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Subaru Forester (up to 2005)



  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    I left that off of my earlier post, but I did add the OEM oil cooler to my Forester, as I have the stick.

    Bought it from Teague's Auto, all the parts, Dale was prompt and knowledgable. Good experience.

    Installation was a breeze, partly because the oil filter is so accessable. I would recommend this mod before all others for anyone that's planning on "heavier" duty use.

    Since we sprang for the gauge pack a few months back, we now have the ability to monitor the engine oil temp directly, and it stays in a very narrow range between about 80 C and 95 C (~176 and 203 F) with the oil cooler, even on very hot days towing in the hills, in traffic (return leg of our recent trip to the Black Hills, SD).
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,752
    << Did you guys notice the lateral Gs, though? 0.77, with the nearest competitor at a distant 0.71. Those 16" rims and tires make a world of difference. >>

    The wider track also plays a big part. I think the track is roughly .75" wider than last year's model.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    The subie ATs are pretty beefy units. (they are similar to old-time MPVs and Pathfinders) so I don't suspect that to be an issue.

    The MTs on the other hand haven't been changed since the 70hp carburated 1.8l engines of the 80s on the subies. (except for the 22b, STI 6MT, etc)

  • casecom2casecom2 Posts: 72
    Not yet; hopefully sometime in the next couple of weeks ... I'll post back afterward.

    Did I ever mention how my car-buying process is a long and agonizing one? ;)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Brian: how much for the kit, delivered, just out of curiosity.

    I'd install it at the first sign of gellation/sludge. In fact if you have a Toyota affected by that issue I'd recommend one.

    Casey: I'm even worse, it takes me years to choose the right vehicle, and a dozen or more test drives.

  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    -juice; I can't find my correspondance with Teague's anymore, but if memory serves, the OEM oil cooler was a bit over $300. About $100 less than the dealer wanted. The expensive part is the heat exchanger, understandably so...

  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    -mike: You say the MT is an unchanged unit from a 100 years ago (roughly :)). What's your source on this ?

    According to the Subaru factory parts specifier, the MT is brand new for '03.

    If the AT were up to the task, I think they would've bumped the tow rating for both units on the '03. It doesn't make sense to have the MT rated higher than the AT. The new CRV jumped 1000#'s to 2500#'s now. I think that's why Subaru responded.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    But up to and includeing the WRX transmission, the MTs have been the same from the 80s. I have heard this from several un-related subaru experts. They have beefed up the gears but only slightly over the years. As for '03 I don't know if it's the same or different but my guess is that it's probably the same, until we get the 6MT in the STI and possibly across the board. The Clutch and pressure plate have changed over times as well as it's changed from manual clutch to hydrolic, but the gears and the case haven't changed.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Subaru seems to use gradual improvement rather than complete replacement, so the tranny may indeed be loosely based on the older ones.

    C&D says ratios for 1st and 2nd have changed, but the rest are the same, as is the final drive ratio.

    Either way, the weakest link in the powertrain is the clutch, and that is by design. Ever heard of complete AWD system failure? No? Exactly. A clutch costs a couple hundred bucks, a tranny is a couple thousand.

    Bob will correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the CR-V is rated for 1500 lbs, though with no trailer brake restriction.

    FWIW, UK Subies are rated to tow 1800 kg even without trailer brakes, or 3960 lbs. Subies have also won multiple trailering awards in that country, including the new H6s.

    So that's why I agree with paisan on this one - the US rating has more to do with lawyers than engineers.

  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Juice - You are correct. In the NA market, the CR-V is rated for 1500lbs (both trannies). Like the Forester, it's rated higher in other countries. I forget what the AT is rated for, but the MT is around 2,500lbs.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think Bob mentioned the Pilot needs trailer brakes for anything over 1000 lbs. If that is so, it means the CR-V can tow more without brakes! Pretty funny.

  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,752
    Juice, funny you mention that, I was thinking the same thing. ;)

    That 1000 pound trailer brake restriction is in the Pilot owners manual. I haven't seen the CRV owners manual, so I don't know if there is a trailer brake restriction or not. I find if hard to believe that the CRV wouldn't have that restriction, and the Pilot does.

