Subaru first introduced the Outback back in 1994. It has been a routinely popular seller for the manufacturer, with many years seeing sales of well over 100,000 units and in some cases getting close to 200,000 units sold per year.
Even though the Subaru Outback has proven to be a very popular model for Subaru, the vehicle is not without its problems. There have been many model years that have received a number of complaints. If you're looking at getting the Subaru Outback, you should take a look and see what some of the more common problems have been throughout the various model years so you'll be aware of what may pop up and potentially how much it will cost if it's an issue for you.
Even though as we said the Outback has been in production since 1994, we'll simply focus on models from 2005 to the present. Any further back than 15 years and you're courting danger with potential problems that could arise from a vehicle that old.
2005 Subaru Outback Problems
In 2005, the Subaru Outback had issues with things like the head gasket leaking, issues with speed control, as well as clutch problems. A number of drivers reported things like the clutch failing even though they were at fairly low mileage still.
There were nine recalls issued for the 2005 Subaru Outback model year. While a couple of them were not extensive, a good number of them affected well over 100,000 vehicles. This included problems like the passenger front airbag inflator exploding, the passenger side front airbag inflator rupturing and brake lines failing due to corrosion which affected over 460,000 vehicles. Both the exploding airbag inflator and the corroding brake lines had to separate recalls issued for them.
2006 Subaru Outback Problems
In 2006, the chief problem with the Subaru Outback was related to engine problems. There were issues with oil leaking and the speed control problems that affected 2005 for all so prevalent in 2006
In 2006 there were seven different recalls for the Subaru Outback. Exploding airbag inflators continued to be under recall for this year as well as the rupture and the brake line corrosion issue.
2007 Subaru Outback Problems
Many of the same problems from previous years affected the 2007 model year. Engine issues were still widely reported with problems relating to misfires and leaking head gaskets. Another common problem that popped up for this model year was airbag light staying on
In 2007 there were a number of recalls for the Outback that carried over from previous years. Again the airbag inflator issue was present and the corroded brake lines. There was also a recall related to power relay failure that could cause overheating air pumps.
2008 Subaru Outback Problems
The 2008 model year the Subaru Outback was not affected by as many problems as some prior years had been. The biggest issue was an airbag light that didn't seem to want to turn off though there were some reported engine issues as well including the blown head gasket problem. Overall, these were fairly limited however, and the 2008 year was pretty reliable.
There were eight recalls for the 2008 year. Exploding airbag inflators remained an issue and failing power relays continued to be a problem. Brake line corrosion was also an issue.
2009 Subaru Outback Problems
Overall, 2009 was also a fairly good year for the Subaru Outback. Limited problems related to engine issues and things of that nature did pop up, but they were not particularly extensive. No more than you would expect to find in any vehicle model regardless of make and year.
There were a number of recalls that affected the 2009 model year as well. The airbag issue continued into this year but there were several different versions of the recall put into place even though they all essentially dealt with the same thing. Overall, these issues affected several hundred thousand vehicles in total. The brake line issue also affected several hundred thousand vehicles.
2010 Subaru Outback Problems
The chief problem with the 2010 Subaru Outback related to engine issues. In particular, stalling and hesitation were reported by several drivers.
The most significant thing to know about the 2010 Outback was that there were seventeen recalls issued affecting this year. Predictably, the airbag inflator explosion issue has continued through this model year with numerous recalls related to the same problem. There is also a sweeping recall for nearly 600,000 vehicles that covered an issue with the windshield wiper motor bottom cover mounting which could reduce visibility and cause a crash because your wipers weren't working at all, not to mention the risk of fire.
There's also a recall regarding the remote engine starter fob malfunctioning and an accessory puddle light short circuiting which affected over 633,000 vehicles. Another recall was issued for an open circuit of the steering roll connector malfunctioning and there were a limited number of issues with the transmission being recalled because the gears were not properly lubricated. That was a small recall overall it only affected just over 800 vehicles.
2011 Subaru Outback Problems
In the 2011 model year for the Subaru Outback there were a number of reports of lighting problems. In particular, there was an issue with the headlights burning out prematurely. That was the most prevalent issue for this model year. engine problems and transmission problems also cropped up but not in any great abundance. Nothing that rivals the amount of problems people were having with their headlights.
Sixteen recalls were issued for this model year, but most of them were just holdovers from the same recalls that affected other model years. The passenger front airbag inflator exploding continue to be a problem, and there was also a minor issue with electronic parking brakes failing and the windshield wiper motor cover was still an issue
2012 Subaru Outback Problems
2012 was not a bad year for the Subaru Outback by any means. The issue with the lights was still present, but it wasn't one that affected a ton of vehicles either. Overall, the issues people had with the 2012 model were the same sort of problems that you can expect to get from any car model. unsurprisingly there were a number of recalls for this model year as well, 16 in total. The same airbag problem persisted through this model year as well. The windshield wiper problem was also an issue here, but the brake corrosion problem was no longer under recall in 2012.
