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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10.0

really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
21,124 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.

2012 Subaru Outback drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2012 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #15

Nov 012016

Outback

  • miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

I have a failing torgue converter. The car stalls out when I am coming to a complete stop. The rpms stay normal but the car stops while in gear.

- Jamaica Plain, MA, USA

problem #14

Apr 152016

Outback

  • 60,000 miles
When the brakes are applied and the car comes to a stop light or stop sign, the engine shuts off ('stalls when idling or slowing down'). the vehicle then must be put into 'park' mode in order to re-start. This occurs nearly everyday of the week, and has created many, many dangerous situations for us and the drivers around us. We took the vehicle to the dealership in may concerning this issue, and they stated that they had not heard of this problem, and that nothing was wrong with the vehicle. We took the vehicle in for service again this week, and the dealership mentioned that a technical service bulletin had been issued for this problem. The tsb was apparently issued in Jan 2014, but customers were not notified in spite of the fact that the defect poses dire saftey risks. We are bewildered given that this item is clearly a recall-worthy defect that places the vehicle owner, and the cars around them, in foreseeable and considerable danger. We are very concerned that other customers are also being told by the dealership and manufacturer that there is 'nothing wrong with their vehicle' in spite of the tsb issued in Jan '14. A cynical person might conclude that an effort is being made to obfuscate this safety defect until customer's warranties run out. Similarly, the manufacturers tsb language appears to obfuscate the defect with euphemistic language. To be clear --- the vehicle shuts off in the middle of the road when slowing down for a stop light or stop sign. It would appear that an effort is being made to avoid a recall. According to the tsb, Subaru modified production in October 2013 to account for and cure this safety issue. Again, customers ho were sold vehicles with the safety defect hav not been notified.

- Gilroy, CA, USA

problem #13

Jul 062016

Outback

  • 93,000 miles
2012 Outback 2.5I limited with 93K miles stalls intermittently when coming to a complete stop. When placed in park the vehicle will start right up and runs fine. There is no hesitation or engine missing when in motion, only when coming to a full stop. Yesterday it stalled 3 times during a 6 mile round trip to the post office. I am fearful that it will stall while I'm in an intersection waiting to make a left turn and am vulnerable to cross traffic when the light changes. I'm taking it in to the dealer tomorrow and hoping they will be able to fix it. After searching the internet for similar complaints, I understand that tsb 16-90-13 addresses this type of failure, apparently due to a problem with the torque converter.

- Sykesville, MD, USA

problem #12

Aug 122015

Outback

  • 20,125 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

Car had fire at starter with lots of smoke coming from transmission and alternator.vehilce had been having shifting issues and traction from all wheel drive not working. I had vehicle taken to different dealers but no one was able to fix problem until the day car caught fire which told them which parts where at fault. My vehicle is truely a lemon, for it has been one problem after another for the past 3 years

- Staunton, VA, USA

problem #11

Mar 082015

Outback

  • 73,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Subaru Outback. While driving approximately 25 mph, the vehicle stalled without warning. The vehicle was taken to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the transmission needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 73,000.

- Sacramento, CA, USA

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problem #10

Nov 182013

Outback 6-cyl

  • 12,700 miles
When the car is cold and just started for the first time in the morning, when exiting a freeway from 60 mph the transmission very intermittently will almost freeze and it feels like someone hit you in the back with a baseball bat. This is exiting or during the de acceleration process and it feels like someone hit you in the back with a baseball bat. This can cause whip lash and cause serious back injury and give a person a false sense of braking on exiting the highway as the transmission freezes for the split second this is very dangerous and Subaru of America has not addressed this issue. From Subaru of America call center told me there are several technical bulletins regarding power train issues and was not sure if any were applied to my car. Took car into dealer they tried to reprogram the transmission and still have intermittent issues with the transmission locking up for a split second and shaking the whole, car, we are now afraid to drive this car because of these issues and we are afraid that we might end up going through the windshield. This is a very serious issues that only happens once in awhile and there is no way to predict, how, when or why this is happening and it is very scary to drive this car. We wish Subaru would address this issue and do a recall or technical bulletin dealer tried reprogramming transmission control and it still has issues and these are extremely intermittent issues with these incidents.

