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Subaru Forester (up to 2005)



  • riskman11riskman11 Posts: 11
    Thanks juice, as of now, no adjustments needed, no rattles, no problems. The rear tires were a little bumpy for the first 2000 miles, almost as if they were flat-spotted, but seem to have improved. 15,000 is when I changed to synthetic in my Passat, and was planning to do the same with the Forester, just wanted opinions. I'm sure the upcoming trip (2000+ miles) will do wonders in loosening up the engine and improving gas mileage.
  • karen56karen56 Posts: 14
    I posted a while back and said that the smell was gone from my car and now it's back again, strong as ever! I'm at almost 4,000 miles and am at my wit's end. I really hate this smell. How much longer before it goes away, does anyone know?
  • gsogymratgsogymrat Posts: 97
    Has anyone towed with their Subaru? I have a 2000 lbs camper and wonder if a Subaru would have enough power to carry 4 people, gear and tow my camper.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Karen: mine lasted a little longer than that. I don't recall exactly, but the undercoating burns off slowly. A long trip may help, or warm weather.

    Towing - I've only tried an empty 700 lb trailer to test my hitch. It's rated for 2000 lbs only if you have trailer brakes. Payload varies by model, up to 1040 lbs on the L 5 speed, so the people and gear ought to fit fine.

    So the key is the camper. How heavy, and does it have brakes?

    Unfortunately, none of the more fuel efficient mini-SUVs (RAV4 and CR-V) tow much either. In fact, their capacities are lower.

  • dawatdawat Posts: 5
    Hi all, I followed this board and was convinced that the Forester was the vehicle for me. Because of a very hectic schedule, I could never go testdrive one or even get in one but I loved the way they looked when I saw them in my town, driving around. Finally, when I got a Saturday off I dragged my husband to the local dealer to look at *my* new Forester. First of all, we were completely ignored by salespeople. You would think this was a good thing except all the cars were locked! Finally, someone came over to us but told us he didn't sell Subarus but would send someone out who did. So while we're waiting, we're walking around trying door handles. Finally, we find one with the back door unlocked so I can crawl in and unlock all the doors. Talk about TINY!!! I'm not a big person, either. The first thing that happens while I'm sitting in the back seat is a reach over and pull out the cup holders...which immediately fall into my hand and onto the floor since I didn't realize I would have to catch them. Yes, I know someone else could have broken them but who wants something that could be broken that easily on say, a test drive... when usually people aren't really *using* the back seat. I then get into the drivers seat. It's ok but not spectacular. My husband gets in and moves the seat all the way back to where he would have it. Again, he's not an overly large person - 6". Then he gets in behind the driver's seat (we do this with every car we test). His knees are wrapped around the side of the driver's seat. I'm still rationalizing, however, that we don't really carry our bigger friends and family in the back *that* often. But the restricted space, coupled with the cheap accoutrements, inflated sticker and lack of service made us cross off the Forester. To be fair to Subaru, we also eventually found an unlocked OB Ltd (again, crawling in through the back). This was a lot nicer than the Forester. Roomier, less cheap feeling but w/ the sunroof, my husband's head brushed the ceiling. For about the same price as the OB Ltd, we're going to Toyota to get a 4Runner / HL where the quality and service can't be beat.
    I hate to rain on Forester's parade and I know everyone here will have a million justifications / excuses but I just wanted to let people who are considering a Soob to hear another side of the story.
    P.S. Yes, we left w/out taking a test drive. No one ever came out to see us and we were climbing around in their cars for a good 30 minutes.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 21,964
    well, you considered it too small. So, go with the 4Runner if you want. Those of us who have the Forester simply didn't want just another SUV. We wanted something that handled more like a car, had all wheel drive, and could carry more than a sedan. That's what we got. Simple. You want a truck. So get a truck.

    I owned an 87 4Runner for about 5 years (the longest I've ever owned one vehicle to date) so I would certainly attest to it being a good truck (although I don't care for the new ones).

    Good luck with your next vehicle.

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If you didn't drive the Forester you didn't really get to experience any of its best qualities (ride, handling, etc.). Too bad.

