Don’t buy a Subaru Forester

Subaru Foresters can be expensive to maintain. I knew that when we bought our brand new car in December 2002, but it got ridiculous at our last service done by City Automotive Group. Our car is four years old and has 60,000 km on the clock. Because the car is four years old, that put it on schedule for its 100,000 km major service, even though it had only done 60,000 km of easy city driving.

Here goes:

  1. 100,000 km major service $1,078.97 – okay, so we had braced ourselves for this knowing that it was coming
  2. rear brake pads needed replacing and discs machining $287.38 –ย so a little extra is not a problem
  3. cylinder head gaskets were leaking, and the only way to replace them was to remove the engine, which is a 14 to 16 hour job $1,905.65 – absolutely f*cking ridiculous on a car with an easy 60,000 km on the clock
  4. to top it all off, the wheels were aligned and balanced, which hadn’t been done the previous service $65.

A routine service on our four-year-old Subaru Forester became a $3,337.00 exercise. This on a car that Red Book gives a trade in price ofย $13,400 – $15,200. Outrageous in my opinion.

We will be selling the Forester. It is way too expensive to maintain.

Before you buy a second hand Subaru Forester, consider how expensive the cars are to maintain when they get older. They have a gutless boxer engine which does not allow easy access. Foresters have complex engine management systems, which always seem to spin the engine at the wrong speed. And they have a complicated four-wheel-drive system, which is really all-wheel-drive rather than four-wheel-drive.

If you are after a four-wheel-drive, buy a real one, not a Subaru Forester. If you are after a suburban runabout, do not buy a Subaru Forester!! In fact, just do not buy a Subaru Forester full stop — they are too expensive to maintain!!!

Let’s face it, Subaru Foresters are over-rated.

See the update on our Subaru Forester.

59 thoughts on “Don’t buy a Subaru Forester

  1. rex

    In the circumstances, you don’t get much option. However, we have not taken the car back there.

    And in the old days when you got taken for a ride you would maybe tell ten people. So far I have told the facts to more than 1,000, and counting!

  2. Brendan

    03 Forester xs Luxury 150.000 kilometers and still the same brakes, None of the problems you mentioned and I have taken it across the Simpson desert and lots of difficult to get to camp sites. I don’t go to the dealer for servicing however. And Breaky creek is notorious for charging like wounded bulls.
    Better luck with your next car. You should get a decent price for it with all the new gear on board

  3. DK

    Yep, I just got quoted $1,400 for the 100,000km service, upon which they rung me back and said it was going to cost $2,500 thanks to all the extra things they found that ‘needed doing’. I am not happy Zupps Subaru Mt Gravatt!

  4. Owner

    I own a 2007 Forester and I agree with you that the older ones cost a lot. Although with the newer technology, Subaru’s are awesome. This is my 5th Subaru and I am very satisfied with it. If you are willing to sacrafice safety and reliability of yourself and your family for something that is cheaper, it’s up to you. I have rolled my wrx twice and I am still walking and talking today. Thank god for the safety features that these cars provide. If you are complaining about the cost of these things, maybe you shouldn’t own one or need to get a better job. I am a car guy and I have seen many accidents in the past, RIP to all the people who decided to go with something cheaper. In closing, I am gald that I made the choice to purchase a Subaru. For myself, my family and especially my son. It’s the best decision that I have made.

  5. Rex

    It’s not that we couldn’t afford it; it’s just that $3,000+ after dropping it in for a routine service seems a touch excessive. The bulk of that was to change the cylinder head gaskets, which required total removal of the engine. You would think that they could have designed it better …

  6. US Forester Owner

    On my 1999 Forester in the United States there was a recall to replace the coolant with coolant with a strong stop leak product added. If this was done the warranty on the heads was extended to 100,000 miles. My Forester’s head gaskets failed two months before the recall at about 90,000 miles. I had the heads replaced by an independent mechanic that has a much lower labor rate got it done for about half the price the dealer price. Later one of the Service Advisors at the dealer suggested that I write Subaru USA about the failure and they reimbursed me for the repair. Although they included a note that they considered this a special case situation.

    Having the proper additives in the coolant and rotating tires regularly on the cars with viscus couplings in the AWD system is critical to avoiding two very expensive repairs. These may not be obvious if you are not familiar with these cars.

    My Forester is now at about 140,000 miles and works better than it did when it was new. Although it has taken a lot of repair work, much of it under warranty, to get it in this shape and I am sometimes very frustrated with the car.