- Painesville, OH, USA

problem #9

Dec 092013

Outback

  • 13,310 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

When the car is cold and just started for the first time in the morning, when exiting a freeway from 60 mph the transmission very intermittently will almost freeze and it feels like someone hit you in the back with a baseball bat. This is exiting or during the de acceleration process and it feels like someone hit you in the back with a baseball bat. This can cause whip lash and cause serious back injury and give a person a false sense of braking on exiting the highway as the transmission freezes for the split second this is very dangerous and Subaru of America has not addressed this issue. From Subaru of America call center told me there are several technical bulletins regarding power train issues and was not sure if any were applied to my car. Took car into dealer they tried to reprogram the transmission and still have intermittent issues with the transmission locking up for a split second and shaking the whole, car, we are now afraid to drive this car because of these issues and we are afraid that we might end up going through the windshield. This is a very serious issues that only happens once in awhile and there is no way to predict, how, when or why this is happening and it is very scary to drive this car. We wish Subaru would address this issue and do a recall or technical bulletin.

- Painesville, OH, USA

problem #8

Dec 092013

Outback 6-cyl

  • 13,325 miles
When the car is cold the transmission locks up when exiting the freeway from 60 mph to about 45 mph it is like the scar skipped a gear and you feel a big clunk during the exiting and like someone hit you in the back with a baseball bat. This can cause serious back injury and false sense of breaking. It does not do this all the time extremely intermittently and only when the car is cold and under certain conditions. Other Subaru people are having the same issues from what I understand. This needs to be addressed by Subaru corporate of America. Also the dealer tried to reprogram the car and it did not work and the first incident occurred around Nov 27, 2013. Computer reprogramming of the transmission did not fix this problem. Note to NHTSA, this is a very dangerous situation.

- Painesville, OH, USA

problem #7

Dec 072013

Outback 6-cyl

  • 45 miles
The car was running for about 20 to 30 minutes, the outside temperature was about 35 degrees and windy. Went and parked the car, return to the car, at night while it was still cold, started up and started driving the car for about a half hour and that is when it happened again. When exiting the freeway and the car goes from 60 mph to 45 mph and it is cold the transmission jerks and freezes and locks, and it feels like someone hit you in the back with a baseball bat. This has now happened several times. This can cause serious injury especially when the transmission locks up, and it can lead to a false sense of breaking and can deploy air bags.

- Painesville, OH, USA

problem #6

Nov 272013

Outback 4-cyl

  • 13,289 miles
This vehicle has one owner, which is me, and the transmission, downshifts and skips a gear when cold and almost caused an accident. People were almost injured and someone could have been killed. When the transmission is cold, and on a freeway and than exiting, and slowing down to 35 to 45 mph on exit the car transmission kicks and like someone is hitting you in the back, and skips a gear. Subaru has a problem with this car and they need to address. Took it to the dealer they reprogrammed the transmission did not work. I will be filing lemon law in my next two visits if it is not fixed.

- Painesville, OH, USA

problem #5

Dec 272011

Outback 4-cyl

  • 1,500 miles

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S

The 2012 Outback with an automatic transmission shifted from drive to 1st gear without moving the gear lever from drive to manual. This has occurred 10 times in 18 months, the first incident occurred about 2 months after purchasing this vehicle new. The problem has always occurred after coming to a stop at a stop sign, then, as I accelerate from the stop, the transmission goes into 1st gear and the car immediately stops accelerating because it is stuck in 1st gear. The gear lever is always in drive when this occurs, but the dash displays that the transmission is in 1st gear. To resolve it, I have moved the gear lever from drive to manual and then back to drive which puts the transmission back into drive. On one occasion, leaving a stop sign to enter a freeway ramp, the transmission went into 2nd gear. Again, the gear lever was in the drive position. I immediately applied the breaks and just before coming to a complete stop on the side of the freeway on-ramp, I witnessed the "2" on the dash display change to "D" and the car was in drive again - without touching the gear lever. Subaru first said that this was impossible, now they say they cannot verify it. This is a very intermittent problem and so far cannot be made to occur. This is also a potentially very dangerous problem should another driver not see that my car has suddenly stopped accelerating and collide with my vehicle.

