Learn Which Subaru Outback Years to Avoid and Which Years Are the Best

The Subaru Outback has established itself as a dependable and adaptable vehicle, earning a well-deserved reputation over the years. However, if you’re in the market for a used Outback, it’s crucial to be aware of certain model years that may not offer the same level of reliability. We understand the importance of ensuring your driving experience is filled with joyrides, rather than constant headaches. In this article, we will help you identify the specific years to steer clear of and highlight the best years for the Subaru Outback.

By equipping yourself with this valuable knowledge, you can confidently make an informed decision when searching for a used Outback that perfectly aligns with your needs, while avoiding any unforeseen complications. Let’s dive right in and discover which Subaru Outback years should be avoided.

Learn Which Subaru Outback Years to Avoid and Which Years Are the Best

Which Subaru Outback Years To Avoid? Find Out Here

It is recommended to avoid the Subaru Outback model years 2005-2006, 2010-2014, 2017, and 2019-2020 due to higher reported issues. For a satisfactory purchase, the best years to buy are 1994-2004, 2009, and 2021-2023, known for their dependability and few problems.

2005 and 2006 Subaru Outback: Cruise Control Woes

Cruise Control Technology Problems

The 2005 and 2006 Subaru Outback model years introduced cruise control technology that proved ineffective and problematic. Many owners reported issues such as overspeeding, under-speeding, and non-responsiveness. The cruise control system in these vehicles could cause more harm than good, compromising the overall driving experience.

Common Problems and Complaints

Aside from cruise control issues, owners of the 2005 and 2006 Outback faced additional problems. Complaints included excessive oil consumption, oil leaks and head gasket failure on the 4-cylinder, vibration while accelerating, and shudders between gears. The check engine light was frequently illuminated, and head gasket leakage was a common occurrence. These issues posed significant challenges for owners, impacting the reliability and performance of their vehicles.

However, subsequent years, such as 2007 and 2008, saw slight adjustments in the engine bay to address these issues.

2010 Subaru Outback: Recalls and Multiple Issues

Airbag Recalls and Brake Line Problems

The 2010 Subaru Outback faced recalls related to airbag issues, specifically the notorious Takata airbag recall. Additionally, owners reported problems such as broken brake lines and inoperable engines, raising concerns about safety and overall reliability.

Complaints and Common Problems

Owners of the 2010 Outback voiced complaints about engine failures, oil leaks, transmission noise, and head gasket failures. These issues contributed to a decrease in confidence and satisfaction among owners.

2011 Subaru Outback: Safety Risks and Transmission Troubles

Powertrain-Related Problems

The 2011 Subaru Outback faced several safety risks and powertrain-related issues. Owners reported instances of power steering occasionally ceasing, frequent engine stalling, and even transmission failure. These problems compromised the safety and drivability of the vehicle, raising concerns among owners.

Transmission Failure and Other Issues

Transmission failure was a recurring problem in the 2011 Outback, with many owners experiencing issues such as stalling while braking or stopping. Shuddering between gears was also common, indicating potential problems with the transmission system. Furthermore, the model year was included in the Takata airbag recall, which highlighted additional safety concerns.

Frequent Headlight and Bulb Failures

Many Owners frequently reported headlight and bulb failures, requiring frequent replacements and affecting visibility during nighttime driving.

Safety Concerns and Other Issues

The 2011 Outback faced additional safety risks, including unexpected airbag deployment and faulty brake pedal sensors. These issues potentially threatened driver and passenger safety. Complaints regarding excessive oil consumption and transmission problems were also common.

2013 Subaru Outback: Engine Problems and Oil Consumption

Faulty Piston Rings and Excessive Oil Consumption

Unfortunately, 2013 was a year that will forever be remembered as Subaru’s darkest period, marred by a class action lawsuit stemming from a critical problem: faulty piston rings. This issue wreaked havoc on the 2013 Outback models, primarily manifesting as excessive oil consumption, and in the worst instances, even culminating in engine failure. Countless owners experienced the distressing consequences of this flaw, either encountering severe engine malfunctions after reaching a specific mileage threshold or while driving at high speeds.

Transmission and Engine Troubles

Alongside excessive oil consumption, steering and transmission problems compounded the frustrations faced by owners, with additional complaints related to the continuously variable transmission (CVT) and windshield cracking. While Subaru offered compensation to affected customers, caution is still advised when considering a 2013 Outback.2014 Subaru Outback: Brake Pad Quality and Vibration

Low-Quality Brake Pads

The 2014 Subaru Outback was plagued by low-quality brake pads, which wore out faster than expected. This issue required premature brake pad replacements, resulting in additional expenses for owners.

