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Subaru Forester (up to 2005)



  • jtm4jtm4 Posts: 60
    I did cut a hole in my plastic skid plate so someone can access the oil filter, without taking it off. Works great. No extra dirt gets in the engine compartment. The quick lube always took off the skid plate. They lost two of the plastic screws that attach the plate inside the fender well so I fixed it where they would not have to remove it.

    98 Forester L
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    It wasn't a problem with the bearings themselves. The problem was with the installation, they were overtorqued and this caused them to fail.

  • eps105eps105 Posts: 216
    sfdriver Oct 10, 2002 12:58am

    sfdriver - To answer your question about seat height, yes, you CAN sit higher than in previous Foresters but you don't have to. The height adjustment simply lets you jack up the seat an extra inch or so (which is more substantial than it sounds). I like being up as high as possible, and if you get the Forester Premium with the sunroof, you can jack it up so far that your head rubs against the sunroof intrusion!

    I can't make a fair judgment if the seats are more or less comfortable because I went from a '99 L with cloth seats to an '03 prem with leather; so the feel, texture, and firmness are totally different. However, I have no complaints about the comfort of the '03 seats and have read that Subaru improved the bolstering.

    I am not sure if the bumpers are much different in height. It may be an optical illusion as Subaru made the bumpers look beefier and truckier, including making it taller in the rear and then notching it down where the hatch closes. But functionally, I think they are still at the same height and remain car-height compatible.

    ateixeira Oct 10, 2002 10:29am

    ateixeira -
    Yes, I knew about the change in steering ratio from reading about it, but if I hadn't found out, I never would have noticed. The overall steering feel seems very similar to the older Foresters, IMHO.

    As far as the Deulers, let me clarify. I had no serious complaints about the OEM Deuler H/T's, but after they wore out, I upgraded to the [#1 top rated in Consumer Reports] Dueler H/L's. They were modestly improved all around for noise, handling, and road feel. I definitely recommend them for 15" wheel Forester L owners. (Note that they were rated poorer than average for winter traction, but Subaru's AWD makes up for that!)

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    Skid plate -- The plastic tabs can be purchased at your local Subaru dealer -- they were pretty inexpensive so I bought a few. They're used in several places throughout the vehicle so I thought they might come in handy.

    bearings -- I have a 98 Forester with 76K miles and my bearings have been fine (knock on wood).

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    If they are the ones you insert into holes you can also get em at PepBoys/Autozone type places as well. We got em for the SVX skid plate as well.

  • jtm4jtm4 Posts: 60
    I'm going to pick up some of those tabs tomorrow when I get my 60k service.

    "It wasn't a problem with the bearings themselves. The problem was with the installation, they were over torqued and this caused them to fail."

    Would this indicate that if the bearing is going to fail, it will fail early? Say, at 20k verses 80k. In other words, the longer you go without a problem the better the chances your bearings were not over torqued?

    98 Forester L
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Yes, generally if you hit 80K w/o problems you got a good one. The SVXs had similar problems, luckily for me the one I just bought has 70K miles and no bearing problems yet.

  • leo2633leo2633 Posts: 589
    I know what you mean about those suckers...Subaru should've used bolts. Anyway, after struggling with (at swearing at) those plastic fasteners for several oil changes, I found an easier way to remove and replace them. Use a thin, narrow bladed screwdriver and pull the center piece completely out of the outer piece, then, it's a simple matter to just pull out the other piece. If it doesn't come right out, just wiggle the plastic shield around the hole a bit. When putting it back together, do the same thing in reverse. Line up the holes in the shield with the body, insert the outer piece and push it all the way in, then slip the inner piece into place. Just make sure you line up the "T" shaped cross sections. It's actually a LOT simpler to do than to explain. Try it on your next oil change, and see if it's any easier.

    BTW, I would much rather do oil changes on my Forester than on my wife's Outback. On the OB you have to remove three two-piece fasteners, then slide out the center section of the shield,
    exposing the drain plug and filter. The problem here is that the piece of the shield that remains gets splashed with oil when you open the drain plug. It makes a mess, and you have to reach into all the crevices on the top side of the shield to clean it up. Also, there isn't as much clearance underneath as on the Forester, though I can still do both cars without using ramps. I just pull the front of the car into the garage and slide underneath. Minor gripes to be sure, but these are things that drive an OCD guy crazy.