  7. I flog my Forester hard and it just keeps going

    Anyone who takes their new car back to the dealer for log book service really doesn’t know much about cars. I have had several new cars over the past 30 years and they are able to go way past what it says in the log books… just change the oil every 4-5000kms, check your fluids and the car will go for ever. When you need to get a service go to a mechanic NOT THE DEALER and you will find your service will be $100s less. YOU WILL NOT VOID YOUR WARRANTY. My forester is is just over 2 years old now and I drive it 200kms per day and I flog it hard. It’s had 2 major services (not at the dealer) and I have change my oil myself 3 times. so far less than $1000.
    I had a Mitsubishi van a while ago, used it as a courier car, did 450,000kms in it over 5 yrs, all I did was change plugs points and oil regularly.

    Cars are just lumps of metal, drive them hard, use and abuse them. Just make sure the fluids are OK and they just keep going. I have used this philosophy with all my cars 5 of which were new from dealers and I have not had any major problems. Worst thing that happened to one of my cars was a broken power steering hydrolic pump. Mechanics often try to sell you more service, just get them to do what you asked for then take it to someone else to follow up.

    REX… they robbed you blind buddy.

  8. Rex

    In response to, “I flog my Forester hard and it just keeps going”:

    a) the car is my wife’s and she choses to have it serviced through dealers — my own car is serviced through mechanics.

    b) from comments, it seems I am not the only person who has been caught out with the maintenance costs

    c) I do not disagree that the dealer robbed me blind — which is why I am telling the world about it!

    Rex. (woof!)

    1. Robin-Hobart

      I agree; Subs are over-hyped cars. Lots of expensive little things that should never occur (my new 2003 has:- broken door lock cable, replaced engine idler pulley (?), and don’t tell me about blown head gaskets!! Also rattles, squeaks, etc). Never had any probs with old Camry. Subs might have a 4/5 star safety rating, but every mechanic I have talked to has a low opinion of them. They ALL rate Toyota (1), Mazda (2), Nissan (3). Is there a message in this?

  9. Elle

    I bought a 2000 Forester used with 70K miles on it. Now, at 88K my headgaskets need replacement. If I do it, will this fix it for good? I can’t afford to pay $2500 and then have a car cost me more in additional repairs. My mechanic thinks I should unload the car, but I cannot afford a new one….not sure how to proceed.

  10. Elle

    PS: Regarding my previous post, my mechanic likes Subarus, he just happens to think that this one isn’t worth repairing (for me, at least). I’d appreciate anyone’s thoughts on this.

    1. Drunk Guy

      I have to agree, the fact is that removing the engine is far quicker and easier to then access the heads and thus the gaskets, and because of those few words , “the whole engine has to come out” the ordinary punter thinks it’s serious, but in all honesty the total time to pull out engine and trans, is about an hour to an hour and a half for the average bloke with some capability and the right gear, so with a couple of hours to replace the gaskets clean up and have it ready to replace, the whole job can be done in 5/6 hours by one man.

      What happens at dealers is, apprentices who continually have to ask assistance do the work, the dealer adds mark up even though he’s charging you full mechanic’s rate and paying an apprentice a fraction of that.

      Look a poorly maintained Suraru will have so many ongoing issues that it will be repair after repair, your mechanic is probably right.

      My wife has an 04 liberty 2.5, and touch wood not one days drama with it until now ( we have a flashing cruise light and engine light stays on, but everything checks out ok, thinking it might be a scare you into the dealer light, probably telling him it needs new belts) she has over 150k’s on it and it goes like a dream, one of the nicest cars i’ve driven. I refuse to take it to a dealer for anywork after the first “free” service at 15k’s when they told me they needed to replace the two front tyres due to bad alignment and that as a safety issue so large they would not release the car to me unless i either brought two new wheels to put on it when i collected it or let them put two tyres on it. As i was close by i went and looked and the tyres were as i thought , perfect, i called the wife to bring the spare key, stole her car from the lot and went to collect the keys, the guy at the counter wanted to try to tel me he was going to call the police for taking the car, and that we should pay $70 for new wipers they had put on it, id stood my ground and got my keys back. At the next service the local mechanic informed me they did not replace the oil filter or the air filter at that servcie anyway. Name and Shame, yep . . . . . . . . .Mt Gravatt.