  • 73soob0173soob01 Posts: 14

    I use a Garmin GPS III, and usually have the moving map displayed. Problem is, I can't see lat/lon coordinates unless I switch to another page, and the font is too small to read while driving. Darn these bifocals....

    So, when I'm off the beaten path and need to keep track of lat/lon, I have a Magellan GPS 2000 set to show the lat/lon in nice large font.

    But since the Garmin map doesn't show many of the old roads I use, I also carry hard-copy maps and aerial photos in the pax seat for reference. :-)

    I do have a third GPS unit, a DeLorme, but I only use that one if I'm traveling with the laptop computer -- something I avoid because the laptop isn't quite as rugged as the Forester when it comes to bouncing over ruts and curbs. ;-)

    (And yes, friends and family do consider me eccentric -- and not only because I drive a Subaru!)


  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    -juice, mike

    Thanks for the clarification. I bet the change in the gear ratios is what prompted the "all new" label from the parts specialist. I'm inclined to agree that the MT has been evolving over time, rather than experiencing a complete redesign.

    FWIW, I specifically asked if the new '03 pressure plate and clutch disk would fit an '01 and was told "No". They might have been leading me around by the nose, but I didn't get that sense at all. I think they may have changed the number of splines.

    As to the CRV tow rating, I'm certain the new model is rated to 2500#, but I can't remember where I saw that. I think it was CR. The old one was rated to 1500#.
  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    Woops. I stand corrected. Quick jaunt over to confirms that the CRV is only rated to 1500 lbs. Must be getting old...

    Sorry for the confusion.

  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Brian - No problem. In other markets the CR-V is rated for about 2,500 lbs. You may have seen that posted somewhere and not realized they were talking about another country. No biggie. =)
  • joe_sinjoe_sin Posts: 32
    Although I'm sure that lawyers (specifically the ones employed by insurance companies) have a lot to do with the over 1000lb trailer brake requirement in NY and elsewhere, imagine the following scenario...

    I have this vision of driving up a very steep hill in the rain with a 2000 lb trailer on the Forester. I make it over the top of the hill. Now I'm going DOWN the very steep hill in the rain (or is it snow? sleet?) with 2000 lbs of uncontrolled weight behind me. I step on the brakes (hard? gentle? might not matter...), and the trailer starts to fishtail out from behind. Think quick.

    If it were all about dry, flat roads, it probably would never matter. I found myself on Long Island today (known for it's flatness) and still found myself in a 45 degree local street.
  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    Joe, you're referring to an unbraked trailer I presume ? I've expressed the same concern, given that I live in Denver, and 15 mile long 7% grades are common around here. There's nothing like watching all the newbies ride their brakes downhill for 10 minutes at a time to put the fear of God in you.

    In fact, my brother-in-law had a brand new car totaled once by someone who burned up her brakes coming down I-70 into Denver - took the next exit, ran a red light and hit him. He was lucky to walk away.

    Although I can understand some members of this board, having reasonable concerns about the cost of class I trailers doubling when you add trailer brakes, in a lot of circumstances it just makes sense. Depends on where you live I guess and what the conditions are.

    Trying to control a 2000# unbraked trailer with a short wheelbase 3200# car/wagon/suv in steep terrain or under windy/slippery conditions could get dangerous. I just don't like the proportions - the trailer weight is too large a percentage of the tow vehicle mass, and the wheelbase is too short to maintain leverage over the trailer's sway moment without trailer brakes.

    Just my .02
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,752
    I don't want to give the impression that I'm against trailer brakes. I'm not. In fact, if I had my way ALL trailers would be equipped with brakes.

    My problem is the very limited availability of Class I trailers with brakes. As was just mentioned, it will increase the cost of these "inexpensive" trailers quite a bit, therefore no dealer will equip their trailers with brakes because they will become prohibitively expensive. The only way you're going to see trailer brakes on Class I trailers, is if they're required by law&#151;which is unlikely.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    joe: but you brought up a scenario where the Forester would carry a significant advantage.

