2011 Subaru Outback seat belts / air bags NHTSA complaints: Air Bags:Frontal

NHTSA — Air Bags: Frontal Problems


pretty bad
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
3,732 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.

2011 Subaru Outback seat belts / air bags problems

seat belts / air bags problem

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2011 Subaru Outback Owner Comments

problem #8

Aug 202011

Outback 4-cyl

  • 8,832 miles


We recently purchased a 2011 Subaru Outback. We bought it due to high safety ratings and other features. The problem is that while my wife (who is 115 lbs) sits in the front passenger seat, the front airbag sensor switches the airbag on and off randomly. We took the car to the dealer and had it inspected. Their findings were that the car is working as designed. The airbag is turning off when her weight is not in an exact spot. I looked up the problem online and had multiple hits for complaints from owners of the same car (and the 2010 model). We were instructed to make sure my wife sits up straight with her legs extended and the seat fully upright and back to help the airbag sensor get a more accurate reading. Obviously it is not reasonable to expect a person to sit unmoving for an extended length in a car. Also, in the event of a collision, her weight would naturally shift and thus the airbag may not deploy. To me, this negates the safety rating for the front passenger and discriminates against smaller adults who ride in the passenger seat. Many of the complaints I read had this problem with adults up to 140 lbs, and the dealership replicated the problem with a man weighing 125 lbs.

- Jber, AK, USA

problem #7

Dec 012010

Outback 4-cyl

  • 0 miles
The passenger airbag does not turn on when adult female ~120lbs is in the passenger seat. Minimum weight to consistently activate airbag seems to be about 140lbs. The car was taken to the dealership and they re-calibrated the passenger seat weight sensor but this did not resolve the issue. The dealership said they were aware of other customers complaining of this issue but they did not have a solution (and did not think the re-calibration would help). They also stated they have been unable to solve this problem for other customers.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #6

Jul 152011

Outback 4-cyl

  • 10,000 miles
Passenger airbag light goes on and off randomly when I am sitting in the passenger seat. I am 5'3 110lbs. The sensors were recalibrated when I took it to the dealer the first time. The problem continued. Even if you sit in one spot and not move the sensor will turn on and off randomly. The dealership still doesn't know how to fix the problem. I was told the sensors have trouble sensing 70-90lbs of weight. I am over that therefore there should be no issue. I now own a car that the airbag might be on or off if I was ever in a collision. This is a huge safety concern!

- Casper, WY, USA

problem #5

Nov 272010


  • 5,000 miles


The contact owns a 2011 Subaru Outback. While driving approximately 65 mph, the front passenger air bag off indicator would illuminate intermittently whenever the front passenger seat occupants weight was 100 pounds. The vehicle was taken to an authorized dealer four different times for the identical failure; however there was not a remedy for the repair. The manufacturer was made aware of the problem. The approximate failure mileage was 5,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Costa Mesa, CA, USA

problem #4

Jul 232010


  • 200 miles
2011 Subaru Outback limited 2.5 passenger seat airbag not activated. I am 130 lb and the airbag system does not go on when I sit in the passenger seat. According to the dealer and Subaru nothing can be done, but I don't feel safe.

- Travis Afb, CA, USA

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problem #3

Nov 032010


  • 3,000 miles
Sometimes the right front airbag indicator light is "off" despite a full-sized adult sitting in that seat.

- Whitefish, MT, USA

problem #2

Sep 282010

Outback 4-cyl

  • 25 miles
2011 Subaru Outback - passenger airbag indicating "off", not turning on when 140lb person is in the seat. Subaru of America states that this is normal and there is no fix. Subaru dealer where I purchased the car new does not agree and states something is wrong. He has another owner with the same problem. Passenger airbag will not deploy in and accident with a 140lb person in the seat!

- Bend, OR, USA

problem #1

Sep 082010


  • 2,800 miles
Passenger airbag is often turned off, even though a person is sitting in the passenger seat. This is repeatable. Often, when my passenger (120 lbs, 5'7" tall) sits in the passenger seat, the airbag remains in the off position (as if no one is sitting in that seat). I've noticed that when the passenger sits, and puts their feet directly on the floor, the passenger's knees and upper thigh right above the knee do not make contact with the seat. When sitting in this position, the airbag will remain in the off position. When the passenger sits, with legs fully extended, so that the knee and upper thigh make better contact with the seat, the airbag is enabled. With the right combination of passenger length, and position of the passenger's legs while sitting, it is possible for the airbag to remain in the off position, even though there is a full-sized adult sitting in that seat. I believe the airbag (weight on seat) sensor, may be located too far forward on these seats.

- Wrightwood, CA, USA

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