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Our Ascent has 14,000 miles and my wife and I just finished a 3 week trip doing the Lake Superior Circle Tour while towing and camping in our Vistabule teardrop. Up until now we have been pleased with the vehicle (our 3rd Subaru) even averaging 21.5 miles per gallon while towing. We camped at 19 different provincial and state parks requiring us to open the rear power gate multiple times for removing gear and lettting our Border Collie out. On the last two days of our trip we experienced a dead battery 3 times requiring a jump each time. When I ran a diagnostic on the battery it registered 10.3 volts. That is when I finally resorted to the trusted Ascent forum to find out that this is a serious flaw for these vehicles with multiple of Ascent owners experiencing the same problem. We took it to our dealership today and we’re told the same as everyone else that that is how the vehicle is designed and Subaru would not permit us to put a better battery in claiming that it would void the warranty. They gave us the same battery as the original one at no charge and were advised to limit the amount of times for opening the rear hatch for any extended amount of time and were also advised to turn the auto feature off for our headlamps because that can cause battery drain as well. I told the service rep that was absurd and if that is the case then why even have the auto feature and we might as well revert to turning on and off my headlamps like we used to do years ago. I am definitely writing to SOA to register my extreme dissatisfaction and complaint.
 

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I had battery issues in my Outback and my Ascent - both were actually battery issues. Yes, if you leave the hatch open for long periods, it will drain. Been there, done that, started that battery drain thread a year ago. But voiding a warranty by putting a new battery in? I'd call SOA on that one. I bought a lithium battery jump starter for those times when I know I will have the hatch open a lot. No way would I turn off the auto headlights either. The next battery I have to purchase will have more staying power. At least the one they replaced mine with seems to generally have no issues - no bad cells or leaking as I've experienced before. Good luck!
 

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This should be recall-level problem. A natural use of a vehicle includes leaving the rear gate open for extended periods when camping or tailgating or cleaning out the vehicle or just because we freaking want to. Designing it with such a flaw should be recognized as a big mistake and a fix offered. "My vehicle is dead because I used it normally" should not be met with a shoulder-shrug and "we designed it that way". It should be met with an apology and a solution.
 

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This should be recall-level problem. A natural use of a vehicle includes leaving the rear gate open for extended periods when camping or tailgating or cleaning out the vehicle or just because we freaking want to. Designing it with such a flaw should be recognized as a big mistake and a fix offered. "My vehicle is dead because I used it normally" should not be met with a shoulder-shrug and "we designed it that way". It should be met with an apology and a solution.
Definitely not recall worthy in my opinion. Although I agree with you that its a design flaw people are typically seeing this issue with leaving the trunk open for 6+ hours and not driving it afterwards to charge the battery back up completely. I have definitely left it open for 4ish hours with no issues. I am an avid camper and do not depend on my car to be open in order to camp. To each their own of course but I dont see why someone needs to leave their tailgate open for so long. The people that do dog shows, I get that but camping not so much. The point of camping is to go outside and stay outside, why are you so tied to your vehicle? I have kids too, so thats not a reason to stick to the car for more than an hour.

The whole replacing the battery will void warranty is BS. We should be able to change a wear item with whatever company we want. Getting a deep cycle battery will definitely help in these situations too. SOA's response is terrible in this specific situation but it is what it is.

FYI: There is a whole facebook group that is specific to this dead battery situation. Mostly they are people that go to dog shows. I am in the group to research solutions people are coming up with to fix the problem on their own since SOA isnt going to do anything.
 

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@Roblesfam5 Thank you for sharing your experience with the issue. Im waiting on delivery of our 2020 and what I've been reading was starting to concern me. You mentioned leaving it open for ~4 hours and having no issues. We do a lot of camping but I don't think I've ever left the rear of our Crosstrek open for even two hours.
 
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Red,

I sympathize with the rear hatch issue. My old Merc GL450 turned into a maintenance nightmare in its last year, but I could leave that hatch open all morning at the model airplane field and have no battery issues. I miss that. I have to close up the Ascent.

"Gee F.S., why do you close your hatch? All your tools are in there."
- "I don't want my battery to die."
"Well switch off the light."
- "I do, but it still dies if the hatch is open."
"That's the new Subaru, isn't it? I was thinking of buying one since you like yours so much. But maybe not now."

Subaru, this is kind of a problem, don't you think? Lots of great features can be spoiled by the silly little things that aren't that silly.

Red, the dealer must be thinking that you have your car key in and/or are in Accessories mode, for the Auto Headlights to be a problem. Or just not thinking at all. That piece of advice seems utterly ridiculous.

