The Most Common Subaru Problems & Years to Avoid | (2023)

Transmission issues are the most common problem in Subarus, but defective airbags, faulty fuel pumps, weak windshields, and electrical issues are also known to happen.

  • Subarus generally receive high reliability ratings, according to RepairPal.

  • Transmission issues are the most common problem in Subarus.

  • Some Subaru model years have more issues than others, like the 2013 Outback and 2015 WRX.

  • If your Subaru had a recall, bring it to your dealership for a free fix.


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Most common Subaru problems

From electrical system flukes to fuel system defects, here’s a look at some of the most common issues in Subaru’s most popular models:

  • Fuel pump failure

  • O2 sensor problems

  • Blown head gaskets

  • Oil leaks

  • Battery draining rapidly

  • Unintended acceleration

  • Cracked windshields

  • Subaru Starlink problems

    (Video) Subaru's Problem and How To Reach 200,000 Miles
  • CVT issues

  • Defective light switch

  • Electrical failures

Overall, Subaru vehicles are some of the longest-lasting cars on the road even though they have their fair share of problems like any other car.

Subaru Forester years to avoid + common problems

Here are the most common problems with Subaru Forester models over the years:

  • 1998-2001 Subaru Forester: Blown head gaskets

  • 2009-2011 Subaru Forester: Malfunctioning airbags, leaking brake lines, electrical problems that could cause the engine to turn off or catch fire while driving

  • Common Subaru Forester problems: AC failure, transmission failure, oil leaks, O2/knock sensor problems

Instead, opt for the 2020 model year or the 2008 model year if you’re buying used.

The Forester’s blend of affordability, boxy styling, and easy handling is a great pick for a used car or new car in these years, and both the 2020 and 2008 models saw a low number of recalls and customer complaints with new standard safety technology.

Subaru Outback years to avoid + common problems

Don’t buy the 2013 Subaru Outback, if you can avoid it. This model had an oil consumption problem that didn’t just cause a recall—it eventually led to a class action lawsuit

that issued warranty extensions and cash reimbursements to customers.

Keep an eye out for these common Subaru Outback problems:

  • 2013 Subaru Outback: Defective piston rings caused excessive oil consumption

  • Common Subaru Outback problems: Oil leaks, transmission problems, weak windshield, faulty oxygen sensors, faulty headlights, faulty airbags,

    trunk won’t open

Heads up: The lawsuit also affected Forester, Impreza, Crosstrek, and Legacy models from 2011-2015.

(Video) The REAL Reason Why You Should Not Buy The Subaru Crosstrek..

Subaru Crosstrek years to avoid + common problems

The Crosstrek is well-known for its composed handling and plug-in hybrid option—but if you’re eyeing a new or used Crosstrek, you should avoid the 2013 and 2018 model years.

  • 2013 Subaru Crosstrek: Engine stalling, malfunctioning brake lights, and ignition fob issue that causes the car to start unexpectedly and run until the engine is out of fuel

  • 2018 Subaru Crosstrek: Engine control module (ECM) causes stalling during operation

  • Common Subaru Crosstrek problems: Head gasket issues, transmission problems, lower power, oil leaks, rat attacks, faulty positive crankcase ventilation, faulty brake light switches

Instead, opt for the 2017 Crosstrek—one of the most reliable models to date—or a newer 2022 or 2023 model.

Subaru Ascent years to avoid + common problems

The 2019 Subaru Ascent has some serious transmission issues.

  • 2019 Subaru Ascent: There are 283 NHTSA complaints for the 2019 Ascent, especially concerning issues with the transmission, faulty fuel pumps, and slipping drive chains

  • Common Subaru Ascent problems: Transmission problems, slipping drive chains, faulty fuel pumps, electrical issues, battery issues from electric tailgate, rat attacks

If your heart is set on the Ascent, then you’re better off buying new.

The 2021 model year seems to have resolved the fuel pump issues and other problems from the first year—but with discouraging ratings from experts and consumers, the Ascent might be an SUV to pass over.

Subaru Impreza years to avoid + common problems

More transmission problems ahead! Avoid any 2008 - 2013 Imprezas.

  • 2008-2013 Subaru Impreza: Transmission issues, electrical failures, brake line corrosion, fuel economy issues

  • Common Subaru Impreza problems: Transmission failure, engine failure, acceleration problems, airbag issues, electrical failure, brake line corrosion

The Impreza’s electrical issues extended from the third generation into the fourth generation with the 2012 and 2013 model years. In fact, the 2013 Impreza saw recalls for faulty brake lights and engine stalling.

Thankfully, the fifth generation features notable improvements, so if you’re interested in an Impreza, opt for the 2017, 2018, or 2019 models.

