Subaru Vehicles Surge Forward When Trying to Shift into Park

Posted on
Scott McCracken
#engine #lawsuit
Smashed front hood of a gray Subaru

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 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 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 CAN bus has software errors 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.

Lawsuits Regarding This Problem

Lawsuits about this problem have already been filed in court. Many times these are class-action suits that look to cover a group of owners in a particular area. Click on the lawsuit for more information and to see if you're eligible to receive any potential settlements.

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

    1. Case Filed

      Lawsuit alleges Subaru Forester, Legacy and Outback vehicles in California have defects that cause sudden unintended acceleration problems. Included in the California class action lawsuit are the 2015-2019 Subaru Legacy, 2012-2018 Subaru Forester and 2015-2019 Subaru Outback which allegedly have software problems.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2015-2019 Legacy
    • 2012-2018 Forester
    • 2015-2019 Outback
  • Weston, et al., v. Subaru of America, Inc., et al.

    1. Case Filed

      Class action lawsuit alleges 2012-2018 Subaru Forester, 2015-2019 Subaru Legacy and 2015-2019 Subaru Outback vehicles have defects that cause sudden unintended acceleration.

    Class Vehicles
    • 2012-2018 Forester
    • 2015-2019 Legacy
    • 2015-2019 Outback
    New Jersey

Generations Where This Problem Has Been Reported

This problem has popped up in the following Subaru generations.

Most years within a generation share the same parts and manufacturing process. You can also expect them to share the same problems. So while it may not be a problem in every year yet, it's worth looking out for.

Further Reading

A timeline of stories related to this problem. We try to boil these stories down to the most important bits so you can quickly see where things stand. Interested in getting these stories in an email? Signup for free email alerts for your vehicle over at

  1. Subaru vehicles are accelerating on their own and the automaker's claim that owners are to blame isn't going over well.

    A new class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of owners with cars that may have unintended acceleration problems. This includes the 2012-2018 Forester, 2015-2019 Legacy, and 2015-2019 Outback.

    One of the lead plaintiffs says they were driving slowly with the foot on the brake pedal, and as they were about to shift into PARK the vehicle surged forward causing a collision.…

    keep reading article "Owners File a Class-Action Lawsuit Over Subaru's Unintended Acceleration Problems"

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.

2015 Forester Owner in Canada

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.

2017 Crosstrek Owner

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.

2017 Crosstrek Owner in NC

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 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