really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
85,917 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.

2006 Subaru Outback steering problems

steering problem

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2006 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #12

Feb 082015

Outback 4-cyl

  • 142,000 miles


While traveling thru the adirondack region of NY on a Sunday afternoon returning home from vt I proceeded to pass a vehicle from the center lane into the left lane. Speed was 65mph accelerating to 69mph to pass, not more than 250 ft later our vehicle started to fishtail then head right into numerous 360 spins taking out 35 ft or so of guard rail and crunching and damaging almost every side and corner of our Outback. Both hands were on the wheel, I did not hit any snow or ice that I am aware of and I was not speeding excessively. Not one of our airbags deployed either!! I am confident there was some sort of mechanical or electrical issue with the stability control of the 2006 Outback we were driving and am thankful we were not seriously injured.

- Buffalo, NY, USA

problem #11

Jan 022015

Outback 4-cyl

  • 36,000 miles
While driving the vehicle stopped accelerating and shut down. Was told that the pedal assembly and sensors stopped working. This malfunction can kill people. Other have has low mileage on the vehicle and have the car shut down while driving.

- Waldwick, NJ, USA

problem #10

Nov 252014


  • 241,567 miles
While driving vehicle in snow covered, slush covered roads conditions varied during day. The vehicle kept feeling like it was washing out side to side. I had 5 passengers in vehicle and they all could feel it and it scared them and I had to slow down to a dangerously slow speed on interstate, that was causing disruption to traffic flow. On way home took secondary roads so as to not disrupt traffic. This was my first experience in taking this vehicle for drive in snow conditions since it is new to me. We purposely took Subaru for legendary handling in snow, it downright shook me up and wished we had our front wheel drive Pontiac vibe. I inspected vehicle, made some changes to front suspension, ball joints, sway bar links, control arm bushings, only two control arm bushings were notably bad all other parts changed because I was there. Both tie rods were good. I have since experienced same issue when encountering patches of black ice, snow covered roads as well as driving on gravel roads. I have never experienced a car handling like this in my 35 years of driving! this vehicle is downright dangerous!!! and too think I bought this to be my winter vehicle.

- Smithville Flats, NY, USA

problem #9

Apr 152013

Outback 6-cyl

  • 70,000 miles


Boots crack and you must replace entire drive shaft. Left front drive shaft was just replaced @100,000 miles as the boot cracked on the other side as well. Think this is a design flaw as drive shaft sits over the top of the catalytic converter with no shield to block the heat.

- Winchester, VA, USA

problem #8

Jan 022013


  • 140,000 miles
I see the same complaint several times on this site. This was not the first instance for us either, it has been going on since we bought the vehicle with only 17,000 miles. It has been checked by both Subaru and private repair shops several times. The car wonders / ghost walks / swerves unexpectedly on slippery road conditions, you drop real fast from 65 to 40 - 45 mph or you feel as though you will go out of control off the road, intermittent slippery conditions are the worst. We have had numerous alignments done - 4 wheel alignment perhaps helps only slightly. We have had new tires etc. We are tired of being told there is nothing wrong with the car, its an accident waiting to happen, probably has. Where otherwise in good shape it is a car that we cannot even transfer to our children.

- West Salem, WI, USA

problem #7

Dec 152007


  • 10,000 miles
Straight line driving on flat concrete highway, rear end of vehicle may start to wander when road is slippery. This occurs generally over 25mph, when all other vehicles are able to travel at a higher rate of speed than the 2006 Subaru Outback 3.0R is able to. Cars will pass while I am white knuckled, concerned the rear end is going to break loose and cause complete control failure. I have found other instances of this issue from other Subaru drivers, and this is being referred to as "ghost walking" - this is a very good description as this is what it feels like. Essentially, the all wheel drive system feels like it is sending too much power to the rear end, under even/constant speed, and causing the rear to break loose. Or, there is a alignment geometry problem. Very unsettling and very unexpected for a highly regarded all wheel drive system. I have had several all wheel drive systems and none have done this in the same conditions. Very hard to recreate for dealership or manufacture, as it requires precise road conditions. Just so happens it is precisely the road conditions that most people might buy a Subaru (in mn or co). Very dangerous.

