Subaru Starlink Bluetooth Problems: How To Solve the Spotty Wireless Connection

Car infotainment systems usually have one or two issues, and you can expect some Subaru Starlink Bluetooth problems if you own this Japanese vehicle.

Subaru Starlink has several features that enhance your driving experience, a key one being Bluetooth connectivity. 

However, this Bluetooth connection feature has had several issues that even Starlink software updates appear not to solve.

So we’ll look at this issue and explain the possible solutions. Let’s get right into it!

Table of Contents

Starlink is a suite of onboard technologies in modern Subaru vehicles that help make the driving experience enjoyable and entertaining.

The system brings onboard smartphone connectivity (Android Auto & Apple CarPlay), extra safety, multimedia content, seamless navigation, and everyday convenience.

These experiences and convenience features live up to the company’s evolution aim, confidence in motion.

A driver with a phone synchronized to the infotainment system wirelessly

A driver with a phone synchronized to the infotainment system wirelessly

On the security and safety aspect, Starlink has features like remote start and lock/unlock that you can activate using the MySubaru App.

This app is available for download for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

But it is vital to note that the app is only compatible with Android phones running Android 8.0 or newer and Apple mobile devices running iOS 11.0 or later. 

Starlink head units offer the standard Bluetooth hands-free connectivity for all Subaru models to manage audio devices and smartphones.

Bluetooth-enabled cell phones can automatically connect to the infotainment system for audio streaming, enabling you to play music or send/receive calls directly from the connected device.

Some 2023 models, including the Subaru Outback, have wireless CarPlay and Android Auto for easier viewing and controlling of phone apps.

You don’t have to plug in your smartphone using a USB cable.

A Subaru Outback in the woods

A Subaru Outback in the woods

Subaru Bluetooth Setup Guide

Follow these steps to pair the Subaru Starlink with your mobile device.

  • First, activate Bluetooth on your mobile phone
  • On the Starlink touch screen, tap setup, then go to Bluetooth>Add
  • The head unit screen should display the Starlink system pin, which should be in discoverable mode at this stage
  • Next, go to your mobile phone’s Bluetooth menu and select Subaru Starlink
  • Finally, enter the pin and pair the devices
Buttons on a steering wheel for controlling the infotainment system

Buttons on a steering wheel for controlling the infotainment system

One common problem among most Subaru owners is spotty Bluetooth connectivity, which brings about three issues.

It prevents Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and phone call functions from operating normally.

Bluetooth text messaging has also been an issue as Starlink regularly fails to download existing messages from your mobile phone and receive incoming text messages.

Some users have experienced non-memorization/forgetting of previously linked mobile devices.

A modern car infotainment system

A modern car infotainment system

What Subaru Has Done To Fix These Issues

Subaru has tried to push updates to its Starlink infotainment system, but these haven’t done much to fix the connectivity issues.

This failure indicates it is most likely a hardware problem. So most Subaru owners go to local automotive repair shops to get the error fixed.

You can try these few solutions to fix the problem before considering going to an automotive repair shop.

Try Deleting the Device

If you experience difficulties receiving/making calls or streaming music, delete the phone from the head unit to initiate a new connection that might eliminate pairing issues.

Also, try disabling the Handoff app on your Apple device before reconnecting.

Do a Soft Reset

Sometimes a reset can solve the issue. Follow these steps to reset a Subaru Forester’s head unit. 

  • First, find the volume, CD-eject, and scroll/tune buttons
  • Then, press and hold the three concurrently for about 10 seconds
  • The monitor should turn off, then switch back on in a few seconds to complete the reset process
  • Finally, press the power button to turn on the system if it takes too long to reboot
A 2004 Subaru Forester off-roading

A 2004 Subaru Forester off-roading

Change the Connection Method

If your device and stereo initiate the connection process concurrently, they might cause consistent signal drops that affect calls and wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

You can solve this connection issue (halt the connection competition) by changing the connection method on the head unit screen to the setting “From Device.”

This vehicle setting stops the head unit’s Bluetooth system from handling the search process.

So after initial pairing, your mobile phone will manage the connection. It should automatically pair with the stereo if the Bluetooth is on and close by.

Update to the Latest Firmware

If you haven’t updated to the latest Subaru Starlink firmware updates, do so.

The process requires you to connect the stereo to an active Wi-Fi connection and ensure the system clock is correct to enable the process to commence.

Once set, go to the general screen, scroll down, and tap “Check for Updates.” You will get the message “Software Update Ready to Download” if an update is available.

Tap the download button, then “install now” when the download completes.

Give the system some time to do the update. It might reboot several times, so leave the car on.

When complete, you’ll get a caution pop-up. Tap “I Agree” and try fresh pairing to see if the issue is gone.

Check Your Phone’s Compatibility

Some phones might have device compatibility issues with the Subaru Starlink system. So try another one to see if the problem persists.

A modern luxury car with wireless smartphone connectivity

A modern luxury car with wireless smartphone connectivity

Other Possible Solutions

  • Toggle Bluetooth off and on (on your phone and Starlink system)
  • Delete old unused Bluetooth connections
  • Remove the vehicles you no longer use from your iPhone’s Carplay settings
  • Update your iPhone or Android device to run the latest OS
  • Toggle on the “Allow CarPlay While Locked” setting on your iOS device

Besides Bluetooth connectivity, Subaru owners have reported the following issues.

  • Head unit failure( disabling of the audio control and radio features)
  • The radio randomly turns on/off
  • Unresponsive touchscreen
  • Error messages and system lockup
  • Audio and radio controls become inactive/unusable when backing up
  • Error messages only clear from the system after the car remains turned off for several hours
  • Back-up camera freezing/shutting down
  • The screen goes blank, but the system continues to work
  • Blaring radio volume when starting the vehicle even if the radio was off when turning off the car
A blank screen on a car’s infotainment system

A blank screen on a car’s infotainment system

Wrap Up

As you can see, Subaru Starlink is not the best car infotainment system, but it might get better over time. In the meantime, you should try the solutions above.

And if they don’t work, take your car to a skilled technician who is knowledgeable about the issue, not just anyone.

Or you can comment below if you need further guidance because we might have newer solutions as time passes.

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