2018 Subaru Legacy Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Windshield, electrical, fuel system, engine and steering issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The 2018 Subaru Legacy was poised to become a fan favorite in the marketplace. Even the automaker refers to the “Legacy advantage” when it comes to this car, but owners couldn’t be more dissatisfied. It turns out that this model suffers from a faulty electrical system, a malfunctioning fuel system, a defective engine and poor visibility.

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2018 Subaru Legacy

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Electrical System
Unknown Or Other
Fuel/propulsion System
Service Brakes
Vehicle Speed Control
Air Bags

Problems with the Electrical System

The electrical system of any vehicle is imperative to the daily operation. When the systems begin to cause glitches, anything can happen.

That’s what is seen with this Edmunds review. “Within a year of owning the car, I noticed it would throw codes related to how hot it was outside and the head unit was just a mess. The Bluetooth would connect and disconnect randomly or would show it was connected and not play anything. It shut off completely and froze during a 5 hour road trip one time. Only thing it would do was randomly flash an irrelevant thunderstorm warning. It also left me stranded due to the gas gauge reading incorrectly. This was a recall and was fixed. The head unit issues had a software update that supposedly fixed all of the issues. It didn’t. It still has all the issues, but it doesn’t happen as often aside from adding a glitch in the navigation where the visual says go left but vocally tells you to go right. The most recent issue I have is my driver side window has a mind of its own and won’t close until you have pushed the button 30 times and then will only go up an inch at a time and the auto feature will just quit working.”

Over 70,000 vehicles were also affected by NHTSA Campaign Number 18V935000 that states the backup camera image can cease displaying, which increases the risk of an accident. The problem is caused by a software issue that stops the system from initializing. Without it, drivers are backing up blind, which doesn’t seem like much of an “advantage.” If owners wanted to do that, they could go back to driving cars from ancient times.

Problems with the Fuel System

Another major concern with the 2018 Legacy is the fuel system, which is insanely defective.

One NHTSA user said, “On the dashboard, showed that the remaining mileage was 70, but it stopped all of a sudden due to no gas. It almost caused an accident because the car stopped on a public street with heavy traffic. After many times trying to start the car, it did not work; it was completely dead. I had to leave the car stranded to go and get gas at the nearest gas station.”

One might think this is an isolated incident, but that’s not the case. In fact, NHTSA Campaign Number 18V773000 states that more than 200,000 vehicles are affected by an inaccurate fuel display that can cause drivers to run out of gas. Again, this problem is caused by a software error, just like with the last recall. This further proves that the only “advantage” to owning a Legacy is that the car has no idea what’s going on at any moment. Maybe it should be re-labeled the Legacy Disadvantage.

Problems with the Steering

When it comes to steering a vehicle, the entire process should be seamless, especially in a car the size of the Legacy. Yet, owners are struggling to keep this Subaru on the road.

One NHTSA complaint states, “The car veers right or left [erratically] as if a gust of wind pushed the car or a large truck passed by. This is very troubling since it happens sporadically and has caused the car to drift off the road.”

Subaru hasn’t issued any formal statement about the steering concerns, but this owner isn’t alone. It’s a common complaint among drivers of the Legacy and needs to be addressed. If not repaired, owners might be tempted to let the car drive off the road so they can get a new one.

Problems with the Engine

The engine in any vehicle is considered the heart of the operation. It utilizes the fuel to ensure drivers get where they are going, but the Legacy struggles with this very basic component as well.

Just look at another NHTSA comment. “While stopped at a red light as soon as the light turned green, I proceeded to accelerate and heard a rattle and then a loud boom explosion sound. My torque converter, engine and flexplate exploded causing it in operable and placed me in an unsafe location stranded on the roadway. Subaru of America has now had the car since Thanksgiving. This is a major safety problem, I still don’t have my car.”

Subaru does have some communications about the motor. One that stands out is Service Bulletin #WUB-87 that states that some models with a 2.5-liter engine need a front exhaust pipe assembly and catalytic converter replacement because the wrong parts were used. Subaru goes on to say that there is no risk involved in using the wrong part, that they simply want to ensure emissions are sufficient and at its best. Because automakers regularly replace vital components that aren’t needed – makes complete sense.

Problems with the Windshield Cracking

Seeing out of the windshield is arguably one of the most important parts of driving. Yet, this Legacy causes massive issues with the auto glass that should be addressed.

Here’s one of the many NHTSA complaints. “The Subaru Legacy windshield is extremely brittle, small salt debris caused the windshield to have several chips all over the windshield. In all my years, I’ve never seen windshield being this brittle. There are thousands of complaints on Subaru forums about windshields that have the eyesight equipped that they are prone to cracking and chipping easily. Recently Subaru lost a lawsuit about their windshield cracking on 2015 and 2016 Subaru Outbacks. I believe Subaru has not addressed this issue yet.”

Again, there are no documented illustrations of this problem from the automaker, but there is something else interesting within the communications. Service Bulletin #12-246-18R states that there is a popping and snapping sound heard when owners open the sunroof (which is also auto glass by the way). The company claims that the rear part of the glass catches on the roof frame when opening and that adjustments are required. In all of this review, it’s still unclear where the advantage is to owning a Legacy, other than it makes owners fully appreciative of the next vehicle they purchase.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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