14 Common Subaru Outback Problems

A list of some of the most common issues Outback owners have to deal with.

  1. Denso Fuel Pump Failure

    The impellers inside of Denso branded fuel pumps may have been excessively exposed to a drying agent during manufacturing. This leads to them cracking, absorbing fuel, and deforming so badly that they stop sending fuel to the engine. Subaru…

    Continue reading article "Denso Fuel Pump Failure"
  2. CAN System Parasitic Drain on the Battery

    Too many owners of newer Subaru vehicles are waking up to cars that won't start due to dead batteries. The batteries aren't defective, but just lack the capacity to handle the electrical system draw particularly while the vehicle is turned …

    Continue reading article "CAN System Parasitic Drain on the Battery" Overhead view of the battery inside a Subaru engine
  3. Unintended Acceleration

    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 trans…

    Continue reading article "Unintended Acceleration" Smashed front hood of a gray Subaru
  4. Cracked Windshields

    Since 2015 there has been a surge in complaints about Subaru windshields that crack spontaneously. Many believe this is due to a design switch to 'acoustic glass.' Owners want compensation from Subaru because windshield replacements come wi…

    Continue reading article "Cracked Windshields" Image from inside the a 2016 Forester cabin showing a large horizontal crack along the bottom of the windshield.
  5. Subaru STARLINK Problems

    STARLINK is Subaru's latest infotainment system. It heavily relies on a touch screen interface that freezes randomly, stops responding to touch inputs, and sometimes requires the car to be shut off for over an hour before it starts working …

    Continue reading article "Subaru STARLINK Problems" An infotainment screen with StarLink's toucnscreen interface loaded.
  6. Lineartronic CVT Reliability

    Once praised for its design, Subaru's CVT is showing problems with age. It can shake occupants back and forth as it wobbles its way though gears. In extreme cases it can hesitate so much it causes the engine to stall, forcing Subaru to exte…

    Continue reading article "Lineartronic CVT Reliability"
  7. Rodents Chew Subaru's Soy Wires

    Rodents just can't resist the soy-derived wire coatings used in many Subaru vehicles. The chewed up wires are costing owners hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars in repairs but Subaru, like other automakers, insists this isn't a def…

    Continue reading article "Rodents Chew Subaru's Soy Wires" A very fat mouse.
  8. Melting Dashboards

    Can Subaru dashboards handle the heat? A class-action lawsuit says 2005-2009 Legacy and Outback dashboards melt into a pile of sticky, shiny goo when exposed to heat and humidity.

    Continue reading article "Melting Dashboards"
  9. Subaru EyeSight Problems

    Subaru's EyeSight technology has been known to fall asleep on the job, particularly in bad weather driving. And while newer versions have improved, the system is generally regarded as bulky and an overly expensive upgrade on higher trim lev…

    Continue reading article "Subaru EyeSight Problems" Image looking through the windshield towards a pair of EyeSight cameras flanking the rearview mirror.
  10. Excessive Oil Consumption

    Subaru is one of a handful of automakers accused of making new engines that excessively burn through oil. And they'll tell you that adding a quart (or two) between scheduled changes is totally normal. It's not.

    Continue reading article "Excessive Oil Consumption" Top view of a Subaru engine."
  11. Leaky Head Gaskets

    Why can't Subaru build a decent head gasket? The automaker has had issues with leaky gaskets in their 4-cylinder engines since the 1980's. And repairing the issue is expensive as it requires the engine to be removed.

    Continue reading article "Leaky Head Gaskets" A close-up of a clean black head gasket above two silver pistons.

What Outback Owners Complain About

Sometimes it helps just to tally up the complaints and see where the biggest stacks are. Use this information to learn about troublespots or to run for the hills.

What Breaks the Most

Years to Avoid

Outback Generations

The Outback has 6 generations, each with their own issues. Using the same PainRank™ system we've determined that you're better off avoiding the 5th generation (2010–2014).

Outback Key Numbers

  1. 963 complaints

    Running tally of owner grievances filed to CarComplaints.com.

  2. 1,019 service bulletins

    Documenting the process of troubleshooting common problems.

  3. 61 recall campaigns

    Time-sensitive, free repairs for widespread safety problems.

Outback Class-Action Lawsuits

The Outback has been named as a class vehicle in the following lawsuits.

  • Partially dismissed

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

    1. Partially dismissed

      After being consolidated with another lawsuit, the case was partially dismissed because some of the plaintiffs do not allege their vehicles continued to have problems once Subaru made repairs.

    2. Case Filed

      Subaru dead battery problems have caused a lawsuit that alleges 2016-2020 Subaru Outback and 2019-2020 Subaru Ascent SUVs are equipped with batteries that drain and die.

  • Partially dismissed

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

    1. Partially dismissed

      After being consolidated with another lawsuit, the case was partially dismissed because some of the plaintiffs do not allege their vehicles continued to have problems once Subaru made repairs.

    2. Case Filed

      A class-action lawsuit was filed because of battery problems in certain Subaru vehicles because the automaker's decision to install batteries with insufficient capacity to power the vehicle's electrical components when turned off.

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

    1. Case Filed

      A Subaru class action lawsuit includes 2013-2021 vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB), which includes pre-collision braking and reverse automatic braking. Additionally, the lawsuit includes 2013-2021 Subaru vehicles equipped with lane keep assist (LKA).

