2018 Subaru Outback Top 3 Complaints and Problems – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Steering, Fuel and Electrical issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

While the 2018 Subaru Outback still has the traits aficionados love – versatility, ability and value – it also has some reliability issues. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website, the 2018 Outback’s main problem areas are the electrical, fuel/propulsion and steering systems.

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Infotainment – Electrical system

The 2018 Subaru Outback is available with a sophisticated touch-screen infotainment system. Referred to as STARLINK, the multimedia center provides access to features such as the audio system, navigation and backup camera.

Unfortunately, some consumers have found the STARLINK system to be problematic. Owners complain of the display going blank (black), leaving the multimedia center – including the backup camera – inoperative.

“The central display console where backup camera is went to black suddenly and will not turn on. This is a safety concern,” writes one owner on the NHTSA website.

Another consumer says, “The screen has gone black and side lights blink, unable to use any item controlled by the screen. Appears the warning system for a vehicle stopping too closely is not working as well.”

A recall (NHTSA Campaign Number 18V935000) has been issued to address problems with the touchscreen display. According tothe document, faulty audio system software is to blame. Dealers will reprogram the head unit free of charge on affected vehicles.

The recall states: “The recall began on February 5, 2019. Owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-844-373-6614. Subaru’s number for this recall is WTZ-85”

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Subaru Outback Infotainment Problems:

IN 2018 A NEW LAW WENT INTO EFFECT REQUIRING ALL NEW CARS CONE WITH REAR BACKUP CAMERAS. THE SUBARU STARLINK INFOTAINMENT SYSTEM THAT IS ON ALL NEW SUBARUS ARE DEFECTIVE, BUGGY, AND SUBARU HAS NO PERMANENT FIX. IT RENDERS THE REAR CAMERA UNOPERABLE, REPLACEMENTS ARE ON BACKORDER AND SUBARU MAKES OWNERS CONTINUE TO DRIVE THEIR CARD WHEN IT IS UNSAFE AND NOT FOLLOWING THE NEW LAW FOR 2018 CARS. I WANT SUBARU TO FIX THIS SAFETY ISSUE AND PROVIDE AFFECTED OWNERS WITH LOANER CARS WHILE WAITING FOR A FIX/REPLACEMENT.

ENTIRE CENTER RADIO CLUSTER HAS FAILED. CAR WAS PARKED IN A GARAGE AND GOT INTO THE CAR AND STARTED CAR AND ENTIRE UNIT WAS BLACK. THIS IMPACTS RADIO, HANDS FREE CELLULAR PHONE USE, NAVIGATION, BACK UP CAMERA AND WARNING SYSTEM, VEHICLE NOTIFICATIONS, STAR LINK PROGRAM. THIS MAY SOUND JUST LIKE A MINOR THING BUT THIS HAS SIGNIFICANT SAFE OPERATION IMPACTS IN REGARDS TO TRAFFIC AND DRIVING, CELL PHONE USE AND NAVIGATION OF THE VEHICLE.

I WAS DRIVING AND THE ENTIRE DISPLAY WENT BLANK! THIS RENDERS ALL ELECTRONIC FEATURES CONTROLLED BY THE SCREEN INOPERABLE AND ALSO VIOLATES FEDERAL LAW MANDATING BACKUP CAMERAS ON 2018 OR NEWER CARS. THOUGH TECHNICALLY MY VEHICLE IS STILL EQUIPPED WITH IT, IT DOESN’T MATTER BECAUSE THE DISPLAY IS COMPLETELY DEAD. THIS IS SUCH A COMMON PROBLEM THE PART IS BACKORDERED FOR AT LEAST A MONTH, IN THE MEANTIME I WILL DRIVING A CAR WITHOUT AN IMPORTANT SAFETY FEATURE.

Fuel/Propulsion System

Running out of gas can ruin your day – especially if it happens someplace dangerous (e.g., on the freeway). That’s why a recall has been released for select 2018 Outback models. According to the document,somecars have a gas gauge that displays more fuel than what’s actually in the tank.As a result, drivers are more likely to run out of gas. Dealers will reprogram the combination meter free of charge to fix the problem.

