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Subaru Reliability

sibmxsibmx Posts: 1
edited August 2014 in Subaru
I have been doing research for a few months already. Overall, everybody rates Foresters as reliable cars but after reading this forum and http://www.carsurvey.org/model_Subaru_Forester.html
I have second thoughts.
I am looking for a reliable car on the first place and after reading forums and numerous articles it appears that Subarus got a lot of issues: bearings, head gaskets, leaks, electrical problems..... I know that head gasket and bearing problems are fixed in new models, but new owners complain about hesitation in cold weather, electrical problems, poor paint quality etc. What is it all about???? Is Subaru quality going down. My friend owns 98 Forester with 138 000 miles with no problems at all. But ON THIS FORUM I read stories when people have major problems with new Foresters.
Many of my friends drive Hondas and Toyotas, some of them got over 150 000 miles with no major issues.
Is Forester going to last that long without expensive repairs? Can anybody comment on the current issues with Foresters and rate its reliability?
I was also wondering which Subaru is more reliable - Forester 2005-2007 or Outback 2005-2007?
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Comments

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 14,095
    Well, you have to remember that the majority of posts you will see center around problems with vehicles. This still represents a very small number of overall vehicles. People are far more likely going to find a site like Edmunds when they are looking for a solution to a problem than if they are happy with the vehicle.

    I put 220,000 miles on a '96 Outback without what I would consider any "major" problems. 150,000 miles?

    Should be fairly easy, but depends greatly on the drivers' habits, maintenance, and, to some extent, on luck of the draw. Manufacturing problems often show up within the warranty period, so while that does not make an owner experiencing the problem feel any better, at least the expense of the repair is covered. By 100,000 miles or more, problems tend to center more around use than defects in manufacturing.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    People seek out forums to complain.

    I had mine for 9 trouble-free years, and I still miss it.

    In fact we will very likely get a 2009 model when those come out. Can't wait. :shades:
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Since you've throughly researched the Forester on Edmunds, I'm sure you ran accross my 14 Nov post in Subaru Forester Engine Issues in which I addressed the tendency for problems to appear magnified in general by the Internet and even more so for Subaru and the Forester in specific here on Edmunds because of the extremely active participation of Forester owners.

    Honestly, some times I get tired of refuting misperceptions and am tempted to tell people to just go ahead and get a Toyota :P

    -Frank
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    We have a Toyota (and a Subaru and a Mazda), and believe me, people still complain.

    Transmission hesitation, engine sludge (even though that was 2 engine generations ago), drive-by-wire throttle delays, power sliding doors on the vans.

    And these are the reliable vans.
  • batman47batman47 Posts: 606
    Although I drove a Hyundai Tucson for more than 60K miles in total (America and Europe), this car presently has not any noise or squeaks. I thought originally that this car was a proper off road and I took it on tracks that only big trucks could adventure. All of this was done with a roof box and two weighty boxes in the cargo area plus the passenger area. I did all the maintenance myself according to the owner manual. However a feel I should buy a car that it is not a Hyundai in spite that the present car has never caused me any problem. This is a funny world.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Very good point.

    Perception lags behind reality.

    In automotive reliability, I'd say by about 5 years.

    Hyundai will have to build solid cars for at least 5 years before the public even begins to change their perception of what a Hyundai is. The 2004 Sonata was the most reliable car in CR's survey, ahead of all Lexus models by the way.

    Conversely, Toyota's new 6 speed transmission has given them problems but people refuse to believe it's true, and still rate Toyota at the top (Consumer Reports says they dropped to #3 behind Honda and Subaru).

    To be fair, Hyundai earned a bad rep with the Excel subcompact, and in this case people don't have short memories.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    To be fair, Hyundai earned a bad rep with the Excel subcompact, and in this case people don't have short memories.

    What was wrong with the Excel? My friend's dad bought 2 of them for $10k total with tax in college for him and his dad. 4speed manuals, am/fm radios, no A/C But for 100k, the cars ran without mechanical issues.

