WRX Years to Avoid When Subie Searching (2023)

(Last Updated On: March 13, 2024)

The Subaru WRX, a legendary sports car, has captivated numerous driving aficionados across the globe. Nevertheless, this doesn’t apply to every model year, as some have been fraught with problems that could be deterrents for prospective purchasers. Continue reading to learn about the WRX years you should avoid, and if you’re a dedicated WRX fan, discover what the critics have said about your past ride. Without further ado, let’s continue!

What WRX Years Should I Avoid? Why?

Of particular concern are the 2015 and 2016 models of the Subaru WRX and the Subaru WRX STI. These are the initial models for the standalone version of the WRX, and like many first-generation models, they have their share of problems.

The most notable issue for these model years is a problematic clutch that tends to fail after a few years of use. This issue is not only inconvenient but potentially expensive to fix.

Also, the WRX STI models from 2000 to 2002, and 2008 to 2016, have been reported to have multiple issues. These include a lack of power, acceleration hesitation, engine troubles, and shifting issues.

a blue and gold 22b subari impreza from the model year 2000. It's sitting against a mountain landscape with a road in the foreground.
While not all 22B models have these problems, they do fall into the earlier part of the problematic model year range. However, they’re still highly desirable by Subaru enthusiasts.

WRX Reliability Overview

Generally, Subaru WRX is considered a reliable car. However, like any vehicle, its reliability can significantly vary depending on the model year. It’s essential to note that while the WRX has built a following for its performance and handling, some model years have been more reliable than others.

The most reliable Subaru WRX models are typically those that have been on the market for a few years and have had any initial bugs or issues worked out. For the Subaru WRX, this includes model years 2017 to 2021. For the Subaru WRX STI, the most reliable years are reportedly from 1992-1999, 2004-2007, and 2017-2022.

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> Best Year Subaru Impreza

Subaru WRX Reliability Mind Map Subaru WRX Reliability Mind Map

Has WRX Reliability Improved Over Time? Yes and No

The reliability of the Subaru WRX has both improved and declined over time. The early WRX models, particularly those produced between 1992 and 1999, have proven to be quite reliable. However, the reliability of the WRX decreased in the early 2000s and again in the late 2000s to the mid-2010s.

In more recent years, the WRX has seen an improvement in reliability. The 2017 to 2021 models are generally considered reliable and have fewer reported problems than some of the earlier models.

Read next: Are Subaru WRX Reliable? Yes and No (Here’s Why)

Overview of Common WRX Problems and Causes Behind Them

While the Subaru WRX is generally a reliable vehicle, it is not without its problems. Here are some of the most common issues that WRX owners have reported:

  1. Engine Issues: One of the most common problems with the Subaru WRX is related to the engine. Some owners have reported issues with rods, rod bearings, and piston rings failing, especially in tuned and modded engines.
  2. Oil Leaks: Some Subaru WRX models have been reported to consume oil at an alarming rate, which can be a sign of an oil leak. This problem is often caused by a faulty oil pump seal.
  3. Defective Turbocharger: A defective turbocharger can cause the engine to misfire and lose power. This is a significant issue, especially for a performance-oriented vehicle like the WRX.
  4. Faulty Oxygen Sensors: Some WRX owners have reported issues with the vehicle’s oxygen sensors failing, which can lead to problems such as rough idling and engine misfires.
  5. Clutch Problems: This is a significant issue in the 2015 and 2016 WRX models, where the clutch tends to fail after a few years of use1. This issue also plagues the WRX STI models from 2000 to 2002, and 2008 to 2016.

Related article: Subaru WRX Problems

Would I Recommend Buying A WRX? Yes and No

Whether or not to recommend buying a Subaru WRX depends largely on the specific model year in question. If you’re considering one of the more reliable model years (2017 to 2021 for the WRX and 1992-1999, 2004-2007, and 2017-2022 for the WRX STI), then the WRX can be a great choice.

However, if you’re looking at one of the problem-prone years (2015 and 2016 for the WRX and 2000 to 2002, and 2008 to 2016 for the WRX STI), it may be best to look elsewhere. The potential for expensive repairs and reliability issues could make these model years more trouble than they’re worth.

