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The New Subaru Outback Feature Owners Dislike The Most And How To Turn It Off

There is one new Subaru Outback feature that owners despise. See what it is and how to turn it off.


The Subaru Outback is the top-selling model in Subaru of America's lineup, but it could be better. It has a fuel-saving feature that owners dislike the most. The new Subaru Outback owners tell me they despise the stop/start system on the midsize SUV more than anything else on the car. 

I have discussed before that the Auto-Stop-Start is one of the new Subaru vehicles' most controversial fuel-efficiency features. The Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, and Legacy all come with auto stop/start. Here is why and what you can do about it. 

2024 Subaru Outback siiting on a dealers lot

photo credit: Tucson Subaru

Many automakers use a system that automatically stops the engine when you come to a complete stop for more than a few seconds. It's designed to save fuel whenever the car stops at a stop sign, or you wait at a traffic light.

The frequent starting and stopping of the engine are tiresome to drivers who live in urban areas, especially if you commute in heavy stop-and-go traffic every day. And many Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and Legacy owners say they don't like the car stopping and starting because it shakes the car every time the engine starts back up.

2024 Subaru Outback with auto stop/start feature

photo credit: Schumacher Subaru

Some drivers say they don't like the car stopping and starting because they fear the system could fail and the engine won't restart and leave them stranded. They also consider the extra wear on the engine and starter.

The SAE says it does save fuel.

Automakers use the system to increase gas mileage numbers, but do they save enough fuel to be worthwhile? I covered this information in a previous article, but it's worth repeating. According to a study conducted by the Society of American Engineers (SAE), turning your car's engine off is beneficial if it is going to be idling for at least seven seconds.

Within that range of time, enough fuel is saved to restart the car. So, fuel will be saved whenever the engine is shut off for over seven seconds. I know of one stoplight on my commute where I can sit for as long as two minutes. After a period of time, the fuel savings add up.

Why is it worse than other automaker's technology?

Subaru's stop/start system shakes the car more than any other automaker's. A recent San Diego Union-Tribune column says Subaru is among the worst for engine vibration on restart. They say Subaru's Boxer engine design, in which the horizontally opposed pistons create more significant side-to-side movement and more vibration.

How to turn off Subaru's Auto Start/Stop 

There is good and bad news. You can turn off the auto/start system. 

The Auto Stop-Start can be disabled on the 2020-2021 Subaru Outback, Forester, Legacy, and Crosstrek. It's different for each model, and the problem is that you cannot permanently turn it off in some models like Forester. 

The new Outback and Legacy do have a feature on its new 11.6-inch touchscreen menu, and you can turn off the system. On the home screen, push the car icon button to change the settings and click "Others," allowing you to turn off the Auto Stop-Start system.

The bad news

The bad news is the system will always default to an on position once you turn the car off. So, whenever you return to your vehicle, you must manually disable the system.

The Auto Stop-Start on the new Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, and Legacy is the most disliked feature on Subaru models. But it will save fuel if you live in an urban area. 

Your turn:

What is your experience with Subaru's auto Stop/Start System? 

Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this Subaru Outback story. See you tomorrow for my latest Subaru Report.

For additional articles related to the 2024 Subaru Outback, here are a few of my top stories you may enjoy. 

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Check out: How to turn off Subaru Auto Start Stop YouTube video from Alex Prestigiacomo

I am Denis Flierl, a 12-year Torque News senior writer with 20+ years of Subaru and automotive journalism experience. I enjoy bringing you, the Subaru fans and customers, the most up-to-date Subaru news, reviews, and new model information. You'll find the latest Subaru stories on the Subaru page. Follow me on my The Dirty Subaru website, Dirty Subaru blogSubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

I’ve got you covered! - I cover all Subaru all the time - It’s called the “Subaru Report.” Check back daily for my expert Subaru analysis!

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photo credit: main image Tucson Subaru


Jimmy FromNY (not verified)    November 11, 2023 - 9:10PM

Spouse has it in his car and I have it in my new Crosstrek. We agree it’s a beneficial feature to keep on. The car calculates the number of gallons you are saving when in engine off mode and I’m almost up to 1 gallon saved in less than 2 months. It adds up.

Candi G. (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 8:54AM

In reply to by Jimmy FromNY (not verified)

Me and my husband absolutely hate it. I have a 2020 outback Onyx model XT. The start up vibration is aggressive. Thanks to this article I understand why. I always would think is it just my outback. This is a new to me used car for us and our first outback. It's my dream car. but that feature is a pain, I am not sure if it saves fuel where and when I drive.