Subaru Legacy years to avoid + common problems

Early versions of the Legacy face more problems, especially the ‘09 Legacy.

(Video) Buying A Used Subaru Forester?! Here's The Good And Bad Over The Last 20 Years!
  • 2009 Subaru Legacy: Head gasket failure, airbag malfunctions, poor fuel economy

  • Common Subaru Legacy problems: Engine oil leaks, Engine failure, O2 Sensor failure, Head gasket issues, Infotainment system errors, low fuel economy

Luckily, better fuel economy, expanded space, and a surprisingly low number of recalls make the automaker’s redesign of the 2015 Legacy a favorite of Subaru owners.

Subaru WRX years to avoid + common problems

The first-generation WRX experienced major car problems. In fact, the NHTSA issued two recalls for the 2015 WRX: one for the turbocharger, and another for electrical issues with the subwoofer.

  • 2015 Subaru WRX: Turbocharger air intake duct prone to cracking and electrical issues with subwoofer leading to fires

  • Common Subaru WRX problems: engine failure, turbo failure, gasket leaks, weak pistons, weak rods, weak bearings, clutch failure, clutch plate issues

Subaru eventually ironed out the kinks present in the first generation, so you should be okay if you buy a WRX from model year 2017 or later.

Subaru BRZ years to avoid + common problems

When the BRZ was first released in 2013, drivers noticed that the valve springs were prone to failure, causing engine stalling. The NHTSA issued a recall, but not before multiple car owners had been stranded on the highway and paid thousands of dollars for engine repairs.

  • 2013 Subaru BRZ: Valve spring issues, engine stalling

  • Common Subaru BRZ problems: Faulty torque converters, broken valve springs, camshaft seal leaks, faulty water pumps, faulty O2 sensors, bad oil pump seals, faulty ABS control modules, head gasket problems

If you’re dreaming of a BRZ, you should look into the newer 2023 model, which serves as the second installment of the new generation.

Subaru’s most common problem: transmission failure

If your Subaru’s

check engine light starts to glow

and you notice some unpleasant sounds coming from under the hood, it’s probably time to get in touch with a mechanic about a transmission inspection.

Signs of transmission trouble in older Subarus (2013 or earlier):

  • Transmission slipping: If your Subaru is shuddering when you accelerate, you might need to replace a

    solenoid (wire coil) in the engine

    . Another possibility is a faulty front-wheel drive switch, which would require a new fuse.

    (Video) TOP 9 Most Common Subaru Outback Problems
  • Overheating: Overheating causes your “transmission temperature” warning light to start flashing. Again, the problem might be a broken pressure control solenoid—but it could be as simple as a clogged transmission fluid tube.

Signs of transmission trouble in recent Subarus (2014 or later) with CVT transmissions:

  • Stalling: Replacing a thrust washer or using a CVT-friendly transmission fluid can stop your transmission from stalling.

  • Growling noise: If your engine snarls at you when you accelerate, there’s probably an issue with one of the pulleys in the CVT.

  • Fluctuations in engine speed: if your engine speed is leaping up and down when you aren’t pressing the gas pedal, you’ll need to replace a transmission solenoid.

If you’re unsure of the exact issue with your Subaru, consider using an OBD-II scanner. You can hook the scanner up to your car and it’ll give you an

engine code

that identifies the exact issue.

Is it expensive to fix a Subaru?

Generally, Subarus are more expensive to maintain over time than other non-luxury vehicles. This is because replacement parts for Subarus tend to cost you more than other comparable makers, like Toyota and Ford.

Owning a Subaru comes with a lot of perks. As a whole, they’re pretty good on gas and offer a nicer interior at a lower cost than other makers. They also offer all-wheel drive, which is great if you’re in an environment where that’s necessary.

Like any car, they’ll need repairs from time to time. Subarus are generally regarded as one of the more dependable cars on the market, so they won’t break down very often, But, when they need a part replaced, it will cost you a little more than it would in a similar make.

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What years did Subaru have problems? ›

Subaru Impreza years to avoid + common problems

Avoid any 2008 - 2013 Imprezas. The Impreza's electrical issues extended from the third generation into the fourth generation with the 2012 and 2013 model years. In fact, the 2013 Impreza saw recalls for faulty brake lights and engine stalling.

What years did Subaru have CVT transmission problems? ›

Subaru owners have complained about problems with the Lineartronic CVT transmissions and Subaru extended the warranty for cars from model years 2010 to 2018. Usage: 2010–current Subaru Legacy / Outback / Exiga / Impreza / Levorg / Forester / XV and 2015 Subaru WRX Premium and Limited Editions.

