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Subaru Forester vs Toyota RAV4



  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110
    "So it's riskier to buy a CPO Lexus ES300 than it is to buy a used Forester."
    Really? Wouldn't that depend on the incidence percentage (problem units per units sold)? Do you have those figures?

    Anyway, isn't this thread Forester vs RAV4?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yes, it would depend upon the incidence percentage, which I don't have. We do currently have 5 Subarus in my family, that's a total of 10 head gaskets due to the H4 design. All of them have the same 2.5l engine sold in the Forester, and all have been perfectly reliable. I think a buyer can reasonably expect the same sort of reliability.

    But the risk is also affected by the cost of the repair, and replacing a gasket is cheaper than replacing a sludged engine.

    Back to Forester vs. RAV4, I don't think scare tactics are necessary. Subaru has stepped up and offers a very long and thorough warranty, plus they are actively preventing the problem by using a coolant additive, pro-actively, not just sitting back and waiting for failures like other manufacturers (the one that build RAV4s).

    Conclusion: no car is perfect, but Subaru has demonstrated that a manufacturer can step up to the plate proactively. Not wait until they cave in due to intense pressure, like Toyota did.

    Subaru also has the guts to have an active rep on these boards (Patti, as you know), which has a strong influence on repeat purchases, even for Subaru owners that have had problems.

    Toyota has gotten so big that perhaps it's unfair to expect the same from them. They are one of the Big Three now, let's face it. You are Joe Schmoe and will be treated accordingly if you have a problem.

  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110
    Scare tactics? More accurate to call it full disclosure. I didn't see any Forester zealots offering the info to prospective buyers, including used car shoppers.

    The coolant additive - is that all that is needed to correct the head-gasket problem?

    "Actively" and "pro-actively"? Huh? Seems like it was after the fact. Retroactively?

    -Joe Schmoe
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    There was an issue, but it has been addressed.

    I stand by my opinion - recommending that people only buy a Subaru with an extended warranty is indeed a scare tactic, as well as bad advice, given a warranty is already offered that covers the issue you are expressing concern about.

    And it is not after the fact, Subaru has been using the coolant additive on potentially affected cars before gaskets fail (not that all of them would).

    Proactively, not waiting until after a failure occurs.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Suggestion: Get the extended warranty

    You wrote that, not me.

    Apparently you suggested that because you believe that an extended warranty would cover any concerns about the head gasket, because that was very clearly your concern.

    Well, Subaru has already included an extended warranty.

    So basically your very own concern has been addressed.

  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110
    it's what you don't write.

    My "very own concern" was that shoppers did not know about this widespread head-gasket problem, and used Foresters were being recommended without any mention of a well-known (to insiders) potential problem.

    If the situation had been reversed, and it had been the RAV4 that had the problem, there would have been much cluck-clucking of tongues here from the Forester faithful.

    But when it happened to the Forester...Omerta. Code of silence.

    -Joe Schmoe
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    OK so we'll warn them like this -

    We've seen a few head gasket failures on these cars, but Subaru has stepped up and fixed these for free and even extended the warranty. So never mind what we just said.


    Do you warn potential RAV4 buyers that there isn't good rear bumper protection, and the IIHS bumper basher tests produced devastating repair costs?

    Poor bumpers on the original model, worse yet, poor bumpers on the new model.

    Note that fixing a dinky little 5 mph bump on a RAV4 would actually cost more than fixing a head gasket on a Forester.

    Is there a code of silence there too?

    What about the rear gate that swings open the wrong way, blocking the curb? If you live in the city and parallel park, you can't load the cargo without walking around the car into the street, which isn't very safe.

    Do you warn city dwellers to avoid the RAV4 if they have to parallel park often?

    Seems to me that people parallel park more often than gaskets fail. Fender benders are also a lot more frequent.

    Or perhaps do you focus on the strengths of your RAV4, which seems natural to me?

  • hondafriekhondafriek Ottawa CanadaPosts: 2,970
    you ain't gonna win here, this guy is now arguing for the sake of it, but here is a rebuttal, an aquaintance of mine here has just the engine replaced in a 99 Outback, at 108,000 kilometres it is out of warranty, but Subaru paid the whole shot.