“Fuel software programming defect – fuel warning light does not illuminate nor read properly below 50 miles. I had 30 miles left in the tank, parked the car and after work (approx. 8 hours) I went to start the car and it would not start,” an owner says on the NHTSA website. “Had to utilize roadside assistance – thank goodness this didn’t happen while the vehicle was in motion or on the highway. This is unacceptable. Brand new car runs worse than my 1988 Honda CRX.”

Another owner complains, “Gas indicator says I have more gas than I do. When empty it still registers gas.”

The recall (NHTSA Campaign Number 18V773000)used to address the problem began February 20, 2019. According to the document: “Owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-844-373-6614. Subaru’s number for this recall is WTW-82.”

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Subaru Outback Fuel Gauge Problems:

FUEL SOFTWARE PROGRAMMING DEFECT – FUEL WARNING LIGHT DOES NOT ILLUMINATE NOR READ PROPERLY BELOW 50 MILES. I HAD 30 MILES LEFT IN THE TANK, PARKED THE CAR AND AFTER WORK (APPROX. 8 HOURS) I WENT TO START THE CAR AND IT WOULD NOT START. HAD TO UTILIZE ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE – THANK GOODNESS THIS DIDN’T HAPPEN WHILE THE VEHICLE WAS IN MOTION OR ON THE HIGHWAY. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. 

RAN OUT OF FUEL EVEN THOUGH THE GAUGE HAD ORIGINALLY SAID 30 MILES TO EMPTY. THEN GAUGE WENT FROM 30 TO —- AND THEN STALLED ALL WITHIN A FEW MILES WHILE ON THE HIGHWAY DURING RUSH HOUR

DASHBOARD TOLD ME I HAD 20 MILES WORTH OF FUEL LEFT WHEN SUDDENLY THE INDICATOR CHANGED TO A DASH AND THE CAR RAN OUT OF GAS. OCCURRED WHILE DRIVING 50 MPH ON A BUSY EXPRESSWAY, THANKFULLY IN THE SLOW LANE.

Steering

Like most late model vehicles, the 2018 Outback has electric power steering (EPS). The system uses anelectronically-controlled rack and pinion to provide steering assist. EPS works in conjunction with the available Lane Keep Assist systemto nudge the car back into its lane, should the driver veer to one side or another.

On paper, the advanced steering system on the Outback sounds great. Yet some drivers complain of erratic steering behavior from the vehicle, accompanied by a feeling of “hydroplaning”.

“Subaru Lane Assist steering issue. When you have Lane Assist on, the car will try and steer from one lane to another on its own. This happens when you are on the freeway and started after 10,000 miles was on the car,” says an owner on the NHTSA website.

Another complaint reads: “Vehicle loses control at 50 mph and higher speeds. Steering feels very loose and like the vehicle is hydroplaning on dry services. On occasion, it feels like the vehicle was hit by a gust of wind and floats. Vehicle feels very insecure on highway driving conditions. It’s scary!”

Subaru has encountered steering-related issues before. In 2016, a recall was issued for 48,500 Outback and Legacy cars (built between 2016-2017) for steering concerns. But currently, the NHTSA hasn’t listed any recalls for the 2018 Outback on its website.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Subaru Outback Steering Problems:

DRIVING OUR NEW 2018 OUTBACK WE EXPERIENCE PERIODIC STEERING IRREGULARITIES THAT ARE FLAT SCARY. ESPECIALLY AT 65MPS AND ABOVE THE CAR SEEMS TO SELF CORRECT .BY EXAMPLE A LANE CHANGE THE CAR STARTS TO ‘FLOAT” AND OVER COMPENSATES ON DIRECTIONAL CHANGE. TROUBLING ALSO IS THE EXPERIENCE OF STABILITY AT TIMES AS IF DRIVING IN HIGH WINDS-WHEN THERE IS NO WIND. WHEN WE TURN “OFF” DRIVING ASSISTANCE LANE SYSTEM-STILL SAME PROBLEMS. WHEELS SEEM TO HAVE A ‘MIND OF THEIR OWN” AND WERE NOT ALWAYS IN CONTROL. TOOK THE CAR INTO DEALERSHIP- THERE SERVICE PERSON SAID THEY HAD ALSO HAD THE EXPERIENCE(S)..BUT WE JUST NEED TO GET USE TO. NOT ACCEPTABLE!

