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2020 Outback Limited
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Just wondering if it is hard on the alternator constantly charging like that?
Short answer, no, not really.
Long answer: In the old days when cars had generators instead of alternators, generator brushes carried all the current that the generator was putting out. This caused wear on the brushes and the commutator proportional to the amount of current generated. So back then, yes, more wear with more current.

The brushes in an alternator don't carry the current that is produced. They carry a very small current that controls the amount of current that the alternator produces. Alternator brushes almost never wear out. There are electronics involved in an alternator, some of which convert the AC produced into DC that the car can use. But electronics are electronics, you get failures here and there, but in my opinion, normal operation won't hasten their demise. Now if you're pulling 200 amps continuously with a winch or something, things are going to start heating up, but not from just maintaining 14 volts on a battery.
 

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2020 Outback Premier XT (Canada)
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Short answer, no, not really.
Long answer: In the old days when cars had generators instead of alternators, generator brushes carried all the current that the generator was putting out. This caused wear on the brushes and the commutator proportional to the amount of current generated. So back then, yes, more wear with more current.

The brushes in an alternator don't carry the current that is produced. They carry a very small current that controls the amount of current that the alternator produces. Alternator brushes almost never wear out. There are electronics involved in an alternator, some of which convert the AC produced into DC that the car can use. But electronics are electronics, you get failures here and there, but in my opinion, normal operation won't hasten their demise. Now if you're pulling 200 amps continuously with a winch or something, things are going to start heating up, but not from just maintaining 14 volts on a battery.
Thank you for the information, makes me feel less uneasy. What do you guys think about the fact it is always charging
to 14.1, 14.2 and the 12.1 when everything is turned off?
 

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2020 Outback Limited
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What do you guys think about the fact it is always charging
to 14.1, 14.2 and the 12.1 when everything is turned off?
If you are getting your voltage readings from the main screen in Factory or Dealer mode, then your car acts exactly like my 2020 Limited 2.5.
14.1, 14.2 when running and 12.1 when in accessory mode, with lights off. My car charges all the time too. I have seen it drop down, while driving, to 13 something maybe once or twice.

All that being said, I have a calibrated meter hooked to the battery full time. In my car the Factory/Dealer mode voltage is 0.2 volts lower than actually measured at the battery, while charging and while in accessory mode.
My actual calibrated voltages are:
14.3, 14.4 while running and 12.3 stopped in accessory mode. After shutting off car and leaving it sit for an hour (or overnight) I can come back without my fob and look in the window (without opening a door or activating anything on the car) and see that the battery resting is 12.5 actual volts. There is still some parasitic draw by the resting vehicle, so a totally disconnected battery may read a tenth higher, I haven't checked that. But it's the totally disconnected voltages that are referenced when articles talk about State of Charge based on voltage readings.

So a true resting voltage of 12.5 (or maybe 12.6 disconnected) isn't perfect but it isn't totally shot either.

I have the 620 CCA battery. I don't know why it charges all the time, except that the battery may be marginal, but I haven't had any problems so far, knock on wood.
 

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2020 Outback Premier XT (Canada)
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If you are getting your voltage readings from the main screen in Factory or Dealer mode, then your car acts exactly like my 2020 Limited 2.5.
14.1, 14.2 when running and 12.1 when in accessory mode, with lights off. My car charges all the time too. I have seen it drop down, while driving, to 13 something maybe once or twice.

All that being said, I have a calibrated meter hooked to the battery full time. In my car the Factory/Dealer mode voltage is 0.2 volts lower than actually measured at the battery, while charging and while in accessory mode.
My actual calibrated voltages are:
14.3, 14.4 while running and 12.3 stopped in accessory mode. After shutting off car and leaving it sit for an hour (or overnight) I can come back without my fob and look in the window (without opening a door or activating anything on the car) and see that the battery resting is 12.5 actual volts. There is still some parasitic draw by the resting vehicle, so a totally disconnected battery may read a tenth higher, I haven't checked that. But it's the totally disconnected voltages that are referenced when articles talk about State of Charge based on voltage readings.

