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New Subaru WRX And STI Reliability - What To Know Before You Buy It

The 2020 Subaru WRX and STI are still the best performance value, but they aren't perfect. What to know before you buy it.


The next-generation Subaru WRX STI is still another year away and if you can’t wait, the 2020 WRX STI is still a good performance buy. But there have been some issues with current-generation models you should be aware of before you decide to buy one. We will start with the WRX as it has a separate issue than the STI.

It’s been well documented by Consumer Reports, the NHTSA, and other sources that the WRX 6-speed transmission clutch could be an area of concern. Consumer Reports says the gearbox is “clunky” and it has a “stiff clutch.” But these aren’t the real concerns.

2020 Subaru WRX STI, 2021 Subaru WRX STI, next-generation STI

There have been numerous complaints about current-generation Subaru WRX 6-speed manual gearbox clutch issues. There have been reports that the sport-tuned model is having premature clutch and throwout bearing failure with less than 50,000 miles on the car.

Car Complaints says some new-generation models have experienced clutch problems between 9,000-25,000 miles on the performance sedan. The cost to replace is around $1,600. Some of this could be driver error.

2020 Subaru WRX STI, 2021 Subaru WRX STI, next-generation STI

The WRX STI has had well-documented issues with its EJ25 2.5-liter turbocharged Boxer engine. There have been a number of lawsuits over premature engine failure due to a defect that allowed contaminated oil to carry “damaging metal debris through the engines,” according to court documents.

This is expensive and it could cost you $6,000 or more to get the 2.5-liter turbocharged Boxer engine repaired or replaced. Keep in mind the lawsuit covered the 2012-2017 Subaru Impreza WRX and WRX STI model years. We haven’t heard of any issues yet in the 2018 -2020 models, so Subaru may have fixed this after 2017.

Subaru did settle up with owners and agreed to reimburse class action members. The automaker paid owners 100 percent of all out-of-pocket expenses they incurred for parts and labor paid to a Subaru retailer for the cost of a qualifying repair performed during the extended warranty period.

The sport-tuned 2020 Subaru WRX and performance-tuned STI aren't perfect, but they are still the best sports car value in America. If you can wait, the all-new next-generation 2022 models will arrive sometime next year.

You Might Also Like: One Unique Quality Sets The Subaru WRX Apart Making It The Best Sports Car Under $30K

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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Photo credit: Subaru USA


mike j (not verified)    May 24, 2020 - 6:53AM

Clutch and throwout bearing issues isn't uncommon for Subaru. I've owned many cars and have putt over 200K miles on most with about 50% city/highway driving. I never had to replace any drive train components on any of them...except for my Subarus. On my 2008 Outback, the last Subaru I will ever buy, I was told that Subaru went through at least 3 throw out bearing variants. Mine went at about 100K but how it went caused the flywheel to be taken out as well (along with the clutch and pressure plate). Yes, it was $1600 to fix it. Subarus are a cult car and I can't figure out why. Unless you can do repairs yourself, they aren't inexpensive to maintain and they can't defy laws of physics with their AWD drive train. I'll take my Honda with a set of studded tires for winter.

Charles E (not verified)    May 24, 2020 - 1:41PM

While I love my ‘16 WRX the transmission was the biggest disappointment. One of the first upgrades purchased was a Raceseng 735g/1.62lbs weighted shift knob just to get thru the notchy gates. Then we come to the exploded throw out bearing at 58k miles. The transmission started to grind going into 3rd whether upshifting or downshifting unless you held in the clutch and waited for the RPMs to drop below 1000rpm with less than 10k miles The clutch however never slipped even while pushing 400whp but it was never dropped nor abused(mainly due to the grinding tranny) And doesn’t include the times the cable came loose, fighting, because it didn’t want to shift into 5th at all.

All those issues are in the distant past now with a swapped in STI 6mt DCCD with a twin disc Competition Clutch. Now the car shifts as it should, is quicker and really pulls.

This is how the car should have come from the factory

Rob van Halen (not verified)    May 24, 2020 - 8:22PM

Owner of a 2020 WRX here. I have done extensive research before buying and even inquired with consumer reports about reliability. The issue with their ratings is that the reliability score for this and other year's models of the current generation is based on one model year - I believe it was 2016 - for which they have sufficient data from their user surveys. For all other year's, there is insufficient data. So that's to be taken with a grain of salt.