  11. Rex Rant

    An update on our Subaru Forester:

    My wife is ready to trade this car in. It is seven years old and has done only around 90,000 km.

    She has been looking at a Mercedes Benz. But she is not really a car person and is having difficulty justifying spending $80k on a depreciating asset. So despite the bad servicing experience, back she went to City Automotive to buy a new Suburu Forestor. She was ready to sign on the line for one of the new ones. The sales guy was nice, but the manager was such a rude and arrogant tosser — at one stage he physically pushed past her, knocking her shoulder — that she walked out of there in disgust!! And she would have done the deal there and then if there had been half an ounce of service from them!

    To make matters worse, when the old car was inspected to work out a trade in price, it was identified that the head gaskets were leaking … again! That is, the $3,337 service that included fixing the head gasket, only temporarily fixed the problem.

    I look forward to another $3,000 service on a car with a trade in price of only $9,000 … not!

    1. greg

      my 97, forester,has 325 + k’s ,, timing belts , yeah , 5k’fluid service,with filter’s,,still has 120 lb,per cyclinder ,, its , a bloody volkswagen with , water cooling,,thats all they are ,,great little cars ,,, as for 4wd ing ,, no way ,, just good safe cars ,, avoid air suspension ,an they are much better than the front wheel drive , crap , you get served up in australia , at same price ,, i dont have 9 zillion $ or a tax writeoff on cars , these post , hitler(dr ferdinand porche boxer engines) suit me fine ,, (albeit i need to be a triple jointed miget at times),understand what you are buying ,an avoid dealers in anything like the plague ,

  12. Max

    I have a Dec 98 Forester and went to the dealer here in Darwin and they only offered me $3500 trade in on a new one ($38000). It has done 98000 Km and now has an engine leak. I am going to take it to the local Ultra Tune workshop and get them to do the 100000 Km service. I will let you know the results

  13. Andy

    Well thanks for the world wide web people like you can rightly vent your spleen. And good on you. This has been a great blog. City Automotive really are the losers here. Long live Free Speech!!

  14. Alain Guinot

    Hello 15/06/2009
    Yes l agree 200% .you say don’t buy Forester.Me l go futher don’t any Subaru at all.l have a Forester myself 2002 model.Luckly l’m mechanic l have to change both head gasket.Everyone say have to drop the engine.Can be done in the engine bay,just hook-up the intake manifol with cross bar between the 2 guards,drop the exhaust ,then all timing gear,the heads can come off from under.Subaru is small on the market and will remain small.better again with the econony recession,will be good if subaru could disappear from the market.
    cheers to evryone

    1. trevor


  15. Ned

    I have been looking for a used ’99’-’01’ GT Forester but after reading all this am starting to rethink the whole thing,does anyone know how long the engines go for-i was worried that a four cylinder engine with over 150,000 km’s was a risky purchase as i am used to the reliabality of Holden V8’s.Also was planning on an Auto and would like to know if anyone has had transmission probs with a Forester.

    1. Pete

      Hey Ned,

      It sounds like alot of people have had a lot of troubles with their Subarus. Personally, i’ve had a MY99 GT for 5 years now and it has worked like an absolute charm. I changed the timing belt at 100k as recommended and it cost a bit at the time but apart from your usual maintenance costs (one set of tyres, oil and brake changes) this car has cost me nothing since.

      Sounds like luck of the draw same as any other car/secondhand purchase but i’ve been converted to Subaru and cant imagine driving anything else these days.

      Goes well too ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Matt

    I bought a new Forester Turbo from City Subaru (Newstead) last year. I cannot fault the car – truly magic to drive. The 169kw turbo boxer engine kicks a$$!!

    I’ve been taking the vehicle back to the dealership at Newstead each time to maintain the warranty. But am also considering changing to a performance tuning shop – Mercury Motorsport at Windsor (Brisbane inner north).

    I’ve just put her in for a 12 month today. They estimated around $295. I only do light city driving and she’s only got 9k on the clock.

    I would expect that they would call BEFORE charging in excess of 20-200% OVER the quoted price and going ahead with the unauthorised work.

