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The 8 Most Common Subaru Problems You Should Know About

Here are the eight most common newer Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, and other new model problems owners could face. Check out the complete list here.

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Every car brand has problems with their new cars, and there are some unique to each automaker. Here is a complete list of some recent Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, and other new model problems, recalls, and lawsuits owners should know about. Subaru Report has covered each issue, and you can click on the red links below to get more information on the issue.

Denso Fuel Pump Failure

In April, Subaru announced a defective fuel pump recall for the 2019 Subaru Outback, 2019 Ascent, 2019 Impreza, and 2019 Legacy models. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced an additional 1.5 million cars were affected, and more Subaru vehicles were involved that used Denso fuel pumps.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru OutbackDenso used the defective "low pressure" fuel pump before July 2019 and began using the fuel pump with a higher density impeller filter after that date. Before this latest announcement, Subaru estimated about 4 percent of the models were affected. Subaru issued a recall for this problem.

What is the safety risk? The four Subaru vehicles equipped with a low-pressure fuel pump could fail, including an impeller manufactured with a lower density. Subaru says, "If the surface of the lower density impeller is exposed to solvent drying for longer periods, it may develop fine cracks. Those cracks may lead to excessive fuel absorption, resulting in impeller deformation.”

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback

Battery system drain

Subaru of America was hit with a class-action lawsuit concerning the Subaru Outback wagon and Ascent 3-Row SUV last year. The class-action lawsuit filed in April 2020 alleged 2016-2019 Subaru Outback and the 2019-2020 Subaru Ascent SUVs had problems with the batteries draining prematurely. According to the filing, the alleged defect may also be present in the 2020 Outback.

Another defective battery lawsuit was filed against Subaru of America and Subaru Canada. The more recent case covered more models, including the 2015-2019 Subaru Forester, 2015-2019 Subaru Outback, 2019 Subaru Ascent, 2015-2019 Subaru Legacy, and 2015-2019 Subaru WRX.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback

Unintended acceleration

A class-action lawsuit against Subaru claimed certain Forester, Outback, and Legacy models suddenly accelerated without warning. The class-action claimed Subaru hid the defect and had known about the problem in these models since 2011. The lawsuit was filed in New Jersey federal court against Subaru of America. The Subaru Forester and Outback are the brand's top-selling models in North America.

The lawsuit said 2012-2018 Subaru Forester, 2015-2019 Subaru Outback, and 2015-2019 Subaru Legacy model vehicles could accelerate without warning when the driver uses the brake pedal.

Subaru Report had two stories involving a 2019 Subaru Outback slamming through a garage door and a 2017 Subaru Forester accelerated without warning.

Cracked windshields

Subaru of America agreed to a settlement of the cracked windshield lawsuit brought against the Camden, N.J. automaker. The recent windshield settlement only included 2015 Subaru Outback and Legacy models and 2016 Subaru Outback and Legacy models.

The lawsuit was initially filed in June 2017 when a California woman who claimed her 2015 Subaru Outback developed a crack that had "spontaneously appeared" at the windshield base.

New information in the Subaru defective windshield lawsuit covered the 2017-2020 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Impreza, Legacy, and 2019-2020 Subaru Ascent models. In November, Torque News reported the defective windshield class-action lawsuit against Subaru of America included 2.5 million vehicles in the U.S. covering the Subaru models listed above.

Subaru Starlink problems

The class-action lawsuit that claimed Subaru's Starlink infotainment systems are defective reached a final settlement. A New Jersey Judge signed the order valued at $6.25 million and could benefit 785,000 Subaru owners and lessees. The agreement covered the 2018 Subaru Forester, 2018 Subaru Outback, 2018 Crosstrek, 2018 Legacy, 2017-2018 Impreza, and 2018 BRZ.

The Starlink systems consist of Harman Gen 3 audio and navigation head units, and the lawsuit alleged the head units created safety concerns for Subaru drivers.

Some owners experienced several problems that include backup camera freezing/or shutdowns, loss of audio functions, complete system lockup, display shutoff, inability to shut radio/audio off or turn high volume level down when backing up, radio comes on at high volume when the car is turned on, smartphone favorites aren't saved, audio/radio functioning is erratic, touchscreen controls are unresponsive, and Bluetooth connectivity issues.

