really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
118,350 miles
Total Complaints:
4 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. replace head gasket (3 reports)
  2. machine heads (1 reports)
2010 Subaru Outback engine problems

engine problem

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2010 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #4

Aug 192015

Outback 2.5i Premium 2.5L 4 Boxer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 94,953 miles


I was looking forward to my first Subaru, a 2010 Outback, dark grey with everything I was looking for. As soon as I got it home, the engine over-heat light came on. Checked coolant and there was junk floating around inside. Dealer was passive and offered little to no help due to my state's lemon law. I had the Ext. Warranty to which they sent a rep out to be sure I wasn't lying. I was without this car for about a month (Pistons had to be repaired, engine apart, and had to wait for warranty company rep) I would have been on the hook for $3,122.00 had it not been for the warranty support. (Which was also a pain to deal with)

I fully understand these cars can go longer than this mileage without a gasket replacement. (sometimes much longer) I place the blame for this incident and bad customer service on the poor maintenance conducted by the dealer (Muscatell Subaru - At the time out of Moorhead, MN) or the previous owner. Despite getting a lengthy repair record with the car.

Conditions: - Green coolant, not Blue, and junk floating in coolant (in radiator).

Recommendations: I strongly urge potential Subaru buyers to inspect the coolant of the car they buy. Make sure it's Blue and free of any contaminants floating around inside. Never buy one without a FULL service history. DEMAND THIS or walk! When test driving, fire on the AC full blast, make sure the cooling system can compensate like all solid vehicles should be able to. Make sure you know your state's lemon law before buying a used car! I learned a valuable lesson here.

Concerning: My vintage Subaru (2010-2014 Outback/other?) did not come with an engine temp gauge (in favor of an odd real-time fuel economy gauge) and this, in my opinion, is a big problem. You can't tell if anything is wrong with the engine and by the time the red overheat light comes on, it's already too late. This IS a poor design choice by Subaru. A temp gauge could help catch overheating ahead of time instead of when it happens and notification is by virtue of 1 red light.

- lakew00ds_f0x, Bemidji, US

problem #3

Jul 142021

Outback 2.5i Premium 2.5L 4 Boxer

  • Automatic transmission
  • 171,000 miles

Advice: Previously I recommended those shopping for a Subaru Outback of my vintage (2010-2014) to check the coolant quality and demand ALL service and repair history, as well as being aware of the purchaser's state lemon laws. Once you own the car, do whatever you need to to remind yourself when any of the scheduled maintenance is due. During (or even in between) each coolant flush, have your mechanic inspect the radiator (inside and out) and the cooling system. Have your coolant tested during service or as needed after 100k miles on the clock.

I really, honestly, badly wanted to hang onto this car and never thought I would make a review like this. All cars have issues, especially if not maintained, no matter how well built. Subaru is the ONLY car I've ever owned (I've driven Chevy, Ford, Jeep, Toyota, etc.) that gives you little to no room for error on maintenance.

Well maintained cars might be more forgiving.

I said before that Subaru made a big mistake swapping the engine temp. gauge in favor of a rather pointless real time fuel efficiency gauge. (My Toyota Tundra has this on its data center console, shared with the clock, outside temp, miles to empty, etc. which is a much smarter and better design. I get that same feature WITH an engine temp gauge). If I'd seen this coming on an engine temp gauge, things might have played out differently and I might not be writing this complaint.

People love these cars (I know a few) and that's fine, they had much better experiences than I did and I'm happy for all of them. This car was the perfect size, had the perfect feel and drive, handled our winters without even breaking a sweat, and was literally exactly what I'd been looking for. But I cannot keep paying $3K (even with maintenance done) each time the damn gasket fails. I'll own my mistake of nursing a lemon if that ends up being the final verdict, but when you make repairs and keep up the maintenance, you expect your car to live up to its reputation.

Worth mentioning: I live way out in the sticks and am 1.5 hours from the nearest Subaru dealer (Not the same one I purchased from) I use certified, trusted local mechanics that have a perfect track record maintaining our family's vehicles. Used the trusted dealer for recalls and inspections. I kept all my service records including flushes, oil changes, you name it.

In Closing: I CANNOT recommend these cars used (2010-2014 Outback). They are a huge roll of the dice depending on maintenance history. Both cooling system and engine need to be monitored more closely and often then a Toyota, Honda or Ford. Unless you got one new or got lucky on a solid used purchase, expect to have at least $3K on hand for this repair. It will happen, it's just a matter of when. Hopefully Subaru redesigns both their cooling system and engine to be more consistently durable and long lasting.

Final Side note: The only other thing I didn't like on the car was replacing the headlights. There are a couple ways to do it, but again, bad design and not very well thought out. Far easier and faster to do in other cars.

- lakew00ds_f0x, Bemidji, US

problem #2

Nov 242017

Outback Limited 2.5i

  • CVT transmission
  • 113,523 miles

After owning this car for less than 30k miles, the head gaskets started to go on the highway. This warped the heads and left the car in the shop for 3 weeks while they took it apart, milled the heads and replaced the gaskets and timing kit. Cost me over $5000 out of pocket, the issue came back less severely a year later. I have to top off the coolant every 1500 miles and change oil less than 3k miles. I later learned that the cars propensity to head gaskets comes because they bored out the engine to make it more powerful, and less reliable then its predecessor.

- rfoss, Alexandria, US

problem #1

Oct 112018

Outback Leather/sun Roof 2.5L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 93,770 miles

I am the original owner of an always-garaged, babied, all-services-completed-on-time, 2010 Subaru 2.5L automatic transmission Outback. 8 years, 4 months old, 93,770 miles with major head gasket failure that just cost me approx. $2,500 to fix, not to mention long distance tow of another approx. $500!

My dealer in Medford, OR did a great job picking up the pieces but SUBARU CORP.-USA was of ZERO help! Customer service chic read from a script and the Bulldog supervisor who call the following day (10/23/18) was EXTREMELY AGGRESSIVE, showed NO EMPATHY and made me feel guilty of committing a crime! All I was looking for was the offering of a few hundred dollars to help offset costs of early belt replacement or at least, a simple "sorry your car is having issues but we can't help you due to age." SO, as a result, I am on a campaign to WARN people of the ONGOING head gasket issue with the Subaru flat "boxer" engines and the LACK OF PRODUCT SUPPORT shown by SUBARU!


I am determined to make sure that righteous customer service supervisor costs Subaru a lot more than $2,500 in LOST SUBARU SALES of money for defending an INFERIOR, PROBLEMATIC product with such AGGRESSION! Please learn at my expense and SAVE LOTS of TIME and MONEY by NEVER owning a Subaru product!!!

Happy car shopping!


- Linda B., Weed, US

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