Making its debut in 94, the Subaru Outback brings a spirit of adventure to the staid station wagon market.
Known for its ruggedness and excellent safety scores, the Outback is a great choice for those looking for an alternative to the standard SUV.
If you’re researching the Outback as an off-roading family vehicle for your next camping trip, you might be wondering about its average lifespan, reliability, and quality.
Well cover all that and more in this article, read on to find out…
Here is the short answer to how long Subaru Outback last:
The Subaru Outback is a reliable, durable vehicle that can last between , to , miles when properly maintained and driven conservatively. Based on an annual mileage of 15, miles a year, this equates to 16 – 20 years of service before requiring expensive repairs or breaking down.
How Many Miles Can You Expect from a Subaru Outback?
The Subaru brand is well known for making long-lasting vehicles and the Outback is no exception.
Since its first generation in , the Outback has provided dependable service for its owners and overall it is a high-quality model with a relatively affordable price.
There are many reports from owners who have reached over k miles on the original powertrain, owing to good maintenance habits.
Once in the region of k k miles on the odometer, there is a much greater chance of experiencing failures of big ticket items such as the engine or transmission, when this occurs the cost of repairs can outweigh the value of the vehicle.
The quality and design of a car will only get you so far though, ultimately it is down to the owner to get the most life from their vehicle.
The life expectancy of your Outback will be cut short if you avoid:
- Service appointments
- Routine oil changes
- Tire rotations
- Driving smoothely
- Checking fluid levels
As a general rule – the newer the car the longer it is expected to last due to the increase in quality and advances in engineering.
Do Subaru Outbacks rust easily?
The Subaru Outback has a strong record for rust durability, across six generations and 27 model years there are relatively few complaints of rust issues.
During production the Outback is equipped with various rust proofing and is built using galvanized metals to ensure optimum protection, it also comes with Rust Perforation Limited Warranty coverage for the car’s first 5 years – regardless of mileage.
Subaru has gone on record to say they do not recommend the use of third-party rustproofing, however some owners are in favor of taking extra precautions.
Outback owners have reported the following rust issues:
- Inside the rear wheel wells in the first three generations of the Outback (from to model years).
- Frame rust problems on , and models
We must note that the reported rust problems are few and far between.
Rust problems are more common in humid climates, places where roads are aggressively salted during the winter and also coastal regions due to salt in the air.
If you live in a high-risk area, we recommend taking extra precautions.
Tips to ensure your Subaru Outback remains rust-free:
- Clean: Regularly and meticulously wash your car (and its underside) to remove the salt that causes rust.
- Rustproofing: If you live in a high snow and ice region, consider treating your Outback to a rust-proofing spray and ceramic coating to add another layer of defense.
- Fix paint chips straight away: Exposed metal will oxidize, if it’s beyond a DIY fix speak to your local body repair shop.
- Storage: Park your Outback in a garage, if you have access to one, to keep your car dry and protected from the harsh weather elements and bird droppings.
- Waxing: Wax your car twice a year. Not only will this make your Outback look amazing, it also gives a protective coating against rust
You may also be interested in our article: Where Are Subaru Outbacks Made?
What is High Mileage for a Subaru Outback?
A Subaru Outback with over , miles is considered high mileage and a riskier investment although the odometer reading alone might not tell the whole story. There are several factors to take into consideration such as the overall condition of the carand thevehicle’s service history.
Buying a used Outback with over k miles will not necessarily equate to a bad outcome, but it’s important to assess the car carefully before handing over your cash, in theory, you should still have half the vehicles useful life left if its been well looked after.
Some important points to consider:
- Maintenance history. Check that the car was properly serviced and the owner can provide proof of this.
- Get a second opinion: Have it inspected by a mechanic.
- Check the CarFax. This doesn’t guarentee anything but can help give a clearer picture of wear and tear. Make sure it has minimal damage, if any. Analyze the information to make sure if something did happen, it wasn’t transmission related or mechanical.
- How long you are planning on keeping the car. If you’re planning on keeping the car for many years, you should evaluate whether the short-term savings outweigh spending a bit extra into somthing more reliable.
- Number of previous owners. As a general rule less is better. More owners usaully means more wear and tear. If one family owned it and drove the full k miles and serviced the car, then you can almost guarantee they took good care of it throughout ownership.
How Long Do Subaru Outback Last Compared to Similar Car Models?
The following Outback comparisons will give you a better idea of its longevity, reliability and ownership costs in relation to its competitors.
Subaru Outback vs. BMW X3
The Outback is a sports utility wagon, while the X3 has a more classic SUV shape although both are classed as midsize SUVs.
The BMW X3 can last between , – , miles or 10 13 years, which is less than the projected lifespan of the Outbacks , , miles or 16 20 years.
According to RepairPal’s website:
- The BMW X3 scores a below average reliability rating of /5 placing it 10th out of 11 luxury compact SUVs.
- The Subaru Outback scores an average reliability rating of /5, and is ranked 10th out of 26 midsize SUVs.
- The X3 has an annual average repair and maintenance cost of $1, vs. $ for the Outback.
The BMW X3 carries the prestige of this German automaker’s badge and will likely be purchased for its luxury features, while prospective buyers of the Subaru Outback will buy this model for its dependability and longevity
You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do BMW X3 Last?
Subaru Outback vs. Hyundai Santa Fe
The Hyundai Santa Fe is the South Korean car maker’s midsize SUV and is one of their best-selling models.
A well-kept Santa Fe can last , – , miles. For drivers that average 15, miles per year, it will offer 13 to 17 years of service, which is slightly less than the Outback.
According to RepairPal,
- The Santa Fe has an above average reliability rating of /5 which places it in 2nd place out of 26 midsize SUVs.
- The Outback scores a reliability rating of /5, which is 10th out 26 in the midsize SUV sector.
- The Santa Fe has an annual average repair and maintenance cost of $ Vs. $ for the Outback.
For buyers seeking more space and a classic SUV style, the Hyundai Santa Fe will be more appealing.
