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Subaru Forester (up to 2005)



  • sorry for the confusion....the trailer WITH 2 snowmobiles weighs 1500 lbs. I'm guessing from the response that not too many Forester owners tow much with their vehicles. Thanks....BK
  • I just got a new set of tires last week(Goodyear Aquatred 3's) for my Forester. Things were perfect, but I decided to get an alignment done since the old Duelers didn't wear very evenly. Took it to the dealer, and sure enough, some of the measurements were out of spec. However, as soon as I got on the highway, things started vibrating! I called the dealer, and the guy insisted that the alignment could not have caused the vibration. He is blaming the tires and/or the balancing. He mentioned that it could be due to "belt shift". I'm not sure I fully understand what belt shift is, but isn't the tire belt molded into the casing? If so, shouldn't belt shift be very rare, especially in a brand new tire?

    I'm at a total loss as to what could have caused the vibration. In addition, call me crazy, but it seems like the vibration is slightly different at different times. That might be due to varying road surfaces, though. I can usually feel it through both the seat and the steering wheel, and it only happens at highway speeds. This seems to suggest that it may very well be a balancing problem and that more than one tire may be at fault. But how can that be, since it was fine before the alignment?? Anyone have any ideas on what else the cause could be? Could something have been messed up during the alignment to cause this? Maybe something with the suspension or drivetrain?

  • Doug,
    For as long as I can remember, my power door locks have made a whirring sound immediately after locking or unlocking. I think it is more noticeable if I push "lock" when the doors are already locked, or if I push "unlock" when they are already unlocked. It's not very loud though, and I wouldn't say that it sounds like the door panels are about to fall off. It's more like a "relaxing" of the lock mechanism, if that makes any sense. How about everyone else? Do your locks make a sound after the initial actuation?

  • Did you get the alignment at the same time you got the tires? I have had this problem, and spent countless hours trying to fix. I recently went and purchased new tires, and poof, the problem vanished. I had the old tires balanced dozens of times, and had 4 dealers check the alignment and none could find a problem. I recently switched to Michelin T-Plus tires and my Forester drives like brand new.

    On the "belt shift", I have had this before as well, and it is a slow process that gets progressively worse. My case was caused by improper tire rotation. Apparently when a tire runs in one direction for a long period of time the belts tighten up with the rotation. When the direction of rotation changes the belts shift and cause deformation of the tires (or so I was told by the tire dealer)..

  • Hi James, thanks for the info.

    I got the tires right after Thanksgiving. I didn't get around to doing the alignment until this past Friday. Unfortunately, that puts about 400 miles between the new tires and the alignment. Is 400 enough to cause uneven wear or some other problem? I would think it would take many more miles than that. I don't think the original alignment was that badly out of spec.(The worst one was the rear toe, out by almost half a degree) How many miles were on your old tires when you had the alignment done? Maybe it's more important than I thought to have the alignment done at _exactly_ the same time as getting new tires.

    It doesn't sound like I have the "belt shift" problem, at least not in the same sense that you had it. Your case happened over time, and I've only had the tires for a week.

  • cush1cush1 Posts: 2

    I'm scheduled to move to Honduras (from Washington D.C.) in mid-January for work and plan on being there for 4 years or so. I am trying to decide between a new or used Forester and between the L or S series. I've been impressed with much of the well reasoned advice I've seen here and would appreciate any advice and thoughts folks might have regarding these questions and anything else people think important to consider.

    Background: I anticipate doing mostly city driving in the capital, Tegucigalpa, a small but hilly city , with an average temp. between 60 - 80, with rain from negligible to 10"/month (think San Fransisco without the bay). However, I also want to be able to take it into the countryside (also quite mountainous) and to the coast (tropical).

    I expect that there will be some rough-ish driving along unpaved roads (perhaps once or twice a month), but don't really think I'll be doing true off-road driving. Because it is mountainous, there is also the need to get through occasional washed out roads and some minor land/rock slides. (Limited slip differential?)

    The used vs. new issue is related to the fact that people who live there tell me that almost every foreigner gets into at least a fender-bender or two and there is also a reported problem with car theft. So I'm not sure how 'high-end' I really should go, though I'd really like a new car - but can be convinced otherwise.