So a true resting voltage of 12.5 (or maybe 12.6 disconnected) isn't perfect but it isn't totally shot either.

I have the 620 CCA battery. I don't know why it charges all the time, except that the battery may be marginal, but I haven't had any problems so far, knock on wood.
Thank you for the information. Yes I am getting the reading from Factory mode. Sounds the same, but I have never seen it drop down while driving it is always 14.1 or 2
Always 12.1 when I turn it off. I am not terribly concerned at this point, but this is virtually a new battery. There was a nice post on another forum about a full charge
once a month, from a gent who works for a battery company, he says it will help the longevity of the battery.

here is what he says....

"
Hello, I am a new member of this group and professionally fascinated by battery problems people have with their vehicles, because I work for OPTIMA Batteries. As I dove into the threads on this board, I wanted to see what voltage levels people were measuring in their batteries when they were having issues. I had to go all the way back to a post from Roman Martynenko on March 8th, to find the first mention. That is not good.
Voltmeters are about $10 at most auto parts store and probably less at Harbor Freight. Being able to measure the voltage in your battery is a quick and easy way to understand how much electrical energy you have in your electrical fuel tank and I've included a voltage chart in this post for reference. I've noticed several folks mention they've replaced their OE batteries with OPTIMA batteries and we appreciate your business. I do want to point out that our REDTOP batteries are fully-charged at ~12.6-12.8V and our YELLOWTOP batteries are fully-charged at ~13.0-13.2V.
Whenever any battery is discharged below 12.4 volts and is left sitting in that state, sulfation begins forming in the plates, which diminishes battery capacity and lifespan.
Given all the electrical issues so many of you seem to be having, if you do decide to use our batteries, I would strongly recommend our YELLOWTOP battery and not the REDTOP. The YELLOWTOP has slightly lower cranking power, but more reserve capacity than the REDTOP. It is also designed to be deep-cycled repeatedly (DC) and the REDTOP is not (SLI).
I also noticed many of you have acquired jump boxes. Jump boxes and jumper cables are great for emergency situations and I own them myself. However, whenever I use them to help other people, I always explain, that I just gave them the electrical equivalent of a gallon of gas. If you ran out of gas on the side of the road and someone gave you a gallon, where would your next stop be? Probably the gas station.
You should treat a jump-started vehicle the same way and get your deeply-discharged battery on a battery charger as soon as possible. Your vehicle charging system is designed to maintain batteries near a full state of charge, not recharge deeply-discharged batteries. Relying on your vehicle charging system to recover a deeply-discharged battery will lead you to a cycle of dead (discharged) batteries and jump-starts, until either the battery fails (expensive) or the alternator fails (really expensive), especially if the alternator fails outside of warranty.
I can't speak for other battery brands or manufacturers, but our sales since about two weeks after lockdown have been bonkers. As it turns out, a lot of modern vehicles have high key-off loads or parasitic draws. If they sit unused for an extended period of time, they will deeply-discharge the battery. Even if they get driven occasionally, but only on short trips, the energy consumed during storage and starting may not be replaced during driving and the battery will eventually become deeply-discharged. Most of those batteries being replaced are just deeply-discharged and not dead, but most people don't think or know to try charging them first.
I work remotely and my wife's 2013 Flex only gets driven a few times a week. I run a battery charger on it overnight once a month, just to make sure the battery is staying topped off. I would recommend the same protocol for anyone else who owns any car built within the last 15-20 years, regardless of the battery you are using. It literally costs a few pennies to charge your battery overnight and could significantly extend the lifespan and save you a lot of money (and headaches) over the life of the battery.
We sell two chargers, one is more expensive, charges faster and has a few additional features over the other, but they both work great and also display your battery voltage. The smaller, less expensive charger works just fine for overnight charging. If you buy a charger from someone else, I encourage folks to look for chargers that are microprocessor-controlled and if you have an AGM battery, look for chargers with AGM-specific settings (not gel or gel/AGM settings). There are some bargain bin chargers out there that may not be properly-regulated and could damage your battery and/or vehicle, if left unattended, so you often do get what you pay for when it comes to chargers.
If you are using our batteries and/or chargers and have questions about them or other questions I may be able to answer, just tag me and I'll do my best to answer them. Thank you!







