definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
45,652 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 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2005 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #19

Jan 082011


  • 83,000 miles


Driving on icy/snowy roads, the back end sways/"ghost walks" extremely dangerously probably 2-3" each way regardless of braking/turning/straightaway/accelerating. We were driving along with a 2wd vehicle from wi to mt which handled significantly better than the Outback (which is supposed to be the top of the line winter car). Had brand new (300 miles) quality all weather tires and an alignment. The car actually appears to be doing this now in dry conditions as well when I encounter bumps at highway speeds. The feeling of safety is severely lacking.

- Milwaukee, WI, USA

problem #18

Dec 032010

Outback 4-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
2005 Subaru Outback exhibits a serious of stability when driving at a steady speed on the highway when there is the slightest degradation of traction. The rear of the vehicle will begin to sway from side to side on flat and straight road surfaces if the roads are wet from rain or even with a light dusting of snow. On December 3 2010 I was driving North on I-75 North of flint Michigan, there was occasional light snow flurries that were barely coating the road surface. I was driving at the posted speed limit (70 mph) when the snow started to lightly coat the road the vehicles rear end started to sway from side to side in a violent manner. I had to slow down to 50 mph to regain control of the vehicle, all the while I was being passed by 2wd pick ups and 2wd drive vehicles. The vehicle has exhibited the same behaviors on wet road surfaces during and following rain. It's time for Subaru to correct this problem. I'm not feeling the love.

- Westland, MI, USA

problem #17

Oct 232010


  • miles
2005 Subaru Outback unstable rear suspension. This car is absolutely terrifying to drive at hwy speeds in adverse weather conditions. The rear end sways and hops and swings uncontrollably. I have stopped driving this car and it will have a new owner. I will not drive such a under engineered piece of Japanese iron and have the life scared out of me. There's plenty of cars out there that are safer to drive than this thing. Subaru need to step up to the plate and fix this.

- Bloomer, WI, USA

problem #16

Jan 102011

Outback 4-cyl

  • 109,000 miles


Rear end of the vehicle fishtails when driving straight on an icy road. I have read many similar reports and experienced the issue somewhat, but today driving with a full passenger load was truly terrifying. The rear wheels would sway suddenly and completely without warning, sometimes feeling very close to the point of losing control on the interstate. I have lots of experience with driving various vehicles (including other late model Subaru) in icy conditions and can state with absolute certainty that there is a dangerous problem with this car.

- Madison, WI, USA

problem #15

Jan 152008


  • 31,000 miles
The contact owns a 2005 Subaru Outback AWD (na). While driving approximately 35 mph during snowy weather, the rear of the vehicle began swaying left and right as if it were about to spin. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer who realigned the wheels. The failure occurred three times. The vehicle had not been repaired. The VIN was unavailable. The failure mileage was approximately 31,000 and the current mileage was approximately 35,000.

- Missoula, MT, USA

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problem #14

Feb 052010


  • 25,500 miles
90 degree swing of rear end when traveling at only 10 mph on icy road with excellent snow tires. There may be a rear suspension problem because left rear is over an inch lower than right rear. There is no Subaru recall.

- Santa Fe, NM, USA

problem #13

Feb 112010


  • 42,412 miles


We have a 2005 Subaru Outback that sways in the rear of car under the following conditions 1. over bumps the rear will swing to the right and dip. When roads are slick it will almost spin the vehicle. If you are in a left hand curve, even at low speed, the condition is exaggerated more than you would expect sort of like it was pushed in addition to the normal inertia you would experience. 2. rear end traction becomes unstable under icy conditions where it appears that too much power is being distributed to the rear of the driveline then oscillating to each individual rear wheel. In my opinion 100% of the vehicles power concentrated to the rear differential is alternately distributed between the rear wheels and kind of gets stuck in this mode.