    Finally, I've heard that there might be some problems with finding a manual transmission to buy - but manual is best for Central America, as automatics are much less prevalent.

    So, if you have any thoughts or advice I'd be most appreciative. Thanks for helping make one of mymany decisions a bit less stressful.

  • leo2633leo2633 Posts: 589

    I purchased a set of 4 AquaTred 3 tires for my wife's Honda Odyssey van back in July of this year. I also had a wheel alignment done when the tires were mounted. Immediately after leaving the shop, I noticed a vibration in the vehicle that had never been there before. I had the wheel balance checked at a different shop, and found that they were, in fact, properly balanced. However, as the tires were spinning on the balancing machine, you could actually see that three of the tires were "out-of-round", with a high spot on each tire. This was apparently a manufacturing defect. I had purchased these from The Tire Rack and they took them back and credited the full price towards another set of tires (I went with Michelins). The salesman I dealt with at Tire Rack told me he had gotten several complaints about defects in the Aqua Tred 3's, and that he was going to stop recommending them.

    You may have the same problem. I would recommend that you consider having the tires checked for this out-of-round condition. By the way, Tire Rack was great to deal with; in addition to making good on the full price of the tires and all shipping costs, they also picked up the tab for having the wheel balance rechecked.

    Good luck,
  • I went out to the parking lot at the grocery store yesterday and noticed someone had dinged my front passenger door on my 2002 Forester. I only have 600 miles on it!!!

    Left a definite indent and some paint off.

    Any suggestions?
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059

    You could park at the far end of the parking lot or angle your Forester into a parking place so that no one would dare park near a "driver with attitude!"

    Unfortunately, it's a sad fact of life that dingers abound in this world. There may be aftermarket products that help to "remove" dings or door guards to prevent them. Maybe someone here knows of specifics.

    SUVs and Aftermarket & Accessories
  • Hi
    I lost one head screw of the cross bar.
    I've called several dealers in central NJ area.
    They can't sell it separately.
    I went to Home Depot, they don't have the right
    size I need.
    I'm planning a long trip this X'mas.
    Without it, my wife will bug me for a long time.
    I don't want to ruin my vacation just for a SCREW.
    Somebody please help me out.
    What can I do?

    A desperate husband
  • cin4cin4 Posts: 30
    Doug and Al,
    My door locks make the whirring noise sometimes, too. It doesn't do it all the time, and only seems to happen if I hold the switch for a fraction of a second too long. I'm completely unconcerned about it, because everything works just fine.
  • I have a 2002 Silver L. After bringing it in for service to my dealer I noticed when I picked it up that the driver side door had a noticeable ding in it. I complained right away to the dealer and he agreed that it must have happened in his lot and agreed to fix it.

    To make a long story short he used someone called "Dent Fixers" and the repair was perfect.

    I'm located in Long Island, NY so I'm not sure if these guys are located everywhere but I'm sure there must be others around.

    P.S. Why doesn't Subaru put a rubber trim door guard along the sides of the Forester. This would prevent these dings.
  • Hi Len,

    I am definitely beginning to suspect the tires. I brought them in to a Goodyear dealer today, and they wanted to check the balancing first. They said that they were all out of balance (something I find a bit hard to believe since there was no vibration before the alignment). I drove on the highway after the rebalancing, and the vibration is still there. I think it got slightly better, but it's definitely still vibrating.

    I asked them if they checked for an out-of-round condition, and they said yes. I assume that means they visually checked it. Maybe I should have them checked using a Hunter GSP9700? ( It looks like this machine is designed to measure the varying forces on a tire rolling under load.

    I'm getting pretty tired of trying to track down this problem... you might be right, maybe I should just switch tires.



  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I've never been a fan of goodyear tires. I try to stick with BS/FS, Michelin, Pirelli, Kumho, Yokohama.

  • ninianninian Posts: 16
    Don't despair. I had a ding extracted from the liftback of a Sienna van some months ago. Took it to our dealer, who contracted with an outfit similar to that cited in post 3282. Repair cost about $60, but there was not a trace of the damage once they were finished. Paint touch-up may be extra, but you should be happy with the result. Check around with dealers to see whether they offer this kind of service. Not all do, but if you go this route, you're less likely to wind up with a fly-by-night repair jobber. There are plenty out there, and results may not always be something you'll be happy with.

