Subaru Outback Years To Avoid (5 Major Problems)

Subaru Outbacks come with everything you need in a crossover SUV – space, smart features, balanced wheel, off-road capability, and a good powertrain. But well, no matter how good SUVs are built, some specific model years tend to give a lot of problems.

It’s worth noting that there are some Subaru Outback years to avoid! The Subaru Outback has had 27 model years and received over 900 owner complaints across these model years.

The most problematic Subaru Outback models fall into the fourth and fifth gen years; this includes 2011, 2013 thru 2018 Subaru Outbacks. It is important to note that these Subaru Outbacks received a high number of complaints from their owners.

Hence, they’re considered the most problematic model years! That said, below is everything you need to know about these Subaru Outback models, why you should avoid them, and the best years of Subaru Outbacks to buy!

Subaru Outback Overview

The Subaru Outback is a nameplate for two different vehicles built and marketed by the Japanese automaker Subaru. It refers to the crossover station wagon, the Outback (also called Legacy Outback), and the Impreza-derived hatchback, the Outback Sport.

There are six generations of the Subaru Outback; the automaker stopped making Sedna-based Outbacks after the third generation, which lasted from 2004 to 2009. Currently, there are only wagon-based Subaru Outbacks, and they deliver quite great performance.

The Subaru Outback comes standard with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, depending on the model year/trim level you decide to buy.

Subaru Outback Years To Avoid and Why

These Subaru Outback model years are flagged as “Problematic” years because they gave the owners a lot of problems.

According to Subaru Outback owners’ complaints submitted to CarComplaints, the worst model year of the Subaru Outback is 2013. Other problematic years include 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

The first-gen Subaru Outbacks also have many problems, but it’s unlikely you won’t find them in dealerships today. Even on other car sale websites, chances of finding 1994 – 2000 Subaru Outbacks are lean.

So, hereunder is the list of Subaru Outbacks to avoid and why you should do so.

  • 2011 Subaru Outback
  • 2013 Subaru Outback
  • 2015 Subaru Outback
  • 2016 Subaru Outback
  • 2017 Subaru Outback
  • 2018 Subaru Outback

Common Subaru Outbacks Problems

Subaru Outback owners indicated these problems; there were many problems reported for the Subaru Outback, but these are the major ones you should know about.

1. Engine Problems

  • Affected Models: 2006, 2013, 2014, and 2015 models

Quite a lot of engine problems were reported for the Subaru Outbacks produced in the indicated years. The most common problems are hesitation during acceleration, excessive oil consumption, loud noise when driving, check engine light, and cruise control light won’t go off.

Fixing these indicated problems costs $500 to $2,700 depending on what component needs to be changed. In most cases (of leaks), the head gasket is what needs to be changed. According to reports, most critical Subaru Outback engine problems occur after 100k miles.

2. Interior Accessories Failure

  • Affected Models: 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 model years

The radio and infotainment system on most Subaru Outback reportedly fail after some time. The most common accessories problems with the indicated Outback years above are GPS failure, radio system failure, infotainment/touchscreen issues, voice navigation problems, and pretty much more.

Well, the sad thing is that, although most of these issues cost very low to fix, the fact that they occur in low mileage is practically a red flag. On average, fixing Subaru Outback interior accessories problems costs $200.

3. Transmission Problems

  • Affected Models: 2010, 2011,2012,2013, and 2014 model years

Transmission problems are typically the most expensive repairs you can do on a vehicle. For the Subaru Outback, it costs an average of $3,000 to fix its transmission problems, and if it happens that you’d need to change the complete transmission system, you could be spending well above $5,000.

Commonly reported transmission issues on the Subaru Outback include torque converter problems, transmission not shifting, severe jerking, shuddering, and fatal transmission failure. These problems are reported to occur at different mileage range from 90k miles upward.

4. Windows and Windshield Problems

  • Affected Models: 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 Subaru Outback models

These indicated Subaru Outback models typically have faulty windshields and windows. Quite a lot of owners allege that the windscreen cracks easily and the window controls suddenly stop working. The cracking typically happens even before 10,000 miles, and the average repair cost is $800.

5. Electrical Problems

  • Affected Models: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2020 Subaru Outbacks

The most common electrical problem reported on Subaru Outbacks is battery issues. Most owners of the indicated models allege that the battery died overnight, even after it was fully charged in the day.

Other electrical problems include Starlink radio failure and dashboard lights not working properly. The average repair cost for these problems is $200.

Best Subaru Outback Years To Buy

Just as there are “worst” years to avoid, the Subaru Outback has some good model years you can choose from. These years have fewer complaints, and they score high in reliability ratings. Below are the best Subaru Outback models years to buy.

  • 2001 to 2004 Subaru Outback
  • 2005 to 2010 Subaru Outback
  • 2012 Subaru Outback
  • 2019 to 2022 Subaru Outback

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Subaru Outback a Reliable Car?

The Subaru Outback takes home a 3.5 out of 5.0 reliability rating on RepairPal. This implies that it scores above average in reliability, and as such, it is safe to say that Subaru Outbacks are reliable.

How Long Does Subaru Outback Last?

Subaru Outbacks can last up to 20 years of service life or 200,000 miles. However, the Subaru Outback must be properly maintained and driven carefully to be able to hit such duration without major problems.

What Is The Most Common Problem With Subaru Outbacks?

The most commonly reported problem with Subaru Outbacks is engine failure. Other common problems include windshield cracking, Starlink failure, and electrical components malfunctioning. These problems happen at both high and low mileage.

See Also: Subaru Impreza Years to Avoid


What are the Subaru Outback years to avoid? The 2013 and 2015 Subaru Outbacks are reportedly the worst model years, while the 2012 and 2020 model years are the best ones. This article is based on Subaru Outback owners’ complaints submitted to CarComplaints.

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