    -mike
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Thing about selling a $5000 car in 1986 is that the people that owned them didn't take much care of them. I remember used ones in 1988 selling for $2000, so they depreciated like crazy, too.

    Back then they used a pretty basic Mitsubishi powertrain, so they may have been OK if you took care of them.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    The ones I was speaking of were 1994 model years. :)

    -mike
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    By the mid 90s Hyundai had already started improving...significantly.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    We have a Toyota and believe me, people still complain. Transmission hesitation, engine sludge (even though that was 2 engine generations ago), drive-by-wire throttle delays, power sliding doors on the vans. And these are the reliable vans.

    Whoa, I stand corrected! I didn't realize how fast Toyota had gone down hill... The weekly Click & Clack Car Talk column in yesterday's paper had a letter from the owner of a 3-year old Sienna with 28k miles. The writer said that within the span of a month both power sliding rear doors fell off and that Toyota customer service had acknoweledged that they were aware of the problem but that Toyota was refusing to pay for the repairs!

    Talk about a publicity nightmare. There's nothing quite like getting slammed in a nationally syndicated column :surprise:

    -Frank
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think in that specific case the owner was exaggerating a bit.

    There is a TSB on the doors where some welds can break on 04-06 models and separate partially, but they don't quite "fall off".

    I think that just sounds better for dramatic effect. ;)

    Also, Toyota recently announced they were going to cover the doors under a 7/100 warranty, with letters going out to all owners. I'm surprised that made yesterday's paper, it's probably from a radio show from a few weeks ago, prior to Toyota's announcement.

    I'm sure the Toyota PR machine is all over that one.

    2007-2008 models have had no recalls at all so far and are not affected. 04-06 models are still the highest rated van for reliability according to CR.

    Like I said, though, people love to complain. I'm sure Click & Clack published that because doors falling off just sounds funny. :D
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Took me a while to find this, because it was announced a long time ago (October), but here goes:

    http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=678203

    Shame on Click & Clack for not mentioning this a month and a half later.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Juice- The article states "The problem is with the front doors on the driver's and passenger's sides, rather than the van's sliding doors." So it appears that they're having problems with the welds on BOTH the front and rear doors. In which case, Click & Clack are right to publicly take Toyota to task for not standing behind their product.

    Not the type of quality we've come to expect from Toyota. I guess this is just an example of why CR downgraded Toyota's reliability ratings :(

    Toyota hasn't issued a factory recall for the Sienna door problem, perhaps because such notices generate a lot of negative publicity, said Joe Wiesenfelder with Cars.com

    That's true but there's a point where not issuing a recall for a widely known problem can generate even more negative publicity than had they just bitten the bullet and done the recall. Being proactive with a recall at least reassures the public that the company stands behind its products and isn't trying to dodge responsibility.

    -Frank
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    It's not a recall, I think they called it something else (TSB?), but they did send letters to every owner and will fix the problem free of charge.

    FWIW, CR down graded the Tundra V8, the Camry V6 (because of the 6 speed automatic), and one Lexus model.

    Sienna remains their highest rated and most reliable van.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Sounds like someone is trying to justify their purchase... ;)

    -Frank
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Got me! :D

    Actually the 2007s aren't affected. No recalls yet.

    The only issue I've had was the dealer simply forgot to attach my radio antennae!

    In fairness some models have an in-glass antennae.

    Have you seen the Forester spy pics? We should be getting one of those for the wifey in the Spring.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    I'm waiting for official pics to be released. Sounds like the 09 Forester may grow too big for me :( I'd be okay with a couple inches wider and a couple more inches rear leg room but wish they'd keep the overall length and turning radius the same.

    -Frank
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    FWIW, CR down graded the Tundra V8, the Camry V6 (because of the 6 speed automatic), and one Lexus model.

    Yeah the new 5.7L Tundra engine has glass camshafts that are snapping on them. Even the mightly Toyota has reliability issues...

    -mike
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Frank, why not go for the hatch of a WRX then? I bet they made the Forester bigger cause otherwise it would have overlapped too much with the hatch.

