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Top 3 Complaints You Have With The Newer Subaru Forester, Outback And WRX

The Subaru brand has some complaints against it. See what the three biggest problems reported by owners are for some newer Subaru Forester, Outback and WRX models.


If you own a Subaru Outback or Forester, you love it for it’s Symmetrical all-wheel-drive, all-weather capability, it’s rugged off-road, go-anywhere attitude, and it has the utility of an SUV. No automaker is perfect and neither is Subaru and its good to be aware of problems with some older models. Car Complaints is a website dedicated to letting you know what models and model years are having the most complaints and you can browse problems by model. The NHTSA is also a good resource for checking car complaints.

Car Complaints has compiled problems by owners and the worst reported Subaru problems are with three models. Keep in mind that not all of these three models have problems, they are just the models with the most complaints against them. The worst model year with the most complaints is the 2015 Subaru Outback.

2015 Subaru Outback front view2015 Subaru Outback

Keep in mind, Subaru sells more Outback wagons than any other car in its all-wheel-drive stable so there are more of these models on the road than any other. The Subaru Forester is the next best-selling model and the 2014 model year is also on the list with the most complaints.

The number one model with the most complaints is the 2014 Subaru Forester because of high oil consumption. The total complaints about the 2014 Forester is 25. Some owners report their cars are burning a quart of oil every 1000 miles which is excessive. There have been four reports of owners replacing their engine, three have had major engine work done, one reported putting a new short block in their Forester.

2014 Subaru Forester front side view2014 Subaru Forester

The number two model with the worst reported problems is the 2013 Outback wagon. Car Complaints says this model year has excessive oil consumption issues. The total complaints about the 2013 Outback are 21. There has been one report of an owner having an engine rebuild, one replaced the oil rings, and one reported putting a new short block in their Outback.

The number three Subaru model with the most complaints is the 2015 WRX sports-tuned performance sedan. This model comes with a 6-speed manual gearbox mated with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. The complaint with this model is it has a bad clutch plate and flywheel. There have been 12 total complaints with the clutch, and eleven owners reported having the clutch and flywheel replaced.

2015 Subaru WRX front view2015 Subaru WRX

Should you stay away from these Subaru models and years? Again, keep in mind there are thousands of these models on the road that have no reported problems. These models are all at least five years old now and are out of their new car warranty. If you are looking to purchase a used Subaru Forester, Outback or WRX, do your homework and ask to see all the maintenance records for the vehicle. If the owner or dealer cannot produce them, you might want to stay away from the vehicle.

Are there problems with the 2020 Outback and Forester?

The 2020 Subaru Outback and 2020 Forester models are all-new and ride on the new Subaru Global Platform with updated engines and mechanical hardware. The issues with the older models should not carry over to the new-generation models.

You Might Also Like: Another Huge Recall For Subaru Forester And Crosstrek is Coming

Denis Flierl has invested nearly 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on FacebookTwitterInstagramSubaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates!

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Dale Wright (not verified)    December 2, 2019 - 2:56PM

Start/Stop at light is an useless tool. Eyesight system is useless. Lane assist useless. Everytime I start car I have to turn everything off. Car is great without them on.

Jacob (not verified)    December 2, 2019 - 9:34PM

In reply to by Dale Wright (not verified)

I agree about the start/stop system. It’s a gimmick to artificially increase their EPA MPG rating. I disagree about the eyesight/lane keep assist. It makes driving on the freeway an absolute breeze.

I commute an hour to university everyday, and the eyesight system makes it so I basically have to sit and watch the road. It makes it a lot easier to deal with my morning commute. It’s awesome in mild traffic. It’s pretty bad in heavy/stop and go traffic though.

Bridget Dwyer (not verified)    December 6, 2019 - 12:20AM

In reply to by Dale Wright (not verified)

I agree COMPLETELY. Have a 2019 Forester as a courtesy loaner. The start/stop and lane assist are a Nightmare in NYC traffic. I want my 2013 Impreza back ASAP.

