Which Subaru Outback Years to Avoid: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to choosing a reliable and adventure-ready vehicle, the Subaru Outback often tops the list. However, not all Outback model years are created equal. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on which Subaru Outback years to avoid due to reliability issues, recalls, and other potential problems.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the specific reasons why certain Outback model years should be approached with caution. We’ll also provide data and sources to support our claims, ensuring you have all the information you need to make a wise choice.

Model Years to Avoid

When considering a used Subaru Outback, it’s crucial to be aware of certain model years that have been plagued by reliability issues, recalls, and other problems. These model years should be avoided to ensure a more positive ownership experience.

2010-2012 Model Years

The 2010-2012 Outback models were particularly problematic due to issues with their continuously variable transmission (CVT). This transmission experienced premature failure, leading to costly repairs and potential safety concerns.

According to a Consumer Reports study, the 2010 Outback had the highest number of transmission complaints among all vehicles in its class. The 2011 and 2012 models also had a significant number of CVT-related problems.

When considering the Subaru Outback, it’s important to know which years to avoid. Some model years have been plagued by issues, so it’s best to do your research before making a purchase. For those interested in a hybrid option, the Subaru Forester Hybrid is a great choice.

It offers excellent fuel economy and a comfortable ride. However, if you’re set on an Outback, be sure to avoid the years that have been known to have problems. You can find more information about when the Subaru Forester Hybrid will be available by clicking here .

Common Problems

Which subaru outback years to avoid

The Subaru Outback has a reputation for reliability, but like any vehicle, it is not immune to issues. Across all model years, several common problems have been reported by owners and mechanics.

These problems can vary in severity, from minor annoyances to more serious concerns that could affect the vehicle’s performance or safety. It’s important to be aware of these potential issues before purchasing or owning a Subaru Outback.


  • Head gasket failure:This is a common problem in Subaru vehicles, including the Outback. The head gasket seals the connection between the engine block and the cylinder head, preventing coolant and oil from leaking. When the head gasket fails, it can cause a variety of problems, including coolant leaks, overheating, and engine damage.
  • Timing belt failure:The timing belt is a critical component that synchronizes the movement of the engine’s valves and pistons. If the timing belt fails, it can cause catastrophic engine damage. Subaru recommends replacing the timing belt every 105,000 miles or 10 years, whichever comes first.
  • Oil consumption:Some Subaru Outback models have been known to consume excessive amounts of oil. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including worn piston rings, valve seals, or turbocharger seals.


  • CVT transmission problems:The Subaru Outback has been equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) since 2010. CVTs are generally reliable, but they can experience problems, such as slipping, shuddering, or premature failure.
  • Manual transmission problems:Earlier model Outback with manual transmissions may experience issues such as difficulty shifting gears or grinding noises.


  • Battery drain:Some Outback models have experienced excessive battery drain, which can lead to a dead battery and difficulty starting the vehicle.
  • Alternator problems:The alternator is responsible for charging the battery. If the alternator fails, it can cause the battery to drain and the vehicle to lose power.
  • Wiring harness issues:The Subaru Outback’s wiring harness can experience problems, such as shorts or loose connections. These issues can cause a variety of electrical problems, including flickering lights, inoperative gauges, or even engine problems.


  • Suspension problems:The Subaru Outback’s suspension can experience problems, such as worn struts or shocks, which can affect the vehicle’s handling and ride quality.
  • Brake problems:Some Outback models have experienced problems with the brakes, such as premature wear or spongy pedal feel.
  • Body rust:Earlier model Outbacks may be prone to body rust, especially in areas with harsh winters or coastal environments.

Reliability Ratings

The Subaru Outback has generally earned high reliability ratings from various automotive organizations. J.D. Power has consistently ranked the Outback among the most reliable midsize SUVs, and it has also received good ratings from Consumer Reports. The Outback’s reliability is comparable to other vehicles in its class, such as the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V.Over

the years, the Outback has undergone several changes and improvements that have affected its reliability. For example, the 2015 model year saw a redesign that addressed some previous reliability issues. The Outback’s reliability has also benefited from the adoption of Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist technology, which has helped to reduce the number of accidents.

Reliability Improvements Over Time, Which subaru outback years to avoid

The Subaru Outback has consistently improved its reliability over the years. The 2023 model year Outback received a top rating of “Excellent” from J.D. Power, and it has been ranked among the most reliable midsize SUVs for several years running.