The Subaru Outback’s more off-road ready poise and adventure styling will draw consumers wanting a vehicle to last for , – , miles, and beyond.
You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Hyundai Sant Fe Last?
Subaru Outback vs. Toyota RAV4
Responsible for kicking off the SUV craze, the RAV4 has been available in the US since 96 and is the best-selling passenger vehicle thats not a full-size truck.
The Toyota RAV4 can last between , – , miles before requiring major and uneconomical repairs, this equates to 16 20 years of service, on par with the Outback.
According to RepairPal,
- The RAV4 has an above average reliability rating of /5 and is ranked 3rd out of 26 compact SUVs.
- The Outback scores a reliability rating of /5, which is 10th out 26 of midsize SUVs.
- The RAV4 has an annual average repair and maintenance cost of $, vs. $ for the Outback.
The Japanese build quality and reliability of Toyota models are world-famous and the RAV4 is another source of proof for this claim.
Buyers of the RAV4 will select this vehicle for its reliability and longevity but will select the larger Outback over the RAV4 for its more off-road and dirt road driving dynamics.
How Reliable Is a Subaru Outback?
Over the years, the Outback has built a reputation for itself as a rugged, reliable, family-friendly alternative to the standard SUV. Our research indicates the Outback is a dependable car, and although not the most reliable in its segment, it has earned very respectable reliability scores.
- The Kelley Blue Book consumer rating index gives the Outback a reliability rating of out of 5.
- RepairPal scored the Subaru Outback a reliability rating of out of 5.
- JD Power rated the Outback with a consumer reliability rating of 70 out of
Please also read our article: Subaru Outback in Snow & Winter Driving
The Best and Worst Years for Subaru Outback
Like any vehicle, the Outback has had its good and bad years
Worst Model Year
According to Car Complaints, the Outback was the worst model year and was notorious for excessive oil consumption. This complaint occurred at an average mileage of 45, miles and cost an average of $1, to repair.
The Outback received complaints the highest across all model years, however issues were less serious and predominantly related to interior accessories such as:
- Radio not working properly
- Voice navigation useless
- Bluetooth wont connect
The worst Outback problems have been reported as:
- Excessive oil consumption for the model
- Winshield that cracks easily on the model
- Hesistant acceleartion on the Outback
Best Model Year
The best model year for the Subaru Outback is the model, so far its received very few complaints and boasts sought-after safety features including:
- EyeSight Driver Assist Technology
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane keep assist
- Sway warning
- Pre-collision braking
- Pre-collision throttle management.
The model has also been given the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award and compared to its predecessors has more cargo and passenger space and has better driving dynamics.
Model Year and Number of Complaints
Here are the number of complaints for each Outback model year, from the Car Complaints database:
|Model Year||Number of Complaints|
|64 (Worst Year)|
What About Recalls for These Models?
The Subaru Outback has a total of 38 recalls across all model years, with airbags and electrical system faults, mostly.
It is important to note that recalls are manufacturing faults repaired at no charge to the consumer.
Here are the total number of recall campaigns per year for the Subaru Outback:
Subaru Outback Model Year List
Here are all the model years for the Subaru Outback:
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
- Subaru Outback
Are Subaru Outback Expensive to Maintain?
According to RepairPal, the Subaru Outback has an annual repair cost of $, while the average annual service and maintenance cost for midsize SUVs is $
How Long Do the Brakes Last?
Subaru Outback brake pads typically last between 30, – 70, miles or 2 5 years, this is dependent on driving habits.
- If you drive in a lot of stop-and-go traffic you can expect your brakes to wear out faster.
- Using smooth controlled braking will help your brakes last longer
- Full and complete stops from a high speed are the #1 cause of premature brake pad wear
How Long Do the Tires Last?
The stock tires on a Subaru Outback will last on average between 30, – 40, miles before requiring replacement, this will see owners changing tires every 2 to 3 years.
- Have your tires rotated every 5, miles to ensure even wear
- Check your tire pressures every few weeks to make sure theyre at the ocrrect tire pressure.
How Long Do the Transmissions Last?
Subaru Outback transmissions are expected to last , – , miles.
The first four generations of the Subaru Outback (from to ) were equipped with manual and automatic transmissions.
The most recent two generations replaced automatic transmissions with continuously variable transmissions.
How Long Do Subaru Outback Batteries Last?
Subaru Outback batteries should last on average between years. This can vary, depending on factors such as climate, driving habits, the type of battery, and more.
Four tips below to help prolong your Outback battery:
- Keep you battery tightly fastened: The vibrations of your car can loosen the connections potentially resulting in short circuits and internal damage.
- Limit short rides: Quick car rides prevent the battery from fully charging. To help maintain battery power, drive your Outback frequently and for extended periords.
- Sorage: Keep your Outback stored indoors away from extreme changes in temperature
- Control Corrosion: Clean the terminals (toothbrush dipped in baking soda and water mixture) and keep them free from buildup.
How Long Do the Spark Plugs Last?
Subaru Outbacks require their spark plugs to be replaced every 30, miles, according to the service manual. However, a new Subaru Outback will need its first set of spark plugs to be replaced at 60, miles, and then every 30, miles thereafter.
Spark plugs are responsible for creating the spark that ignites the air/fuel mixture, causing the explosion which makes the engine produce power.
They are usually inspected and if needed, replaced when you go for routine maintenance.
What About Insurance Cost?
The Subaru Outback costs an average of $1, for full comprehensive insurance coverage per year, or $ per month. Older year models cost less to insure.
Insurance costs can vary from person to person; be sure to shop around to find the best possible deal.
Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Subaru Outback
We regard the Subaru Outback as a tough vehicle with a strong record for reliability and longevity, but that doesn’t mean that it requires little in the way of maintenance.
With proper care, your Subaru Outback can last for many, many years.
Here are some tips on how to prolong the life of your Subaru Outback:
- Always read the owner’s manual and service manual to learn the maintenance schedules and services.
