By on June 24, 2019

Image: Subaru

Subaru was one of the few automakers experiencing growth going into the Great Recession. When the financial crisis struck in earnest, Subaru’s volume briefly dipped to pre-recession levels before resuming its climb. Thanks largely to an enviable public image and desirable lineup, Subaru’s annual deliveries tripled between 2009 and 2018 inside the United States.

However Subaru’s quality rankings have lapsed in its quest to meet elevated demand. There has been a surge in recalls for the brand and some unsavory claims coming from the factory. According to internal documents seen by Automotive News, one of the primary reasons for this was due to rampant supply chain issues. The papers indicate that nearly half of Subaru’s suppliers were recently operating at quality levels below the company’s internal targets. Subaru is currently overhauling its own production processes and working with suppliers to improve quality and avoid developing a poor reputation with customers. 

The automaker is familiar with its problems. An April 26th report by Subaru’s Quality Improvement Committee in Lafayette, Indiana, addressed an unpleasant increase of warranty, recall and other quality-related claims on U.S. vehicles ⁠— going from $241 million in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2015, to $900.1 million in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019. The outlay over the five-year period surpassed $2.7 billion. It also said 70 percent of new Subaru vehicles are now the object of recalls or service campaigns within two years of being purchased, noting that the “permissible limit” should be around 10 percent.

From Automotive News:

Subaru is now focused on earning, in 2020, the top spot in Consumer Reports’ reliability ranking and escaping the lower ranks of J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study, which is widely cited in auto advertising. Those goals were outlined in an internal report about Subaru of Indiana Automotive, the company’s manufacturing operations in Lafayette, Ind., issued in April by the company’s quality planning and management department.

In the closely watched Auto Reliability Survey from Consumer Reports, Subaru flourishes, finishing fourth in the fall 2018 report and second when the magazine updated the survey’s scores this spring. It wants to jump to No. 1 in 2020, the Subaru document says.

But in J.D. Power’s IQS report card, Subaru has consistently struggled. In 2018, it ranked fourth from the bottom in the industry, with 115 problems per 100 vehicles.

Subaru’s internal report said it wanted to “break out of the bottom” and improve to 101 problems in 2019, then move up to “middle ranking,” with 90 problems in 2020. But in the 2019 results, released last week, it finished seventh from the bottom, with 113 problems.

While Subaru did not authenticate the files, it did back up their assessment of the situation. “We acknowledge that over the past year we had more recalls than Subaru would like,” a corporate spokeswoman explained. “We want there to be zero. But when faced with a quality problem, we have been able to move quickly to get ahead of issues that might affect our customers.”

Subaru of Indiana Automotive has previously cited high turnover as a reoccurring problem. However, due to the sudden surge in demand and the factory adding more models, Subaru had little recourse but to hire more people after 2014. The internal report only makes minor issue of the elevated turnover and lack of veteran employees saying the site’s “sense of teamwork and sense of process ownership has degraded with the growth experienced since 2015,” adding it had hindered the factory’s “ability and previous strength to solve problems quickly.”

Some of those quality issues surfaced upon the launch of the Ascent, which Subaru President Tomomi Nakamura has noted. “I have already heard from our U.S. dealers that they are worried about brand image,” Nakamura said late in 2018. “It is true quality-related issues have been on the increase … There is a sense of complacency in various areas of our company.”

The company has been working overtime to ensure the sixth-generation Outback launch goes better.

Subaru of America (SOA) has directed most of those quality issues back at Japan. While the Ascent did suffer from supply problems and on-site quality control, the broader issue comes from its engineering if SOA is to be trusted. “The majority are conditions that SOA believes should have been identified during development and pre-production confirmation testing,” the report states.

It’s, of course, more complex than that. While internal reports from June 5th showcased improvements within Subaru’s domestic supply chain. Each month of the fiscal year that ended in March of 2019 showed suppliers missing Subaru’s target average defective part rate. The target, measured in parts per million (ppm), currently stands at 6 ppm. In four of the months, the average remained at 20 ppm or higher. Despite 107 suppliers having met Subaru’s internal quality goals, 101 others didn’t. Of those that failed, 32 had an average defect rate over 50 ppm.

That said, the company is still bending over backward to solve these problems. Headway is being made and internal documents stipulate that SOA is asking that Japan allow it to make more decisions for itself, rather than waiting for blessing from Asia to make supply chain changes. Hopefully, it comes together for the brand — lest it risk its stellar reputation to become the cheeky AWD manufacturer with the pleasant demeanor and some unpleasant quality problems.

