2019 Subaru WRX, WRX transmission problems, reliability issues
Denis Flierl's picture

Subaru WRX Is Brand’s Least Reliable Model With Transmission Problems

The Subaru WRX gets bad marks from Consumer Reports for reliability. It’s the brand’s least reliable model due to transmission problems.

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Subaru moved up in reliability and jumps two spots from sixth to fourth place among all automakers in the recent Consumer Reports Reliability Survey 2018. The redesigned second-generation The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek small SUV helps the brand move up the list because it has much better-than-average first-year reliability according to the latest survey. Crosstrek is the most reliable model, while the sport-tuned WRX is the brand’s least reliable model in the stable according to CR.

In overall reliability, the Lexus brand is number one, Toyota is number two, Mazda jumped nine spots to move into third place and Subaru is now fourth. CR says the WRX is the least reliable Subaru. CR gives it bad marks for its stiff and choppy ride, the “clunky” shifter and abrupt clutch engagement make the WRX frustrating as a daily driver. CR says the sporty WRX was the only Subaru with below-average reliability because of transmission problems.

Back in 2016, the WRX and WRX STI fell out of favor with CR saying the Subaru WRX and WRX STI are “no longer recommended” because of their declining reliability. Other big-name models with declining reliability and were also no longer recommended included the Audi A3, Chevy Volt, Dodge Durango, Ford F-150, Honda Civic, Lincoln MKX, and Mini Cooper.

The worst year for WRX transmission problems seems to the the 2015 model year. This was the first year of the redesign and WRX received an upgrade from the 5-speed manual to the 6-speed gearbox. CarComplaints.com reports most of the issues are coming from clutch issues, and transmission problems are second for complaints. The 2016 model year is next with clutch problems with 2018 MY next. They say the most common WRX transmission problems occur at 8,000 miles.

Reader Poll: Have you had transmission problems, and what year is your WRX?

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Photo credit: Subaru USA

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I have a 2016 WRX premium model six speed manual transmission I bought it in June of 2018 with 43000 miles it seems to be ok so far I'm glad I paid a little more for an extended warranty I also am a three time owner of Subarus my other car is a 2003 outback h6sedan it has 14500 miles on it I just had transmission rebuilt and tune up and other things done to it allot of money spent now it starting to make a engine knocking sound and the check engine light is on I'm at wits end as to what to do now and just put new tires on it should I see if it can be fixed and is it worth it
Lets also talk about the crappy "leather" used on the steering wheel. I had my wheel replaced around 30k miles because the leather was pealing off. 10k miles later, the second wheel started doing the same thing. The leather on my wife's 2010 CX-9 and my old 2003 Jetta GLI look much better. Its pathetic. But yeah, I had the throw out bearing replaced in my transmission around 30k miles. It still makes a chewbacca like noise when I am in 1st gear and releasing the clutch. I have the short throw shifter on my 2015 but still feel it is chunky and sloppy.
No problems on my '16 manual - 18k now...
I have a MY2015 @ 34K miles, & no problems with transmission as of yet. .." stiff ride"?? CR doesn't know that's purposeful? At same time I do wish transmission was smoother.
I bought my 2017 WRX Premium new almost two years ago. It now has 35,000 miles on it. It has been perfect in every regard including the six-speed manual transmission and clutch. I'm certain that it will deliver many more trouble free miles.
Love the shifter in my 15 STI was even better after I put in an aftermarket short throw shifter plus stiffer bushings. As far as the ride the 15 STI was a bit stiff but not unbearable - they would really hate my 18 Type RA!!!
Have a 2015 wrx with 30,000 miles. No problems at all. Has the short shifter and is very easy to shift. No issues with clutch. I think suspension is perfect. Great value for the dollar. Dealer service has also been extremely inexpensive.
I have the 2015 - bought in 2014. 45k miles, original clutch and a stage 2 tune. No issues. Shifter has always been notchy, but its doing fine. Driven in a 'sporting' fashion. Solid car. Still fog up the windshield laughing in the snow.
If the critically minded folks didn't realize what a sham CR was before, you should now. Their rating system is absolutely preposterous. The Civic no longer gets a recommendation, as well as the F-150? Sure. Lets also be honest, as someone who's worked for a Subaru dealership, most if not nearly all of the "manual transmission issues" are user-induced. The amount of children the brand sees driving a WRX or STI has a direct correlation to the damage done to a manual transmission. Many folks start driving a manual on a WRX. If that isn't enough to discount these "findings" of failing transmissions and clutches, I don't know what is.
Wrong! Had my clutch kit replaced at 25k due to loose bearing, picked up the car on Wednesday from dealer and it popped exactly 24 hours later on the Freeway going in 60s in fourth gear. I have had manual shift cars for 30 years and would have never considered getting this car if I had known about crappy clutch/transmission issues 2017 Limited Manual WRX is back in th shop for the second time in a week
2019 WRX Special Edition Cool Gray Khaki
Adult-driven-only (40's) 2015 WRX, purchased new from the dealer, I did drive it moderately aggressively but nothing at the track or similar. This is my 3rd manual transmission car, put 90K miles on my manual 2010 Forester most recently, around 20K miles driven on an earlier-owned manual transmission car. Had to replace the clutch at 46K miles. Bad smells first thing in the morning & clutch was really stiff for the last 4-6 months prior to it failing. No transmission problems since then, 84K miles now. Also A/C compressor failed 2 years ago, maybe $1,700 to replace. This was a known problem for which Subaru had issued a "technical bulletin". No other major problems.
MY2018 WRX owner for 2 years with 24K miles. The shifter/clutch does require a bit more finesse than you might expect in order to get a smooth ride. Otherwise, I haven't had any transmission issues. Being stiff is also not a mark against this car. In fact the only real issue is the uncomfortable seats during long distance driving. No lower back support whatsoever.