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2020 Onyx
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I agree with almost everything in that Optima guy's post except to note that the voltage ratings really depend on the exact chemistry of the battery - not all flooded batteries are the same and not all AGM batteries are the same, so if he's presenting information for Optima batteries, that's fine but those voltages representing state of charge can't be used with other batteries. In a generic rule of thumb sense, 12.6 or higher is fully charged, 12.3 is half charged, but every battery manufacturer may have a different state of charge chart for their exact battery chemistry, AND it depends on the temperature of the battery, AND the measurements are made with a disconnected battery, not one that's under even small parasitic loss. If the battery's positive and negative terminals are connected to the car there will be some parasitic drain.

There's also something called a surface charge that doesn't reflect the true state of charge of a battery.

I also don't think Optima batteries are as good as they used to be since they fired all their American workers, closed the American factories, and moved all production to Mexico. Where it's made doesn't determine how good a battery is, but accompanying that move there may have been other cost cutting measures that have made the batteries less reliable. Many posts of people very disappointed in recent vintage Optima batteries and the go-to brand for "best" battery is now Enersys, the maker of Odyssey & Northstar batteries, which just happen to be made in the USA.

I used to use Optima batteries decades ago but have switched to Enersys/Odyssey where I can. If I can't get an Odyssey my second choice is an AGM made by East Penn.

The best chargers are temperature compensated, and you want a minimum of around 5 amps so don't buy a 1 or 2 amp charger. My recommended charger is a CTEK MXS 5.0 but NOCO Genius5 is another popular smart temperature compensated battery charger - both are good for AGM batteries.

Another thing to consider beyond external charging is that some cars don't have the right charging algorithm for an AGM battery - they may chronically undercharge an AGM if the car was designed for a conventional flooded battery. Some european cars have settings where a dealership can select the car's charging algorithm to match a certain battery type. I do not think that Subarus have that feature. Some Toyotas in particular have been known to have issues with an AGM battery unless the Toyota's charging system has been modified to boost charge voltage. For the Gen 6 owner, because the car comes with an EFB battery, there is some odd discrepancy.

Battery manufacturers say that the charging algorithm for an EFB and AGM are the same, but Battery Charger manufacturers all say to use the flooded setting with an EFB battery. This discrepancy I think is because battery manufacturers are referring to the in-car charging algorithm, not the out-of-car external charging algorithm. If this is true, then a car designed to use an EFB battery should work well with an AGM battery.

Just recently EFB batteries are now available aftermarket as an alternative to AGM and @DanielAcosta has one. A company that I think makes EFB batteries sponsored a study that claims EFB is better than AGM. When to Choose EFB?

 

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20 Outback Premium; former 19 Outback Premium, 85 GL Wagon, 87 GL-10 Wagon
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I have the original Suburu battery 620CCA, and only 3528 km's. I have start stop disabled by the device. I drive with headlights on. Everything working ok. But I am wondering 1.5 hour drive at highway speeds, it is always charging at 4.1/4.2. After being stopped at the end of the trip shows 12.1. Just wondering if it is hard on the alternator constantly charging like that? and 12.1 at the end seems to low, headlight and radio off.
Thank you for the information, makes me feel less uneasy. What do you guys think about the fact it is always charging
to 14.1, 14.2 and the 12.1 when everything is turned off?
@SilverOnyx is correct, I'm running EFB's from Autozone in my 14 Sierra and 20 Outback. I used to think AGM's were best, but in my Sierra my AGM failed after sitting a couple weeks when the battery was only 6 months old. Since then Autozone stopped carrying AGM, at least for my truck, and now offers an EFB as their top battery choice. The store rep's opinion was that my older truck doesn't have the correct charging profile for an AGM. As an aside, AAA mobile battery repair only carries AGM's and traditional flooded batteries, no EFB's.

