Used Subaru Outback 2010-2014 review
Common problems: Several 2010, 2011 Outback owners mentioned steering wheel vibration. There is a TSB to address this concern, but it involves quite extensive modification of some suspension and steering components. Headlight bulbs go often and are difficult to replace (the access is from the wheel well). Failed front struts are mentioned by several owners ($550-$700 to replace both front struts). The top brake light may leak water, may need to be re-sealed or replaced. Loose exhaust heat shields may cause rattle at certain rpms. The common fix is to re-secure the shields. In 2013-2014 2.5L Outback the chirping noise under the hood may be caused by a faulty drive (serpentine) belt. An updated drive belt fixes the issue ($120-$200). In some cases, one of the belt pulleys may need to be replaced too. Several owners reported problems with sunroof binding or not opening (closing) all the way. There are several TSBs on the sunroof issues. One of the TSBs for the 2010-2013 Outback recommends replacing sunroof cable assembly and brackets with an updated "Cable Repair Kit". Puddle lights go out often. A new OEM puddle light kit is priced at $115-$140 online. The installation instructions are provided with the kit. Another issue several owners mentioned is hesitation when driving from a stop in 2013, 2014 Outback. One owner mentioned that reprogramming the vehicle computer made the difference. This tread of the subaruoutback.org forum discusses the issue.
Overall: The Outback is not a bad choice for an all-wheel drive SUV or wagon. Despite all the issues mentioned above, Consumer Reports rates all model years from 2010 to 2014 Outback with 4 stars out of five for the reliability. Safety ratings and owner satisfaction are above average too. One of the drawbacks Consumer Reports mentions is that the tail of the car may slide out in emergency maneuvers. We drove the vehicle for a while, in normal city driving and on the highway, the Outback feels stable and secure.
What to look for when buying a used Subaru Outback: Check if the rear-view camera is working, several owners mentioned some problems with it.
If the vehicle has a sunroof, check for signs of water leaks. Make sure the sunroof opens and closes without binding. During a test drive on the highway, watch out for steering wheel vibration; there is a number of complaints about this issue. Check steering wheel controls. During a test drive, make sure the transmission is smooth, there is no jerks or shudder. We found a number of complaints at the NHTSA website related to oil consumption in 2013-2014 Outback 2.5L engine. If during a test drive, you notice a blue smoke from the exhaust, the vehicle should be avoided, as it's one of the signs of excessive oil consumption. Read more in the next "Maintenance" chapter.
Guides for used car buyers:
Maintenance: The Maintenance schedule for the 2014 Outback recommends changing engine oil every 7,500 miles, however in severe driving conditions including repeated short trips, extreme cold or repeated towing the oil must be changed every 3,750 miles or 6,000 km. A number of owners mentioned higher than normal oil consumption. This means that it's good idea to check the engine oil level regularly and top it up if low. Running the engine low on oil may cause problems. Read this guide how to check the oil level.
An air filter must be changed every 30,000 miles. You can buy an OEM engine air filter online for $17-$25. In the repair shop, the air filter replacement costs from $35 to $60.
Spark plugs must be replaced every 60,000 miles. Spark plug replacement costs from $260 to $400.
Front and rear differential fluid as well as transmission fluid are recommended to be inspected every 30,000 miles. Realistically, it means that you will probably need to replace them somewhere between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. Of course, if the vehicle is used for repeated trailer towing, differential and transmission fluids must be changed more often. For example, if the vehicle is used for towing, the 2014 Maintenance schedule recommends replacing the CVT fluid (CVTF) at 24,855 miles.
Engine oil capacity:
When replacing engine oil and oil filter:
2010-2012 Outback 2.5 L SOHC non-turbo: 4.4 US qt. or 4.2 liters
2013-2014 Outback 2.5 L DOHC non-turbo: 5.1 US qt. or 4.8 liters
2010-2014 Outback 3.6L DOHC non-turbo: 6.9 US qt. or 6.5 liters
Data, courtesy of Subaru Technical Information System.
Subaru Technical Information System - you can buy a temporary subscription and get access to a factory service manual and technical service bulletins. It's a great help for DIY enthusiasts.
Subaru of America Vehicle Resources - Access owner's manuals online, Starlink FAQ, BlueConnect guides and more.
Check For Recalls NHTSA - check for recalls, safety ratings and search the complaint database.
Subaruoutback.org DIY guides - variety of guides and DIY advice.
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