    Why? Under engine braking, all four tires would help keep speed under control, not just the front two. And this is really what you would need to do on a long down hill, else you'd bake your brakes no matter what you are driving (see Brian's post for an example).

    Also, with all four tires providing engine braking, that divides the chore by four instead of two, so again you are less likely to skid.

    In reality the ideal setup would be engine braking plus stability control, so you'd get assistance from the brakes only when needed, not all the time. This may be why the VDC wins towing awards in the UK.

    I've towed maybe 1500 lbs behind the Forester, but I can't recall any long/steep hills except for a few short ones near my house. I just drive like a granny, taking it easy, allowing huge following distances and just driving smoothly. I've never towed in rain or snow, however.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Nothing like cruising along at 70mph with a tandem-axle auto-hauler behind you weighing 5500lbs in the rain! Keep both hands on the wheel son!

  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    -juice Your point on having all 4 wheels contribute with engine braking is well-taken. I have had the Forester out on those long grades, and as I've mentioned before, it delivers as advertised extra-ordinarily well. Engine braking is surprisingly strong, third gear will hold even extreme grades (8%) under 55. A touch to the brakes to set up the corners every now and again is all I've ever needed.

    Do you think AWD may contribute to stability in strong cross-winds too?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I love this explanation here:

    With 4 wheel traction full-time you simply have a higher bank account of available traction. The example explains this concept very well. Rain, snow, and cross winds are when this extra traction is needed most.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    It definitely helps. I've tried my Trooper in 2wd and AWD and when in AWD it is much more stable in all conditions.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Heck, I have practical experience that proves the point.

    Our FWD 626 was poor in the snow, mostly because it had lots of torque and an open front diffy. The front wheels would spin easily. It would also understeer even in the dry. Basically, the front wheels were being burdened with all the steering, all the acceleration, 90% of the braking, and 60% of the weight of the car. Tire wear was obviously much worse in the front.

    My Miata (RWD) will spin if you so much as lift the throttle in a corner. It takes getting used to. Fun, though. But still, it's the driven wheels that tend to skid first. It's tuned for neutral handling, not under/over steer, but the throttle definitely can make it change directions.

    My Subie carries neither vice.

  • terry4848terry4848 Posts: 8
    I'm planning a trip that will take me through the mountains of the blue ridge out east here on my way to Minnesota from Virginia. I have a new 2002 Forester automatic and would like some tips on how to drive the grades. I've made this trip many times with other cars and there were always problems with my Voyager, downshifting and using cruise. Should I avoid cruise altogether? Also give me some tips on the BEST tire pressure for mileage and comfort. Thanks- Also what have you longtime owners found to keep your Foresters lasting a long time besides frequent oil changes and regular maintanence.
  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    Well, what'aya know... CNN is reporting today that the NHTSA has published a new towing guide available at

    Apparently, the number of accidents involving towed vehicles is on the rise, as is the number of people towing various kinds of rigs.

    So how do you make a link a link, anyway ?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You're talking about 3000 foot elevations in most places, nothing compared to what you'd see in Colorado, so don't sweat it too much.

    Your auto should shift itself even if you use cruise, so you could, but I wouldn't. If you feel like the tranny is guessing (actually, learning the terrain), then disable cruise and add some throttle as you approach hills to get a head start.

    Coming down a steep grade, you may want to use "3" to lock out overdrive for some engine braking. Just avoid riding the brakes, which could cause fade.

    On those smallish mountains, I've found that usually just letting off the throttle is enough to maintain your speed. I have a manual though, and would some times use 4th on steep descents.

    It's a nice drive. Pack a picnic and plan a hike on the way, to stretch your legs. The views are nice. Catch a sunset - they are priceless.

  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    So I just read the new guide mentioned above, nothing new here, but a solid overview for newbies.

    By the way, apparently the new software will recogonasize a link and turn it into a link for you without further todo. But hitting refresh still auto resubmits your last post... sigh.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 43,038
    This is the format I use when I want to post a link but "hide" the URL:

    <a href=""></a>

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