Subaru Ascent CVT

Subaru Ascent owners have reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that they have had shifting problems. Drivers report feeling the vehicle hesitates, jerking or about to stall, and slipping of the continuous variable transmission (CVT) automatic gearbox.

Subaru of America recalled 76,842 2019 model year Ascent SUVs over a faulty sensor in the transmission. The hydraulic transmission sensor may inaccurately measure the hydraulic fluid pressure, and the Continually Variable Transmission (CVT) chain may slip in Ascent 3-Row vehicles.

Light switch defect

Subaru was hit with their largest recall ever and recalled around 1.3 million vehicles in the U.S. over a brake light switch malfunction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says Subaru of America's recall covered certain 2014-2016 Forester, 2013-2017 Crosstrek 2008-2016 2008-2014 WRX sedans and WRX STI, 2008-2016 Impreza sedans, and 2012-2016 Impreza station wagons. This was part of a massive global recall where 2.3 million vehicles were affected. A total of 1,303,530 cars in the U.S. were affected by this recall.

What is the problem? Exposure to specific contaminants may cause the brake light switch to malfunction, preventing the brake lights from illuminating and preventing keyless ignition vehicles from starting and CVT/automatic transmissions from being shifted out of Park.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback

Electrical system issue

Subaru issued another massive recall affecting new 2017-2019 Crosstrek and Impreza models. Subaru of America recalled the next-generation Crosstrek and Impreza vehicles for an electrical system issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the recall affected 466,205 vehicles in the U.S. alone.

The NHTSA said the Engine Control Module (ECM) in both Crosstrek and Impreza may continue to power the ignition coil after the engine is shut off, which could result in a short circuit and a blown fuse. If a short circuit occurs while driving, the vehicle could stall, increasing the crash risk.

Owners could face these eight Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, and other new model problems. Owners can check Subaru's VIN lookup tool here to check for any recent recalls affecting their vehicle.

You Might Also Like: UPDATE Newer Subaru Outback, Ascent, Legacy Are Recalled For A Defective Drive Chain

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Richard Melloh (not verified)    December 20, 2021 - 2:07PM

Our experience with Subarus has shown a consistent short service life for wheel bearings and brake shields. The cost of replacing these is high, due to the design of the systems, the cost of OEM replacement parts and cost of the significant amount of labor required to do the work.

Wheel bearings are integral with complete hub assemblies, yielding a high cost. Need a new bearing? Buy a whole hub assembly.

Brake shields are designed so the entire hub assembly must be removed to replace the brake shield. The quality of the metal used in OEM Subaru brake shields is poor, rust protection nonexistent.

How hard would it be to galvanize such parts and save long term Subaru lovers many hundreds of dollars over the life of the vehicle? If I could buy galvanized or stainless steel brake shields, I would gladly spring for the extra cost.

Hint to all Subaru owners: When replacing your junk wheel bearings, have the brake shields closely evaluated and replace them at the same time, if needed. This would be every Subaru owner in the Rust Belt.

mjs (not verified)    December 20, 2021 - 3:47PM

In reply to by Richard Melloh (not verified)

I definitely agree with you regarding the wheel bearing issue, Subaru quoted me about $500 for each one. Fortunately, I am not afraid to turn a wrench so I ordered a pair on-line for $70. It took me less than the time it would take for me to drive my car to the Subaru dealer and drive home. Basically, for about an hours worth of labor, I saved about $450. Keep in mind that the front CV boots don't last either since they are exposed to heat. You can get a repair kit from NAPA for about $30 and do this job in about an hour as well.

Brad Van Steinburg (not verified)    February 10, 2024 - 10:36PM

In reply to by mjs (not verified)

Hi, had a 2015 OB and the R bearing were starting to sing at 170 km then meet a deer. Purchased a 2011 OB, from Ont. Rear, bearing, brakes, sway bar, all suspension bush, arms, tie rod bear started squeaking after a few hundred km, please be aware, now the front sub frame is being checked. ???? Thank you.

Robert Adams (not verified)    December 20, 2021 - 6:54PM

In reply to by Richard Melloh (not verified)

I experienced the wheel bearing failure and found that the parts are very expensive. I used OEM parts, but wondered whether the aftermarket are just as good or maybe even better. Doing it myself saved money. I did not notice the brake shield rusting excessively, but I live where salt is not needed or used on the roads.