  • thecatthecat Posts: 535

    I replaced the Geo's at 26k with AquaTred's. I've had nothing but trouble with them. At first they made the wheel pull like the alignment was off. It wasn't, but in the process of checking that out the term "Radial Pull" came up. Goodyear played with the tires and supposedly fixed the problem. I drove the Forester last week (it's my wifes car now and I don't drive it much) and there was a pronounced wobble in the steering wheel. The wheel moves back and forth in your had as you drive. Like it is possessed! Those tires are coming off the car and Goodyear is hopefully going to refund a major part of the purchase price.
    - Hutch
  • armac13armac13 Posts: 1,129
    Thanks for the update on the Aqua Treds. It seems that your experience is far from unique. I'm still a long way away from tire replacement time but I was very interested in them - they seemed to provide the ideal balance for my needs. Such terrible quality control totally rules them out. Sigh. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I've had good luck with the pirellis scorpions and yokohama geolanders. Hek I saw a brand new G-wagon on a flatbed the other day with Geolander HTs on it.

  • leo2633leo2633 Posts: 589
    So far, I've been impressed with the Geolanders on my '01 Forester S. I didn't expect to be, especially after I added an 18 mm rear sway bar, since I tend to take corners pretty fast. But, the Geos always hang on and never make a sound. They are quiet on the highway and great in the rain. I haven't seen any snow with them yet, so I can't comment on that aspect, but they've surprised me to this point. I run mine at 32 PSI all around, and I rotate them every 5K miles. They seem to be wearing well, considering their treadwear rating is only a 200. At this point, if I had to replace them today, I'd probably go with another set of the same.

    I agree that the Aqua Tred 3's look good on paper; that's why I bought them for my wife's van. They were a real problem, however, so I'd never even consider them again. I guess that the folks who rated them so highly on the Tire Rack's web site were the lucky ones who didn't have a problem with them. So many other people I've heard about just weren't quite so lucky.

  • thecatthecat Posts: 535
    "I guess that the folks who rated them so highly on the Tire Rack's web site were the lucky ones"

    I think they were Gdyr. employees hoping to keep their jobs! Maybe I need to stop reading Tom Clancy.

    The 2 downsides to the Geo's are (1) They don't wear well and (2) They aren't very good in snow.
    Otherwise, I would agree that they were impressive.

    - Hutch
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    What about ATs for the Foresters? Would that be overkill do you think?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sounds like the Aquatread 3s need some work.

    H6 in the Forester? Maybe, put IMO a turbo 2.5l is more likely. Outback sales are flat since the H6 intro, Impreza sales have doubled since the turbo arrived.

    BK: so, 1500 lbs with the snowmobiles. I think that's fine, but I'd still consider trailer brakes, especially since you'll likely be driving them around in snow.

    Chris: the L does have plastic cladding that will resist dings better, since the roads are not great. It's cheaper, too. The 2000 and later S models have a rear LSD, and all S models have better brakes. The low profile tires may not be what you want, though, so perhaps the L is better suited with its taller and more pot-hole friendly 70 series tires.

    In Central America, they sell a 2.0l engine only, so be aware that parts may be hard to come by. It may be better to buy one locally, since the 2.0l is also more fuel efficient.

    Sean: try Napa. They have nuts and bolts in odd metric sizes (used for imports). I found a longer bolt for my Miata's seat track at NAPA.

  • pal086pal086 Posts: 33

    Been about a week since we got our new Forester S Premium (Black). We simply love the car and can't bear to be outside it . Logged up around 900 miles already courtsey a weekend road trip for 700 miles. We are also looking for that farthest and loneliest parking spots so as to avoid dings !! Unusually nice weather here in upstate NY (today its 60 !) means that we have been able to make use of the gigantic moonroof to some extent too (friends really freak out on the size of the moonroof).

