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Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid EV Does Not Engage When Front Windshield Defrost is On

I was finally told today, after several bouts of no EV on my 2014 Crosstrek Hybrid, lasting,1 to 3 days, that running the front windshield defrost PROHIBITS the use of the fully electronic engine. I came to this conclusion serendipitously on my own, but was not offered this explanation until today, after many phone calls and return visits to the dealership. If someone from the dealership had just asked if I was running the defrost, I could have avoided a pile of frustration. The dealership said that they were simply not aware of this problem, because the car is so new.

I am not happy about this limitation, but may have to live with it if others here are having the same experience.

*Does anyone know of the best method to try to contact other Crosstrek Hybrid owners to gauge the validity of the explanation I was given regarding the operation of my hybrid? I have already posted to the Subaru forum.

I doubt that’s a problem worth worrying about. Not a problem at all really.

Find one of the several Subaru forums and ask there. But it’s no surprise that the car doesn’t run on battery only when under high electric load. I wouldn’t worry about it. My hybrid doesn’t run on battery in cold weather, either.

Your defroster uses the AC system to remove moisture from the air, and that needs a compressor to function. The compressor needs the gas engine to power it. Compressors and pumps need a lot of power.

It’s unfortunate that they don’t make this obvious to purchasers, and it’s unfortunate that the dealer’s shop couldn’t have figured this one out, but there’s nothing wrong with your car. Perhaps all it needs is for one tech to suddenly realize this to educate the dealer’s shop guys.

It's unfortunate that they don't make this obvious to purchasers, and it's unfortunate that the dealer's shop couldn't have figured this one out, but there's nothing wrong with your car. Perhaps all it needs is for one tech to suddenly realize this to educate the dealer's shop guys.

Thanks all for weighing in so quickly. I have had other electrical problems with the car, Check engine light, fuel gauge freezing, windows not rolling down and then not up… I haven’t had a minute to actually enjoy driving the car, and having to connect the dots on this myself compelled me to post to forums like this.

I appreciate your respectful explanations and feedback.

Sounds like you got a lemon.
Have you checked out you state’s lemon laws?

Yes, I have looked into Lemon Laws at the urging of many. My problem has always been, and I bought the car in November 2014, that the dealership cannot find the time to meet with me to document the issues in time, with a certified Subaru technician, before they disappear. I memorize and document in a log, but am stymied by the service department. Subaru America has extended my warranty, ( I have yet to get documentation on this, even called today) but according to the service manager at the dealership, Subaru America feels that that they and the dealership are unable to help me further.

I truly appreciate your responses.

You have no documentation of your dealer visits?

Yes, I have"official" documentation of the window problem and the EV light problem.

The check engine problem / codes could not be reproduced when I brought it in for service, and the they could not fit me in for the fuel gauge in time.

Just before yesterdays’ meeting about the EV problem, while they were figuring out their response, I was told by the service manager that he would need several days before he could schedule a visit.

The dealership also told me that they have audio recordings of all of my calls, including the one where I offered to bring the car directly in to them when I noticed the oil temp light. During that call, I was told all was OK to continue to drive. When I got to work, I realized that that was bad advice, but the light had already extinguished.

Thanks for the inquiry, and appreciate further help or advice.

There is no EV problem, right?

No, they say not. The EV works whenever I do not use the defroster. So far.

You’re doing the right thing in carefully documenting your attempts even if they’re not. If I understand the laws correctly, they don’t require that the documentation be from the dealer in order to initiate a formal lemon law action. You may want to confirm this with an attorney.

While the use of the AC system as a part of the defroster operation needs the engine and it thus won’t operate on EV with the defroster on, it sounds like you have plenty of other justification to consider using the lemon law. In a typical lemon law protocol, once a formal action is initiated, the state AGs office investigates and if the complaints are legitimate and fit the law’s requirements, the state then moves forward enforcing the action. It then becomes an issue of the dealer complying with the state’s civil laws, rather than a suit between you and the dealer. Again, you may want to confirm this with an attorney.

Thank you for your response. I didn’t want to, but reaching out to the Ohio AG is a next step. I am so very grateful that you took some time offer advice.

You’re very welcome. Good luck with this, and keep us advised. We’re here because we care.

Your car is NOT malfuctioning.
Read the owner’s manual.

My wife’s Escape hybris is that way too…BY DESIGN…if you are running any of three selections the gas engine will run all the time. All of those selections have everything to do with running the a/c compressor.

I see A/C compressor mentioned but what about heat? Where does it get heat from to warm the cabin? Don’t most designs use the gas engine for that purpose?

I wouldn’t waste time on lemon law documentation or calling local authorities until you’re familiar with the laws in your state/jurisdiction. Often, the laws require repeat visits for the same repair or requiring it be a safety related issue. Plenty of free information online specific to each state so spend a few minutes educating yourself beforehand.

I agree with Ken green. When you run anything that turns on the AC compressor, which running in defrost can do in order to dehumidify the air coming out of the vents the gas engine will run.

The other things like the warning lights going off randomly do indicate that there is a fault with the vehicle.

You guys aren’t reading the whole thread. The OP has had numerous other problems with the vehicle too.

Twin Turbo, I learned today from someone at Subaru America that heat should also affect EV performance. It does not seem to in my car when I am using only the foot vents. I get EV engagement at almost all of the same points in my drive to and from work when I use only the foot vent. The Subaru America representative confirmed that that the EV “may” not engage in the summer when using the A/C. He said the same was true for heat, but that seems to only be true when certain (defrost) heat vents are used. Gosh before buying this car, I never read anything about no full EV performance when the A/C or heat are in use,. Frankly, that is probably 80% of my drive time in this climate. Very disappointing.

And thanks SameMountainbike. I have had other problems (all electrical) that I will do what is necessary to have them documented to the specifications of the lemon law in Ohio if they or others reoccur.

I hoped for a more relaxed driving experience in a new vehicle and am sorry to have experienced such disappointment, and anxiety. I find myself in continuous trouble shooting mode!

Even though I would like to forget about this for a while as the car continues to start and get me to work everyday, I wish to continue this thread to see if other Crosstrek owners chime in with their experience regarding the defrost / EV experience.

Thanks all for your input.

I guess as automotive technologies evolve we’re all going to have to adjust to the eccentricities of the new technologies. That doesn’t excuse the outright problems you have, but I’ve learned something here. In eth very near future all cars will be hybrids, and I never would have thought to consider this issue when buying. More & more I hope my current car is the last one I’ll ever have to buy.