and broken in. After a week I had driven 500 miles and the squeak was significantly louder. I was also experiencing a drag on the vehicle. When I took my foot off the accelerator the car felt like it immediately had drag. So I checked the average mpg and it was 15mpg! I drive like a senior citizen so this was a shock because the advertisement said the vehicle does 26/highway and 22/city. I even took the car on a trip for 250miles all highway on cruise control at 75 miles per hour and the car only averaged 21.9mpg. I called my Subaru service and they told me to bring the vehicle in and they kept it for a day and a half. When they got back to me they said there’s nothing wrong with the car. I asked about the mpg and they said I have to let it break in a little bit more. I’ve also been using all premium gas just in case it was the problem. Now the car has 1800 miles and I’m averaging 18mpg city and the squeaky brakes are still there.”

Again, we see no communication about the brakes on the Ascent, despite the numerous complaints. The automaker spends almost half of all the bulletins discussing equipment instead of significant parts. There’s very little talked about the engine, powertrain, brakes or other vital equipment. You know – the stuff that makes the car run.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Subaru Ascent Brake Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2019 SUBARU ASCENT. WHILE DRIVING AT AN UNKNOWN SPEED, THE BRAKE WARNING INDICATOR ILLUMINATED ON THE INSTRUMENT PANEL. AFTER TURNING OFF AND RESTARTING THE VEHICLE, THE INDICATOR DISAPPEARED AND THE VEHICLE OPERATED NORMALLY. THE CAUSE OF THE FAILURE WAS NOT DETERMINED. KOCOUREK SUBARU  AND THE MANUFACTURER WERE NOTIFIED OF THE FAILURE. THE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 9,300. THE VIN WAS UNKNOWN.

A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO, MY WIFE STARTED THE CAR AND BACKED OFF A PARKING LOT. WHEN SHE PRESSED THE BRAKE AND FELT WIRED – THE BRAKE COULD NOT BE PRESSED DOWN AND FELT LIKE IT’S JAMMED SOMEHOW. THE CAR DID NOT STOP EVEN SHE SWITCHED THE CAR TO PARKING! IT EVENTUALLY STOPPED AFTER HIT A PARKED CAR BEHIND. BECAUSE THE SPEED WAS VERY LOW SO THERE WAS NO OBVIOUS DAMAGE TO BOTH CARS. BUT AFTER RESTARTED THE CAR, ALL THE WARNING LIGHTS WENT ON – RAB, EYE SIGHT, AT OIL TEMP, LOW TIRE PRESSURE, AND THE SUN ROOF AND SUN SHADE NOT WORKING.

Engine and Powertrain

While discussing the major components, it makes sense to touch on the consistent complaints about the transmission.

This review on Edmunds sums it all up. “I really, really want to love this car, but, honestly, right now I don’t. I have never bought a brand new car, but I decided to do so after I had been rear ended last year and needed a new car. Shopped around and almost bought an Acura MDX (hindsight I should have!). I wanted something very safe and very reliable that would last me many years like my Honda Pilot had, and still is (1555,00 miles and not a lick of trouble!). Picked up my Ascent in September after I had ordered it in July. While driving I would notice that it shifted funny and that the RPM’s would go really high going up hills sometimes. I figured it was how it was supposed to be and never gave it much thought until one day it started shifting gears back and fourth driving at the same speed on level road. Took it for an oil change and told them about it and, yeah, it needed a new transmission. It also had to have the passengers side seatbelt replaced because it wouldn’t release after you buckled up. Then the entertainment center would go daffy when you’d try and make a call and radio would come on full blast when you were calling someone. So, they ordered a new transmission and new passenger side seatbelt and fixed everything which took 3 weeks. After having the car back for a month or so, and putting about 1000 miles on it, I’m now having transmission problems AGAIN! Seriously?? And, the seat belt does the same thing; not all the time, but it still does it. So, I just called service again and I am now waiting to hear back from them. Honestly, I don’t ever think I’ll buy another Subaru in my lifetime. I should have known better and just stayed with Honda.”