- Seiad Valley, CA, USA

problem #4

Sep 052012

Outback 4-cyl

  • 7,019 miles
Driving straight at 40mph, no acceleration or deceleration. Car without warning suddenly stopped, as if it had shifted into first gear and I had slammed on the brakes. When I pressed on gas the car would not move but did make revving sounds. I looked at gear shift and it was no longer in drive. I think it was in manual. I doubt I had accidentally moved the gear shift because I was not moving around in my seat and I was driving straight, not turning the steering wheel. This car is an automatic (cvt). I've only driven two miles since but it seems to be working fine now.

- Louisville, CO, USA

problem #3

Jul 142012

Outback 6-cyl

  • 100 miles
Situation: Traveling at 60mph up a steep hill on I70 West bound in left passing lane. Cars following close, and cars in the right lane. For the first time (new car) I used the downshift paddle on the left side of the steering wheel to downshift to accelerate. I tapped it to downshift one gear. It instantly dropped to 1st gear. The engine rpms went to red line or above. The car decelerated dramatically, and I was tossed forward. I attempted to upshift using the right paddle but there was no response, and the car remained in first gear. The car behind nearly hit me. The only useful control that I had was the steering wheel (brakes or accelerator useless). Further, I assumed the brake lights were not lit. Due to the alertness of the driver behind and the drivers to my right as I slowed dramatically and got off the highway to the right shoulder, a serious accident was avoided. Dashboard lights were lit, brake light flashing, etc. Car was towed to flatirons Subaru in boulder, co. There the computer data logging confirmed both my speed and the rpms at redline or above. They were unable either to reproduce this behavior, or to determine the cause. I understand that they were told by Subaru that this was the first time this had been known to happen, and then told to reinitialize the "adaptive" portion of the computer, which I believe they did. Overall, I was told that "this couldn't happen because there were safety locks to prevent it". when the recorded data confirmed my description, I think the mechanics were very surprised, and did try hard to understand this. I wouldn't accept the vehicle back because I am of the opinion that if you don't know why something happened, you can't be sure it won't happen again.

- Boulder, CO, USA

problem #2

Jul 192012

Outback 4-cyl

  • 3,750 miles
In early December of 2011 my wife and I purchased a 2012 Subaru Outback with a 4 cylinder engine, cvt transmission. We had to wait a day for our Outback because it was being repaired do to a brake system recall. Ever since purchasing the Outback we have had a serious issue when using the paddle shifters to slow down for a stop. When the tach slows to about 1100 RPM in first or second gear the engine then accelerates to up to 2500 RPM, slowing down and then speeding up again then repeating the cycle over even if you apply the brakes. Sometimes it would just run at 2500 RPM until you braked to a stop. I took the Outback to our dealer and the Subaru service advisor was very surprised when I drove it to demonstrate the very serious issue. It did exactly as I have described and even stayed at 2500 RPM. The service advisor and who I presume was the overall manager of the dealership took it for a drive without me. When they returned I was told that the way it operated was the way it was supposed to operate because of the engine needing to be more environmentally friendly. I stated I did not really believe that excuse and left. Since that first visit, the Outback has started doing the very serious acceleration issue also in automatic drive at low speeds. I returned on July 19, 2012 to get my first service done. I left the car for the service and tested an exact (except for color) 2012 Outback. This Outback had none of the very serious acceleration issues that my Outback has. When returning to pickup my Outback I told the service advisor of this outcome and he stated I would have to contact Subaru of America to elevate the issue. Respond as soon as possible as to where I can take the Outback for repair of this very serious acceleration issue. My wife and I will be traveling via the Outback very soon and need this very serious issue resolved before we leave.

- Lampe, MO, USA

problem #1

Mar 102012

Outback 4-cyl

  • 5,692 miles
I was setting the homelink mirror on my car to recognize a particular garage door opener. The mirror is powered so I needed to leave the car idling. I put the car in neutral and began the programming process. The last step in the process is to engage the garage door opener from the motor head. To prepare to do this, I exited the car and moved on foot into the garage to look for a step ladder. As I was searching for a step ladder and after a period of at least one full minute, the automatic transmission slipped into "drive" at which point the unoccupied car drove into the garage and hit the rear wall.

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

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