really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
74,085 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 suspension problems

suspension problem

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2006 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #19

Jan 312014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 132,000 miles


Purchased this car used last Jan. No incidents yet, but can not drive (with passengers in the back or weight in the cargo area) over 35 mph in certain road conditions, mainly when there is ice and dry pavement together. Has dangerous rear steer problem in those conditions. I have driven every type of vehicle from semi's to older Subaru Outbacks and was born and raised in Michigan. This car is very dangerous to drive with my family or other passengers in the car! have tried tires, stiffer springs and struts and alignment. The car is 90% better when I am the only one in the car. Note** I am not an aggressive driver and not expecting too much because it's AWD.

- Belding, MI, USA

problem #18

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 #17

Jul 302014


  • 82,000 miles
The contact owns a 2006 Subaru Outback. The contact stated that while driving approximately 55 mph, a toxic odor emitted from outside the vehicle. The contact discovered that front passenger's side had caught on fire. The contact extinguished the fire and the vehicle was taken to the dealer. The technician diagnosed that the axle boot had failed. The vehicle had been repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 82,000.

- Kooskia, ID, USA

problem #16

Jan 042014

Outback 4-cyl

  • 133,000 miles


Subaru Outback began to exhibit "ghost walking" while driving straight during a winter storm. Rear end attempted to race the front end, and could not regain control. This "ghost walking" is well discussed in the online form at subaruoutback.org. Car eventually made it to the edge of the road where it then proceeded to roll 3 times. The experience was not the normally sliding on ice. The rear end seemed to have a mind of its own.

- Pine Valley, CA, USA

problem #15

Jan 092013

Outback 4-cyl

  • 80,500 miles
Thank you for considering my concern; any sudden twitch of the steering wheel, such as trying to avoid a pothole, or hitting a bump in the road will cause the car to oscillate wildly from side to side with fear of loosing control and rolling over. I am a very experienced driver but my only response is to slow down and take my hands off the wheel to let the rolling settle down. I have replaced all four struts and had the car aligned. This is going to kill someone, if it has not already. I hope its not me but I feel sorry for the person who buys my car. I have read many other identical complaints and can not believe Subaru or the government has not responded. Both will have blood on their hands when an innocent person looses their life. It would be very easy to see how serious the problem is. Just come drive my car for yourself and you will know true fear. Please help us before its too late! [xxx] information redacted pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552(B)(6).

- Colorado Springs, CO, USA

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problem #14

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 #13

Jul 052006

Outback 4-cyl

  • 1,385 miles


Check engine light no. 1 piston defective engine replaced covered by warranty. 2nd engine & turbo failure at 94,591 miles Nov 10 2010 not covered by warranty we paid $5005 in repair bills there was coolant, oil, & other fluid loss & a lot of smoke. The 3rd engine & turbo failure August 2012 diagnosis by international auto/Subaru showed no.1 piston came loose also there was check engine light in all 3 incidents we were told $9000 to start we said no had it towed to our driveway where it sits now it has 136,000 miles on it. Also there was an oil pump failure 121,115 miles $495 11/22/2011. Also $853.87 to repair a serious oil leak at 96,650 miles 11/26/2010, front & rear control arm bushings replaced split 96,647 miles $482.33, right & left rear wheel bearings failure replaced 118,072 miles 10/12/2011 $897.49.

- Woodridge, IL, USA

problem #12

Feb 062012

Outback 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles
I took my 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5 in for routine service and tire rotation. Was told that my left outer cv boot was torn. Took the car to the dealership who verified the problem and was given a price to repair, which I could not afford. Since the car only had approx. 55,000 miles, and my extended warranty had just lapsed, I contacted Subaru and was told they would reimburse me for half of the cost of the repairs if they were made at a Subaru authorized mechanic, I.e. dealership. The cost my mechanic of choice quoted was less than half of the dealership fee, so I declined the offer from Subaru. July 2012, 60,000 miles, took car in for routine servicing again and was told the right inner cv boot is torn and the left rear strut is leaking. I cannot afford these repairs and have done research to find out that cv boot tears are quite common in Subaru's. they will not cover the cost of repair or do a recall even though since my experiences, I have talked to many Subaru owners who have had cv boot issues. As it stands now, I do not feel the car is safe to drive, so it sits in the garage while my friends provide transportation. I paid more than $20,000 to buy a car that sits in the garage.

- Springfield, MO, USA

problem #11

Feb 242012


  • miles
I was driving on hwy 287 from casper back to laramie, wy at around 40 mph, which is lower than the speed limit of 65 mph, the car started fishtailing by itself suddenly and span 360 to the side of the road, there's black ice on the road but overall condition was good. The reason why I drove much slower than other cars (fwd cars) was that I don't have any confidence with the Subaru, it feels like the car is 'floating' on the road, the rear end tends to slide to the left or right all by itself, without any hard braking, fast steering, or sudden pushing on the throttle. I bought this car used last year with about 84K miles on it, it came with a set of snow tires, I had this problem once while the car skidded and span 360 on the interstate at 45 mph ( I was much slower than most of the cars on the highway), I changed the tired and had it re-aligned after the winter, and it happened again this winter, all parts on the suspension are from stock, no aftermarket parts were ever added to the car except for the tires, so I think there may be some issues with the suspension design of my car that's been there from the factory. I did some research online and found the term 'ghostwalking', it appears to be pretty common on Outback from 05 to 09, I wonder if Subaru has acknowledged this issue and how can I get this fixed.

- Laramie, WY, USA

problem #10

May 012011


  • 100,000 miles
Subaru has recall on wheel bearings and state my Outback does not fit into recall. However it is the same part that has failed, yet they state they fixed the problem. Headgasket is leaking at 125,000, Subaru states replacement gaskets are better however I am expected to pay 2000 for the repair.

