2023 Subaru Outback Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Defective windshields and serious Subaru Starlink issues are among the top complaints to the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones | Reviewer: Sergei Lemberg

The Subaru Outback has been going strong for decades. But the 2023 model started off at a distinct disadvantage, with the manufacturer issuing a stop sale due to a malfunctioning SOS button almost as soon as it hit the roads. Owners are complaining that safety and security functionality in general is defective. This model has also inherited cracking windshield issues that are so prevalent with previous models.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2019   2020   2021   2022

Most Common Problems with the 2023 Subaru Outback

The main problems 2023 Subaru Outback Owners are complaining about relate to Subaru Starlink. This is Subaru’s offering of what they say is the best multimedia system. It comprises a suite of onboard technology that “brings multimedia content, smartphone connectivity, seamless navigation, extra safety, and everyday convenience” to the Outback and other Subaru vehicles.

There is a software issue that affects Starlink in the Outback, as well as a hardware issue that prompted a stop-sale order in September 2022. The hardware issue isn’t regarded as a recall, but it has had huge repercussions, particularly with customers who had paid a deposit before the stop-sale order.

Software issues are a topic in complaints that have been lodged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). So, too, is the seemingly never-ending problem of windshields that crack with no impact.

It’s still early days since the 2023 Outback hasn’t been on the road very long. And we have to take the delay of owners getting their vehicles into account. What this means in terms of complaints is that possibly because of these delays, the numbers of complaints are smaller than they might otherwise have been.

In addition to Starlink-related and windshield issues, there is also a complaint from an owner in Wisconsin about the SUV’s powertrain. This is essentially about the SUV not accelerating down a steep slope.

2023 Subaru Outback Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
Unknown Or Other
Electrical System
Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control
Exterior Lighting
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
Service Brakes
Air Bags
Power Train

Outback Starlink Problems

Overall, it seems that Subaru Starink is the major issue 2023 Outback owners are experiencing. Even though nobody has complained to the NHTSA about the stop-sale order, we’re going to look at this first. Then we’ll share complaints made by owners to the NHTSA.

Stop-Sale Order on 2023 Outback Models

Conversations about the September 2022 stop-sale order on the 2023 Subaru Outback are all over the internet. And at least one Subaru Outback forum has owners still waiting for the Telematics System Data Communication Module (DCM) for reprogramming to arrive in early December 2022.

Manufacturers must, by law, share all communications sent to dealers with the NHTSA. But there is no record of a bulletin sent to dealers about the stop-sale order made by Subaru in September 2022. As of December 9, 2022, there is only 1 manufacturer communication on record. This is a bulletin, dated August 23, 2022, and updated on September 27, 2022. It contains information about components that dealers may exchange if they malfunction. But it doesn’t mention a “stop-sale” or Starlink.

According to Alex Prestigiacomo, who works at Bachman Subaru in Louisville, Kentucky, a bulletin was sent to dealerships on September 26, 2022, announcing the stop-sale order. It involves the SOS button in some models of the Outback and Legacy. The base model Outback is not affected. In a nutshell, the SOS button doesn’t make a connection when pressed, which is a major safety issue in any emergency situation.

Prestigiacomo is one of many people who ordered a 2023 Outback but couldn’t take it home when it was delivered to his dealership (where he works). He also had to explain this issue to customers he had sold the Outback – a problem he shares in a YouTube video.

In the video dated October 7, he says that the bulletin stated Subaru expected to have a fix within 10 days of the stop-sale announcement (ie October 6), which, of course, they didn’t. At the time, he was hoping they would have a fix by the end of October. Which also didn’t happen.

Angry Owners

While Prestigiacomo doesn’t say the customers he sold 2023 Outbacks to are frustrated or angry, clearly, some are.

Responding to an article on Torque News:

Gail Farley wrote on October 22, 2022: “As of Oct 21 I was told that the correct hardware might take 2 months to arrive! I am moving out of state in 5 days and depending on this new car. I am plenty mad and will never trust Subaru again. I have owned five, but next time it is a Ford I am buying!”

Dawn White wrote on November 11, 2022: “I literally just bought one and paid it straight off with no payments on the 2023 Outback Touring XT. I wasn’t told about this issue!”

A member of a Subaru forum who doesn’t seem angry, shares that on December 5, 2022, the DCM module to update the problem still isn’t available. “Anyone else still waiting for your DCM module?”

Starlink Malfunctions

The very first complaint made to the NHTSA about the 2023 Outback was from an owner in Idaho on October 5, 2022. The SUV had only about 300 miles on the clock when he noticed that safety alerts weren’t working. Those he mentions in the complaint are the diagnostic alert, the automatic collision alert to emergency services, the SOS emergency alert, remote services, the stolen vehicle recovery alert, and the roadside assistance alert. The multimedia features were also inoperable.

An owner from North Carolina took his 2023 Subaru Outback back to the dealer the day after he purchased it. When the sales department looked at the issue, “I was told that the software update hasn’t been sent to the car yet and to give it until Monday 10/31/2022 to upload.” When that didn’t happen, he spoke to a representative from Starlink who suggested he go to another dealer. “The dealer then stated to give it a couple (of) weeks to see if the update comes through.” This implies that dealers were (are) getting the update at different times.

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Cracking Windshields

Problems with Subaru Outback windshields cracking just don’t seem to stop. There are well over 100 complaints about the 2022 Outback windshields cracking. Clearly, the 2023 model year is also affected.

The owner of a 2023 model from California states in a complaint that this is already a known issue. The Subaru Outback windshields are “prone to chips and eventual cracking of (the) entire windshield. The car does not have 2000 miles yet and already needs (a) windshield replacement from a rock chip.”

What to do if your 2023 Subaru Outback is a Lemon?

When owners of any vehicle are faced with a stop-sale issue, they may be forgiven for thinking that all the vehicles affected are lemons. We acknowledge that this isn’t necessarily the case. Also, there are many other reasons for a car to be categorized as a lemon.

Thankfully, only a small percentage of any model car turns out to be a lemon. But if you end up with one, you definitely don’t have to live with it. So, what do you do?

Lemberg Law has years of experience helping people who have purchased lemons get recompense. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace, or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners. Better still, the law makes the manufacturer, in this case, Subaru, pay the legal bills.

So, if you believe you have bought a lemon, please contact us. We will assess your problems free of charge. Simply call our Helpline or fill out our contact form.

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.

See more posts from Brian Jones

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