Why does Subaru have a reputation for building reliable cars?

lizlubee
790

Asked by lizlubee Feb 09, 2013 at 05:32 PM about the 2001 Subaru Forester S

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I recently became aware that my 2001 Forester has a leaking head gasket and a bad wheel bearing.
Although the vehicle is 12 years old, it has only 95,000 miles and has been meticulously cared for (I
have all the service records dating back to the first oil change).

I contacted Subaru and kindly asked that they include my car in their extended head gasket warranty
because of the vehicle’s low mileage and outstanding repair record. At their request, I took the vehicle
to Ira Subaru of Danvers, MA for factory authorized diagnosis of the problem. Ira agreed with the
original service provider and handed me an estimated repair bill of $3987.00, roughly the total value of
the vehicle!

In the end, Subaru stated they could provide no repair assistance whatsoever. Subaru’s “kind” offer was
to allow me a $750.00 “incentive” toward the purchase of a new Subaru vehicle.  Wow, what a generous
offer to a valued customer anticipating almost $4000.00 in repairs due to their faulty manufacturing.

I purchased a Subaru in part because of their reputation for building reliable, road-worthy vehicles. I’ve
learned the hard way, Subaru vehicles are totally unreliable and poorly manufactured! I am furthermore
surprised that their “valued” customers mean so little to them. Why else would they offer me such an
insulting “incentive”? Did they actually think I’d even consider the purchase of another one of their
vehicles?

Given the sheer volume of head gasket (and other) woes described online by Subaru owners around the
country, I have absolutely NO idea why the company has a reputation for reliability? As far as I can tell it
is totally undeserved! No more Subaru's for me!

77 Answers

judge_roy
Not Active

This design is unique. okay Land Rover also offers the slank 4wd with independant suspension. If you had been renting one all along you got your money's worth? no?

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judge_roy
Not Active

Go easy on the subaru, it served you well, better than a volkswagen bug for a 4H design the heads are outboard and a unique design. This isn't a chevy 3500 we got here this is a scientific instrument, this engine- Yes, they are a bit fragile but pretty clever in a Japanese sort of way (no leg room). Wish I could have afforded one my buddy had a subaru brat back in Wisconsin, good in ice and snow, but kinda noisy, like they kidnapped a jeep and stuffed him under the hood. The spare tire ontop of the engine was a bit much too- overall, I think you are incorrect, sir you have NORMAL wear for NORMAL circumstances...you should not sue, buy another one, or something different...like a Jeep or MINI Countryman!

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lizlubee
790

In my experience, Subaru builds junk and then refuses to stand behind it. Shoddy manufacturing and corporate irresponsibility. Not a winning combination in my book!

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Nick Eidemiller
2,705

If your just coming on here to rant about a bad experience by all means go ahead but you asked a question I believe so here's your answer. Subaru's as a whole are a reliable car, just like any though you can find a lemon. I prouldy own 3: a 93 Legcay wagon, a 98 Forester, and an 02 Forester, they have their few issues such as the head gasket but my 93 has 300k+ miles on the orrigional motor and trans and has been mine since 93. Never an issue with it. It's not uncommon to see Subaru's from the 80's and 90's with 400-500k+ miles on them and still running strong. Newer cars (any of them) just don't seem to stand up quite as long. The reason your head gasket costs so much is due to going to a Subaru dealership for the work, a private shop wont cost that much. They only offered you the $750 rebate for a new car because the DEALERSHIP is in the business of sellin cars, why are they gonna wanna do warranty work (lose money) when they can sell you a new car and make money. It's not Subaru directly in control there, your dealing with a middle man. I've seen similar incedents happen to friends at my local Toyota lot and Ford lot. They did that to make money. All cars no matter how well you maintain them have the potential to have something like a wheel bearing go bad. Unless you can garuntee your keeping all the grit particles out of a wheel bearing and can control the climate and a bunch of other factors you can't say finite how long a wheel bearing or any part will last. If you want to dislike a car company because you had a couple problems with your car and you had a bad experience with a dealer I can't change that and no one on this site can. There's my .02 cents but what do I know, I'm just a Mechanic myself. Have a nice day.

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Michael Tutty
4,475

I used to recommend Subarus to friends who were car shopping. Not any more. A close friend is part of a 4-Subie family. Soon to be a 3-Subie family. His Mom has had to rebuild the transmission on her Imprezza twice in about 100,000 miles, and it seems like it is due again. NOT impressive. Then the dealer was going to give her a 'deal' on a new Forrester. Some deal. A 2011 dealer courtesy car (shown on the contract as a demo) for MORE money than the showroom price for a new 2012! Not likely. When we went to look at the car, and could not because a customer was driving it for the weekend, that put the kybosh on that. HOW they have a reputation for reliability and durability any more is a matter of reputation and marketing, not product!

