Subaru Crosstrek Problems: 7 Common Issues (Explained)

Subaru has a reputation for being reliable and dependable. They tend to retain their value, which means they have a high resale value.

Every car brand has a problem child, and since the Crosstrek was a new design and platform in 2012, the bugs are still being worked out.

However, even though it has a few problems compared to other cars in the niche, the Crosstrek still stands above much of the competition.

The first generation of the Crosstrek began in 2012 when it replaced the Subaru Outback Sport. In 2017, a revamped model was introduced, and Subarus engineers have removed most of the kinks. However, the model year Crosstrek that has been most problematic has been the 2013 model.

Subaru has taken great strides to upgrade the Crosstrek every year.

Here are the most common problems with the Subaru Crosstrek models.

Check also our article about general problems across Subaru cars.

The Crosstrek is Subaru’s biggest award winner. As a result, a Crosstrek will hold its resale value better than almost any car on the market.

Before we start – check this article: Car models from Subaru with the most recalls.

1. Problems with the auto start/stop systems on some models

Engines that stop when you stop and restart when it is time to move have been around since the 1970s. It seems they do not work much better now than they did back then.

A few automakers have their start/stop systems dialed in, so they work flawlessly.

However, Subaru continues to struggle with its engines’ start/stop function. This system can be disabled on the Crosstrek. However, the fix isn’t permanent and will revert to its original settings once you turn your car off.

There is a lot of controversy about the added wear and tear that start/stop systems may add to a motor. Cars with this system often have beefed-up starters.

The Crosstrek also has a feature that stops the engine cut-off from working when the engine is under load.

A running air conditioner and other occurrences will cause the start/stop feature from disconnecting, so the engine has the power it needs to run the components of your car.

However, the number of times any motor is started and stopped can add to excessive wear.

2. Failure of the brake light switch

There have been defective brake light switches on many Crosstreks that do not light the brake lights when the brake pedal is depressed. The consensus on why this may happen is that cleaning products used to clean a Crosstrek can gum up the switch that activates the brake lights.

In 2019, Subaru recalled 2.3 million cars to fix this problem.

So if you buy a 2019 or earlier Crosstrek, ensure this warranty work has been done.

Failed brake lights can lead to a ticket, or worse, a rear-end collision and is an issue that needs to be corrected as soon as possible.

Other systems, the Crosstrek’s failed brake light switch, can affect

On the Crosstrek, this malfunction can also affect the transmission and ignition interlock. For example, if the brake switch is defective, a car with a push-button ignition will likely not start.

Likewise, the transmission will likely not go into gear if you get it started.

A defective brake switch can affect other systems of a car besides its brake lights.

Another system that may not function correctly if the brake switch is faulty is Subaru’s “Eyesight” system.

This is Subaru’s lane management system, and it may become disabled if the brake light switch is not functioning.

3. Excessive oil consumption

Subaru claims their F-series Boxer motors are built with looser tolerances than previous engines.

According to Subaru, if a Subaru engine burns a third of a quart of oil every 1200 miles, this is quite normal.

However, an engine that burns that much oil will keep you constantly on your toes, ensuring that it is topped off. If owners of the Crosstrek are not paying attention, the oil can get too low and can cause permanent damage to the engine.

The government has required all cars to reach a particular mile per gallon mark on every model. Unfortunately, the Subaru has a horizontally opposed, four-cylinder Boxer engine that has been difficult to bring in line with this objective.

However, by lowering the motor tolerances and using very lightweight synthetic oil, the result is an engine that burns more oil than it should.

4. Premature rust and corrosion

rusty spots on the car – close-up rust spot car

Today’s cars are protected from corrosion as none have ever been.

But, even though Subaru has shown that they have issues with undercarriage rust, that can be extensive enough to threaten the integrity of your car.

Road salts are the offender here, as well as a failure to protect the underbody from rust.

If you live where salt is used on the roads in the winter, frequent underbody washes can prevent some of this damage.

Having your Subaru undercoated when new may help prevent excessive rust.

There was a time when undercoating was applied to all new cars.

Whether standard or as an aftermarket add-on, it’s still a good idea, especially for an all-wheel-drive vehicle with off-road abilities.

The Subaru Outbacks have a good ground clearance which allows for easy access to inspect for rust etc.

5. Problems with the Subaru Eyesight system

Subaru’s Eyesight ‘system monitors the position of the car relative to the road.

It will warn you if you stray from your lane or are not braking as soon as it thinks you should. Unfortunately, this system has been plagued with problems since its inception.

This type of safety system has been proven invaluable when they work.

But, when they do not, they can be dangerous and cause instead of preventing an accident. Not cool!

Per Subaru, the Eyesight system is designed to control the following functions of your vehicle:

  • The pre-collision braking system
  • The pre-collision brake assist
  • Pre-collision throttle management
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane sway warning
  • Lane keeps assisting with land departure prevention
  • Conventional and adaptive cruise control
  • Lead vehicle start alert

These are all excellent safety features when they work synchronously together.

