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I've done a fair amount of reading of threads here discussing the issues with Subaru batteries. However, I have not found one yet that matches the problem I experienced. My wife and I bought a 2017 Outback for her, our first new car, unfortunately we have not been impressed.

Sunday she went to run errands and quickly came back in the house to tell me that the car was dead. I went and tried to start it, and it did not have enough battery life left to even click, attempting to start. The dash lights would come on, but that was it. It has sat more often due to Covid, and her working from home, but does get driven every week or so.

When I popped the hood to jump start the car, this is what I found.
501605

501606


I am headed to the parts store to have the battery tested and will likely buy a replacement, regardless of the results of the test. I have seen a little corrosion before, but never anything like this. What concerns me is that there is a larger issue here than just the battery. I read in one of the threads that the Subaru's have a battery temperature sensor that helps determine how much charge to apply to the battery? I think this is more likely a symptom to a larger problem.

I am also shocked at the amount of debris that is in the engine compartment. There are leaves and debris everywhere. For the ridiculous amount of plastic they have covering every inch of access I really would have thought it would be cleaner!
 

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I've done a fair amount of reading of threads here discussing the issues with Subaru batteries. However, I have not found one yet that matches the problem I experienced. My wife and I bought a 2017 Outback for her, our first new car, unfortunately we have not been impressed.

Sunday she went to run errands and quickly came back in the house to tell me that the car was dead. I went and tried to start it, and it did not have enough battery life left to even click, attempting to start. The dash lights would come on, but that was it. It has sat more often due to Covid, and her working from home, but does get driven every week or so.

When I popped the hood to jump start the car, this is what I found.
View attachment 501605
View attachment 501606

I am headed to the parts store to have the battery tested and will likely buy a replacement, regardless of the results of the test. I have seen a little corrosion before, but never anything like this. What concerns me is that there is a larger issue here than just the battery. I read in one of the threads that the Subaru's have a battery temperature sensor that helps determine how much charge to apply to the battery? I think this is more likely a symptom to a larger problem.

I am also shocked at the amount of debris that is in the engine compartment. There are leaves and debris everywhere. For the ridiculous amount of plastic they have covering every inch of access I really would have thought it would be cleaner!
Looks like you seldom raise the hood of your outback and check items. Otherwise, you would have noticed all that corrosion and debris. IMO, that amount of corrosion indicates that it was there for quite a while. Even so, I would have your charging system checked.
 

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I've done a fair amount of reading of threads here discussing the issues with Subaru batteries. However, I have not found one yet that matches the problem I experienced. My wife and I bought a 2017 Outback for her, our first new car, unfortunately we have not been impressed.

Sunday she went to run errands and quickly came back in the house to tell me that the car was dead. I went and tried to start it, and it did not have enough battery life left to even click, attempting to start. The dash lights would come on, but that was it. It has sat more often due to Covid, and her working from home, but does get driven every week or so.

When I popped the hood to jump start the car, this is what I found.
View attachment 501605
View attachment 501606

I am headed to the parts store to have the battery tested and will likely buy a replacement, regardless of the results of the test. I have seen a little corrosion before, but never anything like this. What concerns me is that there is a larger issue here than just the battery. I read in one of the threads that the Subaru's have a battery temperature sensor that helps determine how much charge to apply to the battery? I think this is more likely a symptom to a larger problem.

I am also shocked at the amount of debris that is in the engine compartment. There are leaves and debris everywhere. For the ridiculous amount of plastic they have covering every inch of access I really would have thought it would be cleaner!
I have a 2017 also and had similar corrosion around the battery clamp but not the post as you have. I chalked it up to off gassing. When I replaced the original battery after 3-1/2 years I took a wire brush to the clamp to remove all rust and corrosion and repainted it. The battery clamp should be snug enough to keep the battery from moving but not cranked down to the point of causing any cracking in the case. Regarding the debris - I too have noticed that the Outback collects more debris in the engine bay then any previous car that I've owned. Not quite sure why this is but I just do a general cleanup every 2-3 weeks when I check my oil and other fluids so it really doesn't become much of a problem. So, my advice is replace the battery (I prefer a group 24 for higher reserve capacity but other opinions differ), clean and repaint the battery clamp, clean out the engine bay every few weeks, keep an eye on the new battery to see if the problem returns and enjoy driving the car.
 

