hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
105,050 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.

2003 Subaru Outback engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #4

Apr 202016


  • 123,400 miles


After previous repairs to transmission fluid leak and head gasket repair, the car's transmission failed and had to be rebuilt. The transmission failed as I was driving. I could not shift from first to second. I was able to get the car to the dealer by driving in first and living with a sharp clunk into second. I was close to the dealer or else this would have been a tow. If this had happened on the freeway it could have been catastrophic.

- Vancouver, WA, USA

problem #3

Nov 282013

Outback 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
While driving home, the car just "shut down" on the highway, and we had to glide off to the side. Had to have it towed. Our mechanic had to replace the entire engine. He did not know why it failed. Now, after researching this site, I see that there was a recall due to faulty water pump in 2003. I am wondering if this costly incident was a result of this not being repaired" how can I find this out please" I purchased the vehicle certified used from a local dealership. I would also like to mention the unusually large amount of rusting underneath the car, as well as in the wheel areas. Thank you.

- Athens, NY, USA

problem #2

Jul 282010


  • 126,800 miles
I purchased this vehicle used from a dealer. A few months later I started noticing a burning smell after driving even a short distance. Took it back to the place of purchase to have their service check it. They said head gaskets were leaking and quoted a repair price of $1800 ! I contacted Subaru of America after I did a research on the internet and found that many people had the same problems but there had been no recalls! some customers were lucky and did get some kind of compensation. I took it to my personal mechanic who told me he has seen a lot of these same cars with the same problem due to the way they were manufactured! I contacted Subaru of America again but they only offered a $500 discount on a new vehicle! the manufacturer should honor this complaint and pay for the gaskets replacement as it is happening in too many of these models!

- Johnson City, TN, USA

problem #1

May 212009

Outback 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
Head gasket failure***** 2003 Outback **** this is not a new problem as four of the Subaru's we've owned had hg issues. Although in the past Subaru acknowledged the failures and repaired them under the wwp99 campaign (1998-2002 model years). While this failure continues to be widespread (just google Subaru head gasket problems and you'll get pages of complaints of hg failures) Subaru has stopped repairing them or even acknowledging there is a problem. This appears to be solely a cost saving strategy. When the gaskets fail, oil leaks outside the engine which contacts the exhaust system. The burning oil puts smoke and fumes inside the car. I would think this is also a fire concern. Inside the engine, oil and coolant mix and can cause catastrophic damage/failure. Is there anything I can do to get this repaired by Subaru? they seem to be getting away with a huge consumer injustice just by acting like it doesn't exist. Can they be required extent the champagne (wwp99) with the 03 and later models? Subaru clearly acknowledges a head gasket problem in previous years and later model years have the same failure.

- Pequea, PA, USA

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