F.S.
 

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It depends on the individual battery may be. The next thing I am going to say may look like, completely made up because of the coincidence. I assure it is not, it happened and it happened yesterday. I forgot to close the hatch yesterday night on my Subaru Ascent Ltd( actually I closed and opened it again, and it my mind I had the false memory of closing from the earlier occasion). It sat on my driveway from about 6:30 pm yesterday to 06:30 am Today morning. I didn't have any battery issue so far. Hopefully will not have any this evening.

I am still shaken from the fact that I forgot to lock the hatch, as we have lots of late night breaking in incidents close to where I live in. I had a few fishing gears worth couple of hundreds hidden between second row and third row( lowered).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Red,

I sympathize with the rear hatch issue. My old Merc GL450 turned into a maintenance nightmare in its last year, but I could leave that hatch open all morning at the model airplane field and have no battery issues. I miss that. I have to close up the Ascent.

"Gee F.S., why do you close your hatch? All your tools are in there."
- "I don't want my battery to die."
"Well switch off the light."
- "I do, but it still dies if the hatch is open."
"That's the new Subaru, isn't it? I was thinking of buying one since you like yours so much. But maybe not now."

Subaru, this is kind of a problem, don't you think? Lots of great features can be spoiled by the silly little things that aren't that silly.

Red, the dealer must be thinking that you have your car key in and/or are in Accessories mode, for the Auto Headlights to be a problem. Or just not thinking at all. That piece of advice seems utterly ridiculous.

F.S.
FS that is exactly what I told my dealership, that is absolutely ridiculous!? Bigred
 

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To each their own of course but I dont see why someone needs to leave their tailgate open for so long.
Exactly. I don't consider leaving the PRG open for so long a need, nor a normal operation procedure. It does not take 4-6 hours to load or unload a vehicle. I've had all doors and rear gate open for several hours to be cleaned, and also even longer for tinting with the keys inside the vehicle, and the car started fine. Maybe I am lucky with a decent battery, but still......anyways.....

Powered Rear Gate implies power is going to it. It also means it needs power to monitor the auto-close mechanism to close the gate when needed. (Safety First) If you don't like the feature you purchased, you need to find a workaround. In this case:
  1. Carry a portable JumpStarter
  2. Disconnect the battery for the 10 hours out of 8,760 hrs in the year you want to leave it open.
  3. Purchase the wiring diagram, and find a way to bypass the PRG module.
  4. Remove the PRG and all electronics associated with it. Make it more Jeep Wrangler like.
 

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So maybe an obvious question I haven't thought to look for an answer to in the manual, Can the PRG be bypassed or turned off? On our odyssey I think one of the buttons on the driver switch panel did this, or just manually opening did as well. I don't think this is the case with the Ascent though.

And, perhaps if you are so inclined to a long term solution maybe adding a second deep cycle battery with a solar charging panel for those times when you know you will be out for a while is an option.
 

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Definitely worth a fix..maybe even a recall if not software/OTA fixable. I can't understand why some of you don't consider leaving the hatch open for extended periods of time, a reasonable use for a vehicle marketed towards outdoor activities.

I regularly go to the beach and (prior to getting my Ascent), left my hatch open most of the day in my Pilot. As long as I turned off the back dome light, there was no drain on battery. I think that's reasonable.

Even though I bought a jump starter, I'm still wary of leaving my Ascent open like in the pic below where I was setting up.

1165
 

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This is a real problem for people who camp, do outdoor activities, tailgate, belong to clubs that take place outdoors etc. I really have seen no evidence that owners concerns are being heard on this particular issue - probably because it does not create a permanently disabled vehicle or cause a "Lemon Law" level of concern. If everyone who experienced this problem filed an official complaint at the threads below - IT WILL get the attention it deserves and Subaru WILL fix it. Subaru is good about fixing issues they know cause dissatisfaction. This is a weird issue probably being reported back as a battery issue or general electrical issue. It's just falling through the cracks. Subaru just doesn't know the level of dissatisfaction this causes or that there are people like me who won't buy an Ascent with this issue. Let's give this issue a voice so that it will be heard. Please note the issue at the two websites below. https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/VehicleComplaint/ AND HERE: https://www.carcomplaints.com/
 

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Good news! You can buy the Base trim as the PRG is not available on that trim level, or you can buy the Premium trim and not opt for the PRG. Head to your local dealer now!
I was hoping to upgrade from my Outback to an Ascent Limited actually. Sorry to be slow, but what is the PRG? I wasn't aware that the hatch electricity draw was relatable to a singular item? Most talk about a 4ah draw of some kind. Since I have never had this issue in any other vehicle AND since I don't have this issue in my Outback (with power tailgate), I think this should be fairly easy for Subaru to diagnose and correct. I am surprised it was not done for the 2020 model. My guess is that while we on the forums are well aware of this, it just isn't on Subaru's radar for the reasons in my post. I know that they will eventually fix it, I just hope it is sooner rather than later :) (also waiting on a few other issues to be resolved).
 

