Here Are Subaru Tribeca Years to Avoid and Lemon Years Problems

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Are you considering purchasing a Subaru Tribeca but need help determining which model years to avoid?

With its sporty handling, comfortable ride, and powerful engine, it’s no wonder this vehicle has gained popularity among drivers.

However, like any vehicle, some years are better than others, and you should steer clear of certain Tribeca models that have demonstrated more significant problems and lower reliability ratings.

In this article, we’ll analyze some common issues Tribeca owners have faced and identify specific model years you should avoid.

By choosing the right year for your Subaru Tribeca, you can enjoy the driving experience, knowing you’ve invested in a reliable and trustworthy vehicle.

So, let’s dive into the world of Tribeca problems and arm you with the knowledge to make the smartest decision for your automotive needs.

Subaru Tribeca Years to Avoid

Subaru Lemon Years and Known Issues


The 2008 Subaru Tribeca was among the sportiest-handling SUVs at the time, but it comes with some known issues. Transmission problems were common in this year’s model, affecting power and drivability.

Rear suspension issues can lead to uncomfortable rides and potential safety concerns.

Furthermore, the 2008 Tribeca experienced power steering and air conditioning issues that could make every day driving less enjoyable.


In 2009, Tribeca continued to experience transmission problems and brake issues.

Oil consumption became a prevalent complaint among Tribeca owners, which can be annoying and potentially costly.

According to current data, nine complaints about the 2009 model were filed, making it one of the years to avoid.


For the 2013 Subaru Tribeca, there were fewer reported issues overall. However, one notable problem was a hard shifting transmission.

This issue can make changing gears difficult and stress your transmission system. Be sure to thoroughly check the transmission performance if you’re looking at a 2013 model.

Common Subaru Tribeca Problems

Engine Issues

One common problem Tribeca owners face is engine-related issues. Over the years, some models experienced a rough idle, hesitation on acceleration and even stalled engines.

Not only can this be frustrating for you, but it can also lead to costly repairs if not addressed properly.

To minimize such occurrences, make sure to have regular maintenance done on your vehicle, and if you begin to notice any unusual changes in performance, consult with a qualified mechanic immediately.

Excessive Oil Consumption

Excessive oil consumption is another problem you need help with with Subaru Tribeca. Some owners have reported high oil consumption levels, which can lead to increased maintenance costs and potential engine damage if not addressed.

Monitoring your oil level regularly and ensuring it’s topped up as needed can help you avoid the worst-case scenario.

Also, if you suspect your vehicle is consuming oil at an abnormal rate, it’s best to have it checked by a professional as soon as possible.

Electrical Problems

Subaru Tribeca has had its fair share of electrical problems affecting various systems in the vehicle.

Things like faulty air conditioning systems, power window malfunctions, and lighting issues can be annoying and potentially dangerous for you.

To minimize the risk of electrical problems in your Tribeca, watch for warning signs such as flickering lights or inconsistent performance from the vehicle’s electrical components.

Exploding Windshields

An unusual yet potentially hazardous issue that has affected some Subaru Tribeca vehicles is exploding windshields. Several complaints and even a lawsuit were filed due to spontaneous windshield shattering.

While this issue may be rare, it’s essential for you to be aware of it and to ensure that your windshield is in good condition. Regularly inspect and address any cracks or damages that might compromise its integrity.

Recalls and Safety Concerns

NHTSA Records

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) keeps records of vehicle recalls and safety concerns.

As a potential Subaru Tribeca owner, it’s important for you to be aware of potential issues with certain model years.

One thing to remember is that the 2008 Subaru Tribeca has been recalled 9 times by the NHTSA. It could be a red flag if you’re considering purchasing this model.

Specific Recalls

Some specific Subaru Tribeca model years to avoid due to recalls and safety concerns are:

  • 2006 to 2009: These years are known for potential transmission, rear suspension, power steering, and air conditioning issues.
  • 2008 to 2010: Avoid these model years due to transmission, brakes, and oil consumption issues.
  • From 2011 to 2014: Stay away from these models due to the issues of suspension and air conditioning.