What are the best years for Subaru Outback? ›

The best years for the Subaru Outback were from 2005 to 2009. During this time, Subaru focused on the car's performance, bringing the turbocharge XT model and boasting 250 horsepower with its 2.5L engine.

What is the common problem with Subaru cars? ›

Many Subaru owners are familiar with issues such as electrical faults, weak windshields, faulty airbags, and defective fuel pumps. Other problems plaguing the Subaru brand include CVT issues, defective light switches, sudden draining of battery, and inconsistent acceleration, among other issues.

What year did the head gasket go bad on Subaru? ›

A number of Subaru models are affected, however the most common failures include the 2.5 Liter SOHC engine used in the late 1999-2004, Forester, Impreza, Outback and Legacy. Signs and symptoms of engine head gasket failure include: Engine overheating.

What year did Subaru fix the head gasket problem? ›

Subaru is aware of the head gasket issues and in 2014 began outfitting all their models with different head gaskets that have rectified the issue. Pro-Tip: Before your factory warranty expires, it's a good idea to have your Subaru completely checked out to ensure everything is working the way it should.

What year did Subaru go to CVT transmissions? ›

Our first taste of the Subaru CVT was in 2009 with the launch of the fifth-generation Liberty and Outback models which featured a CVT on four-cylinder petrol versions of the car. The CVT has since been extended to the brand's Impreza, Forester, XV and even the sporty WRX line-up.

Which Subaru does not have CVT transmission? ›

The 2022 Ascent, Outback, Legacy and Forester models are the only ones in which you cannot get a different kind of transmission. On the flip side, the 2023 BRZ and WRX are the only models that don't offer a CVT at all.

What was the last Subaru without CVT? ›

Subaru: The manual Impreza and the BRZ are the only non-CVT cars from Subaru.

What is the best time of year to buy a Subaru? ›

In terms of the best time of the year, October, November and December are safe bets. Car dealerships have sales quotas, which typically break down into yearly, quarterly and monthly sales goals. All three goals begin to come together late in the year.

What is the average mileage life of a Subaru Outback? ›

All this road-tripping takes a toll, but the Outback, if properly maintained, can last drivers even up to 300,000 miles. This means that the average driver could expect to get 15 to 20 years out of their Subaru.

What year is the safest Subaru Outback? ›

As for the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), the 2022 Subaru Outback received the highest honor, a 5-star rating! The 2022 Subaru Outback safety ratings from the NHTSA are as follows: Overall Safety Rating: 5 Stars.

How many miles on a Subaru is bad? ›

A car with many miles on it is more likely to break down badly, costing a lot of money and sometimes making it worthless. In short, between 150 and 200 thousand miles is when most Subarus reach its first mileage limit. After that, the limit can be raised to 300,000 miles with major maintenance.

Are Subarus expensive to repair? ›

While Subarus are certainly not the cheapest cars on the market, they are also far from the most expensive. In fact, the average Subaru owner spends about $617 per year on repairs and maintenance. This is actually slightly above the average for domestic makes and models.

At what mileage should a head gasket be replaced? ›

How Long Do Head Gaskets Last? Head gaskets typically last 200,000 miles, which is considered about the lifetime of most cars. That means, if you look after your car and follow the service schedule, you should never be faced with a blown head gasket.

Can you prevent Subaru head gasket failure? ›

Change the engine oil regularly! This helps to remove any unburnt fuel that has made its way into the engine oil. Fuel is a solvent that can weaken seals and gaskets. You should also change your Subaru's coolant regularly.

What is Subaru's most reliable engine? ›

The Subaru 2.5L engine can be very reliable and is very capable of outlasting the vast majority of engines with 200,000–300,000 miles being common and even higher possible. Many claim they will all blow head gaskets but this is not the case. I won't lie because it is a known problem but not every engine experiences it.

Which Subaru's have bad head gaskets? ›

The first group is the 1st generation 2.5l engine found predominantly in the 1996 to 1999 Outback, Legacy G.T., Forrester (up to mid-year 1998) and Subaru Impreza R.S. This group usually, will develop an internal head gasket leak ultimately resulting with an overheating engine.

How long will a Subaru last after head gasket replacement? ›

On average, after the Subaru head gaskets are replaced it should last somewhere between 100,000 miles to 160,000 miles.

What year did Subaru start using timing chains? ›

The 2.5 Four cylinder cars had timing chains starting with the 2013 model year and newer.

How often should Subaru CVT transmission fluid be changed? ›

Subaru CVT Transmission Fluid Service Special

For instance, Transmission Fluid Services vary from make to model and driver to driver, but typically the range is once every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.