- Regularly wash your Subaru Outback to remove dirt and grime to protect the paint and undercarriage from rust developing.
- Check your Subaru Outback’s engine oil, coolant, brake, and transmission fluid levels and top them up when required.
- Your Subaru Outback can handle gravel roads and snow-filled roads, but you should always drive it carefully off-road.
- Allow the engine to warm up for 30 seconds before you take off.
- Storing your Outback in a garage will help to protect it against the weather’s elements.
- Don’t tow loads heavier than is recommended.
- Pay attention to warning and information lights on your vehicle’s instrument panel.
- Keep on top of repairs to prevent them from developing into larger problems.
How reliable is Subaru? An honest assessment
- Is Subaru a reliable manufacturer?
- How reliable is the Subaru Forester?
- Is Subaru more reliable than other manufacturers?
- Should I purchase a Subaru?
Subaru is the car division of Subaru Corporation (formerly Fuji Heavy Industries), a Japanese transportation conglomerate.
Their cars have remained popular with a core set of buyers, with marketing targeted specifically to their niche in the automotive market. Subaru owners tend to want the cars because of their drivetrain engine, their off-road capabilities or the fact that they are affordable in the sports car market.
Despite their niche market, Subaru have been a strong presence in customer satisfaction and reliability tables for some time now. But, how reliable are Subaru?
In this article, we look at how reliable Subaru is, and how this compares to its rivals.
How reliable is Subaru?
Subaru has experienced a lot of ups and downs over the last few years, and in the drop in their reliability was enough that they dropped to 18th out of 36 in the dependability scale as awarded by ReliabilityIndex. However, things have started to look up for them since then.
The manufacturer is still at 18th position on the reliability tables (for both ReliabilityIndex and Which?) however the table now includes more car manufacturers, and the individual cars produced are scoring much better. ( figures)
Is the Subaru Forester reliable?
Even if you have never looked at a Subaru yourself, you probably would have heard of the Forester. This compact SUV comes in about average for reliability, scoring a reliability index of However, this is completely overshadowed by their extortionate average repair costs at £ The Forester is also off the road for quite some time, with an average time of hours. The axle and suspension appear to be the main problem, accounting for % of all problems, followed by the engine.
In the Reliability survey conducted by Which?, the Subaru Forester ranked rather well, with some owners of the model stating that theyd experienced no problems with their vehicles over the three years they had owned them.
The average time that the Which? report discovered the Forester was spending off the road was no more than hours.
According to Which? survey responses, the most common fault experienced by Subaru Forester owners was with the air conditioning, though its an issue that is easily fixed.
The online car– and van-part brokerage Breakeryard say you may encounter the following problems with your Subaru:
- Poor engine idling
- Broken interior parts
- This is more common with older Foresters, but they have a lot of small interior parts that are prone to breaking. These include things such as cup holders.
Is the Subaru Legacy reliable?
The Subaru Legacy does slightly better when it comes to dependability. The reliability index is roughly the same as the Forester at , but the repair costs are much less at £ on average. It also spends less time off the road, with an average of hours.
It appears that the engine accounts for most of the problems that are experienced by owners of the Legacy, with % of issues being related to the engine. The axle and suspension come in a close second.
Breakeryard say these are some common problems with the Legacy:
- Turbo failure
- Radiator failure
- This is particularly common with the Legacy
- Starter motor failure
- This is also common with the Legacy
The Legacy is a rather expensive vehicle to repair, with average costs coming in at around £, though this also goes with just hours off the road when are taken to the garage.
However, the newer models are more reliable than their predecessors, earning a slightly higher than average (anything higher than is considered to be a poor performance) on the ReliabilityIndex.
Want to find the perfect Subaru that fits your needs and budget? Contact us now by requesting a callback or calling us on
Is the Subaru Impreza reliable?
The Subaru Impreza seems to have not impressed Which? reviewers when the model on its launch. Due to the low number that are on the UK roads, when it comes to reliability the publication was only able to look at the brand as a whole. However, factors such as space of the interior and noise in the cabin were reviewed and the vehicle was found lacking.
The model has a larger interior, but in reviews the cost far outweighed any benefits offered by the vehicle.
Overall, the Impreza does not impress.
Subaru Outback reliability
The Subaru Outback has been on the Subaru roster for over 25 years. With the almost traditional shape of an estate, the vehicle has high ground clearance and is, like all other Subarus, four-wheel drive.
Unfortunately, when it comes to reliability, the Outback is not as well placed as some of its sister vehicles.
In the Which? reliability survey, the Outback earned just 3 stars out of 5, marking it as an average car in the rankings. According to the owners who took part, the most likely issues experienced were with the battery and the glow plugs. Luckily for the owners who had these issues, the turnaround on repairs was incredibly quick, with cars off the road for no more than hours.
Breakdown rates are higher than usual, with 7% of owners finding it necessary to call a recovery service.
Interested in leasing a Subaru Outback? Get in touch with our experienced team by requesting a callback or calling us now on
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Is Subaru less reliable?
So what has happened that may have made Subaru less dependable than they were a at the height of their popularity in the early s. There are a few possible reasons that this might be the case.
One is the fact that Subaru doesn’t have that many models on their roster. This means that if one or two models drop in reliability then it can bring the whole brand down. For example, if the Outback and Legacy experience a drop in dependability ratings, then this will affect the whole Subaru line-up and their standing in the reliability tables.
Subaru is affected differently to brands such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which have a much larger range of models. If one or two of the vehicles in the Mercedes or BMW ranges drop in dependability it won’t have much of an impact on the brands reliability as a whole.
For Subaru this has definitely been the case. There have been problems with the Legacy and the Outback, which include noises, leaks and problems with in-car electronics.
Another reason why they might be considered less dependable here in the UK is due to the fact that when they do go wrong, they cost a lot to repair.
