really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
71,633 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 (Page 1 of 2)

problem #31

Dec 232016


  • 186,000 miles


Rear suspension issues cause uncontrollable steering from the rear end on snow and ice. Car refuses to drive in a straight line on snow/ice even with snow tires and proper alignment.

- Bozeman, MT, USA

problem #30

Mar 232016


  • 110,000 miles
I was pulling into a parking space and put on the brake. Vehicle didn't respond to braking and kept going, over the, curb, across the median and hit 5 parked cars before it stopped.

- Frederick, MD, USA

problem #29

Jan 162016


  • 109,000 miles
My 2005 nearly killed me recently driving on straight highways that were a bit icy. Despite 4 studded tires, it would barely stay on the road above 35 mph even going totally straight. Cars of all other types were flying past at 60-75 mph, no problem. But my car would end up going sideways and inadvertently switching lanes and or almost going off the road at speeds starting at about 35-40mph. We had three adults in the car and the car filled with luggage, so it was fully loaded. I've read that this "ghost walking" phenomenon happens to 2005 to 2009 Subaru Outbacks that were produced in the usa. It mainly happens when the car is fully loaded, which due to a rear suspension flaw, causes toe-in on the rear suspension and then the rear end becomes totally unstable. I had to drive at 35 mph on highways back with my hazard lights on the avoid being rear ended by all the traffic going at normal highway speeds. Based on what I experienced, they're death traps that should be recalled. More info: www.ultimatesubaru.org/forum/topic/103820-05-Outback-AWD-tricky-on-some-winter-roads/

- Boulder, CO, USA

problem #28

Dec 252015


  • 169,500 miles


My 2005 Outback is very unsafe to drive under certain conditions. After extensive research online, I have discovered people use the term "ghost walking" to describe the issue. After driving over a bump or slick spot on the road, the driver momentarily loses control of the vehicle. The back end sways side to side and the car can jump several feet to the left or right. I have noticed this problem several times but it was drastically worse today. Driving on a straight, dry stretch of interstate, I drove over an icy patch under a bridge. My vehicle jumped to the left several feet and into the other lane. Had there been a car next to me, there most likely would have been an accident. I was traveling at approximately 40 mph as I had already experienced several incidents driving over large bumps. The issue seems to be worse when there is cargo in the back and on icy or bumpy roads. This seems to be a problem with numerous Outbacks model year 2005 through 2009. This is extremely unsafe behavior and it needs to be addressed. I do not intend to drive my vehicle much longer and I would hesitate to buy another Outback for fear of a similar issue.

- Erie, CO, USA

problem #27

Mar 022015

Outback 4-cyl

  • miles
2005 Subaru Outback. Consumer writes in regards to vehicle front and back wheel bearings nneded to be replaced.

- Fox Island, WA, USA

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problem #26

Dec 202014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 70,000 miles
Car was purchased in September 2014. This was my first time driving this car in wet, snowy driving conditions. I had 5 passengers and twice we had the rear end of the car kind of break loose. It felt like it was swinging to the side. It scared me and the passengers in the car. I have not noticed it while driving alone. I originally suspected under inflated or poor tires, but when I checked the following day they were not bad. I went to a Subaru website looking for tire recommendations and there are over 1,000 postings regarding "ghostwalking" on 2005-2009 Subaru Outbacks. I had never heard of this before but it appears to describe my conditions.

- Scituate, MA, USA

problem #25

Nov 122013

Outback 4-cyl

  • 113,000 miles


First experienced what is now being called ghostwalking. Rear of the vehicle wants to break loose at any speed above 25 mph. Car has since been aligned and 4 new high end snow tires installed and is no better.

- Manchester, NH, USA

problem #24

Nov 212013


  • 138,000 miles
Vehicle ghostwalking while driving 40-45mph in a straight section of road. Multiple other verified issues from 2005-2009 Outback vehicles exhibit the same symptoms. Almost lost control of vehicle and cannot safely travel above 45mph without losing control. Subaru has not officially acknowledged this problem or provided a solution.

- Mancelona, MI, USA

problem #23

Jun 262013

Outback 4-cyl

  • miles
I have had issues with my power train since purchase of the car. I have done both cv axles twice. The last time the control arms had to be replaced. Ball joints have been twice. The shop I took my car to said they have seen this same issue in 4 other Subaru's of the same year. During repair my drive knuckles broke. I have spend thousand on just my power train. Between Subaru dealership, burt brother, and premier auto, I want to make an official complaint and ask you to look into these issue. All of these companies have advised me to place this complaint.

