Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Subaru Forester Engine problems



  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Good for Wabbits, too Juice. ;)
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'd use it in subies anywhere that you get temps in the low 40s or lower. I ran it in my Subie during the summer a few times w/o ill effect.

  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Blood Meal? :surprise:
  • First time poster:

    1998 Forester, 2.5, auto trans, 117k miles. Driving along, fully warmed up, outside temp about 25 degrees F, Coolant temp was normal, going about 40 mph. All of a sudden AT Oil Temp light starts to flash and the Service engine light comes on solid. On a country road so I pull over to the side. All seemed normal except for the SE and AT Oil Temp lights.

    I drove another tenth of a mile or so to a “flatter spot” to check the trans fluid. Left her running in park and pulled the trans dipstick which is difficult at best on this vehicle. As I was putting the dipstick back in, the engine stalled. After that, all it would do is start, rev up to about 1800 rpm, come down to an idle and fumble at idle and stall. It will do this consistently. I’ve started and watched it stall about 20 times.

    Had to Flatbed her home.

    My genius son rang the code out and then erased it. It came out as a P0103, Mass Air, High Input. I have started this car no less than 20 times and it consistently goes up to fast idle and comes down to idle, fumbles and dies. The SE Light has not come back on and the Airflow Data looks OK on my scanner during this short running period.

    Any ideas?
  • Got her running!

    Checked mounting of crank and cam sensors.
    Checked to make sure EGR valve was not hanging open.
    Pulled Fuel filter: had a small amount of water in it but filter only has about 16K on it.

    Threw a new fuel filter on anyway. Cycled key a few times to fill new filter. Started car and it ran longer than usual before stalling, about 15 to 20 seconds. During these 15 or so seconds, the SE Light came on and the AT Oil Temp light started flashing. I scanned out the codes, P0103 with a P0102 pending code. Both codes point to the MAF sensor.

    I went to the wrecking yard during the day today and rescued the MAF out of the previously pristine 1995 Legacy that my daughter rolled almost a year ago. You would not believe she walked away from that car without a scratch. I cleaned the MAF Sensor and installed it in my air cleaner box. The PN was a match. Well, close enough.

    Started it up and she race up to about 1500 rpm and slowly came down. Both lights, SE and AT Oil Temp (flashing) were still on. I cancelled the codes with the scan tool but did not know what to do with the flashing AT Oil Temp light. For giggles, I shut her down and waited about the length of the Jeopardy theme and restarted her. The AT Oil Temp light was out. I road tested her and all is well with the world.

    My only two questions now are:

    Isn’t there supposed to be a limp home mode so you don’t have to call for a tow?

    What’s was the deal with the AT Oil Temp light flashing?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Bizarre story, but at least there is a happy ending.

    Given the mileage, I would suspect the spark plug wires if they are original. I'm on my 2nd set, you're close to needing your 3rd set.

    If it still has stalling issues, I'd look to spark or fuel. You were spot-on with the fuel-filter, and for spark I'd look to, in order:

    * spark plug wires
    * spark plugs
    * ignition coil

    Don't be intimidated by the 3rd, they're just $80 for the OE part and it only takes one.

    No idea about the AT Oil Temp light, it almost seems unrelated.

  • Subietech on another forum stated that the AT Oil
    Temp light flashing is related to the MAF and that there is no limp home mode for a MAF failure.

    Wires are less than a year and 10,000 miles old.

    She runs good now but I have the 2.2 MAF in it. I am ordering the correct OEM MAF from Subaru

    All codes in this case were MAF related. Early on in this affair, (Tuesday) I did procure the factory manual info to trouble-shoot the MAF Sensor but with my real life middle name being Thomas, I doubted the result that told me the MAF was in fact bad.

    All is well now. I mainly posted the follow-up in order to help others with a similar probem. Online research for this problem, which was a little help, uncovered horror stories from people with similar issues but no resolution.

    Thanks for the reply.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Shouldn't be related to the MAF. It should only have to do with the transmission.

  • bluvettebluvette Posts: 5
    The dealers diagnosis was piston slap, and gave me a service bulletin saying it was normal and would not cause any damage.
    This annoyance was resolved after a negative maint. survey was sent in. The dealer contacted me and wanted to look at it again. They ended up changing the cam tensioner, pulley and the cam belt. The noise is now gone, forever I hope.
  • compensatecompensate Posts: 212
    We bought a used 2001 Forester S that was supposed to be in "mint" condition a few weeks ago. It drove great for about 2 hours until the engine temp gauge began rising. Long story short, mechanic said it was a head gasket problem.

    I read the early posts on this thread about this issue with inferior head gaskets on some on the 1999-2001 (or 2002) Foresters, but I wanted to know of someone had detailed info on what it was that the dealers added to the coolant to "fix" this problem.

    Was it some sort of "stop leak" stuff? Was it aluminum pellets?

    Does anyone know if this was just a way for Subaru to get the car past the "extended" warranty period without having to shell out big bucks for lots of engine rebuilds?

    By the way, this same "mint" Forester needed a new rear wheel bearing - $450! It also needed an alignment (toe was WAY off), new tires and moonroof has mechanical problems (sticks, won't open). Sigh!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Go back to the seller. Who dumped it on you in that sort of condition? Sheesh.
  • compensatecompensate Posts: 212
    Yes. The seller is a long story, too. Nowhere to be found now. Phone number disconnected, etc.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That stinks.

    But I don't think that transfers the responsbility over to Subaru, clearly this vehicle was neglected.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Sounds like a car from New Orleans.....

  • compensatecompensate Posts: 212
    Yes, this vehicle was obviously neglected.

