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really awful
Crashes / Fires:
3 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
61,620 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 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2011 Subaru Outback Owner Comments (Page 2 of 2)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #14

Jun 182014


  • 101,000 miles


The engine shuts down whenever you brake suddenly or use any pressure to brake (not coast to a stop). The car shakes and then dies and you have to restart the car. This happens almost daily and after taking it to several shops it was determined that the torque converter is bad and needs to be replaced. There is a service bulletin out about fixing this so it appears to be a common problem. Even a quick search online produces hundreds of similar complaints for this make & model. Given that this can stall out at any speed with any pressure in applying the brakes with the torque converter, this should be an immediate recall for safety concerns!!! it's a faulty part on the car, not a wear & tear item.

- Red Hook, NY, USA

problem #13

Jul 182014

Outback 6-cyl

  • 34,576 miles
I backed out of a parking spot, stopped and, with my foot on the brake, shifted to drive to pull forward. The car surged forward rapidly. I stood on the brakes, the surge continued very briefly and then the car finally stopped. This was the first incident of this kind in the three years I have owned the car.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #12

Apr 262012

Outback 6-cyl

  • 32,000 miles
Safety concerns with hesitation issue with transmission at slow speeds when applying /giving more gas.

- Charleston, SC, USA

problem #11

Jan 132014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 31,300 miles


I would like to report an abnormal behavior in my car on January 13, 2014 as this is a safety matter. The road condition was dry and the outside temperature was about 40 degrees. First I backed out of my garage onto the road, then shifted to the D position and drove about half a mile forward. I noticed that the car did not slow down as usual when I applied the brakes as I was approaching the first intersection. I had to press the brake pedal much further than usual. I did not slow down to a complete stop, made a right turn and continued to drive. I decided to pay closer attention to the behavior of the car during the next braking period. I drove another quarter mile and I had to apply the brakes again as I was approaching a stop sign. The car did not slow down as usual again, so I had to press the brake pedal to the floor to make a complete stop. When the car finally stopped moving I heard a loud squeaking noise and the tachometer arrow was moving back and forth between 2000 and 5000 RPM. It seemed as though the clutch was still engaged even though the brakes were applied and the car was not moving. This continued for 5-10 seconds until I shifted into the N position as I continued to hold my foot on the brake pedal. The squeaking sound disappeared and the tachometer arrow went down immediately. I shifted back into the D position again with my foot still on the brake and the car behaved normally. This problem has not appeared since that time. I have taken the car to a Subaru service dealer at norwood, MA 02062 on Jan. 27, 2014, but they did not find anything wrong (customer #[xxx], invoice [xxx], miles 31340). I would like to get to the bottom of the problem since this could be a serious safety issue. I have filed a complaint to Subaru website on January 28, 2014 but did not hear a word from them since that. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Needham, MA, USA

problem #10

Jul 062012

Outback 4-cyl

  • 18,192 miles
This vehicle is hesitating from a start, posing a high risk of causing a serious accident when entering traffic. The hesitation occurs, on average, once every 300 miles under differing conditions. I have taken the vehicle to Subaru service four times because of this problem. They state they can"T solve the issue because they can?T ?duplicate? it. I have informed them over and over again that it is an intermittent problem but they refused to keep the car long enough to duplicate the problem. I have asked Subaru for a replacement but all they will offer is yet another appointment ?to attempt to duplicate the concerns". in the meantime, I am forced to drive a vehicle with a serious safety problem, which occurs randomly without warning. This hesitation defect appears to be a common issue with this power train, placing numerous drivers at risk. Please see the following associated complaints: 10290805 10297490 10307668 10343600 10346037 10346648 10347133 10351374 10354541 10355908 10355908 10356951 10358243 10411748 10413779 10448621 10505368 10515376 thank you for your time.

- Greensboro, NC, USA

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problem #9

Feb 152012


  • 12,000 miles
While driving at 40 or 50 miles an hour, my husband tries to shift to 4th or 5th gear and the gear slips into reverse. Then the car can't go in reverse. We bought the car in June 2011. This first happened when the car was about 8 months old. The dealership replaced bushings. The same thing happened again a few months later, on the highway, with my two kids in the car, when my husband was shifting from 5th to 6th. The dealership replaced bushings. The same thing happened on May 11, 2013, while we were on the highway and my husband was shifting from 4th to 5th; the gear slipped into reverse. The car then can't go in reverse.

- Boston, MA, USA

problem #8

Apr 222013

Outback 6-cyl

  • 33,400 miles


The issue started at around 25,000 miles. My 2011 Subaru Outback, upon shifting from reverse to drive or from park to drive from a cold start, the transmission would pause for a second or two then would exhibit a loud bang/clunk and the car would lurch forward. Warming the car for several minutes (~5-10 minutes) did not solve the issue. I read others who had the same issue so at 28,622 miles (~1.5 months from the first incident) I brought the car to the Subaru service/dealer. Unfortunately they could not replicate the issue, likely due to the fact that they did a transmission relearn before trying to test the transmission. The car was fine for about 2 days after receipt from service, but then the bang/clunk/lurch began again, on and off, under the same conditions mentioned earlier (I.e., cold start, shifting into drive, etc.) until its failure on April 22 (mileage ~33,400, ~3 months after bringing the car to the Subaru service/dealer noted above). The transmission failed while I was driving 45 mph, after I heard a bang from under the vehicle. The vehicle was still controllable, but only first gear worked. The car today (April 23) is at the service station to determine if it is a transmission issue or a computer issue.

