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Turbo or No Turbo?

24

Comments

  • I was interested in the Turbo. I already have two naturally aspirated automatic transmission Foresters and the family really likes them, but we all wish they had better acceleration. It is not just that the na engine has less torque and less horsepower. It is also that the automatic transmission has a high downshift lockout speed. This is the speed above which the transmission will not allow you to drop down to a lower gear. In most cars the downshift lockout speed is about 5 to 10 mph below the maximum speed in the lower gear. In our Foresters it is between 15 and 20 mph below the maximum speed in first gear. So if you are moving at about 15 mph and stomp on the gas pedal or yank the a/t gear lever into 1 the tranny will not shift down. Acceleration in 2nd gear at around 15 mph is virtually nonexistent.

    So, we wanted a third vehicle and we were enthused about the Forester Turbo. We went to the service department at the dealer and asked our mechanic and the service manager independently about the Turbo. Both of them said if we were going to keep the Turbo for no more than 3 years, it was great. If we were going to keep the car for more than three years we would be looking at some significantly expensive repairs. This ended our interest in the Forester Turbo.

    Before you buy, ask people who have had the car for more than three years if they have had to do any expensive repairs related to the Turbo. If you already have one, make sure your extended warranty covers the Turbo model and save all your maintenance and repair receipts.

    I hope that the recent changes to the Forester included correction of whatever problems the mechanic and service manager had been seeing over the past few years. It is a great car and we'd really like to be able to buy a Turbo model one day.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    That's odd. I've been working on Subarus since 1998, and we've probably worked on 500-700 different WRXs over the years. While I've seen bad turbos, most of the time it was due to user error or a highly modified car that the turbo caused an issue.

    Change your oil every 3k-5k with synthetic and the turbo cars do not require anything more than a non-turbo car in terms of maintenance.

    -mike
  • robm2robm2 Posts: 53
    I believe there's 5 years warranty on the powertrain. Shouldn't be any expensive repairs on the turbo for at least 5 years. Get an extended warranty, and you can push that to 6 or 7 years.

    I rarely keep cars for more than 6 or 7 years. For me, reliability trumps longevity. Means I spend a lot of money on cars, but also means I have some peace of mind.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Before you buy, ask people who have had the car for more than three years if they have had to do any expensive repairs related to the Turbo.

    Well I've had my XT for 4 years 8 months and 66k miles and have had zero issues with the turbo :)

    -Frank
  • I took delivery of 2009 2.5X Premium, automatic, non-turbo Forester last week. Power is totally adequate so far, especially compared to my previous Ford Ranger 4WD pickup with the 4.0L V6. We live in area of hills, small mountains, and flat areas. The Forester does downshift when climbing some grades. My other vehicle is an 05 Camry V6. The Camry is smoother and quicker.

    I was not willing to have to use premium gas for an XT model along with the increased maintenance.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'm still trying to figure out the "extra" maintenance that folks talk about.

    The difference in gas price for an average driver is about $200/yr.

    -mike
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    I think they're referring to the mandated 3k oil change interval as opposed to the normally aspirated engine's 7,5k interval. Of course plenty of owners change their oil every 3k regardless but even for those who are used to following the manufacturer’s 7,5k recommendation, going to a 3k interval only means two additional oil changes a year which is what, another 50 bucks per year? That's less than a single fill-up.

    However for some people, it doesn’t matter how logically the facts are presented to show that compared to all the other costs of owning a vehicle, the annual $ penalty for having a turbo is really quite small. Bottom line: If you're the type of person that always searches for the cheapest gas and the thought of having to pay extra for premium at every fill-up really bothers you, then you should steer clear of the XT (or any other high performance engine for that matter).

    And FYI, I’m one of those who is always on the lookout for cheap gas and always try to use stations that only charge 20 cents extra for premium. But… I long ago came to terms with the fact that you have to pay to play and that since premium is recommended, that’s what I need to use. Plus when I do think about it, I just remind myself that it’s only costing me 3 bucks more per 15-gal tank of gas. That’s just a 5% surcharge at today’s fuel prices.

    -Frank
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I know it's not much if you look at a monthly outlay, but over a period of say, 8 years, the extra oil changes and fuel surcharges add up to about $2000. Plus it costs a couple of grand more to begin with.

