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2009 Subaru Forester



  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 694
    The fact that it's fishtailing tells you that power is being sent to the rear wheels. Your AWD is working fine

    But it does bring up the question of the torque split. My Outback 3.0R with 45%/55% F/R initial torque split will fishtail with careless throttle application. I wonder whether the 80% front 20% rear split of earlier 4 cylinder auto trans models has been changed?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,868
    I found that the '07 and '08 Outbacks I owned would kick their rear ends out with far more ease than my '96. I liked this trait, as it made the cars much more controllable than the '96. The prime difference in their rear axles was the presence of a limited-slip differential in the '07 and '08. Yes, there was more torque going to the front wheels, but if I goosed the throttle, I could apply enough torque in the rear to spin the wheels.... and if one spins, they both spin, meaning that the tires work together to slip the car in the direction of momentum.

    It was very enjoyable - I loved tossing those cars about. ;)
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Posts: 1,798
    posted earlier but might explain driving behaviors - info from Subaru Canada:

    The Forester does not have a Variable Torque Distribution (VTD) centre differential. For the 2009 model year, the Forester 2.5XT includes a Multi-plate Transfer (MPT) System that adjusts torque from 60/40 (F/R) to 50/50 (or anywhere in-between) depending on throttle input, road conditions and input from the Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) System. VDC operates like most electronic stability control (ESC) systems in that it can adjust engine output, adjust individual brake pressure and even front rear torque distribution to retain/regain vehicle stability.

    It is not possible for the system defeat the role of the centre differential and thus torque output will always be split between the front and rear differential. Meaning, the system cannot direct 100% of power to a single wheel - whether it be with VTD or MPT.

    Note this differs from older Foresters' usual 90 -10 split between Front to Rear.

    However, what happens when both front wheels slip, and the Traction control system brakes the front wheels to help transfer power to the rear wheels?
  • bigfrank3bigfrank3 Posts: 426
    Well, Bob is of course correct. If there were no power to the rear wheels it wouldn't fishtail like that. And yes, vehicles with a limited slip differential or the electronic equivalent are more prone to this that those with an open rear axle.

    AWD and limited slips only manage torque distribution based on traction, but not the amount of traction. If there is no traction or if you overpower the traction available the wheels spin. And if the car is pointed into a turn and this happens in the rear it will fishtail because of the force vector. You will notice that it always fishtails to the outside of the curve never the inside. It is the whip effect caused by the car being pulled through a curve and then the rear not having any or not enough traction.

    In the old days we used to play with this on our muscle cars with limited slip. One of us would get the rear wheels spinning and then another of us would gently push the rear of the car in one side direction or the other. It is amazing how easy it is to almost rotate a car around a circumference with the front of the car stationary and the center of the circle. We could even do this on bare tar, no rain or snow needed. You can't do this with a vehicle with no limited slip because with 1 tire overpowering the traction you still have 1 tire with traction but no torque so the vehicle is anchored by that wheel.

    Any amount of torque applied to the end with poor traction will cause this. I am sure some have experienced a FWD car with no traction, and while the front tires are spinning the front "walks to one side or the other depending on the torque application design of the powertrain. No traction is no traction so other forces take over.

    Even if the rear of the Forester is only getting 10% or 20% of the torque it is still the much lighter end. The front has a lot more weight over it and therefore more traction available, even with the bulk of the power. I have mentioned this before but the solution is easy. You need more weight over the rear axle so that end gets more traction. I discovered this by accident when I happened to go buy some big bags of bird seed, but sand, cat litter, or anything that can be put against the seatback over the rear wheels tremendously lessens this effect. The rear wheels have torque they just need traction.
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 694
    The torque split of 60F/40R is given for the turbo model. I wonder if normally aspirated Foresters are the same.

    As another comparison my previous Passat W8 4-motion (quatro) did not fishtail even with max throttle. However it often ploughed instead. :( I prefer my 3.0R's behavior, but Consumer Reports calls Subaru VDC response "reluctant".
  • board_jayboard_jay Posts: 22
    About 6 weeks ago I started noticing this smell when I got into my Forester in the morning to go to work and again at night when I came home. It is hard to describe, but sort of a sweetish smell that is kinda revolting. Does not smell like rotten egges. Here's what I know

    1. Seems worse in front of car near dashboard.
    2. Nothing leaking (not radiator fluid)
    3. Took apart dash and heater core hoping to find a dead mouse or something. Nada, no dead animal.
    4. Smell gets better and goes away when heater/fan is turned ON. just in case, had dealership spray that anti-bacterial stuff they have for mold in vents. Didn't help, still smells.
    5. Smell gets better/goes away when temp is below freezing and gets worse when
    above freezing. Obvious that something is freezing and then thawing.
    6. I have kids and removed their carseats. Still have the smell. No obvious places where I can see split milk or anything like that. Nothing under seats, in obvious spots. I can't find anyplace where the smell is obviously worse in one place vs. another other than seems worse in the front of the car.
    7. Just in case for #6, I used lysol EVERWHERE 2 weeks ago. Still have the smell.
    8. No smell from under the hood or under the vehicle, just inside.

