2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2021 Subaru Outback
Denis Flierl's picture

Subaru Stop Start The Worst New Gas Saving Feature Ever? How To Turn It Off

Check out the stop/start system on the 2021 Subaru Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek. Why is it worse than other automaker’s technology?

Auto-Stop-Start is one of the most controversial fuel-efficiency features on new Subaru vehicles. 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 every time 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 some 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 Ascent owners say they don’t like the car stopping and starting because it shakes the car every time the engine starts back up.

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2021 Subaru Outback

Why does Subaru’s system shake the car more than any other automaker’s? A recent column in the San Diego Union Tribune says Subaru is among the worst for engine vibration on restart. They say Subaru’s Boxer engine design in which the pistons are horizontally opposed creates more significant side-to-side movement and more vibration.

One Forester owner says he asked the dealer about the issue, and the salesperson who sold him the car said that if you turn on the rear defroster, the shaking will stop. Why does turning on the rear defroster stop the vibration?

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2021 Subaru Outback

Using the defroster temporarily disables the start-stop system. When there’s a sizeable electrical draw, the car’s computer disables the start-stop system to keep the battery from being drained with the engine is turned off. It’s not the best to run the rear defroster all the time when it’s not needed.

Can I disable my Auto Stop-Start?

The Auto Stop-Start can be disabled on 2020-2021 Subaru Outback, Forester, Legacy, and Crosstrek. It’s different for each model, and the problem is that you cannot permanently disable it in some models like Forester. The system will always default to an on position once you turn the car off. So every time you get back in your vehicle, you have to disable the system again manually.

The new Outback and Legacy do have a feature on its new 11.6-inch touchscreen menu, and you can disable the system. When you are on the home screen, push the car icon button to change the settings and then click on “Others,” allowing you to turn off the Auto Stop-Start system. The Auto Stop-Start on the new 2021 Subaru Forester, Outback, Legacy, and Crosstrek can be annoying, but it will save fuel if you live in an urban area.

You Might Also Like: The Subaru Forester Model Year Most Likely To Need An Expensive Engine Rebuild

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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I will never buy a car with Start / Stop. I can't stand it.
Guess you're not buying any new car then. Quick! Alert all the auto manufacturers that William Bindas will not be buying one of their vehicles!
Every car should have this. Your annoyance isn't more important than lowered emissions
This auto stop/start feature is extremely dangerous in the snow when driving in areas with hills. If you start to slide backward, step on the brakes and ... the engine cuts out leaving you without power steering and the ability to use the famed 4-wheel traction to correct the skid. So there you go sliding backward out of control. I live in Seattle, a city with dozens of very steep hills. I would never, ever have this system in my car. Much too dangerous for my family and others on the road. From a safety standpoint, it should auto-disable anytime there are snow or ice conditions. It should always allow the driver to permanently disable this "feature."
Art, what on earth are you talking about? The feature is easily disabled by pressing a single button. A single degree turn of the steering wheel also causes the engine to re-engage. I know you're still shocked it's not 1930, but try and stop the doomsday speeches on a feature that millions of people live with every day.
Where do you find your authority to tell your neighbor what his $20,000 to $30,000 automobile must have? Are you even an engineer?
This is why (stop and start feature) I will not be purchasing a new vehicle from Subaru. I can say that I love my Crosstrek BUT I am not at all impressed with the stop and start feature. Bummer!
I Love my 2021 crosstrek, I HATE the auto stop/start feature, So I press the disable button each and every time I get in the car. After a while it becomes a habit. I'm waiting for a software update to permanently disable the feature.
As much as I HATE the AUTO-START-STOP, I love our CrossTrek more. So I agree w/ Bonnie, make it a habit: Press START ENGINE followed by pressing the A. The first time it came on, it scared the heck out of us. I was ok with it stopping, we can deal with that, but the car tremble, jerk, whatever, it was horrible. Worse thing the new era of cars ever came up with.
this article fails to mention that you can easily bypass this stupid gas saving feature by buying the "Autostop Eliminator." i have a 2021 forester touring and added this in 10 minutes, plugs under the driver seat. it reduces your fuel mileage, but the engine doesnt shut off at red lights.
I have it installed in mine. Made me forget the forester has the feature at all. Best upgrade I made to it.
I’d think that Subaru could provide a software update for the 2021 Forester to allow a fixed defeat of the annoying engine on/off feature. Please pass along this request to Subaru. Thank You!
I have had Foresters with the start stop feature for some time now. I currently own a 2021 Forester. If you stop the car and just easy up on the brake enough to hold the car in place the start stop feature won't engage. If you apply firm pressure to the peddle while stopped then the car will shut off. Try it, stop the car and relax the pressure on the brake and see what happens.
I have a '21 Outback and would like to know if there's a data of fuel savings with this annoying feature. I think you're wearing out starter motor and also emmission would be bad every time engine starts and stops.
You also need a more expensive battery.
The article is wrong. 2021 Outback stop/start cannot be permanently disabled from the screen.
I agree. There's a preference there deep in the touch-screen's menus, to turn it off permanently BUT IT DOESN'T WORK. This article says: "The new Outback and Legacy do have a feature on its new 11.6-inch touchscreen menu, and you can disable the system. When you are on the home screen, push the car icon button to change the settings and then click on “Others,” allowing you to turn off the Auto Stop-Start system."
When I asked the service adviser to the feature off on my 2020 outback he said the upgrade tor the software doesn’t allow that lots of customers have complained and he believes it will be in the next update will have it back.
First world problems. I have a 2021 Legacy Touring. Can barely feel it. If that’s the worst complaint about a car, thats fine with me.
I understand the gas savings aspect but I thought the real point was the reduced emissions when the engine isn't running. I can deal with the stop/start if I am reducing emissions.
Yes, you are correct. The ultimate goal is to reduce emision because car companies have to comply with CAFE regulations. SUBARU doesn't have many hybrid/electric line-up yet, at least not in the US, so they need to do everything they can to reduce emision. Otherwise they could not sell their performance oriented car without being panelized. Gas savings is mostly marketing, but thats not false either. Just miniscule in my opinion.
If you have a 2020 or 2021 Legacy or Outback there is a free software update which adds a button on the home screen so it's quicker to disable.
So basically click bait as you cannot disable it permanently.
Because Auto-Stop-Start is "ASS".
Invested in a stop/start eliminator - The best $99 I ever spent
We got a 20 Forest as a loaner for an airbag recall. The start stop wasnt very refined. The motor had a noticable jump that shook the car each time it turned off. They needed to improve the motor mounts to make it more transparent.
I think this article is full of fluff. I have it enabled on my 2021 Forrester and get 29.6mpg. Also, the car vibrates less than my zx10r or dodge cummins. What's the problem?
Press the brakes down lightly to stop without stopping the engine, and then depress the brakes hard at longer stops to stop the engine
Seems to work with Equinox also.
At 5 years I will have saved $100 in gasoline. That won't pay for a new starter....