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Subaru Forester (up to 2005)



  • eseibert1eseibert1 Posts: 2
    Is it worth the upgrade from x to xs, in order to get the limited slip differential? Does anyone have any practical knowledge on this subject?
  • eps105eps105 Posts: 216
    I've done a little more research on my own since my last posting. Here's a little more detail on the matter.

    First, to clarify (for Juice, among others), the feature of doors locking when turning on the ignition and unlocking when you turn it off is a feature built into most, if not all, aftermarket security systems. While it doesn't seem to have anything to do with security, remember that the keyless entry system controls the door lock actuators, so it's literally a matter of software to make this feature available.

    On my '99 Forester, the keyless entry/security was made by Code-Alarm, and I enabled a dip switch in the controller to make this work.

    I have since found out that the newer Subaru systems (with the tear-shaped key fob) use ALPINE as the OEM. I went to their website at and found tons of technical documentation on the wiring diagrams of all of their systems. Almost every one has this feature.

    The problem is, my Subaru service guy, who claims to have done a little research on this, says this feature is not available on the Subaru OEM systems.

    What I like to think is that it just isn't documented or supported by Subaru. I know that from quantities of scale, it is more likely that Alpine supplies Subaru with a standard circuit board that one custom for Subaru, and it may in fact have the DIP switches.

    So now, I am thinking about tinkering with it and having a look inside. My supplemental manual for the security system upgrade shows the security module BEHIND the glove compartment (next to the pollen filter) but the keyless entry module is still above the driver's left foot. So now I have to look in two places.

    If I figure anything out, I'll be sure to let everyone know. Wish me luck to not screw up my 4 day-old car!!!

  • hypovhypov Posts: 3,068
    I'm believing it is a feature of the power locking of the car. When I bought my '98 OB Limited, the door locks when the ignition is turned on. That was how I'd locked myself out the first few days of ownership. And, I don't have factory alarm installed - the aftermarket wasn't in either then.

  • kajkokajko Posts: 70

    To me it's not worth the extra expense of getting the XS just for the LSD. I thought about this issue and have pretty much decided on the X. In the future i might add on a LSD from KAAZ (they make LSD's for the Impreza which should fit the Forester). I wonder if anyone has gone that way (aftermarket)...
  • ffsteveffsteve Posts: 243
    Personally I don't care for the feature. I guess I could live with it, as long as it behaved nicely, but I had one bad experience with them that has tainted my viewpoint.

    I borrowed a Mercury Villager to pick up family at the airport. Being a hot day I unlocked the doors, and started up the engine to get the air-con running. On closing the driver door to go around back and open up the rear hatch, the doors locked! I heard the thunk of the locks as I walked to the hatch and my heart fell. Sure enough, I was locked out in the middle of the airport parking lot, 90 degrees out, and my relatives standing around wondering why I was pulling out my hair. It only took 30 minutes for AAA to arrive and get into the car, which by that time was wonderfully cool inside.

    On returning the car to its owners, they said they knew of that "feature" but forgot to mention it when I borrowed the car. I suppose if I was familiar with the operation I wouldn't have made the error, but it seems so common to get out of a car with the engine running to do a simple errand.

    I've rented cars, Fords I think, that would lock the doors when the transmission is shifted out of Park, I would think that would be more sensible.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    Steve (been in the hot sun too long)
  • ffsteveffsteve Posts: 243
    Speaking about air conditioning...

    I confirmed the operation of the automatic air conditioner on my Bean on the drive hoome last night. When the Intake/Recirc button is pressed to Recirc, the air conditioning level is still controlled by the thermostat. I fiddled with the temperature control after choosing Recirc, and the fan speed and coolness did vary automatically in response to raising or lowering the set point.

    Also, the system does indeed default to Intake when the car is switched back on again after stopping.

    I wasn't sure yesterday, just wanted to clarify.

    Has anyone confirmed the same operation on the new Forester air conditioning?

  • eps105eps105 Posts: 216

    You're right. I've been using the term "security system" too loosely. It is, in fact, the keyless entry module that controls the door locks.
  • eps105eps105 Posts: 216

    Sorry that happened to you. A properly programmed system (like my Chapman in my '99 Forester) will not lock the doors if any door is still ajar. In other words, if I turned the car on while my wife was still getting in, the doors stayed unlocked and I had to lock them manually.

