Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
1 / 0
Average Mileage:
60,566 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Subaru Outback engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #9

Jan 132012


  • miles


When weather turns cold, the smell of raw gas comes into the car, as well as in the garage after parking. So far the dealer has just tightened a clamp, but what happens if I'm on a hi-way and that happens" I can't drive the car with a gas leak in the engine and to far away from a fire station so do I call a towe truck or my lawyer. Because the car burnt up" can't believe the Subaru dealership is being so unresponsive about this. Get this recall to all the Subaru having a issue I thought you had great cars not so much now.

- Topeka, KS, USA

problem #8

Jan 102012


  • 120,000 miles
The contact owns a 2002 Subaru Outback wagon. The contact stated during routine maintenance with a private mechanic, the mechanic advised that radiator fluid was leaking into the exhaust. The manufacturer was not contacted. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and the current mileages were 120,000.

- Wakefield, RI, USA

problem #7

Dec 292011


  • 142,000 miles
I recently took my Outback in to a local shop for an oil change, and they notified me that the head gasket has started to leak. Took it to the dealership for a second opinion, and they said the same thing. Called four different places, and got estimates for anywhere from $1500-$2100 (after spending $2K on other wear and tear repairs this summer). Every mechanic I spoke with was keenly aware of this problem, which obviously means this is a very common - and expensive - defect!

- Fort Collins, CO, USA

problem #6

Feb 152008


  • 123,000 miles


I replaced the left head gasket (at a local service center) at 122,000 miles due to oil leakage. At 123,000 miles the right head gasket failed. I contacted Subaru because I don't think it's coincidental for both head gaskets to fail that close together. They will not help me because of the miles and because I didn't have the first work done at a dealer.

- Lebanon, OH, USA

problem #5

Feb 012008

Outback 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 80,000 miles
Head gasket failure causing coolant leak from engine, potential overheating and engine failure.

- East Amherst, NY, USA

problem #4

Oct 132006

Outback 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 0 miles
The head gasket, too thin, on our 2002 Outback Subaru and cracked. Full recalls have been given to owners of Outback models from 2000-2002 for cracked head gaskets. Very strong anti-freeze fumes are seeping into the interior of the car. We have 2 toddlers breathing in these fumes-1 having health problems! called dealership. Yes, is a recall but our VIN numbers not on the list. Was informed many of these models are coming in for head gaskets to be replaced. Service dept. Said Subaru is paying 1/2 the cost for the VIN numbers not on the list. Subaru, therefore, is acknowledging there is a problem or they would not be paying 1/2 the cost of repair. It is not fair that certain VIN numbers to the Subaru Outbacks are having a total recall for a defective head gasket and the rest are receiving 1/2 of the cost to have it repaired. Our head gasket should be recalled and corrected the same as other owners of the 2000-2002 Subaru Outbacks. Told it will cost $1350 to fix the car and 1/2 from Subaru will make the cost $675. Clearly there is a problem with the head gaskets on these models. This car is affecting our one child's health worse so we have to get it fixed. This should be replaced totally by Subaru as they recalled Outback wagons no matter what the VIN numbers. This is a hazard to our son's health and we are not being treated equally with other owners of Outbacks that have had theirs replaced at no cost to them. We should not have to absorb the cost of a part that is recalled on some when clearly many others are having the same problem.

- Franklin, WV, USA

problem #3

Jan 152006

Outback 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 72,095 miles


Driving down the road in 2002 Subaru Outback smelt burning coolant. Then, started seeing a lot of smoke from the driver side engine hood area. Pulled over and found that the coolant was empty in the tank. Refilled with fresh coolant and continued down the road back home. Car was smoking all the way back. Took it to a shop, and found that the engine head gasket had blown. Mechanic replaced the head gaskets and machined heads. Cost $1700.

- Canton, MI, USA

problem #2

Mar 222004

Outback 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 8,000 miles
2002 Subaru Outback wagon repeatedly and unexpectedly stalls while driving. Has been ongoing for nearly 2 years. Has been examined on multiple occassions (at least 4) at rye Ford Subaru in rye New York with the ongoing result that the dealership claims to have no knowledge of the problem and unable to replicate. Car was delivered back to dealership on a flatbed after stalling 5 or 6 times in main thoroughfare that resulted in being rear ended by a truck behind me. I have repeatedly informed the dealer and contacted Subaru of America that I believe this is a death trap waiting to happen. I was nearly killed by a narrow miss when the car stalled abrubtly in a snow storm. This is a very very dangerous condition and the cars should be recalled before people are killed.

- Scarsdale, NY, USA

problem #1

Dec 082002

Outback 4-cyl

  • miles
Master cylinder has a bad leakage, causing engine to lock. Ph...

- Harrodsburg, KY, USA

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