Subaru Vehicles Surge Forward When Trying to Shift into Park

TL;DR

An increasing number of Subaru owners say their vehicles will inexplicably surge forward when the vehicle is stopped and their foot is on the brake. The unintended acceleration incidents often happen as the driver tries to shift the transmission into PARK

Smashed front hood of a gray Subaru
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#engine #lawsuit

Subaru unintended acceleration complaints have been made about the following generations:

  • 4th Generation Forester (2012-2018)
  • 6th Generation Legacy (2015-2019)
  • 6th Generation Outback (2015-2019)

As you might imagine, a vehicle that accelerates on its own poses an unreasonable safety risk to owners and blaming owners or hoping the problem just goes away isn't going to win over many hearts. Just ask Toyota.

Why The Vehicles Accelerate on Their Own

White Forester against a tree with its front hood crumpled
2015 Forester unintended acceleration crash

There are a few plausible explanations for what's causing this problem. And most of them have to do with increasing number of sensors and advanced technology in vehicles these days.

  • An inadequate fault detection system that can't handle "foreseeable unwanted outcomes, including unintended acceleration."
  • Multiple sensors and modules, including the throttle position sensor, throttle body assembly, and powertrain control module, that are highly susceptible to malfunction.
  • The brake override system fails to work when it's needed most.

Subaru's Response to Acceleration Issues

Subaru's general response to these unintended acceleration claims? It's your fault.

The automaker is holding firm to the belief that the floor mats aren't securely put in place and interfere with the brake pedal. Or that owners who experience this problem are simply incompetent drivers who accidentally pressed the accelerator instead of the brake in a moment of panic.

It's a page right out of the Toyota playbook.

Lack of Response Leads to Multiple Unintended Acceleration Class-Action Lawsuits

White Crosstrek crashed on an embankment
2017 Crosstrek unintended acceleration crash

Despite years of complaints, warranty claims, and dealership repair orders dating back to 2011, Subaru hasn't even issued a technical service bulletin TSB to describe the problem. Let alone propose a solution or even think about a recall.

With little else to do, it's no wonder terrified Subaru owners have started to file multiple class-action lawsuits in an effort to get the automaker to take an ounce of responsibility.

Weston, et al., v. Subaru of America, Inc., et al.

The first class-action lawsuit was filed in May of 2020.

One of the plaintiffs says their 2015 Forester was driving slowly in a parking lot. As she applied the brakes to stop and shift into PARK the Forester accelerated and hit a vehicle in front of her.

Another plaintiff was also slowly driving their 2018 Forester into a parking space when it suddenly accelerated and crashed into a fence.

The lawsuit believes Subaru is hiding defects and informing dealerships to tell owners that “no issues could be found” and it must have been driver error.

Lawsuit details

  • Filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • Plaintiffs represented by Berger Montague PC, and Capstone Law APC
  • It names the 2012-2018 Forester, 2015-2019 Legacy and 2015-2019 Outback as class vehicles.
  • Read more about this lawsuit

Bare, et al., v. Subaru of America, Inc.

A second lawsuit was filed a few months later in September of 2019. The plaintiffs all tell a similar tale.

For example, one 2016 Legacy owners says she was stopped with her foot on the brake when the vehicle suddenly accelerated as she attempted to shift into PARK.

The lawsuit believes the controller area network CANbus has software errors and and the problem can be triggered by a disturbance in the electrical current inside the throttle body.

Lawsuit details

  • Filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
  • Plaintiffs represented by Casey Gerry Schenk Francavilla Blatt & Penfield LLP, Morgan & Morgan Complex Litigation Group, and Emerson Firm, PLLC.
  • It names the 2012-2018 Forester, 2015-2019 Legacy and 2015-2019 Outback as class vehicles.
  • Read more about this lawsuit

Affected Models

Subaru Legacy

PainRank
6.74
Complaints
266
Reliability
10th out of 17

What Owners Say About This Problem

While driving the car in a parking lot, I turned to park on a spot and as I was parking with my foot on the gas pedal, the car accelerated on its own. I ended up on the sidewalk close to the window of a dentist office. A very scary situation that could have hurt someone.

Pulling into my garage in my apartment complex. 7 MPH vehicle had unintended acceleration and engine revved and slammed into garage wall. Brakes did not stop the car from accelerating and lunging forwards. Crash was significant and airbags did not deploy. Physically suffered blunt force trauma from hitting steering wheel and fractured, dented and chipped my sternum.

We have a steep driveway and my car accelerated and the brakes went totally out on my way down to check our mail. Could do nothing to stop it... It was like the car shot forward like a bullet. I headed towards a big tree so I turned wheels slightly and landed in a group of smaller trees. Both side airbags inflated, the front one did not inflate. I was just barely able to get out of the car because of trees blocking the door.

OK, Now What?

Maybe you've experienced this problem. Maybe you're concerned you will soon. Whatever the reason, here's a handful of things you can do to make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

  1. File Your Complaint

    CarComplaints.com is a free site dedicated to uncovering problem trends and informing owners about potential issues with their cars. Major class action law firms use this data when researching cases.

    Add a Complaint
  2. Notify CAS

    The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is a pro-consumer organization that researches auto safety issues & often compels the US government to do the right thing through lobbying & lawsuits.

    Notify The CAS
  3. Report a Safety Concern

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the US agency with the authority to conduct vehicle defect investigations & force recalls. Their focus is on safety-related issues.

    Report to NHTSA