really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
30,043 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 #7

Dec 122011

Outback 4-cyl

  • miles


Cpsc#I11C0409A. 2003 Subaru Outback. Consumer stated there was sudden acceleration. The consumer was able to bring the vehicle to a safe stop and had it towed to a repair garage. The mechanic found damage to the engine.

- Coldwater, MI, USA

problem #6

Aug 052010

Outback 4-cyl

  • 85,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Subaru Outback. The contact stated that while driving 65 mph, the cruise control would not disengage. She had to shift the vehicle into neutral gear in order to slow down. The contact was then able to drive onto the emergency lane and have the vehicle towed to a dealer. The dealers diagnosis confirmed that there was nothing wrong since they were unable to duplicate the failure. The accelerator pedal became stuck and the dealer stated that the floor mat had to be the cause. The vehicle will be taken to the dealer for additional diagnostic test. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 85000 and the current mileage was 87000. 11/9/10 the cruise control would not disengage. The accelerator became stuck while traveling up a 9% grade. The consumer stated her foot was not on the accelerator pedal, hitting the brake disengaged the accelerator. Updated 11/16/10

- Colorado Springs , CO, USA

problem #5

May 122010


  • 94,000 miles
Subaru Outback, 2003, 4-cylinder with 90,000 miles S/N: [xxx] significant acceleration from very slow speed; turning off the engine was the only method of stopping the car. Drove through garage wall; occurence over six months; about one-time per month. Progressively got worse until the car went through the garage wall. Per dealer: "significant carbon build-up in throttle housing & idle control valve. Carbon build-up caused by reformulated gasoline." Repiar action: Clean throttle housing & replace idle control valve = $ $750 at May 11, 2010. No service bulletins or history, per dealer. My comment: "potential disterous safety issues: Not only property damage, but significant personal injury could be caused if this happens in parking lots, crosswalks, driveways, etc." [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Port Washington, WI, USA

problem #4

Apr 302005

Outback 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,000 miles


On a very cold morning the vehicles gas pedal became stuck and caused sudden accelerate. As a result the vehicle crashed into 4 other cars.

- Reading, PA, USA

problem #3

Aug 132004

Outback 4WD 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 10,000 miles
Serious hesitation in first gear when starting at intersections (manual transmission, 2.5L engine). Engine speed drops sharply. Must stomp gas pedal in unsafe manner to recover. Very dangerous in traffic - speed is impossible to modulate in first gear without using clutch. Engine is strong and predictable in all other gears.

- Tyngsboro, MA, USA

problem #2

Apr 172004

Outback 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1 miles
Throttle stiff when first opened. RPM's will jump when throttle pressed. Not smooth at all. Hard to regulate speed, without bucking. Dealer says this is normal for computer regulated car. Baloney.

- Groveland, CA, USA

problem #1

Nov 102002


  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,300 miles
The vehicle surged after coming to a stop when the brakes were applied. The dealer reset the computer, but could not duplicate the problem. The vehicle surged numerous times after that, always after coming to a stop. The consumer had taken the vehicle to a different dealer, who suggested the computer be refreshed. The vehicle had not surged since then.

- Carmel, NY, USA

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