- Hilton, NY, USA

problem #12

Jan 172009


  • 37,000 miles
I have several times experienced what is known as "ghost walking" while driving my 2005 Subaru Outback 2.4I. I have driven under the same conditions with the car minimally loaded. Only on the times that the car was loaded with more than 2 passengers and their belongings did I experience "ghost walk." On those times I was driving my Outback on snow or ice covered road. I was driving at a steady rate of speed with consistent pressure on the gas. The rear of the vehicle would begin to pitch back and forth as if being blown by a heavy wind. There was no wind on those occasions, or not sufficient to cause the to sway the way it did. It felt as though the rear of the vehicle was attempting to pass the front. I slowed down each time, even though the road surface conditions did not dictate it. I was passed by 2 wheel drive vehicles, because my car felt unstable and unsafe to drive. I have never experienced this while the car was lightly loaded under the same road conditions.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #11

Dec 242008


  • 50,000 miles
In December of 2008 I drove from Idaho to Montana over christmas. Road conditions were broken ice and compact snow. Whenever the car would hit a bump in the road, the rear end would tend to kick from side to side. I was forced to reduce my speed to around 30 mph, even though all other vehicles could maintain higher speeds in a safe manner. I have experienced this problem on several later occasions, and it appears to occur only when the vehicle has been loaded down with passenger(s) or cargo. Subaruoutback.org has a gigantic thread on this topic. It appears I am not the only one with this problem. www.subaruoutback.org/forums/showthread.php?S=B16ba9fdce5398dec3B38124C6D0E1B9&threadid=11267&perpage=20&pagenumber=1 in March of 2009, I had an alignment done at a Subaru dealership in boise. I have not experienced the problem to date, but this winter has been unseasonably warm, and I have not driven on much packed snow or ice. Moreover, I have not driven with extra cargo, which seems to exasperate the problem. However, I am not convinced the problem is gone, and judging by the continued amount of complaints on subaruoutback.com, I believe Subaru needs to formally address the problem. This is a significant safety concern.

- Boise, ID, USA

problem #10

Dec 242009


  • 58,550 miles
IżM a recent owner of a 2005 Subaru Outback xt with 58K miles and under certain adverse weather situations; the car's tracking/driving characteristics perform in a hazardous and potentially deadly manner. When traveling in snowy and or slushy conditions on paved roads, the car's rear tires move from side to side loosing directional stability (I.e. oversteer) with no provocation from the driver or outside influence. This occurs regardless of the load in the car (passengers/cargo), and under all driving situations (accelerating & coasting). The car has snow tires on all four wheels (nokian 225-55-17) that have less than 10K miles of use and are correctly inflated as instructed by the car's manufacture (30F/32R). Initially, I thought the car might be out of rear alignment (toe), however after being inspected by the local Subaru dealership and independent tire alignment shop, the car is within Subaru's current specs for the model and tsb notice (5-36-07) from Subaru of America. I drive 200 miles daily to and from work (pa/NJ) for the last 11 years and in all weather conditions with zero accidents or mishaps. The purpose of buying a Subaru was for the all weather capability advertised by the manufacturer. However, apparently I am not alone, as a recent search on line provided an Outback forum dedicated to this car (2005-2009) which indicates this is an inherent problem with this group of cars by the numerous accounts from other owners with this particular characteristic. Soa needs to step up and correct the obvious żengineered compromiseż with a raised rear suspension, and modify the lower control arms in order to correct the rear end stepping out due to adverse road conditions and loads carried by owners under what would otherwise be normal operating parameters.

- Bear Creek Twp , PA, USA

problem #9

Oct 222009


  • 70,000 miles


I drive a 2005 Subaru Outback xt limited and have experienced the rear sway, unstable conditions that many other people seem to be experiencing. I have done much research on the problem and have found that Subaru's rear sway bar and alignment specs. To be unmatched for the longer wheel-base and the weight of the vehicle. After the replacement of the rear sway bar to a heavier duty one and a better alignment my Outback now drives outstanding and handles like a dream. I am a spirited driver and I drive in all weather conditions including ice and snow and have had no problems since the upgrades.

