Subaru Impreza common problems

Subaru ImprezaBelieve it or not, the Subaru Impreza has a legacy stretching back all the way to 1992. If that doesn’t make you feel old, then realise that this vehicle is now on its fifth generation, making it a true stalwart of the Subaru range. Included in its evolution are the famous World Rally Experimental (WRX) cars that have always been extremely popular and desirable.

The Impreza is a quality car that embodies the best in Japanese motoring. A good buy that’s available in enough flavours for there to be something in the range to satisfy just about anybody. However, as with all cars it is not immune to faults, so here are some of the main red flags to look out for when on the hunt for a second hand Impreza.


Due to problems with the underpowered brakes you could find that the suspension on your second hand Impreza has taken something of a hammering over the years. Take the car out onto some rougher roads and check the bounce factor and listen for a clicking sound that indicates an issue with the velocity joints. If the car feels overly jumpy then the chances are you’ll need to replace the front suspension system.

Clutch Issues

There is a well-known fault on the Subaru Impreza with the gearbox system. Check when shifting between 2nd and 3rd gear. If you get a crunching feeling together with a knocking sound then the most likely cause is with the synchromesh system. As this is indicative of a serious problem with the transmission this is probably one to avoid.


The brakes are under-specified on the Subaru Impreza. Be on the look-out for longer braking distances and a poor response from the brake pedal. Both these factors mean that you could need to find a new brake kit for each side of the front of the car.

Steering Rack Bushes

If you’re looking at buying a Subaru from 2004 then be aware that there is a known fault with the steering rack bushes that causes sloppy handling and poor control on turning. Make sure you drive any potential purchase to the full extent of the cornering, especially on slower roads as this will make the problem more pronounced.

Timing Belt

Check the service history. You’ll want to see that the timing belt has been replaced after 125,000 miles and any Subaru mechanic worth his salt should also have replaced the water pump and the tensioner at the same time. Any car that hasn’t had these parts replaced should be avoided.

Oil Sludge Build Up

Turbocharged Imprezas will not forgive a skipped oil change with sludge and muck building up in the filter as a result. Check the colour of the oil in your potential purchase. If it’s full of muck and debris then this means that the engine could well be in a less than adequate state with all kind of underlying problems caused by dirt getting into supposedly friction free parts.

Crash Damage

Some mechanics claim that a car is never the same after an accident. Subaru Imprezas have a reputation for being a car that’s loved by owners of games like Gran Turismo because of its rapid acceleration and on the road power. Check the bodywork and chassis for signs of scrapes and hard driving as you may want to swerve any vehicle that has been consistently pushed to its limits over the years.

Look Out for Modifications

The Impreza is a popular car that comes in many different sporting models. A less than reputable seller may try to mod a standard car to look like a higher spec model. Always check the car’s papers to ensure that you know what you’re buying, rather than falling for a low-grade vehicle at a hiked-up price. Any WRX car will have a specific model number welded to the chassis, so don’t take anything less than solid proof.

With a huge choice of Imprezas available on today’s second-hand market it’s difficult to go wrong with this quality car. Best suited for a small family or a couple there’s a choice of 4 speed automatic or 5 or 6 speed manual transmissions with engines ranging from the economical 1.5 litre H4 up to the 2.5 litre turbo.

For affordable replacement engines, gearboxes and more, check out our new and used Subaru Impreza parts page.

This entry was posted in Cars and tagged , on by Justin Smith.

About Justin Smith

As the man at the helm of BreakerLink, it is no surprise that its Director, Justin Smith, has always had a keen interest in cars, bikes and most things wheeled. Having spent over two decades in the car parts industry, Justin combines his passion that since 2002, has successfully united those looking for new and used car parts with the breaker that supplies them. Follow Justin on LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: These articles are for guidance purposes only. If you have any questions regarding any matter relating to your vehicle we would recommend that you seek the advice of an appropriate professional. We accept no responsibility or liability should you suffer financial or personal damages in relation to the advice stated on this website.