    The Highlander and 4Runner are nice, but not in the same price ball park, not even close. They appear to be fine choices, though.

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    Hey, no hard feelings. The Forester can't be everything to everyone. I think you hit the major issue on the head though -- you can't judge a vehicle without actually seeing one in person.

    One thing does confuse me, however, is that why were you looking at a mini-SUV when rear passenger room was of a major concern. People who shop for Foresters open compare them to similar vehicles like the CR-V, RAV4 or even the Escape. In comparison to these alternatives, the Forester does shine in many aspects. The only way you'll know is by actually seeing and driving the alternatives.

  • sport33sport33 Posts: 19
    Just picked up my new 2001 "L" 5 speed, only upgrade was the remote keyless entry with alarm. Nothing else needed, lots of bang for the buck! Traded it straight across for my 4wd Xterra (rotten vehicle, the best part about it is the TV ads, I should of known better than to buy a reincarnated Datsun).

    After 1k miles, I slowly started working the motor up to 6k rpm, and now at 1650 miles the motor has really softened up nicely. The car is very quick, and total fun! First tank.. 27 mpg (highway miles under 4k rpm), haven't checked since. No mechanicals so far, the car is very tight, and the level of interior finish is great.

    I do though have a soft, rattling noise that seems to be coming from the instrument cluster. It seems independent of the motor (does not change pitch with change in rpms), and only noticeable while idling. Any ideas as to the nature of the noise? I don't recall having heard it before, however I've been too busy zipping around to take note. Also, @ 3k I was thinking of going synthetic.. I've always used "natural" oil. Any thoughts there? Thx!
  • canadianclcanadiancl Posts: 1,078
    Gee, I hope your husband is not upset, or depress, that you don't consider him overly large - 6". After all, statistically, that's considered at least average, isn't it? :)

    Sorry Joe (the Host), I can't help myself, it's just too darn tempting!!
  • dawatdawat Posts: 5
    - "We wanted something that handled more like a car, had all wheel drive, and could carry more than a sedan. That's what we got. Simple."
    Seems like the Highlander would be the perfect car, no? After all, it's a Camry in heels with a foot of extra space tacked on the end. And I seriously doubt the Forester carries more than a sedan WITH the seats up.
    I didn't look at an Escape because I'm trying to Escape... crappy Ford cars, I didn't look at a Rav or CRV mainly because I heard so many people on this board gloating about how much bigger a Forester is. I DO need space but I also wanted something that would carry passengers, dogs, lumber, whatever but still be safe and drive well. Oh, yeah and not break like a crappy Ford (or Forester in this case) I wish I had driven it and I knew that was the one thing the people here would point to but it was really hard getting a "hello" out of the subaru dealer much less keys to one of their cars.
    I didn't really want to flame Foresters or Subaru or their owners. I just wanted people who do research here to get a balanced perspective. Read the opinions on this board and then go out, drive the car, sit in it, jiggle things around, kick the tires and be HONEST with yourself about what the vehicle can and can't do.
  • jeijei Posts: 143
    Sorry the dealer ignored you (WHO was that?) and the rear cupholder broke. Two years ago I bought a '99 Forester "S", even though the back seat is tight & flat - because of the driving experience -I mostly commute alone.) On the same day, we tested a RAV4 (too light/small/cute; dumb rear door with no bumper), an Outback (roomy, pleasant) and the then-new Forester - which produced big silly grins on our faces! For all the cost of a new car, I wanted some delight. Still true at almost 60k miles with few problems. When the kids are home, they do grumble about the back seat if they're stuck back there.

    HOWEVER - if the Highlander had been on the market, I would have also test driven it, and most likely, seriously considered it. Definitely more roomy, and really another size/price point in the market. I will test drive the HL for the fun of it even though it's fairly pricey and I'm not in the market.

    So good luck in your research & purchase. I appreciate your honesty. If you do try a Forester (at another dealer!), let us know how the driving compares to the Highlander.

