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2010 Subaru Outback Problems and Reliability

2010 Subaru Outback Problems and Reliability

The Subaru Outback has been around for many years, and this is partly because there’s never really been a bad Outback. In fact, the Outback has gained many loyalists throughout the years, thanks to its practicality, car-like driving experience despite its size. The 2010 Subaru Outback, particularly, is well-liked for providing more space and utility that help a lot in the owner’s daily adventures. However, this model year also has its own set of issues such as its awkward exterior styling, disappointing handling and the fact that there is no turbo model for mountain terrain. It does not end there. Subaru also issued 18 recalls for this model year because of a number of 2010 Subaru Outback problems. 

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But before we delve into the problems, here are the 2010 Subaru Outback’s main features:  


Performance and Engine: Every 2010 Outback comes with all-wheel drive. Its 2.5i models have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 170 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. The Base trim and Premium trims have a six-speed manual as standard. CVT is available as an option on those trims, and comes standard on the Limited trim. It has EPA estimates of 18/25/20.


Driving: Because of its increased size and the fact that it is designed to be more of an SUV than a wagon, the 2010 Subaru Outback has lost a lot of its agility edge over crossovers. Older Outback models are more fun to drive. But the ride quality is better than previous models as it absorbs bumps in a sophisticated manner, providing comfort without full isolation. 


Interior: The 2010 Outback’s larger size is most noticeable on the inside. It has a large cargo capacity of 71.3 cubic feet when the rear seats are lowered. It also provides ample legroom for a more comfortable travel. But this year’s edition is said to have lower quality interior materials and design than the previous model year. 

Is the 2010 Subaru Outback a good car?

Overall, the 2010 Subaru Outback provides a comfortable and spacious ride despite its lack of agility. Is it a good car? You be the judge. In this section, you will find out the different 2010 Subaru Outback problems for you to determine if the problems are too serious to be ignored or not big enough to be worried about:


  1. Visibility Problem: One of the biggest 2010 Subaru Outback problems is that the parts within the windshield wiper motor bottom cover get in each other’s way leading to reduced visibility. When there’s an obstruction, the formation of snow or ice would prevent the wiper arms from stopping when the car is parked which can cause overheating of the wiper motor and may even melt the bottom cover. This issue has impacted the production of the 2010 Outback. In fact, the Subaru in America has recalled the 2010-2014 models because of this.


  1. Safety Airbags Issue: The Subaru of America recalled the 2009-2012 Outback models along with Legacy, WRX, Forester and Tribeca models. These Subarus have air bag inflators as part of the passenger airbag modules. If a crash occurs and calls for the deployment of the passenger frontal airbags, these inflators have the possibility of exploding due to propellant degradation happening after exposure to humidity and to a certain temperature. 


  1. Exterior Lighting Problem: Subaru has recalled some of its car models of 2010 and 2011 including Outback. The Outback comes with accessory puddle lights, which lit up and brighten the area below the vehicle’s doors. The problem is, a short circuit might occur when either the puddle light or the connector is exposed to an electrolytic moisture source, penetrating the puddle light’s circuit board or the light connector’s pins. 


  1. Parking Brake Issue: Another issue of the 2010 Outback models along with the 2014 models is the Electronic Parking Brake malfunction which made Subaru recall these model years which are equipped with manual transmission.


  1. Remote Engine Starter Fob Problem: A recall was also done for 2010 Outback models due to a malfunctioning remote engine starter fob.


Aside from the above mentioned problems, Subaru also made a recall for a failing open circuit steering roll connector. There were also a limited number of problems with the transmission being recalled due to the gears not being properly lubricated, affecting only 800 vehicles.   

Does 2010 Subaru Outback have head gasket problems?

A few 2010 Subaru Outback owners have reported leaking of head gaskets at higher mileage. Indications of the issue are overheating, coolant odor under the hood and dropping coolant level. Replacement of head gaskets is expensive, costing around $1,000 to $1,600.  

Is the Subaru Outback a reliable vehicle?

J.D. Power gave the 2010 Subaru Outback a reliability rating of 81 percent. This is based on the level of design flaws, defects and malfunctions experienced by car owners. This includes the entire car from engine to infotainment system. The higher the rating, the fewer the problems. This rating is pretty good considering this model year has a total of 18 recalls.  


The Outback model has been on the Subaru roster for more than 25 years. Like all other Subarus, it’s a four-wheel drive vehicle. The Outback also has high ground clearance. The 2010 Subaru Outback is not the only model year that has reliability issues. The Outback model is not as good as its sister vehicles when talking about reliability. The 2010 model year is not the only model year that has experienced a lot of recalls. 


The early 2010s are Subaru’s peak of popularity. One of the reasons the reliability of Subaru has declined is the fact that it doesn’t have many models on its roster so when one or two models rate low in reliability the whole brand suffers. A solid example of this is when the Outback and Legacy’s reliability ratings drop, the whole Subaru line-up is dragged down. Other brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW are not as affected as Subaru when one or two of their models drop in dependability. This is because they have a larger range of models. So even if one or two models have low reliability ratings, the brand’s reliability as a whole is not that affected. 


