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

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: 2018    2019   2020   2021   2022

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2023 Subaru Outback

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

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.

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.

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.

Complaint Data

CategoryElectrical System, Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
DateMar 22, 2023
I purchased a new 2023 subaru outback in december 2022. The two displays on my 2023 subaru outback (both the main entertainment one and the tiny dash one) randomly restart without notice and/or freeze and are unresponsive. This disables adaptive cruise control, eyesight warnings, lane departure warnings, front collision warnings, rear back up camera, navigation, apple car play, phone capabilities, and electrical display odometer. Even in reverse, the backup camera will appear at times and then freeze, so the image I am looking at on the display is not true. I noticed this the other day when I was in reverse and saw a mother and child walking outside of my review mirrors that never appeared on the camera. I have taken it to my subaru dealer where they had trouble twice uploading new software onto the car. They finally uploaded the "new" software and the issue persists. This last issued occurred today 3/22/2023 - I was on a 10 minute drive and the software restarted at least 11 times in the short 10 minutes. I am unsure what else this electrical/software issue impacts but it seems to be a safety one if I cannot trust the rear camera, departure or collision warnings, or cruise control. Luckily, I have never been in cruise control when the system malfunctions, as I'm not sure what the result would be. This has occurred at random speeds, as slow as 12mph, as fast as 60mph. It has happened when I have been on phone calls and when I have not been on phone calls. I have photos and videos of the unresponsiveness, and have attached the invoice for when I got it serviced on 3/20/2023. This is a serious issue and it seems subaru does not have a fix at this time. Since this is a new car, I was also told that if this happens after my warranty, it will be my responsibility to pay for the updated software and to fix this glitch, and that they will charge me for service and the update.
CategoryStructure:body, Unknown Or Other
DateMar 22, 2023
This incident occurred on january 20, 2023. I was driving alone on I-73 in greensboro, nc. It was around 5:45 am and was about 40 degrees outside. I had no vehicles in front of me and a very large separation to the vehicles in the oncoming traffic direction. The car was still new as it only had 4k miles on it. I was driving at 65mph merging onto I-73. Suddenly, I heard what sounded like an explosion followed by what sounded like flapping and "pebbles hitting roof" sound. I knew something had broken so I pulled off the road. My moonroof had shattered. I took pictures while I was trying to determine my next step. There was a hole in the center and part of the right side of the glass. I did not have any way to contain the damage when it was put on the flat bed trailer to take it to the dealership. I dropped by the dealership later that day. The hole had grown significantly while being towed to the dealer (wind damage expanded the hole). The dealership said it was the second outback they had seen that week for an exploding moonroof. They stated it would not be covered under warranty, but they did replace it as a one-time goodwill gesture. Searching online, this seems to be way more common of an experience than it should be with subaru outbacks. If I had had the interior closeout panel open, I would have been covered in glass. I feel this was not damage induced by any impact as there were no cars near me within at least 100 yards in any direction.
DateMar 21, 2023
The rear driver side door popped open so as to be not fully closed, but not fully open (door not fully secure/ajar) while driving. The vehicle was being driven on a highway with speed no more than 55 mph, exiting an off ramp and approaching a stop light. When the brakes were depressed to ease into the off ramp stop there was a loud pop and the instrument panel displayed the door open warning for the drivers side rear door. It was necessary to fully stop the vehicle and re-secure the door from the outside. There were no passengers in the rear seat during this occurrence. The dealer inspected the door hinges observing no abnormalities and was not able to reproduce the error when test driving the vehicle.
CategoryForward Collision Avoidance: Sensing System: Camera
DateMar 15, 2023
The contact owns a 2023 subaru outback. The contact stated while driving 35 mph and coming to a green light with no vehicles nearby, the eyesight driver assist camera malfunctioned and the vehicle came to an abrupt stop. The collision prevention braking system activated with the warning light displayed on the instrument panel. The contact immediately deactivated the fuel saving button and depressed the accelerator pedal for the vehicle to respond. The contact stated that the message displayed that the eyesight camera had unintendedly become disabled. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer however, the mechanic was unable to determine the cause of the failure. The vehicle had not been repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 9,000.
CategoryForward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
DateMar 09, 2023
They eyesight continuously disables. Dealership cannot find any codes or issues with it. They say it is the weather, dirty windshield, clouds. It has been happening since week 3 of ownership. I clean the windshield all the time, there is no clouds. I have another subaru with eyesight and it doesn't disable like this one. 90% of the time the system disables itself as soon as I turn it on.
