Key Takeaways

  • The Subaru Outback is a popular vehicle, especially amongst the active, outdoorsy type.
  • The Subaru Outback is not an SUV but has more cargo space than a typical four-door car, making it ideal for those who want more room, but still want a car that gets good gas mileage.
  • There are certain problems that the Subaru Outback continues to have, such as it burns an above-average amount of oil, the windshield can crack spontaneously, and the transmission can be problematic.

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For anyone thinking of purchasing a Subaru Outback, there are some specific problems and complaints that may make you think twice before you purchase one.

The biggest problems and complaints with the Subaru Outback have been that the vehicle burns an above-average amount of oil, the windshield can crack spontaneously, and the transmission can be problematic.

I recently was in the market for a new car and, since I’ve owned many Subarus, it was pretty much the only company I was looking to buy from. After doing a ton of research on what was going to best suit my needs, I decided to not buy a Subaru Outback, as I felt the problems they have had are more than what I wanted to take on. Hopefully the research I did will help you decide if a Subaru Outback is the car that is best for you.

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Subaru Outback Problems & Complaints: Are The Issues Worth Buying It?

When someone mentions buying a Subaru, they will either get big nods or looks of confusion on the faces of their family and friends.

This is because Subaru has long had a very distinct following in the car industry.

Those who buy Subarus are a very specific group - they tend to be adventurous types who like spending time outside, enjoy travel (particularly in their car) and usually are hauling a load of stuff wherever they go.

One of the factors of the Subaru Outback is that it is larger than a regular car, but isn’t an actual SUv.

This means that it has more cargo space than most four-door vehicles, but it will have better gas mileage and a more eco-friendly presence on the planet than the large SUVs that many people have turned to buying when they want more space.

But the Subaru can give its owners that extra space without taking up extra environmental resources at the same time - a very exciting concept for people who are big fans of the outdoors and want to preserve it and play in it at the same time.

The Outback is designed with safety in mind as well. There are standard front and side airbags in place for all trim lines and Eyesight Assist technology built in as well.

Most Outback owners love the way the Outback rides, even for those in the back seat. They also speak highly of its responsiveness to all sorts of road conditions and overall, feel safe and secure when driving or riding in the Outback.

That said, there are some issues with the Subaru Outback that you’ll want to take into consideration before you make your final decision, a decision that is not going to be inexpensive.

At a price tag of $28,000 to $40,000 (depending on which trim line you opt for) this is a purchase you don’t want to take lightly.

Even used Subaru Outbacks are not cheap. On average, you are going to spend between $12,000 to $14,000 if you want one with relatively low mileage and is in good to very good shape.

Let’s look more closely at some of the Subaru Outback’s problems and see which ones may be a deal breaker for you.

1. The Subaru Outback Burns an Above-Average Amount of Oil

One of the biggest problems with the Subaru Outback is the above-average amount of oil it tends to burn.

Though for some owners this may just be an annoyance, for others it may be enough of a problem to make them think twice about buying or keeping an Outback that’s burning oil at a rapid pace.

My brother-in-law owned an Outback for three years before he just couldn’t deal with the oil consumption issue. He loved that car, but didn’t like how often he was having to remember to add oil. And, he saw it as a counter-productive environmental concern.

An average car that is being well maintained should only burn about .3 to .5 quarts of oil every 1,000 miles. This means that if you are getting regular oil changes (every 5,000 to 7,000 miles, depending on the age and make of your car) then you should not have to top up the oil between visits to the oil shop.

But, the Subaru Outback has been known to burn significantly more than that, meaning its owners are constantly checking the dipstick, buying oil, and refilling their oil reserve themselves.

Not only is this a hassle, it can also end up being quite expensive. It can also be quite dangerous, especially if the owner forgets to check the oil and the engine seizes up because of it.

Then you’d have a real expense on your hands.

An engine that runs out of oil will stop operating and may end up experiencing irreparable damage. Oil acts as the salve inside a car’s engine and keeps all the rough edges, gear boxes and metal pieces moving against each other in a way that friction is greatly reduced.

You’ll have to decide for yourself if the idea of constantly having to check the oil levels is a reason to keep you from buying a Subaru Outback, or if it’s a problem you could learn to live with.

2. The Subaru Outback’s Windshield Can Crack Spontaneously

Another potential downside to buying the Subaru Outback is the problems with its windshield.

This is not just an issue that’s been observed on the Subaru Outback. Owners of other Subaru models have complained about the same issue as well.

Subaru uses a type of glass for their vehicles called acoustic glass.

Acoustic glass is made by placing a special resin material called Polyvinyl Butyral (or PVB) between two layers of regular windshield glass. PVB acts as a type of insulation from the exterior to the interior of the car.

The idea behind acoustic glass is that by installing this type of windshield it will be harder for outside street and environment noises to be heard inside the car, thus making for a more pleasant and safer ride.

We all know that noise distraction is a leading cause of accidents, especially for younger drivers. Reducing excess noise will help keep everyone safe.

It’s also much more pleasant to ride inside a car that is more soundproof. Reducing outside noise means that it’s easier to hear your passengers, your music or your navigation system while you are driving.

But, acoustic glass is also more prone to knicks and cracks. Though the cause isn’t exactly clear, drivers have reported finding large cracks across their windshield, even when nothing has come in contact with it.

There are also complaints that the company hasn’t been cooperative in fixing cracked windshields, even when the car is still under warranty.

Again, this problem may not be a dealbreaker for everyone.

I currently own a Subaru Ascent and, though I have not yet dealt with a cracked windshield, I knew of the problem when I bought the vehicle. But because I loved the Ascent, I was willing to deal with the possibility that replacing the windshield might be in my future.

If you feel the same way about the Subaru Outback, then replacing a cracked piece of glass may not deter you from buying this car.

3. The Subaru Outback’s Transmission Can be Problematic at Times

Finally, one of the biggest problems that may keep you from buying the Subaru Outback are complaints that many owners have had over the transmission malfunctioning and causing issues with the car’s engine.

We all know that transmission problems in a vehicle are one of the hardest and most expensive to deal with. Having a transmission go out means having your car out of commission for an extended period of time, and having your bank account drain of some hard-earned savings.

A car’s transmission is its operating system. Without a transmission, your car’s engine won’t be able to regulate itself from various speeds and usage. The transmission is what allows you to accelerate and slow down without the temperature of the engine having to change every time your foot does.

Having transmission problems can mean a variety of things. Sometimes a belt just needs to be replaced. Other times it may be an entire gear shaft that’s gone bad.

Either Way, dealing with transmission problems is never fun, and those who have dealt with them on their Subaru Outback have found it to be one of their least favorite things about the car.

Even if it’s a minor fix, you’ll want to make sure that dealing with a faulty transmission is something you won’t mind doing if you decide to bring home a Subaru Outback. Though not every Outback has had problems with the transmission, it’s a good idea to be prepared for it, just in case.

Subaru Outback Problems & Complaints: Are The Issues Worth Buying?

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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