2013 Subaru Outback Problems
In 2013, the Subaru Outback had a number of serious problems that should be cause for alarm if you're looking at this model year. One of the most persistent complaints for this year dealt with engine problems, and in specific excessive oil consumption. There were some drivers who made reports to the national highway traffic safety administration claiming that they were having to put in a quart of oil every 1,000 miles or so. That would make driving this model extremely impractical. The oil consumption issue ended up being part of a class action lawsuit against Subaru that they ended up settling.
There were also a number of recalls that still affected the 2013 model year. The airbag issue extended into this year as did the problem with the windshield wiper motor bottom cover.
2014 Subaru Outback Problems
There were also a number of problems with the engine in the 2014 Subaru Outback. Although there were some complaints of excessive oil consumption for this model year, the bigger concern with many drivers was an issue with hesitation when accelerating.
There were 10 recalls that affected this model year and again the airbag inflator exploding was the chief among them.
2015 Subaru Outback Problems
There are more complaints related to the 2015 model year of the Subaru Outback than any other model year. The upside to that is many of the issues reported with the 2015 Outback are not of the same calibre as previous years issues. Instead of problems with excessive oil consumption and transmission, there were a lot of issues with interior accessories like radios not working or Bluetooth not connecting. Other drivers complained of exterior accessories also being a problem, things like the liftgate not working properly or an issue with cracking windshields. While these are certainly inconvenient and problematic, they are not as potentially dangerous as failing engines.
2015 was the start of the fifth generation of the Outbacks and as a result of the recalls that affect this particular year are finally different than what had been affecting the previous years. No longer is there a problem in this particular model year with airbags. There was a recall that affected just over 48,000 vehicles related to a potential loss of steering ability and another recall that affected over 71,000 vehicles relating to the collision mitigation braking not functioning properly.
2016 Subaru Outback Problems
Electrical problems were the big issue facing the 2016 Subaru Outback. Several drivers complained that their battery drained quickly, and others complained that the vehicle simply wouldn't start.
There were a handful of recalls for this model year as well, the loss of steering ability from the previous year carries over to this one. But they still affected a limited number of vehicles.
2017 Subaru Outback Problems
2017 was arguably one of the best model years for the Subaru Outback. If you're looking for a more recent used Outback, you probably would have good luck if you picked up a 2017. One of the chief concerns that drivers expressed with this model year was related to the touch screen radio freezing up or fuel gauge not quite working as expected. Overall, it's minor electrical issues that have been a problem for a very limited number of drivers.
The recalls relating to this model year are also very limited in scope, with the loss of steering ability recall still being the chief one that only affected 48,000 Vehicles overall across several model years.
2018 Subaru Outback Problems
Unfortunately, there were more issues reported with the 2018 model year of the Subaru Outback. The chief concern drivers have had I've been related to electrical issues. In particular, a number of drivers have had problems with their battery dying unexpectedly.
There was a recall issued for the 2018 Outback relating to an incorrect fuel range display. This could cause your vehicle to tell you that you still have gas when you in fact do not. That in turn could lead to stalling at unexpected times. That recall affected just over a quarter of a million vehicles. There was a less-extensive recall for an issue with the rear camera not displaying the image which could potentially cause a crash. That one affected just over 70,000 Vehicles.
2019 Subaru Outback Problems
There have not been extensive issues with the 2019 model year of the Subaru Outback, although there have been some issues related to the exterior accessories such as windshield wipers. In addition, a number of drivers reported that their windshield simply cracks for no reason at all. Sometimes even when they were parked.
There's only one recall that has been issued for the 2019 Subaru Outback. This relates to the fuel pump failing and potentially causing your engine to stall. If this happened when driving, it could lead to a crash and damage or injury. The recall affected just over 188,000 vehicles.
2020 Subaru Outback Problems
The data for the 2020 Subaru Outback is still limited of course because we're only part way through the year. The most common complaint that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received relating to this model year so far has been the same as the previous year. There are a lot of instances in which the windshields crack for no particular reason, potentially as a result of just the normal vibrations from driving.
So far there's only been one recall issued for the 2020 Subaru Outback model year, and it only affects just over 3,000 Vehicles. It relates to loose or missing brake pedal mounting bracket bolts. That can affect your ability to break and could potentially cause a crash, but as we said it's a very limited number of vehicles that I've been affected by the recall.
The Bottom Line
The Subaru Outback has been a fairly reliable vehicle for many model years. They're definitely a couple years that you should probably try to avoid, but the newer models, and some that are a few years old at this point have proven to be very reliable vehicles that could potentially be worth your money.