    Sounds like you were the victim of poor design!

  • eps105eps105 Posts: 216
    For those of you interested, I called my dealer back and pressed him to tell me if he KNEW FOR SURE that the auto-locks could not be enabled, or if he simply hadn't heard of it, and he said the latter. So I asked him if he could get the wiring diagrams and fax them to me, but he said that Subaru had never provided them with a wiring diagram for the Alpine systems, only the Code-Alarms.

    He suggested I call Alpine directly. When I did, they told me they don't have information for OEM systems, and I should call Subaru customer service directly at 1-800-SUBARU3.

    So I did, and the Subaru customer service agent was very polite and took down my information and said she'd e-mail technical services and get back to me with an answer! She actually seemed to know what I was talking about, too, so there's still hope!

    Here's an idea - if everyone reading this calls their Subaru dealer's service department, someone is bound to know the answer! Just get the wiring diagram for the Alpine keyless entry module listing the optional settings for the main circuit board and we'll be in business!

  • eps105eps105 Posts: 216
    I did in fact confirm this morning that when you press any control on the Auto Climate Control in the 2003 Forester (specifically recirc) it DOES TURN OFF the Auto mode and put it into manual mode.
  • lakepoplakepop Posts: 221
    OOps got sidetracked with the "new" format.

    I'm now back in gee with the Suby crew stuff!!
  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    Sorry that happened to you, like just about everything, it has its upsides and downsides...

    My wife likes it as a security feature, especially when she walks across a parking lot alone at night and gets in the car. I think it's pretty clear that the advantages are more in her head than anywhere else, but peace of mind is worth something to her and to me...

    It does seem more common on aftermarket systems than OEM ones. Seems to be a marketing thing more than anything else...
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'd get that auto tranny flushed. You don't want burnt-smelling fluid in there for long.

    The rear diffy protector is cheap and offers piece of mind to me. The bike rack only holds two, but go after market if you want 3 or 4. The OE hitch has a 1.25" receiver. You could get an aftermarket hitch with a 2" receiver, for a more universal fit.

    An aftermarket LSD costs about $900, FWIW. Plus installation.

  • ducktapeguyducktapeguy Posts: 115
    thanks for the reassurance. I've been paying more attention to the shifting now, but it seems okay.

    I drained some of the fluid last night, and I plan on getting the whole transmission flushed and the filter changed this weekend. I just called the dealership, they said they don't do tranmsission flushes, only filter changes because they don't have a machine to force the fluid out. I was going to get at least the filter changed, but they were charging $41 bucks just for the part alone. Does anyone know where to buy subaru parts? There used to be that one place that had good prices i think it was called qsubaru or something, but I think they've gone out of business. I've been looking online, but all I find are performance accessories and oil filters, no transmission filters. And none of the local stores in my area carry subaru parts, not even for some of the older models that I thought might have the same filter. Oh yeah, when I called the dealership to ask them, they said the transmission filter didn't really need to be changed and was wondering why i wanted one. I guess that would've been good news if I didn't need one.

    and to add my 2 cents. I'd get the rear diff protector. I wasn't sure how useful it would be, but after looking at some of the scratches i have on mine, I feel a lot better knowing it's not the diff taking all that abuse. It's pretty cheap and makes me feel a lot more secure.
  • nygregnygreg Posts: 1,936
    Try sending an e-mail to "". Russ is the parts manager and I just ordered and received oil filters and washers from them. I paid $4 per filter (when buying a case) when my locals wanted $8.50. Very happy with the service.

    My dealer told me that Subaru states that the tranny filter does not need changing. However, he also stated that he personally believes at some point they will start recommending a change. Changing it just makes sense to me especially if it is dented.

    Diffy protector is worth the $40, if even for POM.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Is about right. They aren't like an oil filter.

    Also a drain and fill is what I did on my XT6. So far so good.

  • conroeconroe Posts: 13
    I'm not done with the purchase process yet, but I did get the various dealers' bids back from the service.