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I was hoping to upgrade from my Outback to an Ascent Limited actually. Sorry to be slow, but what is the PRG? I wasn't aware that the hatch electricity draw was relatable to a singular item? Most talk about a 4ah draw of some kind. Since I have never had this issue in any other vehicle AND since I don't have this issue in my Outback (with power tailgate), I think this should be fairly easy for Subaru to diagnose and correct. I am surprised it was not done for the 2020 model. My guess is that while we on the forums are well aware of this, it just isn't on Subaru's radar for the reasons in my post. I know that they will fix it, I just hope it is sooner rather than later :) (also waiting on a few other issues to be resolved).
PRG = Power Rear Gate.
Your reply has given me a bit of insight. Let me do some more investigation. Since you are the current owner of an Outback with the PRG, it would be nice to see what the current draw is on that for comparison sake.
 

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For those who say it's unreasonable to have the hatch open an extended amount of time, maybe you don't camp much? I bought the Ascent - traded in my Outback - because I wanted to sleep in the car. I even bought a tent extension for the hatch. That $$ has gone to waste because it is not possible to use it. I wouldn't complain if this was a Toyota and had a rear window that rolled down - but it doesn't. (Wish list feature). I like the convenience of the electronic hatch, I use the hatch all the time with a dog. If I could get a Touring and disable the electronic hatch, I would. But I'd like to camp and not worry every time I leave the hatch open that I might have to dig out my battery jump starter (a necessity). We all buy this car for our own reasons and sleeping in the car was one of the main reasons I bought it. I have no reason for a 7-8 passenger car otherwise.
 

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For those who say it's unreasonable to have the hatch open an extended amount of time, maybe you don't camp much? I bought the Ascent - traded in my Outback - because I wanted to sleep in the car. I even bought a tent extension for the hatch. That $$ has gone to waste because it is not possible to use it. I wouldn't complain if this was a Toyota and had a rear window that rolled down - but it doesn't. (Wish list feature). I like the convenience of the electronic hatch, I use the hatch all the time with a dog. If I could get a Touring and disable the electronic hatch, I would. But I'd like to camp and not worry every time I leave the hatch open that I might have to dig out my battery jump starter (a necessity). We all buy this car for our own reasons and sleeping in the car was one of the main reasons I bought it. I have no reason for a 7-8 passenger car otherwise.
Fully Agree. And it should be obvious. No one should have to create a workaround, re-wire, buy extraneous equipment or change how they use their vehicle because of a faulty design, that also is not an issue in any of Subaru's other vehicles (that I know of).
 

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I probably camp more than most, especially since my son is in boyscouts and we camp about once a month. Plus I go camping with the rest of my family on top of that (we camp in the rain, snow, summer, winter, etc). Still do not understand where you are camping where you need to the leave the hatch open. I dont sleep in my car, thats not camping IMO. Get a tent, camp outdoors not in your car.

I do agree that the normal person should have to create a workaround but people who love their car (like me) will do the workaround because they love their car. I am the kind of person that over prepares, in these situations I would upgrade my battery to a deep cycle and have a jump starter with me just in case. Boy Scout Motto: Be prepared. Of course you cant be prepared for every situation but these situations are in our power to do what we can.

I also went from an Outback to an Ascent and have never looked back. Each car has quirks, none are perfect. Thats why there are aftermarket parts to make it what YOU want it to be. You can not expect a car company to hit every mark for every person.
 

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^^ it’s not just camping. Sometimes it’s just a convenience to leave it open. Yesterday at a church event there was an Escalade and Expedition parked next to each other with their lift gates open for hours. They were backed up to a small tent with a food service setup. Necessary? no. Convenient? yes.
Since nobody is going to get into an accident due to their gate while parked, it’s not going to be seen as a safety issue. If it’s not a safety issue, why issue a recall or fix it retroactively? Maybe they’ll bleed a few customers but with Subaru’s growth I’m sure they’ll manage. So ultimately we’re stuck having to shut our rear gates or find a workaround.
 
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