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    One other thing is that new tabs are A LOT easier to remove/reinstall than old worn ones. I just toss mine every few oil changes just to keep the process easier.

  • Thx for the advice on skid plate fighting for oil changes. Will get a set of new tabs. The skid plate doesn't feel too solid anyhow, and cutting a hole in it, though makes sense, seems like I'll be wounding the poor Forester. (What a hang up !!)

    How about the window visors or window "vents" ? None of the aftermarket people (Weathertech, etc..)make them for the Forester (no door frame to attach they say). Nice tool for highway driving. On our Honda for over 6 years.
  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Posts: 464
    It seems like someone on this board ordered window visors from Subaru UK (they're online) and posted pics of them installed on his Outback. I'm not sure if they also make them for the Forester, but chances are good that if they have them for the Legacies, they'll have them for Foresters. Subaru UK has some very cool accessories that we don't get here :(
  • Hi All,
    I took my wife's 02 Forester to the dealer today to have them look at the pinging between 2-3000 RPM, rotten egg exhaust smell, poor highway acceleration and poor gas mileage (avg= 18-19 mpg).
    The service advisor calls me to the desk and says that the tech test drove the car and said he could not detect a problem. She furthermore checked with Sube to see if there were any recalls on the O2 and MAF sensors and they said there were no outstanding recalls on my vehicle.
    I politely asked if the tech was available to go for a ride with me. After driving two blocks I replicated the pinging and he pronounced that it was 'spark knock' and due to poor gas. He recommended two things; first that I only get gas from Amoco, Shell or Mobil and try 87 octane. If it still persists, he suggested trying 89 octane to see if it solves the problem.
    He did not specifically mention the O2 sensor and quite frankly, I forgot to ask. He did say that the computer didn't throw a code (I suspected this since the CEL never came on).
    So, what do you think? It sounds plausible. I can understand how this pinging could be caused by gas with lower than 87 octane, but since we tend to use 3-4 different gas stations, this implies that alot of the gas out there is "bad". I guess using the higher priced suppliers (Amoco, Shell, Mobil) is a relatively cheap fix IF it works (other than the increased cents per gallon compared to the independents).
    Has anyone 'solved' their pinging/poor mileage problems by going with the upscale gas brands?
  • For what its worth I use Chevron 89 or better and have never had a ping.

  • Made an appointment today at my local Subaru dealer for several problems including pinging which only started in the last 2,000 miles or so ( the car an 02 forester has 9400 miles on it) and hesitation on takeoff. Has anyone had an exhaust smell coming into the cabin when the heater of blower for outside air is turned on? I tested this in my driveway to be sure no other cars were around and sure enough it's coming from my car, horrible smelling and not to healthy I'm sure, so I told them about that. Also a buzzing sound from the compartment on the dash when latched but not in upright position and my gas tank cover won't stay shut, hopefully they'll correct all these problems, but on a high note I took a trip to North Carolina (Charlotte) about 300 miles from home and got over 30 miles to the gallon, I was using Texaco brand 87 octane. This car is an automatic. Will let you know how these problems get resolved, but is interesting to read how others of you are having problems with pinging and hestitation.
  • Ron-- I had slight pinging in my '02. I have consistently used Chevron --considered an "upscale" brand which has a stellar reputation in my location-- in all my cars for years. But when acquiring the Forester, I noticed the ping. So I started experimenting with other brands. I found that Shell 87 octane seemed to stop any pinging but found it gave that slight rotten egg smell. Since the car just "felt" better when using Shell, I've been using it ever since and just put up with the rotten egg smell it gives off from time to time. What should I be more concerned about --the pinging or the rotten egg smell? ...I don't know.

    I didn't notice any difference in mileage when I changed brands. I seem to be getting 20-22 mpg around town with stop-and-go driving.

    I'm sure brands of gasoline will differ from location to location but the only brand that's not considered "upscale" around here is Arco (Atlantic Richfield) which is always 5-10 cents cheaper than any of the other major brands. When I used to experiment with that brand, I always suffered from lower gas mileage and more pinging just felt like the gas was somehow "watered down." So yes, IMHO, it might be right when they're telling you to use a major brand fuel which may cost a few pennies more a gallon in your Forester.