- Willamsburg, VA, USA

problem #9

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 #8

Jan 172011


  • 47,655 miles
I own a 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5 with a manual transmission. This vehicle is an early warning indicator for black ice on the road surface. The Outback vehicle has a stability control problem in certain conditions. While driving at constant speed (constant and low throttle position) on a flat road, the back end of the vehicle tends to oscillate from side to side in icy conditions. The vehicle feels like it is going to spin out, although that hasn't happened to me yet. Other vehicles on the road at the same time seem to have adequate traction (2wd, AWD, 4WD). The problem is not traction while: 1) cornering under slippery conditions, 2) hard acceleration on ice, or 3) braking on ice. Road conditions that I have experienced the oscillation on are very thin ice (black ice). I suspect there is something wrong with the rear suspension design on my Outback. The problem is more prevalent and pronounced when the vehicle has occupants in the rear seats. The stability of this vehicle seems to be marginal and it only takes certain conditions (road and vehicle parameters) to be on the edge of disaster. Subaru released technical service bulletin 05-36-07 which eliminated the positive side of the original toe tolerance for rear tire alignment. I think the vehicle experiences large rear tire toe in when weight is added. I suspect this large rear tire toe in when weight is added contributes to the stability problem in icy conditions I have brand new (Jan 2010) hankook ipike W409 studless winter tires. Its not the tires. Those who have not experienced this situation naturally respond by saying it is ice, what are your expecting, just slow down. I have lived in Colorado since 1981 and consider myself a competent driver in all weather conditions. Please respond as I would like to get this problem fixed if possible...the car just turned 50,000 miles.

- Del Norte, CO, USA

problem #7

Dec 312010

Outback 4-cyl

  • 44,000 miles
Untrue tracking on road with ice patches. Rear of car moves around a lot. Could not safely go over 40 mph, getting passed by other going 60 mph on two-lane 65 mph rated road.

- Sunnyvale, CA, USA

problem #6

Jan 022011


  • 60,000 miles
When driving on poor traction roads (ice or compacted snow), the rear of the car is very unstable and shifts left to right by as much as 2-3 feet - while going in a straight line, straight road - maintaining a constant speed (no acceleration or braking). This happened several times, over a 3400 mile road trip this winter - sometimes lasting for hours, making for very difficult and unsafe driving, almost going out of control on several occasions - even at very slow speeds (20-30 mph)! there were two people in the car, but a lot of luggage - probably exceeding 400 lbs of weight in the rear, but nothing excessive, and well within the specified limits for this car. I had my alignment adjusted 3 months ago to factory specs. It however appears that when the car has any weight in the rear, the toe-in adjustment changes significantly to cause "rear steering" which leads to the unstable behavior on slippery roads, and uneven wear of tires (that I have also noticed). There appears to be no way to keep the alignment stable - different loads should not affect the geometry in this way. I really hope Subaru can help us solve this problem, it is very unsafe and this car is advertised as an AWD snow vehicle! I would be happy to provide more information.

- Mountain View, CA, USA

problem #5

Dec 112010


  • 85,000 miles
2006 Subaru is unsafe on slippery roads. The car has a tendency to "steer" from the rear. It may be something with the center differential that causes more power to the rear and thus makes the rear want to fishtail out while driving slow in a straight line. It is by far the worst car I have ever driven on ice. Even with snow tires. And I had a rwd Cougar with bad tires when I was young.

- Allegan, MI, USA

problem #4

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 #3

Nov 152010


  • 55,000 miles
I have a 2006 Subaru Outback with about 55,000 miles on it, I have had the rear struts replaced and know I am having the front struts replaced. It is expensive to replace struts. The mechanic that is replacing them says they shouldnt have to be replaced yet. If I dont replace them it affects the steering on the car. What makes the struts go bad prematurely" the car was new when I bought it, I dont drive it carelessly or recklessly. Has there been any other complaints"

- Spearfish, SD, USA

problem #2

Jan 102009


  • 49,000 miles
I experience a side-to-side shake on icy road conditions. It is very unsettling to the car and is not simply road conditions. Fwd, rwd, and other AWD vehicles are not having any trouble and IżM doing everything I can to stay on the road and am driving as much as 20 - 30 mph slower than the next slower car on the road. There is something wrong with the Subaru Outback vehicle dynamics on ice.

- Allegan, MI, USA

problem #1

Feb 012008


  • miles
While driving on icy or packed snow conditions sometimes the Outback's rear-end feels like it's breaking free, in a side-to-side motion. This is also referred to as ghostwalking or maybe fishtailing, but not the kind of fishtailing most are familiar with. It seems the car isn't equipped to handle these very specific conditions and as a result the rear-end starts wobbling. I've driven in foul weather many times, many miles, many years and do not drive too fast for conditions and I know how to drive in bad weather. I'm 99% sure this condition is resulting from the car, not the driver. When it does happen I end up driving much slower than other traffic, to the point where people are eager to pass and are annoyed. I also run dedicated snow tires. This is supposed to be a "go-anywhere" car with proven AWD capabilities, and I believe it was in prior generations, but there is something wrong with the 3rd generation MY2005+ cars. Soa please do some testing as I cannot honestly recommend this car and I would not buy another. I'm still debating if I'll be keeping this one. Please consider your reputation and look seriously into this matter. You have a very specific piece of the auto market and I hope you have intentions of keeping it. This is most certainly a safety issue and may be a result of the AWD system, suspension, alignment or any combination of them. We need your help in staging tests to get to the root cause. I have contacted soa directly and hope this will take action.

- Sanford, ME, USA

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