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Is The Subaru Outback Reliable? How Long Do They Last? [ Answered ]

Is The Subaru Outback Reliable? How Long Do They Last? [ Answered ]

As a potential Subaru owner, you might be fancying the idea of purchasing one of these powerful vehicles for yourself. The Outback, which comes from the reputed Japanese carmaker, Subaru, has already demonstrated its excellent safety features and ruggedness. Particularly, if you love adventurous drives, you might have this car on your wishlist. Ever since Subaru launched its Outback in 1994, the vehicle has never ceased impressing car enthusiasts. In case you want an alternative to the ordinary SUV or a family vehicle for off-roading conditions, the quality, reliability, and lifeline of the Outback make it your ideal pick.

In this article, you will come to know about the reliability, durability, and common problems that the Subaru Outback faces. This way, you can make an informed purchase when you settle with this dynamic car.

Is the Subaru Outback reliable?

The Outback inherently enjoys the legacy of Subaru, a brand that has committed itself to developing quality and durable cars. Although the Outback has a few problems, it is largely a reliable and rugged vehicle. The car is dependable, although you will come across more reliable SUVs in the market. The reliability scores of the Subaru Outback seem to be respectable.

Typically, you can expect the Outback to serve you for 16 to 20 years before it starts pinching your pocket with expensive repairs. However, to achieve this kind of a lifeline, make sure not to overlook the routine maintenance schedule.

As per J.D. Power, the consumer reliability of the Outback stands at 70/100. On the other hand, RepairPal has rated the car 3.5/5 in terms of reliability. The customer rating index as per the Kelley Blue Book also looks impressive for the Subaru Outback, at 4.4/5. Well, should note the consistency in reliability rating across all these platforms to get an idea on how dependable the Outback is.

Do Subaru Outbacks have a lot of problems?

Knowing the common issues that your Subaru Outback might encounter makes sense. This way, you can stay prepared before they crop up. Most of these issues affected the older models of Subaru Outback.

1. Weak windshields

Between 2017 and 2019, many Subaru Outback owners sued the company as the models had weak windshields. Many of these cars had their windshields broken simply when they touched light debris.

2. Cracked oxygen sensors

Some of the older Outbacks, particularly the models that Subaru launched between 2000 and 2003 had cracked or damaged oxygen sensors. Often, you might find the engine check lights flashing due to this problem. However, Subaru has recalled most of the models with this issue and replaced the sensors.

3. Airbag inflator problems

Problem in inflating the airbag was a common issue in the Subaru Outback 2010 model. In some cars, these airbags exploded as the propellants wore out during their deployment. However, Subaru observes that this problem mainly affects the front airbag on the passenger side. One can simply drive to an authorized retailer of Subaru and get the issue fixed free of cost.

4. Burning out of headlights

Generally, branded cars from Subaru come with long-lasting headlights that you don’t need to replace too frequently. However, some of the Subaru outback 2011 models ran into legal troubles due to their headlights burning out. Some owners even required bi-annual replacements of the headlights. As a result, the overall maintenance cost of these cars significantly rose higher.

5. Leaking oil

Oil leakage is a common issue in Outbacks, particularly the 2013 model. This might be the reason why the Outback burns oil faster than some of its competitors. In the end, the owners need to fork out higher maintenance costs. Often, a defective piston leads to oil leakages in these cars. Some older models also had this leakage issue due to failures in the crankshaft and camshaft seals. Fixing this issue sometimes requires complete rebuilding of the car’s engine, which involves a significant expense.

6. Cooling system failure

Many Subaru Outbacks that hit the road between 2000 and 2018 have cooling system issues. The issue generally crops up when you find a broken thermostat, and amounts to radiator issues and leaks in the coolant. These issues might be apparently insignificant. However, the repair expenses would mount once the head gasket sustains damage. However, the brand has extended the warranty to cover this problem. Normally, the cars experience cooling system failures once it reaches the 100K mile mark.

7. Transmission issues

Transmission issues generally affect the 2002 and 2004 models. Subaru has already recalled some of the 2002 models, where transmission parking rods triggered the issue. As a result of the technical glitch, some of the cars tend to move even after you opt for the parking position. In the 2004 model, the common transmission issues caused high-pitched noises and damage to the clutches. Particularly, this clutch damage can indicate the starting point of slippage of transmission. As a result, driving your Outback on the road can turn out to be potentially dangerous.

8. Vibrations during accelerating

Some models that Subaru launched between 2000 and 2017 vibrate when you press the accelerator. In most of the cases, the problem crops up only after you have driven more than 110K miles. However, in some models, drivers experienced the problem a bit earlier. Experts believe that problems in the transmission torque converter trigger this issue.

Which year Subaru Outback is the most reliable?

In terms of reliability, it makes sense to go for the 2021 model. Subaru has addressed most of the complaints in its older models. So, there are hardly any issues with Subaru Outback 2021. Moreover, these cars come with additional safety features such as pre-collision braking and throttle management, sway warning, adaptive cruise control, and assistance for maintaining lanes. This model has also bagged the ‘Top Safety Pick+’ award, which speaks tons about Subaru’s commitment to its dependability.

Worst year of Subaru Outback

The 2013 model was the worst year for the Subaru Outback due to excessive oil consumption. Mostly, this issue cropped up once the car traveled 45K+ miles. On average, the owners had to shell out $1,590 to fix this flaw.

However, when you consider the maximum number of complaints, you should also avoid the 2015 model. The common problems involved malfunctioning interior accessories like Bluetooth not connecting, faulty voice navigation, and radio.

Apart from this, the 2014 and 2018 models also had significant problems. While the former model had acceleration issues, cracks in the windshield gave a poor reputation to the 2018 model.

Why do some people say Subaru is so unreliable?

Although Subaru happens to be an esteemed brand, some users have noticed the recurring problems in some of its cars. Particularly, in the early 2000s, several models had technical glitches. New issues keep cropping up in the later models too.

Also, some of these cars come with complex technology. Besides, the excessive number of moving parts in the Subaru Outback affects the reliability score of these cars. Since some glitches prove expensive to fix, Subaru has lost its reliability to some users. So, even though the reliability score looks decent on paper, some problems continue to haunt owners down the line.

How many miles will a Subaru Outback last?

You can expect your Subaru Outlook to deliver 250K to 300K miles of service with conservative driving habits and proper maintenance. On average, owners driving around 15K miles a year can yield 16 to 20 years of service from these vehicles.

Problems in the transmission and the engine might crop up once the odometer reading nears the 300K mark. Gradually, the repair expenses would outweigh the actual value of your Outback.

Is Subaru expensive to maintain?

Maintaining a Subaru Outback can prove to be slightly expensive.

On average, a midsize SUV requires $573 for its maintenance. Considering this parameter, you need to shell out $607 annually to maintain the Outback.

Are Subaru parts very expensive?

Compared to the standard non-luxury car, Subarus requires additional expenses to replace its parts. When you compare Subaru cars to those from Ford and Toyota, the repairs and maintenance charges tend to be higher.


The Subaru Outlook comes with plenty of strengths, while the number of glitches is fairly low. Most of these vehicles have proven to be reliable and long-lasting. When you make the purchase, make sure to avoid the problematic year models. While exploring the SUV market, you might come across a reliable pick in the Outback. Although there are better options out there, you can prolong the lifeline of your Outback by sticking to the prescribed maintenance schedule.