Subaru Problems

No car is perfect, but we've gathered everything relating to the Subaru reliability here to help you decide if it's a smart buy.

Has Subaru Australia discontinued the Levorg?

Answered by CarsGuide 21 Jan 2021

Not sure where you heard or read that. Stuart, but it’s not even close to being true. Australia will get the 2021 Subaru Levorg, but the nuances of global supply from the Japanese factory mean that it might not show up in local showrooms until the fourth quarter of this year.

What precise form it will take is still a matter of great conjecture, but the smart money seems to think that it will be a muscled-up Levorg this time around. It will definitely have a turbocharged petrol engine and, again, the rumours suggest it might use the new 2.4-litre engine from the WRX, perhaps with a slightly different tune. A hybrid or plug-in electric Levorg? Not this time around, it would seem, and Subaru will probably wait until the next platform upgrade before it introduces electric-drive technology to the Levorg range.

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2010 Subaru Outback Diesel Problems

Answered by CarsGuide 11 Dec 2020

Subaru Outback diesel problems don’t seem to be too frequent or too common. And that’s probably in line with the brand’s overall reputation for reliable engineering.

Probably the biggest complaint from owners is that the engine lacks a little oomph from a standing start and suffers from what’s called turbo-lag; a delay between putting your foot down and the car responding. Even though Subaru claimed a torque peak of 350Nm at anywhere between 1800 and 2400rpm, in reality, the engine didn’t feel that strong down low, particularly just off idle. The other barrier to the success of the Outback diesel was that it could only be had with a six-speed manual transmission and no automatic option was offered in the model you’re talking about.

Beyond that, the usual diesel-engine caveats apply including the requirement to give the engine a decent run at highway speeds every few weeks at the very least. Without this, the engine’s particulate filter (which aims to clean up tailpipe emissions) will clog up and may need to be manually cleaned or even replaced, and that won’t be cheap.

Subaru engines have, over the decades, proven themselves to be tough customers on the one condition that they’re serviced absolutely by the book. Skipping scheduled services is a sure way to send a Subaru engine to an early grave. So make sure any car you’re considering has a full and complete service history with no evidence of missed oil changes. It’s also worth noting that this model was caught up in the Takata air-bag fiasco, so make sure this critical recall has been attended to.

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How is water getting inside my 2009 Subaru Outback?

Answered by CarsGuide 17 Sep 2020

Short of a broken or degraded window seal, check the door rubbers for signs of damage. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a small twig or even a thick blade of grass sticking to the rubber seals that will allow water in. However, there’s a more likely answer. If it was the front-seat foot-wells that were wet, I’d be blaming the air-conditioning vent that is supposed to drain the water - that builds up in the system - to under the car, but can sometimes lock or clog and run the water into the car.

So let me ask you a question: Does your car have a sunroof? If the answer is yes, that’s where I’d be looking. The sunroof, being set into the roof panel, naturally collects water when it rains. So, there are tubes that run from the sunroof, down the rear pillars of the car and vent to the outside just in front of the rear wheels. If these drain tubes block up, the water will run down the outside of them and into the rear foot-wells. Cleaning out the tubes will usually fix the problem.

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What is causing a whistling noise from the exhaust of my 2007 Subaru Forester?

Answered by CarsGuide 15 Sep 2020

The whistling sound could be coming from some weird combination of acoustics within the muffler as it rots from within and begins to change shape internally. But more likely, what you’re hearing is the sound of a dying turbocharger bearing. Generally, these should be almost silent, but as they wear, they get louder and louder. The turbocharger sits inside the exhaust system, which is why you can hear it through the tailpipe.

Left to its own devices the bearing will eventually collapse, taking the turbocharger impeller/turbine with it. The bigger danger is that some of the small fragments of metal from the bearing will be free to enter the intake side of the turbocharger where they will be travel through the engine causing all kinds of destruction. That’s possibly what will happen if you ignore it.

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Is a 4WD necessary for travelling through regional Queensland?

Answered by CarsGuide 11 Sep 2020

It sounds like you don't really need a big, heavy and expensive 4WD for the type of vehicle you require. Maybe ample ground clearance would be an advantage, but otherwise, as all the driving is on sealed or some dirt roads, a good front-drive (2WD) medium-sized SUV should suffice. This type of vehicle is typically more stable at speed as there isn't a high centre of gravity to contend with - a big safety plus. And while all-wheel-drive might be useful driving out of ruts, on sand or in snow, if none of the these apply, the 2WD's stability and traction control system ought to be enough. 

