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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
2 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
48,534 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.

2011 Subaru Outback brakes problems

brakes problem

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2011 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #18

Jul 062016


  • 81,000 miles


While driving, if you have to stop quickly and step on the brakes hard the car engine stalls. This puts the car in jeopardy of being hit from behind and injury to the passengers. This has happened multiple times over the past couple of months at various speeds - both low speed and highway speed.

- Sewickley, PA, USA

problem #17

Jul 262016


  • 83,000 miles
Twice in July the electronic parking brake would not release. The car was stopped at the time. After about 15 minutes the parking brake would release. After the second occurrence the dash warning light for brakes flashed for about 50 miles. My local dealer diagnosed it as a failed electronic parking control module. This seems to be a problematic design if this were to engage while the car was in motion.

- Bellingham, WA, USA

problem #16

Jun 122016


  • 46,745 miles
On 06/12/2016, I attempted to actuate the electronic brake, to no avail once again. Parking on a hill is rather risky with this vehicle as the parking brake does not function most of the time, something I have never experienced in 50 yrs of driving using a manual parking brake. So I have made my own parking brake (see attached).

- Incline Village, NV, USA

problem #15

Jun 022016


  • 46,700 miles


Once again the electronic parking brake is non-functional. The 'brake' light is flashing on the intrument panel and the damn parking brake does not function. My wife says "I need a dependable vehicle". obviously this vehicle does not qualify. The australians and recalled this brake for year 2015 and will probably do same for other years. Attached you will see a list of the diagnostic trouble codes (dtcs) for this problem. It is a long list. This is faulty design, pure and simple.

- Incline Village, NV, USA

problem #14

May 302016


  • 46,705 miles
On 5/30/16 the electronic brake was non-functional again. It would not engage. The "brake" light was flashing on the dashboard. I was parked on a hill and could not engage the parking brake due to malfunction. What if the transmission cog could not hold the car? it would have rolled down the hill and done untold damage. This electronic parking brake should be recalled as it is dangerous as a critical safety element of the car. The 2015 Outback has been recalled in australia for this very issue.

- Incline Village, NV, USA

problem #13

May 252016


  • 46,600 miles
70% of the time I try to activate the electronic parking brake, the computer just 'chirps' and the 'brake' light on the dash blinks. The parking brake is not actuated thus the vehicle is at risk of rolling down a hill with noone at the wheel. This system should be recalled at least and redesigned to a higher standard of dependability. It is a brake for god's sake!!

- Incline Village, NV, USA

problem #12

May 272016


  • 46,700 miles


The electronic parking brake on this vehicle does not work most of the time. Last evening is an example. Parked on slope in driveway and engaged the parking brake. When time to leave the brake could not be disengaged. It was locked up. Had to manually decouple the parking brake with special tool. Most of the time this brake cannot be engaged as electrical system is unresponsive. The "brake" dash light just flashes and a 'chirp' is heard when the button is pushed. Parking brakes are terribly important in hilly environs. This is a safety hazard and the vehicle should be thus recalled/redesigned to a more dependable system (ie. Manual lever/cable brake).

- Incline Village,, NV, USA

problem #11

Feb 192016


  • 86,000 miles
Driving on highway, approximately 55 mph. Brake warning light came on, brakes applied, brake pedal went to floor. Vehicle pulled off road into parking lot. Vehicle towed to Subaru dealer. Vehicle inspected, dealer states rear brake line separated from coupling, due to rust and corrosion. Dealer further states there are no replacement brake lines available anywhere in North America, nor do dealers have any inventory. D3aler is forced to craft brake line to return vehicle to service.

- Oneida, NY, USA

problem #10

Sep 022015


  • 44,620 miles
The battery was not producing power after 4 yrs. Service. Replaced battery without any complications other than the fact that the electronic parking brake is nonfunctional. Search for error codes using obdii was non-productive. A brake should work whenever needed, not when the computer (or other peripheral device) decides when it should work. The electric parking brake should be eliminated from automobile design. This should be a high priority safety concern as property and people are at risk from non-functional brakes.

- Incline Village, NV, USA

problem #9

Nov 182014


  • 107,000 miles
When applying the brakes hard at the a stopping point of the car it kills the engine leaving you dead in the street. Emergency pressure hard! other than that the brakes work great. Now if you push trans into neutral and brake hard as you will the engine is not effected and keeps on running. This is a automatic but it feels like you did not depress the clutch on stopping the car if it were a standard stick shift trans. There is a bucking at stopping then the engine is dead in the street. If you let up the brake before this kills the motor then it keeps running or if just light braking that is normal needed no problem. Other than that dangerous condition in city traffic the car runs great. This has to be a defect in design of the system never in 30+ years of auto mech trade have I run across this in any world brand name cars.

- Tallahassee, FL, USA

problem #8

Jun 232014


  • 57,000 miles


I was driving on the freeway when my check engine light, ABS brake light, traction control (all wheel drive) light and cruise control lights began flashing all at once. I called the dealership immediately and was told that all the lights flash because most drivers ignore just the check engine light. At the dealer the next day I was told the same thing with the addition of the facts that the ABS brake system and the traction control systems were actually disabled during this incident. During the conversation it was said that to correct the problem, a "reflash " of the computer system was needed and that this was a known problem on some Outbacks. I asked why there was no recall if the problem was known and was told they just fixed the problem when it happened. This seems to me to be a significant safety problem since if the problem occurred while the driver was on ice or snow or wet road, vehicle stability would be compromised. I think Subaru should at least be made to recall the suspected vehicles and fix the problem even though it is something that may not happen to all vehicles.

