hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
57,393 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 #8

Jan 032011


  • 80,000 miles


After smelling leaking oil for many months, my mechanic confirmed that the head gasket is leaking. Oil is leaking down onto the exhaust creating a constant burning smell. I contacted Subaru and they are unwilling to address this in any way, despite the fact that the engine has been meticulously maintained and serviced.

- Phoenix , AZ, USA

problem #7

Jul 012011

Outback 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
Subaru has been selling cars knowing of premature head gasket failures. 1998 to 2002 head gaskets failed with internal and external coolant leaks. Subaru has issued the wwp99 campaign (upto 8 yr 100,000 mile). This campaign introduces an additive into the coolant to "plug" the leak. They also will repair the gaskets in rare cases. The 2003 head gaskets are also failing prematurely even with proper maintenance. These fail with an external oil leak that directly hits the exhaust causing fire hazard and noxious fumes in and around the car. The repair is $2000 at dealer. Subaru is not addressing this.

- Pequea, PA, USA

problem #6

Feb 142011

Outback 6-cyl

  • 40,000 miles
The car would die usually while coming to stops. And on most occasions will start back up. At first it seemed to only die in very hot weather and on one occasion it didn't start back up for 15 min. But it has since died on days without extreme temperatures. Most of the times it dies while stopping, twice it died when braking on highways which was very dangerous. This has occurred about 15 times in 4 years. I have brought it in to two different Subaru dealers multiple times. They have never been able to diagnose the problem and have been completely useless. They have reset the computer a few times. One mechanic replaced the fuel pump, the battery has been changed and this still occurs. The oil and filter are changed regularly, I even use 93 instead of the 91 recommended fuel and it has still occurred.

- Wayne, NJ, USA

problem #5

Aug 082010


  • 76,600 miles


The contact owns a 2003 Subaru Outback. The head gasket failed. He noticed that the air conditioner wasn't cooling and the reservoir was empty, but it didn't have a leak. He took the vehicle to a mechanic and the diagnostic test located the failure as the head gasket. The vehicle will be repaired. The VIN information wasn't available. The failure and current mileage were 76,600.

- Silver Spring , MD, USA

problem #4

Apr 122010

(reported on)


  • 82,546 miles
2003 Subaru Outback with leaking head gaskets. Consumer would like to be reimbursed for repair cost. At around 80,000 the consumer began to smell burning oil. The consumer stated Subaru recalled other models because of a possible external leak at the cylinder head gaskets. The consumer stated her model has the same engine as the other models. The consumer stated Subaru was only will to cover 50% of the cost.

- Collinsville, CT, USA

problem #3

Jun 172006


  • 80,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Subaru Outback. The contact stated that the vehicle would continuously overheat while driving or while the vehicle was sitting idle with the engine on. The contact also mentioned the vehicle was emitting a burning oil smell. He stated that the failure was due to a defective head gasket. The failure mileage was 80,000 and the current mileage was 112,000.

- Collinsville, CT, USA

problem #2

May 162005


  • miles
2003 Subaru Outback cut off in the middle of traffic.** answer required***. Subaru was unable to find out what was causing the stalling problem.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #1

Apr 182003

Outback 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 10,000 miles
Consumer states that while driving and without warning the vehicle will stall. The dealer was notified. When braking to stop or make a turn the vehicle will stall. The consumer was told that thee are other vehicles (same make/model) with the same problem.

- Kittanning, PA, USA

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