Image: Subaru

[Image: Subaru]

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100 Comments on “Report Outlines How Subaru is Coping With Quality Control Issues...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I never thought that Honda and Toyota would have quality issues either. All auto manufacturers need to take a closer look at quality. Everyone is getting a bit lazy

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      I think we all want so much crammed into our cars – all of the latest infotainment systems, leather, driver’s aids, more room, etc – but we don’t want to pay for it. In 2000, a Sentra, Civic, Corolla, Neon might have cost around $18,000 (maybe around what, $26,000 today), and it didn’t include dashboard LCD screens, leather, 8+ speaker Bluetooth audio with navigation and smartphone integration, automatics with 6+ gears, the space of a midsized car, etc.
      So everyone has to cut costs. I think we first saw that with interior and paint quality. Plastics got harder and hollow feeling. The “leather” on seats started to look worn after 30,000 miles. Components that were made of metal before are now made with brittle plastic. Paint fades and peels a lot quicker now.
      So, we pay the price because the automakers want to give us what we want, but they can’t pass on the full-blown cost to us. So, time to press down on the suppliers, make them cut costs, and things get a lot cheaper.
      Of course that doesn’t apply fully to overpriced luxury vehicles where the profit on one of them is easily in the tens of thousands.

      • 0 avatar
        d4rksabre

        I would be perfectly fine if automakers stopped cramming a bunch of stuff I don’t want or need into cars. Unfortunately, we’re not putting the lid back on that box.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          ^^This, I’m not a Luddite, but enough is enough with the nannies, and warnings. I’m still a capable, aware driver who just doesn’t need that much assist

          • 0 avatar
            James2

            Just finished an extended stint driving my mom’s Lexus ES350. Beeps, beeps and more beeps! It drove me nuts just parking the fat whale. Though I do want that new car smell, everything else can stay at the factory.

          • 0 avatar
            Hydromatic

            New car smell gives me a headache. Gotta keep the windows open while the whole interior’s offgassing.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I’ve always wondered “what’s the cost per car to go all-out on interior quality,” for example!

        It can’t be more than $75 to $100 per car to make sure the mats and carpets are durable, that the plastics and switchgear has a pleasant feel, and that rattles won’t creep in before the tenth payment is made. Then charge me that, and I’ll pay it, if you’re up-front about it! But it seems like the industry is in a race to the bottom, thanks to the bean-counters; the BMW 2-series I sat in two years ago at the auto show had the same flimsy carpet as the Hondas. And Subies. And…!

        Finally, I didn’t realize the Ascent launch was so shaky; they certainly sell well enough!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    When it comes to Subaru, nobody cares about quality issues. See Tesla for reference.

    Because love.

    • 0 avatar
      1500cc

      And don’t forget Jeep and Land Rover.

      Heck you could even throw the German brands in that category too. If people fear owning one outside of warranty, that doesn’t say good things about your quality, yet their sales dutifully increase every year.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      Respect where respect is due. Subaru marketing has done an exemplary job developing brand loyalty and a dedicated cohort of diehard Subaru enthusiasts. Subaru brand loyalty is the envy of the industry.

      Never underestimate the value of brand and brand marketing. Subaru, with their exclusively all wheel drive power-sucking drivetrains, have somehow claimed the affection of Greens…even though Subaru’s consume more fuel than competitors, are not notably “clean” or “green” in any measurable way, and are very late to the hybrid game.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      ” See Tesla for reference.”

      Tesla’s quality issues may be resolved now, although I wouldn’t want an “end of quarter” car. At least according to Bob Lutz:

      https://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/a28008116/tesla-model-3-build-quality-bob-lutz/

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Yes!

        Earlier this year, they were trying to make production numbers at EOQ like dealers trying to move the metal on the other end; Tesla doesn’t have “dealers” as such, but I think you see my point.

        When you push the line too hard, assembly quality suffers! See: Chevy Vega!

  • avatar
    d4rksabre

    It’s silly to me that no one has been able to successfully beat Subaru at its own game because, in my opinion, they’ve always been wildly overrated.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Their advertising agency detected the trend of disposable income being concentrated in protected groups by Obama’s stranglehold on private hiring and diversity-only hiring in his exploding government. They also positioned themselves well when rules about accreditation required diversity hiring at universities as Obama cranked up the unlimited student debt spigot to redistribute wealth to unproductive campus radicals. The marketing is brilliant. Everyone else makes better cars, but nobody in their demographic would admit it even if they traded in a 300,000 mile RAV4 for their headgasket, oxygen-sensor and axle eating Forester.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Let’s not forget that – besides “love” – Subaru sells the perception of safety, bordering on invincibility.

      The effect is seen even on those who don’t buy Subarus. AWD is now seen as a must-have option even in rain-only areas, and in the TV ads the survivors of crashed Subarus tell us how the car saved their lives.