According to the most recent reports from ReliabilityIndex (), the average cost of repairs across all Subaru models is £
We cannot ignore the high repair costs with Subaru, as this is something many consumers will want to take into account. One of the reasons the repair costs are so expensive in the UK is because there aren’t many Subarus around. This makes their parts less common and therefore more expensive. This is especially true if they have to be ordered from abroad. This brings the repair prices up which, in turn, brings the reliability down. That’s why they may be considered less dependable, and more expensive to repair, in the UK. It’s simply because they are less common.
In the 3 years between , costs for labour increased by over 40%, which contributes somewhat to the lower reliability rating for brands such as Subaru.
One of the core reasons that Subaru reliability has dropped is due to the problems that the Outback and Legacy have had with in-car technology. This is a common reason for declining dependability in a number of makes and models since the early s.
Many cars today have a great deal of new and complex technology. While, on paper, this looks great, and is also really cool when you first get the car, you can run into problems with it further down the line. There are so many moving parts and they can affect the overall reliability of your vehicle.
The technology can also prove to be expensive to repair or replace, further bringing the reliability down.
That said, Subaru aren’t the most unreliable brand out there by any means, and they are still producing good cars that many drivers have no issues with at all (see the Subaru Forester, which has a slightly better than average rating on the RelabilityIndex, and is popular with those who reviewed for Which?.
In conclusion: how reliable is Subaru?
In conclusion, Subaru isn’t the most reliable brand on the market, however, some of their models are better than others (e.g. the Forester). Overall, they are an average brand with a model or two that are better than average. But they are improving, having risen through the ranks since their drop in popularity and dependability in
The manufacturer has managed to improve the vehicles that they have available by focusing on improving existing technologies.
When it comes to their rivals, they can’t compete. But, many of their rivals are some of the most dependable brands on the market today.
That said, we know that Subaru targets a niche market. And this market will buy a Subaru simply because it’s a Subaru.
So, it really depends what is more important to you, the fact your car is a Subaru, or that it’s ultra-reliable. Either way, we can’t deny that Subaru make good cars that enable them to continue their loyal following.
Reliability ratings and repair costs were compiled in February
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Subaru Engine Problems You Should Know About if You’re Shopping for a Used One
The Automaker’s Commitment to the Subaru Boxer Engine
Almost exclusively, Subaru has chosen to outfit its vehicles with boxer engines. All of Subaru’s four-cylinder engines are liquid-cooled horizontally opposed boxer four-stroke engines, which the automaker has been making for more than 40 years. The exception to this is the EN engine series, which is used in the Subaru Kei cars and trucks (Japanese mini cars and trucks).
The boxer engine features pistons that move toward each other in a horizontal fashion. The movement of these pistons look like boxers throwing punches, which is how the engine name came to be. Because the movement is in opposition to one another, they counterbalance each other, resulting in a more balanced and smooth ride. For more than four decades, Subaru has been committed to the boxer engine because of the many advantages it affords, which we’ll dive into later. So while there have been a few Subaru boxer engine problems reported, the automaker is committed to this engine and continuously improving it for future models.
Subaru Engine Problems + What Years Subaru had Engine Problems
Some of the most expensive repairs an owner can deal with are engine issues. And because the engine is such a complex component, “engine issues” are not just one type of problem. There can be several issues that may affect a vehicle that may be labeled as an engine problem. Below are the most common engine issues Subaru owners have experienced. If you’ve noticed your Subaru not running at its best, your Subie may be dealing with an engine issue. Now just because Subaru has been challenged with engine problems doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider a Subaru as your next vehicle. We’re just outlining the most commonly reported problems so that you can be aware of them and know what to look for, especially if you’re experiencing some of the same, or you’re shopping for a used Subaru to call your own.
Stalling Caused by Faulty Fuel Pump Recall
In April , Subaru issued a recall for more than , Subaru vehicles, to include some of its more popular models like the Ascent SUV, Impreza hatchback and sedan, Legacy sedan and the Outback wagon, that were manufactured between June through February The culprit is a faulty fuel pump which can cause the engine to stall. This faulty fuel pump can become more of a safety issue if the engine stalls while in motion, with the potential to cause a crash. The issue that Subaru noted was that the fuel pump could crack and cause the vehicle to not start or stall while its running. Some symptoms include the vehicle running roughly, or possibly shaking and loud noises coming from the engine area. These would result in the Check Engine Light illuminating. Per the recall, Subaru will replace the fuel pump. The NHTSA campaign number is 20V and Subaru’s recall number is WRD
Engine Computer Issues Recall #1
In , Subaru recalled more than , of its models in the U.S. to address engine computer issues. According to reports, the computer unit was incorrectly programmed, causing it to continue to power the ignition coil even after the motor had been shut off. This increased temperature could cause a short circuit or a blown fuse, resulting in a sudden power loss and the inability to start the engine. The models affected were Imprezas, model years , , ; and the Crosstrek, model years and Subaru will address the issue by updating the computer software and replacing the coils and fuses required.
Faulty Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) Recall #2
In , Subaru issued another recall for more than , vehicles to address a faulty PCV valve that could cause the engine to lose power while in motion. It was noted that this faulty part could crack or split apart allowing pieces of itself and/or oil to enter the engine combustion chamber causing damage to engine components. The PCV valve is an emissions component that helps keep pollutants created by the engine from being released. It also helps to keep the engine clean and prevent crankcase pressure from building up. A telltale symptom includes increased tailpipe exhaust that is blue or gray in color. As part of the recall, Subaru will replace the faulty PCV valve, and if necessary, take care of any other damage that may have resulted from this faulty part, to include replacement of the engine if necessary. Models that were affected are listed below. The recall number is 19V for the / Impreza and Crosstrek, and 19V for all other models.