Acceleration Vibration and Other Complaints

Acceleration in the 2014 Outback often caused vibration, impacting the overall driving experience. Unfortunately, the cause of this issue couldn’t be easily diagnosed and rectified by Subaru technicians. Additionally, owners reported excessive oil consumption, transmission, and engine failure as common problems.

2017 Subaru Outback: Battery and Windshield Woes

Battery and Starting Issues

The 2017 Subaru Outback suffered from battery-related problems similar to its predecessors. Owners reported instances of the engine failing to start due to sudden battery depletion. The repeated occurrence of this issue caused frustration and inconvenience for many owners.

Fragile Windshields and Other Complaints

In addition to battery problems, the 2017 Outback was plagued by fragile windshields. Owners found their windshields prone to cracking for no apparent reason, even under normal driving conditions. This quality issue raised concerns about safety and reliability. Other complaints included dead batteries, cracked windshields, and issues with the touch-screen radio freezing and becoming unresponsive.

Despite the battery and windshield issues, the 2017 Subaru Outback gained widespread acclaim for its top safety ratings and reliability. Recognized as one of the safest vehicles in its class, it earned the top safety pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Furthermore, owners reported its practicality and remarkable longevity, with some vehicles surpassing the 250,000-mile mark.

2018 Subaru Outback: Power Drain and Battery Depletion

Power Drain Problems

The 2018 Outback experienced frequent power drains and premature battery depletion, leaving many owners stranded and requiring battery replacements. These unexpected incidents led to frustrating situations and the need for assistance from breakdown services.

Additional Issues

In addition to power drain problems, owners of the 2018 Outback reported other common issues. These included easily cracked windshields, which further added to the overall dissatisfaction with the model year. Steering that pulled to one side was also a concern for some owners, affecting the vehicle’s handling and safety.

2019 Subaru Outback: Fragile Windshields and Unintended Acceleration

Fragile Windshields Persist

The 2019 Subaru Outback shared a common issue with its predecessor: fragile windshields. Owners found their windshields susceptible to sudden cracks, dents, and scratches. This compromised the overall durability and safety of the vehicle.

Unintended Acceleration Concerns

Some owners reported instances of unintended acceleration in the 2019 Outback. This safety concern raised alarms among drivers, emphasizing the importance of cautious driving and regular maintenance. In addition to unintended acceleration, complaints of dead batteries and windshield cracks were also prevalent.

2020 Subaru Outback: Cracked Windshields and Blindspot Warning Problems

Randomly Cracked Windshields

The 2020 Subaru Outback faced a similar windshield problem, with owners experiencing sudden cracks without any apparent cause. This issue left owners frustrated and concerned about the safety and longevity of their vehicles.

Blindspot Warning System Issues

Owners of the 2020 Outback reported problems with the blindspot warning system, which failed to alert them to nearby vehicles. This deficiency posed a safety risk and could potentially lead to accidents. Alongside the windshield and blindspot warning issues, common problems included cracked windshields and battery failures. However, it is important to note that some models also have reported issues with the continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Which Are Subaru Outback Best Years Till Now

1994-2004 Subaru Outback: Reliability and Simplicity

The first and second-generation Outback models, produced between 1994 and 2004, are widely considered as the best years for reliability among all Outback models. These vehicles feature a simple yet effective design, powerful engines, and impressive fuel efficiency. Their ruggedness and dependability have made them a popular choice for adventurous individuals and families seeking a capable vehicle for all terrains.

The first-generation Subaru Outback holds a special place in the hearts of Subaru enthusiasts. It was based on the Subaru Legacy wagon and introduced raised suspension, improved ground clearance, and all-wheel drive, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a capable and versatile vehicle. Although finding a first-generation Outback with low mileage can be challenging due to its age, these models are revered for their simplicity, potent engines, and fuel efficiency.

Building upon the success of its predecessor, the second-generation Subaru Outback brought notable improvements in engine performance and transmission. These models exhibited fewer issues than the first generation, making them a compelling choice for used car buyers. However,  as discussed above avoiding the 2005 and 2006 models is advisable due to reported oil leaks that could affect long-term reliability.

2009 Subaru Outback: Performance and Versatility

The 2009 Subaru Outback stood out from its counterparts due to significant upgrades and improvements. Subaru addressed previous complaints and introduced the Turbocharger XT, capable of producing up to 250 horsepower. With two engine options, including a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a more powerful turbocharged variant, the 2009 Outback offered exceptional performance and versatility.