    At this point in time I am getting ready to dump this car and not buy another Subaru. I love the Forester, but can't subject myself and my kids to this. I have had 20cars in my life and never had this problem. Any ideas before I bail?
  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Posts: 1,798
    Try running your defrosters at full output at maximum temperature for a few minutes (roll windows down or open moonroof if it gets too hot), and see if a greasy deposit builds up on windshield.

    IF so, you may have the problematic HVAC gasket problem referred to earlier in this thread, and covered by a Subaru TSB.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The rear wheels have torque they just need traction

    That sums it up pretty well.

    Try this...

    First off, be careful, make sure you have a gigantic and empty parking lot with tons of space, wear a helment, bla bla bla disclaimers.

    OK, take a turn in a snowy parking lot and stay on the gas.

    When the rear end begins to fish tail, and this is the important part...*stay on the gas*.
    Don't add throttle, but don't let off the throttle either.

    Let AWD do its job. It should slowly shift power to the front axle when the rear axle slips, and the FWD bias should pull you out of the skid. This is also the best way to ensure that your AWD system is functioning properly.

    If you lift off the throttle, the weight shifts forward, that means the rear axle has zero weight on it, and the fishtailing only gets worse.

    The stability control can't do anything if the rear axle has no weight on it and therefore no traction.

    I know it sounds counter-intuitive, you begin to fish tail and you stay on the gas? Yep.

    There's even a word for this: drop-throttle oversteer.

    Practice in that safe environment and learn how the vehicle reacts.

    If you get good at it, this is the most fun you will ever have in a Subaru.

    Let the AWD do it's job.
  • oregonboyoregonboy Posts: 1,653
    People seem to be using the term "fishtail" to describe a state of oversteer, as when the rear of a vehicle swings wide in a turn. I believe this to be wrong. Fishtailing is a back and forth motion. Have you ever seen a fish swing its tail just to one side? :P

    "fishtail." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009.
    fish·tail (fis̸h′tāl′)
    intransitive verb
    1 : to swing the tail of an airplane from side to side to reduce speed especially when landing
    2 : to have the rear end slide from side to side out of control while moving forward

    Yeah, I'm picky. I just hate to see the language misused. :shades:
  • orcorc Posts: 39
    Fish tailing when accelerating from a stop around a corner is what rear wheel drive cars will do on very slick surfaces. Our Forester with stock all season tires does the same but most front wheel drive only cars won't. It's one reason I believe front wheel drive only cars are best for most folks in everyday commuting and going to the store applications. Four wheel drive comes in handy for rough and steep dirt and gravel unimproved roads and plowing through heavy snow. Folks with steep driveways living with bad winters appreciate 4WD. There are some misconceptions about AWD or 4WD vehicles and for the most part front wheel drive only is all most pavement pounders need. JMO.
  • orcorc Posts: 39
    Yep... it's not really a fishtail but is it really oversteering? How about just "Losing traction and sliding sideways." LOL Rear end breaking loose? I know what folks meant when saying fishtailing - no biggy.
  • sgloonsgloon Posts: 323
    This isn't always possible, such as accelerating from a stop and having to turn the corner right away. Even a very slight acceleration has caused the "fishtailing". Which in my car, as correctly pointed out above, is the rear end breaking loose to the outside corner, typically.

    I definitely don't accelerate on the corners on the mountain roads though, unless I need it for grip, that is another story.

    Also, in my experience with front wheel drive vehicles (all I've driven until now), I can gain more control with a little acceleration if the car starts to slip (and turning into it). At this point, I don't think this AWD vehicle will be able to do that. I'm not sure if it might fishtail more??? But, I'm heading up to the mountains with a different 09 Forester this weekend, with 10 - 22" of snow predicted, So, I might get a chance to see how a different car behaves. That will be the real test for me. Hope the trip doesn't get canceled
  • sgloonsgloon Posts: 323
    Not all FWD is just for pavement. My old FWD Subie could go EVERYWHERE! It was fantastic. You wouldn't need 4WD with that vehicle, it handled snow, mud, and 4WD roads up to the level of it's road clearance, which was pretty good. And I had to have the "right" tires on the car - which came with it as original equipment. I loved that car!!! I never once got stuck, though other cars did in places I went...

    Now, I know not all FWD vehicles would behave like the old Subie, it was just Fantastic!!! And perfect for me!
  • sgloonsgloon Posts: 323
    Sounds like a good tip, Juice.