      And the cause of the complaint? not a catostrophic engine failure, but piston slap, ironically the slap had been present since the car was new, the noise got slightly worse towards the end.

      My question would Toyota have stepped up to the plate here? I think not.

      Cheers Pat.
  • hondafriekhondafriek Ottawa CanadaPosts: 2,970
    I realise that this is the Forester Vs Rav4 thread, but the point I am making is that the same engine was used in the Forester and Outback.

      Cheers Pat.
  • rav4urav4u Posts: 21
    Insurance rates for the RAV4 are higher because of higher body damage costs low speed collisions.
  • mcdawggmcdawgg Posts: 1,679
    You said,"Note that fixing a dinky little 5 mph bump on a RAV4 would actually cost more than fixing a head gasket on a Forester." Only if you do not have auto insurance. And the insurance rate on the Rav is less than a Corolla!!!
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Only if you do not have auto insurance

    Not true... if your insurance company pays for it you can bet that they will recoupe the cost in higher insurance premiums over the following 3 years! So while the insurance may cover it up front, in the long run you still end up paying for it. Of course if it's the other guys fault and he has insurance then no problem :-)

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Insurance rates are one concern, but having any claim at all is another. You get a "C" on your insurance record and your rates will go up, for sure.

    My sister made a claim and besides paying the $500 deductible, her rates went up $300/year for the next 3 years. So it actually cost her $1400.

    What that means is that it's not worth making a claim for $1400 in damage to your bumper if you back into a pole, you might as well just eat the loss.

    With or without insurance, backing up into something at just 5mph in a RAV4 will cost you more than a complete head gasket replacement on a Forester.

    Drive safely! :P

  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110
    Listen up, RAVers!
    Don't back into poles at 5 mph!

    Besides, juice, you were right here, there, and everywhere to bash the RAV's bumper bash test ad nauseum when it was new news.

    But you were silent about the Forester's head-gasket failures.

    Also, you were silent about the Forester/Impreza's widespread wheel-bearing failures, come to think of it.

    Selective silence, I suppose.

    -Joe S
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You were silent about the bumpers.

    Hey - you're the one promoting "full disclosure", not me.

    I share information I think is relevant and current. The head gaskets are not - I've already explained why.

    So you are breaking your own rule.

    Wheel bearing design was changed for MY2003, and failures weren't that common anyway. Once again, Subaru covered that under warranty, without a fight.

    Since we're focusing on weaknesses, why does the RAV4 have a payload of just 760 lbs? I mean, you can't even carry 4 male adults in there, normal sized guys anyway.

    You are talking about issues that Subaru has addressed on the Forester, things from the past that were covered or improved, or both.

    I am talking about issues that still exist with the RAV4. Let's summarize:

    * very low payload
    * weak bumpers
    * cargo door opens wrong way

    Toyota refuses to address any of these. They are still issues now, November 2005.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You're right Pat, and I'll apologize to whoever else is reading this thread for hijacking it during the argument.

    For the sake of keeping this thread alive I'll only rebut statements that I think are false.

  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110
    It doesn't make sense for me to continue to debate with someone so overzealous as to equate common mechanical failures with the fact that a compact vehicle "only" has the capacity to carry four 190-pounders (two of whom don't have to be contortionists to get into the back seat).
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They weren't that common.

    Our family has 5 Subies with the 2.5l, with 2 heads per engine that's 10 head gaskets and all have been just fine.

    None of us are worried about it.

    You scare tactics would have us think that at least 6 of them would have failed by now. Sorry to disappoint you.

  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "very low payload

    * weak bumpers

    * cargo door opens wrong way "


    No issues and the RAV4 got my nod over the Soobie. The 0% didn't hurt either.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    The 0% didn't hurt either.


    Which brings up an interesting point, how big a part does the financing play in your purchasing decision? I suspect that Toyota, Honda and Subaru buyers a less influenced by the perceived deal than they are by the features of their vehicle of choice. Otherwise, everyone would own an American brand with their seemingly endless multi-thousand dollar rebates AND no-interest fiancing. Oh and yeah, I got 0% on my Forester too but I would have still bought it regardless.