This is due in part to Subaru’s commitment to quality and its use of high-quality materials and components.Overall, the Subaru Outback is a reliable vehicle that has earned high ratings from various automotive organizations. Its reliability is comparable to other vehicles in its class, and it has improved over time thanks to Subaru’s commitment to quality.

Owner Feedback

Delving into the experiences of Subaru Outback owners provides valuable insights into the vehicle’s real-world performance and reliability. By analyzing owner feedback and reviews, we can identify common issues, strengths, and areas for improvement.

The Subaru Outback has been a popular choice for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike. However, there are certain years of the Outback that are best avoided due to reliability issues. If you’re looking for a Subaru with three rows of seating, you may want to consider the Ascent.

The Ascent is a newer model that has received positive reviews for its spacious interior and comfortable ride. To learn more about the Subaru Ascent and other Subaru models with three rows of seating, click here: what subaru has 3 rows . When it comes to the Outback, it’s important to do your research before making a purchase, especially if you’re considering an older model.

Owners have expressed overall satisfaction with the Outback’s reliability, durability, and all-terrain capabilities. Many appreciate its spacious interior, comfortable ride, and user-friendly infotainment system.

Recurring Issues

  • Some owners have reported issues with the continuously variable transmission (CVT), particularly in earlier model years. These issues may include shuddering, hesitation, or premature failure.
  • Another concern raised by owners is excessive oil consumption in certain engines, especially the 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Regular oil monitoring and maintenance are crucial to prevent potential engine damage.
  • Some owners have also experienced problems with the Outback’s infotainment system, including touchscreen responsiveness, software glitches, and connectivity issues.

Positive Aspects

  • Owners consistently praise the Outback’s versatility and practicality. Its spacious cabin, ample cargo capacity, and rugged design make it an ideal vehicle for families, adventurers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
  • The Outback’s all-wheel drive system and ground clearance provide excellent traction and handling in various weather conditions and off-road situations.
  • Owners also appreciate the Outback’s safety features, which include advanced driver assistance systems, such as lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking.

Repair Costs

The Subaru Outback is generally considered to have average repair costs compared to other vehicles in its class. On average, owners can expect to pay around $500-$1000 per year for repairs, depending on the model year and severity of the issue.

If you’re curious about which Subaru Outback years to avoid, you might also wonder if Subaru stopped making the WRX. The answer to that question is here . As for the Outback, the years to avoid are generally 2000-2004 and 2009-2012 due to reported issues with the head gaskets and oil consumption.

Compared to other midsize SUVs, the Outback’s repair costs are on par with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, but slightly higher than the Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Santa Fe.

Factors Influencing Repair Costs

  • Type of problem:Major repairs, such as engine or transmission issues, will typically cost more than minor repairs, such as brake pads or oil changes.
  • Availability of parts:If a part is not readily available, it may need to be ordered, which can increase the cost of the repair.
  • Labor rates:Labor rates vary depending on the location and the mechanic’s experience.

Resale Value: Which Subaru Outback Years To Avoid

The Subaru Outback has consistently held its value well over time, making it a smart choice for buyers who want a vehicle that will retain its worth. According to Kelley Blue Book, the Outback has an average resale value of 60% after five years, which is higher than the average for midsize SUVs.

There are several factors that can affect the resale value of the Subaru Outback, including the model year, condition, and mileage. Newer models tend to have higher resale values than older models, and vehicles in good condition with low mileage will also fetch a higher price.

Additionally, certain features and options can also impact the resale value, such as all-wheel drive, a sunroof, and a premium sound system.

Comparison to Similar Vehicles

The Subaru Outback compares favorably to other midsize SUVs in terms of resale value. For example, the 2023 Outback has a projected resale value of 62% after five years, while the 2023 Toyota RAV4 has a projected resale value of 58% and the 2023 Honda CR-V has a projected resale value of 57%. This means that the Outback is likely to retain more of its value over time than these other popular SUVs.

Outcome Summary

Choosing the right Subaru Outback year can make all the difference in your ownership experience. By avoiding the model years discussed in this guide, you can increase your chances of owning a reliable and trouble-free Outback. Remember, it’s always a good idea to do your own research and consult with a trusted mechanic before making a final decision.

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