10 Common Subaru Outback Problems (& Recall Data)

Owners of the Subaru Outback SUV can experience several problems and issues. Today, we will be providing a list of the most common problems that can happen with the Subaru Outback and their most straightforward solutions to help address these issues. Here is a list of the most common problems that can happen with the Subaru Outback.

One of the most common problems Subaru Outback owners face is oil leaks and bad seal issues, which can cause the engine to lose oil and potentially overheat, making it a rather serious matter. Other common problems might include battery problems, windshield issues, oxygen sensor issues, transmission problems, cooling system, head gasket issues, shudders/vibrations issues, airbag issues, degrading abs brake system issues, and infotainment system issues.

We’ve also provided a list of solutions to the most common problems with the Subaru Outback below.

Many issues can be resolved without professional help, so try these simple methods first before attempting to take your car to a mechanic. If your car still isn’t working properly after trying these solutions, then feel free to take it to a mechanic for a checkup.

What Is Wrong With Your Subaru Outback

Here’s a list of all of Subaru Outback’s issues and which years they occurred:

  • Oil Leaks and Bad Seals: from 2003 to 2004
  • Battery Problems: from 2016 to 2022
  • Windshield Issues: from 2015
  • Oxygen Sensors Issues: from 2000 to 2003
  • Transmission Problems: from 2011
  • Cooling System and Head Gasket: from 1996 to 2004
  • Shudders/Vibrations: from 2004 to 2011
  • Airbag issues: from 2010 to 2014
  • Degrading ABS Brake System: from 2017
  • Infotainment System Issues: from 2020

How Reliable Is the Subaru Outback?

Is the Subaru Outback SUV reliable? This is a question that many prospective buyers have asked themselves. Several factors contribute to the reliability of any vehicle, and the Subaru Outback is no exception.

First and foremost among these is the quality of its engineering and manufacturing. In this regard, Subaru has a good reputation. The company’s vehicles have ranked around 3.5 out of 5.0 stars when measuring their quality and reliability.

It’s also worth mentioning that even the most reliable cars will eventually experience some sort of problem or failure at some point during their lifespan. No manufacturer can hope to eliminate all potential issues from their products, as it’s simply not possible and would likely drive up costs significantly.

That being said, Subaru does have an excellent track record when it comes to issuing recalls for defective parts or providing other forms of customer support in such cases.

Most Common Problems With the Subaru Outback

1. Oil Leaks and Bad Seals

If you are a Subaru Outback SUV owner, you probably know that one of the most common problems with these vehicles is the oil leaks and bad seals that happened from 2003 to 2004. Most owners reported that those problems happened around the 120,000 miles mark.

When this happens, the gaskets and seals in your engine wear out, causing oil to leak into areas where it shouldn’t be. This can lead to all sorts of problems, including decreased performance and fuel economy, as well as potentially damaging your engine.

In some cases, it may just be a simple seal that needs to be replaced, but if the leak is coming from your engine then it could be much more serious. If you’re not sure where the oil leaks are originating from, then the easiest way to find out is by taking your vehicle for an oil change.

Once the oil has been drained from your engine, take a look at all of the seals and gaskets to see if any of them appear to be damaged or leaking. If you do notice any problems with these components then it’s important to replace them as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your engine.

2. Battery Problems

Battery problems are not uncommon in the Subaru Outback SUV from the years 2016 to 2022, and due to this issue, there has also been a lawsuit filed against Subaru. Under Lemon Law, if your Subaru Outback is having this problem, you are eligible for compensation.

Many owners have reported having to replace their batteries multiple times in those years. There are a few things that can cause battery issues in the Subaru Outback SUV, so it’s important to be aware of them if you own this type of vehicle.

One common issue is that the Outback has a lot of electrical components and they all require power from the battery. This means that if any one component isn’t working properly, it can draw more power from the battery than usual and eventually lead to a dead battery.

Another problem is that cold weather can make it harder for your car’s engine to start, which puts additional strain on the battery. If you live in an area with cold winters, make sure to keep your Outback’s Battery well-charged during these months.

3. Windshield Issues

If you own a Subaru Outback SUV, then you may have experienced some windshield issues in the year 2015. A woman filed a lawsuit in June 2017, claiming that her 2015 Subaru Outback had a crack that appeared suddenly at the windshield’s base.

Due to this lawsuit, Subaru has been forced to increase the warranty on the original windshields from five years per unlimited miles to eight years per unlimited miles and has agreed to provide a one-time free repair for all owners with this issue.

