2017 Outback Engine Rattling Noise Upon Start



Nomatter what he told you, go to the dealership and try another of the same model anyway.
If it doesn’t rattle, try a third. If neither rattles, show him. If the second “test vehicle” does rattle, it may not be abnormal even if not all like vehicles do it. Under those results, it may be a judgment call. That should not, however, prevent you from pursuing it as described below if you’re still uncomfortable with it.

And then pursue the issue up the chain of command as defined in the paperwork that came with your owners’ manual. Keep all your copies of the shop orders and write your complaint letters in a clear, articulate manner supported by copies of the shop orders (keep the originals on file). That way, if it should later develop into a problem, you’ll have all the evidence that you tried to address it while it was still under warranty and they declined to do so. Once something is reported under the warranty, they cannot refuse to repair it under warranty coverage even if the miles are beyond the coverage limit.


Best test I think is what you’ve already done, try the same experiment on some of their other new cars w/the same engine. If they all make the same noise on start up, whether it is something to worry about, can’t speak to that; but it isn’t anything you can do anything about, other than keeping a file of your communications w/Subaru about this problem. That might come in handy latter, if indeed this does turn out to be an engine problem due to the basic design. I think however if they all make the same noise and same volume, it’s nothing to worry about.

As a side-note, I had a friend who had a V8 engine car, and had a bad rattling noise on start up. He was ready to replace the engine, but his mechanic said to replace the starter motor just in case it was that. Turned out the mechanic was right, the starter motor was making the racket, not the engine.


What do I know? But if he started three other cars and they all had the same rattle on start-up, its kind of hard to argue that it needs to get fixed. I think at this point you have documented the noise and brought it to their attention. If after the warranty is up, you develop a problem related to the rattle, you can document that the problem was not dealt with during the warranty period. I’m having trouble though thinking that in 8 hours, the surfaces get so dry from the oil dripping out that there wouldn’t be any lubricant on them. Dunk a tool in oil and let it hang overnight and I’ll bet there will still be a good film of oil on it in the morning. I just don’t see dry chains or bearings or anything from a short overnight shutdown. I suppose if it takes a few seconds for the timing device to pump up again like a lifter, that could make a noise but is it harmful? At any rate I think you have done what you can at this point and drive on and have fun. Do you really want these guys tearing down a factory assembled engine with only a couple hundred miles on it? I wouldn’t as a practical matter.


If the dealership maintains that this is normal, tell them you want to come in in the morning and start 3 or 4 of them and listen.


Our comments crossed but he already said that the salesman started up three other cars on their lot with the same engine and they all had the same rattle.


Back at my first duty station in the Navy, I guy brought his new Buick into the auto hobby shop. It always rattled, all the time, and ran rough. The dealer told him that it was because his engine was a V8 with two cylinders cut off.

He removed the heads add found that the piston was missing. The rod was still there and it had worn a deep groove in the cylinder wall.


Many cars, including my 2014 Mazda6, use a warm up cycle that elevates rpms at startup so that the emissions system warms up faster. It also does something else with the exhaust that, in conjunction with the increased rpms, makes a “rattling sound” for about 10 to 15 seconds. Then the rpms drop and exhaust goes back to normal and it sounds fine. In the case of my Mazda it is absolutely normal and, after 70,000 miles, I do not burn any oil at oil or suffer from any other strange noises.


I have the same problem with my 2017 Subaru Outback, but it only happens when it is cold about 40F. I was wondering the same thing!! Got an appointment with the dealership Monday, but they just sounded annoyed when I told them. I had a 2009 Subaru Outback and never had this problem. What did you figure out it was??


I just brought mine in for a 3000 mile oil change (It was free or I would have done it myself although locating 0-20W fully synthetic oil is not easy). I had the service writer write on the work order that I wished to have the noise checked out. I asked about the noise. He said that it had something to do with an emissions part but did not sound too convincing. I really believe that Subaru has no idea what the noise is. You should document it in some way (Take it in or write a letter) so that if it is something, you’ll be on record, and if enough people are concerned maybe Subaru will attempt to determine what the noise is simply to put our mines at ease.


I will have the dealership document it and I will write a letter to SOA. Thank you!!


I have a 2016 Forester with the 2.5 engine. I live in constant fear of the oil consumption problem. Not the kind of fear that makes me completely crazy, but the kind prompted me to put two quarts of 0W-20 in the trunk. That said, Subies don’t sound like “Normal” cars when they start, run, or do anything else. “Rattle” is hard to define, but they make an engine racket that other cars (even less expensive ones) don’t. Since the dealer was good enough to start three new cars for you, and they all sounded that way your worries are over. For now. Great post.


I own 2 Outbacks. One is a 2011, the other is a 2013. The main difference between the two is that the 2011 oil filter is located on the bottom of the engine. The 2013 has the oil filter on top of the engine. The 2011 doesn’t rattle when starting - the 2013 rattles like crazy. I had the 2013 in recently for other problems and they gave me a 2017 Outback loaner. I had the loaner for 3 days. It, like my 2013, rattled every morning on cold start. I think the problem is a design defect that will start having effects on cars after they have sufficient miles on them.

About 15 years ago. I owned a Ford Exploder and because of the timing chain slap on startup, the chain eventually skipped a tooth on the valve cam and the engine proceeded to destroy the valves when the pistons started colliding with them. Ford gave me a new engine at 60k miles, which proceeded to do the same thing by the time I had 60k miles on the new engine. That was the end of my travels in the seat of a Ford.

If Subaru doesn’t recognize it has a significant problem here and won’t make corrections, I’m thinking it might be time to look at one of their competitors for a replacement vehicle before my 2013 meets the same demise as my Ford Exploder.


Mbalenpe, which engine is that?

I have a 2015 Forester with the opposed 4, and have never heard this noise.


Bill, it’s the 4 cylinder engine. The loaner I mentioned in my post also had the 4 cylinder.



Are you using the Subaru oil filter? If not, are you using an oil filter with a good anti-drain back valve? I have a 2014 Legacy 2.5l and I never get the rattle. It was 15 F this morning when I started it. 50k miles on it.

Edit: if you are using an after market filter, it has to have the 7 psi delta P bypass valve in it. A higher delta p could cause oil starvation on start up.


Was that a mid 1970s Buick? When I worked at a Buick dealership in 1975/76 a new V6 Skylark was unloaded from the transporter truck with a horrible engine knock. Both halves of a rod bearing were missing! Q: How does a vehicle get all the way from the factory to the Southern California dealer without someone noticing? A: In the mid 1970s GM did not give a flying…


I was in the auto hobby shop at Point Mugu in the early 70’s when the guy in the stall next to me removed the heads from his new Skylark v-6. The dealer was giving him the runaround about the knock from his engine.

One piston was completely missing and the rod had worn a groove in the cylinder walls.


How is this possible?


Maybe it was the work of disgruntled employees. Brian Bosworth, the ex OU and NFL football player, worked for a short time at the GM assembly plant in OK City and said in his book that he saw sabotage there on a regular basis; usually around contract time…

Back in the 70s AMF took over Harley Davidson and the employees became quite upset over management practices of a bowling pin manufacturer. That led to a lot of disgruntlement.
One dealer received a shipment of new Harleys and when a Super Glide was uncrated there was a note taped to the gas tank. “I get paid X dollars to fxxx things up. How much do you get paid to find what I did?”.

Eventually, after much grief and man hours, they found a 9/16" wrench stuck into the transmission gears.


Ah, the good old days

They were wonderful, weren’t they?