      Not dying is powerful incentive for consumers of cars (and health care). In that sense, Subarus are *not* overrated, because their customer base – both present and future – are keen on not dying, and Subaru sells that impression like nobody else. They have out-Volvoed Volvo.

  • avatar
    gtem

    The curious thing is, a while back when Toyota had an arrangement to have Camry’s built at Subaru’s Lafayette site, those Camries consistently had top marks for quality in internal metrics at Toyota. It must be the huge push for volume over the last 5-7 years that did them in. I did a tour there a few years ago when they were in process of putting the Ascent line in and expanding their paint shop, it’s neat to read about a place I’ve actually been inside of.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Toyotas built at Lafayette may have been better than Subarus because of Toyota’s superior engineering and higher standards for parts suppliers. The assembly line workers are probably scape-goats when you’re talking about a car company that puts stop-leak in the cooling systems of every car that they sell. Used car dealers that do the same are the bottom of the barrel. I don’t know what Toyota is thinking putting their name on a car with a Subaru engine.

  • avatar
    TimK

    My guess is the quality management folks at Subaru dumped a bunch of ISO9001 requirements on their lower tier suppliers. Small vendors that previously supplied adequate quality parts were shunned as non compliant, replaced by larger outfits that were ISO registered and could deal with the burdensome paperwork. These larger companies shipped crap parts to Subaru, but the crap came with all the necessary certs, so let the root-cause analyses begin!

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    Blah, blah, blah. Subaru, and only Subaru, is solely and directly is to blame for this. Their name is on the building.

    Subaru is ‘familiar with its problems?’ Huh? After years of denying them, after years of trying to weasel out of all manners of being responsible for junk quality for decades? Example: 600 miles between adding oil is within spec? Only for a jerk-Subaru.

    High turnover at the plant? Pay them more, treat them better. “Love” apparently isn’t for Subaru employees treated like monkeys.

    Recalls are normally for safety items, or future lawsuits they are clear to lose. Just think of all the poor quality customers had to endure and PAY for that isn’t splashed into headlines.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    B&B: JD Power is junk – no way Subaru has quality issues

    TTAC: Subaru has quality issues

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I have my own solution to Subaru’s quality problems – I’m not buying one.

    Sorry, folks, Subarus are INSANELY overrated.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      This.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Yup. I have found the legendary quality of Subarus to be just that – legend only.

      They become problematic at 80K to 100K miles and Subaru is awful proud of their parts when you go to buy new ones.

      • 0 avatar

        “I have found the legendary quality of Subarus to be just that – legend only.”

        That legend was built during the Loyale/early Legacy days. Like Toyota/Nissan/Honda, Subaru had their models that would run 300k or better with rudimentary care.

        BUT THAT WAS THEN.

        The second part of your statement is 100% correct from personal and anecdotal experience.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Your typical used Subaru ad will mention one of three things:

      1. Doesnt run
      2. New engine/head gaskets! Has rust
      3. Ran 2 months ago, then it threw a rod

      Considering that Subaru builds everything on the same two chassis, using many of the same parts, you’d think they would have figured out quality control by now.

      And as much as I want to throw them a bone for doing well in the rallying scene, Fiestas are beating them in the higher classes and old RWD Volvos beat them in the lower hobbyist class.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Business schools should use this as clear evidence as to why brand image and brand equity matter so much. The Subaru quality issues are hardly discussed anywhere within the automotive or public landscape, the buying public largely ignores them and/or dismisses them as fake news. Meanwhile, on another thread on this site it is only a matter of time before someone posts about their grandfathers Oldsmobile diesel they had in 1981 which is clearly the evidence needed to ensure the new Silverado inline 6 diesel will be a steaming pile of garbage.

    70 percent of new deliveries are subject to a recall or service campaign? Do better.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Reputations take forever to build and not much time to destroy.

      Once upon a time, I bet Olds’ customer profile looked quite similar to Subaru’s – better-educated, slightly more affluent folks who didn’t “buy the hype” on something like a Cadillac. All it took to kill the brand was a few years of building those horrid diesels…and people still remember how bad they were 30 years later.

      Subaru buyers are probably a fairly well heeled and affluent bunch, and buyers like that won’t put up with Junk for long.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “and buyers like that won’t put up with Junk for long.”

        In the eyes of many they have been, for a few decades. The ones that are long term (100k+ miles) keepers anyways. I think it goes beyond that, the brand has a spell on them that never mind the engine-out HG/reseal/t-belt job, “it’s been a great car, very reliable!”

