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Subaru Forester Engine problems



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587

    Good going, and thanks for sharing the tip.
  • Yesterday I was driving my 2004 Subaru Forester on a highway at about 60-65 mph, and when I put my foot on the brake the car did not slow down!

    We bought this car used from a Subaru dealer, for my 18 yo daughter, in May 08 -- with 45K miles on it. Have put about 6K on it since.

    I should say that I am not at all knowledgeable about the workings of cars. Anyway, as I pressed my foot down on the brake still harder, I encountered quite a bit of resistance but could struggle to get the speed down to about 40 mph. Twice, the car started to accelerate again for a few seconds, on its own. Fortunately there were very few cars on the road, but I was on the Sawmill River Parkway (north of NYC), which is narrow, winding, and has no shoulders. I drove this way for about 2? miles to an exit with a long straight ramp with a broad grassy area to the right. Once on the grass, the car slowed to something under 30 mph -- wasn't really focusing on the speedometer! First I tried putting the car in Neutral, which caused the engine to roar. And then, as I was approaching another road, I just put the car in Park. (No, I didn't even think about the emergency brake.) The car then came to a fairly abrupt stop and began to smoke and smell terribly.

    The car was towed to a Subaru dealership, where it won't be diagnosed until Monday morning. I don't know if it's meaningful, but the key is now stuck in the ignition -- and when you turn the key the electrical system seems to go a little crazy -- lights go on and then shut off, etc. I fear that the braking and stopping caused significantly more damage and expense.

    While this was happening, I was thinking that the brakes weren't working. Now I realize that the brakes were just fighting against an engine that would not quit. Seems so extreme -- and for a Subaru?!

    It does not appear that anything was interfering with the accelerator pedal. No mat, for example. The Subaru sales people offered the opinion that the idle was high. Whatever that means.

    Anyway, anyone have any opinions or suggestions? What questions should I be asking? How will I ever let my daughter drive this car again? (Please don't tell me about all the things I should have done or did wrong!) Have you heard of anything like this before? Thank goodness my daughter was not driving at the time.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'm trying to tink if the 04 has drive by wire or not. Drive by wire is a solenoid that electronically controls the throttle (almost all new cars have this now). The Solenoid could have gotten stuck (pehaps in the cold weather we've been having?). My initial thought would be that the pedal was being depressed by a misplaced mat, i've seen this A LOT. Another thing it coud be is the throttle intake could have been jammed open by something or by a failure of a part in there. Without looking at it, it's hard to diagnose.

    The smoke and key issue are due to the fact that you put it in park you probably at the least popped the parking pin. For future reference P=N your best bet would have been to put it in N and and turn the engine off! That would have let you glide to a stop the brakes would still work, although with slightly less power.

    The smoke was probably from the brakes fighting the engine, so that's not a big deal.

    Subaru Guru and Track Instructor
  • Thanks, Mike. Appreciate your input -- will now have some things to talk about with the mechanics. (fyi -- no mat near pedals) I also tried putting the car in neutral almost right away, while still on the highway, but the roaring engine scared me -- so I put the thing back into drive. I don't know why I didn't just turn the car off -- esp once on the grass. Somehow that just seemed like the most dangerous or damaging course of action. Anyway, my first few seconds were taken up with coming to grips with the circumstances . . . and going through the mental process of "I AM in an automatic . . . which has TWO pedals . . . my foot IS on the left-hand pedal, and that IS the brake." I have been driving for 36 yrs with no mishaps or even a breakdown -- at the very least, this served as a wake-up call that things can go terribly wrong.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,858
    I agree that it was an engine issue, but no way to tell what caused the revving you experienced. It would have had to be pushing pretty hard to nearly mitigate your braking efforts. It could have been caused by a mechanical or electronic failure. In situations like these, the only thing that really can be said is, "at least you are okay!"

    Le us know what, if anything, the shop indicates as a possible culprit.

    You can always turn an engine off while a vehicle is moving, but remember to only turn the key "one click" away from the 'on' position - do not turn it to 'lock' (or remove the key), or you will likely lose steering control. It will take greater effort to press the brake pedal and turn the wheel when the engine is off, but you can stop the car.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Thank you! I'll pass this on to all drivers in the family.
  • I have a Forester XT 2004 model with a bad turbo...Firestone ran diagnostic on it. Anyway, they could not get cost estimate yet for new turbo and no Subaru dealership within 3 hours of where I live. Curious...any ballpark figure on replacing the turbo? I'm considering dumping the thing if the cost is higher than $2-3 K to fix...has oil leak, needs new windshield as well.
  • cz75cz75 Posts: 210
    Subaru has had head gasket problems for quite a while, so they probably won't do what is right, considering they can't seem to fix the issue.
  • cz75cz75 Posts: 210
    I'd say a turbo would be $500-600 plus labor if you can find the model you need on the aftermarket from its OEM manufacturer, but it probably would be $2000+ at a Subaru dealer. I'm damned glad I had second thoughts about Subaru and got another Honda.
  • cz75cz75 Posts: 210 would be a good place to get help. You can get a good idea about all the maintenance problems involved with owning a Subaru there, even if you live in the UK.
  • w8ifiw8ifi Posts: 78
    Pre 02 engines had a head gasket issue, Subaru fixed it....Check the reliability ratings by those who rate cars and Subaru is amongst the highest. All makes of 4 cylinder engines can have head gasket problems, I had four Chrysler products with head gasket failure and they never stood behind any of them. Are you basing this on a gasket problem that you experienced with a survey count of one? What year was involved? Mileage?

