really awful
Crashes / Fires:
6 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
2 / 0
Average Mileage:
58,173 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.

2004 Subaru Outback engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #17

Aug 182016


  • 23,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Subaru Outback. The contact stated that the accelerator pedal failed. While driving 35 mph, the accelerator pedal stuck to the floorboard and caused the speed to increase to 70 mph. The contact had to crash into a tree to stop the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to the contact's residence. There were no injuries and a police report was not filed. The manufacturer was not notified. The failure mileage was 230,000.

- Wilmington, VT, USA

problem #16

Jun 262015


  • 119,845 miles
Unintended acceleration. Not driver error, not stuck floormat. Vehicle started accelerating above 7 on the tachometer. Pushed in clutch of course. Stopped with clutch in and vehicle just kept revving higher. Shut off car and restarted later. Terrifying.

- Edgecomb, ME, USA

problem #15

Oct 012012

Outback 4-cyl

  • 56,000 miles
When accelerating from a stop car lurches forward. There is no such thing as smooth acceleration with this vehicle. After reading all of the other incidences of this and worse on this model car on this site, I will file a complaint and dump the darn car. This was my first Subaru, purchased used, and I was excited to have purchased it. Now it seems like a curse. I bought it because consumer reports rated it as one of the safest for teen drivers. Canceled my consumer reports subscription. I bought it for my daughter - now I will not let her drive it. No more Subaru for me.

- San Jose, CA, USA

problem #14

Jul 082014


  • 250,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Subaru Outback. The contact stated that while driving approximately 65 mph and the cruise control engaged, the vehicle erroneously accelerated. The contact also began to hear an abnormal sound in the front of the vehicle and deactivated the cruise control. The vehicle persisted to accelerate independently and the contact lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle was towed to an independent mechanic where it was diagnosed that the cruise control cable was disarranged causing the cruise control to fail. The vehicle was repaired however, the mechanic informed the contact that the vehicle was damaged due to a rod in the engine from the damage of the cruise control failure. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and informed the contact that the vehicle was not included in NHTSA campaign number: 04V128000(vehicle speed control). The approximate failure mileage was 250,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- South Point , OH, USA

problem #13

Jul 112014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
I was pulling into my driveway when I stepped on the brakes the car lunged forward and struck a boat on a trailer in my driveway sending it into the side of my home the more I stepped on the brake the faster the engine accelerated I eventually ended up crashing into a tree which finally stopped the car.

- Galloway, NJ, USA

problem #12

Oct 282011


  • 91,640 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Subaru Outback. The contact stated that when shifting into park, there was an increase in engine rpms. The engine rpms continued to increase until the vehicle was shifted into neutral and shut off. The vehicle was not taken to have the failure diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 91,640.

- Danville, CA, USA

problem #11

May 242011


  • 67,000 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Subaru Outback. The contact stated while driving into a parking space the vehicle suddenly accelerated forward while the contact applied the brakes and crashed into a building. The contacts face hit the steering wheel and she also injured her ankle. The vehicle was currently in the dealers possession for diagnostic testing to determine what may have caused the sudden acceleration. The failure mileage was 67,000.

- Concord, MA, USA

problem #10

Mar 072010


  • 58,600 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Subaru Outback. The contact stated that while driving approximately 30 mph, the vehicle suddenly began to accelerate. The contact was able to apply the brake pedal and slow the vehicle down; however, when he released the brake pedal, the vehicle continued to accelerate. The vehicle was taken to the dealer for a diagnostic test but they could not duplicate the failure. The failure continued to occur on an intermittent basis. The failure mileage was approximately 58,600. The current mileage was approximately 61,200.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #9

Feb 062010


  • 96,000 miles
2004 Subaru Outback wagon, unwanted, uncontrollable acceleration, unable to stop vehicle resulting in collision, the collision incidents were while in reverse and the ambient temperature was cold ( 0-22 F). Generally the accelerator is oversensitive most of the time. Ira Subaru dealership has not been able to resolve problem. I had an independent repair shop look at it and they could not resolve it.

- Lynnfield, MA, USA

problem #8

Oct 112009


  • 103,000 miles
The automatic gear shift had been locked in park, which never happened previously. It eventually was released by putting the tip of a key into the area of the panel. Advised for this problem in the drivers manual. After driving the vehicle twice more, it was parked again. When the key was put in the ignition, there was a whirring sound and when it started, it surged forward very rapidly and could not be stopped by using the brakes.. the vehicle was out of control. It was off the road and rocks punctured a tire. It stopped. When brought to the Subaru repair shop, the insurance adjustor did not advise repair, because of heavy damage to the engine, transmission etc.