- Mchenry, IL, USA

problem #7

Aug 062011


  • miles
2011 Subaru Outback. Consumer states vehicle rolled down the street without the key in ignition and engine off the consumer stated the vehicle finally came to rest in his neighbor's yard. The consumer then noticed the gear shift was in drive. The consumer stated according to the manual, the key was not supposed to come out of the ignition, unless the gear shift was in park and the engine was off. The consumer stated on August 6, 2011, when he returned to his vehicle, he attempted to start the vehicle, but the engine would not turn over. The consumer contacted Subaru. The Subaru employee stated there may have been a problem the key or the security system. The vehicle was towed and a couple of days later, the consumer was informed the battery had been replaced and the vehicle was ready to be picked up. About two months later, the consumer experienced a similar problem, but after three attempts, the vehicle started. The consumer also stated the headlights would not go out, unless the key was removed from the ignition.

- Greenville, ME, USA

problem #6

Aug 012011

Outback 4-cyl

  • 10,500 miles
Even after all the soa (Subaru of America) "fixes" / service bulletins I still have a vibration issues at highway speeds, feel it in the seat and in steering wheel. It gets worse at highway speeds if your going around a curve on it tends to get worse. Even after through the curve.. also noted it doesn't matter weather conditions hot, cold raining or dry.

- Randolph, NJ, USA

problem #5

Apr 232012

Outback 4-cyl

  • miles
I pulled into my driveway (relatively level) and parked my car. As I exited the vehicle I notice that my car was rolling forward (I have a manual transmission) and attempted to set the electric parking brake by pushing repeatedly on the button to the left of the steering wheel. The parking brake did not set and my car gained speed and continued downhill into the woods behind my home. I am not sure if I was dragged or partially in the car, but was able to clear the vehicle before it hit a fence, a tree and eventually come to a stop. This has happened in my garage once and at a gas station, but I was able to gain control of the vehicle by hitting the parking brake button. I do not know if I am not setting the brake before exiting or am not depressing it fully before exiting or why it did not stop when I hit it repeatedly. I typically set the car in gear, but obviously did not do this on these occasions.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #4

Jul 212011

Outback 6-cyl

  • 3,750 miles


Car was brand new and the transmission was jerking when I slowed down for a red light and then had to start again before the car came to a full stop. This was a constant issue and also did the same thing when car was downshifting during traffic.

- Willow Spring, NC, USA

problem #3

Jan 182012


  • 21,000 miles
I have a Subaru because I live off the paved road and it is an off-road car. Two problems: 1) if driving in snow, snow packs into the wheel well and prevents front wheels turning properly. I carry a weedout, other people I have talked to carry ice picks and trowels for getting the snow out. This has happened to me since Dec 2010, whenever driving in wet snow. I heard it discussed on car talk, so I know it is a common complaint. 2) manual transmission linkage is now exposed on the underside of the 2011. The car gets stuck in one gear and will not shift. Happened in 2nd and 4th. I got it to the dealer and they removed sticks and gravel from the linkage. They said they had many 2011 manual transmission subies in that week with sticks and gravel in the linkage due to the bad weather. I could not go up hills or start from a stop when it was stuck in 4th. I could not drive over 20mph when stuck in 2nd. I could not reverse either way. This is not safe, especially when driving in snow and traffic in the mountains. I asked the dealer if they could put on something to cover and protect the linkage and they said no, ever since Subaru went to 6 forward gears the linkage is exposed and they cannot add anything to cover it. I think the 6 forward gear manual transmission Outbacks should be recalled, and they should go back to 5 gears forward and properly cover up the linkage.

- Corbett, OR, USA

problem #2

Jul 032011

Outback 4-cyl

  • 2,000 miles
I turned right into a driveway with a steep upward incline and had to stop my car briefly to speak to a person helping with parking for an event. My car has a manual transmission, so I engaged the electronic parking brake to hold the car so I could get moving again without rolling backwards. However, the parking brake on my car automatically disengages as soon as the gas pedal is depressed (or even, actually, touched at all). Because of the very steep incline, by the time I had enough revs to engage the clutch, my car had rolled back into the street behind me. Fortunately no vehicle was passing at the time, though a serious accident could have occurred. I have noticed that the electronic parking brake needs to be manually disengaged if the driver seatbelt is unfastened, presumably as a reminder to fasten the seatbelt. In the future in a similar driving situation I would be tempted to unfasten my seatbelt before attempting the steep hill start, which would be the less dangerous of two dangerous options. I emailed Subaru to point out the problem and ask whether it would be possible to modify these vehicles such that the parking brake is always controllable by the driver. My concern was dismissed, seemingly without much consideration. I live in an area where steep hills are the norm, and have always driven a manual transmission car without incident, but the electronic parking brake on my new car presents a serious hazard. I would like to have this addressed before someone is injured or killed.

- Canby, OR, USA

problem #1

Aug 122010


  • 9 miles
When coming to a rolling stop and then stepping on the accelerator as our 2011 Outback was turning, the new vehicle, with 9 miles on the odometer, experienced a brief hesitation followed by a hard transmission clunk and the vehicle lurched forward a few feet before driving normally. This occurred several times during rolling stops both when going forward and when turning a corner. We feel this is extremely unsafe and could lead to loss of control of the vehicle. We returned the vehicle to the dealership's service department within 17 hours of purchase and, after they had the car for 10 days, we were informed that, while they acknowledge the problem, there is no current fix for the issue and have no estimate as to when there might be one. In researching online, we discovered that a very similar, if not identical, problem was reported by owners of the 2010 Outback model and a Subaru service bulletin (11-94-09R) dated 01/05/10 was issued announcing that ¿ECM¿ reprogramming files¿ were available to rectify the problem.

- Granada Hills, CA, USA

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