DateFeb 28, 2023
The contact owns a 2023 subaru outback. The contact stated while driving at an undisclosed speed, the liftgate would independently open without assistance. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired by an independent mechanic or dealer. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was approximately 1,700.
CategoryService Brakes
DateFeb 23, 2023
The contact owns a 2023 subaru outback. The contact stated that while parked with the brake pedal depressed when the vehicle suddenly lunged forward and jumped the curb onto the sidewalk. The vehicle ended up in the glass of the store in front of the parking space. The air bags did not deploy. The vehicle was towed to the dealer. There were no warning lights. A police report was filed. The front end, bumper, hood, side panels, and fog lights were all damaged. The storefront, a nearby pillar, and decorative stone were also damaged. There were no injuries. No medical attention was needed. The dealer had not been diagnosed and or repaired. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 268,000.
CategoryElectrical System
DateJan 20, 2023
Starlink not working and requires dcm. This controls tracking and safety features of this car. This is the 2nd failure.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateJan 20, 2023
Wireless charger overheats phone. Checking online this issue goes back several years with no fix. I am worried about a fire with the lithium batteries and stopped using the charger. Waiting for a reply from subaru to replace or remove the charger.
CategoryElectrical System
DateJan 17, 2023
Car's battery was 100% dead and had to be towed to dealership. We were told that the nradio was drawing electric and has to be replaced. They also said the battery has to replaced. We have been waiting for parts for 3 weeks and counting.
CategoryForward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
DateJan 05, 2023
The contact owns a 2023 subaru outback. The contact stated while driving 65 mph with the cruise control activated, the vehicle made a sudden stop without warning. The contact stated that several minutes later the vehicle operated normally. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The manufacturer was not contacted. The failure mileage was 800.
CategoryExterior Lighting
DateDec 20, 2022
This car is equipped with adaptive headlights. When the headlights are turned on, each projects a rectangular shadow. These shadows move when you drive and look like animals coming across the road. Apparently, subaru says this is normal operation. The dealer noted that it is an issue but subaru has no remedy. This is a safety issue as your eyes automatically follow the shadows as it seems like there is something running across the front of the vehicle. An investigation is requested as this is a major safety issue as it distracts your eyes from the road ahead.
CategoryPower Train
DateNov 28, 2022
Going down a steep incline shortly after staring car after it had been sitting about 3 hours after about 2500 feet the car had no power maximum speed was about 25mph and could not accelerate. There was a wide edge that I was able to pull off on with about a 300 drop off on right side of car. After pulling off on edge. Stopped turned engine off, sat about 20 seconds, restarted engine, checked to see that engine increased in rpm's when accelerator was engaged, rpm's increased drove next 4 days through appalachian mountains with no further problem. As engaged, then proceeded down incline about a mile and a half with no problem.
CategoryUnknown Or Other
DateNov 28, 2022
Apparent know issue. Subaru outback windshields prone to chips and eventual cracking of entire windshield. Car does not have 2000 miles yet and already needs windshield replacement from rock chip.
CategoryElectrical System
DateNov 03, 2022
Some of the starling services associated with my 2023 subaru outback are not functioning as they should. The vehicle was purchased on 10/28/2022 and on 10/29/2022 I took it back to the dealer. I was told by the service department that the issue would have to be dealt with by the sales department since it was a starling issue. The sale team then looked into the issue and 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. On monday I took the car back to the dealer as the services were still to working. They called starlink and told the representative there what was going on. They then put me on the phone with starlink and the representative told me I might would consider taking the car to another dealer. The dealer then stated to give it a couple weeks to see it the update comes through. I have emailed subaru customer service now twice with no response from the, the case numbers are case# 221031-2000801and case number 221103-1400147.
CategoryElectrical System, Electrical System:ignition:anti-theft:control Module
DateOct 05, 2022
The contact owns a 2023 subaru outback. The contact stated that upon purchasing the vehicle from the dealer on october 3, 2022, he noticed that the automatic collision alert to the emergency services, the diagnostic alert, the remote services, the sos emergency alert, the stolen vehicle recovery alert, the roadside assistance alert, and the multimedia features were inoperable. The dealer was notified of the failure and informed the contact that it was a known manufacturer defect associated with an unknown control module. The vehicle was not diagnosed or repaired. The failure mileage was approximately 300.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 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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