Table of Contents

Are Subarus Costly to Maintain?

Subaru, a renowned Japanese automaker, has built a strong reputation for its reliable, rugged, all-wheel-drive vehicles. Known for its exceptional handling and safety features, Subarus is a popular choice among drivers who seek durability and performance.

This article aims to explore the maintenance costs associated with Subaru vehicles, helping potential and current Subaru owners understand what they can expect when it comes to keeping their cars in top condition.

Did you know that Subaru consistently ranks high in reliability surveys? But what does that mean for maintenance costs? Let’s delve into the details and find out if owning a Subaru is as cost-effective as dependable.

Understanding Subaru Maintenance:

Subaru offers a diverse lineup of vehicles that cater to various needs and preferences. From the rugged Outback and Forester, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, to the sporty WRX and BRZ for performance lovers, Subaru has a vehicle for everyone. The brand’s emphasis on all-wheel drive technology across most models has made it a favorite among drivers who face challenging weather conditions and rough terrains. Subaru’s commitment to safety and reliability has garnered a loyal customer base, making its vehicles some of the most popular choices in the market.

Regular maintenance is crucial for any vehicle, including Subarus, to ensure longevity, performance, and safety. Consistent upkeep, such as oil changes, tire rotations, and brake inspections, helps prevent minor issues from becoming major, costly repairs. For Subaru owners, adhering to a maintenance schedule is particularly important due to the unique all-wheel-drive system, which requires specific attention to keep running smoothly.

Regular maintenance not only preserves the vehicle’s reliability and resale value but also enhances driving safety by ensuring all systems function correctly. By investing in routine care, Subaru owners can enjoy a dependable and long-lasting vehicle.

Subaru Maintenance Costs Compared to Other Brands:

When considering the purchase of a Subaru, understanding how its maintenance costs compare to other brands is essential. To provide a clear picture, we’ll examine data and statistics from credible sources such as RepairPal and Kelley Blue Book. We’ll focus on commonly owned car segments, such as sedans and SUVs, to give a comprehensive view.

According to RepairPal, the average annual maintenance cost for a Subaru is approximately $617. This is relatively affordable compared to other brands. Below is a comparison of average annual maintenance costs for Subaru and other popular car brands in the same segments:

Car BrandAverage Annual Maintenance CostReliability Rating (Out of 5)

Maintenance Cost by Vehicle Segment:

Focusing on sedans and SUVs, which are commonly owned segments, we can observe the following trends:

Subaru sedans, such as the Legacy and Impreza, offer competitive maintenance costs compared to other sedans in their class. The all-wheel-drive system, standard in most Subaru vehicles, provides added value for those driving in challenging conditions.

Subaru SUVs, like the Outback and Forester, are renowned for their reliability and durability. While maintenance costs are higher than some competitors, the long-term benefits of Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system and safety features often outweigh the initial expenses.

Factors Affecting Maintenance Costs:

Maintenance costs for any vehicle, including Subarus, can vary widely based on several key factors. Understanding these factors can help car owners anticipate and manage their expenses more effectively.

1. Model Year:

The model year of a vehicle significantly impacts its maintenance costs. Newer models often come with advanced technology and features that may require specialized care and parts. Older models, on the other hand, might need more frequent repairs due to wear and tear. Generally, parts for newer models can be more expensive due to their limited availability and the advanced nature of the components.

2. Mileage:

The total mileage on a vehicle plays a crucial role in determining maintenance costs. Higher mileage typically means more wear and tear on the car’s components. Common parts such as brakes, tires, and suspension systems may need to be replaced more frequently in high-mileage vehicles. Regularly driving long distances can accelerate the need for maintenance, especially for critical systems like the engine and transmission.

3. Driving Habits:

Driving habits greatly influence how often a vehicle requires maintenance:

Frequent stopping and starting in city traffic can lead to quicker wear on brakes, tires, and the transmission. Short trips may also prevent the engine from reaching optimal operating temperatures, leading to more frequent oil changes.

While highway driving is generally easier on the vehicle, it can still lead to specific wear patterns, such as tire wear due to higher speeds and longer distances. However, consistent highway driving often results in lower overall maintenance costs compared to city driving.

4. Repair Shop Rates:

Where you choose to have your car serviced can significantly impact maintenance costs. Dealerships typically charge higher labor rates due to their specialized equipment and trained technicians. Independent repair shops often offer more competitive rates but may not always have the same level of expertise or access to genuine parts. Choosing a reliable and cost-effective repair shop can help manage and reduce overall maintenance expenses.

5. Replacement Parts Cost:

The cost of replacement parts is another crucial factor in maintenance expenses. Genuine Subaru parts, while ensuring quality and compatibility, tend to be more expensive than aftermarket alternatives. Aftermarket parts can offer savings but may vary in quality and durability. For major repairs, using genuine parts can ensure better performance and longevity, potentially saving money in the long run by avoiding frequent replacements.

Common Maintenance and Repair Costs for Subarus:

Regular maintenance is essential for keeping a Subaru running smoothly and efficiently. Here are some typical routine maintenance tasks, along with their average costs:

Maintenance TaskFrequency (Miles)Average Cost
Oil ChangesEvery 5,000 to 7,500$50 – $100
Tire RotationsEvery 5,000 to 7,500$20 – $50
Brake InspectionsEvery 10,000 to 15,000$150 – $300 per axle
Air Filter ReplacementEvery 15,000 to 30,000$20 – $50
Coolant FlushEvery 30,000 to 50,000$100 – $150
Transmission Fluid ChangeEvery 30,000 to 60,000$150 – $250

Common Repairs:

Subarus is known for its reliability, but like all vehicles, it can encounter certain issues. Here are some common repair issues for Subarus and their associated costs:

1. Head Gasket Issues:

Description: Common in older Subaru models, especially the 2.5-liter engines.