- Shaftsbury, VT, USA

problem #7

Jan 042008

Outback 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles


The cruise control on my 2004 Subaru Outback will disconnect on its own at random after being set. It has done this since shortly after I bought it new, and I have reported this numerous times during the warranty period to Subaru dealerships, who have attempted to replicate and/or repair it, all to no avail. It used to be that it would usually disconnect after I had driven for approx. 1 1/2 hour. Now, it disconnects in under 1/2 hour on drives. It will not reset and stay set, and will continually refuse to accept to "resume" or "set" after it initially disconnects. This has resulted in situations where speed has abruptly dropped, nearly causing accidents from following vehicles overrunning me. Looking around online, there are reports that this is a known problem for Subaru's, but there has been no fix or recall made, and Subaru has seemingly made no effort to fix this problem. Incident date is most recent date it has disconnected, and the number of failures is probably underestimated.

- Atwater, CA, USA

problem #6

Jun 072006


  • miles
2002 L.L. bean Outback accelerated uncontrollably, making the vehicle vibrate. Vehicle went up over parking barriers and shrubbery and rolled over. The air bags did not deploy during the accident. The consumer complained of body pain, but refused medical treatment. The police officer stated in his report that the vehicle was found in the reverse position. The consumer stated she never took her foot off the brake. The consumer and her husband had experienced problems prior to the accident. The consumer experienced a hesitation in shifting and variation in engine speed.

- Arnold, CA, USA

problem #5

Apr 212004

Outback 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 12,361 miles
Throttle intermittently stuck open when driving from 40-45 mph, and vehicle surged when applying the accelerator pedal from the stop position. Both issues caused the vehicle to suddenly/unexpectedly accelerate and lurch forward. Consumer had a concern that this problem will lead to an accident. Vehicle had been to the dealer on five separate occasions. Twice the dealer could not duplicate the problem, and three times dealer was able to duplicate the problems, but unable to correct the problem. As of May 13, 2005 vehicle has failed 6 times, 4 times the dealership was able to duplicate the problem and twice they were unsuccessful in finding the problem. Vehicle gets stuck in cruise control and doesn't want to go below 40 mph.

- Folsom, CA, USA

problem #4

Jan 222005

Outback 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 16,000 miles
Upon starting the vehicle and shifting in drive or reverse, the vehicle will accelerate erratically with force. This has also occurred with normal driving. The vehicle has been to the dealer on several separate occasions, but the problem recurred. On each occasion the following repairs were made; electrical grease was applied on the tcs contact. 3 days later the problem recurred. Dealer adjusted the accelerator throttle, and 3 days later engine light illuminated while driving. Dealer replaced the ECM control module, and the next day vehicle stalled again while coming to a stop. Dealer was unable to correct the problem, which has been passed on to the manufacturer, and no response was received at this time.

- Harpers Ferry, WV, USA

problem #3

Apr 012004

Outback 6-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 3,000 miles
The vehicle tends to have poor acceleration performance during first 1 minute of operation causing a sudden surge of power during the first few minutes of operation climbing our 15% grade driveway. Initially the car would not even go up the driveway. The dealer found some of the problem, but it still continues to surge if the car is left setting for a few day. Very difficult to duplicate so the dealer says "it is not a problem if we cannot duplicate." Prolbem has occurred starting in about April 2004 and continued thru today. My wife says the car is dangerous the way it surges when a lot of throttle is applied to overcome the poor response.

- Charleston, WV, USA

problem #2

Jan 312005

Outback 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 2,500 miles
On two separate occasions, with two different drivers, my Subaru Outback 2004 vehicle experienced dangerous sudden acceleration. In both cases, we were stopped in traffic for a few minutes, foot on the brake, when suddenly, the car began to surge forward. Even exerting strong pressure on the brake, the car continued to surge forward, the engine racing. On one occasion, we were behind other stopped cars and almost rear-ended the car in front of us. On another, we were stopped at a cross walk and almost lurched forward into pedestrians. In both cases, we then threw the car into neutral (it is an automatic). The engine then raced wildly for a few seconds. We then threw it into park. At this point, the engine continued to race, then subsided. A moment later, the car was behaving normally again. Our initial calls to Subaru were regarded with lightheartedness. They told us, in essence, we didn't know how to drive (each driver has more than 30 years driving experience). A search on the internet reveals many other Subaru owners who have had this problem, and a Subaru history of ignoring it and their customers' safety. Shame on Subaru. Please take action to prevent injury or death resulting from this unsafe vehicle.

- Ridgewood, NJ, USA

problem #1

Jul 082004

Outback 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
On June 28, 2004, while driving between 25 to 30 mph, the speed dropped to 5 mph. The consumer depressed the gas pedal and the vehicle would not move. The vehicle was taken to the dealer, and the mechanic found nothing wrong. On July 4, 2004, while driving between 45 to 50 mph speed dropped to 5 mph and suddenly the vehicle accelerated from 5 to 70 mph in less than 10 seconds. The vehicle was towed to the dealership, after several attempts to fix the problem vehicle was still at the dealership. The dealer repaired the vehicle by replacing the entire computer system.

- Arlington, MA, USA

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