subaru cvt problems

Guide to Subaru CVT Problems

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  • Several older Subaru models commonly experience CVT problems.
  • Stalling, shuddering, and delayed acceleration can be signs of a transmission issue.
  • Subaru has a RepairPal reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5.0 and ranks 14th out of 32 brands surveyed.

Subaru CVT problems have cropped up for a number of Subaru owners. In fact, enough customers complained that Subaru even extended the powertrain warranty period for certain models. 

Given the pattern of transmission issues, should you purchase a Subaru? This article will explain what a CVT is, how it differs from a typical transmission, and will help you decide if a Subaru is the right vehicle for you.

If you want to purchase a Subaru Outback or Forester but have some hesitation about Subaru CVT problems popping up later in your car’s life, you might find peace of mind with an extended warranty. We’ve reviewed some of the best extended car warranty companies and will go over our top recommendations at the end of this article. If you want to start comparing free extended warranty quotes right away, click above.

What Does CVT Mean?

CVT stands for “continuously variable transmission.” It is a vehicle transmission design that uses a pulley system and flexible drive belt rather than a gear train. 

A typical transmission has a set number of gears, and shifting between them can increase or decrease output capacity. This results in a limited number of gears with fixed steps between them. In a CVT, two rotating cylinders are pulled further away or brought closer together to increase and decrease output capacity. There are no fixed steps with a CVT, and the engine can maintain a near-constant number of rotations per minute (RPMs).

The benefits of CVTs are that they accelerate more smoothly and provide superior fuel economy. The downsides are that they do not work as well for high horsepower vehicles and cost more to replace or repair. 

The following current Subaru models use a continuously variable transmission:

  • 2020 WRX
  • 2021 Ascent
  • 2021 Legacy
  • 2021 Impreza
  • 2021 Outback
  • 2021 Forester
  • 2021 Crosstrek

Several older models also have a CVT, including:

  • 2010 and newer Legacy
  • 2010 and newer Outback
  • 2012 and newer Impreza
  • 2013 and newer Crosstrek
  • 2014 and newer Forester

How Do I Know If My Subaru CVT Is Going Bad?

Subaru CVT problems can cause several issues on the road. Look for the following signs that there may be something wrong with your continuously variable transmission:

  • Stalling
  • Shuddering
  • Fluid seepage
  • Knocks and jerks
  • Warning light illumination
  • Pause after you press on gas
  • Engine revs without accelerating

If you do experience one of these Subaru CVT problems, take your vehicle to a dealership or trusted mechanic for servicing.

Is the Subaru CVT Reliable?

Several older models have experienced Subaru CVT problems – enough so that Subaru has offered factory warranty extensions on these vehicles. Affected models include:

  • 2010-2015 Legacy
  • 2010-2015 Outback
  • 2012-2015 Impreza
  • 2013-2015 Crosstrek
  • 2014-2015 Crosstrek Hybrid
  • 2014-2015 Forester with 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
  • 2014-2015 Forester with turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine
  • 2015 WRX 2.0
  • 2015 Legacy and Outback with 3.6-liter V-6 engine

For these models, the manufacturer’s powertrain warranty has been extended from 5 years/60,000 miles to 10 years/100,000 miles.

Newer Subarus feature updated CVT technology and software. The chance that a newer model will encounter a Subaru CVT problem is less likely. Overall, Subaru earns high reliability ratings for its recent models. For example, RepairPal gives the brand a reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5.0 and estimates average annual Subaru repair costs to be $617.

How Long Does a Subaru CVT Last?

All new Subaru vehicles include powertrain warranty coverage that lasts for 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. This means that Subaru guarantees your CVT will last at least that long and promises to pay for the cost to repair or replace the transmission should it fail before that time.

There is a fair chance your Subaru CVT will last well beyond 60,000 miles as long as you stick to the factory-recommended maintenance schedule and take care not to overfill your transmission fluid.

Top Recommendations for Extended Car Warranties

If you have an older Subaru or plan to keep your Subaru for more than five years, you might consider an extended warranty. If you’re concerned about Subaru CVT problems in particular, you should invest in a powertrain warranty, which will pay to repair or replace your CVT should any mechanical failures occur.

You can learn about two of our top recommended providers and start comparing free, personalized quotes below.

Endurance: Best Overall

Endurance offers coverage for vehicles up to 20 models years old and with up to 200,000+ miles on the odometer. It is one of the few providers that operates as a direct warranty provider, meaning there are no brokers or middlemen to slow down the quotes and claims processes.

Endurance offers five levels of coverage, including a Secure Plan, which covers a vehicle’s engine, transmission, transfer case, drive axle, and turbocharger. This is Endurance’s most affordable plan, and it’s a good option for protecting older vehicles or those worried about Subaru CVT problems.

To learn more, read our complete Endurance warranty review. You can also click below for a free Endurance quote.

Best Overall Warranty Provider

Our Rating: 4.6 out of 5.0

CARCHEX: Best Reputation

CARCHEX warranties can cover vehicles up to 250,000 miles. The company has been selling vehicle service contracts for over 20 years and has partnerships and endorsements from several industry leaders, like and RepairPal.

CARCHEX has five plan options as well. The most affordable plan is called the Bronze Plan, and it can provide up to six years of coverage. The Bronze plan covers powertrain components such as the transmission and is a good choice for Subaru owners who want basic coverage for their CVT and other related parts.

Learn more by reading our full CARCHEX review.

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