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constantly dead battery, new 2016 Forester

maybesubie1maybesubie1 Posts: 30
edited July 2016 in Subaru
Hi everyone-
I am hoping the Subaru experts can help me out on this. It's not for me- my Forester is now well over 50,000 miles and going strong. It has only needed routine maintenance and I have been very happy with it.

The problem is my wife's aunt's Forester. She bought it new just a couple of months ago. Apparently she seldom drives, and when she does it is usually for only a few miles. So the car will sit for several days or a week without being driven. When she goes to start it, it won't turn over. AAA has come out more than once, jumps it to get it going, and tells her she needs a new battery. She has taken it to two Subaru dealerships and both have told her the battery is fine but she needs to drive the car more- all the electronics drain the battery even when it just sits. They say either drive it more or put it on a trickle charger.

I haven't seen this car, but it sounds like it is loaded with electronics- just about everything you can put on a Subie. Apparently it has a smallish battery and there is no option for a larger battery.

Does it sound legitimate that a new car would be having these kinds of problems? The battery in my Forester went over 5 years before I needed to replace it, and I certainly would not have been concerned about a dead battery if I let it sit for a week. To me it seems like any car with a new battery should crank just fine, even if it doesn't get driven for a few weeks. If the battery is fine like the dealership says, would it really drain that fast? Any ideas?

Comments

  • steverstever Posts: 52,457
    It's not unheard of and it's not just limited to Subarus.
  • dcm61dcm61 Posts: 1,567
    My 2015 Forester 2.5i Touring has sat for 15 days several times and has started without issue.

    But when it's not sitting, it is usually driven for 60 miles each weekday.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    Somebody needs to do a parasitic drain test on the vehicle. Perhaps some module is not going to sleep as it should, or something is being left on, or ??? Testing might provide the answer here. If an unacceptable level of drain is detected (I'd guess say more than 50 mA) then the car should be hooked up to a professional scan tool (with a professional technician behind it) to trace what's causing the drain. Might be tricky to track down in terms of being time consuming, hence dealer's reluctance to dive into it.
  • Thanks all. She says nothing has been left on, but of course it is hard to say that for sure. It sounds like the dealership is trying to take the easy way out on this, which probably isn't surprising. Like it or not, I think they are going to have to dedicate the time to going beyond testing the battery. So a drain test and any other diagnostics. Hopefully we can figure out a reasonable solution.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,417
    What it really sounds like is the dealership is right on the money and the normal draw from the onboard modules is pulling the battery down, on top of the fact that when she does start it up and drive it she isn't running it long enough to help recharge the battery.
  • ursusursus Posts: 128
    This is what happened to my used Volvo 850 a long time ago. I had not driven it for 5-7 days in a row and the battery would just die. Dealer told me all kinds of stories - like my car key would drain it somehow. They tested the battery twice and did not find anything. Only on the third try they found that the light in the glove compartment stayed on because previous owner apparently spilled something sticky there.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    If it isn't tested, then the dealer doesn't actually know (yet) whether it's normal or not.
  • Agreed- trying to get dealership to do the proper testing. Probably not a lot in it for them, but something they should be expected to do as a Subaru dealership.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,417
    edited July 2016

    Agreed- trying to get dealership to do the proper testing. Probably not a lot in it for them, but something they should be expected to do as a Subaru dealership.

    Typical flat rate approach since this has already been looked at once is not only is there nothing in it for them it also means the technician assigned to the car will NOT be paid to investigate it. If they find something wrong, or simply throw a part at it the tech could get paid for that but at the end of the day the tech loses for being involved and trying. This is where the (usually broken) promise of "well get you (the tech) some gravy work to make up the time comes into the picture.

  • Sorry for the delay in giving an update on this- but I want to let people know how this turned out. After getting some pressure from the car broker who arranged the sale, the dealership agreed to install a new battery, even though they had told her the original one was fine. It sounds like it was a bigger battery, which is a little strange because she was originally told nothing bigger would fit.

    Since the new battery was installed she has not had any problems. I am glad she isn't having problems, but I'm not sure what to think about that solution. If the problem is some kind of parasitic drain, it seems like even a bigger battery will discharge when the car is sitting- it will just take a few more days before it won't crank.