- and Impreza sedans
- Crosstrek SUV
- Hybrid Plug-In Crosstreks (manufactured between September and October )
- Subaru Forester SUV
- Subaru Ascent SUV
Engine Noises and Possible Stalling Recall
In , Subaru issued a recall to replace a valve spring fracture that could lead to engine noise, malfunction and possibly even engine stalling. The fractured valve springs may cause abnormal noise and possibly even engine malfunction such as stalling if not addressed. Subaru noted that the problem was only seen in a few models, but chose to recall , early-year models Impreza, XV Crosstrek and BRZ to be proactive and abundantly cautious. According to Subaru, the issue was considered a “low risk” of engine problems occurring. The Subaru models that were affected were model years as early as Below are the specific models and years.
- , , Impreza hatchback and sedan models
- XV Crosstrek SUV
- BRZ coupe
Engine Oil Leaks Due to Faulty Head Gasket
One of the most common engine issues Subaru owners have dealt with has to do with faulty head gaskets. The issues spanned across a few models for a period of about five years. There were two rounds of head gasket problems. The first group is specific to the 1st gen EJ25D liter boxer engine found mainly in the Legacy, Legacy Outback, Forester and the Impreza from to These engines suffered from internal head gasket leaks. The second group of head gasket issues came with the EJ, EJ and EJ liter boxer engines. These head gaskets suffered from external leaks between the cylinder heads and the engine block causing coolant and/or oil to leak out between the head and the block. In both instances the issue stemmed from the type of head gasket that was used, not the engine itself. In all of the problematic vehicles, the head gasket that was used was a single layer graphite coated head gasket that is known to lose its coating at about the , mile mark. The stripping and chipping of this coating resulted in the head gasket seal to become jeopardized. Subaru rectified the issue by extending its powertrain warranty and is now using a non-coated multilayer head gasket. Models prone to head gasket issues are listed below. To learn more about these Subaru head gasket problems, read olive®s blog detailing Subaru Head Gasket issues.
- Legacy LSi, GT and Outback
Excessive Oil Consumption
Owners have consistently reported excessive oil consumption from their Subarus. While there was no official recall from Subaru, there was a class action suit filed. The lawsuit was filed because owners claimed some to Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Impreza and Legacy models were using excessive amounts of oil between normal services. One owner noted that his Legacy was using so much oil that he had to start topping off his own oil with one quart every two weeks between services. According to the lawsuit, more than , people owned or leased one of these models. While Subaru did not do an official recall, the lawsuit was settled with Subaru agreeing to replace these engines with a redesigned boxer engine if the vehicle was deemed as one that was guzzling oil excessively. The vehicles that were affected include:
- Forester ( )
- Legacy ()
- Outback ()
- Impreza (, )
- XV Crosstrek ()
Pro-Tip: If you own or are considering a used Subaru that is less than 11 years old, you may want to consider an Extended warranty solution from olive®.
Subaru Boxer Engine Reliability
Many consumers ask: Is the liter engine a reliable engine? The answer is not cut and dry. Subaru makes a lot of different liter 4 cylinder engines, so to say that the liter 4 cylinder engine is reliable or not reliable would not be fair or a true assessment because we’d be casting a wide stroke across multiple liter boxer engine versions.
Here are the facts: Subaru experienced lots of engine issues due to head gaskets primarily in the EJ25D liter engine and the EJ, EJ and EJ liter engines. These engines were used primarily in the Legacy ( ), Impreza ( ), Forester ( ), Outback ( ) and Baja ( ). These engines in particular have received a bad reputation for their lack of reliability. It was such an issue for Subaru that the automaker extended its powertrain warranty from 5 years/60, miles to 10 years/, miles. These same engines seemed to guzzle excessive oil, so much so that a class action lawsuit was filed and settled by Subaru. Eventually these engines were phased out and replaced with the latest FB boxer engine series.
Most Reliable Subaru Engine
Although Subaru has been challenged with engine issues, most of the issues were isolated to a few engines, namely the EJs that were in the Impreza, Forester, Legacy, Outback and Baja models between and The latest Subaru boxer engines are part of the FB series boxer engines. This engine series has done well in reliability tests, and specifically the FB20D has been praised for its reliability. According to Consumer Reports, it has performed really well over the past few years in its predicted reliability tests, scoring mainly 5 out 5 in the Engine Major category, which accounts for major engine repairs like engine rebuilds or replacement, as well as cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, and timing chain or timing belts issues. This engine has been able to reduce emissions and boost fuel economy without compromising the performance of the engine, achieved through a marked increase in the piston stroke. More torque is also seen through this engine because the pistons and rods are lighter. Another benefit of the FB20D boxer engine, which is the latest Subaru boxer engine, is that it now comes with direct injection that provides a noticeable increase in power and efficiency. The FB20D is in the latest Impreza, Outback and Forester models, three of Subaru’s best-selling models.
Subaru Boxer Engine Benefits
As noted earlier, Subaru is committed to the boxer engine. It affords many benefits which make the investment in it worth it to the automaker. Let’s explore the benefits.
The design of the boxer engine is innovative. It’s flat design is more efficient because it allows for direct output into the transmission. This reduces engine components and inefficiencies, resulting in better fuel economy. The engine is also quieter because the engine experiences less vibrations because of the “flatter” design. In essence the pistons’ punches cancel either out. It’s also smaller than a typical engine, which means it weighs less, making it the perfect size for Subaru’s vehicles.
One of its most important benefits is its low center of gravity, which makes it more stable and more responsive than a traditional inline or V engine, which also means it provides better safety. For instance, if the vehicle were to experience a frontal crash, because the engine sits lower to the ground, it is more likely to drop “below” the passenger compartment rather than into it.
To get the lower center of gravity point across, Subaru cleverly uses three different animals to illustrate how much more stable the boxer engine is. Imagine the inline engine as a giraffe, the V engine as a flamingo, and the boxer engine as an alligator. If you think about a lower center of gravity and how that equates to stabilityWhich do you think is more likely to be more stable? The giraffe, flamingo or alligator?
Currently there are only two automakers in the world that use the boxer engine in their vehicles, with Subaru using it almost exclusively across its lineup.