But, the problem with Eyesight seems to be communication between its components.

6. Subaru’s use of soy-based wiring attracts rodents.

This may be an eco-friendly idea gone awry. By trying to fix one problem, Subaru created another.

The soy-based product used to coat the electrical wires of the Subaru is tempting for rodents who use it for their nests.

Until you have had a family of mice or squirrels nest in your motor and make themselves at home, it is hard to understand how something so small can be so destructive.

Soy-based wire coatings have the benefit of being eco-friendly and less expensive than plastic.

It may be cost-saving initially; however, the cost to replace rodent-chewed wiring is costly. Say a rodent turns your wiring into nests and invades your car’s engine bay or another area; the cost of the damage can far exceed the initial savings.

A new wiring harness for a car can cost between$1300 and $1700 and $500 or more for the labor to install the wiring.

It is inconceivable that the cost of wiring was reduced by these sums when the car was initially built.

7. Transmission reliability

Continuously variable transmissions (CVT) help with fuel mileage.

However, the CVT in the Crosstrek seems to wear faster than conventional gearboxes.

Like the other issues here, this problem does not seem to relate to every model year.

However, the vehicles with the problem show hesitation when accelerating and shimmying when slowing down. Both are signs of a problem, and the cost to repair the CVT once it is out of warranty is costly.

Since Subaru began using CVT transmission in 2009, the transmission style has been questionable when used on vehicles. Touted as a lifetime transmission when first adopted by Subaru, it seems the life of some CVT transmissions lasts about as long as the warranty.

Cost of repairs for the Subaru Crosstrek

The transmission fix of a Crosstrek is one of the most costly repairs, besides a complete engine rebuild, which costs more than $2000 plus labor. On the other hand, a Subaru is as easy to fit with a new engine as to rebuild the old one.

Minor repairs to a CVT transmission outside the warranty or extended warranty can run from $1000 to over $2500. ‘

Replacing the unit can hit a price over $8000.

Having the transmission inspected if you are buying a used Subaru is wise. However, so is extending the warranty after the manufacturer’s warranty ends.

The cost to repair a faulty start-stop system can reach $2000 if your car is out of warranty.

However, the brake light switch replacement is less than $200 and needs to be repaired immediately if you find it is faulty.

Pros and Cons of the Subaru Crosstrek

Although the Crosstrek, like all cars, has a few problems, it is more reliable than many vehicles like it.

Moreover, with an entry price of $22,445 for a 2022 model, and $23,645 for 2023, its price is in line with the competition.

In addition, with all-wheel drive as a standard feature, not an option, the Subaru Crosstrek is likely to be a better deal than its competitors.

Most other vehicles that compare to the Crosstrek will not have all-wheel drive as a standard feature and will charge extra if you want to add this feature.

Pros of the Subaru Crosstrek

  • Next to the Subaru Impreza, the Crosstrek is one of the least expensive all-wheel drives on the market.
  • An optional turbocharged 2.5 liter Boxer engine
  • Comfortable seating all around in a spacious cabin
  • The cabin is also very functional, with an easy-to-operate infotainment system.
  • Optional Harmon Kardon sound system
  • Over eight inches of ground clearance can scale potholes and trails.
  • Brake pads and wiper blades are covered for 36000 miles!
  • Fuel economy for an all-wheel drive is an acceptable 27 miles per gallon in the city, 34 miles per gallon on the highway, and 29 miles per gallon combined.

Cons of the Subaru Crosstrek

  • The Crosstrek has less cargo space than the competition due to its sloping back hatch design.
  • Handling of the Crosstrek is not as positive as other Subaru models. As on many tall vehicles, the ride height adds excessive roll to the body when negotiating turns.
  • The base engine, while adequate, does not offer much zip and is louder than the optional 2.5-liter turbocharged motor.
  • Failure of the Eyesight system to work correctly when directly facing the sun or under other situations can be troublesome for Crosstrek owners that face these problems.

Review Quotes:

“The baby SUV of the Subaru family shares its siblings’ outdoorsy image, but its home is on the road, not on the trail.”

Car & Driver

“The Crosstrek provides a model for the entire subcompact SUV segment. How it balances capability, versatility, performance, and value earns it a high standing in our rankings.”

Motor Trend

The resale value of the Subaru Crosstrek

Like other Subaru, the Crosstrek retains its value better than its competitor.

Like Toyota, Subaru has a reputation for reliability, dependability, and endurance.

Even though the Crosstrek may have a few problems, Subaru is diligent in correcting issues with their cars so they do not run into the next model year.

Of course, every manufacturer takes this precaution. However, Subaru does it better than many other car builders.

Go Back: Problems per Subaru Model.

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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.