    Anyway, that's where things stand.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,482
    So they STILL didn't do a parasitic drain test? Well, as you say, you'll know in a few days if they guessed right or not.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 5,417
    Who guessed? Sounds like the dealer was pressured into swapping the battery by the broker.
  • So, I have a 2016 Forester and I am experiencing the same issue. Car was totally dead about 6 weeks ago and they replaced the battery at the dealer. 6 weeks later, the car is dead again and they have no answer except to recharge the battery. This is a huge problem and I have no idea what to do. I've contacted my sales agent who is going to try and connect me to a Subaru specialist (mechanic) to investigate.
  • I also have a 2016 Forester and I am having the same problem with my new car. I have had the battery replaced twice by the new car dealer. They say they test my car and can find no problem. My new car is unreliable. As I am writing this my car is at the dealership now.
  • I have been considering adding a dash cam and using the 'parking garage' feature to take surveillance pictures at night due to some break-ins in our neighborhood. But now that I hear about the battery issue, I'm not so sure I want to add the load to the battery...
  • My 2015 Forester has the same problem. Had car since April 2014, currently has 14,500 miles, and I've been back to the dealership many times. I was told that I have to drive the car more because with all the electronics in the car the battery just dies! Replaced battery twice. First battery was defective but the second one always tested ok but I had to call Sub. roadside many times to get car jumped. In January 2017 they replaced the starter and within 6 weeks we were back to the car not starting. One tech said if it's an electrical problem and no codes are found, it would be impractical to find the problem; too time consuming. Car is at dealership now and they "went across the street to PepBoys and purchased a larger battery to see if that helps. They are keeping the car to see if after 3 or 4 days of sitting, if it will start. Never was told that I had to drive car continuously so that battery would keep charge! The Subaru road assistance gentleman informed me that the day before he had to jump 15 Foresters. (Had a snow storm that Monday and most of the cars were last driven over the weekend so they sat for 2 or 3 days.)

    I had a 2002 Forester that would sit in the garage sometimes for two weeks at a time and never had a problem with the battery depleting. My friends do not drive on a daily basis and their cars start up ok. Very disappointed in Subaru's handling of this problem. Their solution is for me to trade in my 2015and purchase a 2017 Forester which will cost more out-of-pocket money. What guarantee would I have that the 2017's don't have the same battery problem? I am retired and do not want to extend my car payments another two years. If the dealer does not come up with an acceptable offer, I will be contacting the State Attorney's Office to see what recourse I have.

    GOOD LUCK TO ALL. Hope your issues will be resolved to your satisfaction quicker than mine.
    .
  • Hi all,
    I just completed an analysis of my 2016 Forester, wanted to share my findings and this looked to be as good a place as any to do so.
    When I initially hooked up the amp meter, I found it took roughly a minute for the computers to go to sleep, and current draw stepped its way down from about 300ma to a baseline of about 41ma.
    I say baseline, as there were frequent deviations up to 58 or 60ma, and occasional blips up to 70, 80, even 85ma.
    I set my meter on max hold and waited for a big one, like I was catfishing. While all the erratic change in load was disturbing, I wasn't convinced it was enough to drain the battery in just a few days, as experienced last winter.
    Eventually, I got a bite- 120ma on my max hold, but I had no idea how long the duration was, so back to max hold.
    Long story short, a pattern develops of these higher level draws once an hour. I assume this is the OnStar or whatever it's called, checking in with the mothership.

    I then proceed pulling fuses to see who the contributors are.
    In the panel under the hood, pulling the "1G KEY" 40A fuse (note the cover diagram depicts this as a 60A glow plug fuse for diesel models, then mentions the 40A for non_diesels) drops current draw down to a steady 9ma.
    Further investigation shows this fuse to be the stock security system and the remote start that the dealer had installed by a 3rd party when I bought it. Deactivating the security system calmed some of the deviations, but baseline was still unchanged.