        In this regard the newer cars are the best ones they’ve had IMO, in terms of NOT having headgasket issues.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          You’re talking about the “Subaru cult” types, and yeah, they don’t care, just like the Wrangler cult doesn’t care that their vehicles have a well-known issue that goes by the colorful term “death wobble.”

          But cultists aren’t the ones behind the recent surge in sales. Today’s Subaru buyer is basically a Toyota or Honda buyer who’s in the market for something different. I don’t think they’ll put up with product-quality nonsense for long.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “I don’t think they’ll put up with product-quality nonsense for long.”

            But my point is that they HAVE been putting up with quite a bit of nonsense, and outside of a few years of high oil consumption, I haven’t heard of the newer FB+CVT equipped cars having as many “achilles heels” per se.

            Toyota/Honda are in a different boat, where as your’e saying, they have a strong reputation for quality/reliability but they’ve been pissing it away the last decade or so.

        • 0 avatar

          I have a relative that’s been a subaru fan for decades. He put up with many failures on cars that should not have happened. Of cource he was a former VW owner (and Toyota pickup not sure how that slipped in ) so I don’t think these ever really surprised him. Hence he used to rave how great they were. To be fair the last couple of foresters he’s had have been trouble free but the stuff he saw 15 years ago never scared him (head gasket and transmission failures). I had a 2001 and it was somewhere between my mopars and VW experince as far as reliability, about equal to my Volvo, way below my Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi experiences.

          I think Subaru love is a lot like domestic truck owner love. 5.4L and 6.0 PS failures for Ford, random cylinder cutoff caused failures on Silverados and ball joints on Dodges did little to effect owners from buying another one.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Subaru’s reputation was built on an ad campaign and has persevered forever based on the claim that the new ones won’t have the expensive issues that the previous ones did. Instead, they have the old issues plus new ones stemming from efforts to improve fuel economy. When I bought my first new non-BMW in decades back in 2007, my BMW mechanic told me to steer clear of the Subaru I was considering. He did so for reasons that proved to be sound, but they barely scratched the surface of what I’ve seen over the past two years running a shop that practically specializes in Subarus. Many of our customers came to us for help in trying to get some sort of satisfaction from the dealer on their new Subarus as well. Subaru is still as safe as socialism in the minds of their customers. They don’t care about a hundred million dead, and they sure aren’t going to care about high oil consumption. At least two of my customers traded in their new oil burners for more new Subarus when Subaru wouldn’t do anything for them. Only an EV mandate will negatively effect Subaru.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Todd do you have any tangible evidence of the FB series motors having issues with head gaskets as you seem to be implying? Too soon to see if they will have prematurely wearing CV boots or weak wheel bearings at this point IMO, I have not heard of emissions-sensor related trouble yet either, plenty of FB motors past 100k at this point.

          • 0 avatar

            My family ( I live in New England everybody knows Subaru owners here) owns a number of Subarus the current fleet are all 4 cyclinders and 2012 and newer, so far none have had major issues from talking with relatives. The only even minor one I can think of was an obvious QC error with a sat antenna leaking water on a forester. They do seem much better then before I just still can’t bring myself to look at Subaru again.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            This is a decade old vehicle now, but the most “lemony” vehicle I’ve ever seen was a ’09 Subaru Forester my brother’s friend bought used. Literally all the wheel bearings needed to be changed by 100k miles, the usual external HG leaks, and then a very severe water intrusion issue that was finally traced to a factory defect in how some foam near the cowl was placed that mis-directed water, as well as a poorly sealed seam under the carpet. And that was a vaunted “J VIN” car!

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            I keep finding conflicting information about when each model transitioned to the FB25. I’m sure the worst oil consumption issues we saw were in FB25 cars though, because they were post-2016.

            Recent cars still have the stop leak, they still kill their B1S1 “air-fuel ratio sensors” with coolant in their exhausts, and they now often need VVT control solenoids/valves at mileages where most cars need their first coolant replacement. I’m pretty sure we did at least one set of rear wheel bearings on a three year old Outback on my watch too.

            Sometime in 2018 their replacement part quality started to go down the toilet too. It used to be that only Subaru rear brake discs ever fit the cars without machining, but eventually they started charging $85 a rotor for the same incorrect stuff you can get for $12 elsewhere.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “and they now often need VVT control solenoids/valves at mileages where most cars need their first coolant replacement.”