While the boxer engine does offer some great benefits, the fact remains that the automaker has dealt with numerous engine issues that have resulted in a few recalls. We hope this blog was helpful in summarizing some of those commonly reported engine issues consumers have experienced. We believe that research is key when buying a new or used vehicle. Subaru’s reputation for reliability and safety is strong, so use this information as a supplement to your own research to help you when negotiating and ultimately buying your next Subaru.
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For a long time, both the Subaru Forester and the Subaru Outback were on the list for cars most likely to make it past thousand miles. The Subaru brand has always been well-known for making long-lasting, practical, and safe vehicles.
According to Subaru, 97% of vehicles sold in the last decade are still on the road today. The Subaru has maintained its reputation as a long-lasting vehicle. The Subaru high mileage clubs have clubs for over 50, miles, over , miles, all the way up to over , miles. Kelley Blue Book named Subaru of America as the most trusted automotive brand for 5years and running.
So, whats the deal?
According to this list of the 10 cars most likely to go past , miles, Subaru isnt making the cut anymore. Many are less inclined to keep their vehicles for long periods of time. Other makes and models are exceeding the Subaru Forester and Subaru Outback in the ability to make it past that k mark. So what happened? This change in expected longevity probably has to do with the string of recalls we have seen over the last few years, as well.
More people are leasing
According to this market report, as of more people are leasing their cars than ever before. As people continue to weigh their options, both millennials and senior buyers are choosing to lease in increasing numbers. Leasing is quickly becoming a norm in the car buying industry. As most lease deals limit mileage, this certainly has an impact on the amount of vehicles reaching k miles and beyond.
Due to this influx in the popularity of leasing your vehicle, we are seeing a much higher number of people –whether they lease or buy– trade their cars in for an upgraded version every few years. Fewer people plan to keep their vehicles until the mileage is maxed out, so they arent maintaining them with longevity in mind.
Full-size road trippers
The Subaru Forester and the Subaru Outback are being outdistanced by full-size family road trippers. Minivans like the Honda Odyssey are trekking families across the country in roomy, user-friendly comfort. Full-size SUVs like the GMC Yukon and the Chevy Tahoe are still dominating the big family vehicle scene.
The big road tripping vehicles offer more cargo room and more seats for extra passengers. The family road trip is still alive and well, but more are opting for these larger family vehicles. The Subaru Forester and Subaru Outback do not compete with these bigger family-sized vehicles.
In the last few years, Subaru has run massive recalls on these popular models, with issues involving corroded brake lines, short-circuiting puddle lights and the industry-wide replacement of Takata airbags.
In , Subaru issued two recalls related to defective Takata airbag inflators that, upon the airbag’s deployment, may result in sharp metal fragments striking passengers. Vehicles affected include the Tribeca, Legacy, Outback and WRX, as well as the Impreza. The combined vehicle count for both recalls totals , and as of January , some percent had been repaired.Kelley Blue Book
These recall programs affect several high demand models including the Subaru Outback. Another recall was issued affecting almost 50, Legacy and Outback models. The problem was an improperly machined steering column that may result in loss of steering control. Then, due to new issues with melting plastic, nearly , additional Outback and Legacy models were recalled that year as well. The Forester has also suffered due to recall programs.
Select turbocharged Subaru models were recalled in to replace a secondary air injection pump relay that could fail causing the air pump to overheat. Models included in this recall are the turbocharged versions of the Outback, Legacy, Forester and WRX and WRX STI. The completion rate for this repair as of April was percent.Kelley Blue Book
Further recalls ensued since this KBB report. Working out kinks may be affecting the Subaru Forester and Subaru Outback in their ability to make the most recent lists of cars most likely to make it to thousand miles.
Its a lot easier to fly, these days
With airline deals flooding search engines everywhere, now is the time to fly. Even somewhere that is just a few hours away by road is an even shorter flight. You can take a weekend trip by plane cheaper than ever with the lowering cost of domestic flights. Many of those vehicle leasers are trading in their road trip miles for frequent flier miles. This airport is only one example of the huge increase in air travel in recent years. And, as long as the Coronavirus is still making headlines, flights will continue to be even cheaper.
Theyll be back
Because Subaru is a brand that prides itself on loyalty and longevity, we can expect that favorites Forester and Outback will be back on that list in the future. The Outback and Forester are both constants in many high mileage groups and will probably remain so. This is just a hiccup in a history where the Subaru Outback and Subaru Forester are some of the primary cars in mind when people think of cars most likely to drive up to k miles and beyond.
Long reliability subaru term
Subaru Reliability – Just How Reliable Are Subaru?
Subaru are a Japanese car company, formerly known as Fuji Heavy Industries, who has built a dedicated fanbase over the years due to their off-roading capability, unique Boxer engines, high-performance potential alongside their well known Subaru reliability reputation.
Historically, Subaru were very reliable and known for their high standards of build quality. However, since the early s they have suffered from several bad engineering decisions which in turn may have started tarnished their reputation.
In the s Subaru were known to be extremely dependable and over-engineered vehicles. Their World Rally Championship victories with Colin McCrae behind the wheel only further boosted their popularity with the public.
In Subaru’s US sales figures increased by %, the biggest leap in the company’s history since after which they had been on a constant gradual decline.
With this rise in popularity saw a rise in ownership which had led to the widespread knowledge of Subaru’s infamous head gasket issues.
Blown Head Gaskets
Blown head gaskets are an issue which has plagued Subaru models for many years, with this being most prevalent from
Upon examination of the long-term quality index by Dashboard Light.com, for the best-selling model at the time (the Subaru Outback) we can see a spike in defect rates from 18% to 23%. This was mostly due to head gasket issues that took place after the warranty period had expired.
Blown head gaskets have been an issue with Subaru since the mids. However, this has only become widespread knowledge outside of enthusiast circles since the early s.
This fault usually occurs somewhere after the 75,mile mark. Apart from blown head gaskets, Subaru’s of this era are generally pretty reliable and good value for money however a blown head gasket is not a trivial or cheap issue.