  17. 04' XT

    i have a 04′ XT luxury forester that i purchased from my parents. Since then i have added mods to take me to 220kw this car on its way to becoming wat it is now had a hard life (i thrashed it) yet never missed a beat it has don over 200, 000 k’s now and still runs awesome. All i can recommend is that anyone lookin for one should keep an eye on the fluids and always listen to the engine bay soon as you hear something take it to motor mac because a $150 dollar visit to eg. tighten something could save you 1000s ๐Ÿ˜›

  18. dungee

    I was about to buy a Subaru Forester from City Automotive until the time came to do the deal. What an arrogant bunch of a$$holes. Wouldn’t budge one cent from retail, said that Subaru’s sell themselves so they won’t negotiate. Ended up walking away.
    Thanks to the article here I’m looking at other cars now instead of the Forester. They may have overcharged you but rest assured it’s costing them money, keep telling the story!

    1. ric_man

      I found that in Victoria (Australia), that if you bought from certain Subaru dealers they would not offer deals as they were all owned by the same parent company, Inchcape – but if you go to the independent guys, like where I bought from – Cambur, they were willing to do excellent deals.

      Hope that helps…


  19. Brad

    Torque Subaru Brendale, same appalling customer service. Capalaba Zupps Subaru exceptionally good. Price didn’t budge much though.

  20. peter

    GL Forester bought new in Australia in 1999.
    Almost nothing went wrong in 10 years. i sold it at 185 000km.
    One new clutch (aftermarket – $800), alternator under warranty, normal wear and tear items.
    Crap carpet and a clunky first gear change.
    Serviced iregulary by mechanic specializing in subaru’s (Perth – Balcatta) at ‘usual’ servcing pricing.
    Great car, very reliable. Highly recommended.

  21. aaron

    Dont know about the servicing, but i bought a MY10 Forester XS Premium with tow bar and other accessories for $42,000, about $4,000 off the Recommented Retail Drive Away price, which i thought it wasnt too bad. I bought it from Joe – not too bad, the song and dance was kept to a minimal.

    The finance guy was trying to snug something in without me knowing, and of bad value – i was really pissied off – he was doing a song and dance, and i told him i am getting the finance elsewhere – then all the backflips came out – the finance part really leaves a bad taste in anotherwise good experience.

    Service manager is my client, so hopefully he wont rip me off during the warranty period, but i will either be doing the service myself or use someone else after the warranty period.

    Elsewhere in the world, the service is done once a year or 12,500km. Subaru Australia mde it a condition to do 6 monthly, so they can get more money.

    This is my first time with subaru and i hope they live up to my expectation – i tend to keep cars for a very long time.

    One thing i find it odd is that most subaru owners worship their their car like god, to the point of beyond reasoning – as if an objective analysis was not possible

  22. Brad

    About to get my MY10 XT serviced (done 12,500km – new Aug/’09). Should I consider getting that “stop-leak” stuff added to the coolant, just in case? I think that, should I have the car for long enough to rack up 100,000kms, that I’ll get a tuning shop to do a full rebuild. Why spend big dollars on a service when a tuning shop will rebuild/improve the engine immensely for not much more? Any opinions greatly appreciated.

  23. xristoph

    ave never owned a car but am thinking of purchasing a used subaru forester from japan. i earn $900 a month. will i be able to maintain a subaru forester?

    1. Robin-Hobart

      I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are handy with mechanics tools! They seem very prone to blowing head gaskets – $3000 to fix. This is absolute bull***t. I have a 2003 XS which I gave to my solicitor daughter as she was required to do some highway travelling for her work, and we find it is now leaking at the gasket – regularly serviced, just 120k! In 2007 I got myself a new XT (before the XS problems became apparent) it’s noisy on the highway, rattles that no-one seems able to fix and an occasional rubbery burning smell from the rear wheel area that the dealer also can’t identify. It’s quick, but that’s about the best I can say for it. I won’t be getting another. Take my advice – get a Toyota!

      1. Robin-Hobart

        How’s this for a quick follow-up to my last rant of Jan 22nd? Just in case anyone is in doubt as to what I think of Foresters, the engine warning light in my immaculate MY06 XT has just come on. This car has done approx 40,000, been used very conservatively, regularly serviced and I am the original owner. Problem now diagnosed as a seized secondary air valve – something to do with cold starting – exclusive to the XTs – both inlet valves need to be replaced – estimated cost $2000.
        I calculate that in my 40+ years of motoring I have owned 27 vehicles; yet never have I encountered the (expensive) grief that these Foresters have generated. This is absolute cr*p!

  24. Zedman

    I am seriously considering buying a brand new Forester XT Premium (2010) at around 50k. Am I wasting my $$, as I tend to keep cars for at least ten years.
    From what I read here, I am having second thoughts. If I don’t go for the Forester, what would anyone suggest would be an equivalent?