Lawrence Whitmore (not verified)    January 2, 2021 - 1:31PM

My 2014 had throwout bearing issues within 6K miles and my motor blew at 8K miles. $6k to replace?!...try $11K for a motor that is shipped from Japan and build in-house. Granted, I didn't tune it and only put new wheels on it, so I was covered, but I did see the bill. They also pull data to see if you have hit the rev limiter and I had never beat on it. I could understand if I drove it hard ever, just once, but I babied it and I drive like a teenager in the middle of a driver's test. I am a bit older, so I just wanted a pretty car. They said I had significantly low oil, but no leaks. I had the oil changed at the same dealership 5 weeks prior. I was in line with 3 STI's with the same issues...recent oil changes and bad rod bearings. The real issue is Subies customer service. They had the car for just under 60 days. Subaru gives you a rental for no more than 8 days. Start throwing the word "lemon" around and they respond. Sad, I grew up watching rally races and always wanted a WRX. I traded it and never looked back.

Darrel joseph (not verified)    April 23, 2021 - 10:49AM

My 2020 STI that I purchased brand new last year may, from a Subaru dealer had both axles change at 4K miles. Clutch,throw out bearing,and fly wheel was changed at 13k due to some. Still go to the dealer for the samething reverse keep not engaging and pulling to the left..

William Brock (not verified)    September 6, 2021 - 9:31AM

I've owned 3 wrx. 2002, 2003, 2004. I never had a single issue with any of my cars. I was a older man and didn't beat on them, ( much). They were my daily driver. And I put a ton of miles on them. Not a single problem. I'm sorry to hear about all the problem others have been having. I wouldnt never have thought that about the car. But looking back from tha time to modern day it appears ( to me ) that Subaru got caught up in the money game instead of the quality game. And that a sad thing. But I'll still stand behind the car. Is still a grea car for the money. Nuff Said.

Doug Baliko (not verified)    September 20, 2021 - 9:54PM

What is Suburu s response to all the negativity towards the new WRX? Are they going to rush to make any changes? Suburu have been a leader and on the cutting edge when it comes to listening to the custom. Lets hope were still on track. I, as well as many others WRX and STI fans have waiting a long time and are ready for more than the same torc and only 3 more horsepower.

charles e (not verified)    September 21, 2021 - 9:32AM

The STI is one thing but the WRX has been severely lacking this last 6yrs. The WRX transmission is a box of rocks. My throw out bearing expIoded preventing any engagement. I had already installed the heaviest Raceng shift knob they make to overcome the $hitty gates. So I swapped out the POS WRX tranny in my '16 for an STI/ iWire DCCD set up with a twin disk clutch and couldn't been happier with the upgrade.

I strongly agree........ Only 3hp increase after 6yrs of R&D??? The stock Ascent 2.4T handles 500whp+ without issue. They could have easily made the WRX 325hp but then they'd had to upgrade their POS WRX tranny. Not sure why it's so difficult to make an STI tranny without DCCD to install in the WRX?

The STI better be pushing close to 400hp

Edward A (not verified)    March 26, 2023 - 4:35PM

Owner of a 2018 WRX Premium, no performance mods. Have a catback exhaust, and a short throw shifter. Purchased car at 16,000 miles and after having for 6months issues with the turbo inlet hose, then shortly after the cam gear ecm went out and need to perform a crank case cleaning, good thing subaru replaced everything but now at 47,000 miles was having clutch issues took it in and they said I need a complete clutch assembly replacement, flywheel and all. Told me it’ll cost 3,500 and it’s not covered under my extended warranty! I just say I love these cars but these issues have detoured me from buying another one! I want to trade my car in for a 2020 sti but have my doubts on the reliability of those at this point as well!

Chet Jangala (not verified)    May 25, 2023 - 9:06PM

I have a 2013 WRX STI that has been a colossal disappointment. It threw the cam timing belt at 12k miles and the dealer claimed it wasn't covered under warranty because I changed the oil myself (which is illegal). The jerks finally compromised after a prolonged battle and I had to pay for 4000$ to get my car back. The thing has guzzled oil since new (I found out the oil control rings are too small). After a prolonged dead battery during the COVID lockdown, the ECM doesn't; work correctly. I keep reprogramming it, trying to get it running perfectly., It keeps throwing arbitrary error codes and misfires under acceleration. My car and Subaru have been a pain in the butt.