  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    I'm damned glad I had second thoughts about Subaru and got another Honda.

    Yeah we're all ecstatic that you got a Honda :P
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Because we all know Hondas are perfect...


  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,858
    Hahha; that's harsh. :D
    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
    Perhaps, but so is trolling Subaru threads as a Honda fanboy.
  • Can any mechanic-types tell me what are the most significant maintenance issues (mechanical failures or control/ignition problems, etc.) with the post-2002 2.5 L boxer engine? (non-turbo)

    I'm talking about things that could be expected (and possibly prevented) with proper care and attention....
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    Change the fluids on schedule (including auto transmission if equipped).
    Change brake fluid at 30K (absorbs moisture which can affect master cylinder and calipers).
    Change the coolant when scheduled at 30K and add Subaru's treatment (both to avoid possible head gasket leaks).
    Change the timing belt at or before schedule of 105K (to avoid break which would ruin engine). Changing the belt makes several other items on the front of the engine accessible and they should be replaced at this time.
  • mpkcmpkc Posts: 2
    I am a first time poster. My car only has 40K on it. A week ago the AT Oil Temp light started flashing when I started the car. This has never happened before. I drove to several stores and when I started the car after each stop the light did not flash. I did not use the car for about 8 days & now the car will not start. The electrical system does not work - there is no keyless entry, etc, I work from home and often do not drive it for 1-2 weeks. I replaced the original battery mid 2007 when it died. I know the battery is dead but what could have caused it and what is my best course of action. Thanks in advance.
  • I brought my 2002 Forester with 76,000 miles to local dealership in N.W. suburban Chicago because my check engine light came 2 days ago. I was told the oxygen sensor needs to be replaced for $425 - that's not great, but OK. Then the service advisor asked me "Don't you notice that the engine is running loudly?" I haven't noticed it running loudly, but the service advisor told me the pistons need to be replaced for $2,900, and he mentioned something about a boxer engine. This was all way over my head. Hopefully the extended warranty I bought for the car in Sept. 2003 will cover this repair, but I won't know that until Monday when the warranty administrator office reopens. I've never had to replace pistons before. Is $2,900 a reasonable charge for piston replacement, or am I being taken for a ride? I am not knowledgeable about cars, so any help is appreciated.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    A few engines had what they called piston slap, but it was far from being a common occurence.

    Hopefully the warranty addresses it, if not call 800-SUBARU3.
  • wishner7wishner7 Posts: 2
    radiator does not recover coolent from overflow tank
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,783

    Most likely cause is failure of the radiator cap on main radiator. Check it carefully for seal, ensuring it has been screwed down correctly and that any rubber seals are sound.

    They are fairly cheap to replace.

    Next most likely is a crack in the boundary between radiator core and header tank. These can be hard to find for non expert. I had one years ago that opened up when engine running at high revs but was undetectable under normal conditions. Only realized what was going on when I backed off from full throttle and caught a windscreen of fine spray!.


  • cz75cz75 Posts: 210
    Pic reminds me of the second Subaru WRX I test drove - it was smoking from under the hood after fewer than five miles of driving - too few for the transmission to lose a synchro or otherwise self-destruct. The first was experiencing electrical problems and stranded me and the salesman a couple miles from the dealer until they could get a tow truck there to tow us back. Some folks just have low standards, explaining country music, American Idol, most chain restaurants and Subaru.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That could be just some mechanic spilled oil on the exhaust manifold. Can't conclude much until you look under the hood...

    WRX was a reliable car, many sources can confirm that.

    Your test drive failures are the 1st and 2nd I've ever heard for a WRX.

    Hmm...did you drink the Kool-aid at your Honda dealer lately? ;)
  • vimanviman Posts: 1
    Hi All,

    Over the last 3 weeks, my Subaru Forester 2006 w/45K miles has had these lights upon start up come on, blink a little and go off. Then come back on a few days later upon startup, same process. check engines blinks, sometimes with cruise, once with battery - goes off for a few days.

    The car just past inspection Sat. The inspection mechanic says if the CE light ws on, it would have failed inspection. Since it was not on, it could be misfires and not to bother checking, just live with it.

    I thought it could be a built-in 'mtn reminder', dealer says no. Wants $60 (discount, normally $120) to find out the code (yes, NY)?

    Advice please !

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,858
    Get a code reader! Use it twice, at the rate your dealer wants to charge you, and it paid for itself...

    Are you noticing any obvious signs of trouble? Is the engine running rough? Stuttering?
    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
    I'll echo what Wes already mentioned - they are worth every penny.

    I paid $99 and they're cheaper now, plus I've used it on 4 different cars, including to help friends.
  • pf2001pf2001 Posts: 110
    Hi Ateixeira,

    Where did you pick up your code reader?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    At a NAPA auto store. I got an Actron unit, pretty basic, for $99 at the time. It was on sale.

    I've seen even cheaper ones but some of them can only read codes and not reset them, so make sure you get one that can do both.

    With a code it's much easier to troubleshoot the problem, could be anything from a gas cap that's not air tight to a bad catalytic converter.
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