In this case, the problems are caused by factory defects and not by accidental damage. However, if your vehicle’s windshield does get damaged, it is important to have it repaired as soon as possible. Driving with a cracked or shattered windshield can be extremely dangerous because it increases your chances of getting into an accident.

There are several different ways to repair a damaged windshield on your Subaru Outback SUV. You can either replace the entire glass panel or just repair the crack or chip that is causing the problem. Replacing the entire glass panel is usually more expensive than just repairing a small crack but it will provide you with a new manufacturer’s warranty on the replacement parts installed.

4. Oxygen Sensors Issues

Many people have reported that the oxygen sensors aren’t working properly on their Subaru Outback in the years 2000 to 2003. In response, the manufacturer has recalled most of the Subaru Outbacks in order for the sensors to be replaced.

The oxygen sensor monitors the exhaust gases coming out of the engine. It then sends a signal to the computer, which adjusts the air/fuel mixture accordingly. If the oxygen sensor is not working properly, it can cause issues with starting the engine, idling, and overall performance.

Additionally, it can also lead to increased fuel consumption and emissions. There are a few things that you can do to try and fix this issue yourself:

1. Clean or replace the oxygen sensors. Cleaning the oxygen sensors can be done with a wire brush and some solvent. If they are replaced, make sure to use ones that are specifically made for the Subaru Outback.

2. Check the engine coolant level and add more if needed. A low coolant level or leak can cause the oxygen sensors to fail because it can invade the sensors and prevent them from sensing the exhaust.

5. Transmission Problems

Subaru Outback is a car that’s known for its transmission problems in the year 2011. The transmission problem usually occurs at the 100,000-mile mark.

The first thing you’ll notice is the grinding noise when you shift gears. This can be caused by several things, but most likely it’s due to worn-out bearings or synchro rings.

If these aren’t replaced, the problem will get worse and eventually lead to the complete failure of the transmission. Another common issue with Subaru Outbacks is leaking fluid from the front seal. This happens because the seal dries out and cracks over time, allowing fluid to escape.

6. Cooling System and Head Gasket

The Subaru Outback is a reliable and safe SUV, but like all vehicles, it has its quirks. One such quirk is the fact that the engine cooling system and head gasket had issues in the year 1996 to 2004.

Don’t worry, as this issue was fixed in the year 2012, so if your Subaru Outback is 2012 or newer, you likely won’t have this type of issue with it.

It can cause many problems when the head gasket fails and leaks coolant into the engine. If you notice your Outback running hot, or if there is white smoke coming from the exhaust, then these are signs that the head gasket is failing. If you catch it early enough, then simply replacing the head gaskets should easily fix the problem.

7. Shudders/Vibrations

If you own a Subaru Outback, you will need to know that the issue of shuddering and vibrations of the vehicle happened from around the years 2004 to 2011. In some cases, shudders and vibrations can be normal operating characteristics of a properly functioning vehicle.

However, if the shaking is severe or accompanied by other symptoms like noise or loss of power, it could indicate a serious issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

One potential cause of shuddering is an imbalanced wheel. This can happen when a tire becomes excessively worn on one side, resulting in uneven weight distribution around the circumference of the wheel.

Unevenly balanced wheels will cause the whole car to shake, particularly at higher speeds such as above 40 mph. The solution is to have the affected wheel or wheels to be accurately rebalanced by a professional mechanic.

8. Airbag issues

If you own a Subaru Outback SUV, please be aware of issues with the airbags in the years 2010 to 2014. In those model years, the Subaru Outback had a huge 41 recalls related to their malfunctioning airbags.

If you’re looking for potential solutions, one potential solution is to have the airbags replaced with newer, more reliable models.

Another option is to add extra padding or support in the front passenger seat, which can help absorb some of the impacts in a crash and protect passengers better. Finally, make sure you and your family are aware of the risks associated with airbag issues in Subaru Outbacks and take steps to avoid crashes whenever possible.

9. Degrading ABS Brake System

Subaru Outback had the most issues with its degrading ABS brake system in the model year 2017.

What can you do when your Subaru Outback’s ABS system starts to degrade? While the underlying cause will vary from vehicle to vehicle, the signs of a degrading ABS system are generally the same.

Your first indicator will be an ABS warning light illuminated on your dash; if ignored, you may eventually experience longer stopping distances and reduced braking effectiveness overall as your brake pads wear down eventually. In severe cases, your Subaru Outback may even lose its ability to stop entirely!

