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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


RickyBobby (not verified)    May 24, 2021 - 4:16AM

We have a 2021 outback xt and this is the most annoying feature about this car. I cannot believe Subaru does not allow a global override to turn this off. Every time you get in the car you must remember to turn it off.

I hate driving this car due to this annoying “feature”.

Come on Subaru , how about an update to fix this? This should be easy to keep the setting persistent (ie saved) so you don’t need to keep turning off the autostart.

Patrick Le Floch (not verified)    May 24, 2021 - 5:33AM

It's primarily an emissions-reducing feature, not gas-savjng. My car has idled for over 10 hours at a *total standstill* in the past 22 months. I am pleased I wasn't polluting during that time.

Copin Lepert (not verified)    May 24, 2021 - 12:33PM

In reply to by Patrick Le Floch (not verified)

This is also why it cant be permanently disabled. They are trying to meet federal standards for total emissions across all vehicles sold.
If it could be simply permanently disabled they could not claim the reduced emissions and would have to pay fines or find other ways of reducing emissions..

m.hajime (not verified)    May 25, 2021 - 1:53AM

In reply to by Copin Lepert (not verified)

This. i wish more people could have better understanding about the emission regulations. I don't think SUBARU could continue to comply with the regulations without introducing some hybrid or ev lineup to offset the total emisions.

Tom K (not verified)    May 24, 2021 - 6:51AM

I’ve got a 2020 Outback XT and the feature barely works to begin with. I’d be happy to save a minute of gas here and there but when it kicks on, most of the time it’s maybe 15s. The engine needs to be heated and pretty much all electrical needs to be off. Along with several other issues (HVAC, infotainment), I cannot believe that CR recommended it. I’m glad I leased.

Suann (not verified)    May 24, 2021 - 10:19AM

I just realized I can turn it off but I realize that I must do it every time I start the car. Wished that you could just turn it off and it would stay off. I have a 2020 Outback

Mike (not verified)    May 24, 2021 - 12:28PM

Your article is misleading. The new 11.6 inch screens that have the button to disable it don’t turn it off permanently. And all cars equipped with this system; regardless of the screen, have a function to disable the system. All Subarus will turn this feature back on the next time it is turned on.

Also, the reason for the shake upon startup is a result of the boxer engine not needing half shafts and other equipment to keep the engine from shaking after startup. Unbalanced engines like inline and V-type layouts have smoother start-stop ignitions because they rely on components to keep things from shaking all the time.

Rustedfaith (not verified)    May 24, 2021 - 1:28PM

You guys need to check your facts before posting an article. Start Stop feature has most to do with emissions not saving gas. Forester and Crosstrek are the ones which you can turn off the start Stop and don't have to do it everytime you start the car.

Karen K (not verified)    June 1, 2021 - 8:13AM

In reply to by Rustedfaith (not verified)

Laughing out loud at the thought of Denis fact checking literally anything before he posts a write up about it. This is the same guy that routinely refers to "gears" in CVT's, posts hearsay articles daily, and takes pictures from his cell phone while driving.

Annoyed (not verified)    May 24, 2021 - 4:00PM

I've got a 2019 Subaru Forester and I detest it. It is my 4th and last Subaru. The stop start is just one of many design flaws. I've nearly gotten hit because of the stupid stop/start - there is a useless override button, but the car overrides the human override. The acceleration is also sluggish, so that has made for fun times with impatient dump truck drivers. I'll be jettisoning the vehicle in a couple months, as soon as the lease allows it.

Joanne Zeis (not verified)    June 11, 2021 - 11:30AM

I've had a 2020 Forester for about 10 months. Was driving ~70 on the highway a couple days ago when the start-stop function kicked in, stopped the engine, and Subaru's "steering assist" tried to step in (made it hard to turn the wheel). I waited until no one was in front of me or around me in case things got worse, then I touched the accelerator, the engine turned on again and I could steer easily. WTF?? ?

I've been looking through the EyeSight booklet and maybe the Lane Assist was kicking in -- but I don't expect the engine to stop when I'm at highway speed. Anyone have suggestions/info? Thanks! Have left a message at the dealership's service dept, but no one's gotten back to me.

jg (not verified)    June 23, 2021 - 1:57PM

In reply to by Joanne Zeis (not verified)

If anything you mentioned is actually true (sorry but it sounds like carefully worded flame-bait), then you should write to Subaru (in addition to taking it in to a dealer to get the condition documented) at You are also superimposing your opinion of a vehicle system on top of a failure condition that may have other causes.

Regardless, any safety issue isn’t something you just “leave a message” for.

Brian Trott (not verified)    August 9, 2021 - 9:10PM

I installed "Autostop eliminator' for $99. It was easy to install and remembers the stop-start setting. If I leave it off, it stays off until I turn it back on which I never will.

zheng liu (not verified)    November 3, 2021 - 12:05PM

I don't have Subaru. However I am looking forward to having my first one until I read about this features which is so annoying. I don't know what Subaru engineers thinking. However this feature should be turned off by default. Or increase the idle time to 2-5 minutes or something. If some drivers are really concerned about gas consumption they can turn this feature on. This is such a easy fix. But I suspect the government is pushing the feature to save gas or save the earth.

SueMcD (not verified)    November 10, 2021 - 5:25PM

There has to be a way to disconnect this thing. I have a 2020 Forester if I knew there is no way to turn it off, I would have never purchased it, never!!

Mike Ward (not verified)    October 25, 2022 - 5:55PM

In reply to by SueMcD (not verified)

Get an auto electrician to install a 7 pin trailer plug
at the rear of the car ,,,lift the flap,pull out the little magnet NO more autostop
7 pin plugs cost $10

Felori Jelona (not verified)    March 14, 2022 - 4:31PM

You can disable the auto start/stop permanently in subarus with a simple after-market plug-in module. The company is called "auto start stop eliminator". I have it on my crosstrek and it's amazing. Just plugs in under the seat or into the eyesight camera harness. It remembers your "off" setting for the start/stop so you don't have to remember to press the off button every time you start the car. Best upgrade to the Crosstrek ever.

Stephen M Lind (not verified)    April 10, 2022 - 3:31AM

The auto start stop feature is a bad idea from beginning to end. Forget about temp disabling or permanent disabling. This garbage should not be on the vehicle period. Please save your breath on selling this to me. It's BAD THE END

Mike Ward (not verified)    June 19, 2022 - 7:17PM

You can disable the Autostop permanently if you have a towbar with a 7 pin flat plug
Just remove the little magnet inside the electrical towbar plug and PRESTO Autostop deleted

Mike Ward (not verified)    June 30, 2022 - 7:23AM


If your forester has a towbar with a flat 7 pin trailer plug,just prise out the little magnet under the plug flap and bye bye auto stop forever

Brandon (not verified)    June 30, 2022 - 2:54PM

Want to end your woes? This is the product that fixes the auto start stop issue. The Autostop Eliminator (Google it)

Mike ward (not verified)    October 26, 2022 - 8:16PM

So many subaru owners still don't know,about permanently disabling auto stop start
Just install a 7 pin trailer plug in the rear electrical saddle provided and take out the little magnet under the dust flap If you have a tow bar the plug will already be there