Unpacking Subaru’s Major Engine Issues: Causes, Solutions, and Their Impact on the Brand’s Reputation

Subaru is known for its durable, long-lasting vehicles, but there’s no denying that the brand has faced several major engine issues over the years. These problems have resulted in costly repairs, decreased resale value, and damaged reputation for the brand amongst car enthusiasts. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the main engine issues that have plagued Subaru, what causes these problems, and what drivers can do to avoid them.

What Are the Major Engine Issues That Subaru Faces?

Three main engine issues have affected Subaru models over the years: head gasket failure, oil consumption, and turbo failure. These issues have predominantly impacted the automaker’s Impreza, Legacy, and Outback models.

Head Gasket Failure

One of the most infamous engine issues that Subaru has faced involves the head gasket. This crucial engine component is responsible for sealing the combustion chambers within the engine block and preventing coolant and oil from leaking. Unfortunately, Subaru engines have been known to experience head gasket failure, resulting in external leaks that can lead to overheating and engine damage if left unaddressed.

Oil Consumption Issues

Another common engine issue that Subaru owners experience is excessive oil consumption. Some specific models, such as those manufactured between 2011 and 2014, have been particularly prone to this problem. The issue results from a faulty piston ring design that causes the engine to burn through oil more quickly than it should.

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Turbo Failure

Finally, Subaru models that are equipped with turbocharged engines may also experience turbo failure. This issue typically occurs due to a lack of proper lubrication or oil supply to the turbocharger, causing it to wear down or seize up entirely.

What Causes These Issues?

The exact causes of these issues can vary based on the specific model and engine design, but some general factors are often cited as contributing to these problems.

Engine Design

Subaru is known for its distinctive flat-four engine design, which has a horizontally opposed configuration that differs from the inline or V-shaped engines that are more commonly used in other vehicles. While this design offers some advantages, such as efficient power delivery, it can also lead to certain complications that can affect engine durability.


Improper maintenance can also contribute to engine issues in Subaru vehicles. Failure to change the oil regularly, for example, can cause oil consumption issues or even turbo failure. Similarly, neglecting to flush and replace coolant as necessary can increase the risk of head gasket failure.

Manufacturing Defects

Finally, some of the issues that Subaru engines experience are due to manufacturing defects. These defects may include faulty gaskets, pistons, or other engine components that degrade prematurely and cause problems down the line.

What Are the Solutions to these Issues?

While it’s impossible to entirely avoid engine issues, there are several steps that Subaru drivers can take to mitigate the risk of experiencing these problems.

Regular Maintenance

One of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent engine issues is to keep up with regular maintenance. This includes things like changing the oil regularly, flushing and replacing coolant, and checking for leaks that may indicate a problem. By keeping your engine in good condition, you can reduce the likelihood of experiencing problems down the line.

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Address Problems Early

If you do notice any symptoms of engine trouble, such as leaks or unusual noises, it’s essential to address these issues as soon as possible. Delaying repairs can allow the problem to escalate, potentially causing further damage or even complete engine failure.

Consider Aftermarket Upgrades

Depending on the model and type of engine, there may be aftermarket upgrades available that can help improve engine performance and durability. For example, upgraded head gaskets or piston rings can help prevent the issues that are commonly seen in certain Subaru models. However, it’s important to work with a reputable mechanic or upgrade provider to ensure that any modifications you make are appropriate for your specific vehicle and engine type.

What is the Impact on Subaru’s Reputation?

For many years, Subaru enjoyed a reputation as a reliable, long-lasting brand that produced vehicles that were well-suited to a variety of driving conditions, from off-road adventure to daily commuting. However, the engine issues that the brand has faced in recent years have undoubtedly impacted its reputation within the automotive community.

While it’s true that no automaker is immune to recalls or manufacturing defects, the sheer number of engine issues that Subaru has experienced has drawn significant attention. This attention has led to a decrease in resale value for affected models and some consumers are now hesitant to invest in a Subaru given the brand’s reputation.


1. Are all Subaru engines prone to these issues?

No, not all Subaru engines are prone to these issues. However, certain models and model years have been known to experience problems with head gaskets, oil consumption, or turbo failure.

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2. Can I still buy a Subaru even with these issues?

Yes, you can still buy a Subaru even with these issues. It’s important to keep in mind that no automaker is entirely immune to issues, and many Subaru models have proven to be reliable and long-lasting despite the problems that some drivers experience.

3. What can I do to prevent these issues in my Subaru?

Regular maintenance is one of the best things you can do to prevent engine issues in your Subaru. This includes changing the oil regularly, checking for leaks, and flushing and replacing coolant as necessary. It’s also important to address any symptoms of engine trouble as soon as possible to prevent the issue from escalating.

4. Should I opt for an aftermarket upgrade to improve engine durability?

Opting for aftermarket upgrades can be an effective way to improve engine durability in some cases. However, it’s essential to work with a reputable upgrade provider to ensure that any modifications you make are appropriate for your specific vehicle and engine type.

In conclusion, Subaru’s engine issues have affected many of its models over the years, with common problems including head gasket failure, oil consumption, and turbo failure. While some of these issues are due to unique design choices, others are caused by improper maintenance or manufacturing defects. Fortunately, by adhering to a regular maintenance schedule and addressing any symptoms of engine trouble early, Subaru drivers can reduce the likelihood of experiencing major problems down the line.

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Davis Bellew

As a Subaru owner and enthusiast, Davis has a deep understanding of the needs and concerns of Subaru drivers. He specializes in writing informative and engaging content about Subaru maintenance and repair, and his articles are always well-researched and easy to understand. When he's not writing, he enjoys hiking and photography.

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