- Spring, TX, USA

problem #7

Jan 072014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 31,000 miles
I pulled up into my driveway coming home from shopping as usual, it was approximately 5:45pm on Jan 7, 2014. The road to my house and my driveway have an incline. I pulled in my driveway which was dry (the street was icy) stopped, turned off car, put my foot on the brake to use the emergency brake. My foot brake went to the floor, no tension, I tried it over and over as my car was rolling backwards, went to hit the electronic emergency brake, nothing happened my car was off rolling backwards out of control picking up speed, I thought the only thing that will stop this car is when it hits something, and thank god no one was hurt! it hit the electrical box and mailbox and knocked power out in my cul-de-sac. The electric box flipped over and caught my rear tire and stopped the car! this was a complete brake failure, no way to stop the car!! very scary! I have been driving a manual transmission since I was a teenager and I am 59. I have video of the officer pushing the electronic brake not engaging!

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #6

Apr 112013

Outback 4-cyl

  • 31,792 miles
My 2011 Subaru Outback exhibits brake failure intermittently upon first start of the engine. On numerous occasions, the car would not stop while I was applying heavy pressure to the brakes. After a series of actuations, the brakes begin to work normally. To date, this has not lead to an accident. I have taken the car to the dealer on several occasions and they have not been able to replicate the failure and as a result, have indicated there is nothing they can do. The failure does not occur everyday, so it is not surprising that the dealer cannot replicate. During the first visit, they indicated they found a leaking hose that was the cause, but then the issue returned. At my request, they replaced the brake fluid, but this issue returned once again. I have contacted Subaru usa who also stated that there is nothing that can be done.

- Park City, UT, USA

problem #5

Oct 072013

Outback 4-cyl

  • 30,746 miles
While traveling at 70 mph on I-65 the car suddenly slowed down, the check engine and brake lights began blinking. And as we pulled into the emergency lane the car came to a complete stop, the brakes having seized. The car was started again but could not move. The check engine and brake light kept blinking. After about an hour, the brakes unlocked and the car was able to be towed to the Subaru dealer in nashville. The service dept. Technician performed a diagnostic test. While the test showed that a "braking event" had occurred, there was no indication of a current problem. The technician drove the car 50 miles with a monitor, but everything worked fine. We did not want to drive this car anymore since the problem could not be detected, and bought a new Outback to drive home. Needless to say, if our car had stopped in a middle or left lane of the expressway, with large truck traffic going 70 mph., a terrible accident most likely would have occurred.

- Cincinnati, OH, USA

problem #4

Feb 012013


  • 55,000 miles
The contact owns a 2011 Subaru Outback. The contact stated that while braking, the traction control and ABS system warning lights illuminated. The engine made a knocking noise and vehicle would not accelerate over 5 mph. The vehicle was taken to the dealer several times for the failure and a diagnostic was performed that was unable to generate a failure code. The dealer replaced the transmission drive belt however, the failure was not corrected. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The vehicle was taken back to the dealer for further inspection. The approximate failure mileage was 55,000 and the current mileage was 60,000.

- Amherst , NH, USA

problem #3

Feb 082011

Outback 6-cyl

  • 0 miles
I purchased a Subaru Outback (2011). Since that time, I have complained to the dealer of "soft brakes." The car does not stop in a timely, or effective manner. I have to overcompensate for routine stopping distances; and, you cannot panic stop. There is at least 2 inches of play in the brake; it fails to stop adequately in a safe manner; and the brakes are simply unresponsive in an emergency stop.

- Santa Clarita, CA, USA

problem #2

Nov 102012

Outback 4-cyl

  • miles
I believe my anti-lock brakes malfunctioned on my 2011 Subaru Outback and if this is the case then someone in auto safety data collection needs to know about it. I was driving down an off ramp during snowy conditions. I applied my brakes at around 35 mph and they abruptly locked up. There was no shutter/shimmer effect that I might expect with anti-lock brakes as they go on and off while trying to grip the road. I applied them again with the same jolt followed by sliding. I tried this several times as I approached the intersection. Though the long off ramp did slow me down, at about 15 mph (I think) I plowed the left front of my car into the Ford Ranger in front of me. This impressively crushed the left front side of my car and my air bags did not deploy. The point of impact was the left side of the front bumper, but it hit at the upper 2-3 inches of the bumper. I'm not sure if the airbags should have deployed with this type of impact, but if they were supposed to deploy then someone needs to know about it too.

- Sparks, NV, USA

problem #1

Oct 152012


  • 33,000 miles
As brakes were stepped on car was slow to respond to braking pressure. The car continued to roll but finally came to a stop but the brake pedal went to the floor. On subsequently stepping on the brake pedal I had brake response, but if I kept pressure on the brake pedal it would go to the floor. This is unusual as up until this incident there was a very solid brake feel and the brake pedal would stop and hold about halfway to the floor. Also of note and reported is that at 1500 mile this car had steering vibration and steering control issues, which were finally addressed at 11,500 miles.

- Concord, NH, USA

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