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This is a FAQ to answer the frequently asked questions by people who just bought or are considering buying a Fourth Generation (2010-Present) 2.5i or 3.6R Subaru Outback. In some cases it will refer to other Forum Stickies, FAQ’s, standalone threads, Subaru.com or outside websites.


QUESTION – I’m thinking of buying an Outback – what is the best year? And what should I look out for?

ANSWER(AO River) No easy answer here – in general they’re ALL good! There weren’t any real fatal flaws in the Gen 4 Outback from when it was introduced. A small number of 2010-2011 MY's had the possibility of steering wheel shake problems that were addressed by a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) from SoA (Subaru of America). See the Steering Wheel Shake Issues subforum for additional information. Other than that, there are some model years aesthetic and mechanical differences (see question below), but there really are no “bad” years.

On any used/pre-owned Subaru – a Pre-Purchased-Inspection (PPI) is a GOOD THING to have done. Ideally a PPI is done by a Subaru dealer, but can also be done by a reputable independent shop. They can charge you for it – usually 1-2 hours of labor, but they’ll find out what may be wrong with the car – and what they think may need attention shortly. IF the seller refuses to allow a PPI be done (at your cost) – RUN AWAY… it’s not the car you want to buy. If ANYTHING doesn’t seem right to you when purchasing a used car privately or from an independent dealer, it’s not the car you want to buy.​

QUESTION – I’ve heard about a “steering wheel shake” problem – what’s that all about and should I avoid those cars?

ANSWER(AO River) In summary, the steering wheel shake problem applies to a small percentage of 2010-2011 Subaru Outbacks and Legacys. The symptoms are steering wheel vibration, typically above 60 MPH, that owners claim can range from a tiny vibration to visibly seeing the steering wheel move. There are a lot of threads on this forum covering the steering wheel shake problem and possible solutions. Does this mean the problem is widespread? No. A car forum is where people come to talk about their cars, and very often the problem(s) with those cars in order to troubleshoot. If you’re looking into purchasing a used 2010-2011 Subaru Outback, read the Steering Wheel Shake issues subforum, do some research and most importantly take it for a test drive before purchasing.​

QUESTION – The seller claims the car has a 100k Subaru warranty – what’s the story?

ANSWER(AO River) The standard Basic Coverage (bumper-to-bumper) SoA warranty that comes with every new vehicle is 3 years/36K miles (5 years/60K miles powertrain). At the time of new vehicle purchase and any time before the standard warranty expires, the owner has the option to purchase an extended warranty – including eight different options covering up to 7 years/100K miles. The extended warranty can stay with the vehicle if resold by paying a small service fee, or coverage can be canceled for a prorated refund.

SoA also offers Maintenance Plans, but these plans are at an additional cost to the vehicle warranty. Plan options include 2 or 3 years/30K, 36K or 45K miles.

The cost of the extended warranty plans and maintenance plans varies at each dealership, although maintenance/repairs can be done at any Subaru dealership once the warranty is purchased. See this thread for more information on purchasing information: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/104-gen-4-2010-present/29983-discounted-factory-extended-warranty.html and for specific contact information within that thread click here.

If purchasing a used Subaru from an authorized dealership, it’s possible the vehicle will be “Certified Pre-Owned” (CPO) by SoA. This means the car has undergone and passed Subaru’s 152-Point Inspection and SoA has deemed it worthy for resale. Most often you’ll pay more for a CPO Subaru than one private-party, but the CPO Subaru comes with Subaru’s approval AND a 7 years/100K mile warranty (Powertrain), with the option to purchase a 7 years/100k mile Bumper-to-Bumper warranty. More information on Subaru's CPO Vehicles

QUESTION – Is this a good price (year, equipment, packages)?

ANSWER(AO River) This question is asked all the time – and usually answered by people claiming either: it’s WAY too much for the car; or that they bought a car for less. The real answer is – the car is only worth what someone will pay for it. To figure out if the car is within reason, go to sources like Kelly-Blue-Book (Official Kelley Blue Book New Car and Used Car Prices and Values), Edmunds (New Cars, Used Cars, Car Reviews and Pricing - Edmunds.com) and NADA (N.A.D.A. Home Page) – all of these offer price guides. Looking in the “What Did You Pay for Your Outback” thread is also a good gauge for what current market prices may be.

In the end, only you can decide if the car is what you want and what the value of it is to you.​

QUESTION – What should I look out for (recalls, SIBs, etc.) when buying a used Outback?

ANSWER(AO River) An authorized Subaru dealer can pull up a car’s warranty/recall repair information on their computer – even if they didn’t sell the car. Normally they’ll only do this for the current owner of the car, or as part of a PPI, but sometimes if approached right they might do it for you as a favor. That is valuable information, and will give you some idea if the car was maintained (at least at the dealership; otherwise request copies of maintenance records from the seller).​

QUESTION – What are the differences in model years?

