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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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Photo credit: main image Adventure Subaru


Linda Harer (not verified)    November 14, 2022 - 1:55PM

Worst idea ever. Why? What wears out an engine? Let's see....starts. What a great idea to quadruple the number of times your engine start. Won most likely engine to need to be rebuilt. Oh, fun.

Michel (not verified)    December 8, 2022 - 6:38PM

I just found out this feature on my new Subaru Limited and I think it’s a great for saving fuel but How good is it for the Starter…….wear and tear….Hope that I don’t have to get a new one every year….

Kelcher (not verified)    December 24, 2022 - 7:58PM

Don't blame the car manufacturers for these lame brain features.
It's the fault of the A-Hole politicians that make these EPA laws for miles per gallon. These laws make it nearly impossible for manufacturers to make a vehicle. So the only way engineers can comply with these laws is to come up with these stupid ideas. In the long run this on-off feature will prematurely ruin your car. Turn this feature off now, if you can.

Annie Hark (not verified)    August 20, 2023 - 11:03PM

Pleased to read through this article. I am driving a loaner Outback 2023 while my own older Outback is in repair. This start-stop feature totally freaked me out as I was on busy roads and stopping at the red light. I had no idea what was happening when the vehicle stopped and restarted on its own. I thought maybe some major issue with the car was occurring. I had to search on computer to find out what it is about. What a crazy feature.