  • drew_drew_ Posts: 3,382
    LOL, only Steve and I are co-hosting the SUVs message board. No Joe here! ;-)

    Carry on...:-)

    Vans, SUVs, and Aftermarket and Accessories message boards
  • kate5000kate5000 Posts: 1,271
    It's too bad that ignorant inattentive salesmen at that dealership turned you away. The back seat room is small in the Forester, no question about it. As far as front seats are concerned, opinions differ. There was a person of 6'7" on this forum (with an appropriate moniker "big_guy"), and he said the Forester and Escape were the only SUVs where his head was not brushing the ceiling. Try Nissan Pathfinder, for example. It looks much bigger, but interior is pretty small. Even I feel cramped there, and I'm only 5'3" (on a good day :-).

    I did not get a chance to test-drive the Highlander yet. It looks nice (like Forester on steroids). We think of Highlander as possibly a good choice for my husband's next car, but I reserve all the opinions until we actually test it.

    I should say that driving dynamics of the Forester are so good and it's so numble that after I owned it for 6 mo, every other SUV feels really clumsy. Since most of the time I commute alone in the car, back seat room is not an issue. Yet it holds a teenager plus baby pretty well when needed.

    Try driving both the Highlander and the Forester, and let us know how they compare.
  • tomsotertomsoter Posts: 2
    Just got 99 S automatic with 17k. Subaru doesn't provide seatbelt extenders and universal type won't work. Anyone know of extender from other import (like Toyota, Nissan,etc that provides extenders) that works?
    I remember reading on this & other sites about the funny sulfur smell. What is it and can it be fixed?
    Do ABS normally travel closer to floor than regular brakes? Mine go to about 1 inch above floor.
  • canadianclcanadiancl Posts: 1,078
    brake pedal travel for ABS should not be more than for non-ABS.
  • I really do not see how the Highlander and Forester compare. Our 2001 S+ with every option was around $23,000. For a 4 wheel drive 4 cylinder Highlander the MSRP is $25,395 without adding options. Adding a few options to that, and no huge sunroof, I got the price to $26,569. That doesn't include an LSD system, side impact air bags, huge sunroof, 6 disc in dash CD changer, heated front seats and mirrors, aluminum alloy wheels and its short 10HP and weighs more than the Forester. Even paying a little over invoice, option for options the Highlander is a good $3-4,000 more than the Forester. If 1 inch more headroom and 1 inch more rear seat room is worth that price, then buy the Highlander.

    My only point is that option for option, SUV for SUV the Forester beats the competition hands down. The Subaru dealership I bought my car from has called me repeatedly to make sure the car is okay and I still like it. They rolled out the red carpet for me when I brought it in for the first oil change. They even called me on my birthday last year to wish me a happy birthday. Not all Subaru dealerships are the same. When it comes to dealerships remember, Your mileage may vary.

    Also, the over inflated EPA estimate for the Highlander 4 cylinder is 24mpg highway, while the Foresters is 27mpg. Even 3 to 5 mpg over the life of a car matters to me. Just my 2 cents worth on comparing these 2 cars.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    dawat- The Highlander is sure to be a popular vehicle but it's in a different class from the Forester. It's really a mid-size SUV designed to compete with Explorers, Blazers and the like. Also, I just checked Edmunds prices for the Highlander and the selling price appears to be at least $5,000 more than a comparably equipped Forester.

    The Forester will certainly hold more than a sedan, even with the seats up (remember the cargo area goes all the way to the roof).

    Sorry to hear about your experience at the dealership but fail to see how that soured you on the vehicle itself. There are plenty of other dealerships out there that I'm sure will be more than happy to sell to you.