    Unfortunately, it is configured such that the vehicle will not start (remotely or with the key) if this fuse is out.
    I now have enough info that I'm ready to go see the dealership, but I'm pretty sure they will say there's nothing they can do other than uninstall as that's normal draw for the auto-start.
    I'm pretty sure it's true too, as I reduced draw on my 2009 Civic from 50ma to 7ma by pulling the fuse on the aftermarket auto-start. Luckily it wasn't wired to also disable my vehicle when it loses power!

    Starting to think my solution is a battery tender to compensate for the draw. If the car will sit for more than a few days where I can't plug it in, like at the airport,  I'll just pull the fuse when I park.

    My opinion of auto-start is pretty low at this point. Doesn't do much good if it kills the battery waiting to start your car.

    I'm not totally convinced yet this is all of my problem either. I do drive short distances, so state of charge is likely not well maintained, but I still have a hard time seeing how an average

  • of about 45ma could drain my batt in just a few days.
    I will be doing more testing this winter if I have an opportunity to let it sit for a few days when the temps go south.
  • pssssstpssssst Posts: 1
    Hi All. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, etc. I bought a battery tender from HomeDepot for $70.00 upon advice from AAA after running into battery issue and it works great! We hardly drive the car, (maybe 1-2x a month) and it's garage-kept. Two weeks ago (2016 Outback) I didn't realize the middle ceiling light (where rear passengers sit) was left on by somebody (probably a month) as it was very faint and, like many people said, the onboard electrical systems do have parasitic drain. The battery tender took 36 hours to fully charge it two weeks ago, but last week it stayed fully charged and this week about 5 hours to fully charge (go figure?) but it was somewhere between 0%-80% when we started (based on colors of amber and green lights and blinking pattern.). Also ran into windows on passenger-side not operable from driver-side controls. A subaru dealer had said something about when the electrical system is drained the system could manifest odd behavior like this. I can't remember right now, but there is a way to 'fix' the window issue by holding something for 10-30 seconds as a 'reset'.
  • dcm61dcm61 Posts: 1,567
    pssssst said:

    I can't remember right now, but there is a way to 'fix' the window issue by holding something for 10-30 seconds as a 'reset'.

    Page 2-37 in the 2016 Outback owner's manual.

    Initialization of power window

    If the vehicle’s battery is disconnected due
    to situations such as battery or fuse
    replacement, the following functions are
    deactivated.
    . One-touch auto up/down function
    . Anti-entrapment function (driver’s and
    front passenger’s windows)
    Initialize the power window in the following
    procedure to reactivate such functions.
    1. Close the driver’s door.
    2. Turn the ignition switch to the “ON”
    position.
    3. Open the driver’s side window halfway
    by pushing down the power window
    switch.
    4. Pull up the power window switch and
    close the window completely. Continue
    pulling up the switch for approximately 1
    second after the window is closed completely.
    If the front passenger’s window is
    equipped with the auto-up/down function,
    it is necessary to repeat the same
    initialization procedure on that window
    switch.

  • Hopefully people that are dealing with this problem are bringing it to the attention of the dealership; encourage them to really find a solution to this problem. There are lots of cars that have remote starts but don't seem to have this problem.
  • lisa633lisa633 Posts: 1
    I am currently at the dealer with the same problem. I have the base model so not a ton of electronics except blue tooth and standard radio.. I will post when I hear what they say.
    I left the car sit for two days which I have done before. The excuse I've read to drive more is nuts. Subaru should fix this issue or alert consumers before they buy it. My car turned two a week ago, I had bought it new. 2 years seems crazy to me
    or a battery to die in a brand new car.
    If they don't fix this issue this maybe a class action case or at least a call to the FTC and BBb.. Hopefully they just fix the issue.. I like my car and was planning on another in the future.
  • dcm61dcm61 Posts: 1,567
    dcm61 said:

    My 2015 Forester 2.5i Touring has sat for 15 days several times and has started without issue.

    But when it's not sitting, it is usually driven for 60 miles each weekday.

    Another data point at 3 years, 3 months and 42,xxx miles. Sat from 8/18 to 9/8 (21 days). Started this afternoon without issue.