- Sioux Falls, SD, USA

problem #8

Dec 252008


  • 71,000 miles
While driving on icy roads at speeds of 40 mph or more, the car sometimes "floats" to the side several inches. It feels different than fishtailing -- more like the car is being pushed by the wind. This occurs with no cross-wind, no acceleration, no cornering or braking, on flat straight icy roads while driving at a constant speed. The sideways slip is severe enough that you feel you may lose control and leave the road. The only fix is to slow down to 40 mph or less, while other cars are passing at 60 mph or more. After several occurrences, always on icy or slushy roads, I took the car to the Subaru dealer, who performed an alignment. The report shows that the car had positive toe-in of 0.23 degrees (front left), 0.24 degrees (front right), 0.22 degrees (rear left) and 0.44 degrees (rear right). Too much toe-in, I'm told, can cause excessive tire wear and can also cause poor handling on icy roads. Please consider that complaints for both these issues may have a common cause. There are reports that toe-in increases over time with Subaru Outbacks, and that toe-in also increases when there is more weight in the back end of the car. The Subaru Outback dynamically shifts power to non-slipping wheels when one or more wheels loses traction, and apportions power 60/40 favoring the rear wheels. Could these factors, along with excessive toe-in, create the kind of dangerous floating on icy roads that many Outback owners have experienced? please, please investigate.

- Traverse City, MI, USA

problem #7

Dec 112008


  • 59,342 miles
2005 Subaru Outback, 2.5L, 4eat, AWD vehicle feels"loose" at speeds greater than ~35 on highways with patchy ice, slush, and or icy ruts. Rear end feels like it wants to come around. Has occurred with two passengers and approx 250 pounds in cargo area and with one passenger and ~250 pounds in cargo area.

- Rapid City, SD, USA

problem #6

Jan 152008

Outback 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 28,000 miles
On snowy/icy road, the handling on my 05 Outback xt was worse than everything else on the road that day. The rear-end of the car was unstable and sliding side to side. I have put new tires on and had an alignment. This is unsafe, especially in a car that is thought to be good in winter.

- Elm Grove, WI, USA

problem #5

Feb 032008

Outback 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • miles
Unstable car is extremely unstable on ice or slush cover roads. This has happened many times in the past 2 years. The rear fishtails from side to side. Had to slow down to very low speed to regain control. Other cars had no trouble and easily passed. Tires are good, alignment good. Car also floats from right to left on dry pavement if wheels hit pothole or large crack in pavement. Rear instability.

- Seattle, WA, USA

problem #4

Jan 192008

Outback 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,500 miles
Car is extremely unstable on slick roads. Specifically the rear of the vehicle "fishtails".

- Caledonia, MI, USA

problem #3

Jan 192008

Outback 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 20,090 miles
My 2005 Subaru Outback xt limited does not handle well in snow/icy conditions. The rear end oscillates back and forth in a very uneasy, unsafe manor. I just had the rear end and front end aligned. The tires are only half way worn. I was traveling 45 mph and every car on the road was not having issues with the road. I had to slow down to about 10 mph in order to feel safe.

- Mason, OH, USA

problem #2

Dec 262006

Outback 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 34,000 miles
While driving on icy roads, the rear end of the car pitches left & right at an oscillation of about 1hz, 2-3" constantly trying to throw the car off the road. It does not matter if it's off throttle, off brakes - in a straight line at almost any speed it does it. New tires and 2 alignments did not correct the issue.

- Tucson, AZ, USA

problem #1

Jul 182005

Outback 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 5,000 miles
On an extended road trip (17000 mi), in our new 2005 Outback, we went through two sets of tires. The dealership corrected the alignment, which was severely off the first time (after 5000 miles.) but then at about 16000 miles, the second set was severely worn out. We had the alignment redone at the dealership in whitehorse, Canada but we did not replace the tires as the warranty was not honored at that dealership. The left rear tire blew out about 400 miles from anchorage. We purchased a used tire at a gas station and limped on to anchorage, where we had purchased the vehicle. The performed an alignment for the second time, this time with a loaded back seat. We have since put about 6000 more miles on the vehicle and it has not shown severe wear since that re-alignment.

- Toksook Bay, AK, USA

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