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Pros of The Subaru WRX

  1. Performance: The Subaru WRX is known for its impressive performance, especially in its STI variant.
  2. All-Wheel Drive: Standard all-wheel drive provides better traction in various driving conditions.
  3. Handling: The WRX offers sharp handling, making it a favorite among driving enthusiasts.
  4. Practicality: Despite its sporty nature, the WRX is still a practical daily driver with decent cargo space and comfortable seating.
  5. Resale Value: Subaru vehicles, including the WRX, tend to hold their value well over time.
  6. Safety: Subaru’s commitment to safety is evident in the WRX, with many models featuring advanced safety technologies.

Cons of The Subaru WRX

  1. Reliability Issues in Certain Years: As mentioned, some model years of the WRX have been plagued with reliability issues.
  2. Fuel Efficiency: The performance-oriented nature of the WRX means it’s not the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its class.
  3. Ride Comfort: The sporty suspension can make the ride a bit harsher, especially on rough roads.
  4. Interior Quality: Some users have noted that the interior materials and design feel a bit dated compared to competitors.
  5. Insurance Costs: Due to its sporty nature, the WRX can be more expensive to insure than other sedans.

Can I Identify Any Of These Issues Beforehand? How?

Before purchasing a used Subaru WRX, it’s essential to perform a thorough inspection and possibly even have a trusted mechanic check the vehicle. Here are some things to look out for that could indicate potential problems:

  1. Check for Oil Leaks: Look under the vehicle for any signs of oil leaks. Also, check the oil level. If it’s low, this could indicate that the vehicle is consuming oil.
  2. Listen for Unusual Noises: Start the vehicle and listen for any strange sounds. Unusual noises could indicate problems with the engine or turbocharger.
  3. Examine the Clutch: If the clutch feels wrong or slips, this could be a sign of the common clutch problems found in some WRX models.
  4. Look for Signs of Modifications: If the vehicle has been modified or tuned, this could increase the likelihood of engine problems.

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To make your life easier, check out this pre-owned Subaru check-list for some guidance on how to properly evaluate the vehicle:

How Long Does The WRX Last on Average?

On average, a Subaru WRX can last up to 250,000 miles with proper care and maintenance. However, this number can vary greatly depending on factors such as how the vehicle is driven, how well it’s maintained, and whether it’s been modified or tuned.

Related article:
> Are Subarus Expensive To Fix and Maintain?

Recap of The WRX Years To Avoid

To recap, the Subaru WRX model years to avoid are 2015 and 2016 due to issues with the clutch. For the Subaru WRX STI, the years to avoid are 2000 to 2002, and 2008 to 2016 due to various problems including a lack of power, acceleration hesitation, engine troubles, and shifting issues. Going more in-depth:

  • 2015-2016 Subaru WRX and WRX STI:
    • Problematic clutch that tends to fail after a few years.
    • Notable for being the initial models for the standalone version of the WRX.
  • 2000-2002 WRX STI:
    • Lack of power.
    • Acceleration hesitation.
    • Engine troubles.
    • Shifting issues.
  • 2008-2016 WRX STI:
    • Multiple reports of issues similar to the 2000-2002 models.
    • Engine troubles.
    • Shifting issues.
  • General Issues Across Various Years:
    • Engine Issues: Problems with rods, rod bearings, and piston rings failing, especially in tuned and modded engines.
    • Oil Leaks: Some models consume oil at an alarming rate, indicating potential oil leaks.
    • Defective Turbocharger: Can cause the engine to misfire and lose power.
    • Faulty Oxygen Sensors: Leading to rough idling and engine misfires.

Ending Thoughts

The Subaru WRX is a beloved sports car with a strong following, offering exciting performance and handling. However, like any vehicle, it has its share of issues in certain model years. Prospective buyers should be aware of these potential problems and consider them when choosing which model year to purchase. By doing so, you can ensure that you get a reliable vehicle that will bring you joy for many miles to come.

Interested in other Subaru models? Check these out:
> Subaru Outback Years To Avoid
> Subaru Legacy Years to Avoid
> Best Year Subaru Legacy


Are Subaru WRXs typically reliable?

For the most part, the Subaru WRX is reliable. However, like with most vehicles, not every model year is perfect. The first two years (2015-2016) are considered the least dependable.

How much does a used Subaru WRX typically cost?

Pricing will vary significantly depending on year, condition, mileage, and other factors. According to CoPilot Price Pulse, the average asking price for a 2015 WRX is $19,697. It rises to $32,243 for a 2021 edition.

Is the Subaru WRX a good car to purchase?

The Subaru WRX is the ideal daily driver for many because of its all-wheel-drive practicality and engaging performance. But it’s vital to do your homework to pick a dependable car.

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