    I am not blaming Subaru. I have always wanted to own a Subaru for some time now. I just need an expert to tell me what the stuff was that Subaru corporate had dealers add to the cooling system. There was a service bulletin issued from Subaru for Foresters in 2000, 2001, and 2002 about this head gasket issue. The "fix" was to have dealers add something to the coolant. If it was a "stop leak" type of compound, that would be sad.

    This will help me determine whether I should try that route again to save big bucks, or drop $1200 on a rebuild ($1200 I will have to take out a personal loan to acquire).
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Prepare to be sad, because I think it was basically Stop Leak.

    Did you see the MythBusters episode where cracked pepper successfully sealed a leaky radiator? :D
  • compensatecompensate Posts: 212
    Yes, I saw that Myth Busters episode. That's a cool show.

    I figured it was a stop leak type of substance. So, I assume Subaru saved big bucks on having to rebuild mass quantities of engines by using a temporary fix that would obviously not permanently resolve the issue. That is not good to hear - always had respect for Subaru for a company that would do the right thing - this jades my perception a bit.

    Oh well. On to the next issue:

    Any suggestions on whether I should (1) have the head gasket replaced or (2) get a used engine from a 2003 Forester? My fear about the head gasket replacement (the cheaper option) is that they could find some cracks in the engine block and/or head once they get the engine disassembled. If that happens, I will be out the cost for the labot to take the engine apart and still have to pay for a used engine.

    Any experiences about Foresters having cracked block problems because of overheating issues? Aluminum blocks to have a tendency to develop small cracks more than cast iron.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,149
    If it has an overheat issue due to the gasket leaks, which it sounds like it does, then warping or cracks are a definite possibility. If I knew the history of the car, I would say go for the gasket replacement, but it sounds like this car may have suffered several rounds, and possibly prolonged, of overheating. The safest bet may be a different engine. Either way is still just a bet, though!
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    An 03 or later engine should resolve the problem.

    Coincidentally, the JD Power results are out for vehicle dependability and Subaru showed a significant improvement for MY2004, probably because the new Forester had better wheel bearings and the head gasket issue was resolved by then.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I would swap it with an engine of the same year. I've done direct swaps that one would think would be direct bolt-ins varing by 1 or 2 years and the connections are completely different sometimes.

  • Took our 2002 in for a complete tune-up at 103,000 miles. Replaced belts, spark plugs, oil & filter, flushed the radiator, changed transmission oil and gear oil, air and fuel filters replaced, replaced spark plug wires, replaced water pump and now engine is rough. After two days, engine check light came on and did not have enough power to continue to drive. Had dealer tow and they are not able to diagnose the problem.

    Any ideas?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,149
    Well, first off, it is the dealer's problem to fix! But, sounds to me like the timing is off. Maybe multiple problems, like a loose plug wire, to complicate the matter.

    I would request them give me a loaner (no cost to me) until they get it straightened out. That will give them incentive to do it quickly and do it right. ;)
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sorry to hear that. You bring in a perfectly good engine and it comes out worse than before.

    I'm sure they accepted your money, though!

    Call 800-SUBARU3 and express your displeasure. Be polite, but I agree with the suggestion above that you ask for a loaner.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Since you didn't mention them doing the timing belt on it, I would say it's a bad set of wires or plugs or something along those lines causing the issue.

  • Thanks for the previous ideas/suggestions/comments.

    The timing belt, fan belt-the complete service for 105,000 miles was completed for $860. Today they replaced the new plugs and wires and a new coil-nothing has changed. No codes showing at this time. They are stumped. It is now able to be driven, but continues to run roughly.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    hmm, then the next step would be to check all the intake piping. Chances are they took it off to do the plugs and wires and didn't replace it properly and you have a vacum leak.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'm surprised it's not throwing codes... :confuse:
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,149
    If everything is working (sensors, etc), it will not throw a code. I am still leaning toward the timing being off. I was off by a couple teeth the first time I changed the belt on my '96. It ran quite rough, but threw no codes. I did not drive it that way, though. I knew something was amiss and disassembled the whole darn thing again, realigned it, then reassembled. It ran perfectly afterward, but it sure is a pain to redo all that work for a moment of carelessness.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • The Sub dealer returned our 2002 Friday. They offered no explanation for our problem except that maybe we had a bad tank of gas. Added a second can of Sea Foam and the motor was smooth and worked great for two days, then stumbled/hesitated and threw a code (checked at Advanced Auto and neighbors code reader), which indicates a misfire on cylinder 2, cylinder 3 and cylinder 4.

    So, we are still trying to diagnose the problem.

  • Yesterday I contacted 1800Subaru3 and they dispatched a field manager representative today. They pulled the manifolds off and found an internal head gasket leak where the coolant is leaking into the cylinders and causing the plugs to misfire. So they say-and that is what was reported
    back to 1800Subaru by the field manager.

    Note we did have some roughness before any work began and could have been
    the start of the internal gasket leaks?????????

    Both the dealer and 1800Sub indicate the car needs the head gaskets repaired
    and of course on our nickel.

    I did call the local Honda dealer-owned by the same company- and talked to the manager about trading our Forester, as is, on a new Civic or Accord and he is ready to deal. He drove over to the Subaru dealer and looked at our
    Forester. He also recommended that we not open up the motor to repair the head gasket because his experience is that there will be extensive damage and much more than the initial quoted $800 repair. He wants us to visit the
    Honda dealership, chose a car and then work a deal.

    I have a .50 caliber Desert Eagle and I am tempted to go euthanize the damn

Sign In or Register to comment.