Crossover & Midsize

Subaru Outback Owners Complain About This Problem the Most

The Subaru Outback is one of the most reliable vehicles on the market. Subaru enthusiasts are loyal to their brand in part because the models stay with their families for years and years. With so many people parking Subaru Outback models in their driveways, there is a good chance that there are some common complaints that tend to surface as well.

We wanted to outline some of the few widespread issues along with fixes that might be helpful. According to RepairPal.com, a platform that assembles data and information from vehicle owners regarding repairs and ownership costs, here are a few of the common issues that appear to plague Subaru Outback owners.

Subaru Outback owners report oil leaks and seals failing

Front engine oil leaks have been reported in the Subaru Outback as a result of camshaft seal failure. Other seal failures with the crankshaft are also common. The fix for these problems might involve seal replacements, but other Subaru Outback owners ended up replacing the timing belt service as well.

Several model years are affected by these failing seals, including those between 2000-2003. The average vehicle mileage when issues occur is between 72,000 and 210,000 miles.

Vibration and shuddering upon acceleration

The most common problem Subaru Outback owners may face is serious vibration and shuddering in the engine. Many reported the vibrations upon acceleration specifically. The culprit is believed to be a transmission torque converter failure, which can be replaced as a remedy.

Over 270 people reported this shuddering problem, and 18 model years were affected, including those from 2000 and newer. Those who experienced these issues owned Outback models with an average of 112,000 miles.

Head gaskets and cooling systems

Another headache for Subaru Outback owners is related to the head gasket. Many reported cooling system problems that resulted in head gasket failures altogether. This problem was so prevalent that Subaru became aware and extended the warranty to eight years and 100,000 miles for many model years to fix things.

Over 260 people reported issues, according to RepairPal.com, as owners of 16 different model years from 2000 and newer. The average mileage of the vehicles when failures presented themselves is about 103,401, although some were reported as early on as 7,500 miles.

The Subaru Outback’s oxygen sensors crack

A Subaru Outback is seen during the Vienna Car Show press preview at Messe Wien, as part of Vienna Holiday Fair, on January 15, 2020 in Vienna, Austria
The Subaru Outback | Manfred Schmid/Getty Images

There are a host of sensor-related issues showing up in the consumer reporting data as well. The front oxygen sensor for many Subaru Outback models developed cracks that triggered the “check engine” lights to illuminate. Many of the affected Outback vehicles were recalled for sensor replacement.

More specifically, you can review the Subaru service program number, WXW-80, to see if the Subaru Outback you’re considering is included in this recall. It was company-sponsored and not a government requirement. There are over 240 consumers with similar sensor issues, owning a variety of models, including those from 2000-2003. The average mileage on those models is around 145,000, although some reports came in early with 5,700 miles.

While it’s important to discuss some of the most common problems with the Subaru Outback over the years, it is also a good idea to remember just how safe and reliable these vehicles really are. Always earning high dependability ratings, retaining their value, and driving well over 200,000 miles, the Subaru Outback is an excellent buy. In fact, most critics and experts will suggest Subaru vehicles, in general, are top-notch in terms of safety and reliability.

There’s not a vehicle on the market today that doesn’t have a bad year once in a while or the occasional recall. For owners of the Subaru Outback, their loyalty far exceeds even the most common failures and complaints. And, as they would tell you, there’s not another vehicle they would prefer to own.