So far the EFB has been great in both vehicles. One of the criteria I use is how quickly does it fully charge based on the voltage reading in the dash. With a new flooded or AGM in my Sierra, they would return to fully charged (as indicated by the charging voltage dropping from 14 down to the 12.5-13.0V range) for about a month tops; after that they constantly charged at 14V no matter how long I drove until they failed. For the first several years that truck ate traditional flooded batteries every 18-24 months; the AGM lasted 6 months; the EFB it has now is only a few months old so the jury is still out, but it's returning to fully charged within 30 minutes of driving just like when it was new, something no battery before has ever done in my truck.

Based on my experience with the EFB in my truck, when my 20 Outback battery died I decided to try another EFB. My OEM 620CCA EFB lasted 20 months and 36,500 miles before it died. The voltage readings in factory mode were very similar to what @erocs posted. When the battery was newer, the charging voltage would drop from 14 down to the 12.0-12.5 range quite often. As the battery aged I saw something lower than 14 very infrequently, and also noticed that start-stop functioned a lot less. To Subaru's credit their system was smart enough to not engage start-stop if it felt the battery wasn't going to be strong enough to restart, so it never actually left me stranded, but the way the car started, either from a cold start, a restart after shopping, etc., or a restart from start-stop activation just sounded weaker than it should. We've all been there where you can just tell by the sound that your battery is getting weak.

I took the Outback to Autozone where their tester showed bad battery, but didn't really specify why. (When they replaced it they saw a slight bulge in the side of the case.) I called one of the local Subaru dealers who offers a lifetime battery replacement at any AutoNation dealer for a slightly inflated price, a good deal if you can get in for service. This was at 4 in the afternoon and they didn't even answer the phone, so I decided to just get the battery from Autozone based on the great results I already had with their EFB in my truck.

The Autozone EFB for the Outback is a little stronger (650 IIRC) than the 640CCA that Subaru uses to replace bad 620CCA OEM batteries. The biggest difference I've seen in the Outback is much more frequent drops in the charging voltage than when my 620 OEM battery was new, and the resting voltage while driving (12.7-13.1) is much higher than what the OEM battery ever gave (12.0-12.5).

So is the EFB from Autozone better than what Subaru uses as an OEM? Arguably yes, but I can't complain too much about the 620CCA OEM I started with because it lasted 20 months and 36,500 miles. Subaru reimbursed me for the cost of the battery from Autozone, and that battery has a 3 year no mileage limit guarantee, so I should be set with batteries on both vehicles for a little while.

My truck has a voltmeter, so I can see what it's doing all the time. I used to monitor the Outback's voltage a lot, but now only occasionally. I know many complain about how it doesn't charge all the time unless the lights are on (my Sierra is the same as the Outback: 14V all the time when the lights are on), so although my original battery died a little earlier than I would have liked, it wasn't too terribly bad so Subaru's charging algorithm is fine with me. It really does take advantage of what you're doing too minimize engine load, so 14.8V when decelerating is common, as is no charging during initial acceleration and then a gradual increase to 14V, or somewhere in the 12.5-13V range if the battery is fully charged and doesn't need anything.

So my advice to other 20+ Outback owners is to just drive the car and enjoy it. All batteries fail eventually, so when yours does just put in whatever you think is best and press on. I was impressed with how my car changed what is was doing when it detected the battery wasn't as strong as when it was new, and while I'm curious about what it would have done if I had delayed replacing the battery even longer, I'm not curious enough to risk getting stranded so I'm glad I replaced it when I did.

I do carry a lithium jump starter in both vehicles and highly recommend them. Don't put it in the back of your Outback if you have an electric hatch release, under the front seat is a better choice.
 

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2020 Outback Premier XT (Canada)
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Well to add to the confusion, lets add more types of batteries. I didn't even realize that there is such a thing as a start/stop battery.

battery info
 

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My wife had our 2021 Outback Touring XT (purchased in late April, 4000 miles) die on her at work today. She accidentally left the lights in the "on" position, but given that the lights appear to turn themselves off after a couple of minutes it seems surprising that only a few hours of small leakage would kill the battery. Both her work and our home parking are in garages without any service - is that somehow relevant?

