5 Subaru Models With Most Recalls (Check Before Buying)

Subaru’s lineup features vehicles of different classes, including mid-size sedans, crossover SUVs, and the traditional SUVs.

Consumer Reports have praised it for being “unpretentious, practical and affordable.”

The total recall figure for Subaru models is currently at 1065, and the first-ever NHTSA-recorded recall for the Subaru was back in 1977. The model alone accounts for 3.0% of recalls for vehicle models while taking the 9th spot in the number of recalls by a vehicle brand.

Below is a more specific list involving Subaru models with the most recalls:

1. Subaru Legacy

The Subaru Legacy is a mid-size car produced and marketed by Subaru since 1989. It is renowned for being Subaru’s flagship car and offers the all-wheel-drive feature as standard.

As of 2005, which was years ago, the Subaru Legacy had crossed the 3-million sales mark, proof of its commercial acclaim.

It has also been praised by critics, especially for its bright and roomy interior alongside a long list of exciting features.

Number of Recalls

Starting in 1990, 209 of the 1065 total recalls for Subaru models have gone to the Subaru Legacy. According to ARFC.org, this represents 19.6% of all Subaru recalls and pretty much secures the Legacy’s spot at #1 on the list of most-recalled models.

We have an article with all the common problems with the Subaru Legacy models.

The 2010 Subaru Legacy has the most recalls of Subaru models, with 19 recalls on record so far. With 17 recalls each, the 2011 and 2012 Subaru Legacy models sit comfortably at the #2 spot on the list. 14 recalls put the 2003 and 2013 models at the 3rd spot on the list, and the 2009 model takes the 4th spot with 13.

These recall figures reek of a diversity of problems, which is why we advise exercising some caution and carrying out background checks before buying or leasing any of these model years.

With 1 recall each, the 1993, 2019, and 2020 models of the Subaru Legacy have the joint fewest recalls. At the #2 spot, we have the 1992 and 1995 models years with 2 recalls each. In addition, the 3rd position on the “least list” is shared by the 1991, 1999, 2000, 2017, and 2018 models with 3 each.

Below are some of the most common issues that have provoked Subaru Legacy recalls over the years:

  • Airbag defects (improper attachment of knee guard bracket to the steering beam assembly, possible explosion of inflators as a consequence of propellant degradation)
  • Powertrain problems (possible leakage of transmission oil from a deformed seal cap on the propeller shaft; loosening nuts and possible separation of driveshaft from the rear differential; potential loosening of parking rods)
  • Electrical system faults (Failing/weak ignition switch, causing it to move out of position and turning off the engine; failure of relay that controls secondary air injection pump and resultant non-stop operation and overheating)
  • Service brake issues (missing bolt in brake pedal mounting bracket; possible malfunction of brake master cylinder and resultant increase in the amount of brake pedal distance needed to stop the vehicle)

Related: 5 Volvo Models With The Most Recalls (Check Before Buying!)

2. Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is a nameplate currently used for the Legacy-based station wagon produced and marketed by Subaru since 1994.

It had a variant known as the Outback Sport, which was discontinued in 2011 and succeeded by the Cross Trek.

With over a million units sold in the 2010s decade alone, the Subaru Outback is, without a doubt, one of the most successful models in its class.

Number of Recalls

Recalls for the Subaru Outback started in 1998, and now total 188 recalls on record, second only to the Subaru Legacy. It also takes up 17.7% of all Subaru recalls since 1977, according to ARFC.org.

Of the 188 recalls for the Subaru Outback, the 2010 model alone has accrued 19 recalls, making it the most-recalled Outback model year on record. The 2011 and 2012 have 17 recalls each, and they share the 2nd spot on the list.

The 2003 and 2013 models are the third most-recalled Outback models, with 14 recalls each. Alone at the #4 spot is the 2009 Subaru Outback with 13 recalls, and the 5th spot is taken by the 2004 and 2014 models with 10 each.

Recall figures for the models mentioned directly above indicate a plethora of issues, so all we ask is that you exercise some caution before buying.

Here’s a list of known Subaru Outback problems over the years.

With 1 recall each, the 1995, 1999, 2000, 2019, and 2020 models are the least-recalled Subaru Outback models on record. The 1996 and 1998 models take the #2 spot on the list with 2 recalls each, and 3 recalls earn the 2001 and 2018 models the 3rd spot.

Below are the predominant issues that have triggered Subaru Outback recalls over the years:

  • Electrical system faults (Failing/weak ignition switch causing it to move out of position and turning off the engine; failure of relay that controls secondary air injection pump and resultant non-stop operation and overheating)
  • Service brake issues (missing bolt in brake pedal mounting bracket; possible malfunction of brake master cylinder and resultant increase in the amount of brake pedal distance needed to stop the vehicle)
  • Airbag defects (improper attachment of knee guard bracket to the steering beam assembly, possible explosion of inflators as a consequence of propellant degradation)
  • Powertrain problems (possible leakage of transmission oil from a deformed seal cap on the propeller shaft; loosening nuts and possible separation of driveshaft from the rear differential; potential loosening of parking rods)

Related: 5 Volkswagen Models With The Most Recalls (Check Before Buying!)

3. Subaru Impreza

The Subaru Impreza is classified as a compact car and has been in production since 1992, when it was announced as the successor to the Leone. Currently, in its fifth generation, the Subaru Impreza has amassed millions of sales while garnering above-average reviews from critics.

Number of Recalls

With 180 recalls, the Subaru Impreza holds tightly to the #3 spot on the list of most-recalled Subaru models. According to ARFC.org, it holds 16.9% of all 1065 Subaru recalls since 1977.

We have a more extensive list of problems with the Subaru Impreza models here.