    I looked one up, at Fitz it's $2200 more for an XT Ltd vs. and X Ltd.

    That's $4200 so far, plus you pay more for insurance every 6 months. I didn't get a quote but let's say that's another $100 every 6 months, so $1600 over the 8 year ownership period.

    We're talking about maybe $6 grand or so in additional ownership costs for the face-distorting acceleration.

    Oh, and when we add the extra speeding tickets, it's more like $8 grand. :D

    A speed cam just nabbed me in my minivan (!) doing 46 in a 35. C'mon, I'm like the slowest car on the road. This is getting ridiculous.

    I will put up a caveat - if I planned on using our Forester to tow, or for trips on mountainy terrain, there's no doubt I would have paid the extra for the XT.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    By the way that comes out to $62 more per month over the 8 years if anyone's wondering. I doubt that will sway any people who fall in love with the XT's acceleration.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Ha! You're skewing the numbers to help your argument. Of course it will vary depending on the individual but in my case the additional annual costs:

    Premium fuel surcharge = $122 (avg of 13,4k miles per year @ 22 mpg)
    Additional oil changes = $50 (2 x $25)
    Insurance = $0 (If you're insurer charges extra I'd change companies!)

    So the total additional annual cost is $172.

    IRT the initial aquisition cost, yes the XT costs $2,200 extra but it will also be worth more when you sell it. According to Edmunds, an 04 XT is worth $1,200 more than an 04 XS. So a $1k difference in cost amoritized over 8 years comes out to only $10.42 per month! :P

    -Frank
  • "... FYI, the turbo on my 04 XT is still going strong at 66k miles.

    That is good.

    "Recently, the turbocharger on my Forester scorched a bearing due to an oil seal that let loose. The dealer wanted $2380 for a stock turbocharger plus installation of $400. The car has 70000 miles and is out of warranty."
    paisan, "subaru transmission problems" #6, 7 May 2007 8:17 pm

    "... I take it to my mechanic.....TURBO IS BLOWN!!!!!! The car only has 135,000 KM's on it! I always ensured I allowed the turbo to spool down after driving it. The oil was changed every 5,000 KM's. The fix is gonna cost me between $3-4,000."
    http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f88/new-owner-turbo-blown-31258/
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    So you only found two instances of failed turbos out of how many of thousands of units sold? If you're intent was to imply that the turbo isn't reliable, I don't think you made a very convincing argument :)

    And even with the two examples you gave:

    a. The first was bought used so there's no telling how it was driven. One of the replies to that post says it best:

    "you buy a used car with that amount of mile's and then you complain because the turbo went out? did you expect the car to go a million miles with out ever having to replace a major part?"

    b. With the 2nd example, I can't tell for sure but since the poster was looking to upgrade his turbo with one that provides more HP, I'm guessing that he probably drove it pretty "spiritedly".

    Of course Subaru's aren't perfect (no manufacturer is) so yes, there's always the potential that a turbo will fail but then so might the head gaskets or any number of other expensive to repair items.

    -Frank
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Let's see, you can blow a radiator, and warp the head from overheating on any car. The same could have been said about the "expensive" fuel injectors, "I never had this problem with my good old Holley Carbs", etc.

    As for maintenance, if you read the specs, the "severe" interval for the NA cars is 3,000 miles as well, so the oil changes are probably not even an extra cost. If you drive the car hard, sit in traffic, take short trips, etc. Those are all considered 3k changes even on the NA cars.

    -mike
    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    22mpg is driving pretty lightly, no?

    Why get a turbo, then? :P

    For insurance, are you sure you don't pay more for a performance model? Check again, a Legacy GT costs a lot more to insure than a Legacy L (when I was quoted in 2002). I'm pretty positive you'd see a difference to insure a Forester turbo vs. a non-turbo.

    I didn't actually get a quote, but I would be SHOCKED if the turbo engine didn't increase your insurance premiums.

    As for resale, you looked at 2004s, which are only 4 years old. After 8 years the resale advantage will be a lot smaller. Valid point, but we're talking maybe $500 extra in resale value, not $1200. Plus it's harder to sell a turbo that requires premium fuel, fewer buyers would be interested.