- Parker , CO, USA

problem #6

Dec 302010


  • 59,500 miles


After slowing to a near stop at the bottom of an interstate highway exit ramp, my car suddenly, and without warning, died and I lost all systems, including engine and power steering. All I was able to do was drift to the side of the road. Subaru initially believed that the ECM had failed. After replacing the ECM, it became apparent that that was not the issue. Subaru ultimately determined that the wiring harness housing had melted against the coolant crossover pipe, exposing wiring which was then shorting out. Subaru could give me no explanation as to why the wiring harness was installed against a hot component of my engine such that it would melt. Had this happened 1 minute earlier, I would have been on interstate 95 during rush hour traffic with a dead car. Given the suddenness with which my car died, it is likely I would have been involved in a serious accident.

- Millis, MA, USA

problem #5

Nov 232010


  • 91,500 miles
2006 Subaru Outback auto trans. On many occasions the vehicle's rear-end side-steps, fishtails or oscillates on icy road conditions. This has also been described as "ghost-walking" where it feels like the AWD system in the rear is over compensating, leading to the vehicle being uncontrollable. The behavior seems to happen in the 40-60mph range. You must slow down to unsafe speeds, even for the weather, to maintain control. Other non-AWD vehicles driving on the same roads are not having this problem and are able to maintain safe control at higher speeds. It is frightening when other 2wd cars and trucks are passing you going 20mph faster and it's difficult to keep your car on the road or in a straight line. This happens when driving on straight flat roads without braking, accelerating or turning with fairly new all season tires - no more than 15,000 miles on them (regularly rotated).

- Bozeman, MT, USA

problem #4

Jul 122010


  • 44,438 miles
The right front wheel steering tie rod precipitously and without any warning separated into two separate pieces when the inner part of the tie rod pulled out of the threaded sleeve on the outer part of the tie rod when I drove into my driveway, leaving me with no steering control on the right front wheel. Examination shows the threads on the inner part of tie rod were defective possibly when manufactured allowing separation and lack of steering control. The vehicle is a 2006 Subaru legacy Outback, 4 years old, 44,000 miles. Tire wear was normal and no indication of a problem was evident prior to problem.

- Randallstown, MD, USA

problem #3

Dec 152009


  • 69,000 miles
I have a 2006 Subaru Outback limited wagon. Driving on wet roads, not even icy, the most minor bump in the road, or frost heave, will send the vehicle's rear end swaying, almost out of control. This is supposedly known as ghost walking. This is extremely dangerous, as it happens at highway speeds, on straight roads, and causes the vehicle to sway back and forth across the lane. Tires have been replaced as well as Subaru dealership performing a full alignment. This is supposed to be AWD, so rain should not be a factor. I also notice this swaying happen on dry pavement, but not as threatening. Seems like there is play in the rear end, but car was fully safety checked by Subaru and passed all points. Seems to be a major flaw in the AWD, namely the limited slip differential in the rear end. I'm afraid to drive this vehicle in winter conditions, yet that's what Subaru's are known for.

- Durham, CT, USA

problem #2

Aug 172009


  • 60,000 miles
Front end tie rod defective. Oem part. Caught by mechanic fixing chronic alignment issue with 2006 Subaru Outback wagon. I was told was dangerous condition, and front end was shimmying. Replaced part at my expense.

- Lincoln City, OR, USA

problem #1

Dec 242008


  • 67,000 miles
I am in my third season driving my 2006 Subaru Outback to lake Tahoe for winter ski season. I've always felt confident driving on snowy or icy roads until my last two trips--christmas 2008, and new year's 2009. On these trips, I experienced very disturbing fishtailing that everyone in the car noticed, and I had to fight to compensate for. This occurred even on long straight sections. Each time I had to slow down well below the flow of traffic, and the speed of previous trips. This issue made me wonder about improper tire inflation pressure, so we called the tire dealer, who confirmed this was not the cause. It felt as if the rear wheel traction was overcoming front wheel traction, that made me also wonder whether the all-wheel drive was functioning properly. I also considered weight as a cause, because one day I drove from reno to Tahoe with only one passenger, and little cargo, and did not experience the problem. But, the fully loaded vehicle was no different than many trips the previous two seasons, when the fishtailing did not occur, and I could maintain sufficient speed to stay with the flow of traffic. Same vehicle, same tires, same loads, same road, same conditions, yet much different performance. I noticed other similar complaints, some of which refer to "ghostwalking." Please work on identifying the cause and solution for this issue, to prevent serious accident/injury. Thank you.

- Windsor, CA, USA

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