Subaru Outback Transmission Problems

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Brought into the market in 1994, the Subaru Outback is still strong. It even has a sports model for those interested in the lineup.

That being said, you should also be aware of the various issues that come with the car.

This is especially so when it comes to the car’s transmission. The list of Subaru Outback transmission problems is immense, as you will see.

Here is just a sample of what you can expect with this lineup:

  1. Gear Slipping
  2. Jerkiness And Vibration
  3. Transmission Not Responding Or Hesitating
  4. Whining And Grinding Noise
  5. Transmission Shuddering
  6. Rough Acceleration
  7. Sticking In Reverse
  8. Transmission Lunging
  9. Check Engine Or ABS Light Coming On
  10. Burning Smell

All of these are clear signs of transmission issues. You should also be aware that these signs are typically just a small sample of what you can find in the Subaru Outback.

10 Signs Of Transmission Problems In A Subaru Outback

How do you know if your Subaru Outback has any transmission symptoms or not

Transmission can face a lot of different issues. These issues will manifest themselves in various signs.

I have listed the major and most common signs in the Subaru Outback above.

I will now expand on them and discuss each sign in depth.

This way, you can easily figure out that your Subaru Outback’s transmission system is not working properly.

1. Gear Slipping

Gear slippage is one of the most common signs that you have a transmission problem in your Subaru Outback.

If your Subaru Outback model has any transmission-related issues, you can bet that gear slippage will be included in the mix.

Make sure you can shift to the gear you want, and it stays there. Otherwise, you might get into an accident.

2. Jerkiness And Vibration

A common sign that you are dealing with a transmission-related issue is when your car feels jerkier than usual.

This is usually in the form of vibrations that persist throughout the car ride.

You may especially experience them more when you are increasing the speed of the car or when you are decreasing it.

3. Transmission Not Responding Or Hesitating

Another common sign that the transmission is faulty is when it does not respond or when the transmission takes a while to shift.

This is a prominent sign of either the gearbox is having issues or there is a general lack of lubrication.

Either way, it spells bad news for your Subaru Outback’s transmission if left unchecked!

4. Whining And Grinding Noise

Transmission issues usually have a way of introducing themselves through sound. Most users should be able to hear the loud whining noise quite clearly.

Other times, the sound may be quieter than usual. This does not mean that the issue is less severe.

Any sound coming from the transmission while shifting gears should be urgently treated.

5. Transmission Shuddering

Often the result of dirt and grime piling up in the transmission lines, shuddering will lead to the transmission vibrating severely.

This is because the contaminants prevent proper pressure from being applied to the transmission plates.

6. Rough Acceleration

As mentioned above, the transmission can act up severely when changing speeds, either when accelerating or decelerating.

The reason for this type of issue could be the plates mentioned above being worn out. A bad clutch or an oil leak could also cause this.

7. Sticking In Reverse

The root cause of this problem could be a lack of lubrication, transmission fluid, and oil.

A low amount of these can cause your gears to get stuck in certain positions. This is most prevalent when you shift to reverse.

8. Transmission Lunging

Also caused by a lack of transmission fluid, you may find your Subaru Outback’s transmission kicking and lunging.

Often this is more than enough to get you into an accident. This is why you should avoid driving the car when you feel there is an issue.

9. Check Engine Or ABS Light Coming On

One of the easiest ways to figure out if there is an issue with the transmission is by checking the check engine light.

This light will automatically light up when there is an engine or transmission issue.

10. Burning Smell

It is safe to say that the burning smell is never a good sign when you are in a car.

While a burning smell could be the result of a lot of different faulty components, it can also be caused by transmission.

How To Prevent Your Subaru Outback’s Transmission Issues

Eventually, you will have to deal with transmission problems to some degree.

Here are a few ways that you can prevent them from happening:

1. Regular Servicing Of Your Subaru Outback

Getting the Subaru Outback serviced every 3 to 4 months will reduce the chance of transmission cropping up significantly.

You will also be able to fix issues before they become too annoying.

2. Let Your Subaru Outback Warm Up Before Driving

Immediately shifting the gears and driving the car from the start can be taxing for the transmission.

Here, by warming up the car first, you should be able to alleviate much of this strain and keep the transmission healthy.

3. Get Your Subaru Outback Checked In Case Of Check Engine Light

Once you detect the check engine light, you should stop the car and have it looked at. This will save your transmission in the long run and prevent further damage to your vehicle.

4. Shift Your Gears Carefully And Properly

Hard shifting and improper shifting can also be strenuous for your transmission system.

You should gently shift the Subaru Outback gears gently while the car is not accelerating to avoid issues.

How To Fix The Subaru Outback’s Transmission Problems

The first step to getting your transmission fixed is to identify how much transmission fluid you have in your Subaru Outback.

A lack of transmission fluid is usually the root cause of many of these problems.