    I'm sure the actual number is somewhere between mine and yours. Closer to mine. ;)
  • I've just finished shopping around for insurance on my new XT. Yes, buying a turbo does increase your premium...but not very much. It ends up being a few dollars per month. And Subaru extended service plans do charge more for turbo's (I think it's about $200-$400 depending on length of the plan). I decided to buy the plan because I don't even want to worry about costly turbo repairs or repairs to any other part of the car.

    This has been an interesting thread. I think, ultimately, the decision between turbo and non-turbo has to come down to the value you place on power and acceleration, your own particular situation (I bought my turbo for mountain driving) and your financial situation. Even 7-8K over an 8 year period is considered pocket change to a lot of people...and, a lot of money to a lot of people, like me!! I have to say that I love my turbo and I've made peace with the financial hit. I wish I could say the same for my wife! I think there is some value to feeling that rush of 224 horsepower.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It's not just cost - I like the extra range, too.

    I was happy the 2009s got a 16.9 gallon tank because it meant I could drive an extra 25 miles per tank.

    Basically you delay having to get gas for a couple of days, every tankful.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    22mpg is driving pretty lightly, no?

    Not really. We obviously don't do jack rabbit starts away from every light but do regularly take advantage of the turbo.

    I didn't actually get a quote, but I would be SHOCKED if the turbo engine didn't increase your insurance premiums.

    When I traded my 01 Forester for the 04 the premium only went up marginally and was in line with the difference in replacement cost. Why do you think the turbo should cost more? Maybe in a sports car there will be a premium but Forester owners aren't likely to be drag racing (although if they did they'd be pretty competitive) ;)

    As for resale, you looked at 2004s, which are only 4 years old.

    Well duh! 04 was the first year the turbo was offered so I couldn't go back any further :P

    Plus it's harder to sell a turbo that requires premium fuel, fewer buyers would be interested.

    Quite possibly true but don't you think the resale/trade-in formulas already take that into account?

    I'm sure the actual number is somewhere between mine and yours. Closer to mine

    Hmm... I'm still pretty comfortable that my number is pretty accurate.

    Face it Juice, you're just trying to rationalize reasons not to buy the XT. Rather than try and convince yourself that it costs a lot more, you should stick to the tried and true arguments that the non-turbo gets better gas mileage (it does), has perfectly acceptable acceleration (it does) and will keep your wife from getting too many speeding tickets (undoubtedly true) :shades:

    -Frank

    P.S. If you're nice, maybe I'll let you test drive my 5.3 sec 0-60 350Z killer when I move to DC next April :)
  • Here in Massachusetts insurance cost is based on replacement value. With identical insurance my wife's 05 Bean costs a bit more to insure than my 06 Premium, even though with the options I have added the only real difference between the vehicles is her leather.

    If both cars got stolen or totaled she would get more money from the ins. company even though it is a year older, so she pays more.
  • "... So you only found two instances of failed turbos out of how many of thousands of units sold? "
    Yes, that is all that I found out of thousands.
  • "... As for maintenance, if you read the specs, the "severe" interval for the NA cars is 3,000 miles as well, so the oil changes are probably not even an extra cost. If you drive the car hard, sit in traffic, take short trips, etc. Those are all considered 3k changes even on the NA cars. "

    So under the same driving conditions, just maintain your turbo like an NA and you should do fine, right?

    "... Caring for Subaru Turbocharged Engines ... The following information updates factory recommendations for the care and maintenance of new Subaru turbocharged vehicles... Due to heat generated by the turbocharger and carbon deposits contained in exhaust gas, the oil in a turbocharged engine will deteriorate faster than the oil in a naturally aspirated engine. Therefore, special care should be taken to use proper grade oil and to monitor oil deterioration. Under normal driving conditions, the recommended oil and oil filter change
    interval for turbo vehicles is every 3,750 miles or four months, whichever comes
    first. However, for vehicles driven in conditions beyond normal, such as racing
    conditions, the oil and oil filter may require more frequent changing... Any driving where the engine speed is kept high – either by using lower gears at higher speeds or using engine braking – is considered racing-type driving. A “track day” or autocross event requires an oil and oil filter change immediately before and immediately after the event.... Carbon deposits produced by a turbocharged engine can accumulate at the bottom of the oil pan. When changing the oil, always drain the oil through the oil drain plug hole on the oil pan..."
    http://www.drive.subaru.com/Sum08/Sum08_Turbo.htm
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