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WRX STI Is Least Reliable Subaru; What Is Dragging The STI Down?

Subaru is the #1 Car Brand according to Consumer Reports, but the Subaru WRX STI is the least reliable Subaru in the stable. See what is dragging the STI down.


Subaru WRX STI owners have had plenty to complain about, and it's the 2.5-liter turbo engine that has been dragging the STI down. Even though Subaru tops Consumer Reports overall brand rankings chart this year for the first time ever, the WRX STI gets bad marks for reliability. The Japanese automaker jumped up six spots knocking off last year's # 1, Genesis luxury brand “off its perch.” Consumer Reports says it was Subaru’s strong predicted reliability and owner satisfaction marks that launched Subaru past Genesis, Toyota, Lexus, Porsche, Honda, and BMW. But CR also says the Subaru WRX STI had a much-below-average predicted reliability

Subaru of America (SOA) has been hit with a slew of engine lawsuits recently for the STI 2.5-liter turbo engine that dragged the STI’s reliability down. Subaru has been dealing with four 2.5-liter turbocharged Boxer engine failure lawsuits brought by Subaru WRX STI owners in California, Michigan, and New Jersey and SOA has been trying to prove the turbo boxer engines in 2012-2017 WRX STIs don’t have a design flaw causing catastrophic engine failure.

Subaru WRX/STI owners, contended in the lawsuit, the 2.5-liter turbo engine had a defect which allowed contaminated oil to carry “damaging metal debris through the engines” and Subaru knowingly sold the cars with defective parts that led to engine failure. The motion said, "Plaintiffs alleged that defendants were aware of this engine defect, but failed to disclose it to consumers.”

ALSO READ Subaru Hit With 4th WRX/STI Lawsuit Claiming Dealers Installed “Secret Software”

The Camden, N.J. automaker recently settled the lawsuits, but Subaru of America is denying any wrongdoing but wanted to settle so they can move on. Subaru agreed to reimburse all class members for 100 percent of all out-of-pocket expenses they incurred for parts and labor that they paid to a Subaru dealer for the cost of a qualifying repair performed during the extended warranty period.

The settlement covered 2012-2017 Subaru WRX and WRX STI vehicles manufactured between Oct. 11, 2011, and Nov. 16, 2016, equipped with an EJ25 2.5-liter turbocharged Boxer engine with bearing vehicle identification numbers ending with CG203168 and up for five-door hatch models and CG006225 through H9826807 for four-door sedan models.

Even though the Subaru WRX STI performance sedan is the least-reliable vehicle in Subaru’s all-wheel-drive stable because of its EJ25 2.5-liter turbocharged Boxer engine, it wasn’t too much to keep the new 2019 Subaru Ascent, Forester all-wheel-drive SUVs from pushing the brand to the #1 Best Car Brand ranking in 2019.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Matt (not verified)    March 1, 2019 - 12:17PM

Some of that is people beating on their cars but yes the ej has had it's fair share of issues. My last STi made it to 70k of problem free stage 2 miles. I hope my 2019 with updated internals stays problem free.

Ken (not verified)    March 1, 2019 - 6:49PM

They cut costs when they quit using forged pistons and became oil burners. Fun car, but very first thing I'd do is replace pistons, rings, rods straight off showroom floor.

anton (not verified)    November 29, 2019 - 9:31AM

In reply to by Ken (not verified)

your history is wrong, they NEVER had forged pistons in the 2.5s, ever. Only the 2L sti's had them and Subaru was unable to use forged pistons and still pass cold start emission requirements so cast was the only option for our market.

sluflyer06 (not verified)    January 28, 2020 - 12:46PM

In reply to by Ken (not verified)

Sorry but your history is wrong, they never "switched" to cast pistons, the 2.5L never had them, and neither did the 2L wrx's in 02-05. It was never Subaru's plan to use the EJ257 in the STi in US/Aud markets but they were unable to get the EJ207 to pass emissions during cold start because of the forged internals, so they went with the 2.5L.

Guillermo (not verified)    March 4, 2019 - 1:44PM

I bought the 2018 STI on OCT 2017. I would like to check if the issue with the engine has been solved or if I need to do anything else to prevent a major failure. For starters, I change the oil every three thousand miles instead of every six as recommended. I haven't done any engine mods. However, I would replace the oil pump if needed and also install an air-oil separator, also if required. So far my car has behaved much better than my previous 2015 WRX with the FA-20 engine which showed the check engine light on numerous times. The 2018 STI not a single issue so far.

Austin (not verified)    January 28, 2020 - 12:11PM

In reply to by Guillermo (not verified)

I also just purchased the 2018 Subaru STI and my motor just blew. It only has 21,875 miles and completely stock. I think we are going to have the same problems. Also, I'm going to use Motul oil from here on out. Always made my dirtbikes last longer between rebuilds.