  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It's smart to offer financing instead of rebates because they draw in consumers but don't necessarily hurt residual values the way rebates do.


  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Financing was a big part of this. 0% plus the safety features plus the gas mileage made the difference, plus the looks. Oh yeah, thanks to Edmunds for providing the facilties to walk in an informed consumer.


    Although not considered in the decision was the reliability. Subaru at this time is not offering 0%. But nonetheless the Forrester came up in conversation. If Toyota hadn't been offering 0% it would have been on to the next one.


    My requirement was a vehicle, 0%; limit 30K OTD, and I was prepared to go from manufacturer to manufacturer until I got something that fit the bill. The fact I got something way under the limit is a big plus.
  • hseaverhseaver Posts: 4
    We bought a new RAV4 in '96. I'd never buy another one. At 65K, just after the warranty was over, it started using a lot of oil. Many other RAV4 owners have had this same problem, which Toyota refuses to fix, some as early as 45K. It's still happening in the 2000-20001 models, or at least I've gotten emails from people with the problem in that vintage.
    Now, at 85K, ours has lost 5th gear. That's another fairly common problem, and still occuring in the 2001 line. Toyota put out a service bulletin on the 5th gear problem but our local stealership tried to tell us that Toyota had never heard of this happening under 200K. One guy reported on the forum that his 5th gear went out in the first 6months and then again at 60K.
    Forget RAV4s, and Toyotas in general.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Oh come now, even the most reliable manufacturers produce the occasional lemon but in the grand scheme, Toyotas are still about as reliable as they make'em (of course I realize that this is no consolation if you happen to have gotten one of the lemons).

    Speaking of reliability... Consumer Reports just named Subaru as the make with the fewest problems for 2004 :-)

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Keep in mind people seek out forums to complain about problems.

    So they'll seem more common then they are.

  • hseaverhseaver Posts: 4
    Well, here's the bottom line, and the for sure reason why I'd never, ever consider another RAV4:
    The dealer wants $4,800.00 to fix our tranny -- thats with a new tranny, as he says labor costs would be too high to rebuild the old one -- or $3500 to put in a used one, with no guarantee. The bluebook on our '96 is about $3850 trade-in value.
    I called the tranny shop with the best reputation in our locality -- they said they wouldn't touch a RAV4 because it was just too difficult to work on, said they also refused Saabs for the same reason.
    Replacing the clutch is just as difficult. I'll never buy another car of any make that I can't replace the clutch on myself, without needing a garage hoist, etc.
    You might call the RAV4 just a poor design in this respect -- or maybe Toyota is designing them purposefully so they can make money on the repairs, when no one else will fix them.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I can't imagine a RAV4 is too complex to work on, try another indy tranny shop. They should be able to rebuild for $2 grand.

    Or sell it for a reduced price, "needs tranny work".

    They gotta package the whole drivetrain in a tight space when you're talking AWD compacts.

  • My Aunt has a Rav 4 and it is ok.. I went shopping for a SUV this winter after issues with my Hyundai Elentra GT in the snow, it sucked.. after 12k on the tires.

    I made my mind up on the 2005 Sub Forester X Dark Green with classy Tan Interior. I get them at invoice pricing VIP plus 2k rebate = NO BRAINER. Great gas mileage, handling and fowl weather. Well built and solid, this is much tougher than the RAV4.

    Overall very happy with my green Forester 900 miles. The only things I dislike are the no rear discs on the X, the engine idles alil rough in gear at stops and the Yoko's Geolander G900 tires blow for snow braking.

    You see alot of older Foresters on the road and they usually look like they are holding up well.

    I had trouble dealing with Toyota delaer when I was looking into the 4Runner, I am glad I picked up this great car for 19.2!
  • hseaverhseaver Posts: 4
    Actually we just did talk to another tranny shop, they also refused. Both of them said it just ties up a work bay too long and they can make more money on other brands.
    We were just looking at a Honda CR-V, but it looks like it might be the same scenario -- transverse engines and AWD = big repair bills!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    4Runner costs a bunch more, but they really do hold their value. A different type of vehicle, though, full framed truck!

    Honda's powertrain has been reliable, the only "issue" has been the oil change-related engine fires. See the thread here on Edmunds.

This discussion has been closed.