Report after report talk about needing a new transmission shortly after purchasing the Ascent. It seems that isn’t the only problem Subaru had with the powertrain. A recall labeled with NHTSA Campaign Number 19V519000 discusses how the driveshaft might disconnect. If this happens, the driver is at risk of crashing. To repair the problem, the entire driveshaft assembly must be replaced. It’s incredible they were willing to address this concern considering their lack of attention to anything else. It’s much more challenging to ignore problems when parts start separating from the car.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2019 Subaru Ascent Engine and Transmission Problems:

TL* THE CONTACT OWNS A 2019 SUBARU ASCENT. WHILE DRIVING 70-80 MPH, THE VEHICLE JERKED FORWARD AND THE TRANSMISSION STARTED TO SLIP. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN TO DCH SUBARU OF RIVERSIDE TO BE DIAGNOSED, BUT THE MECHANIC WAS UNABLE TO RETRIEVE A FAULT CODE OR DUPLICATE THE FAILURE. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT REPAIRED. THE MANUFACTURER WAS NOTIFIED. THE APPROXIMATE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 5,200. THE VIN WAS NOT AVAILABLE.

AT 16462 MILES ON ODOMETER, WHILE DRIVING ON HI WAY AT 65 MPH VEHICLE LOST POWER AND STARTED SMOKING SEVERELY FROM THE TAIL PIPES. PULLED OVER AND SHUT OFF. RESTARTED SEVERAL MINUTES LATER CONTINUED TO SMOKE AND WOULD NOT MOVE. TOWED TO DEALER, THEY STATED THE PCV VALVE BROKE APART, SUBARU WANTS THEM TO TEAR DOWN THE ENGINE TO SEE HOW MUCH DAMAGE WAS DONE. STILL WAITING FOR THEM TO DO ANYTHING, CAR IS SITTING OUTSIDE IN THE SERVICE AREA NOT BEING WORKED ON.

THE CVT TRANSMISSION BEGAN SLIPPING, CAUSING INTERMITTENT VIBRATION AND LOSS OF POWER WHEN ACCELERATING. THIS WOULD OCCUR AT BOTH LOW AND HIGH SPEEDS, AND WOULD OCCUR MORE FREQUENTLY AFTER THE CAR HAD BEEN DRIVEN FOR ABOUT 15 MINUTES. AT HIGHWAY SPEEDS, THE CAR WOULD STRUGGLE INTERMITTENTLY TO MAINTAIN SPEED. INITIALLY THE PROBLEM WAS SPORADIC, BUT WITH EVERY DAY GREW MORE FREQUENT. AFTER BEING TAKEN TO DEALERSHIP TO BE EVALUATED, THE DEALER REPORTED THAT WHILE THE TECHNICIAN WAS TEST DRIVING THE VEHICLE, COMPLETE FAILURE OF THE TRANSMISSION OCCURRED AND THE CAR WAS NO LONGER DRIVABLE. THE DEALER HAS ORDERED A NEW TRANSMISSION TO REPLACE THIS FAILED ONE.

DRIVING ON FREEWAY CHECK ENGINE CAME ONLINE SUDDENLY. EYESIGHT TURNED OFF. CAR BECAME UNSTABLE, COULD NOT GO PAST 60 MPH. KIDS IN FREAKING OUT. VERY UNSAFE. TOOK TO DEALERSHIP. THEY COULD NOT FIGURE OUT.I DID ONLINE RESEARCH AND FOLLOWED THESE FORUMS HTTPS://WWW.ASCENTFORUMS.COM. APPARENTLY EARLY SUBARU MODELS HAD 2 BOLTS MISSING IN THE ENGINE AIRTIGHT COMPARTMENT. ATLEAST 2 OTHER PEOPLE HAVE COMPLAINED. I HAVE DRIVEN SO MANY MILES SUBARU AS NOT ISSUED A TSB AND A RECALL. I WAS PLANNING TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION AS THIS A UNSAFE THING TO DO. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LOOK INTO THIS. I HOPE YOU COULD ENSURE ACCOUNTABILITY AND HONESTY W/ SUBARU. I AM EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED. DID SUBARU DELIBERATELY HID THIS FROM CONSUMERS?

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

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