As a result, we recommend the latest-model (from May 2019-onwards) Toyota RAV4 GX or GXL. It is an exceptionally practical, roomy and robust SUV, with a high level of standard safety features, and big comfy seating. Its 2.0-litre engine is strong, smooth and economical. And you won't have a problem finding somewhere for it to be serviced.

If AWD is deemed essential, then the base Subaru Forester 2.5i is another great choice. Lots of ground clearance, a gutsy 2.5L engine and a soft, relaxing ride. Nowadays Subaru has increased its service intervals from six to 12 months, taking away one of the hassles of running these well-engineered Japanese SUVs.

Finally, the Mazda CX-5 AWD is recommended as well, for it too has a well-sorted AWD system. This is quite a sporty number, with plenty of higher-speed power for effortless overtaking, as well as responsive handling. 

All three SUVs mentioned retail at well under $40,000, and all are enjoyable, capable and reliable choices.

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What is the best family SUV for around $20000?

Answered by CarsGuide 11 Sep 2020

While the Mitsubishi Outlander is spacious, reliable and easy to drive, our experience testing it against rival medium SUVs have found it to be noisy and a little too firm riding to be truly comfortable and relaxing. At your price point, there are better alternatives out there. 

Have you considered a Mazda CX-5? In petrol or diesel, we have found it to be a superior and more economical proposition, and is definitely quieter and more refined. Plus, the Mazda's all-wheel-drive system is more sophisticated and better at dealing with loose surfaces like sand.

A late-model (post 2014) S5-series Subaru Forester 2.5i petrol is far more economical than the earlier iterations, since it switched to a more efficient CVT continuously variable transmission. And there's also the 2.0D turbo-diesel which is economical. This, too, is a fine SUV on-road or for light off-road driving.

Finally, the Nissan X-Trail diesel is a roomy and capable choice, especially from 2017, when it received a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel to replace the older 1.6L unit.

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What model X-Trail or Forester should I buy for less than $19000

Answered by CarsGuide 8 Sep 2020

We'd recommend the Nissan T32 X-Trail Series II from mid-2017-onwards and Subaru S4 Forester (2013-2018), since they both make strong secondhand buys due to their reliability, economy, ease of operation, spacious interiors, practicality and strong resale values.

The reason why we'd buy the 2017-onwards X-Trail Series II is because it standardises Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). With the Forester, you'll need to skip the lower grades 2.0i-L (manual-only) and 2.5i-L (auto only) for the S and XT for that important safety technology Subaru calls 'EyeSight'. 

The X-Trail comes in front-wheel drive (2WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) configurations, but the Forester is AWD-only. All automatics are of the continuous variable transmission (CVT) variety, which priorities fuel economy but can make the engine drone under hard acceleration. Subaru calls its CVT Lineartronic while Nissan dubs its version X-Tronic.

Our recommendation is to check the service and maintenance history of any car you buy, to ensure every interval has been met and carried out by a proper dealer or brand specialist. This is especially important with the Forester, as it is a slightly more complicated vehicle mechanically. Note that all Subarus of this generation require six-monthly service intervals, not 12-monthly ones like the Nissan, which might be an inconvenience. 

We'd steer clear of ex-rentals as they tend to have a very hard life (both models were popular with such agencies), though they're almost always the base X-Trail ST and Forester 2.5i-L grades that end up as rental fodder.

If you're thinking about diesel engined versions, the X-Trail in middle-range TL and up-spec TS guises switched from the earlier (2014-2017) Series 1's 1.6-litre turbo-diesel to a much more powerful and effective 2.0-litre unit, so that's worth remembering. In the Forester the 2.0D equates to the mid-level petrol models in terms of equipment levels.

Finally, we recommend a mechanical check-up to see that your potential used-buy has not been subjected to punishing off-road treatment. While both the Forester and X-Trail offer good ground clearances, they're not for off-road use, only light gravel, snow or trail driving.

We hope this helps. Good luck. 

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What wagon should I buy for less than $35000?

Answered by CarsGuide 2 Sep 2020

Thanks for getting in touch with us. Our first thought was for you to consider a Mazda 6 wagon from Japan, since it is one of the few new wagons left on offer within your price range, is economical and reliable, a pleasure to drive and low enough (at 1480mm) for your garage situation. But it doesn't quite meet all your requirements in that it hasn't much ground clearance (at just 125mm) and back-seat legroom isn't great. It's worth remembering that the 6 wagon is 80mm shorter in wheelbase - the distance between the front and rear wheels - than the corresponding sedan version. It's a bit tight in there.