Why did Subaru switch to CVT? ›

A lower engine speed means better fuel economy. And CVTs also deliver a smoother ride, as it eliminates shocks when changing gears, and allows the engine to run quieter.

How long does CVT transmission last? ›

Indeed, some owners who keep to the factory-specified service intervals, use the recommended lubricant(s) and avoid abusive driving habits can get up to 200,000 trouble-free miles with a CVT.

Is CVT better than automatic transmission? ›

Depending on the vehicle and the driver, a CVT can provide a smoother driving experience when comparing it to a traditional automatic. According to Carfax, one of the most significant advantages to having a CVT is that they are often more fuel-efficient than a regular automatic.

How many miles do Subaru CVT transmissions last? ›

CVT Problems and Model Years Affected

The extension now covers CVT transmission issues for 10 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

What car is Subaru discontinuing? ›

Sometimes, too much can be a bad thing.

Will Subaru ditch the CVT? ›

Subaru uses the Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT) transmission exclusively in their entire lineup of all-wheel-drive vehicles and won't be dropping it because you have issues with it.

Should I buy a car now or wait until 2023? ›

Americans planning to shop for a new car in 2023 might find slightly better prices than during the past two years, though auto industry analysts say it is likely better to wait until the fall. Since mid-2021, car buyers have been frustrated by rising prices, skimpy selection and long waits for deliveries.

What not to say to car salesman? ›

5 Things to Never Tell a Car Salesman If You Want the Best Deal
  • 'I love this car. ' ...
  • 'I'm a doctor at University Hospital. ' ...
  • 'I'm looking for monthly payments of no more than $300. ' ...
  • 'How much will I get for my trade-in? ' ...
  • 'I'll be paying with cash,' or 'I've already secured financing. '
Aug 19, 2019

What is the best day of the week to buy a car? ›

Monday tends to be the best day of the week to purchase a vehicle. While it's good to shop for a car at the end of the month or quarter, there's an advantage to shopping at the beginning of the week. Studies have shown that car buyers get better deals shopping on Mondays than any other day of the week.

Can a Subaru last 500000 miles? ›

While results will vary and the big variable is always how well the car has been maintained, what I can tell you is a Subaru is capable of going 300,000 miles. And if you are a regular maintenance type of owner you should expect to get that type of mileage out of it.

When should I replace my timing belt on my Subaru Outback? ›

We'd like to help you avoid this fate, so be sure to change the timing belt when the manual tells you to. Usually, that's around every 60,000 miles, but check your owner's manual or speak with one of our service advisers to be sure.

What is the most long lasting car? ›

Here is the list of the top 20 longest-lasting vehicles on the road.
  • Honda Element. Honda. ...
  • Honda CR-V. Honda. ...
  • Honda Accord. Honda. ...
  • Chevrolet Avalanche. Chevrolet. ...
  • Ram 2500. FCA US LLC. ...
  • Ram 3500. Stellantis. ...
  • Toyota Sienna. toyota. ...
  • The 2024 Toyota 4Runner: Everything You Need to Know. Toyota. The 4Runner is due for a redesign.
May 3, 2023

Which car is safer the Outback or Forester? ›

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has named the Forester as an IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ for four years running (2019-2022) and the Outback as an IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ for 10 years running (2013-2022).

What is the average age of a Subaru Outback owner? ›

The 2022 APEAL study revealed that 61% of car shoppers who bought a new Subaru Outback were men, higher than the segment average of 54%. The median age of a new Outback buyer is 61, which is about the same as the segment median.

Do Subarus last longer than Toyotas? ›

And, Toyota was awarded the most reliable brand at the 2021 Auto Trader New Car Awards. Also, Toyota's can last well past 300,000 miles (think of the million-mile Tundra), while Subaru typically lasts around 200,000 miles.

Is Subaru a high maintenance car? ›

Subaru vehicles are generally quite trustworthy and handle well, but they are expensive to fix and maintain. Maintaining a low cost of ownership for your Subaru will require routine inspections, the same as with any other car model.

Are high mileage Subarus reliable? ›

Overall, Subaru has been one of the most reliable car brands. The current generation 2022 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, and other new models are among the most reliable new vehicles that will go well over 200,000 miles and, with regular maintenance, have proven to be long-lasting vehicles.

What years did Subaru have engine problems? ›

Although Subaru has been challenged with engine issues, most of the issues were isolated to a few engines, namely the EJs that were in the Impreza, Forester, Legacy, Outback and Baja models between 1996 and 2005. The latest Subaru boxer engines are part of the FB series boxer engines.