2021 Subaru Outback: A Resilient Revival

The year 2020 may have been challenging for the Subaru Outback, but its successor, the 2021 model, emerged as a beacon of hope for enthusiasts. Subaru addressed previous issues, such as the electrical system and windshield fragility, ensuring a more reliable and robust driving experience. Alongside these essential fixes, the 2021 Outback welcomed several noteworthy upgrades, including rear passenger warning lights and adaptive headlamps. These enhancements showcased Subaru’s dedication to safety and convenience, elevating the overall appeal of the Outback to a wider audience.

2022 Subaru Outback: Conquering New Frontiers

The 2022 Subaru Outback continued to excel by introducing the Wilderness trim, a rugged variant designed for off-road enthusiasts. It featured improved suspension and all-terrain tires, allowing it to conquer challenging terrains while maintaining its spaciousness. The Outback’s exterior design underwent a refreshing transformation, combining boldness and elegance. Advanced technology, including a user-friendly infotainment system and driver-assistance features, enhanced comfort and convenience while elevating the overall driving experience.

For those looking to enhance their Outback, consider investing in the best seat covers for the Subaru Outback. These seat covers not only protect your vehicle’s interior but also add a touch of personal style and customization. With a wide range of options available, you can find seat covers that perfectly complement your Outback’s aesthetics while providing utmost comfort for you and your passengers.

2023 Subaru Outback: The Latest Advancements

The 2023 Subaru Outback continues the legacy of excellence, offering impressive ground clearance, standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, and advanced safety features. Recognized as the #9 Best Midsize SUV of 2023 by Kelley Blue Book, the 2023 Outback combines ruggedness and refinement. With engine options including a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a turbocharged variant, this model offers a balance of power and efficiency.

Most common Subaru Outback problems

Increased Oil Consumption: A Concern for Some Models

One significant problem that some Subaru Outback owners have encountered is increased oil consumption. Particularly affected are the fifth-generation models with 2.5-liter engines and the third-generation models with both 2.5-liter and 3.0-liter engines. The primary culprit behind this issue is often a blown head gasket, leading to higher oil consumption within the first 100,000 miles. While not all Outback vehicles experience this problem, monitoring oil levels closely and promptly addressing any signs of excessive consumption to prevent engine damage is essential.

Electrical System Faults: Modern Features, Occasional Issues

With the introduction of modern technology, newer generations of the Subaru Outback come equipped with various electrical systems. While these features enhance the driving experience, they can also lead to electrical system faults. Fifth- and sixth-generation Outback owners have reported issues such as radio failure and faults in the infotainment system. Typically, these problems arise due to loose electrical connections. Consulting a car electrician is often the most effective way to resolve these issues and ensure the smooth operation of the vehicle’s electrical systems.

Cooling System Failure: Linked to Head Gasket Leaks

Another concern reported in certain model years of the Subaru Outback is the cooling system failure, often connected to head gasket leaks. Third and fifth-generation Outback models have been most affected by this problem. Malfunctioning water pumps are frequently blamed for failing to circulate coolant effectively between the engine and radiator. Drivers may notice a significant increase in engine temperature, potentially leading to overheating. Regular inspections and promptly addressing any cooling system issues can help prevent serious engine damage and maintain optimal performance.

Transmission Problems: A Costly Challenge

In addition to the aforementioned issues, certain Subaru Outback model years, particularly from 2010 to 2013, have experienced transmission problems. Harsh shifting and transmission slipping are commonly reported, and the 2013 models have been known to suffer from faulty piston rings that cause oil leaks into the cylinders. Addressing these transmission faults often requires a complete rebuild, making it one of the more expensive repairs for Outback owners. With average costs ranging from $2500 to $3000, monitoring transmission performance and seeking professional assistance at the earliest signs of trouble is essential.


When considering the purchase of a Subaru Outback, it is crucial to be aware of the potential issues associated with certain model years. While Subaru has taken steps to address and rectify these problems, it’s important to exercise caution and thorough inspection when considering specific years. By avoiding the problematic model years discussed in this article, you can increase your chances of owning a reliable and enjoyable Subaru Outback.


How can I ensure that I’m buying a reliable Subaru Outback?

To ensure reliability, it’s recommended to thoroughly inspect the vehicle, conduct a test drive, review its maintenance history, and consider getting a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic.

Last Updated on May 1, 2024 by Rifen

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top