            First coolant replacement being 100-120k across most of the industry, the VVT solenoid issue doesn’t sound surprising, nor is it specific to Subarus. Modern engines with these solenoids are less forgiving to extended or ignored oil changes.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            I know these people did their oil changes at 3,000 mile intervals with synthetic blend oil because they listened to whatever we told them and we had the records. The only similar valve timing control replacement on a K-series Honda I can recall involved a lunatic who never checked or changed the oil on his 2009 CRV. He drove it until the car slowed down, and then kept driving it. Finally it started shutting off and he limped it into the shop. I put together an estimate to replace the destroyed control valves and screen plus cycle some oil and filters to try and save the engine. IIRC, he approved an oil change and drove off in a car that topped out at 60 mph. You don’t need to neglect a Subaru for it to get expensive. The only customers we had who neglected them were broke people trying to evoke the counter culture status symbol image. They were soon walking.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “I know these people did their oil changes at 3,000 mile intervals with synthetic blend oil because they listened to whatever we told them and we had the records. ”

            Well for what it’s worth the only time I’ve seen it was on a horribly neglected car that was low on oil that obviously hadn’t been changed. I’ve not heard of manufacturing related failures of the valves on Subarus.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Your beloved FB25s drink oil like I drink Eagle Rare. What you call a neglected Subaru, I call a car owned by someone who turned in a high quality Toyota or Honda that didn’t have a sieve built into its sump. I say that because it took me about four years of Honda ownership to stop checking my oil every gas station visit, having owned a Mercedes-Benz, a VW, a Porsche, two Audis and two BMWs before I bought a car built by people who knew and cared about what they were doing.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “Your beloved FB25s”

            No need to be an idiot. I don’t own a Subaru of any kind. I’m just trying to inject some objectivity and balance.

  • avatar
    TheOtherGoose

    I agree that Subaru is overrated. I remember when Subaru said that they were going to be a premium brand; as far as I could tell, the only thing that changed on their cars was the price.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      Sounds a lot like Mazda right now.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      They’re still very reasonably priced for the features that you get IMO. A “premium” trim Outback has an interior on par with vehicles in the mid $30k/premium segment IMO, a leather-lined Limited with wood trim feels quite luxurious indeed and can be scooped up right at $30k (but you have a very non-premium powertrain at that point).

      I’d argue in terms of the average income of their buyers goes, they are more premium than most other mainstream brands. They’ve built up that image.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Subies are very popular in the mountainous Southwest ski-country, and owners are known for having more than one Subie, albeit from different years.

        The overall favorite is the H6 Outback, but the various H4 models seen on the road here are often hand-me-downs for the kids or grandkids.

        With a lot of TLC subies CAN last a long time, and the Asymmetrical AWD has been a lifesaver on snowy and icy mountain roads.

        Ironic that they are so popular in my area because the nearest Subaru dealer is in El Paso, TX, more than 120mi away from the ski-areas in NM.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          “Asymmetrical AWD”

          A subtle jab at recent Subaru’s shift towards emphasizing MPG on their AWD systems or an honest mistake, I can’t tell :P

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Heh, heh, heh. You’re pretty sharp gtem.

            It was a jab because Subies are not the most fuel efficient, at altitude.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Hmmm…my sister just took possession of a brand-spanking new Outback. Granted, only a few weeks into ownership, but she loves it. Kind of comical, as we spent about four months pouring over data on about a dozen mid-size SUVs to replace her 2011 Explorer and decided while we were out test-driving to stop by the Subaru dealer here in northern Alabama (the wagon wasn’t on any list we had considered!). The Outback fit what she wanted to a tee, and they made a strong offer for her to buy. I’ll concede that the four-pot and CVT won’t win any drag races (and I tend to really, really not like CVT), but for her needs, this was the best fit. Now I hope it doesn’t grenade on her down the road these next several years…

  • avatar
    tedward

    Subarus have had petty good reliability recently in the hands of everyday users. I think they age horribly, but that’s not the same thing. They’re also not known for their build quality, but that’s different from reliability as well. While we’re at it, power and refinement aren’t present either and I have a huge problem comparing fuel economy between cars with big differences in usable torque, so let’s question-mark mpg’s.

    At least they are sexy, wait what? Still flying vagina ugly? Damn. It looks like I’m forced to concur that Subaru’s are highly overrated. The WRX can’t make up for all that.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    If only I could write junkyard Finds, I’d share an almost mint 199-something Outback with just 113k on it, no body damage beyond light rust. Something killed it, since this yard will sell runners.

    Conceptually I like the boxer engines and symmetrical AWD, in practice Subarus been building basically 2 cars (and many redundant variants) using this setup for decades, as far as the drivetrain goes theres no excuse to be having problems or quality issues at this point.

    Yes they have “out Volvo’s Volvo”, but Volvo usually didnt take 10+ years to fix headgasket issues, oil burning, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “Yes they have “out Volvo’s Volvo”, but Volvo usually didnt take 10+ years to fix headgasket issues, oil burning, etc.”

