Subaru Lemon Years – Complete List of Common Lemon Models & Typical Issues

Subaru is widely recognized for its rugged durability and all-wheel-drive capabilities. However, as some owners can testify, not all Subaru vehicles are created equal. There have been releases referred to as the Subaru lemon years where certain models have displayed notable issues. For many, these issues have led to frustration and, for some, they have invoked Subaru Lemon Law protections. 


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In this article, we will provide a list of Subaru models by year that have seen more than their fair share of problems. We also look into the typical issues that plague them. Current and potential Subaru owners need to be aware of these troubled models and years. Knowing which Subaru years to avoid can save you from headaches and unexpected bills. So let’s get right into it.

  1. Subaru Impreza: 2012-2014 Models

The Subaru Impreza has a strong reputation overall. However, the 2012 to 2014 model years saw some notable issues. These models were subject to excessive oil consumption due to faulty piston rings. As a result of these faulty rings, there may be engine failures if not addressed. Brake light switch malfunctions also resulted in recalls for these years.

Typical Issues

  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Engine failure due to piston ring wear
  • Brake light switch failure 
  1. Subaru Outback: 2010-2015 Models

The Subaru Outback is the brand’s flagship crossover. As such, it has been a popular option for drivers looking for versatility and reliability. However, the 2010 to 2015 models had some notable issues as reported by many owners. These issues include malfunctioning Takata airbags and problems with the CVT. Oftentimes, these problems need expensive repairs or replacements.

Typical Issues

  • CVT transmission failure
  • Faulty airbag inflators (Takata recall)
  • Steering column vibrations
  • Electrical glitches in infotainment and rear view cameras 
  1. Subaru Legacy: 2010-2015 Models

The Subaru Legacy shares many of its components with the Outback. Thus, it’s no surprise that similar model years—2010 to 2015—have similar issues. The CVT transmission problems were also among the most prominent. Closely behind this are head gasket failures that could lead to overheating and serious engine damage.

Typical Issues

  • CVT transmission failure
  • Head gasket leaks leading to overheating
  • Suspension issues causing a rough ride
  1. Subaru Forester: 2011-2015 Models

The Subaru Forester’s 2011 to 2015 models also joined the list of lemon vehicles. Similar to other Subaru lemon years, this model suffers from excessive oil consumption and CVT issues. These models, specifically the turbocharged variants, were also prone to turbo failure. Due to this, there’s a risk of catastrophic engine damage.

Typical Issues

  • Excessive oil consumption
  • CVT transmission problems
  • Turbocharger failure, particularly in XT variants
  1. Subaru WRX and WRX STI: 2008-2014 Models

The performance-oriented Subaru WRX and WRX STI from 2008 to 2014 unfortunately did not escape their own set of difficulties. These cars were plagued with engine problems. Such problems included bearing failure in the EJ series of engines, leading to a major engine rebuild or replacement.

Typical Issues

  • Engine bearing failure leading to “rod knock”
  • Clutch and transmission problems
  • Poor-quality interior materials and paint
  1. Subaru Crosstrek: 2013-2015 Models

Introduced as a new model line, the Subaru Crosstrek from 2013 to 2015 also had its own issues. There have been complaints about CVT transmission and electric power steering failures. Additionally, there were reports of unexplained windshield cracks, an annoying feature for any owner.

Typical Issues

  • CVT transmission reliability concerns
  • Electric power steering failure
  • Windshields cracking without significant impact

Manufacturer Response and Remedies

Subaru has responded to many of these common lemon issues. To resolve some of these issues, the company instituted recalls and extended warranties. An example of this is the extended CVT warranty program for affected models and coverage for oil consumption on boxer engines. For many owners, these problems were addressed through a warranty or a recall. However, for some, these persistent issues and repair procedures meant invoking Subaru Lemon Law buyback rights. 

What To Do If You Find Yourself With Any Of These Common Subaru Lemons

Discovering that you have a Subaru lemon can be frustrating and stressful, but don’t worry just yet. There are steps you can take to address the situation and seek resolution. Here’s a guide on what to do if you find yourself with a Subaru Lemon: 

  • Review Your Warranty and Lemon Laws: Start by reviewing your Subaru’s warranty documentation. Familiarize yourself with your state’s lemon laws. While they may vary from state to state, they generally provide protections for consumers who have purchased defective vehicles.
  • Keep Detailed Records: Document all issues and repair attempts with your Subaru. Keep records of dates, times, and descriptions of each problem you encounter. Make sure to accurately record all repairs performed by the dealership or authorized service centers. Retain copies of all repair orders, invoices, and correspondence related to the repairs.
  • Notify the Manufacturer: Your Subaru lemon may continue to experience notable defects despite multiple repair attempts. If so, notify Subaru of America in writing about the ongoing issues. Follow the manufacturer’s procedures for reporting defects and request that they repurchase or replace your vehicle. 
  • Consult with a Lemon Law Attorney: Consider seeking legal advice from a Subaru Lemon Law attorney. Make sure you consult a lawyer who specifically handles cases involving defective vehicles. That is exactly what Quill and Arrow LLP are for. With Quill & Arrow, an experienced attorney can review your case, explain your rights, and guide you through the Subaru Lemon Law Buyback process. They can also advocate on your behalf during negotiations with the manufacturer. 
  • Explore Your Options: Depending on the severity of the defects, there are a couple different options for affected consumers. You may choose to request a repurchase (buyback) of your Subaru, cash compensation for the problems you’ve had, or ask for a replacement vehicle. Assess your options carefully and consider certain factors. These include the extent of the defects, your financial investment in the vehicle, and your satisfaction with Subaru’s response to your concerns. 
  • Be Patient and Persistent: Resolving a lemon law claim can take time. As a result, you need to be patient and persistent throughout the process. Continue to document any new issues that arise with your Subaru lemon and stay in communication with the manufacturer and your attorney. By remaining proactive and assertive, you can increase your chances of success. 

If You Own a Lemon, There is Hope For You

Subaru may have built a brand around cars that can tackle both streets and trails with confidence. However, several model years have faced serious reliability hurdles. Owners of the affected models often experience not only the inconvenience and danger that comes with vehicle malfunctions, they also suffer the financial stress of unexpected repairs. If you currently own one of these models or are experiencing recurring issues with your Subaru, it’s important to understand your rights under the Subaru Lemon Law. To protect yourself and your investment, consult with legal experts to help mitigate your losses. This is why the Quill and Arrow LLP team is always ready to assist with every step of the process. By partnering with our legal experts, you’ll have someone fighting in your corner to make sure your worries are addressed and you get the compensation you deserve.

Media Contact: 

Carlo V. DeFalco

eCustom Solutions

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