  • Settled

    Khona et al v. Subaru of America, Inc.

    1. Settled

      Subaru has agreed to settle a cracked windshield lawsuit for 2015-2016 Subaru Outback and Legacy vehicle owners and lessees.

    2. Case Filed

      The plaintiffs allege Subaru "fraudulently misrepresented the nature and scope" of the windshield problem in 2015 when the automaker extended the warranty from three years to five years for the windshields, based on technical service bulletin (TSB) 12-192-15.

  • Partially dismissed

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

    1. Partially dismissed

      A Subaru windshield lawsuit has been partly dismissed after a federal judge ruled several claims made by Subaru owners weren't sufficiently pleaded.

    2. Case Filed

      Lawsuit alleges 2017-2019 Subaru Forester and 2017-2019 Subaru Outback vehicles are equipped with windshields that suddenly chip, crack and break. Subaru allegedly refuses to pay for repairs even when the vehicles are under warranties, leaving owners and lessees with paying for windshield replacements.

    Cracked Windshields
    Class Vehicles
    • 2017-2020 Forester
    • 2017-2020 Outback
    • 2017-2020 Crosstrek
    • 2017-2020 Legacy
    • 2017-2020 Impreza
    New Jersey
  • 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.

  • Adnan, et al., v. Subaru Corporation, et al.

    1. Case Filed

      Lawsuit alleges a recall of 188,000 vehicles didn't include all the vehicles affected by Denso fuel pumps that can fail and cause the engines to stall. According to the plaintiffs, Subaru should reimburse customers the purchase prices of all models equipped with the low-pressure fuel pumps, including pumps with the part number prefix 42022.

Recent Outback News

There's a lot of news out there, but not all of it matters. We try to boil down it to the most important bits about things that actually help you with your car problem. Interested in getting these stories in an email? Signup for free email alerts over at CarComplaints.com.

  1. Subaru isn't pulling any punches when placing blame for their latest recall.

    They say "a single associate" was found using "an improper torque wrench technique" while tightening a cable nut in the CVT select lever of the 2021 Impreza and Outback. That's going to be an awkward next performance review. If left loose, the gear selector may not function properly.…

    keep reading article "Single Factory Worker Linked to Latest Transmission Recall for 2021 Impreza and Outback"
  2. The lawsuit against Subaru's crappy windshields will move forward after partially surviving the automaker's motion to dismiss.

    The windhsields crack and chip at an alarming rate, but Subaru doesn't cover replacements under warranty if the issue is due to a defect. According to them the warranty only covers material or workmanship issues. Strange position to take, but ok.

    While a few allegations were removed due to legal technacilities, the judge said dismissing the case entirely at this point would be premature.…

    keep reading article "Subaru Windshield Lawsuit Survives Motion to Dismiss"

See All Outback News

What Owners Say About Their Outback

Defects in the Subaru's Electrical System Constantly Drain the Underpowered Batteries

This is the third time I have had to deal with a dead battery for the car. I don't drive it often, and the car runs absolutely fine when the battery is actually working, but the battery dies on its own which leads me to believe that it's somehow draining on its own. There has got to be a recall about this soon.

2018 Outback Owner

Defects in the Subaru's Electrical System Constantly Drain the Underpowered Batteries

The battery has drained down twice in the same week. Car is only 6 months old. Nothing plugged in. Very annoying. I had Subaru Roadside Assistance tow it 45 miles to nearest dealer. We will see what happens. Clearly a defect in the 2019 Subaru Outback.

2019 Outback Owner

Questionable Reliability in Subaru's Lineartronic CVTs

Experienced engine hesitation after a near stop, not a complete stop, but a near stop. At least 5 times I have had very near accidents since the engine will not respond for at least 3 seconds. Especially dangerous when entering traffic trying to make a left turn entry.

2014 Outback Owner in TX

Subaru Takes a Crude Stance on Oil Consumption

I wrote letters, had a second test done, sent emails back and forth to a Subaru representative for 7 months with no avail. They told me to check my oil every time I filled up the car. I drive over 1,500 miles a month! Are you kidding me?

2013 Outback Owner

Why Do Legacy and Outback Headlights Burn Out So Fast?

This is about the tenth time I’ve had to replace headlights or other exterior lights in the past two years. There’s no easy way to do it so it takes about an hour each time and about $60 each time. I have three other vehicles and have not replaced a single exterior/headlight on any of them in the past five years.

2011 Outback Owner

Too Many Subarus Suffer From Spotaneously Cracked Windshields

Six days after I bought a 2019 Subaru Outback, I noticed a crack developing from the top on the driver's side, close to the middle of the car. I thought it was a small streak of water at first. But as it didn't dry, I realized the windshield had cracked. I didn't see or hear anything hit it. No trucks around, and the road was smooth, free of debris.

2019 Outback Owner in SC

Subaru Takes a Crude Stance on Oil Consumption

My car requires oil topped off every 1,300 miles or less. The [consumption] test's limit for oil consumption is 1,200. How ironic that my vehicle runs low on oil approximately 100 miles from the the set limit imposed by a class action lawsuit. This tells me that Subaru has figured out where the threshold is on the oil running low.

2013 Outback Owner in CA