2018 OUTBACK HAS A PROBLEM WHILE DRIVING ON HIGHWAYS AND SPEEDS OVER 60 THE VEHICLE DRIFTS OR SWAYS DANGEROUSLY LEFT AND RIGHT OUT OF CONTROL AS IF SOMETHING IS PUSHING OR PUSHING THE VEHICLE LEFT AND RIGHT, I DON’T KNOW IF THE HIGHWAY VIBRATION WITH SPEEDS EXCEEDING 60 IS ASSOCIATED WITH THE SWAY OR ITS A WHEEL BALANCING PROBLEM.

VEHICLE LOSES CONTROL AT 50 MPH AND HIGHER SPEEDS. STEERING FEELS VERY LOOSE AND LIKE VEHICLE IS HYDROPLANING ON DRY SURFACES. ON OCCASION IT FEELS LIKE THE VEHICLE WAS HIT BY A GUST OF WIND AND FLOATS. VEHICLE FEELS VERY INSECURE ON HIGHWAY DRIVING CONDITIONS. IT’S SCARY!

TENSION AND CONTROL DISAPPEARS IN THE STEERING, SO LOOSE IT FEELS LIKE YOU COULD SPIN THE WHEEL LIKE A TOP. LASTS A SECOND OR SO THEN CONTROL RETURNS. HAPPENS IN MULTIPLE DRIVING CONDITIONS. NOTICED IT FIRST DAY WE HAD THE CAR, DEALER SAID HE NOTICED IT TOO, AND WE JUST NEEDED TO BREAK THE CAR IN. WHEN DRIVING ON THE HIGHWAY IN HIGH WINDS, CAR FEELS OUT OF CONTROL, LIKE DRIVING ON SLICK ICE. NEVER HAD TO GET OFF A HIGHWAY BEFORE OUT OF FEAR AND I’VE BEEN DRIVING 40 YEARS. DEALER COULD NOT REPLICATE, TOLD ME TO CALL SUBARU CORPORATE, WHO SENT ME BACK TO DEALER. CAR IS BACK IN THE SHOP. I AM SO AFRAID TO DRIVE THIS CAR IT ONLY HAS 2700 MILES ON IT AFTER 18 MONTHS..

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1 COMMENT
  • Sharon

    I purchased a Suburu Outback on October 31, 2017. It is a 2018 model.
    The first issue was that every once in a while it wouldn’t start. We have been stranded more than once.
    The car dealership changed the battery, that didn’t work. It was in Bill Bryan Suburu in Leesburg Fl. for weeks at a time.
    They did give us a loaner each time. They never came to a conclusion.
    Along with not starting, we told them that sometimes the GPS system goes black and doesn’t come back until we stop and start the car again.
    Again, no resolve of that.
    The latest issue is that it needs a transmission. This car is only 2 years old! Even Suburu corporate, with whom I have 2 case numbers was very shocked when I told them that it needs a new transmission.
    They stated that the transmission has to come from overseas, and it will take at least a month to get it. Again we got a loaner car, but one that we can not drive out of state. Suburu has agreed to pay for a rental car for our upcoming driving trip to Chicago.
    I DON’T WANT THIS CAR ANYMORE! I never know the next thing that will go wrong.
    Everyone else I know with a Suburu cannot believe the issues that this car has had. Suburu corporate said that it didn’t meet the requirements for the Florida Lemon Law, but I want to know what recourse I have.
    Thank you for reading my rant.

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