Why Are Subarus So Unreliable? (11 Reasons Why)

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Bruce Coleman

Bruce Coleman is a diesel mechanic and car tester with 20 years of experience. He's a member of various vintage car clubs, and he loves restoring old motorbikes.

In recent years, a car being Japanese has nearly become synonymous with a car being a reliable, quality, well-made product. With brands like Toyota, Japanese cars have become beloved.

As always, however, there are exceptions to the rule. While the Japanese car brand Subaru once had a reputation as reliable, something has made them slip. Nowadays, Subarus are unreliable!

Why Are Subarus So Unreliable?

1. Uneven Model Quality

In most car brands, you can expect a reliably consistent quality across all their different models. 

Most, if not all, Toyota models are considered to be sturdy and reliable while most Dodge models are considered unreliable and prone to breaking down.

Subaru presents an exception to this rule of consistency, with many of Subaru’s recent models varying wildly in quality.

2. Lack Of Interior Space

One of the most common complaints about the Subaru brand is that the interior space leaves something to be desired, even in their larger SUV models.

When you purchase an SUV, you want to have plenty of space so that you can transport a large number of people long distances. 

If your SUV is cramped, it defeats the purpose of buying an SUV in the first place! Unfortunately, consumers report that the Subaru Forrester and Impreza are smaller cars than desired.

Thankfully, newer models of the Subaru Impreza seem to have fixed the space issue with a larger interior. However, the company still faces many space-related issues!

3. Poor Fuel Efficiency

Unfortunately, poor fuel efficiency seems more common than not nowadays- many car companies do not emphasize saving gas mileage. 

Often, this is a feature sacrificed for increased reliability and newer features. However, Subaru seems to sacrifice fuel efficiency while not making up for it with any increased reliability.

Additionally, fuel efficiency is one of the features that drivers find the most important in a vehicle!

4. High Rates Of Breakdown

Subarus are notorious for breaking down at high rates. A survey conducted by the site Which? Showed that 14% of Subaru owners reported their car breaking down within a year prior.

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Additionally, no vehicles manufactured by Subaru appear on ReliabilityIndex’s Top 100 UK Cars list. 

5. Low Quality Compared To Competitors

No matter what qualities you are looking for when buying a car, you will always have many options.

If you want a stylish sports car to drive to the office and back, you have options such as the Chevrolet Camaro or the Ford Mustang.

If you want a car with a high carrying capacity to move materials between worksites, pickup trucks like the Ford F150 or Toyota Tacoma are widely-beloved options.

If you are looking for an SUV to help bring your kids to school and back, one of your options is the Subaru Forrester, though it’s not an option you should take.

In most categories, except for the price, Subaru fails against its rivals. Most car-purchasing websites will recommend going with a competitor over a Subaru, especially in the SUV market.

6. Engine Issues

Engine Issues

Subaru models face several hardware issues on top of their numerous design issues. Much like their models, the hardware of a Subaru can vary wildly in quality.

Certain Subaru engines are notably reliable, especially those that the company put inside their Forrester models. 

Other models, however, do not fare as well. 

Three lawsuits hit Subaru over their WRX and WRX STI engines, claiming a serious engine defect that allowed metal debris to be carried through the engine via its oil tubing.

7. Faulty Fuel Pumps

Newer Subaru models, especially those made from 2018 to 2019, experienced faulty fuel pumps that could result in their engine stalling or not starting.

These faulty fuel pumps resulted in a major recall of over 100,000 vehicles of all Subaru models made between 2018 and 2019, resulting in yet another hit to Subaru’s reputation.

8. Loud Engine Noises

Having a noisy engine may not necessarily be a bad thing, but it can certainly be indicative of something worse! Plus, having a loud engine is downright annoying. Nobody wants that!

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While your car can still run well with a loud engine, it can still be considered unreliable solely because of how much of a nuisance it is.

While drivers in sports cars and large trucks may enjoy having a loud car, those driving an SUV or a family sedan may not appreciate the excess volume from their engines. 

9. Major Oil Leaks

In recent years, Subarus have become notorious for fault head gaskets that contribute to major oil leaks. 

On top of the brand’s already-excessive oil consumption, these leaks mean that you could be putting far more engine oil into your car than necessary. 

These faulty gaskets are caused by the rapid wearing-down of the gasket’s coating, causing the seal to rapidly deteriorate. 

10. Excessive Oil Consumption

While many of Subaru’s largest issues are relatively new to the manufacturer’s lineup, one of its biggest issues has haunted the Subaru company for decades.

On top of using a large amount of fuel and frequent oil leaks, the engine of a Subaru outright uses too much oil!

Subaru has claimed that their cars consume oil well within an acceptable range. 

However, with so many consumers arguing otherwise, it’s hard to think that Subaru is doing anything but damage control.

Subaru’s 2014 Forrester seems to be the worst offender of this, and many of its newer models have mostly rectified the brand’s notorious oil consumption issues.

However, even with reduced oil consumption, a Subaru car may still use more engine oil than its competitors.

In 2016, Subaru was hit with a class-action lawsuit from drivers who believed that Subarus contained faulty engines that burned away too much oil.

This lawsuit was settled in late 2016, but it goes to show just how bad the oil consumption in many Subaru cars can be!

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11. Faulty Electronics

As technology advances, more and more car manufacturers are looking to place the newest in entertainment and safety technology inside of their vehicles.

These technologies can be notably complex on their own and only made more difficult to maneuver by placing them inside a several-ton moving vehicle.

To make matters worse, the electronics in newer Subarus are notoriously fickle. Issues range from an unresponsive touchscreen to total system lockup or even blacked-out cameras.

Subaru’s electronic issues are so bad that, in 2020, many Subaru owners filed yet another class-action lawsuit against the company over its faulty infotainment systems.

These issues affect most of Subaru’s lineup, especially models released from 2017 to 2018. 

With a company experiencing class-action lawsuits as frequently as Subaru, you need to stop and think before purchasing a vehicle from them.

You never know if your vehicle could be the next one that requires a class-action lawsuit!

In the modern age of powerful technology, including electronics in your car is important- and it’s even more important to make sure they work, or you could face serious issues!

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why Jeeps are so unreliable, why Jaguars are so unreliable, and why people hate Tesla.

In Conclusion

Ultimately, there are many reasons why Subarus can be so unreliable. Whether you are a Subaru fan or not, you can’t deny the many issues that these cars face!

Thankfully, in a market as competitive as the automotive industry, you will always have plenty of options for purchasing a new vehicle. If Subarus don’t meet your standards, other brands will!


  • Bruce Coleman

    Bruce Coleman is a diesel mechanic and car tester with 20 years of experience. He's a member of various vintage car clubs, and he loves restoring old motorbikes.

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