Damon Savage (not verified)    March 12, 2019 - 10:16PM

Well I went and bought the Subaru STI ra number 323 antedate with only 1,500 miles on it I absolutely love the car and have no problems. Every one whines about how limited the power is but until you drive and feel how tight the car handles and try it on the track with the braking people are missing awesome handling car. Besides all you do is put an access port on it from cob and you have a 340 horsepower car

KBell (not verified)    March 14, 2019 - 8:04PM

In reply to by Damon Savage (not verified)

Accessport's OTS tunes will not increase the power that much. It'll adjust your throttle mapping and get you to the tuner for your custom tune after you install some aftermarket parts, but dont count on any noticable difference aside from the throttle response.

KBell (not verified)    March 14, 2019 - 8:11PM

Also I'd like to add that I experienced zero issues with the STI until around 40 or 45k miles. It then began burning approx. half a quart between 5000 mile oil changes and slowly increased oil consumption over time. Then, at 60k, catastrophic engine damage. Added an AOS at 50k and made no difference. Even if you keep the car stock, it will burn oil eventually. Fun car, but the engine internals are a weak link, and a major one at that.

Damon savage (not verified)    March 15, 2019 - 11:44AM

In reply to by KBell (not verified)

Well the RA has different and stronger internals.i think it's how you treat your car. I just traded in my 12 sti wagon and the car ran mint. No oil burn. Accessport smoothed out the driving. I think the Ra Will be a and I think Subie has problems with only a few yrs.i still stand by them and will until I have issues. There's too much neg.written about them and I think people jump before they look...

Robert Adams (not verified)    November 17, 2020 - 10:32AM

In reply to by Damon savage (not verified)

I am 52 years old, I have been witnessing crappy
Subaru problems for years.I live in Colorado, every
other car on the road is a Suckaro. Stubbornly standing by a car brand is narsasistic and silly.
Please grow up and move on.

Thomas Parks (not verified)    June 5, 2019 - 8:01PM

I just got the new 2019 STI. I would deffinitly like to know if the issues from previous years have been fixed and if I get the COBB tuner what upgrades to put on to notice a difference

Gordon Gott (not verified)    September 10, 2019 - 7:57PM

In reply to by Thomas Parks (not verified)

Tune twix program add aftermarket parts and run them hard your going to pay high-performance is not for the right lane driving lets face it folks even porsche owners have there isues alot..not just wrx /sti your not driving Grand Dads chevy.

Shuff (not verified)    January 26, 2020 - 1:47AM

I've got the answer to all of your WRX, STi, Forester, Outback and Ascent engine problems.

A little history lesson. Subaru manufactures 80% of their vehicles in Japan. Japan has had a negative birth rate for decades, paired with highly restrictive immigration policies. Subaru's stock value quadrupled between 2012 and 2016. Now ask yourself, how does an automaker supply such a rapid increase in demand and growth to an international market, while manufacturing cars within Japan, utilizing a domestic workforce for which the worker numbers needed do not physically exist? Tada. Over work the shit out of your domestic employees, and utilize a slew of subsidiary companies employing foreign migrant asylum seeking workers on temporary work permits to fulfill your supply chain.

Sorry to break it to you folks, your "Made in Japan" WRX STi is actually made by asylum seeking migrant workers employed by 3rd parties living in Ota, Japan who could care less about the quality of your vehicle because they are more concerned about the food they need to put on the table when 30 percent of their wages are stolen by their broker. Subaru knows all of this but can say its not their problem as they are not directly employed by them. Oh and the Japanese domestic workers that do work on your car? Well they routinely work ridiculous overtime and are not paid for it. In 2016 a worker committed suicide at the plant in Ginza when he was forced to 105 hours of unpaid overtime in a month.

There is the source of all of your ringland failures, bent connecting rods, slipped bearings and heavy oil consumption.

If Subaru actually cared about the people that manufactured their cars instead of over working and extorting their domestic and migrant workers, non of these QC problems would exit.

As consumers, you have the power to force a company to change its ways and create a safe, fair work environment for its employees. Stop buying Subaru products and watch the quality of your vehicle go through the roof.


Robert Adams (not verified)    November 17, 2020 - 10:46AM

In reply to by Shuff (not verified)

Thank you, or"Oh no, we have one that can see!"
I have been trying to talk my (step)son out of buying an STI for 6 months now. I drive a 2013 GTI
with 100k problem free miles. VW has strict mantainance rules.Follow them. I suppose if the"Fast and Furious " francaise would have featured a 700hp Golf R all the kids would be clamoring for these vehicles. STIs are a fantasy and don't belong in the real world.

David Stanic (not verified)    February 10, 2020 - 6:11PM

2016 build MY17 Subaru wrx sti. 68000. No issues watsoeva. Stock tune, no mods. Putting 98 octane fuel only. Drivin sedately for 7000km not exceeding 4000rpm. After 7000km I begin punching it to 4.5000rpm at 8000km. Then 5000rpm pulls at 10000km. 5500rpm pulls when the odometer hit 12000km. 6000rpm pulls at 15000km. I don't push over 6000rpm these days as majority of my driving is suburban. Only thing I replaced are the discs and brake pads at 50,000km.