    I have a few questions here: probably the only complaint we had after getting the car was the slight bumpiness in ride. I suspected the tire pressure. Checked it and found front tires: 32 psi (the recommended value) and rear tires: 36 psi
    (recommended: 29psi for light and 36 psi for heavy loads). Most often its just me and my wife in the car and some coolant, washer fluid etc in the trunk, which I could classify as near to the light load side. So I would think that the rear ones are slightly over inflated. I called up the service dept and they said that they kept the pressure high intentionally to reduce tire wear. They mentioned they could reduce it to achieve a balance between ride comfort and tire longevity.

    I am trying to solicit some more opinions from here. As I said, we live in upstate NY -- winters here are pretty bad -- should there be any adjustment of pressure for that ?

    Second query: our dealer mentioned that we should do an oil change after the break-in period of 1000miles. Is this really necessary ?

    Another thing I have noticed is that the steering sometimes moves itself while braking. The effect is very subtle but nevertheless there. Is this something to be worried about ?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I use 33psi on all 4 and have been pleased with that.

    I did the oil at 1k miles, but Subaru actually recommends 3k for the first change.

    Does your brake pedal pulsate? If so your rotors are warped.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Where upstate are you? I have a place near albany. Can't hurt to do the oil change at 1500 and then every 3K after that.

  • jeijei Posts: 143
    Chris -
    I would think the "L" would be best, even if only for the unpainted cladding & higher profile tires on steel wheels. I have a '99 "S" with 85,000 miles (bought new & it's been reliable) which I really enjoy. Its painted cladding does show dings & scratches though. I drive in some pretty heavy winter weather (with snow tires) and haven't felt I really was missing out on the limited slip differential now standard on the "S".

    New or used? I think it depends on how many miles a year you drive and what's available on the used market in your area. If you drive fewer miles a year, a used Forester may be better value IF it's in good shape and not too much money. I've seen '99 "L"s in the paper here in eastern upstate NY for around $14,000 asking price. If you drive a lot and plan to keep the car for the long term, new is best IMO. Wonder if you could get a Canadian Forester brought down by a northern U.S. dealer?... It has metric instruments.

    One concern/question: Are Subarus sold & serviced in any significant number in Honduras? Is there a good local dealer and/or independant mechanic available for Subarus? Particularly if you take a 2.5 liter car there. ...I don't know, but would be concerned about having a car which is "exotic" by local standards. If Subarus are truly rare, I might consider a Toyota RAV4 or Nissan SUV if they are more common. Not to commit heresy, but you DO need to be able to get the car worked on. For me, the Forester beats the RAV4 because it is larger and more comfortable & powerful. - However if servicing is a problem, the Toyota or other durable brands may be worth looking at. If you can find out if there's a theft problem and if so what is popular, that might also help you in your decision.

    Good luck!

  • leomortleomort Posts: 451
    interesting comments above,

    I am contemplating new vs used (2yr old) Subaru Forester L model. This would be my main transportation. Drive 25,000 miles/year. Trying to save up enough to put a large down payment on the Forester, new or used. If used, trying to stay with a 2yr old vehicle so as to have 1yr/12,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty left. Like payments around $250 per month for no more than 4 years. I feel these conditions might very well put me into a used Forester L. Need reliable car, reasonable to maintain and fix, cargo capacity, good bad-weather handling, with light off road duties.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If you buy used, try not to take on a loan that is longer than your warranty. Subaru offers 5/60 on the powertrain, so if you get a 2 year old model, try to keep the loan at 36 months or less. That way you play it safe.

    Thing is, they don't depreciate much. 1998 Forester like mine sell for $15k, while new 2002s are just $19k.

  • sfarinacci:

    The same exact thing happened to me in the parking lot of my supermarket a few weeks ago. A ding and paint missing. My 2002 Forester is very young as well and definitely "hurt!" I know how you feel. I am taking it in for service soon, and will ask the dealer for advice. Will have to find someone like the "Dent fixers" or else start parking "with an attitude". :-)
  • pal086pal086 Posts: 33
    Mike -- We live in Rochester.

    Juice -- The brake pedal does not vibrate. its only the steering that turns on its own -- and very slightly at that. its difficult to explain ; will give more details if I encounter it more often.

    Btw, I calculated 21mpg at our first fill (about 70% city driving) -- thereafter got about 23mpg (under very windy conditions)and 26mpg on mostly highway driving. Not bad -- hope it will get a little better after the break in.
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