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Best Answer
lizlubee
790

Nick, A legitimate complaint can hardly be called a "rant"! And having a head gasket, wheel bearing, oil pan, and catalytic converter all need replacing on an impeccably maintained car with less than 96,000 miles constitutes, in my opinion, more than " a couple of problems". Did I mention that I've already changed all the brake pads AND rotors twice! As for Subaru's "as a whole being a reliable car", well, I can say this...I've read at least one hundred letters of complaint about Subaru's bad head gaskets. Try it, you'll see what I mean. Apparently, it was so bad the company extended the warranty period for this particular repair. Unfortunately, some of us "missed" that warranty period. Apparently, Subaru's are also notorious for bad wheel bearings according to my (non-dealer) mechanic. Perhaps Subaru built more reliable cars back in the 80's and 90's but I personally have little evidence this still holds true. I am very inclined to agree with Michael, their reputation is more marketing than anything else. And as for the company offering a $750.00 "incentive" on a new vehicle...did they honestly think I would fall for that? I am not in the habit of doing business with a company that insults my intelligence. Subaru has lost my business forever. I won't buy another, nor will I ever recommend them!

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lifeson34
1,040

Hi Liz, Unfortunately, you discovered what many of us already have - that Subaru is rugged, but not reliable. I loved your post, because it's such a precise description of the issues I had in my '07 Legacy. In 150,000 miles, I had to replace three faulty wheel bearings. Boy, the way these undoubtedly cheap bearings droned at highway speeds. I consider myself lucky neither seized on me. So much for safety. Thank you, Subaru. The first last nail in the coffin came last July. My engine began overheating when idling, and Subaru technicians discovered that both head gasket and front cam seal were leaking. That's when it became obvious to me that "Subaru Reliability" doesn't exist. It's a marketing gimmick. Like thin air. From that point on I stopped caring about my Legacy. I decided I would drive it until I couldn't any longer, and then buy a new car. I knew that the engine would die if I didn't make a quick move. Sure enough, last month, it did. While passing a car at 60MPH on the highway, the engine went bust. It went "clack clack clack", 2500 times per minute... The car is still stranded in the middle of Connecticut. Towing it to where I live costs $350, and I want the dealer to cover that fee when I buy a new car. Sadly, I did love my Subaru. My experience tells all I need to know about how good that AWD really is, but the YouTube videos other owners have posted help remind me. Not only that, the car handles superbly for a midsize sedan. Camrys, Accords, and Altimas have numb steering and are not as fun to drive. So there you have it. Subaru is a good hypothesis, but nothing beyond that. In '07, when I bought my Legacy, I told myself this is a test. Others say it's reliable, and I like the premise of the car, so I'll buy it. If the car disappoints me, I'll hand my money to a trusted auto manufacturer. Like Honda. Sure, you don't get AWD. The drive is more family-like, not as fun. But with such a great job they did for the 2013 model, it's an easy buy. Kind of - for me, saying goodbye to Subaru was actually tough. I fell in love with Legacy. But... I'm not buying a toy. My car needs to last, without recurring issues like failed wheel bearings and leaky head gaskets. In other words, Subaru engineers need to do their job. They already did a great job developing their AWD. What are they doing nowadays? Why not select quality wheel bearings so their first-time buyers become repeat-buyers - like those of Toyota and Honda, for example? Don't they want customers to come back? Maybe not. And as if the wheel bearings and head gaskets weren't enough, they have introduced a new CVT and a new engine. How can I trust they got these two technologies right when they couldn't get established components right? Is a CVT so much simpler than a wheel bearing or an engine that ensuring its reliability is trivial? Anyway. Yes, Liz, i hear you. I am disappointed too. I loved Subie, but Subie didn't love me back. As for the naysayers, Subaru's strengths are not an excuse for its weaknesses. AWD does not make poor reliability okay. Most car buyers rank reliability above AWD, not the other way around. And neither Liz nor I are here to "gripe". In a way, we're letting prospective Subie buyers to know this "Subaru Reliability" was nothing but a myth to us. And, in a way, we're here to tell Subaru that they had better buck up and do their job better if they want first-time buyers to become repeat buyers. So let me wrap it up with something kids, like myself, like to say these days: Subaru, WTF.

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lifeson34
1,040

And by the way, even Ford, a brand that I've long associated with the word "unreliable" has far better reliability than Subaru does. You need only look at the data and the reviews based on that data. Hell, even Dodge seems to fare better than Subaru. Had I known this, I would have never given a single look to Subaru in '07. But I did, and went on to have the single worst car ownership experience to date. Wheel bearings, engine problems, recurring electrical problems... And then there were the tires. Three times I had to replace four tires because of a sidewall cut in a single tire. In all, I bled thousands of dollars for my '07 Legacy. By comparison, my previous Mercury Mystique - a cheap cheap car - drove to 175,000 miles before I traded it in with... zero major problems. That's right. That cheap piece of shit never once had a major issue. Um, "How do you respond to the allegations, Subaru?"

