really awful
Crashes / Fires:
5 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
6 / 0
Average Mileage:
69,616 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.

2005 Subaru Outback engine problems

engine problem

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2005 Subaru Outback Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #24

Dec 202015


  • 160,000 miles


Accelerator pedal randomly stopped functioning while driving straight on flat road approximately 30mph, resulting in no speed control, able to drive only on idle speed. First seems like not 'shifting gears' correctly, then no speed control. (many comments in online forum of elusive problem to diagnose by Subaru dealers and much money spent with only random success.) when restarted car drove normally with 'check engine light' on about 3 miles then same thing, accelerator went limp, no speed control but got me home. Car taken in to dealer the next day.(drove down hill approx 30 miles with no problem). Service department claimed "not current code" (clearly the problem is intermittent) and said never heard of such a problem (nonsense, it's all over the web); they cleaned the throttle mechanism, hoping that would fix. Drove car to san francisco about 100 miles and four days later it failed again, same scenario--acceleartor fails to function while driving on flat ground, this time going about 20mph, 55F outside, after about 5 minutes of driving, in san francisco this third time! serious safety hazard if happens on a freeway, a bridge, a hill, etc. Called two Subaru dealers, nobody wants to help!

- St. Helena, CA, USA

problem #23

Jun 012013


  • 110,000 miles
Car suddenly looses power and will not run above 1500 RPM it will run but you have to turn it on and off several times it does this when pulling out or going steady down the road.... cruise light flashing and check engine light

- Elizabethton, TN, USA

problem #22

Nov 282014

Outback 6-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
While driving on the highway at 65 mph, the car would not accelerate. The check engine light came on and the cruise control light flashed. Once the car was turned off and restarted, the accelerator again engaged. This is an extremely dangerous (and common in Subaru) malfunction. I was fortunate enough to be able to pull over on the side of the highway without incident.

- Sebastopol, CA, USA

problem #21

Nov 032014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 115,000 miles


My Subaru (and others '05-'09) have serious computer issues causing the car to stall out in the middle of traffic. I got the car special edition of consumer reports and the article below is no joke. Subaru Outback '05-'09 have gotten terrible reviews for the following: Major engine issue and drive issues and more. The dealer and headquarters will not acknowledge that there may be a serious need for a recall. When disconnecting and reconnecting the battery, the car will stall out the next day in the middle of traffic. Car ran but then stalled out in the middle of traffic. I was able to get it off the road eventually and take it to the dealership. The dealership did not want to acknowledge the issue and wanted to charge me $200 for diagnosis. I do not feel safe driving my car because I need to get a new battery ($225 at Subaru which I can't afford and $119 at Firestone), however, Firestone does not have the memory stick Subaru does and I run a very good chance of stalling out in traffic after the work is done at a non Subaru dealership. Neither the dealer nor headquarters will acknowledge this article that this safety issue has happened to others too. This is very unsafe for me and others on the road here is an article which describes exactly what happened to me. A recall needs to be involved and Subaru must be waiting for a major accident to happen. I am not willing to put my life on the line anymore by driving this unsafe vehicle. This article provides exactly what is going on. www.computerworld.com/article/2467230/enterprise-applications/please-don-T-reboot-the-Subaru.html Subaru hq lost the email twice and I am very afraid to drive this car. Austin Subaru and Subaru headquarters acted like they remedied the situation by cleaning a different part.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #20

Jul 172014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 112,000 miles
Just after getting off I-43 near sheboygan on frontage road my car lost all power and no acceleration on gas pedal. Check engine light came on and cruise control light was blinking. I had to shift to neutral and pull over to a shoulder. Turned the car off for couple of minutes while I check under the hood. Started the car just fine but check engine light was still on and cruise was blinking. Subaru mechanic read error code P2138 throttle/pedal position sensor/switch D/E voltage rationality. They said it was caused by bad contacts on tps sensor by the gas pedal. He reset the code and it has not appeared again for almost a week. I am afraid of it going off again while my wife and kids are driving it on the highway. Does someone need to die before Subaru takes action on this.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #19

Jun 012012


  • 120,000 miles
I was attempting to accelerate from a stop light and my Outback acted as though I took my foot off the accelerator. The more I attempted to accelerate the less it responded. If the oncoming traffic hadn't noticed, they would have hit me. When I finally got it off the road and shut if off for awhile, it started but didn't run correctly. I called the Subaru dealer and they hauled it 90 miles to their shop. The replaced the foot pedal sensor and it worked ok until the last 2 weeks and it is acting like it did 2 years ago. As I visit with other owners, they say they have the same issue but do not worry about it. I feel as though this is a safety feature that needs attention and a permanent fix for a solution before some one gets hurt do to the inability to accelerate and get out of harms way.