    The way the service works is they ask the dealers to quote prices based on an amount or a percentage above or below invoice or MSRP. They may also include stated dealer add ons/fees, which in this area is usually limited to the $50 document fee allowed by Texas law. If the quote is based on invoice, they may also include a stated advertising association fee (always $150 for Houston area). The deal is, they make the quote based on the general vehicle (i.e., 2003 Forester XS), and all options are priced at invoice.

    They came back with quotes from 7 dealers in Texas (they guarantee at least 5 bids): 4 in Houston area, 2 in Austin, 1 in San Antonio. Here's the various quotes:

    MSRP minus $600 + $295 Protection Package [no, I won't be visiting that Austin dealer]
    MSRP minus $1000
    Invoice plus $500
    Invoice plus $500
    Invoice plus $200 + $75 VIN etch
    Invoice plus $200
    Invoice plus $100

    All the bids also had the $50 doc fee and all the bids from invoice also had the $150 ad assoc. fee. The quotes also includes costs for additional fees to locate and trade for a vehicle not in stock, ranging from $150 within 100 miles (yeah, from the same dealer with the protection package), with most being $0 within 100 miles.

    I'm going through the low-quoting Houston dealer to get an XS premium with leather. It's working fairly smoothly, though they did try to incredibly low-ball me on my trade-in. I have a friend who is buying the car from me for a fair price, so ultimately it is no big deal. (CarMax also appraised it/offered to buy fairly.) Still, getting low-balled on the trade-in is one of those things that you have to worry about even when you have a guaranteed low price on the new car.
  • cschaafcschaaf Posts: 16
    I have an 02 Forester with less than 8000 miles on it and the breaks have started to squeal. I'm car ignorant so please bear with me.

    We took it in for service about a month ago and the dealer said that I must have washed the grease off of the breaks. I've never washed anything too well in my life... He says they re-greased them and the squealing stopped.

    It's back now. It only lasts for about the first 10 - 15 breaks, after that no squealing. I called back to the dealer and now he is saying that it is normal for Subaru breaks to squeal because they use harder breaks than other cars.

    Any suggestions?

  • casecom2casecom2 Posts: 72
    Just test drove an 03 XS today (at Luther Subaru in White Bear/Vadnais Heights MN). Overall I really liked it.

    The cabin and driving position were comfortable. The vinyl/cloth seats (as opposed to all cloth) didn't bother me as much as they did on the CR-V, where they felt cheap. One oddity: I felt like the steering wheel was like a half-inch off the center line of the seat, to the right. Maybe that was just how I was sitting, though.

    No complaints as far as handling and braking. Was surprised at how little body roll there is when cornering. Back seats were a little tight but OK.

    I found the AT gate shifter odd, although I'm sure it's fine once you get used to it.

    Cargo area: I think there's more room in there than it appears from the outside. The seat back didn't quite fold down flat, although it might squish down some if you put something heavy on it. Had to scooch up the front passenger seat to be able to flip down the back seat without removing the head rest.

    My only major complaint: acceleration. I got off the line quick enough, but from, oh, say from 15 to 40 mph I really felt like I was lacking oomph. This is kind of an issue for me as I live in an area where the 40-year-old freeways are outdated from an engineering point of view -- and that means extremely short acceleration lanes (on-ramps). It *seemed* more sluggish than my 96 Civic, although 0-60 I'd bet the Forester is actually faster.

    But overall, I like it. I've pretty much ruled out the CR-V, so my top contenders are the Forester and Passat wagon, which I hope to try out tomorrow.

    One more thing: they had seven or eight 02 L's still on the lot, with the stickers marked down by about $2,000. They're really trying to push the 02s -- the 02s were all in the front lot, the 03s all out back.

    (One one more thing: The salesman said there are no plans for a 6-cyl. in the Forester, but he said there is a turbo coming for 04.)
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    Once those '02s are sold, you will start seeing better deals on the '03s.

    Forester vs. Passat? Most people compare the larger Legacy/Outback to the Passat. I'd be more inclined to compare the Forester to the Jetta wagon, even though the Jetta isn't available in AWD.