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lifeson34
1,040

And so it begins. I'll go from being a proud but naive Subie owner to being a much happier Honda Accord owner. Guys, there is a reason some brands and some technologies just do so much better than others. They probably got the recipe right.

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lifeson34
1,040

And Nick. Question: Did the dealership make money off Liz? No. But they did manage to alienate a Subie owner and help make sure she doesn't buy another Subie - ever. Dealerships are in the business of making money. But they forget that people expect them to care, to be honest, to try to wok with us so both side can benefit. When the attitude is "Gimme the green bucks in yo wallet missus", they are only looking out for themselves. Their customers see that and simply go elsewhere. Bottom line, Nick, is that the best way to ensure you keep making money off your customers is to ensure they come back. That means working with them as much as you can so you can make a little money and they can walk away with a good deal. If you can't do that, you will go out of business. It is really very simple.

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Nick Eidemiller
2,705

I understand this and didn't say anything to the contrary lifeson34 that dosn't mean a dealership or sales person has that at the forefront of their mind. I have friends who sell cars and I know several of their attitudes are this. If someone dosn't come back there's always someone else, there's only so many dealerships in an area without going rediculousley out of your way to buy a car, and if someone wants a new car strongly enough they will deal with the dealerships. Anyone who decideds to go buy somewhere else was a flash in the pan and they move on.

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Michael Tutty
4,475

Nick, your car salesperson friends' attitude IS the problem. If I buy a car and it is a piece of garbage, and the dealer and the manufacturer are no help, I will NOT buy another of their products, period. That is the very reason I now drive Fords, not General Motors. One 1984 Oldsmobile Delta 88 that should have been lemon yellow, added to a miserable response from the dealer and General Motors, and not one of my subsequent purchases has been from any G.M. store, and I have tried to make sure than none of my friends give them a dime, too. That is how companies in retail run into problems.

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lifeson34
1,040

Nick, I'm sorry, you're wrong. Dealerships do have many people walking through their doors, but most will never buy a car through them. They will walk in, walk out, and wind up buying a car elsewhere. Guess where "elsewhere" is? It's not the nearest dealer with the car they want. No no no. It is the dealer that gives them best deal, without hassle and haggle. Heck, "elsewhere" can easily be 50-75 miles away from home, and that is just fine. Hassle customers at your own risk. A dealer has no ceiling on how many cars to sell. Each extra car is a boon, even if the commission is low. On the other hand, a customer needs to buy only one car. Out of a handful of local dealers, at least one is generally willing to provide a good deal without undue hassle. That is the dealer that will do well.

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Nick Eidemiller
2,705

I didn't say the mentality was a good one for a car saleman to have, I stated that their mentality was in that mind set. I also never said that that was specifically how it was in a buyers view but again in the car salesmans view. I am not wrong I am stating my observations and an opposing view whether or not I agree with it myself. What I am saying is I have had few issues with Subaru cars, and that I personally would not blame a brand of car for a sellers reaction. I stated in my first comment that they earned that reputation in the 80's and 90's and agreed that not all of their 2000 and newer reflect that same reputation. I am going to agree to disagree with lifeson34, Michael, and Liz, as my own personal experience has not been the same, I do not deny nor do I neglect your statements but my oppinion is not wrong just because it differs from yours. I will again reiterate my origional answer to the origional question, Subaru earned their reputation of being reliable because through the 80's and 90's the were a sturdy and reliable car. whether they are now or not does not change my answer of how or why they earned that reputation. As I have said my piece, I bid to all of you a most excelent upcoming week.

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Dogbone
255

For new headgaskets I would expect to pay around $2800 USD at a Subaru dealership, and even less at an independent garage. Want (or need) Subaru AWD without all the hassle? Look for the older Legacys/Imprezzas with the 2.2 liter engines. I recommend to just avoid 2.5 liter engines!

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lifeson34
1,040

That is a valid point, Nick. I'll accept it.

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George Stokes
170

I have a 2004 forester XT . Has been in the shop many times. Car basically started falling apart at 75K. Too many details to list but the car will not last. Worst financial decision that I have made. In 10 years I have spent 10-12000 dollars beyond regular maintenance. Must unload now to anyone who will buy it with warning lights on as I just had a 700 camshaft fix. and cannot afford to throw good money after bad. Hillholder+fail. Radiator failed 3 times. Thermostat fail. Timing belt fail. Engine fail at 75k. My own subaru only independent mechanic says I just have had "bad luck" and should buy another subaru. I am going back to honda (cars I routinely drove out to 240k with little hassle) and never looking back.