- Eddyville, IA, USA

problem #18

Feb 132014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 114,000 miles


While traveling in heavy flow rush hour multi-lane traffic at around 65 mph and at merging point of multi higher exchange with near zero shoulder or stopping lane, the car suddenly lost response from accelerator pedal. I manage to coast to a stop just between the triangle space separating two of the major highways varying two separate direction with very heavy traffic at high speed on both sides (nearly getting smashed several times before coming to the only possible yet dangerous place to stop). The car remain idling but very limp; afraid to Venture to continue to the next exit because there would be no shoulder area to pull over, I called for help thinking the car had ran out of gas and was just running on fume. After enduring several minutes of near death moments of being crashed into by on-coming vehicles at high speed merging traffic coming from a curving road, I dangerously ventured to open doors into flowing traffic to fill the tank escaping death many times. The car started and was able to get off highway to fill tank. Same limp pedal repeated again two days later coming off a two lane {two-way) bridge with absolutely no shoulder. I was able to coast to the end of the bridge to turn into a business parking without being plowed by the heavy traffic around. Obd reading of the car indicate P2138 pointing to faulty fly-by-wire defect in the accelerator position sensor which is part of the accelerator assembly. I manage to escape death with this manufacturer defect. I just wonder how many crashes and deaths have resulted and will continue to result because of this very well reported issue with these Subaru Outbacks before the accelerator assembly units are recalled?

- Overland Park, KS, USA

problem #17

Nov 302013

Outback 6-cyl

  • 102,075 miles
Driving on interstate freeway, in heavy traffic, with the cruise control set, when the vehicle suddenly lost all power and throttle response. The "check engine" light came on, and the "cruise" light started blinking. Engine continued to run at high idle but speed and RPM were not maintained. I was lucky enough to cross 4 lanes of traffic and stop. Turned off the engine, which was running at 2200 RPM. After a brief stop and investigation, I was able to restart the engine and drive normally to an auto parts store. I scanned the obd II code (dtc code) and found P2138 - throttle position sensor. No injuries, but this is a potentially deadly issue. Has recurred one time since.

- Provo, UT, USA

problem #16

Apr 222013

Outback 4-cyl

  • 89,281 miles
From an intersection, I slowed down to make a right turn and upon completing the turn, I put my foot on the gas pedal to accelerate and the pedal was unresponsive. I had enough momentum to quickly turn onto a side street out of traffic. The gas pedal when pushed down all the way would not accelerate and did not make the revving sound. This is the fifth time this has occurred to me since purchasing this new vehicle in 2005. It seems to be occurring more often now.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #15

Apr 202013

Outback 6-cyl

  • 56,000 miles
Lost throttle response on expressway with oncoming traffic from on-ramp almost causing collision while trying to move to the shoulder. Applied brakes to stop vehicle once on shoulder, car was revving at 3300 rpms. Placed vehicle in park and turned switch to off. Started car to find the throttle still revving to 3300 rpms and turned off again. Waited 5-minutes and started car again with the throttle at normal idle. Drove car 15-miles and the cruise and check engine light turned off. Happened in rainy and cold weather.

- Fairport, NY, USA

problem #14

Feb 102010

Outback 4-cyl

  • 60,000 miles


On approximately 10 occasions right after a rain when I start up the car the engine light starts blinking and the car runs roughly with little power. After a short time the car power returns but the check engine light stays on for about a week. Once the light goes out the car then runs normal until the next rainstorm. It then does the same all over.

- Demarest, NJ, USA

problem #13

Feb 122008

Outback 4-cyl

  • 22,000 miles
While driving North on 91 to Vermont this car handled great in snow, . on the other hand the return trips the roads were plowed packed snow it was like the rear end was on ice skates(or ghost walking} whatever you call it when it happens it will scare the [xxx]out of you. The first couple times it happened, I had every excuse why it wasn't the car, I thought the stock tires were shot, so I bought 4 brand new dunlop snow tires. I hoped problem would be solved, car handled even better in snow same on packed snow/ice. Thought maybe the thule box was catching wind, removed thule box. Problem did not get better. I began searching for similar issues online and came across many suggestions that stock suspension sucked, which I kinda new, so I replaced suspension with supposedley the best available kyb hoped that after that investment problem would be solved, I was wrong again. After deeper investigation online I learned of ghostwalking. If I had bought a Chevy cavalier or Ford Taurus or any other piece of crap that you wouldn't expect to handle said conditions it's one thing but for a car that either endores or is endorsed by the us ski team, ski patrol this car is not safe. About two months ago I was driving up a straight away it had rained earlier. I was driving about 55 I the limit is 45 and the rear end slipped out and the car began ghostwalking. I don't feel safe driving my daughter in this car that I hoped to one day give her. I owned a 95 Outback and had none of the above problems had reg tires. Since finally figuring that I'm not crazy and other people are having this problem that can't be fixed, I want to trade it in but worry that whoever buys it might crash and die, icant very well go trade in this car and tell them this handles great, best car I ever owned just don't drive it on packed snow you no the reason you want a Subaru in the first place. Information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Holyoke, MA, USA

problem #12

Nov 012012

Outback 4-cyl

  • 80,000 miles
While driving my Outback lost suddenly lost all acceleration. The check engine light immediately came on and the cruise control light began to blink. The car continued to move forward but decelerated to about 15 mph which nearly resulted in my being rear ended. I was able to get to the side of the road where I turned the car off and turned it back on. After doing this the car behaved normally expect the check engine and cruise control lights stayed on. After about an hour, both lights went off. Since then, this problem has recurred multiple times. I recently took the car to be repaired where the problem was diagnosed as a bad pedal assembly. However, I'm concerned that this problem will reoccur at speed and cause an accident.