    Bottom-line. If the Highlander better fits your individual needs and if you have the cash to pay for it, then you should certainly buy it. (After test driving it of course)

    -Frank P.
  • joseph50joseph50 Posts: 235
    Before I purchased a 2001 S in January, I was mindful of reviews commenting on the Forester's "soft" brakes, and I found this indeed to be true on mine. But, in the course of driving (and thoroughly enjoying)the vehicle, the impression registered that the relative softness is actually conducive to using the ABS correctly in an emergency-stop situation. If the brakes were tight or hard, the initial and immediate felt resistance might cause me to back off the pedal instead of continuing to apply constantly increasing pressure.
    Just a thought from a someone happy to see 30 mpg on my last fill-up when my previous Tauras' best was 27 mpg over the the same trip.
  • pnptmpnptm Posts: 5
    I picked up a Blue S 5 spd Monday night, and just wanted to say thanks again to all the helpful responses to my questions posted here while I shopped........juice, Frank, and others.....I'll be checking in from time to time and hopefully can help others (and dawat, agree the cupholders are poor- but we all need something to complain about!!)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    sport33: congrats. I'm sure your mileage is much better than before. Any more specifics on the rattle? They are not common in that area.

    Tom: the pedal can be adjusted, but you may need new pads. The previous owners may have ridden the brakes. The break-in smell should be gone by 17k, though. Wash the undercarriage to get any salt mix from winter off.

    Congrats pnptm. Glad we could help. Hang around and share impressions in a few weeks?

    I think ít's a high complement that the Forester is being compared to the Highlander. We're talking about a $30k plus SUV, easy. Equip one like a $23k Forester S Premium and you're probably a good $10 grand over the Forester, yet we are arguing over which is better.


  • jackleungjackleung Posts: 79
    Remember the electrical outlet problem I had mention before? Turn out is my poor quality phone charger coz the short the circuit and burn the fuse. So, the electrical outlet in the front panel is ok to use any electrical accessories (of course, resaonably load) with it.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    pnptm- Congratulations! Wait a Blue Ridge Pearl Forester is becoming less and less rare every day it seems. Ah...the price of fame!

    Jack- Glad to hear it was your phone charger causing the problems. That makes much more sense.

    -Frank P.
  • jackleungjackleung Posts: 79
    Ahh... I love a Blue Ridge Pearl one too. Too bad they don't have it on S+ model... :~(

  • araymondaraymond Posts: 3
    Juice, Ken - anyone: What's your sense of the going market price these days for the Forester I I/ automatic. Edmunds is showing: invoice $19,223, MSRP $21,095 & TV $19,649. That sound right? We're in Conneticut. - Anne
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    I don't know about the NE, but around here in the San Francisco Bay Area, Foresters will go for $200-$300 over dealer invoice.

    One way to check "market" prices is to go to and look up their prices.

  • hi, I'm in Ct also-I just bought a 2001 forester S+ for $150 over invoice, but my first quote(online -of course!) was for 250 over.
    I haggled with the online dealer(claiming another site quoted me less) which is how I ended up with 150.

    I ended up getting my subaru at colonial subaru in danbury- which was a good experience, I recommend.
    I think these guys have a big overstock of the foresters.

    Hope it helps
  • mac08854mac08854 Posts: 6
    Hi everyone -- I've had my 2001 5sp Forester S since January 26. The car now has 2041 miles. Last weekend (St. Patrick's day), I began to experience major problems with the car.

    On the end of a trip, as I was about to park, the engine light turned on and the car began to idle roughly. I reached my destination, turned off the car, and let it sit (I went about watching the Corrs play in Rockefeller Center). When I returned to the car and started it, the engine still idled VERY roughly. However, the car still seemed to be able to drive okay, but that did not last long. Less than 2 miles later, I would step on the gas and would get little or no response from the engine. In order to get moving forward, I had to pop the clutch. But, as I would depress the gas, the engine would rev to 3000 RPM and then the power would drop rapidly. I could not let the engine idle in neutral because the car would stall due to the rough idle (it was like the engine was wheezing).

    Luckily, the dealership (Hillside Automall in Hillside, NJ), was on my way home and not too far from Hoboken where the car was parked. The car literally limped there (I *should* have called Subaru Roadside Assistance). A mechanic at the dealership took a look at my car with the diagnostic computer and got the code "301", interpreting that as misfires in Pistons 1 and 3. This was at about 1950 miles.