      Corrosion resistance aside, I’d take a Subaru (historical reliability warts and all) over what long-term Volvo ownership looks like for the last 2 decades.

      If you have a competent and good indie mechanic to service it one of those P2 platform cars can actually be very affordable to run, (my brother has a customer with a 220k mile V70 that he flat towed to him from VA recently), but if you’re relying on the dealer, forget it.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Lack of mechanics is a very real issue with Volvos, Ive been shopping RWD Redblocks and the owners all use the same local shop.

        Regular garages won’t touch em, they assume that they’re complex like the newer models (everything 96 onward), and to be fair some repairs do require rare/expensive special tools. Its almost like Saab despite Volvo being alive.

        But hey, Volvo does offer free towing!

        At Todd:
        Bad dealership experiences and salesmen dont always mean bad cars.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          “But hey, Volvo does offer free towing!”

          LOL I love the catch there being they will only tow it to their dealership. In the case of that old V70, it was a no-start condition that the local dealer in VA offered to fix for about $1k (replacement of entire fuel pump assembly), and then gave a $5k laundry list of suspension work, PCV system replacement, and an airbag light that wasn’t on before the car came to the dealership(!). My brother found the failed (corroded) fuel pump module/controller, bought a good used one for $100 on Ebay and plugged it in, charged for a few hours diagnostics and installation labor. PCV system was perfectly fine by the way. And the airbag light? That was from a dealer tech forgetting to reconnect some kind of connector by the rear seat when they were poking around the fuel pump originally.

          You can see why the friend went through the trouble to tow it all the way up to my brother.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      All this discussion about perception v. reality of Subaristas, and nobody has even touched on their turbocharged atrocities. Any time a young man buys a Subaru with three initials, the dealer will give him the nudge and wink treatment about the enticement of reflashing the ECU of their brand new car for 60 extra horsepower and a car that will become a financed paperweight when the engine grenades and Subaru has been freed of any warranty responsibility. They do it so much that they assume they did it even when they failed to sell the reflash and the engine stopped after 11K miles anyway, as my friend who will now take my automotive advice more seriously learned. You’d think he’d have learned after my CEL tip saved his Porsche’s engine.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’m interested to know what the quality concerns are before making a judgment. Are they RTFM issues, or are they legitimate issues such as trim bits falling off, powertrain bits failing, infotainment freezing, windows leaking, electrics going haywire. There is so much that the quality rankings don’t mention in big shouty print that would make their information more useful.

    A few years ago I test drove an Impreza, but numbers weren’t immediately forthcoming and I went home without pulling the trigger. I took the opportunity to dig around online and found lots of infotainment issues with Subaru’s eyesight systems. Since I didn’t end up buying, I can’t recall just what others issues there were.

    RTFM issues are less interesting to me than legitimate vehicular failures.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      It seems like the EyeSight system is just that, relying almost solely on the cameras. Which becomes a problem when driving into direct sunlight in the morning or evening. (Might even be a problem driving at night, depending upon the IR capabilities.) You need some sort of radar or lidar as a secondary source of information to the assistance systems.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    I really like my Forester with 24K miles but it is the first car ever that I have to add a quart of oil between the oil changes.

    • 0 avatar
      d4rksabre

      That’s bad news. My girlfriend’s Impreza needed a whole new engine due to oil consumption. It’s not an uncommon issue with Subarus and you should have them do an oil consumption test to see if you need your engine replaced.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      You are not stuck as you would be with an oil diluting Honda. Subaru, after an oil consumption test, will replace the short block on FB25 engines for free (takes about 1 day) and reissue an extended warranty for the engine. The Subaru limit is 12oz of 0W-20 used in 1200 miles (which computes to around 1 US qt of oil per 3200 miles. This happened to me at 18k miles on my FB25; Subaru replaced the short block (and gave me a new Legacy to tool around in for the day) and now, at 44k miles, my oil consumption is around a half US qt per 6000 miles which to me is acceptable when using water-thin full synthetic 0W-20. As an aside, the EJ25 in my wife’s car is still going strong (as is the CVT) at 143k miles and uses no oil between changes (it does use conventional 5W-30 though).

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/attachments/gen-4-2010-2014/138489d1422541335-oil-consumption-2013-2-5-tsb-02-157-14r-low-res.pdf

        Here is a link to the TSB(TSB 02-157-14R). I hope one of the Subaru’s victims identifies you and proves you’re on Subaru’s payroll. Subaru’s standard for oil consumption is one QUART every 1,200 miles, at which point they will tell you it is perfectly normal because the car is being driven. An oil consumption test doesn’t take a moment. The oil level is set by the dealer and the customer then has to drive at least 1,200 miles or until the oil level warning light comes on, as detailed in Subaru’s TSB. Once the engine fails the consumption test and Subaru fails to weasel out of fixing the car via the methods detailed in the TSB, then they re-ring your existing engine. Good luck on the turnaround time on that.