    -mike
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Well fortunately I'm perfectly happy with my XT and don't plan to replace it any time soon. Before I got the Forester I actually briefly considered getting a WRX wagon but with 2 large dogs, the cargo area just wasn't big enough. Plus the sloping rear window would have been covered in nose smears in no time :)

    -Frank
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Nose smears will cover whatever windows you have no matter what you get.

    Our dog is down to about 9 lbs, and we still get them on a full-sized van.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 14,095
    Sounds like a perfect candidate for a travel crate. :P
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    For long trips, that's what we do. The crate fits between the 2 kids in the 2nd row, so the dog can even watch the movie.

    His favorite is All Dogs Go to Heaven. ;)
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 14,095
    Hahaha... mine too. :blush:
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Juice, how about a cat-carrier! Since your dog wants to be a cat anyway!

    -mike
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    He just hissed. ;)
  • The short version. Had a 2000 and got a 2002 via LEMON LAW (check engine light always on and ran BAD.) I just traded in the replacement 2002 for a Honda.

    Only 50K on the 2002 Forester and a Wheel Bearing went, I had to replace an 02 Sensor also, and now (at 56K) the Clutch went. I was not gonna spend the $1200+ for a new clutch just two months after spending $400+ on a wheel bearing.

    I'm done with Subaru. I know others are happy, I guess I'm just unlucky..
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sorry to hear that.

    They did change the wheel bearing design on the 2003 and later models. They moved to the sturdier design from the Legacy.

    To me an 02 sensor is a wear part. Bosch says they should be changed every 30k miles, though they sell them so I'm sure they have an interest in recommending short intervals for those.

    Good luck with the Honda, hopefully you'll have better luck.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Frank you will be due for a clutch around 80-100k miles. 100k is the average of when they start going, or at least customers start asking for it around there :)

    -mike
    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    The wheel bearing and clutch weren't covered by the drivetrain warranty?

    I've got 66k on my Forester and hopefully the clutch will last at least double that.

    -Frank
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Wheel bearings should be, but clutch, no. That's usually wear and tear.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    wear and tear Good point.

    Clutches wear out at significantly different rates depending on driving conditions (city vs highway) and driving habits (jack rabbit starts, slipping the clutch, etc). For instance, it's not uncommon to hear about a young "enthusiastic" driver needing a new clutch before 20k while others can go for more than 150k miles without replacing their clutch. In my case, I sold my Jeep with over 125k miles on the original clutch and fully expect to approach if not exceed that mark with the Forester :)

    -Frank
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yep.

    I sold my Forester with nearly 90k miles and it was on the original clutch.

    A friend of mine had an Impreza 2.5RS, 2 years newer, and was on his 2nd clutch (an ACT model) within a couple of years. He abused it, though.

    AWD burnouts sure are cool but you gotta pay to play! :D
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    "... I sold my Forester with nearly 90k miles and it was on the original clutch. "

    Sold my Mazda truck with over 150k miles and original clutch, which had pulled 2000 lbs of boat and trailer every summer since 1991.
    Having been a passenger in many manual transmission cars in the past 50 years, I have noticed that very few people use the clutch in a way that will get the most life from it. They are not abusive, but they just don't know.
  • djensondjenson Posts: 2
    Do not get the fabric seats in the 2006-2008 model years. The fabric frays on the seams and even though the car is covered by warranty and they replaced the seat fabric once (with same stuff) the latest current offer is to do my 30000 mile service free. Get the leather and be fore warned the light beige color is a bear to keep clean! I have been dealing with both the dealership and Subaru since August over this problem and I am close to just trading in and going back to a Ford. Ford's I have had in the past always had great warranty coverage for any problem.
    Love the car on ice & snow, so far no other problems but the interior fabric.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Ford refused to replace windshield seals on my 1991 Escort GT. My fuel tank opening developed rust and all they could offer me was free undercoating (they didn't even apply it in that area).

    Both happened under warranty.

    Seats are a wear item, to be honest I'm surprised they even replaced the covers for you the first time.

    Another thing - the X model gets different fabric than the upper trim lines. Just check that out before you decide.