ANSWER(AO River) The following website does a fantastic job of outlining each model year’s options and differences: Subaru Outback research pages: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009... all years/models

Besides the cosmetic changes and different options from year to year, notable mechanical changes from the 2010-2012 to 2013 model include: upgraded chassis and suspension in 2013 (better handling and steering, less body sway); different engine in the 2013 2.5i (+1 mpg); and the 2013 has the 2nd Generation CVT (lighter, quieter, more responsive).​

QUESTION – Are there any DIY sources?

ANSWER(AO River)
If you've searched and still can't find the DIY, post the question and see if anyone has what you’re looking for. If all else fails and it's not on here, do the maintenance/modification yourself and be sure to post the DIY on the forum for the rest of us!​
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Folks - any contributions of "Noobe Questions" or Answers are welcome, and will be added with attribution (meaning your name gets in the FAQ..) Please PM (Private Message) me with them.


Please try not to post in this thread - I'd like to keep all the relevant information at the top.
 

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QUESTION - HELP! My check-engine-light just came on, what's wrong?

ANSWER(AO River) The honest answer - we don't know what's wrong. Forum members can take potshot guesses at what they might think is wrong based on their experiences.. but without reading the fault codes - it's just guesses. What you should do is get the codes read. Most large chain autoparts places (AutoZone, PepBoys, etc.) will read the codes for you for free in the hopes when you find the problem you'll buy the parts to fix it from them. These code readers will read the OBD-II codes (emissions related P0001-P0999). You could also visit a Subaru Dealership (figure $50+ to read the codes) or a good independent dealer.

You also can purchase your own code reader. A few uses of the code reader vs visiting the dealer make it pay for itself.

Once you get the codes THEN come back, tell us what they are, and we'll be better able to take educated guesses as to why your CEL is on.​

QUESTION – What are all these abbreviations people use?

ANSWER(AO River, Ignatius, OBnube, rasterman)
  • ABS = Anti-lock Braking System
  • AWD = All-wheel Drive
  • AWP = All-weather Package
  • Bat = Battery
  • BSM = Body Side Moldings
  • B2B = Bumper-to-bumper (referring to factory warranty)
  • CPO = Certified Pre-Owned
  • CVT = Continuously Variable Transmission
  • CEL = Check Engine Light (also referred to as SES or MIL)
  • DIY = Do-it-yourself
  • DRL = Daytime Running Lights
  • EBD = Electronic Brake-force Distribution
  • ECM/ECU = Engine Control Module / Engine Control Unit
  • FSB = Front Sway Bar
  • GC = Ground Clearance
  • Gen 4 = Fourth Generation Subaru Outback (2010-Present)
  • HID = High Intensity Discharge (headlights)
  • H/K = Harman Kardon (sound system)
  • IIK = Interior Illumination KIt
  • LSD = Limited-slip Differential
  • LTD = Limited (model)
  • MAF = Mass Airflow Sensor
  • MIL = Malfunction Indicator Light (also referred to as CEL or SES)
  • MOD = Modification
  • MPG = Miles per Gallon
  • MR = Moonroof
  • MT = Manual Transmission
  • MY = Model Year
  • OB = (Subaru) Outback
  • OBS = (Subaru) Outback Sport
  • OBW = (Subaru) Outback Wagon
  • OBXT = (Subaru) Outback XT
  • OBC = On-board Computer
  • OBD/OBDII = On-board Diagnostics
  • OEM = Original Equipment Manufacturer
  • PPI = Pre-Purchase Inspection
  • RSP = Rear Seat Protector
  • RSW = Rear Sway Bar
  • SAP = Special Appearance Package
  • SoA = Subaru of America
  • SES = Service Engine Soon (also referred to as CEL or MIL)
  • SSK = Short Shifter Kit
  • TPMS = Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • TPS = Throttle Position Sensor
  • VDC = Vehicle Dynamics Control (Subaru's Stability Control System)
  • V1 = Valentine 1 (Valentine One radar and laser detectors)
  • WOT = Wide Open Throttle
  • 6MT/6SP/6SPD = 6 Speed Manual Transmission
 

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Nicely done. I sent you a PM.

Also, refer to cars101.com - Joe Spitz (out of Seattle, WA area) has done a pretty good job presenting all Subaru models (thanks Joe).
 

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Thread title adjusted, thread stickied.
 

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I'll add one known issue that seems to be all over local forums here in Finland: the clutch in 2.0 manual diesels and apparently some gas engines as well develops a clear shake especially when cold or not used for a day or a few, and on first gear. This seems to affect most of the cars very soon and replacing the clutch may make it vanish for a while or not at all. There are some aftermarket clutch setups available to make it smoother, but the general consensus seems to be it is just a small nuisance that belongs in the car and best dealt with by simply adding some more throttle at starts which makes it unnoticeable.

Here we also pretty routinely remove the diesel particle filters and reprogram the engines accordingly, but in the USA it appears to be an illegal move.
 

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My Opinion of the 2010 Outback

When we went car shopping for a new vehicle, we test drove at least 20 different makes and models. The 2010 Outback was by far the most comfortable ride we had experienced. This was the first Subaru we had ever bought.

