Subaru Outback Years to Steer Clear Of: Avoid Costly Mistakes

Explore the rugged capabilities and versatile features of Subaru Outback models over the years. Discover how each generation pushes the boundaries of adventure and dependability.
Subaru Outback Years to Steer Clear Of: Avoid Costly Mistakes
**Subaru Outback Years to Avoid: A Comprehensive Guide**

For over two decades, the Subaru Outback has been a popular choice for drivers seeking a versatile and reliable vehicle. However, like any vehicle, certain years of the Outback have been more prone to issues than others. This comprehensive guide explores the Subaru Outback years to avoid, offering valuable insights to help you make an informed decision when shopping for a used Outback.

**1. Addressing the Head Gasket Issue: 2000-2009 Outback**

A notorious problem affecting the Subaru Outback is the head gasket failure, primarily observed in models produced between 2000 and 2009. The head gasket serves as a crucial seal between the engine block and the cylinder head, preventing coolant and oil from leaking. Failure of the head gasket can lead to severe engine damage and costly repairs.

The root cause of this issue is believed to be inadequate head gasket design and manufacturing defects. Over time, the head gasket can deteriorate, resulting in leaks and potentially catastrophic engine failure. It's essential to note that not all Outbacks within this year range are affected, but the risk is significantly higher compared to other model years.

**2. CVT Concerns: 2010-2015 Outback**

The Subaru Outback adopted a continuously variable transmission (CVT) starting from the 2010 model year. While CVTs offer several advantages, some early iterations experienced reliability issues in the 2010-2015 Outbacks.

These issues primarily manifested as premature wear and failure of the CVT components, leading to transmission problems such as slipping, shuddering, and ultimately complete failure. In severe cases, the CVT required replacement, resulting in substantial repair costs.

**3. Steering Issues: 2016-2018 Outback**

The 2016-2018 Subaru Outback models faced a distinct set of issues related to the steering system. Owners reported experiencing excessive play or looseness in the steering, particularly at highway speeds. This issue could lead to reduced control and responsiveness of the vehicle, compromising driving safety.

The underlying cause of this problem was traced to faulty steering rack components, specifically the inner tie rod ends. The defective parts could wear prematurely, causing excessive play and compromising steering stability.

**4. Infotainment System Glitches: 2019-2020 Outback**

The 2019 and 2020 Subaru Outback models introduced a new infotainment system, which unfortunately brought along its share of glitches and malfunctions. Numerous owners encountered issues such as unresponsive touchscreen, audio system problems, and connectivity issues with Bluetooth and smartphone integration.

These infotainment system concerns were not limited to a specific trim level or configuration, affecting various Outback variants within those model years. While some glitches could be resolved through software updates, others required hardware replacements, causing inconvenience and dissatisfaction among owners.

**5. CVT Fluid Leaks: 2021 Outback**

The 2021 Subaru Outback, despite being a relatively new model, has encountered reports of CVT fluid leaks. Some owners have observed fluid seepage or leaks from the CVT housing, leading to concerns about potential transmission issues.

The root cause of these leaks is still under investigation by Subaru. However, it's crucial for 2021 Outback owners to monitor their CVT fluid levels regularly and address any leaks promptly to prevent further damage or costly repairs.


The Subaru Outback is generally a reliable and capable vehicle, but certain years have experienced specific issues that warrant attention. By being aware of the "Subaru Outback years to avoid," you can make an informed decision when purchasing a used Outback. It's always advisable to research the specific model year and generation you're interested in, as well as to have a pre-purchase inspection conducted by a qualified mechanic to identify any potential problems before making a final decision.