    He blamed the problem on bad gasoline (I used regular, like I always use and as the owner's manual states) which clogged the injectors. He poured a canister of dry gas chemical into the tank and revved the engine, which seemed to clear up the problem. He said that if I continue to have problems, bring the car back. I was able to drive the car home, and it seemed to be fine. The tank was filled about 1/8 with the old regular gas, so I proceeded to fill the tank with mid grade gas from a station on the way home.

    On Tuesday night, I began to notice a slight rough idle, a slight power loss, and the engine light turned on again. Sensing a return of the problem, I made an appointment for Thursday morning at Hillside for service. But, just my luck, it drives fine Thursday morning and the engine light turns off. The dealership looks at it, says there's nothing wrong with the car -- but I insist they do something about it and they order new injectors for the car. They continue to tell me the car is fine to drive home, which I did, and it did handle fine. The car now had 2011 miles.

    HOWEVER, on Thursday night, less than 12 hours after I left the dealer with the "good-to-go", the problem returned with a vengeance pulling into my driveway (2041 miles). I had the car towed Friday morning (this morning) by Subaru to Hillside, as I deemed the car way too unsafe to try to drive to the dealer. The response of Road Side Assistance and the actual tow truck driver itself was quite fast (45 minutes, compared to a 5 hour experience I had once with AAA), and the towing experience was actually really pleasant (good conversation with the mechanic while driving to the dealer). I wish that my experience with the dealer was only so pleasant.

    They were extremely resistant to giving me a loaner car, and it took my insisting to speak to a manager and arguing I should NOT be having any of these problems with a car that is not even 60 days old and hasn't even had its first oil change. I was NOT going to pay for a rental. I got the loaner rental for free: a lovely Geo Metro (well, it WAS free).

    I am now waiting for a response from the dealership, what they find, and what they fix. Luckily, everything is covered under warantee (that first 90 days). I am praying that I did not receive a lemon -- I waited for this car (it was ordered) for nearly three months, longer than I've even HAD the car. I do not believe it was bad gas, as my Dad had filled our van with regular gas from the same station the same day I filled my Forester, a week before St. Patrick's day. I am very disapointed in the mechanical problems I am having, after reading so much about reliability -- especially since I've only put 2000 and-some-change miles on the car.

    I must admit, I still do love the car and how it drives as well as its feature content. I also must commend Subaru for the excellent response with their roadside assistance and the mechanic/tow company they chose in Edison (DeFalco's towing?). However, this has done some serious tarnishing on my view of the Forester as well as the decent purchasing experience I had with the dealership (Hillside Automall).

    Needless to say, I will be writing Hillside management and the operations center in Cherry Hill, NJ.

    I will post the resolution of my mechanical problems hopefully later this week.


    PS. I recall someone in this group had a similar problem in an automatic where she would lose power while depressing the gas. Did they ever post a resolution of the problem and the root cause?
  • bassistbassist Posts: 15

    It sounds like you are having the very same problem I had with my '01 Forester. No power on gas, very rough idle, backfiring, etc. I posted about it a few weeks ago (#775). The dealer replaced a bad fuel injector and a faulty fuel air sensor (actually the 2nd time the oxygen sensor has been replaced). Since then my Forester has been running fine.

    Sounds like I had better luck with my dealer service than you however (Carr Subaru in Portland, OR). They were pretty sympathetic and gave me a rental car with no hassle.

    I have a lot less confidence in my Forester. I'm seriously thinking about getting rid of it but I'm not so sure about what I would replace it with.

  • sport33sport33 Posts: 19
    Ateixeira, re post 881. The noise has a soft "tumbling" quality, however I have since gone back to the dealer and have heard the sound to a greater or lesser extent on other, new Foresters. It's a hypercritical complaint, I have to find something wrong with the vehicle!

    I am sorry to hear others are experiencing trouble with their soobies. I have owned many new cars/trucks in my lifetime, and let me assure you there is no such thing as a perfect car. My other fun car for now is a BMW 330ci and it is by no means totally "ultimate". For the money, I have not come across a better value, or level of finish than the Forester not to mention the fun factor of a 5 speed... rally, rally!
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