    Also, another thing I tried as an alternative to pumping 89 octane is to top-off with some 92-93 octane (premium) when you're around a 1/4 tank down. I did this in another car I had where the manufacturer recommended 87 and it pinged slightly (even when the dealer told me everything checked out ok). Using this method was slightly cheaper than pumping a full tank of 89 octane but accomplished the same results ...eliminating the ping.

    And be vigilent when pumping gas ...*man* it's sure scary to hear what's going on in the D.C. area.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I got gas on an out of town trip, going and returning, this weekend. I'm avoiding having to get gas as much as possible right now.

    30+ mpg with an auto? That's amazing.

    I agree with the suggestion to open the rear window when the moonroof is open. FWIW, my moonroof is just 15"x30", and even with a deflector, when I remove it completely I still need to open the rear windows. It may just be the squarish shape of the Forester.

    2003 bearings: the Impreza got them for sure, so I'm pretty sure the Forester did, too. They changed the design to be more fault-tolerant at install time. Mine are all original with 47k miles, and yeah I'd venture to guess that if they're going to fail, it would likely happen early on. So if you buy a used Subie and it is quiet, I doubt the issue would creep up.

    I put a hole in the plastic cover for oil changes with tin snips - it's given me easier access, and still keeps the engine bay clean.

    I've seen those visors on heavily modified Foresters in Japan, but never here in the US. Rumor was they were a little too noisy for american standards and Subaru decided not to import those.

  • If the problem was with the installation why would Subaru change the style bearing used when they do the replacement?

    If the problem was due to excessive torque at the factory, what would be the chances that the dealership would repeat the error at replacement time?

    It seems that those who have early bearing problems continue to have bearing problems, whereas, those who do not have early bearing problems (the vast majority I would say) continue to avoid problems. (Unfortunately I fall into the first category. 4 bearings replaced to date. Dealer is great. SOA is unresponsive - nearly a month ago I was told that a Team Leader would call within 24-48 hours - thus far - NO CALL!

    If it were in fact a torque issue, why wouldn't all of the bearings fail simultaneously? Wouldn't all bearings on the vehicle be equally over torqued?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Basically they were over torqued at the factory and then the manuals had them being over torqued @ re-installation as well. It's a common known problem on the SVX and Early foresters.

  • I agree with scirocco22. I have been using
    Shell 87 octane for my 2K2 Forester (14,000+ miles). I have never experienced any pinging problems. Really hate the rotten eggs smell tho...
  • After thinking about this for a bit, I don't know if I'm convinced about this diagnosis of "spark knock" that the mechanic gave me.
    It's VERY hard for me to believe that 3 different gas stations over a period of 2 months have "bad gas" (as the tech claims). I have an '00 Outback (same engine) and my wife and I patronize the same gas stations (with only one exception). She's averaging 18-19 mpg and I'm averaging 22-24 mpg ('00 Outback) with NONE of the problems that the Forester is exhibiting.
    I'm a bit skeptical. Bottom line, the vehicle is designed to run on 87 octane fuel. I should not have to run higher octane. I can understand an occasional tank of "bad gas" but over 2 months worth from 3 different sources??
  • Ron-- I can understand your frustration ...I agree, it doesn't sound right. Can you try another dealer's service department? I'd probably try that if I were in your shoes. I did that with my gauge problem and just the change in attitude from one dealer to another was amazing.

    mi_forester-- Yeah, but that sulfurish smell seems to be less detectable as time goes on. I don't know if it's just my car breaking in or if the formulation of Shell gas is changing. Here in the Seattle area, all of our Texaco gas stations have been converted over to Shell recently over 300 new Shell stations now! And their new advertising --both on TV and their signs at the pumps-- seems to suggest that they've changed their formula recently as the changeover is taking place. I've noticed on my last tankful the acceleration seems smoother and the rotten egg smell seems less noticeable. *thumbs up*

    Do you use the Shell Chase Mastercard? If you don't, they will be starting to accept new applications next year again ...they've suspended processing applications right now for some reason. I've had one for little over a year now and it's great in that you get a 5% rebate on Shell gas towards future Shell purchases and a 1% rebate on anything else you charge on the card of the better rebate credit cards around. If you use a credit card for a lot of purchases, this adds up to lots of free gasoline! If you or anyone would like to see the details click here.


