Subaru Outback Years to Avoid [Detailed List]

Subaru Outback Years to Avoid – If you’re in the market for a Subaru Outback, it’s important to know which years to avoid. While the Outback is generally a reliable and well-regarded crossover SUV, some model years have had recurring issues that can cause significant problems down the road.

In this article, we’ll explore the history of the Subaru Outback, the common problems associated with the model, and the specific years and models to avoid.

We’ll also offer tips for researching Subaru Outbacks before purchasing and discuss some alternatives to consider if you decide the Outback isn’t the right fit for you.

Understanding the Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback Years to Avoid

The Subaru Outback has been a popular choice for families and outdoor enthusiasts since its introduction in 1995.

Originally designed as a rugged station wagon with all-wheel drive and extra ground clearance, the Outback has evolved into a more refined and versatile crossover SUV over the years.

The Outback has received numerous awards and accolades throughout its history, including “Best Car for the Money” from U.S. News & World Report in 2021.

It’s known for its excellent safety ratings, standard all-wheel drive, and spacious cargo area.

Despite its many positive attributes, however, the Outback has also had some recurring problems over the years.

Understanding these issues can help you avoid purchasing a problematic model.

Common Problems With Subaru Outbacks

Subaru Outback Years to Avoid

Some of the most common problems associated with Subaru Outbacks include:

1. Head gasket issues: The head gaskets on some Subaru Outbacks are prone to failure, which can cause oil and coolant leaks and ultimately lead to engine failure if not addressed promptly.

2. Transmission problems: Some Outbacks have experienced transmission issues, such as jerking or slipping, which can be expensive to repair.

3. Suspension issues: Some Outbacks have had problems with their suspension systems, including worn or damaged struts, which can cause a rough ride and poor handling.

4. Electrical issues: Some Outbacks have had electrical problems, such as malfunctioning dashboard displays, which can be difficult to diagnose and repair.

5. Oil consumption: Some Outbacks have been known to consume oil at a higher rate than normal, which can be a sign of engine issues.

While not all Outbacks will experience these problems, it’s important to be aware of them when shopping for a used or new Outback.

Subaru Outback Years to Avoid

Subaru Outback Years to Avoid

Here are the specific years and models of the Subaru Outback that are known to have recurring problems:

2000-2009 Subaru Outback

The first generation Subaru Outback models from 2000-2009 are known for head gasket failure. The issue is so common that Subaru was forced to extend the warranty on the head gasket to 8 years or 100,000 miles.

2010-2014 Subaru Outback

The second-generation Outbacks from 2010-2014 have transmission issues. The CVT (continuously variable transmission) is known for slipping, shuddering, and failing early on, often within the first 20,000 miles.

2015-2019 Subaru Outback

The fifth generation Outbacks from 2015-2019 have oil consumption issues. Some drivers reported having to add 1 quart of oil every 1,200-1,300 miles, which is not normal.

2013 Subaru Outback

The 2013 Subaru Outback is one model year to avoid entirely. It has the highest number of problems reported and is known for multiple issues, including transmission problems, electrical issues, and suspension issues.

How to Avoid Buying A Problematic Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback Years to Avoid

Now that you know which Subaru Outback years to avoid, here are some tips for researching and purchasing a used or new Outback:

1. Research the vehicle’s history: Before purchasing an Outback, research the vehicle’s history using a service such as Carfax or AutoCheck.

This can help you identify any previous accidents, repairs, or other issues that may affect the vehicle’s reliability.

2. Have the vehicle inspected: If you’re purchasing a used Outback, have it inspected by a trusted mechanic before making a purchase. They can check for any potential issues that may not be apparent during a test drive.

3. Ask the seller questions: If you’re purchasing from a private seller, ask them about the vehicle’s history, any previous repairs, and how often they’ve had it serviced. If purchasing from a dealership, ask for a copy of the vehicle’s service records.

4. Consider a certified pre-owned Outback: If you’re purchasing a used Outback, consider a certified pre-owned (CPO) model. These vehicles have been inspected and refurbished by the manufacturer and come with a warranty that can provide additional peace of mind.

5. Test drive multiple vehicles: If possible, test drive multiple Outbacks to get a sense of how they handle and perform.

This can also help you identify any potential issues with the vehicle’s suspension, transmission, or other systems.

Alternatives to the Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback Years to Avoid

If you decide that the Subaru Outback isn’t the right fit for you, here are some alternative crossover SUVs to consider:

Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is a reliable and practical crossover SUV with a spacious interior and excellent fuel economy.

Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is a popular choice for families with a reputation for reliability, excellent safety ratings, and standard all-wheel drive.

Mazda CX-5

The Mazda CX-5 offers a more refined and upscale driving experience than some of its competitors, with a comfortable and quiet interior and responsive handling.

Related Articles:

Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage offers a sporty and stylish alternative to some of the more practical crossover SUVs on the market, with a range of features and options at an affordable price point.

What is the most reliable year for Subaru Outback?

The most reliable year for a Subaru Outback can vary depending on the model and generation. However, according to many experts and consumer reports, the 2013-2014 Outback is considered one of the most reliable years.

What is the high mileage for a Subaru Outback?

High mileage for a Subaru Outback depends on several factors such as maintenance, driving habits, and climate conditions. However, many Outbacks can last up to 200,000 miles or more with proper care.

Are used Subaru Outbacks reliable?

Used Subaru Outbacks can be reliable if they have been well-maintained and cared for. However, it’s essential to research the vehicle’s history and have it inspected by a trusted mechanic before making a purchase.

Do Subaru Outbacks have transmission problems?

Some Subaru Outbacks have had transmission problems, particularly in earlier model years. It’s crucial to research the specific model year and generation before making a purchase.

Which Subaru Outback is the best value?

The best value Subaru Outback can vary depending on your specific needs and budget. However, the 2016-2017 Outback is often considered a good value due to its reliability, safety, and advanced features.

Is Subaru as reliable as Honda or Toyota?

Subaru is generally considered as reliable as Honda and Toyota, although specific models and years can vary in reliability. Subaru has also received numerous awards for its safety and reliability.

What car is as good as Subaru Outback?

Some cars that are similar to the Subaru Outback in terms of design and functionality include the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, and Kia Sportage.

What is special about Subaru Outback?

The Subaru Outback is special in that it offers a unique combination of ruggedness, versatility, and comfort. It also features standard all-wheel drive, making it an excellent choice for those who frequently drive in challenging weather conditions or off-road.

The Outback offers a spacious interior, advanced safety features, and advanced technology options.


The Subaru Outback is a popular and well-regarded crossover SUV, but some model years have had recurring problems that can cause significant issues down the road.

By understanding these issues and which model years to avoid, you can make an informed decision when purchasing a used or new Outback.

If the Outback isn’t the right fit for you, there are plenty of alternative crossover SUVs on the market that offer reliability, safety, and versatility.