- Salt Lake City, UT, USA

problem #22

Dec 212007

Outback 6-cyl

  • 21,000 miles
While driving the car on a slightly snowy/slippery road with light snow falling, it felt like the rear end of the car was spinning out and I was heading off the road. I had to slow down to about 30 mph in order to stay in my lane. Everyone else was flying past me. I have since had many occasions where these same conditions caused the same effects with the car. It seems to worsen when I have passengers or any extra weight in the car. When the driving conditions that cause this problem exist, I cannot drive my car, but must rent another vehicle or borrow someone else's car. We have owned other Subaru Outbacks of 1998 or earlier with no problems in snow. Numerous times I brought this problem up with Subaru corporation of America and my dealership and everyone denies there is any problem with the car. I'm totally frustrated!!

- Coopersville, MI, USA

problem #21

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 #20

Dec 062011


  • 85,000 miles
Our Subaru started what is described as "ghost walking". mild but noticeably last winter, severe and constant this winter (2013). On icy or snow packed roads, the vehicle's rear end moves or sways back and forth. Speed from 25 mph up to 45 mph. Can't go faster due to terrain and roads anyway.

- Durango, CO, USA

problem #19

Jan 042013

Outback 4-cyl

  • miles
I am the third owner so after my problems, I researched to learn the first owner couldn't maintain tire life; Subaru replaced all four tires and kept trying realignment for her. The second owner informed me he could not maintain new tire life, never acknowledging to me that the car is all over the road and a hazard to your life. Being the third owner, I never thought when I purchased this 2005 Subaru Outback that it could be an engineering problem with a company like Subaru, not identified or recalled. I have learned the car is unsafe and after research online have learned there could be a serious engineering problem with the raised rear suspension. I have the Subaru receipts from former two owners (they were related) and obviously Subaru is negligent in not identifying the issue and reporting it. Two different shops have assured me it is not ball joints, or suspension, etc. I spent $750 on the rear end and new alignment at the specialty spring and suspension shop and those tires seem to be wearing evenly. The front tires are cupped on the outside severely in six months. The car is all over the road.

- New Milford, PA, USA

problem #18

Dec 182012


  • 106,000 miles
This vehicle is dangerous on icy roads. On a recent trip when encountering ice, the rear end would fishtail uncontrollably until speed was reduced below 30 mph. This happened while maintaining speed in a straight line. All other cars were still doing speed limit (60) without problems and we were a hazard fishtailing at 30. A truck jackknifed trying to avoid us. Please do something about these cars before someone is killed. The condition is called ghost walking and is widely reported here and on other websites. These are dangerous cars.

- Westport, WA, USA

problem #17

Dec 242012

Outback 4-cyl

  • 106,521 miles
While driving on straight, flat and level ice-covered northern Indiana road at 35 mph, my 2005 Subaru Outback xt ltd fishtailed (rear over-steer) repeatedly. This felt as if the rear of the vehicle was being quickly pushed from side to side. (this is often referred to as "ghostwalking" and is unmistakable once experienced.) there were two average weight adults in the front seats and one young adult (135 lbs) in the rear passenger seat. The vehicle received a four-wheel alignment two years ago and does not exhibit any alignment-related issues on dry pavement. I.e., doesn't pull to left or right, nor wear tires unevenly. The vehicle is equipped in winter with Bridgestone blizzak WS60 215/55 R17 tires with approx. 75% of their tread remaining. (these tires show no signs of abnormal wear or other defects.) I am a driver with 37 years of driving experience and believe this is a very serious safety issue with this vehicle. I've never experienced this degree of unpredictable instability in any vehicle that I've driven on ice. This vehicle gives the operator the impression that it is very sure-footed in any other condition, leading the operator to approach all road conditions with a level of confidence that can (and does) result in nearly out-of-control situations when the vehicle is driven on ice.