    And definitely counter-intuitive. But makes sense the way you explain it. I will try it!!!
  • billwvbillwv Posts: 48
    I learned how to drive on rear wheel cars. And, my car before the 09 Forester was a 2 wheel rear drive pick-up -- talk about spinning out, it was useless in snow.

    You just have to get used to how the AWD handles.

    Once you are used to it, you will realize the amazing capability, and fun, driving in snow.

    Love this car!

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,868
    If not that, you say it is a "sweetish smell," so what about the possibility of a tiny fracture/leak in the heater core? It may not be noticeable under non-use, but turn on the defroster or heater and that liquid will get vaporized... producing a nauseating, sweetish smell.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • birdboybirdboy Posts: 158
    hello..It is nice to see that my mpg has gone up again. I have 12,500 miles. During last spring , summer and Fall I was averaging 29-31 mpg @ 65mph. It dropped down to 24 during the cold long winter. This weekend with the temps in New york reaching the upper 50's I found that my mpg increased. I have the non turbo 09 LLBean edition.
    I have also had unfortunate luck with the windshield cracking twice. Both times a small stone hit it. I have had many cars during the past 20 years and have never had a windshield crack. Have the windshield materials been economized along with the interior materials?
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 694
    Have the windshield materials been economized along with the interior materials?
    More likely is weight -reduced, ie thickness. Another reason for cracking is stress: the windshield can also be a structural element. The new Forester could have such a combination of factors.

    But what do I know? My windshield manufacturing patent (Ford Glass) was granted over 50 years ago. :D
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Knock on wood, but my wife has cracked 3 windshields in her driving career and her 09 Forester is still OK.

    I got my first tiny crack on my 1993 Miata, small rock hit it.

    I don't think it's any worse than the average may be more upright but it's also higher up. Unlike my Miata....
  • samiam_68samiam_68 Posts: 775
    The glass in 09 Forester is paper thin. Just take a look at a partially rolled down rear tinted window.
  • volkovvolkov Posts: 1,306
    A news article and picture from my local paper. Now it seems that Foresters are as dangerous as Audis :-0

    image - - t-mall.html
  • oregonboyoregonboy Posts: 1,653
    Now, THAT proves the effectiveness of Subaru's AWD. Not just any car could climb over a Lebaron! :P
  • volkovvolkov Posts: 1,306
    Yeah, it should be used in marketing...

    Nothing can stop a Forester; it can drive over anything!!!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,868
    Yeah, that's impressive - no front end damage at all. That thing literally climbed up the snow bank and across the top of those cars. If the driver had lined them up better, she probably could have cleared the Lebaron altogether!

    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'm impressed the glass didn't break. The A- and B-pillars are strong enough to support the car in that position without buckling.

    No wonder it aced side crash tests even before it had side curtain air bags.
  • volkovvolkov Posts: 1,306
    I never thought I'd say this, but I'm more impressed by the LeBaron's roof holding up. Isn't that a convertible? Maybe it's just the old Landau, but I don't think so.
  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Posts: 1,798
    Noticed the unfortunate Subaru's not an '09; might front window glass in '09 be thinner than earlier models?

    Surprising how all three vehicles seem to have held up pretty well from the accident (though we don't see the fronts of the others..).
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,868
    I thought the same thing. It does look like a convertible.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • board_jayboard_jay Posts: 22
    Well, still smells horrible. And I don't have the HVAC gasket problem, no film builds up when defrosters on high. Also, dealer says they have dealt with the HVAC issue on a few Foresters and none of them had any 'smell' issues associated with them. They have pretty much ripped apart the HVAC system and dash and find no dead animal. Nothing in my seats or my rugs. Have deionized the car and now are waiting for a 'cabin air filter' which seems bogus. I mean, how can that do anything? The smell happens when the car sits and it's >25-30 degrees outside and gets better when it's colder and pretty much goes away. It also goes away a minute after you start running the heat. So it seems like is HAS to be a dead rodent somewhere that is freezing and thawing and thus smelling. I have never had this issue in over 20 cars of ownership so wonder where the hell it is and how it got in. Pretty much seems like I am going to have to dump the Forester and get something else which is too bad. It's still at the dealer, 3 days this week in addition to 1 last week. All I can say is this sucks. Should have kept my 01 Navigator, never had any problems other than it cost more for fuel.
  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Posts: 1,798
    Does the smell come specifically from the HVAC, or does it appear in the car after the car sits for awhile?

    Also, if some smelly residue gets on the cabin air filter, it will stink up the cabin every time the HVAC is used. The filter is easy to replace, though.

    Also check all the hoses and fuel lines to make sure all the clamps are tight.
    Some forums have reported minor coolant or fuel leakage can lead to major odors in the passenger compartment.
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