The other strange thing that happened is that the car wouldn't turn off at all - e.g. she got into the car, tried to start it (ACC turned on) and then when the car didn't start, all lights were on on the dashboard and the car wouldn't turn off at all.

Jumping the car allowed her to get on her way. (Sadly we had not yet purchased a jumping battery... doh!)

Any thoughts, suggestions? Has either situation happened to others?
 

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2020 Onyx
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Which lights were left in the on position? If they are headlights yes they should not have continued to stay on until the battery dies, but the incandescent overhead rear cargo light, though dim, draws enough current to drain a battery and will not turn off automatically. It's so dim that people may not realize it's even on, especially with the privacy glass making it look dark in there.

There's a slight chance that without AT&T cell service in your area the car continues to look for a cell tower to establish StarLink connectivity. One forum member noticed that the starlink light under the Eyesight module would not shut off overnight, and the dealership fixed it.

The trying to start the car and all the lights were on and the car wouldn't turn off - was that the same time that the battery was dead, or was this a separate incident? Others have noticed a similar thing if after the engine doesn't start, they put the car in gear (reverse or drive).
 

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Which lights were left in the on position? If they are headlights yes they should not have continued to stay on until the battery dies, but the incandescent overhead rear cargo light, though dim, draws enough current to drain a battery and will not turn off automatically. It's so dim that people may not realize it's even on, especially with the privacy glass making it look dark in there.
It was the headlights, but it's conceivable that some other lights were somehow on. I don't think we've ever turned any of them to the "on" position though.

There's a slight chance that without AT&T cell service in your area the car continues to look for a cell tower to establish StarLink connectivity. One forum member noticed that the starlink light under the Eyesight module would not shut off overnight, and the dealership fixed it.
Well, the MySubaru app now says that there's a "problem" with Starlink, but I don't know if that's just because Starlink couldn't start the car when she was trying to do a remote start in case it wasn't a battery issue.

The trying to start the car and all the lights were on and the car wouldn't turn off - was that the same time that the battery was dead, or was this a separate incident? Others have noticed a similar thing if after the engine doesn't start, they put the car in gear (reverse or drive).
Yes, it was the same incident and that's exactly what happened. Bizarre behavior, but good to know it's an edge case bug (in my opinion) vs. something else wrong with the car.

EDIT: Actually, she thinks she didn't try to put the car in gear before trying to turn the car off the first time.

If it happens again, is this something that should be covered by the warranty? E.g. a battery issue?
 

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2020 Onyx
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Starlink remote start relies on AT&T Cell tower access so it won't work if there's no AT&T cell service in the area.

The cargo light switch is very easy to inadvertently move to the "ON" position merely by brushing against it when taking something out of the cargo area, or a dog getting out of the rear hatch. It's just way too easy to get turned on by mistake. I glued something to prevent it from moving to the ON position and another person put a screw in to stop it from moving that far.
 

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Starlink remote start relies on AT&T Cell tower access so it won't work if there's no AT&T cell service in the area.
We have service in the area, it's just that the garages block the signals. Point taken, however. It does seem that our "health status" has returned to green so it was probably that. (Car freaking out.)

The cargo light switch is very easy to inadvertently move to the "ON" position merely by brushing against it when taking something out of the cargo area, or a dog getting out of the rear hatch. It's just way too easy to get turned on by mistake. I glued something to prevent it from moving to the ON position and another person put a screw in to stop it from moving that far.
Hmm, it's possible. We'll find out tomorrow when she heads to work I guess.
 

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2020 Onyx
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It seems to me slightly dangerous for a parking garage to block cell signals - for whatever reason I have always found them to work with cell phones - don't know if the building puts in repeaters or it has some kind of waveguide to let signals in, but it's a little strange for it to block signals completely.

Then again most of us spent good many years with no cell phones at all - amazing how quickly we become dependent on technology and expect it to be always there.
 

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It seems to me slightly dangerous for a parking garage to block cell signals - for whatever reason I have always found them to work with cell phones - don't know if the building puts in repeaters or it has some kind of waveguide to let signals in, but it's a little strange for it to block signals completely.