One specific recall you should be aware of affects fewer than 2,000 vehicles. Inspections were done, and cabling was repositioned as needed due to unusual squeaking noises during wet weather in 2008 Subaru Tribeca.

Safety Features

Despite potential reliability issues, Subaru Tribeca models come with various safety features that you might appreciate.

However, weighing these features against the possible maintenance concerns and recalling history is crucial to determine the right model year for your needs.

Tips for Buying a Used Subaru Tribeca

Avoiding Problematic Years

Steer clear of models from 2008 to 2010 due to transmission, brakes, and oil consumption issues.

Similarly, avoid models from 2011 to 2014 because of suspension and air conditioning issues. The 2015-2018 Subaru Tribeca models show higher reliability and improved interior design and safety features.

Checking Vehicle History

Before finalizing your purchase, check the vehicle’s history to gain insights into past repairs, accidents, and recalls. Request a thorough inspection and maintenance records from the seller or dealer.

Examining these records will give you valuable information about the car’s previous ownership, repairs, and potential issues that may arise in the future.

Inspecting for Common Issues

Pay particular attention to:

  • Clunking noises underneath the car could indicate worn-out suspension components like bushings that may need replacing. These are known issues in older models but can be fixed with simple part replacements.
  • Potential head gasket leaks are still worth checking, although less common in Tribeca.
  • Tire wear ensures tires are in good condition and provide adequate mileage.

Alternatives to the Subaru Tribeca

We’ll discuss the 2019 Subaru Ascent and other Subaru models that can offer you a more satisfying driving experience.

2019 Subaru Ascent

The 2019 Subaru Ascent is a great alternative if you’re looking for a newer 3-row family hauler.

As an all-new model in 2019, the Ascent offers a spacious interior, comfortable seating, and many standard safety features. Here are the Subaru Ascent models to avoid and why?

However, it’s essential to note that this model did experience a few recalls during its initial release. If you opt for a 2019 Ascent, verify that any recalls have been addressed and have full ideas about Ascent’s reliability years.

Features in the 2019 Subaru Ascent include:

  • Seating for up to eight passengers
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Advanced safety technology, such as EyeSight Driver Assist

Other Subaru Models

In addition to the 2019 Ascent, other Subaru models are worth considering.

Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is popular for those seeking a versatile and reliable vehicle.

The Outback can easily accommodate your family’s needs with ample cargo space, standard all-wheel drive, and a comfortable ride.

Key features of the Subaru Outback include:

  • Spacious interiors with ample cargo room
  • Off-road capabilities and standard all-wheel drive
  • Solid fuel efficiency.
  • Note that most used models are great, but a few older Outback models have issues.

Subaru Legacy

The Subaru Legacy might be the perfect fit if you’re more interested in a sedan.

It’s a rewarding alternative to German sports sedans, offering all-wheel drive, a comfortable ride, and a reliable reputation. However, I realize some used Legacy cars could be better and cause more issues.

Notable Subaru Legacy features include:

  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Comfortable, roomy interiors
  • Diverse engine options for various performance needs

In conclusion, other options within the Subaru lineup can outshine the Subaru Tribeca.

Exploring alternatives such as the 2019 Subaru Ascent, Subaru Outback, and Subaru Legacy can help you find the perfect vehicle that fits your lifestyle and preferences.

Subaru Tribeca Competitors

In this section, you’ll find information on some popular competitors of the Subaru Tribeca, such as the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, Toyota 4Runner, Honda Pilot, and Chevrolet Traverse.

Ford Edge


  • Comfortable and spacious interior
  • Smooth ride and handling
  • Powerful engine options


Nissan Murano



Toyota 4Runner

Some 4Runner pros:

  • Exceptional off-road capability
  • High resale value
  • Spacious cargo area


  • Dated interior design
  • Poor fuel economy, even for a midsize SUV
  • Stiff ride compared to most competitors

Honda Pilot


  • The Pilot has a spacious and versatile interior,
  • Smooth ride and strong acceleration
  • Available all-wheel drive


Chevrolet Traverse



Now that you better understand the pros and cons of Subaru Tribeca’s main competitors, you can make a more informed decision when choosing the right SUV for your needs.


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