Sam Hewes (not verified)    January 25, 2022 - 10:31PM

In reply to by Richard Melloh (not verified)

Infotainment center which I learned from the dealership is a safety feature has been replaced three times. Last week I replaced the battery three times in 3 days. The dealership is kind but their hands are tires by Corporate. 2019 Impreza purchased new off the lot in 2019. I think it’s all branding reverse psychology who loves their Subaru? Not me.

Mike (not verified)    December 20, 2021 - 2:31PM

I have a 2016 Subaru Crosstrek that the power steering fails intermittently
Have returned it to the dealer 8 times without resolution
Subaru of America has been of no help in this issue
I am very sorry that I bought a Subaru
Treatment from the dealer and from SOA disgusting

somebody (not verified)    December 21, 2021 - 4:24AM

I had a 2011 Outback that was pretty meh. Leaking headgaskets at 115k, valve body issues causing stalling when braking, wheel bearings, throttle body issues, bad electrical relay, the same headlight would burn out every 6-12 months, the thinnest and least protective paint of any car I've owned, sway bar end links. I'm not sure how Subaru receives all of this positive press when they're literally known for blown headgaskets which they still refuse to acknowledge as a problem to this day. Oddly, after I got rid of the Outback I bought a VW Golf Sportwagen and it's been the most reliable car I've ever owned. 40k miles and not a single issue.

Richard Melloh (not verified)    December 21, 2021 - 8:47AM

In reply to by somebody (not verified)

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the constant need to keep extra headlamp bulbs in the glove box of our 2013 Crosstrek and our 2005 Legacy GT wagon, not just one bulb, but two. We have had double bulb failures, once in the middle of nowhere, at dusk, on a very long road trip. We learned of the failure when we turned on the lights in approaching darkness, forced to drive the last hundred miles on fog lamps and brights only.

One also needs to keep a headlamp with good batteries in the car to change the bulbs in darkness, and the appropriate tool to remove the intake shroud, and a clean rubber glove to handle the new bulbs. That's a bit much to expect from the average car owner.

Sharon Estrada (not verified)    December 23, 2021 - 6:38AM

In reply to by Richard Melloh (not verified)

We have Subaru Foresters 2009, 2014 and 2018. The 2009 Premium has constant headlamp failure, replacing them left today right tomorrow is a constant nightmare. Bearing issue is also frequent. The ac went out on this one when it was fairly new. The 2014 has the burning oil issue causing the constant need to check tand add oil quickly. The 2018 radio cannot be turned off or down when backing up which Ivread hear today isn't normal. When asked at the service center about these problems it's always first time I hear of this. Wow, we are not alone.

Rochelle Martin (not verified)    August 21, 2023 - 9:45AM

In reply to by Richard Melloh (not verified)

I have a 2014 Subaru XV and I have had repeated issues with the bulbs going at the same time. Had it this weekend and they had only been replaced less than 6 months ago. Not very happy at all.

Roberto Lim (not verified)    December 21, 2021 - 10:52AM

I owned a 2017 Subaru Impreza for a couple of years. Thankfully my extended warranty saved me from replacement of two - yes 2 - info system units b/c volume knob broke and replacement of rear bearings. Otherwise, car drove smooth... Side note: I don't know what other car makers are offering, but my two last car purchases have involved extended warranty purchases. It seems like car makers' business models offer short warranty durations on an already expensive car, then up-selling you a $3k extended warranty because they aren't making cars that last.

Robin Lamson (not verified)    April 16, 2022 - 9:38PM

I’ve been incredibly interested in the 22 Crosstrek, I’m on a tight budget so I ordered a base model! Now after it’s on order I’m reading all of these complaints, recalls, problems what should I do? I hear such positive things on the 22 model, also equally as much negative on it! Can I cancel the order and get my deposit back?
The only reason I’m trading my Honda HRV is for the extra safety on the Crosstrek!
What can I do?

Jim Stone (not verified)    December 31, 2023 - 8:59PM

In reply to by Robin Lamson (not verified)

Stick with Honda, but do your research. As there are some issues on all car models. I have driven Honda for many years. Great reliability. Accord, and Odyssey.