  • jburjbur Posts: 4
    I am going to be purchasing a 2003 Forester X in the near future. I have found out that neither of the stock receivers available are able to play CD-R or MP3 CD's. Therefore I am considering replacing the stock receiver with an after market unit. Has anyone replaced a receiver and did you encounter any difficulties? I assume that a double-DIN sized unit will fit because of the storage bin below the radio. Also, are the connectors used standard? Any comments will be appreciated.
  • crashton6crashton6 Posts: 245
    My 2000 Forester does play CD-R's. It doesn't play MP3's though.
  • hypovhypov Posts: 3,068
    My '98 Outback unit plays CD-R, and the 2002 WRX units plays them too (it's now in my '98 OB).
    Of course, no MP3

  • rsunicorsunico Posts: 82
    New Jersey should be added to the list. Subes everywhere you look (a la Vermont). I drove from Atlanta to New Orleans 3 weeks ago and I could count the number of Subes on the highway. When I got back to NJ it hit me.. Subes, BMWs, Volvos, Saab, MBZ... I was home!
  • casecom2casecom2 Posts: 72
    You're right, and here is my logic (such as it is): I like the Forester better than the Jetta wagon, and the Passat wagon better than the Outback. Actually, I'm not much of an off-roader so I'd probably buy a regular Legacy wagon before an Outback.

    With the Passat you benefit from the extra length, but on the other hand living in the city I consider the Forester's small size a plus, as well as of course Subaru's AWD. (If I bought a Passat it would not be a 4Motion model.)

    Alas there is no "Forester vs. Passat wagon" thread ;)
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    Well, there used to be a "thread":

    Subaru Forrester or VW Passat (probably started by a VW owner, since they spelled the Soob wrong).

    I suppose you could ask Revka to unfreeze it, or just settle for the VW Passat vs Subaru Wagons discussion (or just continue in here - what the heck!).

    SUVs, Vans and Aftermarket & Accessories Message Boards
  • casecom2casecom2 Posts: 72
    Thanks Steve! I just might ask Revka to do that after my Passat test-drive tomorrow.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Chris: it might be some surface rust getting scraped off at first. If it goes away after a couple of uses, it should be OK.

    Casey: can you ask him to reserve one of those turbos for me? :-)

    My wife's 6CD player, which came from a WRX but is likely the same, does indeed play CD-Rs. In fact, that's ALL we play. I don't remember the last CD I paid for.

    It is double-din, and fits any newer Subaru. You lose one storage compartment below it (Legacys have two, so you still end up with one, Forester have only one so it's gone).

    The harness plugs right in, piece of cake. Then the antennae wire. Took me a couple of hours because I had to run to buy some tools (long and stubby phillips).

    I bought a 6CD yesterday and will likely install it this weekend. Installed one in my wife's last week. Strongly recommended. They go for about $150+ on i-Club and eBay.

    Passat? You will either pay more or get less content. They are nice, though.

  • kate5000kate5000 Posts: 1,271
    In 1993 we bought brand new Subaru Loayle wagon that exhibited the same acceleration problem: fine 0-15, then feel "stuck" between 15-45 then fine again. Funny, our Loyale'92 never had such a problem. Salesman told us our new car just needs to break in. But acceleration remained a problem until we sold that car with 100K mi on it. Looking back, we probably should have pushed for repair under drive train warranty. It was probably a transmission problem but dealers denied it.

    My advice: test-drive a few different Foresters on the lot, and I bet you'll find one w/o acceleration problem.
  • maverick1017maverick1017 Posts: 212
    as far as I know there are no cdr/mp3 double din receivers on the market right now. all such receivers are single din. No add-on cdr/mp3 system for OEM receivers either. So, if you wouldn't lose any dins with an install.

    you will need an adapter for the factory connectors. 03 Forester's might still be too new for any after market manufacture to supply adapters for, but check around I could be wrong. Talk to the folks at Crutchfield, they should be able to help you out and answer most of your questions. If you order thru them, they send you all the part (wires, adapters, screws, etc)you need with the receiver at no additional charge.

    My 98 install was a cinch, although the removable face plate can't be removed because of the way the center console's surrounds are. a minor inconvenience. I am sure you probably wouldn't have that problem by the way the new center console looks.

    Good luck

This discussion has been closed.