Then again most of us spent good many years with no cell phones at all - amazing how quickly we become dependent on technology and expect it to be always there.
These are underground garages - agreed that it's strange that some garages in malls etc. have signal, so I'd assume the same thing about repeaters. Since we're in smaller buildings I suppose they just can't attract the cell companies (or don't want to pay for them).

I see your point about danger though. (And how quickly we've become reliant on phones!)
 

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Year & Model: 2021 Onyx XT
Add'l Accessories: Pedal Commander and AutoStop Eliminator.
Mfg Date: 2/21
Mileage: 2,203
Battery: 620 CCA
Headlights: Auto
Lights On: Only DRL
AC: On
Fan: 3 bars
Infotainment: Wireless Car Play On A Podcast
Distance Driven: 35 miles
Drive Type: Suburban Stop and Go.
Factory Mode Battery Voltage While Driving: 13.9, 14.0, to 14.1 (NOTE: Vast majority 14.0 and 14.1)
Factory Mode Voltage After Driving (Engine stopped but Podcast Playing): 12.6.
Well, an interesting change. At least another data point.

The car has 3,976 miles now. While driving this morning, same settings, etc., as before, my radar detector displayed 12.6 volts. The only way I could get it to display over 14 volts was to change the headlight switch from Auto to having the headlights on.
 

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2021 XT Touring Popular package #2 OEM Hitch
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I keep my lights in the on setting all the time. They turn off after the car is off at the set time..... but if your in the car with acc on they are on too. I just listened to the radio for 2 hours no battery issues..Did turn the lights to off during that time. .. i did have to cycle the power back on... The car would jump into battery save mode.
 

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These are underground garages - agreed that it's strange that some garages in malls etc. have signal, so I'd assume the same thing about repeaters. Since we're in smaller buildings I suppose they just can't attract the cell companies (or don't want to pay for them).

I see your point about danger though. (And how quickly we've become reliant on phones!)
You can buy your own cell repater. I tired one on the roof my house. But even its antenna would not pick up the tower miles away. Dont move rural lol i dont own more then an old flip phone for 911 calls on the highway. For miles where i live and drive its a brick even tired repeaters on a truck too. Its comical to watch non locals hunt for signal. Then ask if your phone works.
 

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2020 Outback Limited XT Black on Ivory
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My wife had our 2021 Outback Touring XT (purchased in late April, 4000 miles) die on her at work today. She accidentally left the lights in the "on" position, but given that the lights appear to turn themselves off after a couple of minutes it seems surprising that only a few hours of small leakage would kill the battery. Both her work and our home parking are in garages without any service - is that somehow relevant?

The other strange thing that happened is that the car wouldn't turn off at all - e.g. she got into the car, tried to start it (ACC turned on) and then when the car didn't start, all lights were on on the dashboard and the car wouldn't turn off at all.

Jumping the car allowed her to get on her way. (Sadly we had not yet purchased a jumping battery... doh!)

Any thoughts, suggestions? Has either situation happened to others?
I have a rant posted around here somewhere describing my situation but basically, I've had the car fail to start twice after only 20 min or so in ACC mode. The last time was on a new battery. When they do drain, there is no indication or warning until you start getting wonky reactions after an attempted start. IMHO, these cars will die faster in ACC mode than ANYTHING I've ever owned. ( and I've owned some Junkers!) Also MHO, but it makes any use beyond 10 min impractical and dangerous. My solution/ band aide was to purchase a (Hulkman A85) portable jump starter. ( kept under the seat because the tailgate freezes if the battery dies too. IF I keep the car, I will upgrade the battery as well. Meanwhile, This is not a car to take to the drive-in theater or allow your kids to play the radio while you run into a store. Subaru really dropped the ball on power management here. This 43 page thread wouldn't exist if they hadn't.
 

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2020 Outback Limited
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My 2020 Limited draws 5.8 Amps in accessory mode with the radio on and all doors closed. That goes up to 6 Amps if dome and both map lights are turned on (all LED). With a fully charged OEM battery that should last for over 100 hours.

I suspect most of these power problems are due to many of the OEM batteries being faulty.
 
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