Leo Cousineau (not verified)    April 19, 2022 - 8:21PM

My wife Subaru Ascent 2019 became incapacitated in the middle of wilderness at 62000 mile. It eventually made to a dealer who diagnosed it as a transmission head failure and not related to the transmission recal that has not been fixed yet because our dealer has not received the parts
I wonder if the fix and failure are related and if anyone else had this issue

Ron David (not verified)    April 25, 2022 - 12:25PM

I traded in my 2020 Acent and purchased a 2022 outback wilderness edition. I have had the car 6 months and have had multiple issues with everything.
1) The transmission slips when at low speeds trying to speed up quickly to merge into highway traffic. The rpm goes up 5000 and I get off the gas it to "reset". This is every day in the morning! Also I have noticed serious response time to go up hills.
2) The starlink system sucks compared to my 2020 ascent. It constantly will not connect to my phone. Starting the car sometimes the radio takes 2 minutes to actually start also.
Thankfully nothing so far has become present. This is my 4th subaru and my 2000 outback and 2002 outback were not CVT and they ran awesome. Since the CVT BS the engine socks! Advancements in the control display and such have also tanked.

Mike Robertson (not verified)    June 2, 2022 - 8:20PM

Today was 2nd replacement left rear hub/bearing in 57K miles on 2015 Legacy. On windshield #4 and paint is terrible: if bird sh*t not rinsed within five mins bites it etches the clear coat. Hundreds of chips all over hood - not just road rash area at front. Of course SoA blames me.

Definitely a love-hate relationship.

Kathleen (not verified)    September 2, 2022 - 2:01PM

My 2016 Subaru Impreza 2.0i 5 door interior lights stopped working ... along with the back-up camera, radio, and key fob functioning. It just happened overnight as my car sat in the garage! It is always garaged. My son thought it might be a Body Control Module. It only has 53K miles on it!
Anyone have an experience like this. Just checking before I go to Dealer Service dealer

Barbara (not verified)    September 8, 2022 - 4:10PM

My subaru outback 2013 is in a nondealer shop. They say I need a used/new transmission 6,000-12,000!!!! it has 120,000 miles on it. Have contacted subaru with little response. I have never owned a vehicle that needed more cost transmission than the vehicle is worth!! Unless I can get subaru to replace at no cost to me I will never invest in ANY subaru again. It seems to be a common problem with no recall.

Brian Dowdy (not verified)    February 5, 2023 - 11:22AM

We bought a 2019 Forester Sport in Sept. of 20 and we loved it, we put 12,000 miles on it in 8 months with no problems, then in May2021 we traded it for a 2022 new Ascent and we hated it, transmission was jerky and on a small incline it would rev to 3500 rpms and sounded like the engine was going to come out of it. we just traded it for a 2023 Outback Wilderness and I am in love again with Subaru, and we bought the 3 yr. service package and extended warranty, just in case, but so far it is an absolute blast to drive, seats are very comfortable when you lay them back to relax where as the Ascent seats were horribly uncomfortable .

PCW (not verified)    February 14, 2023 - 3:06PM

Subaru Legacy 2011… paint clear coat has been spidering for years and now it’s ALL coming off in sheets. This issue has been noted on many other Subaru models. Not a good look or representation of Subaru manufacturing workmanship when driving around.

Glen Lamb (not verified)    March 9, 2023 - 11:27PM

I own a 2015 Subaru legacy 2.5 liter FB 25 B boxer motor oil burner. This is the same motor that is in the2011-18 Forrester, 2013-19 legacy and the 2013-19 Outback. A class action suit was filed and settled in 2016. Forrester and Outback’s and only Legacy’s up to 2014 fixed (?). Subaru of America (SOA) extended the warranty to 8 year or 100000 miles. Many who had older Subaru’s were already over the mileage limit. Subaru chose profit over owners, I have 78,000 miles and did not pass the oil test, but since I was not on their problem list of cars, I did not qualify. I was offered $2,5000 as a good will for customer satisfaction. They recommend replacing the short block at a cost of $6,300 for a problem they knew about. The only way to fight is to file another class action suit and tell every one that will listen to boycott Subaru

Jen Walte rs (not verified)    May 24, 2023 - 10:39AM

We have a 2020 Forrester E boxer hybrid.
Why does the EV light not cut in on dash. We have full level on battery, car warmed up and driven 60 klms. Drive at under 50 klms, no acceleration etc .But the EV light rarely works.

Brad Van Steinburg (not verified)    February 10, 2024 - 10:29PM

I would like to say, any Subaru or other auto a few years old are subject to high corrosion problems in Eastern Canada, to correct these issues is expensive, so should be 5 to $10,000 less than cars in western Canada. Took a chance and spent $$.