        • 0 avatar
          d4rksabre

          It was a completely painless process with my girlfriend’s Impreza so ¯_(ツ)_/¯

          • 0 avatar
            Stumpaster

            Interesting reactions here. Thankfully this is a lease so I will soldier on for another year instead of wasting my time with the dealer and getting a refurbished engine instead. I do not accept that oil consumption is anything normal. Reason being, it has not occurred in my 1973 BMW, or 1987 Volvo, or 2000 Civic, or 2012 Acura or 2003 MB 230 Kompressor. It simply should not occur because in today’s world we couldn’t be bothered checking the dipstick every few weeks. I know my wife won’t even know where it is, which is the norm today.

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          I’ve had the actual TSB from Subaru for a couple years and this ain’t it (it’s apparently copied from some Owner Forum where they gather to whine – you oughta hear ’em complain about changing low beam bulbs). I also have the actual consumption test procedure and limit specs from Subaru. Some dealers were claiming a qt in 1200 to avoid the warranty work early on but that is not the number – 12 oz/1200 mi is the actual number from Subaru. I had the block replacement done satisfactorily because I was using 11oz per 1200 miles – close enough to the limit according to their service manager. Tell me about YOUR FB25 and how Subaru screwed YOU PERSONALLY and not a second-hand account similar to that of the very intelligent neighbor that purchased an STI for his teenager and expected it to last. And, no, according to this TSB, “Vehicles confirmed as having this condition which are within the supplied VIN ranges will no longer be repaired with piston ring replacement.”.

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    Obviously you have never owned a Northstar Cadillac.

    • 0 avatar
      izackl

      Yeesh. That was a dark time period in my life. Imagine my surprise when the dealership told me the $10 part that needed to be replaced was right in the middle of the goddam block and EVERYTHING needed taken out of the car, and then taken apart to deal with the seemingly innocent oil leak i saw in my new-to-me Eldorado. I learned a lot that day.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I have a neighbor and a friend who is dead set on buying a 2019 Subaru Forester and getting a deal when the 2020s arrive. He has a 2012 Buick LaCrosse hybrid with 40k miles on it and I asked him for first dibs on the Buick when and if he buys the Forester. I think he is making a big mistake especially since he has had the Buick since new and has kept it immaculate with no problems whatsoever. Since he plans on getting rid of the Buick I want it especially since the Subie dealer will not offer him much on a trade-in.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      I knew a GM engineer whose company job gave him a new car every three months. He was very disappointed to learn he would be receiving a fully loaded Buick LaCrosse for the next quarter. When your own employees are disappointed to get one for their free company car, that says a lot.

      Although a car with some positives, the name LaCrosse” is the start of the negatives.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Of the about eight close people that I know, five are driving some model of Subaru inc my mother.

    I bought a Toyota.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The car has been very reliable and if I get it for 10k and 12k it would be worth it. I know there are lots of people on this site who believe that GM cannot make a good vehicle, but from my experience with my 99 S-10 it has been an excellent vehicle despite many who believe the
    Tacoma is a much better truck. Maybe the Tacoma is better but after 20 years I don’t have any complaints and no regrets. I might be a lot pickier if I paid 40k for a vehicle but if it lasts and gives me reliable service then I am satisfied. I don’t exactly drive on the autobahn so having the fastest is not that important. I haven’t heard too many issues with the hybrid I4 but I have read about some issues with the V6s. This Lacrosse has heated leather seats and a moonroof and has been well maintained.

    My wife has a 2013 CRV AWD which I would take over a Subie. Zero issues with the CRV.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Blown head gaskets, transmission issues and major suspension problems from front to rear, as well as other problems, all issues having to be repaired/replaced frequently, that would make modern KIA embarrassed – it is what makes Subaru a Subaru.

    But never mind that, check out our crunchy-hippy love and dog driving our vehicles commercials.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      A friend told me that all but the H6 Subbies are underpowered. Having recently rented a 2018 Forester H4, I personally thought the doors were tinny-sounding when closing, and I constantly had to have the pedal to the metal to get the thing to move.

      The CVT was not an attribute I would choose.

      Then again, I cannot ever see myself driving a Subaru, unless it happens to be a rental for a day or two.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “transmission issues and major suspension problems”

      What are you talking about? I’ve never heard of any of these. If there’s two things that have been generally problem free on Subarus are their suspensions, and transmissions (both the manuals and the 4EAT that they used forever, have yet to hear issues on their CVTs either).

