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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
57,614 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.

2005 Subaru Outback drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2005 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #7

Dec 252015


  • 169,500 miles


My 2005 Outback is very unsafe to drive under certain conditions. After extensive research online, I have discovered people use the term "ghost walking" to describe the issue. After driving over a bump or slick spot on the road, the driver momentarily loses control of the vehicle. The back end sways side to side and the car can jump several feet to the left or right. I have noticed this problem several times but it was drastically worse today. Driving on a straight, dry stretch of interstate, I drove over an icy patch under a bridge. My vehicle jumped to the left several feet and into the other lane. Had there been a car next to me, there most likely would have been an accident. I was traveling at approximately 40 mph as I had already experienced several incidents driving over large bumps. The issue seems to be worse when there is cargo in the back and on icy or bumpy roads. This seems to be a problem with numerous Outbacks model year 2005 through 2009. This is extremely unsafe behavior and it needs to be addressed. I do not intend to drive my vehicle much longer and I would hesitate to buy another Outback for fear of a similar issue.

- Erie, CO, USA

problem #6

Nov 032014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 115,000 miles
My Subaru (and others '05-'09) have serious computer issues causing the car to stall out in the middle of traffic. I got the car special edition of consumer reports and the article below is no joke. Subaru Outback '05-'09 have gotten terrible reviews for the following: Major engine issue and drive issues and more. The dealer and headquarters will not acknowledge that there may be a serious need for a recall. When disconnecting and reconnecting the battery, the car will stall out the next day in the middle of traffic. Car ran but then stalled out in the middle of traffic. I was able to get it off the road eventually and take it to the dealership. The dealership did not want to acknowledge the issue and wanted to charge me $200 for diagnosis. I do not feel safe driving my car because I need to get a new battery ($225 at Subaru which I can't afford and $119 at Firestone), however, Firestone does not have the memory stick Subaru does and I run a very good chance of stalling out in traffic after the work is done at a non Subaru dealership. Neither the dealer nor headquarters will acknowledge this article that this safety issue has happened to others too. This is very unsafe for me and others on the road here is an article which describes exactly what happened to me. A recall needs to be involved and Subaru must be waiting for a major accident to happen. I am not willing to put my life on the line anymore by driving this unsafe vehicle. This article provides exactly what is going on. Subaru hq lost the email twice and I am very afraid to drive this car. Austin Subaru and Subaru headquarters acted like they remedied the situation by cleaning a different part.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #5

Jun 262013

Outback 4-cyl

  • miles
I have had issues with my power train since purchase of the car. I have done both cv axles twice. The last time the control arms had to be replaced. Ball joints have been twice. The shop I took my car to said they have seen this same issue in 4 other Subaru's of the same year. During repair my drive knuckles broke. I have spend thousand on just my power train. Between Subaru dealership, burt brother, and premier auto, I want to make an official complaint and ask you to look into these issue. All of these companies have advised me to place this complaint.

- Salt Lake City, UT, USA

problem #4

Jan 132012

Outback 4-cyl

  • 48,000 miles


This was one of the first snows of the winter and I was driving my 2005 Subaru Outback down detroit freeways to metro airport to pickup my son. I had my wife in the front seat and my youngest son in the rear seat. As the snow began to fall I felt the car lurch back and forth as if I were driving through icy or snowy ruts. I am an experienced driver (50 years old) and had never experienced anything like this except during an ice storm, etc. I thought the road must have had "black ice" under the snow as my car was almost uncontrollable. I slowed down to about 30mph and, to my surprise, saw two wheel drive pickup trucks, etc. Passing me at 10 - 20mph faster than I was going... everyone was passing our car as I when I tried to match their speed it seemed that I was going to lose control with the rear end having a mind of its own shifting back and forth. In the months that followed, I searched the internet and found the threads calling this phenomenon "ghostwalking". I hope that NHTSA does something about this as I do not want anyone to get hurt or killed thinking that this car is a great snow car (from a ground clearance and AWD standpoint) and finding out the hard way that it is not. It would appear that it is worse when the suspension is loaded down with more passengers, as it was in this instance, than when it is just the driver and no cargo in the hatch area.

- Ortonville, MI, USA

problem #3

Nov 022011


  • miles
2005 Subaru is our family has had to have the front axles as one broke going down the highway he as not hurt, but the car was only stopped after I plowed up sn open field. Since vehicle was not under warranty we footed a $1,200 bil. Then weeks later the axle on my 2004 broke as I was driving out of my driveway. That repair also not under warranty cost another 1,200 dollars. We have had to have the wheel bearings replaced all the way around on both vehicles and the ECM replaced on both cars this year. These vehicles have also experienced converter problems and converters were replaced by Subaru only after I kept up a running battle and insisted that they were under warranty.

- Piffard, NY, USA

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problem #2

Aug 152008


  • 57,000 miles
Both rear wheel bearing hubs went bad between 55K and 58K miles. They were fixed with a replacement part. They caused a loud noise while driving.

- Superior, CO, USA

problem #1

Jul 202005

Outback 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,800 miles
On two separate occasions, my 2005 Subaru Outback got stuck after incurring a minor obstruction (several inches of snow in one case and a somewhat sharp incline in another case) while driving in high altitudes (10,000 ft to 11,500 ft). On both occasions, the car suddenly lost most of its power and no wheels would turn. Despite pressing the accelerator to the floor, the engine never went above 2000 rpms. Fortunately, on both occasions, there were people around to push the car. Once the tires were totally free of any obstruction, normal engine power returned and the car could be driven. I took the Subaru to my home dealership in olathe ks (jack miller) on June 29, 2005, a couple weeks after the first incident. Dealer said he could not replicate the problem, so he could not fix it. The invoice notes: "2000 RPM is appox torque converter stall speed." Following the second problem on July 20, I took my car to john elway Subaru West in golden co. Dealer invoice says:" If tires were not spinning, car had traction and was not able to build boost at altitude to produce power." Dealer, however, said they could not replicate the inability to build boost, and were thus unable to fix the car. I filed a verbal complaint with Subaru of America on July 27 and followed up on July 29. As of then, Subaru of America was still trying to contact the dealer. Subaru markets its cars as having superior performance in the mountains, snow and in difficult driving conditions. Subaru enjoys a large market share in the Colorado mountains, where both my "not able to build boost" problems occurred. My car cannot be safely driven in the co mountains, particularly on mountain passes or dirt roads, because help may not be available to get the car running again. I do not know if my experiences are isolated or part of a larger problem. In either case, I am disappointed that Subaru has been unwilling or unable to fix this potentially serious safety issue.

- Leawood, KS, USA

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