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If you had the time to search through the Gen 5 battery sticky thread (top of first page), I suspect you'd find that it's not all that unusual for the stock batteries to leak, in some cases causing pretty extensive corrosion. Always good to check the alternator but, IMO, it's probably just a leaky battery that should be replaced. And, after cleaning most of that gunk away, be sure to rinse everything with some water mixed with baking soda in case there's any acid residue. There is a charging system sensor on the negative cable which I believe monitors both the temperature and electrical condition of the battery. I haven't read of many problems with it, but it's apparently somewhat fragile, so always a possibility.
 

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Might want to pop the hood a little more often:)

Paying a bit more for an AGM (sealed) battery will prevent this from happening again.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
 

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I've done a fair amount of reading of threads here discussing the issues with Subaru batteries. However, I have not found one yet that matches the problem I experienced. My wife and I bought a 2017 Outback for her, our first new car, unfortunately we have not been impressed.

Sunday she went to run errands and quickly came back in the house to tell me that the car was dead. I went and tried to start it, and it did not have enough battery life left to even click, attempting to start. The dash lights would come on, but that was it. It has sat more often due to Covid, and her working from home, but does get driven every week or so.

When I popped the hood to jump start the car, this is what I found.
View attachment 501605
View attachment 501606

I am headed to the parts store to have the battery tested and will likely buy a replacement, regardless of the results of the test. I have seen a little corrosion before, but never anything like this. What concerns me is that there is a larger issue here than just the battery. I read in one of the threads that the Subaru's have a battery temperature sensor that helps determine how much charge to apply to the battery? I think this is more likely a symptom to a larger problem.

I am also shocked at the amount of debris that is in the engine compartment. There are leaves and debris everywhere. For the ridiculous amount of plastic they have covering every inch of access I really would have thought it would be cleaner!
the hood isn't water or air tight. I find it's worse than a lot of vehicles I've owned... there are large gaps above the headlights with no gasket, so air... water... leaves... dirt... all comes in right over the headlights. There was a thread where someone was looking at weatherstripping on top of the headlights to help stop this. If you want to see how much stuff gets in there - take a rag, stuff it down near the battery so it stays put... like you would to keep a rag in there to check the oil.... after driving in the rain, check that rag. It'll be soaked. Also at the cowl - there is a gap there stuff can get in, but a lot comes from that gap above the headlight.

What I'll do at every fill up - open the hood, I always check the oil, coolant, brake fluid level, and washer fluid level. Also from habit is quick visual inspection of things like the battery, any fan belts, and whatever else might not look normal.

wiping down the top of the battery to remove any dirt and gunk and any residue from the battery vents - that stuff will build up over time on top of the battery and create a connecting between the postive terminal and a ground - the closest one is the hold down clamp.

Subaru recommends a solution of baking soda and water, or a rag dampened with ammonia to wipe down the top of the battery to remove dirt that accumulates, and then wipe clean with a damp cloth... for buildup like that, they'll recommend an acid neutralizer or baking soda/water to clean the clamps, cables and ends.

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Also - that would be classified by subaru as lack of maintenance (cleaning) so that would not qualify for a battery replacement under warranty. Gotta check under the hood more often.

TSB 07-186-20 "Battery Leaks- Visual Guidelines to Assist with Determining Warranty Coverage " is attached (where the picture above came from)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Looks like you seldom raise the hood of your outback and check items. Otherwise, you would have noticed all that corrosion and debris. IMO, that amount of corrosion indicates that it was there for quite a while. Even so, I would have your charging system checked.
That’s correct, since this was a new car and under warranty all service and maintenance has been done by Subaru. If there was any corrosion or issues, they made no mention of it last service visit.

The warranty ended in November, I think we timed out before we hit mileage.

In a way I am glad for it. I was not impressed by the service department when issues arose.

I have a 2017 also and had similar corrosion around the battery clamp but not the post as you have. I chalked it up to off gassing. When I replaced the original battery after 3-1/2 years I took a wire brush to the clamp to remove all rust and corrosion and repainted it. The battery clamp should be snug enough to keep the battery from moving but not cranked down to the point of causing any cracking in the case. Regarding the debris - I too have noticed that the Outback collects more debris in the engine bay then any previous car that I've owned. Not quite sure why this is but I just do a general cleanup every 2-3 weeks when I check my oil and other fluids so it really doesn't become much of a problem. So, my advice is replace the battery (I prefer a group 24 for higher reserve capacity but other opinions differ), clean and repaint the battery clamp, clean out the engine bay every few weeks, keep an eye on the new battery to see if the problem returns and enjoy driving the car.
I put a new battery in and gave everything a bath of warm water and baking soda.
I’m woefully ignorant of the over complicated systems in most vehicles today, but shouldn’t the battery temperature sensor used to regulate the alternator reduce/prevent off gassing?

