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.

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 25,000 miles on my WRX and haven't had a single problem yet...
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
Wow. Almost identical situation - my '17 WRX Limited is at the dealership now for a blown clutch; the car has 22,600 miles. I've been driving manual for over 15 years. Ive has multiple manuals that have lasted me till I sold em - talking 60k and no issues. Of course, they're trying to fault me. BS - especially with all the known issues.
50+ years old here, 2017 WRX, had clutch and throwout bearing problems (there was a technical service bulletin to replace all clutch related items with 2018 parts). Throwout bearing carrier did damage to the transmission housing. Had to have transmission repaired/replaced. If you are a Subie tech you do know that these have been issues for years, and you would think that Subaru would have figured out the transmission case damage thing. My car has been impeccably maintained and not abused. There is no excuse for these issues, which don't seem to happen to all cars.
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.
I have a 2016 STI I had my transmission replaced at 20,000 I now have 31,000 and they are tearing in to the new transmission for same problem
I have a 2014 subaru wrx and I've had issues from day 1. I've had the engine replaced due to faulty engine bearings and my brakes have never worked rite. I've replaced every brake component down to the brake lines and the pedal still sinks to the floor at stop lights. I've replaced the clutch twice and had second gear explode in the transmission at 62000 miles. Paid 3000 to subaru for a rebuild now I'm at 84000 and 3rd gear has exploded and I'm done with this car. I'm not paying another 3 thousand dollars. These cars are money pits and not even close to reliable vehicles.
Hi this article makes me laugh because till this day Subaru denies this fact. I have a 2018 Subaru WRX. Transmission started whining when pressing clutch at exactly 8000-12000 miles approx... I had videos and it was constant yet it took Subaru dealership and Subaru of America over 6 months to acknowledge the issue. When they actually acknowledged it. They performed a fix. Told me they replaced something in clutch pedal. Noise never went away. When I got the car back I noticed ridiculous amounts of lube/grease on ever part of my pedal going to tranny. When I brought the car back they said the noise was no longer present. After taking Subaru of America's advice and switching dealerships. Curry subaru I was then told it was my fault. But yet the problem didn't exist? Finally found a decent dealership. They acknowledged the problem. And they informed me that 4 months after purchasing my car when they replaced w.e they replaced. They removed and replaced my transmission. Which no one ever told me about and was not on any of my repair records... Subaru of America said I was making it up and printed the paper that the dealership gave me off of online.... Like wtf.. This is about 6 months into trying to get them to fix the issue. This new dealership told me it was the throw out bearing. Then the service manager talked to Subaru of America. And the problem no longer exsisted. I was so fed up I said I didn't want the car and I was going to get a lawyer. Subaru of America then gave me options to trade it in with 2500$ credit. The dealership would not give me fair market value because of the issue with the clutch pedal whining. Even though it was under bumper to bumper and they said there was no problem. They also said they don't want a car that another dealership did shady work on. So till this day I am at 40,000 miles clutch whines all the time. And 4th gear rattles. 4th gear rattle happens at about 35k. I brought it up last service appointment and the same thing is happening. It doesn't exist. Subaru of America laughed in my face when I called and told them it was me with the same problem from last year like its some kind of joke. I became disabled at 21 years old. I bought this car to make me happy and it was a gift from my fiance when I was in a really bad place of not wanting to be alive anymore. My life has been hard enough.. it has nothing to do with it but Subaru should be help liable for lieng, and pushing people to the point we're they don't want to deal with them so they don't fix the cars they produce. That's exactly what they did to me. I missed total over 2.5 months from work from not having my car and going back and forth to dealerships. Another thing the dealership did was pop one of my tires, and patch it. On the sidewall and never told me. Completely ruined the inside of my tire. Never said a thing. The tire was so damaged inside. it could have blown out Mavis said. And they also said that is from driving on a fat tire for extremely long time. Why would a dealership do that. I was fighting with them so much it actually got to the point where I think they purposely damaged and sabataged my vehicle.
