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Valve/engine woes. Should I call it a day?
Let me first say that I love the Forester, and I'd buy another. My 2004 Forester 2.5X currently has around 68,000 miles and is less than five years old – it was taken care of very well. On a few occasions (before 60,000 miles), usually going uphill, my car would feel like it was about to stall, but the dealership found no problems. A little over a month ago, my car sputtered again, this time on a freeway. I pulled over before it stalled. It had to be towed. The code that showed up was a P0304. What the dealership found, via a compression test, was that an exhaust valve in the #4 cylinder was bent and basically dead. I did not touch nor change the timing belt. I knew this would be an expensive fix. (Interestingly enough, I had this same code pop-up before my 60,0000-mile warranty was up. The previous dealership service dept. changed the sparkplugs.)
I was out of warranty (68,000 miles), but upset. I had taken great care of my car and never missed regular maintenance. I’m sorry, a car should not crap out on you like this, and the dealership service dept concurred. Despite this, my only chance was to talk directly with Subaru. The dealership mentioned that they might extend a “goodwill” gesture where they would cover some of the cost. Subaru asked for all my maintenance records, which I kept. After handing over a copy of all my records (40+ pages!), I received a call from the service department saying that Subaru would cover the cost of the repair! All I’d have to do is pay for the part ($300 timing belt). I was ecstatic – faith restored. I knew I had taken good care of my car, and Subaru agreed (but, of course, took no responsibility/blame) – this ailment was a rare occurrence.
The repair itself was intensive. They sent part of my engine to the machinist to redo the valves. It took about a week. I was a happy camper.
Flash forward, about two weeks, to last night. I start my engine and the check engine light turns on. Great – I check the code and P0302 pops-up (and yes, I’ve had this code too!). I took it back to the dealer. I just got word back from the dealer and everything seems okay. The code popped-up during a cold start. I was told that if it were to happen again, they would adjust the valves on that side of the engine.
Now to my question(s) – with the problems my engine have had, that it was machined, and considering the age and mileage of my car, should I cut my losses and get rid of it? Trade it in? (I do not want another bent valve. I was out of a car for almost a month!) I’d prefer to keep my car for ten years plus, but will I be able to? Am I being unreasonable and/or irrational? I’m inclined to say that my particular car, and not Foresters in general, is kinda defective, but will listen to arguments stating otherwise. I’d really appreciate your opinions. Thanks for reading!