Why The Head Gaskets?
Subaru’s head gaskets are prone to failure for several reasons, all of which making them the main source of bother for owners and potential buyers.
Experimental engine tech works wonders in the world of rallying where power comes first and longevity second, but the exact opposite takes priority on the street. Subaru’s downside is also one of their unique selling points – the Boxer engine.
The gaskets are made of thin metal sheets coated in a graphite-like material. This combination is known as a ‘composite type’ head gasket and are viewed as outdated and prone to failure. A more reliable type of head gasket is MLS (multi-layered steel) which is both more widely used and less likely to break.
The issue of a fragile head gasket type was only magnified by Subaru’s idiosyncratic engine layout. The boxer 4-cylinder horizontally opposed engine, loved by many for its tunability and unique sound, has two cylinder head gaskets instead of the one featured on more conventional inline-4 engines.
Replacing these is both a time consuming and expensive job and not something a mechanic will be easily able to sort in an afternoon (unless you are dealing with a well-equipped Subaru specialist).
Subaru waited until to update their materials and from then on the problem of blown head gaskets ceased to exist.
Buying a Pre Subaru
The simplest solution is to simply not buy a Subaru car from unless it has a full-service history including a head gasket replacement.
If not then you could potentially be forking over a large sum of money to get this issue fixed which judging by Subaru’s track record is an inevitable issue.
You can tell if the head gasket is blown as the engine will leak coolant, so after a short drive the engine will be prone to overheating.
Earlier Subaru’s suffered from internal leaks, and later models from external which are naturally easier to spot.
Look for an oil leak around the head and crankcase, or a puddle of coolant on the ground under the car.
Recent Subaru Reliability Improvements
Since revising their head gasket design Subaru’s reliability has improved – it isn’t perfect but it is an upgrade from their previous infamous reputation.
Subaru’s popularity peaked in the US in the early s with sales figures skyrocketing. Their yearly sales figures increased by on average % each yeah which is a phenomenal achievement.
This can be attributed to Subaru having a small roster of very capable cars, each with a very distinct purpose and buyer in mind. Whether it is the Forester for a family who likes to occasionally head off the beaten track, or the Impreza WRX designed with hardcore car enthusiasts in mind.
Each of these vehicles scored above average on JD Power’s review scale;
- Forester – 73/
- Impreza – 60/
- Legacy – 71/
- Outback – 72/
Subaru Short Lived Success
Despite this achievement Subaru were far from establishing a solid reputation as a bulletproof purchase. As of Subaru reliability dipped again which in turn damaged their public image.
They dropped to 18th place (out of 36) on the reliability table for the Reliability Index on Which?.
The 4th generation of Subaru Forester suffers from axle and suspension problems, which accounted for % of reported problems from owners.
The Forester also was prone to a number of interior functions failing including the air conditioning, and also poor engine idling.
On average Forester owners paid £ ($) for their cars to be fixed, according to a study by Which? carried out in It should be mentioned that this included labour costs.
The Legacy, Subaru’s everyday sedan, was prone to a myriad of engine problems not limited to turbo failure, radiator failure, and problems with the starter motor. These accounted for % of reported owner problems with axle and suspension issues coming in second for most common defects.
On average repairs for Subaru’s cost £85 ($), once again this is including labour.
Across all Subaru models the average cost of a repair is a sizeable £ ($). With this you have to take into account that this includes a labour fee, with labour costs rising by at least 40% since according to recent figures. Furthermore, this study was carried out in the UK where Subaru’s are rarer than they are in the States.
Ordering replacement parts in the UK can be more expensive than more common Japanese makes such as Toyota or Honda. Nevertheless, none of these figures inspire confidence in potential Subaru buyers and highlight Subaru’s unreliability was still present across their model range.
Subaru Reliability – Current Line-up
In Consumer Reports ranked Subaru as their #1 car brand in terms of overall performance and value.
However, they also ranked Subaru at #7 for repairs and reliability, 5 spots lower than their previous ranking in Clearly Subaru are on the right track but are still encountering problems.
Recently Subaru has issued a number of recalls for major faults, and with only a small roster of cars in production, this reflects a far more substantial dent in their reputation than say a recall by Mercedes which has triple the number of models on offer.
In early Subaru issued a recall for their Outback due to a loose bolt possibly causing the brake pedal area to deform, reducing braking performance, and increasing the risk of a crash.
Around the same time, Subaru also issued two recalls for , Subaru Impreza’s due to a pair of different issues which caused a loss of engine power. The first was due to the risk of a crankcase ventilation valve and an oil flow control device separating and letting valve components into the engine. The second was due to improperly programmed engine control modules.
In Subaru had to recall their new XV Crossover due to a seatbelt issue. Failings like this do not help to strengthen their public image.
Final Words On Subaru Reliability
In conclusion, Subaru are a brand with great potential let down by some reliability issues. If you are dead set on buying a Subaru look for models with extensive service history – or prior to replaced head gaskets.
They provide great performance and value for money compared to rivals, but this does come at a price – a potentially hefty repair bill.
When considering buying a Subaru don’t let a seemingly great deal blind you, always do your research, and consider that some more expensive rivals (such as a Toyota CHR, instead of an XV) could be far less hassle in the future.
How has your Subaru experience been? Have you experienced problems with your CVT gearbox?
Similar Case Studies
Before you are part with your money take a look at our other case studies on reliability below.
MINI Cooper Reliability
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Why Subaru Scores Low The Last 5 Years In J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study
The Subaru Outback, Forester, and Crosstrek do not get any individual awards, and Subaru scores poorly again in the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study. But that’s not anything new because the Japanese automaker has not scored well the past four years and now this makes five years in-a-row. Why does Subaru always score well below the industry average in this study?
The study measures the number of problems per vehicles (PP) experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of their three-year-old vehicles. The study measures problems in model-year vehicles.