Hi Frank, I am sorry (and angry) for your experience with Subaru, and I can 200% relate. I am currently fighting Subaru for transmission issue. Long story short, the technician of my local Subaru dealer acknowledged the problem is due to a manufacturing defect, ordered parts in from Subaru Canada and was going to fix it under warranty. However, Subaru Canada stepped in at this time and declined the warranty. I am currently fighting Subaru Canada for this. Can I get in contact with you?
Wrx 2015 all highway miles at 105k, warranty stopped at 100k I bought, transmission is toast and they said f off about fixing it. Thanks Subaru!
Bought a 2017 wrx premium in march 2017. I daily it and rip around on gravel on a regular basis, plow through snowstorms for hundreds of miles and generally drive it pretty hard. I just crossed 60k miles and havent had a single issue besides a battery replacement early on under warranty. Throttle is jerky and comes on too soon but that's a common issue with this gen. No transmission noise or clutch issues to speak of. Overall i am happy with the car and will continue to thrash it till the wheels fall off. Up to date on all appropriate preventative or regular maintenance.
2016 WRX - throw out bearing and yoke failure covered by warranty. Then I wasn’t able to shift into higher gears. The transmission problem was deemed due to abuse (false) and dealer recommended total transmission overhaul; it was a broken clutch cable - who uses a plastic connector on a clutch cable? Replaced cable at independent transmission shop. Shop couldn’t see evidence that transmission case was ever opened.I filed a complaint with California Consumer Affairs; appears Fairfield Subaru says they lost the paperwork. Looks like I’m suing Subaru to get recovery. Car back in shop. Contaminated oil. Looks like bearing failure - waiting to hear from Subaru on warranty coverage. Irrespective of the inconsistent quality of their vehicles I am disappointed with the integrity of Subaru and the dealer when someone gets stuck with a bad one off the line...
Ive owned a 2019 WRX for 7 months now and at just 8000 miles, I've already had to replace the rear differential. Dont ask Me how.
24000 miles on my '18 wrx, no problems at all. Maybe you guys cant drive the manual?
laugh now dude... mine ran great at 24K too.... had a 60K service done and it was fine... then BOOM.
I have a 2015 Subaru WRX. Check engine light came on. Now all of a sudden I lost forward movement. I can only driving my car in reverse. I will never buy a Subaru again. I’m at 50,000 miles. The mechanic said I need a rebuilt transmission or replacement. Quoted me $4000 to $10,000 from the dealer.
2016 WRX purchased new. Almost immediately there was an errant noise, think harmonic vibrations, every so often. Reported to original dealership. "Not a problem." Continued to report this as it became more persistent. "Not a problem." Mind you no documentation made by them for a long time about this. Eventually they replaced the TOB under warranty. Or said they did. Same problem. Dealership told a Subaru Rep they test rode with me and said it was clutch slipping (I have the email from the Rep). They never did. The documentation the dealership gave me after having the car a month said they couldn't make it make the noise. Changed dealerships. They were awesome. They recognized the noise wasnt right. TOB changed again. Then car wouldn't go in to gear while actively driving it leaving me stranded. Then clutch assembly, shift cable, and 5th and 6th gears rebuilt. Still not right (they had it 3.5 months). Subaru of America doesn't understand what the problem is though all documentation qualifies for VA "Lemon Law." I have a 2004 WRX still going strong. I will never purchase another Subaru after all of this. Much time wasted trying to get resolution of a "high quality" car running properly with an outcome of it sitting in the driveway.
2015 WRX - 54K miles. No modifications never driven hard and the engine is blown. I heard today that Subaru will not fix it as an act of good will.
I own a 2007 WRX TR with the 5 MT. It has around 75k miles. I am the original owner. I am still on the original clutch. Major things I have had to do it were an axle shaft, new bushings after 10 years, and rotors after 60k. Sounds like I don't want to get a new WRX or STI anytime soon based on comments here. I was having thoughts of the S209, but I have no reason to get rid of my Rex. I honestly think I will drive it until the wheels fall off, or it develops an issue where the cost is not worth repairing the car for. I have lucked out with this car and how good it has been to me. My dealer for the most part has been fair. I still take it there. I guess sometimes you get lucky or maybe the older WRX's are more reliable.