    I wouldn't count on the warranty to fix any of that stuff, from any make to be honest.
  • Regarding my original post about the clutch. The Forester was my wifes, but she had a Toyota Tercel and a Nissan Sentra before that and had over 120K on each and the clutch was fine.

    Like I said, perhaps are Subaru Kharma was bad or something because I know others have great luck with them.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 14,095
    That is surprising, to me, about the cloth interior. If true and widespread, it would certainly be a step backwards considering 220K miles on my '96 Outback with no problems at all with the cloth. But, if I did have problems with it during the warranty period, you can bet I would hold the manufacturer liable. Failed stitching over that time frame is unacceptable and is certainly a defect. Even ingress and egress every few miles over 30,000 should not cause failure due to wear.

    That said, I had no problems with the cloth on either of my newer Outbacks (07 and 08) with about 7500 miles put on each.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Thing is, they change fabrics used often, some times in just one or two years.

    My 98 had a thick woven fabric that turned out to be very durable, but didn't feel soft, like the fabric on the higher trim line (S models). But that softer velvet-textured fabric was less durable, as a trade-off.

    paisan pointed out in another thread that lark6 used to rest his elbow on the window sill and the fabric there had some wear.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 14,095
    That is true. My '96 had the woven fabric as well. That stuff was fantastic, but no, it did not feel soft at all. :D
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • leo2633leo2633 Posts: 589
    The seat fabric on my '01 Forester S has worn quite well (I just cracked 170 K this weekend) despite my early concerns that it might not be very durable. However, like juice mentioned regarding Ed's car, the fabric on the driver's door panel window sill has also worn, from me using it as an arm rest. Not worn through, but definitely worn noticeably.

    Len
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You must drive a lot with the windows down. I never really rested my elbow there.
  • desoto4desoto4 Posts: 1
    Our forester is a '99 GT auto and it is the most problem car we've ever owned.Before we bought it in 2003 we asked around about the forester for beach work and camping and all round good car and the forester was commonly mentioned.But how wrong were they. After one trip on the beach it destroid a g/box seal then starter motor twice then wheel bearings then radiator then steering rack twice and other rattles , and also when we hooked up our new camper trailer for a three our trip the suspension dropped to about 2 inchs from the ground and not much weight.We were told this is common on many of those things. Plus there are many minor interior faults also(rattles,dash problems,electics) Now the brakes are shaking......I give up..piece of junk. I much prefer my old mitsubishi scorpion work hack for every day driving.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sounds like you need a true truck. Get something with skid plates and a low range.

    FWIW, I owned a 98 Forester and drove in on sand often. It was fine. Owned it for 9 years. Sold it and got 30% of what I paid for it back.

    It was great.

    Better luck with your next car. Truck, I should say.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Plus they bought it used. While you save a lot of money that way, the trade off is there's always the possibility that the previous owner abused it :sick:

    -Frank
  • drmom2drmom2 Posts: 1
    I'm looking at a 98 forester with 216k one owner well maintained - am I crazy or do these vehicles have the same milage potential as toyota ect? Please help
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They do, and I saw one on E-bay with 276k miles, but still.

    216k miles is 216k miles. It will all come down to how the car was maintained.

    If it's made it this far, though...they must have taken care of it.

    Inspect the head and valve cover gaskets, and the front and rear main seals, all for oil leaks. Drive the car with the radio off and the windows open, and do a figure 8. That will reveal is any diffs or axles are bad.

    If it's smooth, then wow! That's all I can say.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    At 216k you are going to have bushings breaking down on it. If the price is right and you are going to use it local, it may be worth it. However a long highway cruiser it will likely not be.

    -mike
    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,786
    G'day

    My impression is that service life is similar to a Toyota although frequency of minor niggles does tend to build up as mileage grows. I have found it revealing that so many Subaru drivers keep their cars to 300,000km plus (say 188,000mile) and then buy another.

    The comments by others that this might not be a long distance cruiser at this age are pretty accurate but could be modified if the car has been used carefully for long distances rather than hard driven in the past.

    Cheers

    Graham
This discussion has been closed.