Michele (not verified)    December 2, 2019 - 4:44PM

After buying nothing but Chevys for 34 years I was fed up with the inferior mechanics Chevy put into there vehicles. I bought a 2016 Subaru Forester. I LOVE my Forester....except I find the seats extremely uncomfortable on long trips. Not a quality seat. Other then that it has and is a very nice vehicle. Gas mileage is excellent and it rides and handles well. Thank you

Paul Scally (not verified)    December 2, 2019 - 5:39PM

Structural steel on my Forester was flawed. Axels, drive-shaft and arms failed in mainly city-driving. My Father was a Paratrooper in WW II. With a flick of a wrist, Japanese steel would have severed his head. What happened to the Japanese technological edge in this process?

mjs (not verified)    December 2, 2019 - 6:56PM

Sure there may be thousands (if not a lot more) of these vehicles on the road and I'm sure that there are almost as many ignorant owners who are content in having someone add a quart of oil when needed or worse, drive it until it has only one quart left as it approaches the recommended change interval. There are thousands of people who were plagued by leaking head gasket issues only to have Subaru supply an additive instead of fixing the real problem. And lastly (for now), when the clutch (and throw out bearing and pressure plate and flywheel) disintegrated on my Outback, the dealer said that Subaru was having problems with the throw out bearing to the tune of having more than 5 different parts! Because it disintegrated due to the heat, it took out all of the aforementioned items. All I got from them was an apology and a $1600 bill. Years ago when I got my first Subaru, the mechanics would play catch in the shop because they had hardly any problems. Now, the dealers have to open early, stay open late and even on the weekends...and then appointments are required several weeks in advance. Wow, Subaru has evolved!!

Bill K (not verified)    December 4, 2019 - 9:10AM

Seems to me that the top complaint about Subaru is windshield cracking. They never resist anything, they don't even seem to chip anymore. There seems to be an immediate crack upon almost any impact. The windshield need to be re-engineered to be more durable. Seems like it all started with "eyesight"

mac (not verified)    December 19, 2019 - 12:12PM

In reply to by Bill K (not verified)

I believe number one has to be all the faulty head units from Clarion. My son had 3 full replacements in his Crosstrek and still can’t run the heat full blast in the winter or it will shut off (go black). I had 2 full head unit replacements and I think 3 software-based recalls across 3 different Outbacks (14, 16, & 18).

Michaela Ward (not verified)    December 18, 2019 - 10:31AM

Subaru needs an update on computer so we can turn Start Stop permanently off! I have 3000 miles on my new Outback and still haven’t saved a gallon! I wonder how long my transmission will last with all the shaking! Also, traded in a 16 Outback which I got 29.7 MPG to a 20 which I’m only getting 27.7 MPG. I thought government guidelines, you had to get more each year?

Levon Sargsyan (not verified)    May 3, 2020 - 1:04PM

Beware when buying the newer Subaru models. There is a class action lawsuit in the states for 2017-2020 impreza, crosstrek, forester, outback, and ascent. The windshields are prone to spontaneous cracking due to a defective design of the cars or the windshield. Big SAFETY issue. The windshield on my 2019 Impreza spontaneously cracked from the bottom edge, with no sign of rock chip damage at the time the crack started. I have contacted a few owners who have gone through multiple windshields on their Subaru cars as well.
Service denied my claims, and so did Subaru Canada, even with proof of the date the crack occurred, and pictures of where it started. If they are not willing to cover damages from a windshield design defect, what does that say about the rest of their warranty program? And what does it say about their claims about safety? I will not be buying a Subaru again.

STEVE (not verified)    March 18, 2021 - 7:30AM

Just bought a 2021 subaru forester. We have had foresters for 17 years we live at 4,000 feet. This car hesitates going up and down the mountain especially in switch back turns, This a a paved road but moderately steep. This is an unsafe condition in normal weather, but would be really bad in weather conditions. ANYBODY ELSE EXPERIENCING THIS?

Eva Wallner-Pe… (not verified)    July 20, 2021 - 12:18PM

I live in Colorado Springs and own a Subaru Forester Touring. Several times now while driving with the air conditioner on on sunny warm days, my navigation/entertainment system will freeze up. The dash is black and gets very hot.
Not good if you are relying on navigation to get around in a new location.