What year Subarus have transmission problems? ›

Subaru owners have complained about problems with the Lineartronic CVT transmissions and Subaru extended the warranty for cars from model years 2010 to 2018. Usage: 2010–current Subaru Legacy / Outback / Exiga / Impreza / Levorg / Forester / XV and 2015 Subaru WRX Premium and Limited Editions.

What year Subaru has CVT problems? ›

Several older models have experienced Subaru CVT problems – enough so that Subaru has offered factory warranty extensions on these vehicles. Affected models include: 2010-2015 Legacy. 2010-2015 Outback.

What are common problems with Subaru vehicles? ›

Most common Subaru problems
  • Fuel pump failure.
  • O2 sensor problems.
  • Blown head gaskets.
  • Oil leaks.
  • Battery draining rapidly.
  • Unintended acceleration.
  • Cracked windshields.
  • Subaru Starlink problems.
May 18, 2023

Are Subarus more expensive to insure? ›

The average annual cost of insuring various Subaru models is below, from the cheapest to the most expensive: Subaru Forester: $1,064 per year. Subaru Outback: $1,121 per year. Subaru Impreza: $1,232 per year.

What Subaru engines to stay away from? ›

The Subaru EJ25 2.5-liter Boxer is the engine that has experienced the most problems for the Japanese automaker. The gasket material they used in this engine was unreliable and Subaru attempted to correct the issue in 1999 with an updated multilayered metal shim gasket. But some 2001-2009 engines still had the problem.

What Subaru engine is most reliable? ›

The studies below suggest new 2021 Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek models are reliable. But there are some older Subaru Boxer engines and newer engines that have had reliability problems. But first, we'll look at the new J.D. Power, Consumer Reports, and iSeeCars reports and check recent model reliability scores.

At what mileage do Subaru Foresters have problems? ›

These issues generally occur at 60,000 miles and are rated as a 3.3 out of 10 severity. 2006 The primary difficulties with your Subaru Forester's engine system include the head gasket failing, the car misfiring while accelerating, and the engine dying. Sudden loss of power decelerating.

What is the most reliable Subaru? ›

The Subaru model that is the most reliable and ranks the highest in its vehicle category is the Subaru Impreza, which ranks 1 out of 5 Most Reliable Wagons. Following the Impreza is the Subaru Crosstrek (Plug-in Hybrid) and the Subaru Outback. You can see the rest of the Subaru vehicles and their rankings below.

Which Subaru Boxer engine is the most reliable? ›

More Reliable

The flat BOXER® is a big reason that 96% of all Subaru vehicles sold over the last decade are still on the road and going strong. This unique engine is also largely behind why the American Customer Satisfaction Index rated Subaru #1 in quality and dependability in the automotive industry.

What is a good alternative to a Subaru? ›

The Subaru Outback is an impressive vehicle offering more than the sum of its parts – but the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Volvo V60 Cross Country, Hyundai Santa Cruz, and Audi A4 Allroad are mighty good alternatives. Each one offers the kind of utility, capability, and fun that Subaru drivers love.

What year is the most reliable Subaru? ›

2005-2009 Subaru Legacy

Most of the Legacy models for this generation are reliable. For the most reliable Subaru Legacy year in this lineup, we recommend picking up the 2006 and 2007 model years due to their excellent reliability ratings and fuel economy.

Which car is more reliable Toyota or Subaru? ›

And, Toyota was awarded the most reliable brand at the 2021 Auto Trader New Car Awards. Also, Toyota's can last well past 300,000 miles (think of the million-mile Tundra), while Subaru typically lasts around 200,000 miles.

Is it worth buying a Subaru with over 200k miles? ›

Overall, Subaru has been one of the most reliable car brands. The current generation 2022 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, and other new models are among the most reliable new vehicles that will go well over 200,000 miles and, with regular maintenance, have proven to be long-lasting vehicles.

What is high mileage for a Subaru Forester? ›

The average car can last anywhere from 150,000 to 250,000 miles in its lifetime. However, there are reports of Subaru Foresters lasting up to 500,000 miles if they are specially taken care of.

What are the downsides of a Subaru Forester? ›

Subaru has long carried a reputation for disappointing fuel economy. The 2023 Forester sticks to that tradition. Per U.S. News and World Report, the Forester manages 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway – not bad. But its aging 2.5-liter Boxer engine barely matches more modern competitors while making less power.

Why did Subaru stop making the Forester? ›

This could be why Subaru had to shut off new orders for the compact SUV. Some automakers have chosen to eliminate or delay some new features on their vehicles during the microchip shortages. Subaru Corporation has already stopped production of the Forester for eight days in 2022 because of supply chain issues.


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