    1. Robin-Hobart

      Zedman;- If you don’t need to go quick, get a Toyota Rav4. Boring I know, but new models are bigger, & consistently scores highly for reliability. Or a Kluger if the budget allows. Turbos really do bring their own grief. Having said all that, I too have been idly looking around the car dealers & yards – boring lot – must be getting too old.
      My recommendation if you must get a Subaru XT is to get an extended warranty. 5 years would be fantastic. By chance I discovered I had an extra year with mine, so my $2k secondary air inlet problem was fixed at no expense to me. Complete fluke however.

      Did I mention the rattles by the way? Google Subaru Forester rattles. The latest models seem to be particularly plagued. I found out (too late) that rattles are only covered by their warranty if reported in the first 12 months. Great!

      1. Zedman

        Thanks for your advice. Such a shame you had to find out the hard way. I will check out the Rav4 and the Kluger. Thanks again.

        1. Pete

          Yeah. Have had a MY99 GT for 5 years, bought secondhand at auction from Japan and have had absolutely no trouble with it at all. Awesome car. Luck of the draw i guess but i wont go back to any other car as long as i can afford it.

  25. Wendy

    I am/have been actively looking for a used Forester, 2002-2004. I googled service requirements as I had heard that Subi parts are expensive. I have to say that I am seriously reconsidering my choice of car, having read the rant and the responses.
    Damn, the Forester LOOKS really good, feels great to drive, seems to keep its value. What a shame it costs so much in upkeep.

    1. Robin-Hobart

      I keep being strangely attracted back to this site for more self-flagellation.
      Foresters – lovely to drive – relatively strong in a bingle – absolutely awful when things go wrong.
      Read on….
      My XT (which is barely run-in but recently had $2000 worth of work done) now emits exhaust / crankcase fumes into the engine bay which get sucked straight into the ventilation system & hence blown into the cabin. No-one seems to know why this is happening…. Needless to say, it ain’t fixed yet, & I have to drive with window open.
      During this hunt-and-seek process, a well-experienced industry professional described the 2.5 turbo – in his own words – as “a bastard of an engine”. This is an insider’s candid opinion. And this – a friend of mine was looking for a late model used car recently – his mechanic told him bluntly, that if he bought a Subaru, not to bother taking it to him for servicing!

      And in case you missed it, there is an on-going and chronic problem with blown head gaskets – even in the latest models – not unusual at 60,000km (which typically puts it just outside its 3-year warranty). Whacko! Should be grounds for a class-action IMHO.
      If you Google, you will find an Internet rumour that some service agencies routinely add ‘conditioner'(ie some sort of stop-leak) to the coolant every scheduled service to try to prevent the problem. Who would know?
      Read my lips – don’t even think about buying one of these suckers.

  26. Bec

    Headgasket Headgasket Headgasket!!!!
    I love the Suby’s however my recent 2003 forester has been a disapointment since upgrading from the liberty 12months ago.
    Got suckered in by the inchcape dealership and they’re so called ‘warranty’ deal!
    “oil is leaking from the headgasket, we’ll have to keep an eye on that” What until the warranty runs out?
    I think I’m done with the dealerships. Still like the Subaru’s and living on a gravel road I can’t think of any other all wheel drive that will put up with the rough conditions.

  27. JP

    Headgasket, clutch, suspension!!! Forester driven only on bitumen, serviced as per book,dealer couldn’t find anything wrong with it and absolutely no indication of anything wrong coming for 2 1/2 years 70k (100k service done!) then at the last service just past the 3 years warranty they suddenly discovered, head gasket leak, clutch need replacing, one suspension need replacing, brakes need machining total cost of repair $5000 +. Car never seems to need oil or water I keep an eye on it religiously. I decided not to get the head gasket fixed and wait for more obvious signs since the repair isn’t all that good anyway. I will never ever buy another Subaru.

    1. Rex

      Sounds like Subaru were waiting for the warranty to expire before telling you the problems … not good customer service at all.

  28. P

    There’s not a lot on this page that can’t be said for every other make and model of car out there. It’s personal preference really. I’ve driven and owned many different cars and was never as “attached” to the one i’ve got now (Forester MY99 GT).