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    A lot of Subaru hate being thrown around on this one (as there always is when Subaru is the subject and by the usual folks). From last decade head gaskets to unfounded VVT claims and the case of the rocket scientist who bought his teenage son a brand new WRX STI that blew its engine at 11k miles (yeah, I’m really believing that Subaru is at fault on that one). I’ve yet to read of someone who is in the know as to what actual horrible problems JD Power (the best survey that money can buy!) listed for that 113 out of 100 in the first 90 days. Haven’t seen any first person evidence here in the comments. Subaru should have kept their mouths shut, ignored and denied any issues with the glass transmissions and serious oil dilution in their engines…whoopsee, my bad, that’s the high quality and super reliable Honda. Young Posky knows what to write about to get the savage and somewhat ignorant clicks.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      After reading your comment I called a friend of mine in Ruidoso, NM, at the ski-resort to see if that is really hate the B&B are spewing.

      He told me, “We LOVE our Outback, as we love our Forester! But that doesn’t mean that they don’t have problems.”

      Once his cars went out of warranty, he found a local mechanic (who also owns several Subies, to work on his Subies. Without a local Subie dealer, no Autozone nearby, his only option was to turn to RockAuto for “All the parts his cars will ever need.”

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “Without a local Subie dealer, no Autozone nearby, his only option was to turn to RockAuto for “All the parts his cars will ever need.””

        This is something I’d advise against, specifically for timing belt kits for the older EJ series engines. The previously top-tier brands like Gates and now even Aisin have started to outsource their pulley bearings and tensioners to China, with predictable results. My brother has seen both fail at very low mileage following a t-belt replacement. These days he is forced to steer customers to a pricier OEM Subaru t-belt kit, the only one that has stayed consistent in quality.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          gtem, I emailed your comment to my friend and the resulting reply was that they were aware of that impediment, so for SOME parts they go through the Subie dealers in Albuquerque or Denver and vicinity.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Subaru’s IQS scores were dinged due to the poor performance of their CVT transmissions (mostly stutter/shudder issues although some full-on failures as well) and EyeSight’s inability to function well in adverse weather conditions.

      • 0 avatar
        bullnuke

        Thanks, ajla. This is the first piece of information (including the original Posky article) that points out areas of quality concern related to Subaru’s statement. These items are a bit different than the routine “head gaskets, cv boots, wheel bearings”, second- and third-hand tales of poor quality, and tales from years ago being retold over and over. I do wonder why TTAC hasn’t done an in-depth of Honda’s on-going oil dilution issues but perhaps that would affect the income stream of TTAC…

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Interesting alja, the first bit of actual tangible info on what might be driving this.

        My friend bought a used ’16 Outback recently and was less than pleased with the alignment of the tailgate, apparently a common issue as well, and I guess it can’t be solved with a simple “re-hanging”

        What I’m more curious to see is how the CVT holds up in the Ascent. That’s a lot of mass and a lot of torque to put through one of those.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      How are you compensated by Subaru for spending your time on the internet spreading misinformation about their products? Is it a full-time gig, or freelance? When Honda started building garbage in response to the march into the abyss CAFE standards, I stopped defending them. Hondas are now as suspect as Subarus and I’ll buy a Toyota next time. I liked BMWs until they got ugly and abandoned their own priorities. I responded by buying an Acura and then Hondas. You must be paid to defend Subarus, unless you’re deranged.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Can’t comment to specific posters b/c WordPress is a mess on this site but I disliked, almost every Fuji Heavy – oops – almost every Subaru vehicle I’ve ever driven.

    Flaccid chassis’, tin can feeling doors, cheap plastics/trim, many models (not all) with lifeless steering, many models (not all) with very loud interiors in terms of road noise, many models with cramped interiors regardless of segment, awful CVT transmissions, poor fuel economy, etc.

    I had a soft spot for the gen of Legacy GT that had the great gauges and the frameless side windows, though.

    Overall, middling quality/reliability vehicles with a massively inflated reliability reputation, with many expensive, recurring problem areas, with an overall feeling of cheapness…

    …but man knowing what I do now, bring me back as the largest franchisee of Subaru Dealerships coast to coast (and especially in Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, Massachusetts, California, etc., etc., etc.). I’m down for 300 dealerships or more!

    Proving once again that the general publics’ tastebuds reside in its collective a$$!!!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would choose a Rav4 over a Subaru. I might prefer a Rav4 over the newer CRVs and some of the other compact SUVs. Toyotas would be much easier to get parts and service for.


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