Needing to clean your battery and terminals on a regular basis seems a step backwards to me in regards to service/durability, not a step forwards. Is this the norm for Subaru’s?
 

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That’s correct, since this was a new car and under warranty all service and maintenance has been done by Subaru. If there was any corrosion or issues, they made no mention of it last service visit.

The warranty ended in November, I think we timed out before we hit mileage.

In a way I am glad for it. I was not impressed by the service department when issues arose.



I put a new battery in and gave everything a bath of warm water and baking soda.
I’m woefully ignorant of the over complicated systems in most vehicles today, but shouldn’t the battery temperature sensor used to regulate the alternator reduce/prevent off gassing?

Needing to clean your battery and terminals on a regular basis seems a step backwards to me in regards to service/durability, not a step forwards. Is this the norm for Subaru’s?
Any vehicle with a non sealed battery will vent and will cause corrosion if not kept clean.

It is a regular maint item just like checking the oil.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Any vehicle with a non sealed battery will vent and will cause corrosion if not kept clean.

It is a regular maint item just like checking the oil.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
I guess I have been doing it wrong. With the nearly dozen vehicles I have owned and more than dozen pieces of equipment I have owned over the years, never has one of them done anything like this. Never have they needed "regular maintenance" of the battery terminals.

We bought the Subaru for my wife because we were told they required little to no regular maintenance, that's by the dealership mind you. Bring it in every 6k, they do a full inspection, and you are on your way.

Also - that would be classified by subaru as lack of maintenance (cleaning) so that would not qualify for a battery replacement under warranty. Gotta check under the hood more often.

TSB 07-186-20 "Battery Leaks- Visual Guidelines to Assist with Determining Warranty Coverage " is attached (where the picture above came from)
When the car is in for service Subaru would inspect and check this correct?

The car warranty expired in November (3yrs), so it wouldn't have been covered anyway. The car was serviced by them shortly before the warranty expired. Somehow I doubt the once a week driving this magically cropped up in the last 2 months.

Do you guys have a maintenance schedule here on the sight you recommend? Clearly what you guys are recommending does not match up with the dealership, which is extremely disheartening. We bought Subaru because of their advertisement of quality. With the problems we have already experienced and the parts replaced (and not replaced) by the dealership this does not seem to be the case.

Checking the oil every 2 weeks would be... every 50 miles? Maybe every 100? Is that really necessary with these cars? For you guys that put a lot of miles on your car, are you checking the oil every day? I check the oil and fluids in my truck about every 2 weeks, but that is 500 to 1000 miles? I read a few horror stories about how bad these engines are with oil consumption but that seems excessive?

I'm no stranger to maintenance, my previous car I sold with 390k, and my previous truck I sold with 375k. I run machinery on a weekly basis that is over 100 years old. I get it, but one of the reasons we bought this car was to REDUCE maintenance, not increase it.
 

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My guess is that the battery is toast. So before attaching another battery, clean the connections from the car as well as you possibly can. They sell a brush/tool for that (~$5), the same tool can be used to clean the posts on the battery itself too. Next buy some battery terminal protectors; they are red and green foam rings (~$3). Put these on the battery posts first, then connect the wires.
I always do this on all cars and have never had a battery look like that afterwards. Also extends the life of the battery by years.
 

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I guess I have been doing it wrong. With the nearly dozen vehicles I have owned and more than dozen pieces of equipment I have owned over the years, never has one of them done anything like this. Never have they needed "regular maintenance" of the battery terminals.

We bought the Subaru for my wife because we were told they required little to no regular maintenance, that's by the dealership mind you. Bring it in every 6k, they do a full inspection, and you are on your way.



When the car is in for service Subaru would inspect and check this correct?

The car warranty expired in November (3yrs), so it wouldn't have been covered anyway. The car was serviced by them shortly before the warranty expired. Somehow I doubt the once a week driving this magically cropped up in the last 2 months.

Do you guys have a maintenance schedule here on the sight you recommend? Clearly what you guys are recommending does not match up with the dealership, which is extremely disheartening. We bought Subaru because of their advertisement of quality. With the problems we have already experienced and the parts replaced (and not replaced) by the dealership this does not seem to be the case.

Checking the oil every 2 weeks would be... every 50 miles? Maybe every 100? Is that really necessary with these cars? For you guys that put a lot of miles on your car, are you checking the oil every day? I check the oil and fluids in my truck about every 2 weeks, but that is 500 to 1000 miles? I read a few horror stories about how bad these engines are with oil consumption but that seems excessive?