Follow this strict guide and you should be fine. This is what a 20 year veteran at Subaru STI in Melbourne Australia advised me on how to make the engine last a long time. Also don't rev the engine whilst in park or neutral. Don't load up the engine. Don't accelerate hard on take off. Subaru wrx sti's are not meant for 0-100 pulls. It's power comes from it's mid range torque. If you want a fast 0-100km sports car buy a Mustang which drives like a boat.

Hope this helps


paul (not verified)    March 10, 2020 - 1:59PM

A little fake news and exaggerated.
We do not have these problems in Europe.
It is well known that if you tune a Subaru incorrectly, it will fail.
People with a broken STI engine have tuned the car in 90%.
They always forget to add that.
You must use at least 98 octane gasoline.
Very common in Europe, perhaps more difficult in the USA.
Then do not give full throttle at 2000 rpm. That makes no sense either.
That's all you need to pay attention to and you can race with one of the most reliable cars in the world!

W4RDR1V3 (not verified)    April 29, 2020 - 9:13AM

16 STI Limited , Only : COBB power package intake and access port ,
Radium AOS, Tomei Cat back ,
I take mine to Dealer Here in Ontario Ca , and the second time there the tech not sure what happened but didn't put enough oil !! I found out bc I check my oil every 3 days just for fun and got livid af when I seen my dip stick dry totally f-en dry af , when back to dealer and the only thing they said was that it was just lil bit shy from been at the F line , Wrong nothing but lies !!!!, got video to prof it , but they did had the audacity to mentioned that if there was any oil consumption is due to the COBB Intake and Access port , they don't know about the 5% rule or wtf they gave me back my car topped off with oil and sealed plug , dipstick and manhole to pour oil in engine , lol they asked to come back in 1200 miles and they specked for me Not to check my oil until 1200 miles crazy right !, I pull the dipstick and made video everytime I check my oil and sure enough conclusion was that the moron tech was just been incompetent or didn't know what he was doing ( like checking proper oil level is rocket science ) some ppl just fucking amaze me don't know but shitty move , gotta check that oil constantly !! I do every other day now , luv my STI don't run the shit outta of it ,like I did my Z, blew up going 152 on the 15 .

Flo (not verified)    August 12, 2020 - 6:56PM

My 2017 STI had a ringland failure at 58.000 miles. While still under warranty, the SOA denied my claim because I installed full exhaust and air intake. Although they could not prove that my performance parts created the problem. This will be my first and last Subaru to purchase. This company would rather donate 28 millions to pets rather than take care of its own clients

Cake Batter (not verified)    August 15, 2020 - 12:54PM

For many years Subaru recommended oil change intervals @ 7500 miles. On a performance car that naturally burns oil, that's a recipe for disaster.

SM (not verified)    March 7, 2021 - 12:46AM

My 2020 STI had ringland failure at 10,000km. Warranty claim was initially rejected by Subaru Australia due to cat-back exhaust and driving the car hard (I bought a performance car right?!) Subaru then came half-way to the party and offered a new engine but I had to cover labour so I pulled the car from the dealer and sent it to a proper workshop to build me a decent engine.. best money I have ever spent. The subaru warranty is not a worth the paper it's printed on.

JM (not verified)    March 6, 2023 - 12:39PM

I've had nothing but problems with my 2015 STI. It was bought used so I have no idea how it was treated before me but since I got it, it has been nothing but problems. The cost of the repairs it's needed to keep it running is over 15 grand and it hasn't even hit 100,000 miles yet. Short block, turbo, steering rack, multiple gaskets when they couldn't find why it was smoking like crazy after the first gasket replacement and the cam shaft sprocket. Oh almost forgot the $4,000 catalytic converter that was in need of replacement but I just had the codes reset and luckily it hasn't gone back off yet and that was not included in the $15,000. I will never buy another Subaru.

JM (not verified)    March 6, 2023 - 12:43PM

I've had nothing but problems with my 2015 STI. It was bought used so I have no idea how it was treated before me but since I bought it at 33,000 miles it has been nothing but problems. The cost of the repairs it's needed to keep it running is over 15 grand and it hasn't even hit 100,000 miles yet. Short block, turbo, steering rack, multiple gaskets when they couldn't figure out why the engine was smoking like crazy after the first gasket replacement and the cam shaft sprocket. Oh almost forgot the $4,000 catalytic converter that I was told was in need of replacement but I just had the codes reset and luckily it hasn't gone back off yet but Im waiting to see if it will remain off. That cost was not included in the $15,000 but like I said im still waiting to see if it will need replacement. I will never buy another Subaru.