The Subaru brand scores low the last 5 years in J.D. Power study
In , Subaru scored a total VDS ranking of (Problems per Vehicles), in , the Japanese automaker ranked PP well below the industry average of In , Subaru slipped into the bottom quarter of all automakers with a PP while the overall industry average improved 9 percent to
This year, Subaru improves with a score of PP but is number 10 from the bottom. The industry average improves from and is PP (problems per ), but no Subaru vehicles were in the top three models in their individual segments. Subaru does seem to improve according to the study but why are they ranked in the bottom 10?
Watch this video report discussing the benefits of keeping your old Subaru Outback vs buying the model and click to subscribe to Torque News for daily automotive news analysis.
Top-selling Subaru Outback, Forester, and Crosstrek score poorly according to Power
Keep in mind you’re getting information on things that were true with cars people bought new in Since then the Subaru Outback, Forester and Crosstrek have all received major makeovers. But it still doesn’t make sense that Subaru continually scores low (23rd) in this study and high in other studies like Consumer Reports (subscription required) where they rank number 7 among all automakers. CR singles out the all-new Ascent family hauler as a car with some new-model problems or Subaru would have scored higher.
The groups of owners of those surveyed are very different between J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. J.D. Power surveys those who've owned a vehicle for three years, while CR's survey of , owners of , vehicles places no restriction on the length of ownership. Those surveyed are CR subscribers, who are likely even pickier and discriminating regarding consumer goods.
Is the J.D. Power VDS study showing the correct picture?
A report a few years ago from Autoblog’s Consumer Editor, Jeremy Korzeniewski may help shed more light on it. The problem, as Jeremy pointed out, is one of methodology: When he wrote his article, there was no weighting assigned to the problems reported in the survey, and this still appears to be the case.
Therefore, a problem with in-vehicle technology (infotainment) or a loose piece of trim is deemed as serious as a blown engine or leaky transmission (infotainment still accounts for more problems than any other category in the study). Jeremy's point is, if the categories of problems were weighted, you'd see a different picture with Subaru’s J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study score.
What are the most dependable brands according to J.D. Power?
Among all vehicle nameplates, Genesis ranks highest in overall vehicle dependability among all brands, with a score of 89 PP Lexus ranks second in vehicle dependability with a score of PP Buick follows Lexus with PP, Porsche ( PP) ranks fourth.
Three of the top four automakers are all luxury brands and Buick is marketed as a premium automobile brand, selling luxury vehicles positioned above GM’s mainstream models. There are likely human feelings and biases that are in play in surveys like J.D. Power’s VDS. If you bought an expensive Genesis, Lexus or Porsche you're probably going to say, and believe, that the car you paid dearly for is worth every penny.
There are many sources for automotive information, so do your homework and cross-reference your information. This annual study hasn’t hurt sales of the popular Outback wagon, Forester SUV and Crosstrek subcompact SUV all-wheel-drive vehicles. The Subaru brand scores high in brand loyalty, and they’ve also been rated with the highest residual values in the industry.
You Might Also Like: Subaru Officially Joins Toyota Group, What It Means For New Outback And Forester Models
Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!
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Reliability is an important factor for car shopping because every driver wants their vehicle to last for as long as possible. Most people think of Toyota when considering reliability. Models like the Toyota Corolla can reach , miles with no major repairs.
Subaru is also considered to be one of the most reliable car brands on the market. The Subaru Legacy is a three-time winner of the J.D. Power award. Toyota rivals have won similar awards, but are they more reliable than their Subaru alternatives?
The case for Toyotas reliability
High mileage for a Toyota is , miles, but some models can last for , miles. Once a car gets to that point, its hard to justify making extensive repairs. This is especially true for foreign brands like Toyota and Subaru.
Both of them have fewer dealerships in the country compared to American automakers like Ford and Chevy. As a result, there are fewer knowledgeable technicians that can fix the specific problems of these vehicles. Importing the parts to repair these vehicles can also be more expensive. Fortunately, a Toyota can last a long time before that point.
The Toyota Camry is considered one of the most reliable, beating out several rival models on Consumer Reports testing. It also topped the Subaru Legacy in terms of speed, fuel economy, and handling. However, the Legacy did get a better overall score because of its comfortable ride and impressive braking performance.
Even Toyotas pickup trucks are dependable, a class that usually has the worst reliability ratings. The Toyota Tundra reigns supreme in this category, with experts contributing its longevity to its simple powertrain. Fewer complicated parts mean smoother operations that are more affordable to fix.
How does Subaru compare?
Subaru also gets high mileage, with many models lasting around , miles. Some vehicles might live shorter lives, especially those with a liter turbocharged engine. Older Subarus are also prone to expensive problems, like engine failure and gasket replacements, much earlier in the ownership period.
Subarus can also be more of a liability because of extra components. As Bob Wade Subaru points out, almost every Subaru has standard AWD and a long list of safety features. Still, these make the Subaru more useful to its owners and increases its value.
Subaru has also beaten its Toyota rivals on several occasions, including the beloved Toyota RAV4. Consumer Reports said the Subaru Forester is more reliable, has a better ride quality, and has the most comfortable interior. The Toyota RAV4 still got high marks in several categories, but the Forester was slightly better.
However, some Subaru models dont uphold the automakers reputation for reliability. The Ascent SUV got a low predicted reliability rating from Consumer Reports, mostly due to its numerous initial recalls. Once owner surveys started pouring in, the Subaru Ascent scored four out of five for overall dependability.
Which do consumers prefer?
A discussion on Quora suggests that Toyotas are more popular amongst most drivers. Toyota models generally get more satisfying performance and a more durable engine. However, a few other comments said that Subarus last longer and are more useful in rain or snow.
The choice between buying a Subaru or a Toyota mostly comes down to personal preference. Both automakers provide cars with satisfying powertrains, plentiful standard features, and great warranties.
However, even a Toyota or Subaru cant last up to its full potential without proper maintenance. Always service your vehicle regularly and have problems repaired as soon as possible.
Related: Does Toyota Own Subaru?