- Beaverton, OR, USA

problem #11

Sep 262012


  • miles
Bought the car from a Toyota dealer in June 2011. Within 5 days of buying it, when driving the car on highway, within 15 mins of driving, all of a sudden the car jerks, with a sudden drop in speed, with the check engine light turned on and cruise light starting to blink. Car would not speed up no matter how much the accelerator is pressed. I had to pull the car to the side of the road. I have taken it several times to Subaru service...they seem to know what the problem is and attempt to fix it - I pay them and drive it back home and, the same problem persists. I get the same code each time - P0638. Replaced throttle body. Replaced timing belt. Replaced the throttle control relay. Etc. The mechanics seem to test drive it and find no problem with it. Every time they seem confident that they have fixed it. But, everytime I begin to drive, the car faults and the speed drops in the middle of the road. It is a danger to anyone in the car and to passengers in other cars.

- Laramie, WY, USA

problem #10

Dec 272010


  • 65,696 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Subaru Outback. The contact stated that the accelerator pedal would intermittently become unresponsive. The dealer repaired the defect, but the failure recurred. The manufacturer was not contacted. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 65,696 and the current mileage was 75,000.

- Ronoake, VA, USA

problem #9

Oct 012009

Outback 4-cyl

  • 90,000 miles
I have been having a problem with my car for the 2-years and has been getting worse. The throttle pedal at times will become non-responsive and the engine idle cannot be controlled. At this time the check engine light is on with a code. P2138. I have taken the car to the dealer with no luck they could not find anything wrong. The car has left me stranded several times and I had to limp or be towed home. The RPM can be anywhere from idle to 3000 RPM and as I said the pedal has no control. I have replaced the accelerator pedal assembly and the problem was gone for the past six months. It has now failed again.

- Ellenton, FL, USA

problem #8

Oct 082010

Outback 4-cyl

  • 112,470 miles
Following a few weeks of a ruff idle at stop lights, the throttle position sensor failed on my 2005 Subaru Outback 2.5I. After getting off of the highway and sitting at a stop light, the gas pedal would not work. The vehicle was running, however there was no reaction at all from pushing the pedal all the way to the ground and the check engine light was on. After turning the car off and restarting it normal function returned, however I was informed that failure could occur again at any time including while driving. My mechanic read the code as the throttle position sensor and replaced the accelerator pedal position sensor.

- Newington, CT, USA

problem #7

Jun 122010


  • 77,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Subaru Outback. While driving with the cruise control set to 75 mph, the contact applied repeated pressure to the brakes yet the cruise control would not disengage. The contact used the cruise control off button but to no avail. The contact was unable to stop the acceleration of the vehicle and proceeded to crash into an unknown object. The vehicle was destroyed. The driver and passenger sustained unknown injuries. A police report was available. The vehicle was towed to the contact's insurance company lot and was not examined for the cause of failure. The failure and current mileages were 77,000.

- Bluemont, VA, USA

problem #6

Sep 232008

Outback 4-cyl

  • miles
The contact owned a 2005 Subaru Outback. The contact stated that the brakes failed to engage and the vehicle crashed into a tree and caught fire. The air bags did not deploy. Four people were injured and police and fire reports were filed. A month prior to the accident, the vehicle was inspected and no failures were found. The vehicle was inspected after the crash and it was discovered that the tumbler system was defective. The VIN was unavailable at the time of the complaint. The current and failure mileages were unknown. Updated 7/16/10 updated 07/27/10

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #5

Nov 282005


  • 500 miles
This complaint concerns the intermittent refusal of the cruise control on my 2005 Subaru legacy Outback to give up control of the engine when the cruise control handle is pulled down to the coast position and to cause an unexpected, dramatic increase in car speed when the intent is to disengage the cruise control and slow car speed ("the problem"). the problem has existed since purchasing my Subaru as new in 2005. The problem has been intermittent, occurring "out-of-the-blue" and when least expected. On more than one occasion when I wanted to slow but not break the car by pulling the cruise control handle to the coast position, the cruise control would refuse to give up control of the engine and, in some instances, the engine would advance to greater speed, almost causing a collision with traffic I was following. In one test I conducted after almost slamming into the rear end of car being driven in front of me, not only did the cruise control not give up control of the engine when I pulled the cruise control lever to the coast position, the engine continued advancing from a speed of 65 mph to 80 mph during the entire time that I held the cruise control lever was in the coast position. The only was I was able stop the cruise control from controlling the engine was by breaking the car. The problem has occurred regularly and continuously on an intermittent basis since my purchase of the car on 5/14/2005 from lithia Subaru in reno, Nevada. Although causes appear to differ, the problem is similar in nature to Toyota cars experiencing unexpected speed increase due to defective accelerator pedals as now being described in the news media.

- Reno, NV, USA

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