By filling up the transmission fluid, you should be able to get the transmission back to a working state.

At this point, you should focus on fixing the damage.

Any leaks should be patched up. When it comes to physical damage or broken components, you should aim to get them repaired or replaced.

I recommend replacing them, as broken components can cause issues, even when fixed.

If you have suffered from complete transmission failure, you will have no choice but to get rid of your transmission and replace it with a new one entirely.

Which Year Did Subaru Outback Have Transmission Troubles?

There are so many models of the Subaru Outback, luckily not all of them have transmission problems. Additionally, some of these years have more problems than others.

Here, I will go over all these years and see what transmission issues you can face.

2011 Subaru Outback

The 2011 Subaru Outback is not the most complained year in this list.

That does not stop it from taking what should be a pretty good car and infesting it with various transmission problems.

You can surely experience a lot of shuddering and jerking when driving this model.

Overall, a clunky transmission; you can expect the component to fail before it ever reaches its maximum life!

2014 Subaru Outback

Being a certified clunker, the 2014 Subaru Outback has a lot of different transmission-related problems that earn it a bad reputation.

Hesitation when accelerating was common, but many believe it was not linked to the transmission.

Moreover, there were a lot of warning lights and shuddering between gears. This made this year’s Subaru Outback a very difficult car to recommend.

2013 Subaru Outback

The 2013 Subaru Outback was also on the same path as 2014 one.

In many cases, most of the issues that the 2014 model got were from this year. This is also true when it comes to transmission problems.

The car had a bad habit of lunging and hesitating when shifting gears and accelerating. This would often be accompanied by whining sounds to further mess up the experience.

2012 Subaru Outback

Any transmission issue can hold back a car, even if that car is doing amazingly well.

This was the case for the 2012 Subaru Outback, which got a bad reputation for its transmission. All of this was despite the car being a pretty well-rounded vehicle.

The transmission of 2012 Subaru Outback would stop working randomly and was prone to jerking and shuddering.

There was a constant clunking noise, and the ABS light would also turn on.

2010 Subaru Outback

When it comes to the 2010 Subaru Outback, there is not much to say. There were a few transmission problems here and there, but for the most part, it was pretty functional.

Issues could be found in manual and automatic power train versions.

The model was the victim of transmission noise and general bad shifting. The torque converter would also lock up when braking.

2015 Subaru Outback

The year 2015 marked a new shift for the Subaru Outback.

From this year onwards, the car had better transmissions overall. While this would be the case, there were some issues that would hurt the lineup’s reputation.

For this year, the issues were mostly vibration and hesitation. Gear slipping was also a thing, as well as a complete transmission failure.

This may sound like a lot, but issues were mostly few and far between.

2016 Subaru Outback

2016 followed the same trend as the 2015 Subaru Outback. The car was still getting stuck in reverse. Sometimes, the car would not accelerate at all. When it accelerates, it would be rough.

Deceleration was also met with a lot of shuddering. Almost all of this was accompanied by grinding noise which hammered home that there was an issue with the car.

2017 Subaru Outback

Subaru continued to reduce its transmission problems significantly. By 2017, only a few problems had been left, and they were also on the path to eliminating those.

When it came to the drivetrain, the car would roll backward in drive before properly engaging. As for the transmission itself, the car would jerk a lot, especially when starting from a stop.

2018 Subaru Outback

By the 2018 Subaru Outback, most of the transmission problems of the lineup had been eradicated.

Subaru was able to honor their word and make up for past mistakes. This time, they released an amazing vehicle that did not suffer from any issues.

While the 2018 model year did have the odd slip and jerk in some cases, this was very rare. The car was, for the most part, exceptionally sturdy and problem free.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How Much Does A Subaru Outback Transmission Replacement Cost?

A transmission replacement is never cheap.

You should be ready to drop at least $1500 when in the market for a new transmission. This can even go as high as $4,000 and, in some cases, even more.

Q2. What Is The Lifespan Of A Subaru Outback Transmission?

On average, you should look at around 200,000 miles or ten years. If you take care of the transmission, it can last as far as 300,000 miles.


Q3. Is It Safe To Drive A Subaru Outback With A Bad Transmission?

With the amount of gear slipping and hesitation I have mentioned throughout this article, driving the Subaru Outback with a bad transmission is not safe.

You are setting yourself up for disaster by doing so and will no doubt get into an accident!


You can expect almost anything when it comes to Subaru Outback transmission problems.

From simple issues such as transmission fluid leakage to total transmission failure, the Subaru Outback has it all.

If you are in the market for a new hatchback or a station wagon, then make sure you know what you are getting into.

Hopefully, you can use this article to avoid all problematic models and get a trustworthy model.

Additionally, if you still run into a transmission issue, you can identify it easily and fix it. This will be huge if you want to keep your car running for as long as possible.