We got terrific gas mileage, at times 40 mpg. Now consider we live in Texas and our highways are more flat that other areas.

Only feature we did not like was the heavy driver/passenger doors. When we were parked in our driveway which had a slight incline, the doors would not hold and we were constantly getting our shins bumped when the doors closed back.

Overall, we loved (past tense) that car. It got rear-ended and totaled when it had just over 16,000 miles on it.

The newer models of Outback were redesigned and the doors were made lighter but the ride has not been as nice as the 2010 model.
 

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When looking at a 2013 Outback made before May 2013, Subaru has identified that there are issues with an unknown number of Outbacks burning oil.

If you are planning on purchasing a PZEV type 2.5L 4 cylinder (FB25) version of the Outback (or Legacy), contact Subaru of America with the VIN and inquire as to if an oil consumption test has ever been run on the vehicle.

If so, don't purchase that used vehicle.
 

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Finally pulled the trigger...

Been shopping for an Outback since 2010, and I finally did it. Bought a 2013 Limited with 40K miles on it a week ago, and it included such complete service records that I felt good about the purchase. I traded in my 2010 Prius.


This weekend, for the first time, we drove in rain. The tires still have a lot of tread on them, so I was surprised when it felt like I was hydroplaning left and right. It wasn't major, but minor slips and starts that I'm not used to feeling AND didn't expect with AWD.


Anyone else experience this? It was heavy rain, but not like a monsoon or anything. I'm trying to figure out if it's just the way Outbacks handle, or if there's something mechanical I should have looked at. Any thoughts or feedback are really, really appreciated.
 

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Been shopping for an Outback since 2010, and I finally did it. Bought a 2013 Limited with 40K miles on it a week ago, and it included such complete service records that I felt good about the purchase. I traded in my 2010 Prius.


This weekend, for the first time, we drove in rain. The tires still have a lot of tread on them, so I was surprised when it felt like I was hydroplaning left and right. It wasn't major, but minor slips and starts that I'm not used to feeling AND didn't expect with AWD.


Anyone else experience this? It was heavy rain, but not like a monsoon or anything. I'm trying to figure out if it's just the way Outbacks handle, or if there's something mechanical I should have looked at. Any thoughts or feedback are really, really appreciated.
poor alignments can leave a very small portion of the tire on the road.

and some cars have such asymmetry in the alignments any heavy rain or a little snow will make them sway.

summer rain, getting on a road covered in diesel, oil, coolant, tire smudge, and brake dust, makes all that a greasy surface for any car. = something that contributes to the big wreck pileups in southern california. (no tire tread laws in such states kind of suck too).

Edit: and too bad you could not keep a prius. (nice combo, a outback and a prius
even a real old one for local runs).
 

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Been shopping for an Outback since 2010, and I finally did it. Bought a 2013 Limited with 40K miles on it a week ago, and it included such complete service records that I felt good about the purchase. I traded in my 2010 Prius.


This weekend, for the first time, we drove in rain. The tires still have a lot of tread on them, so I was surprised when it felt like I was hydroplaning left and right. It wasn't major, but minor slips and starts that I'm not used to feeling AND didn't expect with AWD.


Anyone else experience this? It was heavy rain, but not like a monsoon or anything. I'm trying to figure out if it's just the way Outbacks handle, or if there's something mechanical I should have looked at. Any thoughts or feedback are really, really appreciated.
I've had mine for over a year and a half. Never noticed any problems like you described driving through water on the road other than having to straighten out the heat shield on two occasions when the spray bent it over towards the axle causing it to rub.
 

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I just bought a 2010 Outback 2.5 Premium, from a local dealership, with 118K miles.....excellent condition, one-owner vehicle, all maintenance performed at this dealership.

I was lucky that the dealership provided me with full service records, and that my purchase price included $1,800.00 in pre-sale service that included, oil and filter, new tires and brakes, timing belt, and differential and CVT drain and fill.....amongst some other items.

Also got a 6 Mo/ 6K mile warranty and first oil change free. I'm going to have a block heater installed next week in advance of the sub-zero temps that are sure to come this winter. The car has been great in the 3K miles I've put on it since purchase.

Sent from my XT1060 using Tapatalk
 

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I will bring this alive again, Any issues with 3.6 engine in 2010 or later Outbacks? I see a cheap one out here with 255,000ks on it. I know the 3.0 was a long life engine, no knowledge on the 3.6.
 

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Hello everyone.

I just bought a one owner 2013 outback base model. Nothing to report yet.

I wish there were more rugged kayak tie downs.
 

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When looking at a 2013 Outback made before May 2013, Subaru has identified that there are issues with an unknown number of Outbacks burning oil.

If you are planning on purchasing a PZEV type 2.5L 4 cylinder (FB25) version of the Outback (or Legacy), contact Subaru of America with the VIN and inquire as to if an oil consumption test has ever been run on the vehicle.

If so, don't purchase that used vehicle.
Just had this done on my '13 outback and as suspected, I have a substantial problem. Dealer is going to replace the full engine for free. Going to unload this thing ASAP, anyone else having this problem?
 
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