- Fort Wayne, IN, USA

problem #16

Feb 022012

Outback 4-cyl

  • 50,000 miles
Had the car for about a year now. Driven it thru some snow and have experienced what is know as the "ghost walking issue". the rear end tends to wander back and forth while driving on slushy snow and on ice. Also does this when one rear wheel goes in a pot hole especially when driving on an off ramp. Car has been aligned at the dealer and has new tires as well. These things were done to fix the issue but it did not. Car is all stock. Car is dangerous to drive in the above conditions. This car was bought for our daughter to drive back and forth to college and now we don't dare let her drive it. There have been many complaints about this issue on Subaru sites like Subaru.org that I am surprised nothing has been done. We are getting rid of car as soon as we can because of this main reason.

- Sout Beloit, IL, USA

problem #15

Feb 182006

Outback 4-cyl

  • 12,000 miles
I have an 2005 Outback xt. This car is dangerous on packed snow. I am a very experienced winter driver and have never had a vehicle handle this "loosely" on snow. Above approx 40mph the back end wants to snap around even on flat, straight roads without the being on the accelerator or brake. After the first incident in 06, I was told by the mechanic it was due to uneven tire wear and an alignment issue. So after only 15K miles, I replaced the tires and had the car aligned. Years later, I am now convinced that the "ghostwalking" issue caused these other issues and was not the result of them. I have since replaced the shocks/struts and use studded snow tires in the winter. This has helped, but the problem seems to come back erratically. It always occurs at highway speeds and now is sometimes even felt on wet freeways. I personally know of three other 05 Outback owners in my neighborhood that have all experienced the "ghostwalking" problem at some point. I have previously owned a 92 legacy wagon and a 96 impreza and both were outstanding on snow, even without snow tires. The 05 Outback has a serious safety issue that needs to be further examined before someone is seriously injured or killed.

- Salt Lake City, UT, USA

problem #14

Jan 132012

Outback 4-cyl

  • 48,000 miles
This was one of the first snows of the winter and I was driving my 2005 Subaru Outback down detroit freeways to metro airport to pickup my son. I had my wife in the front seat and my youngest son in the rear seat. As the snow began to fall I felt the car lurch back and forth as if I were driving through icy or snowy ruts. I am an experienced driver (50 years old) and had never experienced anything like this except during an ice storm, etc. I thought the road must have had "black ice" under the snow as my car was almost uncontrollable. I slowed down to about 30mph and, to my surprise, saw two wheel drive pickup trucks, etc. Passing me at 10 - 20mph faster than I was going... everyone was passing our car as I when I tried to match their speed it seemed that I was going to lose control with the rear end having a mind of its own shifting back and forth. In the months that followed, I searched the internet and found the threads calling this phenomenon "ghostwalking". I hope that NHTSA does something about this as I do not want anyone to get hurt or killed thinking that this car is a great snow car (from a ground clearance and AWD standpoint) and finding out the hard way that it is not. It would appear that it is worse when the suspension is loaded down with more passengers, as it was in this instance, than when it is just the driver and no cargo in the hatch area.

- Ortonville, MI, USA

problem #13

Jul 302010

Outback 4-cyl

  • 84,194 miles
Right and left front control arm bushings split and replaced along with both front control arms.

- Marietta, GA, USA

problem #12

Jun 012012

Outback 4-cyl

  • 190,000 miles
Purchased 2005 Outback in April 2012 with approximately 190000 miles. Car felt very unstable when going over any uneven road surface. Replaced rear struts with no improvement. Tried different tires with no noticeable change. Decided it must be an odd but normal condition for the vehicle. Today, 9/18/12, drove car in light rain along a 2-lane road at approximately 50-55 mph and car was very unstable in the rear. The rear "steered" left/right and felt very unstable. There was a sense the vehicle was going to abruptly cross into the other lane. I have over 40 years of driving experience and realize this is not normal vehicle performance. I live in a central NY and purchased this vehicle for the safety of all wheel drive after owning a 1995 Subaru impreza and a 1997 Subaru Outback. Given the situation I had today, I am afraid of what will happen in ice/snow conditions common in NY. I began to research the issue online in an attempt to correct my situation before winter arrives. I found many online concerns regarding this issue. While I have not yet approached Subaru directly, I get an overwhelming sense from online comments that Subaru will not be very helpful. I am making this safety complaint in hopes that multiple complaints combined will expose what I feel is a very serious/dangerous handling issue with a 2005 Subaru Outback.

- Marathon, NY, USA

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