I'm no stranger to maintenance, my previous car I sold with 390k, and my previous truck I sold with 375k. I run machinery on a weekly basis that is over 100 years old. I get it, but one of the reasons we bought this car was to REDUCE maintenance, not increase it.
At least with my dealer, I don't put too much stock in their "free vehicle inspection" at every oil change. Here is their inspection list; if they truly followed this the inspection alone would take 30 minutes (maybe more to do a thorough job) so you know that most don't do anything beyond perhaps glancing around while they are doing the oil change. Maybe other dealers are different . As with you, the dealer never said a word about the corrosion around the battery on my car. FWIW, I don't take my car to the dealer for general maintenance anymore but do it myself (and use their checklist as a guide during my servicing). I don't do any more maintenance on my Outback then I did for other vehicles; just keep an eye on things to catch anything that might be going wrong before it becomes a big problem, change the fluids as approriate, lube moving parts occassionally, wash/wax and clean the interior good a couple times a year, and enjoy driving the car.
 

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Pretty sure I've never seen Subaru claim their vehicles require "less maintenance" than others, and I'll never blindly accept anything that comes out of a salesman's mouth, but my Subarus have been reliable (at least in terms of never leaving me stranded). The service requirements have been essentially the same as all of my current and prior vehicles. Batteries fail for a variety of reasons, and I've had them leak in other makes, so perhaps you've just been lucky. A quick look under the hood every 1k miles, or at least a few times a year, is probably prudent for any vehicle. But for a vehicle that's only driven 20 miles a week, I'd also consider a battery tender and/or an AGM replacement.

I understand the frustration, but a junky OE battery should not be cause for alarm these days (very common) - just get a quality aftermarket replacement. Most auto parts stores will install one for free, although I'd also encourage embracing a little basic DIY maintenance since, as you've found, the quality of service you receive is often a big unknown. After one too many bad experiences, I'm a convert, but I understand it's not for everybody.
 

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I had the beginning of such corrosion, but I caught it before it got out of hand. I cleaned exposed metal with a solution of baking soda and water. Then before reattaching the leads, I bathed exposed metal with silicon grease. For over a year, the battery terminals have been spotless.

By the way, the original post is an example of why I do my own maintenance. I actually enjoy the maintenance process, learn about things, and have a better idea of what the sources of problems are. I cannot imagine any shop has the time or motivation to do a better job.
 

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Do you guys have a maintenance schedule here on the sight you recommend?
The attached schedule is what I use. I think I pulled that from the service manual. My 2002 Ford Escape and my 2018 Outback require about the same amount of maintenance, which is not much. Consistency is the key. I follow the "severe conditions" schedule indicated in the notes.
 

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I'm trying not to sound harsh here but If you made the very large purchase of a vehicle based heavily on what the salesman stated who is selling the vehicle, well, I'm sure you can see the issue with that.

I also think you have a whole lot more trust in the xx point inspection they do. It likely isn't being done unless they see something that can turn into selling another service.

Time is money for the dealers/techs and their wages are all based on that. The best inspection is one that you do yourself.

Subaru's can be reliable but my experience has been that they are more finicky over maintenance checks. Toyota likely would have been a better bet for you. Even then, I have bought used Toyota's with corroded battery terminals (albeit not as bad as yours).

As others stated all batteries need to be cleaned or risk this issue, some worse than others.

You have two options, maintain/check your vehicle more often yourself. Or purchase a more expensive AGM battery where this is less likely to happen.

Your new battery will likely be less leaky but will still need maintenance.
 

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I follow the "severe conditions" schedule indicated in the notes.
Do you really replace the fuel lines and brake lines every 6 months or 6,000 miles? Does anybody? :)
 
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Do you really replace the fuel lines and brake lines every 6 months or 6,000 miles? Does anybody?
You caught me. I am somewhere between normal maintenance and severe. It is like I do fluids and filters more often than normal. I do a lot of city driving and short trips, not a lot of offroading or racing. I still fall in the severe category, but items like brakes will not be in severe conditions for me.
 

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Do you really replace the fuel lines and brake lines every 6 months or 6,000 miles? Does anybody?
Is there any service schedule by Subaru that suggests they should be replaced at those intervals? Or any interval? I've seen it listed to inspect but not to replace.
 

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It is like I do fluids and filters more often than normal. I do a lot of city driving and short trips, not a lot of offroading or racing.
Seems rational to me. The maintenance schedule published by Subaru provides primary guidance, but one doesn't have to follow it slavishly.
 

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Is there any service schedule by Subaru that suggests they should be replaced at those intervals?
Yes, "When the vehicle is used under severe conditions ...." Refer to Note 6 in the excerpt from the FSM posted above by jakemccoy.
 
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