Average Cost: $1,500 – $2,500 for parts and labor.

2. CV Joint Replacements:

Description: CV joints can wear out, especially in vehicles with high mileage or those used for off-roading.

Average Cost: $300 – $800 per axle.

3. Timing Belt Replacement:

Description: Necessary for preventing engine damage; typically needed every 60,000 to 100,000 miles.

Average Cost: $500 – $1,000.

4. Oxygen Sensor Replacement:

Description: Faulty oxygen sensors can affect fuel efficiency and emissions.

Average Cost: $150 – $300.

Parts and Labor:

The cost and availability of parts, as well as labor rates, can vary depending on where you choose to service your Subaru:


Parts: Genuine Subaru parts ensure compatibility and quality but are often more expensive.

Labor Costs: Typically higher due to specialized training and equipment. Average labor rates range from $100 to $150 per hour.

Independent Mechanics:

Parts: May use aftermarket parts, which can be cheaper but vary in quality.

Labor Costs: Usually lower than dealerships, averaging $70 to $100 per hour.

Availability: Independent shops might not always have Subaru-specific parts in stock, potentially leading to longer wait times for repairs.

By understanding these routine maintenance tasks, common repair issues, and the differences in parts and labor costs between dealerships and independent mechanics, Subaru owners can make informed decisions about maintaining their vehicles. Proper maintenance and timely repairs can help ensure the longevity and reliability of a Subaru, making it a worthwhile investment.

Tips for Maintaining a Subaru Affordably:

DIY Maintenance:

Taking on basic maintenance tasks at home can significantly reduce the cost of maintaining your Subaru. Here are some DIY tasks you can perform safely:

  • Oil Changes: Changing your oil is one of the most common DIY tasks. You’ll need a few basic tools, including an oil filter wrench, a drain pan, and fresh oil. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and consult tutorials from reputable sources like the Subaru website or trusted car care forums.
  • Air Filter Replacement: Replacing the air filter is straightforward and typically involves opening the air filter box, removing the old filter, and inserting a new one. This simple task can improve your vehicle’s performance and fuel efficiency.
  • Tire Pressure Checks and Rotations: Regularly checking tire pressure can extend the life of your tires and improve fuel efficiency. Tire rotations can also be done at home with the right equipment, though it requires more effort and safety precautions.
  • Battery Maintenance: Inspecting and cleaning battery terminals can prevent starting issues and extend battery life. Ensure the car is off and wear safety gear while doing this.

For detailed step-by-step guides, refer to the Subaru owner’s manual, manufacturer’s website, or reputable car care forums like Reddit’s r/cars or dedicated Subaru forums.

Finding a Reliable Mechanic:

Finding a trustworthy mechanic who specializes in Subarus can save you money and ensure high-quality repairs. Here are some tips:

  • Certifications: Look for mechanics with ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certification, which indicates they have met industry standards for repair competence.
  • Specialization: Find a mechanic or shop that specializes in Subaru vehicles. These specialists are more likely to be familiar with common Subaru issues and have the necessary tools and parts.
  • Online Reviews: Check online reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau. Pay attention to feedback about reliability, quality of service, and customer satisfaction.
  • Word of Mouth: Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or online communities dedicated to Subaru owners.

When it comes to replacement parts, you have two main options: OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and aftermarket parts. Each has its pros and cons:

OEM Parts:

  • Quality: OEM parts are made by the vehicle’s manufacturer or an authorized supplier. They match the original parts in quality and performance.
  • Warranty: These parts often come with a warranty, providing peace of mind.
  • Cost: OEM parts are generally more expensive than aftermarket parts.

Aftermarket Parts:

  • Cost: Aftermarket parts are typically cheaper than OEM parts, making them an attractive option for budget-conscious owners.
  • Quality: The quality of aftermarket parts can vary widely. Some are high-quality and offer performance comparable to OEM parts, while others may be inferior.
  • Variety: There is a broader range of aftermarket parts available, providing more options for customization or performance enhancements.

When choosing between OEM and aftermarket parts, consider the following:

  • Warranty: Using aftermarket parts may void your vehicle’s warranty in some cases, so check your warranty terms.
  • Application: For critical components like engine or brake parts, OEM might be a safer choice due to their guaranteed compatibility and quality.
  • Reviews and Recommendations: Research and read reviews on specific aftermarket parts to ensure they meet quality standards.

By performing basic maintenance tasks at home, finding a reliable mechanic, and making informed decisions about parts, you can maintain your Subaru affordably while ensuring it remains in excellent condition.

Final Thoughts:

Although maintenance costs are an important consideration for any vehicle, the overall ownership experience of a Subaru is often favorable. The combination of reliability, safety, and performance makes Subaru a valuable investment. With careful maintenance, smart repair choices, and an understanding of the costs involved, Subaru owners can maximize their vehicle’s lifespan and enjoy a safe, dependable driving experience.

Get A Free Quote

Sign Up Now And Get $350 Off Your New Policy

Pop Up

I am completing and submitting this form so that American Dream Auto Protect will contact me quickly by phone, text, and/or e-mail to discuss my vehicle

Get A Free Quote

Sign Up Now And Get $350 Off Your New Policy

Pop Up

I am completing and submitting this form so that American Dream Auto Protect will contact me quickly by phone, text, and/or e-mail to discuss my vehicle