The Subaru Outback and the Subaru Legacy are two models that have big reliability issues due to problems with in-car electronics, leaks and noises. These are common reasons why the dependability of Subaru as a brand has declined since the early 2000s. Aside from that, the high average cost of repairing Subarus also contributed to its declining dependability. But keep in mind that the Subaru is definitely not the most unreliable brand out there and it continues to produce good cars that many drivers have no problem with. But you might want to consider other models, instead of the Outback. 

Which year of Subaru Outback is best?

Six generations of Subaru Outback have hit the road. Throughout the years, the Outback has gained a good number of loyal car owners. But which generation is the best? Let’s start with the best.


  1. 2005-2009 Outbacks: This generation is where Subaru truly made an effort to bring both utility and performance in one package. It was also the first time the turbocharged XT model became available in North America, being equipped with 250 hp from a 2.5 four-cylinder engine borrowed from the WRX model. A 3.0-liter flat six was also made available. It also marked the dividing line between the Outback tending to be more like its Legacy roots and the future of the crossover which would become bigger in size and consequently abandoning some of its driving feel at the end of this third-gen run. The Outback sedan also said goodbye in 2008. 


  1. 1994-1999 Outbacks: The original Subaru Outback mastered the art of simplicity, boosting the Legacy wagon’s ride height, adding some plastic cladding for a rugged feel, and all of a sudden Subaru invented a completely new market segment. It would take a few years before Subaru was able to perfect the formula. The 1994 and 1995 model years were little more than cosmetically-updated Legacy long-roofs. But in 1996, everything came together and the Outback continued moving forward. After a few years, the sedan type of Subaru Outback appeared, and though it didn’t achieve the same status as its long-roof counterpart, it was able to stay true to the Outback’s boldness of its mission statement. It is hard to imagine Subaru as a household name without the Outback past the 1990s.


  1. 2000-2004 Outbacks: There weren’t any major improvements made for the 2000 to 2004 generation. But one of this generation’s highlights is the fact that this was the first time the Outback moved away from the Legacy becoming its own model (although staying on the Legacy chassis). It also became a more useful package, adding three inches in length and growing a bit in width, resulting in a more usable interior room. Not to mention, improved suspension at the back also increases cargo capacity. The Outback’s all-wheel drive system also became more advanced when you get its automatic transmission version, providing dynamic power distribution based on traction conditions. The flat 3.0-liter six also became available in the 2000 model year, increasing output to 210 hp over the 165 provided by its standard 2.5-L flat-four. 


  1. 2020 to present Outbacks: The 2020 model year is considered to be a completely different animal. The crossover is considerably bigger than previous model years and comes equipped with more technology such as a long list of active safety gear that has gradually become a staple of the brand. Model Year 2020 also marks the comeback of the turbo, offering 260 hp from a 2.4-L four-cylinder engine (with a 182-hp 2.5-L motor still available). It’s also the first Outback to be offered with no option of a six-cylinder engine since the original vehicle. It remains to be competitive against bigger SUVs despite straying from its modestly-sized origins. Its new platform also has a handling upgrade, removing some of the boredom that had found its way into the driving experience of the Subaru.


  1. 2009-2014 Outbacks: In 2009, the Outback became bulkier in both look and feel out on the road. It also had an improved interior room, but you could not help but notice that the Outback was nearer to the edge in terms of copying the clunky SUV models it had long run rings around. The XT model was no longer offered, replaced by a 256-hp 3.6-L flat-six engine, but the 2.5-L engine remained. The XT’s death marked Subaru’s straying away from courting enthusiasts with the Outback.


  1. 2015-2019 Outbacks: Subaru significantly conformed with the Outback’s mechanicals for its 5th-gen, with the exception of a CVT taking over for the torque converter-equipped unit of its predecessors. This greatly impacted the enjoyment of the driving experience of the crossover and is one of the reasons it became boring on the road. Still, like the fourth-generation Outback, it continued to provide impressive practicality for buyers who are frustrated by a lack of wagon options on today’s market. 


Are Subaru Outbacks expensive to maintain?

The estimated cost to maintain and repair this Subaru model ranges from $80-$6,388. The average cost for maintenance and repair is $294. Considering that there’s an average of $500 to $600 for any given repair on any given vehicle, the average cost of maintaining and repairing a Subaru Outback brings good news, being a couple hundred dollars below the overall average cost of repairs. But you must also be prepared for certain repairs that can cost a lot.




The recalls along with the problems pose a big question mark on the reliability of the 2010 Subaru Outback. These problems and recalls also affected its availability on the market. Nonetheless, you should not completely write off the 2010 Subaru Outback as it still is good enough for long trips with family and friends. The overall reliability of the 2010 Subaru Outback is also above average despite the recalls and the problems. 


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