Eugene (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 9:40AM

In reply to by Jimmy FromNY (not verified)

The feature is annoying, it saves very little gas. Sometime, you need to accelerate quickly to merge into traffic, but you can't with this feature on. So, this thing is even dangerous. Suburu should come up with a recall to disable the auto stop or someone should create a huck to override the computer.

Simon Seruya (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 10:11AM

In reply to by Jimmy FromNY (not verified)

There is another way.
If you have a hitch with wiring harness, you can plug a dummy plug into the wiring harness where it thinks it's towing.
This deactivates the auto start and stop permanently.

Simon Seruya (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 10:14AM

In reply to by Jimmy FromNY (not verified)

There is another way.
If you have a hitch with wiring harness, you can plug a dummy plug into the wiring harness where it thinks it's towing.
This deactivates the auto start and stop permanently.

Nadine Charlsen (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 10:11PM

In reply to by Jimmy FromNY (not verified)

I really despise that on/off switch feature. I was sitting in traffic in Jersey and my car shut off and it would not restart. It told me I had to turn off the engine and turn it back on again. I was sitting at a red light that turned green with cars honking around me while I figured out what was wrong. we thought it was related to the fact I had cruise control on. (Subaru told me it was just a computer glitch and they really didn’t know what caused it.) It just happened to me two days ago about three blocks from my house and I was not using cruise control. I have an appointment to talk to Subaru tomorrow because it is unnecessary and a scary Bad design. One of many with the 2021 Forrester.

George (not verified)    November 13, 2023 - 8:34AM

In reply to by Jimmy FromNY (not verified)

One gallon in 2 months is negligible, 6 gallons of gas a year versus wear and tear on the starter and engine, that savings that does add up isn't worth it. I have the same feature in my ridgeline and I turn it off every time I crank it up

Mark R (not verified)    November 13, 2023 - 11:52AM

In reply to by Jimmy FromNY (not verified)

I've got it in my wife's 2021 Crosstrek Limited and it's a mixed bag on hills. This year has a noticeable lag between taking your foot off the brake and the engine is ready to accelerate. I'll be installing a aftermarket default-off module before our teenager starts driving just to reduce the complexity and things they have to worry out.

Lothar Erkens (not verified)    November 13, 2023 - 2:02PM

In reply to by Jimmy FromNY (not verified)

I have this feature in my Outback and I turn it off, since avoiding the shudder when the engine starts is worth paying a for a gallon of gas more in a 6 week period. What I absolutely hate is the fact that the car decides to change radio stations or starts playing a music from a different artist (mp3 files on the USB) when the car has been parked and the engine stopped. No, I will not (ever) subscribe to a satellite radio service. During long drives I listen to recorded books and if make a fuel stop, I have remember which chapter and verse I'm on before I turn off the engine and leave the car, so I can find where I left off when I get ready to leave again. It is not that hard to program and MP3 player. This technology has been around for a couple of decades...

Miriam Ocasio (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 7:43AM

Do you have any updates on the 2019-2023 Outback problems with the audio unit. Apparently an out of stock item. I’ve been waiting for several months to have it replaced, hence no radio.

Justin Robertello (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 8:18AM

I just bought a 2024 subaru legacy sport, and I can confirm that the auto start stop feature is not the best. When the engine turns off its not a problem but on startup the car shakes as said in the article. Love the car but hate having to turn that off everytime I turn the car on.

Mike (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 10:38AM

I don't have any problem with stop/start on my 2023 Outback.
It takes less than a second to restart. Without even trying I'm usually ahead of my neighbor in the other lanes and reach 30-40 mph before they do and I don't leadfoot it.
I like it, it may not save a lot of gas but any savings these days is good.

Ryan Reeder (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 10:44AM

On my subaru it is inconsistant. Fifty percent of the time tge outback will shut off, and fifity percentof the time it stays idleing.

Ray Hardison (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 10:47AM

There is a product you can buy and install called the Auto Stop Eliminator. I installed it in my 2021 Outback and it permanently turns off the feature.

Gary Potter (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 11:42AM

I might have bought a Toyota (or something else) had I known at the time. I love my '24 Crosstrek but hate the start/stop. Not as much as my wife does though.

Keith (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 11:43AM

I have owned a new Outback for ten months and I don't understand the complaints. I barely notice when it turns off and on. Sounds like overly picky people.

Paul (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 11:44AM

I have owned three Honda Civic hybrids, which have the stop start feature. I traded one of them in at 170,000 miles; another one the transmission blew up at 250,000 miles; the other one has 270,000 miles on it and is still running fine. Never had a problem with the stop start feature.