Of the 180 recalls, the 2010 Subaru Impreza alone accounts for 20, which makes it the most-recalled Subaru Impreza on record. The 2011 Impreza, however, follows closely with 19 recalls, and the 2008 and 2009 are also behind at the 3rd spot with 17 recalls.

These model years alone account for almost half of the vehicle’s recall tally, which signals a long list of issues with them.

Conversely, we have the 1993, 1994, 1995 Impreza models, all of which boast the joint fewest recalls with 1 each. The 2016 model is alone at the #2 spot with 2 recalls, and the #3 position is occupied by the 2014 and 2019 models with 4 each.

Below are the most prevalent issues as seen across recall statements for Subaru Impreza models:

  • Airbag defects (possible deactivation of occupant detection system when a front seat passenger operates a plugged device like a music player or cell phone; possible explosion of airbag inflators)
  • Electrical system issues (malfunction of engine control module including powering the ignition oil after engine has been shut off and possible short-circuit and blown fuse)
  • Exterior Lighting faults (potential exposure to contaminants and possible malfunction of brake lights switch, prevention of brake lights illumination, and inability to start keyless ignition vehicles)
  • Engine problems (possible damage of the Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) valve and entry of bits into the engine, resulting in random power loss while driving)

Related: 5 Mazda Models With The Most Recalls (Check Before Buying!)

4. Subaru WRX

subaru-wrx

The Subaru WRX is a compact car which was based on the earlier-mentioned Impreza, but is now a standalone model. Introduced in 1992, the WRX has been around for several years and is still in its second generation.

Pundits, who have particularly praised its engine and handling, often regard the Subaru WRX as one of the best compact cars on the market.

We also have a list of problems with the Subaru WRX.

Number of Recalls

Of the 1065 total recalls for Subaru models, 149 of them have been for the Subaru WRX. This makes it the 4th most-recalled Subaru model on record, and the number represents 14.0% of all Subaru recalls since 1977.

The 2010 and 2012 Subaru WRX models have the most recalls on record, with 20 each. Meanwhile, the 2011 model follows closely with 19 recalls, and the 2013 and 2014 models share the #3 on the list with 18 recalls.

Model year 2009 adds to the tally with 15 recalls, and the 2008 WRX takes the 5th spot with 11 recalls.

These models account for the bulk of the total recalls; hence, their reliability might be in question.

Going in reverse, we have the 2002 and 2003 models of the WRX as the least-recalled models with just 1 each. The next closest is the 2015 model with 2 recalls, and the 2016 Subaru WRX finished at 3rd with 3 recalls.

Below are the most prevalent issues with the Subaru WRX:

  • Airbag defects (possible explosion of inflator as a result of propellant degradation and recurrent problem with inflator replacements)
  • Electrical system faults (possible electrical short in subwoofer as a result of wiring contact with the subwoofer metal frame; Failing/weak ignition switch, causing it to move out of position and turning off the engine)
  • Service brake problems (Gap in fuel tank protector could result in splashes of salt water on the brake lines and excessive corrosion)
  • Exterior lighting problems (potential exposure to contaminants and possible malfunction of brake lights switch, prevention of brake lights illumination, and inability to start keyless ignition vehicles)

5. Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester is a compact crossover SUV that first debuted in 1997 and is currently in its fifth generation.

It’s one of the best-selling cars in its class, having sold well over a million units in the last decade.

It made Car and Driver’s list of the 5 best trucks for three consecutive years in 2004, 2005, and 2006. The Forester was also named MotorTrend’s SUV of the year, first in 2009 and later in 2014 amidst other accolades.

Before we look at the problems that caused recalls, check out our complete list of problems with the Subaru Forester models.

Number of Recalls

Despite its visible commercial and critical success, one downside to the Subaru Forester is the number of issues it has had. This explains why Subaru has recalled the model 99 times, according to NHTSA records.

The 99 recalls represent 9.3% of all Subaru recalls, making it the fifth most-recalled vehicle in the company’s lineup.

Of the 99 recalls, the 2009 and 2010 Subaru Forester models alone have 16 recalls each, making them the most-recalled Forester model on record.

The 2011 Subaru Forester holds the second spot on the list with 15 recalls, and the 2012 Forester occupies the third spot with 14 recalls.

These models alone are responsible for over 60% of all Subaru Forester recalls. Hence, it is advisable to do due diligence before buying them.

The least-recalled Subaru Forester models on record are the 1998, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2017 model years, with 1 recall each. Other models, including the 2004, 2006, 2014, and 2019 models, also get a place on the list with 2 recalls each.

Below are some issues that have triggered recalls for Forester models over the years:

  • Airbag defects (possible loosening of electrical connection in occupant detection system; inflator explosion as a consequence of propellant deterioration)
  • Service brake problems (Gap in fuel tank protector could result in splashes of salt water on the brake lines and excessive corrosion; unusual depression of brake pedal, especially during cold weather)
  • Electrical system issues (possible failure of secondary air injection pump and resultant overheating of the pump; Failing/weak ignition switch causing it to move out of position and turning off the engine)
  • Exterior lighting faults (potential exposure to contaminants and possible malfunction of brake lights switch, prevention of brake lights illumination, and inability to start keyless ignition vehicles)

More Information on Subaru

Subaru, founded in 1953, is an automobile manufacturer, and a division of the famous Japanese Conglomerate, Subaru Corporation.

As of 2017, it was the 21st largest automobile manufacturer in terms of productivity.

The Subaru automobile brand prides itself on versatility and, over the years, has collaborated with several other manufacturers across territories.

Subaru has also found a core fanbase of some sorts in Western markets who have been described as “small but devoted.”

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