    I’ve changed the timing belt at 100k and haven’t had to spend anything else on it (other than regular service stuff). I was almost conned into spending $600 fixing faulty ABS after putting it in for a service but took it to another mechanic for second opinion and it turned out to be an unplugged lead. Gotta have a trust-worthy mechanic and get second opinions if you think it’s dodgy (I tested my ABS on a gravel road and it seemed to work fine).

    I dont seem to have read many people getting second opinions

    Can’t imagine driving anything else. Bugati Veyron possibly……

  29. Craig

    Wow just about to sell my 06 ford focus zetec with 40k on it to buy a 06 xt luxury forester with about 90k on it. This site makes me wonder about my decision. But then again every car company has a site like this, so I feel like it really is luck of the draw. Hope I end up with a good one then ๐Ÿ˜‰ must be are to find a non thrashed xt though. I’ve sure got plans for it ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Justin

    I found oil leak my 09 MY Forster, brought 18 month ago. Very disappointing! I will take to dealer next Monday.

  31. DB

    I’m experiencing the same problem with a leaking left head gasket.

    Here are some costings (not including rego and insurance):

    Purchase price for my MY03 Forester XS as a used car: AU$13,500
    100,000km service: $1,075
    New starter motor: $650
    Shock absorbers for rear wheels, including labour: $910
    4 new tyres, fitted, balanced and aligned: $850

    Total to date $16,985

    And with $2,000 quoted for fixing the head gasket my expenditure on the car will be close to $19,000

    So I’m deliberating whether to cut my losses and trade the car in on a totally different brand of car, or adopt Macbeth’s policy

    “I am in blood stepped in so far, that should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er”

  32. Michelle

    Thanks Rex. I have been comparing the Tig 125TSI, RAV4 Cruiser L, ASX Aspire and the Subaru XT. I have not found another site yet with so many similar complaints as this.

    I won’t be going with the Subaru, partly because of the consistency of the problems reported here, but also because they have the worst fuel economy (even allowing for the bigger engine).

    I currently have an Astra XD wagon and at 160K @3yrs I have not had a single problem. I love German built now, although I don’t care about brand names. They may cost more for parts but when you have good engineering to start with, that’s not so much of a problem. I do 140km a day on the highway so I need something that isn’t going to start falling apart in the first year. I keep coming back to the Tig so will probably wait for their new release model to come out later this year and buy one at the beginning of 2012.

    Thanks again Rex. I wish everyone was able to be more objective about their cars. They’re only tools at the end of the day.

  33. Bad Mr Frosty

    1999 Subaru Forester
    Silver SF5 (Silver/Black)

    2L EJ20 SOHC/DOHC (Single Cam Per Bank)
    5sp GX AWD/4WD G’Box
    Plated R180 Rear Diff

    2x Head Gasket’s $275 Autobarn
    2x Complete packs of Tappet Cover Bolt Seals $125 (Subaru Parts)
    2x Tappet Cover Seals $275 (Subaru Parts)
    1x Gearbox Rebuild $3500 (Gabba Gearboxes Rebuild Remove and Install)
    1x Upper/Lower Radiator Tanks $500
    4x Koni Shocks $750 (New)
    2x Steering Boots and other Bits and Pieces $1640 (All new)
    2x Complete sets of Shifter Linkages, Ball and Cups $1000 (Subaru Parts)
    4x Rotors and Pads $1250

    price on parts so far $9315
    Orig Bought For $7000 (208,000 KMH’s)
    Ins for $16,500
    But Still Alive And Kicking For Now

    at a quick glance at 254,532kmh on the clock and its up for 2 new cam seals, rear main seal, another upper and lower tank on the radiator,
    a reco of the rear diff, new sway bar bushes (and maybe sway bars), new springs, new exhaust, ecu’s getting old and bogged down (Intermittent Misfire), MAF sensor, Belts and Timing Belts, all wheel bearings need replacing……and the list goes on.

    Thinking its time to Part Ways….Not Too Sure tho…

  34. daniel

    Add my horror story to the bunch
    2003 forester
    bought 2 years ago $14 000
    I service every 10 000ks and it is not driven hard

    Within 6 months blew the head $2500
    Same time blew a main computer chip lit up like a christmas tree $600
    problem with the brakes 2 mths later $350 (they still squeek)

    Car was fine for about 4 months then started to redline the heat gague it would go up and down while driving however the motor did not appear to be hot.

    3 seprate mechanics and an auto elec could not find anything wrong with it.
    Replaced a few computer chips did not fix problem

    Ongoing problem no mechanic or Subaru could find the problem.