Marcel Bosca (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 12:37PM

Hello, the fuel saving is minor compared to how many times this auto stop/start will shake the car, not just side to side vibration, but also a push forward by the engine.
I do have other complaints about the Outbacks, as not just the 2022 model, the 2019 model too, same things:
- when I make quick hard steering wheel turn in and out of a parking spot, the steering system has a hard shock at the end of the stroke. That shock is hard enough to give me concerns.
- the rear wheels have way too much negative camber, -1.8 degrees and -1.6 degrees on 2022 Outback, and it's not adjustable. I will have to replace the tires too soon because of inside wear, as I did on 2019 model. That inside wear is also dangerous because it can not be seen easy by the owner and wear amount on the inside can get bellow the bottom of the grooves while the outside of the tire still shows some life left in the tire. I had to replace the tires on the previous 3 years lease, 15k miles per year. It will be the same with the current lease.
- My wife gets car sick if seating in the rear because the rear suspension allows the car to bounce too much on the road. I have 30k miles on the car and I already can see one of the rear tires bouncing on the road, as it happens when a shock absorber doesn't work right.
- and the final complain, when at about 20 mph and engine at 2000 RPM, with a medium load acceleration the engine shakes the car sideways. It started to be felt early, under 10k, even my wife felt the symptom but didn't say anything until I told her that I would not buy the car at the end of the lease.
- Do I trust a Subaru dealer for all these complains? No, unfortunately. These are all car design issues, dealers can't do anything about these, and they just try to dodge the questions and calm down the customer, "nothing to worry about, everything is fine" kind of answer.
- 2022 Outback is not a car to keep for me and I may switch to a different car manufacturer at the end of the current lease.
- Just a matter of style: the roof rails are ugly.

Jeff (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 1:19PM

I always turn it off. As soon as the screen boots I reach over and hit the A button before I reach down to put it in gear. It's automatic with me - don't even think about it. The second think I hate is the nagging driver management system. I dontvneed it telling me to keep my eyes on the road.

Dave Dahlheim (not verified)    November 14, 2023 - 8:51PM

In reply to by Jeff (not verified)

I have a 2021 outback touring XT with the auto stop engine feature I hate it, but if you hit the A button on the screen that disables it till you shut off the engine. I do wish I could Perminately turn it off without some after market device

Bob Swedroe (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 6:25PM

I own a 2018 Outback, which does not an automatic shut off feature, which I really enjoy driving.

I recently rented a 2023 Outback and without a doubt I would not buy any new Subaru until the automatic shutoff feature can be turned off and stay off upon car shutdown and restart. What an incredibly annoying feature.

NMK (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 6:58PM

Start stop is horrible for vehicles no matter what anyone tells you. The first few seconds after starting an engine is when it suffers the most internal wear because oil isnt actively flowing inside. The thin coating that stays behind in the engine may help lubricate low friction points but it does not help areas that rely on a cushion of oil like cam and crank bearings. Those areas take the most abuse the first few seconds after starting the engine until oil pressure builds up. The fact that happens everytime the engine starts should be enough to tell you that you want that to happen as little as possible. You may save a couple bucks (literally) per year with the start\stop feature, but you risk having serious engine problems costing THOUSANDS to repair, if not an entire new engine.
A company called 4D Tech sells a device that simply plugs into a wire harness on the car that makes it so that the system remembers the setting rather than default to the "on" setting every single time you get in the car. After installation the system stays off forever unless you decide to turn it back on. It costs $100 but is the best thing I ever bought for my Subarus.

Steve Klusmire (not verified)    November 12, 2023 - 7:22PM

I have a 2020 Subaru Forester and September 2020 I bought a device from for $99. I just checked and they have installation instructions and it was very easy for me to install. I’ve been getting 28-29 mpg. I put up with start/stop for a few months but it became annoying. My car is almost 4 years old and I still have the original battery. I’m in Tucson AZ.

Ksw (not verified)    November 13, 2023 - 2:13AM

2019 Subaru Forester. I detest this feature which barely saves fuel if the dashboard display of savings is correct. In Phoenix summers, if the ac is off for seconds you feel it. I try to shut off the feature each time I start the car. Concerned about premature battery and starter wear. This feature is a foist if the worse kind.

Stu (not verified)    November 13, 2023 - 3:41AM

You can actually control auto start/stop on the fly. If you press heavily on the brake pedal, the feature kicks in. If you break lightly, it doesn't. Therefore by adjusting your breaking style, you can determine whether the motor stops when you come to a halt.
This applies equally to the auto vehicle hold function.

Peter Rosser (not verified)    November 13, 2023 - 7:21AM

I despise the feature. It played a role in whether to purchase a new forester. The fact that you cannot permanently turn off the feature smacks of the government as in we know better than you common fools. Just hate it.