If you suspect that your beloved SUV might be suffering from a failing ABS system, bring it to a trusted Service Center right away for diagnosis and repair.

Their team of highly trained technicians will locate the source of the problem and get you back out on the road with confidence – hopefully before any serious accidents occur!

10. Infotainment System Issues

There are several complaints about the infotainment system in Subaru Outback SUVs in the year 2020.

One common issue is that the screen freezes or locks up, making it unusable. Other problems include the system crashing or rebooting itself randomly, and being very slow to respond to input.

Sometimes the audio will cut out completely, or there will be static interference on radio stations. Some people have had luck getting their systems replaced by Subaru under warranty, but many others have not been so fortunate. If you’re having trouble with your Outback’s infotainment system, you may want to consider taking it to an aftermarket installer for help.

What Years Did the Subaru Outback Have Problems?

Subaru Outback had the worst year in 2013 when they issued a huge recall on their vehicles. Other worst years would include 2019, 2020, and 2021, and Subaru Outback’s best years would include 2005, 2007, and 2009. If you’re looking to purchase a Subaru Outback make sure to buy one from the years 2005-2009.

Subaru Outback Worst YearsSubaru Outback Best Years

What Is a Recall Number?

A recall number is a specific identification code that identifies your vehicle’s safety and/or emissions-related recalls. This can be found on the inside panel of your car door, or possibly in your glove box if you have one.

When searching for active recalls related to your car, this unique identifier will ensure accuracy in identifying whether any are affecting your particular vehicle type and year model.

Recent Recall Numbers

We’ll be providing a list of the most recent recall numbers for Subaru Outback. If you wish to see more of Subaru Outback’s recall numbers feel free to look them up on www.cars.com.

  • 20V003000, for airbags
  • 20V002000, for airbags
  • 20V001000, for airbags
  • 19V297000, for the electrical system

Check To See Whether Your Vehicle Has an Open Recall

You can check to see whether your vehicle has an open recall or not by checking out this website called: https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls. It’s an easy website to use. All you need to do is enter your 17-digit VIN and it will show up if your vehicle has an open recall.

How Is It Compared To Similar Cars?

How does the Subaru Outback SUV stack up against similar cars? When it comes to SUVs, the competition is fierce. But the Outback stands out in a few key ways.

First, its unique all-wheel drive system gives it an edge in off-road and inclement weather conditions. Second, its spacious interior and ample cargo space make it ideal for families or anyone who needs extra room on their travels. Finally, its fuel efficiency means that you won’t have to spend as much at the pump – always a bonus!

So if you’re looking for an SUV that’s reliable, comfortable, and capable of handling anything you throw at it, then be sure to check out the Subaru Outback.

Since it has a 3.5 rating out of 5 stars that means that it has above-average reliability and that it’s slightly better when it is compared to other similar cars. Keep that in mind, when you’re making a purchase!

What Is the Life Expectancy?

The Subaru Outback SUV has a life expectancy of about 15-20 years, lasting drivers up to 300,000 miles if they’re properly maintained. This vehicle is reliable and built to last, making it a great choice for families or anyone looking for a dependable ride.

The Outback also features all-wheel drive, giving you added traction and stability in any weather conditions.

With its solid construction and a long list of standard safety features, the Subaru Outback is sure to keep you safe on the road for many years to come.

What Is Good and Bad About the Car?

There are pros and cons to owning a Subaru Outback, so today we’ve come up with a list of pros and cons to owning it down below:


  • all-wheel drive makes it great for travel
  • roomy and comfortable interior
  • excellent safety ratings and features


  • can be expensive to maintain
  • fuel economy could be better
  • inferior voice recognition technology

What Do Owners Say About the Car?

Subaru Outback SUVs have a strong reputation for being tough, reliable, and comfortable. Owners say that these vehicles are great for travel and adventures, but also make excellent daily drivers thanks to their comfort and capability.

Many owners note that the Outback is roomy inside with plenty of cargo space, while some other owners criticize it for its fuel efficiency. Some also find its voice recognition technology challenging to use, but on the whole, owners report being content with their purchase.

In conclusion, there are pros and cons to buying a Subaru Outback. A few pros are its simple travel, roomy interior, and excellent safety ratings.

Some cons to buying a Subaru Outback might include expensive maintenance fees, expensive fuels, and inferior voice recognition. Remember to keep these points in mind if you’re thinking of purchasing your very own Subaru Outback!