  • I'm dealing with the same issue/symptoms with my in-laws 2016 Outback SUV. They're retired and don't drive very often and after a few days of sitting in the garage, battery is dead and requires a jump. We've contacted the dealer and Subaru corporate, same response....'need to drive the more frequently to charge battery. For now I have them connecting a battery tender, but that doesn't work at the airport long-term parking (another story).

    I'm considering adding a Lemon shaped banner 'Subaru Battery Tender' with a solar panel to the roof.

    In my opinion, this is an electrical design flaw and probably could be resolved by modifying the on-board management by turning off more 'parasite drain' components.

    I suggest new buyers research their states Lemon Laws for action.

    Colorado Lemon Law: https://colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/DR%202440.pdf

  • Greetings from one that owns a Forester 2016 and has the same problem described above with dead battery after a few days of not using the car. Bought the car new and have had battery issues three times in two years. The first time I thought my wife had left some of the electronics on and that drained the battery. That is what the dealer told me. The second time it happened, the dealer told me I had a bad battery and the dealer  replaced the battery. The third and last one is right now: we went overseas for one week. Went to the airport in a 2005 Mercedes SUV to pick it up and drive home on our return. My son and his girlfriend came with us and left their 2014 Prius in our driveway in the same area our 2017 Forester was parked. On our return home, we drove back on the Mercedes that started immediately as the Prius when my son and girlfriend left. On my return home the Forester’s battery was dead. Called Subaru dealer service man. He did not acknowledge the issue and suggested calling Subaru Roadside Assitance. Help was sent after 90 minutes and jumped up the car. Drove the car for about an hour without problems. This morning the car started OK and was left on the driveway. Tonight wanted to drive the Forester to a New Year’s party and the car does not start. Google the issue and found I am not alone bailing out this inconvenience with Forester’s dead batteries. Subaru needs to acknowledge the problem and redeem those who bought the cars fixing the problem or other alternative solutions such as giving great discounts in buying newer models without the same electrical problems. 
  • Me too! 2016 Subaru Forester, battery dies very quickly if key is in the ignition but I have my radio on, or hazards, or anything else. Then I have to get a jump start. Battery itself has been tested. Someone said it might be the alternator. I found this info online: The most common causes of parasitic drain are under hood lights, trunk lights, headlights or glove box lights that do not turn off when the door is closed. Relay switches that are stuck in the “on” position can also cause a battery to drain. ... Alternators with bad diodes can cause battery drain. Feb 18, 2015
  • jillie75jillie75 Posts: 1
    I have a Subaru 2016 Forestr 2.5i with many bells and whistles. I am the original owner. My battery has had is first dead event today. My local mexhanic said to charge it overnight. I am curious if the garage door opener could be what is draining it. I am currently away from my dealer for service. I am trying to put what electronics I can on manual. Maybe that will help. He battery tester went to 275 after a brief charge.
  • flypatchflypatch Posts: 3
    Hey Jillie75,

    You can read many scenarios and theories in this post where other owners are experiencing similar symptoms. IMHO, I believe its a Subaru electrical slow-drain design flaw, too many devices staying in standby mode Vs sleep. The best solutions I came up with is to connect a permanent battery tender with quick connect. Attach the quick connect to battery and run it out the front hood or grill. When the car is not in operation and I know it will sit longer than 2 days, I connect the tender.

    Another consume protection option is to research your states 'Lemon Law' and take action. Otherwise the dealer is going to keep sending you on rock fetches.

    Good luck!
  • StevemanSteveman AlaskaPosts: 1
    Same ** issue but its dead after being off a few hours at various times**. I have a 2016 Forester. So, something major is being left on, could it be my 82 year old mother not seeing a light left on or seems like the headlights are left on, unable to auto shut off, if its even supposed to do that? But now this happened to me, parked in the garage at night to have it be dead in the morning. No big deal to me as I have a nice battery jumper that I carry. But its a real hassle for Mom! And now that this has happened some 4 times, I'm searching the forums. I will call the dealer to see what's up. I might run a + and - wire to the dash and connect a meter to see the voltage at various times, while running, driving, when turned off and when getting into it after a few hours or a few days. I will try and pass on what I learn. As you know draining a battery is very bad to the battery. Generally, they should never be drained below some 75 to 80%, I think.
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