    3 months ago it blew the radiator litrally Boom
    Was told this was unrelated to the other problem and that the 03 was renound for doing this. Another $600 what the heck

    Took it back to mechanics as it sounded like there was water runing through the dashboard everytime the car was started, it was explained to me that the colant system caused this noise at start up and the mechanic demontrated on another forester he had in the shop which made the same noise.

    Last week it blew the head again back to the mechanic (major nationwide service centre) who said the head was blown again and they did not know why and that was it, no explanation.


  35. WTF

    My Forester MY09 XT blew it’s engine at 30,000k and had new one replaced as it was part of a recalled batch.

    The day after I got new engine put in, it blew a coolant hose and was towed back to service centre.

    I crossed my fingers the head gasket was unhurt and was glad to hear it wasn’t.

    Since then my car has been back there 4 times! In 2 months!
    Maybe there is an issue with the head gasket that they don’t want to tell me about????

    Here are the issues I’m having after the new engine went in;

    – Engine spikes when in idle
    – Coolant mysteriously vanishing with no signs of leaks
    – Vibration in cab and on gear shifter
    – Loud clunk in reverse when clutch half pressed

    The thing that really ticks me off is that Subaru service centre keep telling me that diagnostic and pressure testing comes back good.
    The problem is that because their fancy computers don’t tell them anything is amiss they don’t know how to fix the issues.

    What a shame! I was really looking forward to owning this car, now I’m looking forward to saying good bye to it!

  36. Tim

    This is one of the dumbest things I have read in a while. Clearly it was written by someone with little to no experience actually working on cars. The Forester’s boxer engine extremely simple, not to mention accessible in it’s awd configuration. Try working on a FWD V6 if you want inaccessible. Take some time to learn a little about the car you drive before you pollute the internet with more useless information. Thanks.

    1. Gerard

      I am about to buy a s/h Liberty and the above posts will not put me off. My first Subaru was a 1990 Liberty that we did about 400,000 klms with just normal wear and tear. My son drives a 1994 Liberty on an outback (lifted) frame and it is constant 4 wheel drive. All legally approved and it has done about 250000 klms – no problems.
      I have a 2000 liberty with just over 300,000 klms again no probs and in brilliant condition. Need the Forrester for my electric wheel chair rear bracket. As long as I live I will own nothing but a Subaru, the greatest car available IMO. My vehicles have all been serviced by a mechanic who works from home and services or repairs nothing but Subaru’s. It was he who recommended the Forrester. He drives a 2000 model with about 200,000 klms which has given him no problems.
      It is possible that your problems are more to do with the numb-skulls servicing your Forrester’s then the cars themselves. When you take into account the number of Forrester’s world wide there are F/all complaints here really and my sympathy to most of you for being ripped off by unscrupulous dealers and their service personnel.
      All my Subaru’s have been mostly country driven too which makes their service history even more impressive.

  37. 05Xfozzie

    I bought an 2004 MY05 Forester X and I had non stop problems with the dealer and subaru in general. The oil pump failed after 35000km which caused the #1cylinder head to seize. They of course tried to blame me and my ‘lack’ of maintenance, but I kindly pointed out to them when ‘they’ did my last service = less than 1 week! They even managed to put me in a car crash with their pick-up service when they collected me to come and get my car. Nobody seemed to give a shit about their customer… especially the manager of subaru Penrith… walked straight past me jokingly asking if his loaner car was alright. WTF?
    I took it to subaru Parramatta where after also getting fed up with their treatment of me I had to contact subaru Australia just to get them to tell their employees to fix the problem because it was an obvious fault of theirs, not mine. Well, they ‘fixed’ it enough so that they connected the engine to the gearbox so good that they forgot to tighten it up and every time that I changed gears, there was a loud clunking that made the whole car shudder. I took it back for them to fix only for them to tell me that the problem was inside the gearbox and it would cost me a few thousand bucks. I gave them the name and number of the person who checked their shoddy workmanship and they had a change of heart and had it ready for me within an hour. I never went back to any subaru dealer and I will probably never go to any factory dealer after these experiences.
    Oh and my engine blew up completely at 80,000km and my clutch was worn in a very strange pattern??? Total bill for ‘new’ 2nd hand engine and clutch install = $6500+ … I’ve done 60,000 on the new engine so, I think I’ve gone too far to get rid of it now. ๐Ÿ™

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