Alternatively, you might want to consider the just-discontinued Holden ZB Commodore wagon or Ford Mondeo wagon, as both offer substantially more rear-seat legroom than the Mazda 6 wagon, as well as the choice of a turbo-petrol or turbo-diesel engines. These are European-sourced models (Germany and Spain respectively), with big boots and towing-friendly torquey engines. However, again, low ground clearances might be an issue here as well.

So, our advice is to measure your garage roof and see if either of the medium SUVs listed below can fit, because if they do, then these would be the absolutely ideal vehicles for your need.

The better of the two, for its overall quiet refinement, all-weather all-wheel-drive grip and excellent all-round vision is the Subaru Forester from Japan. It ticks all your boxes in terms of needs and suitability, while providing heaps of ground clearance at 220mm. Plus it offers excellent standard safety kit, economy, reliability and resale, as well as decent performance. Just know that it stands 1730mm tall. If that fits, then find yourself a demo at $35,000 and enjoy one of the best family-car buys at any price available today.

Then there our second favourite, the wildly-popular Toyota RAV4, also from Japan. Much of what we said about the Forester applies here too, except it is front-wheel drive rather than AWD at your price point. There is a RAV AWD but it is a hybrid AWD system that takes the price into the mid-$40,000 region, so that's out of contention. The base RAV4 2WD also has a smaller engine (at 2.0-litres) than the Subaru, but it is equally response and agile. Where the RAV4 eclipses the Forester from your perspective is height – it is shorter at 1685mm high, while still allowing 195mm ground clearance.

Both Japanese SUVs are huge inside, with loads of space to boot. If their height doesn't end up being a problem, then know that either will provide many years of faultless, reliable, economical and enjoyable service. Good luck, we hope this helps. 

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What small all-wheel drive hatchback should I buy?

Answered by CarsGuide 2 Sep 2020

Small all-wheel drive hatchbacks are rare in Australia, as only a comparatively tiny number of people live in the sort of environments that require the added traction and surety that AWD provides.

Also, most Australian consumers seeking AWD tend to go for smaller SUVs, since they are easier to get in and out of, offer a higher seating position and generally enjoy better resale values. On the flipside, SUVs cost more to buy and run, are not as stable at increased speeds due to their higher centre of gravity and are larger to manoeuvre in tighter parking spots than a small hatchback.

The Subaru Impreza remains the least expensive small AWD hatchback you can buy new, as well as the sole mainstream-branded model starting at under $30,000.

However, while the latest-generation Impreza launched in 2016 it's a huge improvement over previous iterations (with service intervals finally extended  to 12 months/12,500km), there are a few more compelling alternatives in small crossovers – that is, the in-between segment between small cars and SUVs; they boast a few extra centimetres of ground clearance without the bulk. Note only a few crossovers offer AWD as an option.

A recent stint in the new Impreza-derived XV 2.0L Hybrid revealed it to be a powerful and economical crossover with excellent handling and road-holding capabilities. The same applies to the Mazda3-based CX-30 AWD, the Toyota C-HR 1.2L-turbo AWD and Volkswagen T-Roc 140TSI 4Motion - though none are as frugal as the Subaru.

If you're not sold on the idea of an crossover AWD and prefer a small AWD hatchback, then your only other option is to stretch to premium European hatchbacks like the Mercedes-Benz A250 4Matic, BMW M135i xDrive, Audi A3 quattro and Volkswagen Golf R. But all generally cost upwards of $60,000 drive-away - and that's before some of the more desirable options fitted.

Finally, unless you are travelling hundreds of kilometres ever week, there is probably no benefit choosing diesel over petrol, as the former fuel is dirtier for the environment and not as quiet and refined as the latter. Additionally, diesels are falling out of favour with buyers due to their harmful emissions, and most companies are switching to petrol/electric hybrids as a solution. Again, this means the Subaru XV Hybrid AWD.

A long response we know, Jan, but we hope this helps.

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Cruise-control not working in 2015 Subaru Forester

Answered by CarsGuide 31 Aug 2020

Without being able to scan the car from here, this sounds like a classic case of a body computer that is suffering a slow death. This computer is the one that links all the car’s major functions, including those ones you’ve listed as being on the blink. Random failures of these systems all at once point to the computer itself rather than the systems themselves.

Hooking the car up to a scanner at a workshop will tell you a lot more about what’s going on as the mechanic should be able to read the fault codes and make a diagnosis from there. The alternative cause is a poor earth somewhere in the car or a dodgy battery that is playing hell with the computer’s power source. Modern cars will not tolerate a poor power supply or earthing problems.

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