    p.s. I meant to say "vigilant" in my last post ...I gassed up last night and found myself looking around at buildings, rooftops, between trees, and any white vans parked or driving down the street ...and I'm thousands of miles from D.C. *shakes head*

  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,783

    I expereinced some problems with my 99 OB when new, related to fueling. A change in fuel dramatically altered behaviour. Even with a mass produced product carefully tuned you can get some variations from car to car so it is feasible that similar engines may behave slightly differently. Try different fuel and run through a couple of tanks. Also try changing your driving habits a little such as accellerating hard to see if the alters the adaptive bits of your ECU mapping


  • Paisan,

    What you say makes perfect sense... But...

    Wouldn't the problem be more widespread - wouldn't everyone have bearing problems, and not just the unlucky few?

    Why would Subaru start using a tapered bearing saa a replacement?

    Why is SOA in denial if "It's a common known problem on the SVX and Early foresters" ?
  • The service writer said that the regional rep would be at the dealership next Tuesday and I made an appointment yesterday, just in case. I think I'm going to take it in and "get it on the docket".
    On the other hand, I'll start fueling with "brand name" gas (Shell, BP, Chevron, Mobil) but ONLY 87 octane. I still feel strongly that the vehicle is designed to operate on 87. If I still have pinging/knocking problems, I feel it is some type of engine problem that the service department/Sube should look at.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You could argue that a bearing that is difficult to install properly is a poor design, so they changed it. The new one, more fault tolerant, is just a better design.

    Why did only a few fail, while most seem to last forever? Hard to say. Different person on the assembly line? Or maybe the owners tend to haul a bigger payload, which stresses the bearings more?

    Oddly, I carry more than anyone, I think. I've hauled two sections of 6'x8' fence, tons of luggage multiple times, lumber, double dressers, a clothes washer, you name it. 22 bags of 3 cubic feet of wood chips, even towed about 1500 lbs a few times. 3 bikes and a rooftop carrier on several trips.

    And my bearings, at almost 48k, are all fine. This despite my using aftermarket wheels with a different offset, again stressing the bearings more than usual.

    Mostly I'd say it's just bad luck on the part of those owners. Maybe the guy on the assembly line was angry one day and overtorqued a batch of them?

    I wouldn't say SoA is in denial - bearings are a fix they tend to cover under warranty, at their expense. If they are making you pay, I'd call 800-SUBARU3 and then get in touch with Patti to follow up.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Like juice said, an alterate design could prevent overtorquing or resist over torquing better.

    The problem may have been only in the re-installation instructions, in which case it would only effect people who have had them go bad (a small #) but then it would hound those same people because of the over-toque instructions. There is a TSB IIRC on the proper procedure for re-installing new ones that should have fixed the problem.

  • juice,

    SoA only wants to warranty the replacement part for 12 months. This after 3 replacements on a single wheel!! They seem to think that this is adequate, I don't.

    As I said in an earlier post, I am still waiting for a promised call back from a Team Leader for almost a month.

    SoA is no help at all. Were it not for the service department at Flemington Subaru I would be really stuck.
  • bsvollerbsvoller Posts: 528
    juice - I don't know, I think you and I are neck and neck on the maximum load thing...

    Our camper, fully loaded, tips the scales at 1800 lbs. I've hauled drywall (topside), lumber, landscaping rock (650 lbs at a time), cement, topsoil, furniture, mattresses, you name it.

    I always watch the payload weight (including myself), and distribute it across the suspension (e.g. cement bags on front passenger floor as well as across the folded back seat and in the back).

    For the really big jobs, I now rent a utility trailer for the day. Less wear and tear on the interior...

  • leo2633leo2633 Posts: 589
    I recently fit a full sized, top freezer refrigerator in my Forester, and was still able to close the rear hatch. I did have to move the two front seat up a few notches, however.

    Regarding gas, I had been using either Sunoco, Exxon or Mobil regular (87 octane). A few months ago, I started using Gulf regular (87) and the car felt noticeably stronger on acceleration. Plus, my fuel economy went from an average of 22-23 MPG to 26-27 MPG, on the same daily commute. The gas was the only thing I changed, so I attribute it to that. Plus, the Gulf is $.04-.08 per gallon cheaper than the other brands I was using. Good deal all around.

This discussion has been closed.