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deck1024
425

You're all funny. Firstly, lets look at where you're located, and what the effects of your environment have on a car. If it's the coast, you have salt water that corrodes metal fast, if it's mountains you have frigid temperatures that fracture and stress metal and every other part of your car. If it's arid desert you have heat that you drive in with exorbitant amounts of dust and debris that get into anything. If you're somewhere in the middle of that you have ALL those effects on your vehicle. Subaru's (just like all commercialized car manufactures these days) are not what they used to be. The market has shifted and we're going through cars like we go through computers. We need new ones with better features and technologies. The companies and generally the public no longer care about getting 200,000+ miles out of their car, they want the features and comforts. This is why you're low end Kia's and Hyundais are thriving in this market. Now to be upset that you had a hunk of metal last you TWELVE years and you're not getting your financial returns back is ridiculous!! It IS a car, not a house. Cars have, and ALWAYS will be losing investments. You're not only putting a significant amount of money into an object but you're putting it through some of the most encumbering situations to expect any returns what so ever. Now if you had bought say, a Lexus, or better yet a lambo I would see your frustrations as that is a LUXURY vehicle that should marginally hold it's value in some sense. But in this case you're talking about a car that is of only moderate class. Subaru's are genuinely bought for their ability to provide someone who lives a very active life style the ability to manage almost every chance to hit every part of the world in a very controlled state. As for the health of your car and the head gasket leak... Who's to say that you never started your car on a cold morning and gave it too much gas, or that between an oil change you didn't notice you were low and you over heated. Also did the car ever sit for an extended period of time (2 weeks or more) without being driven? The vertically opposed engine has the cylinders sitting sideways. So when the car sits and doesn't run for a while the oil naturally sits at the bottom and the gaskets can dry inside the cylinders leading to many other problems. There are too many variables to claim that subaru is making an unreliable car. Also how ignorant are you to go to the dealer for the work. I can understand because of the warranty, which sucks because those things are really just a money gimmick for you to pay the dealer more and never get to actually use the benefits. After the dealer you should of gone to a private party and seen what it would of cost. As for the wheel bearing that's not uncommon, regardless of the vehicle brand. It happens. I think you're just upset that you expected so much out of an "extended warranty" and you didn't get it. And that a "dealership" had the audacity to try and sell you another car, plus charge you extreme rates to fix a car. Do you know what a qualified subaru technician gets paid hourly.....not to mention what the dealership has to add on top of that, and then the overhead to cover the dealership, and insurance.....logically you must understand that a dealership is expensive to have car work done, they're there to sell cars, and manage the warranties that are manufactures and not dealership extensions. I will give you credit in the fact that cars are NOT in the least bit what they used to be....but then again what is these days. We're a consumerist based society now and all we want is the next thing. Car manufactures are more worried about selling you features and silly design improvements instead of GIVING you what you need and not SELLING you what they have. If you're blind enough to think that this is the manufactures fault then you have a long way to go. You should look up the network and ties that all the car companies have these days. In fact a perfect new example is the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S. Two different manufactures selling exact same body style cars. Get off your high horse about how you got screwed out of a shitty investment you should recognize it is just that. Live and Learn. And then realize that you and everyone else are enabling these companies to rob you blind, then laugh as you get upset about it. Electric cars are even worse these days. There are plenty of alternative forms of energy transfers to make nearly emission free vehicles, but then big corporations and the people running those corporations can't make as much money off of you and keep you in a state of ignorance and neglect because you're so pissed off at a company that isn't a real being you go to some other company to buy yet another shitty investment. I'm truly sorry you feel you've had a bad experience with subaru and no i have no affiliation with them. I do however own a subaru wrx sti and have for nearly 8 years. These motors are known in some sense for the head gasket problem, but how can you expect something that's making thousands upon thousands of explosions spinning a rod at over 2000 rounds per minute to not get to a point of expensive repairs. I don't think you should be upset with Subaru....I think you should take responsibility for your own personal choice 12 years ago and make peace with it. You lived, you had a good car for 12 years that got you to travel safely nearly 100,000 miles. This is the beauty of the internet, you can piss and moan and people will listen. But you can also be the listener and take note that 12 years ago Subaru was a different company. 12 years ago you were a different person. 12 years ago the internet wasn't as fast and informative. 12 years ago a choice was made that go you here, why be upset that crap happened and it was a car, and not your life, or a loved one dear to you. It's just a car, and it's Just money. Maybe they do make faulty engines, maybe the dealership did fuck you out of an extended warranty. Maybe it's the staple you needed to show you that gasoline vehicles and corporate car dealers are not good for the people. Shit take the car to a junk yard to part it and you'll probably make the money you would of if you sold it. Anyways, I'm not trying to prove you all wrong, or sound like a know it all, but hey, at least life goes on!! Cheers and best wishes, Luca

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lizlubee
790

Dear Luca, The high horse it is not mine...yours perhaps? I posted my question (and opinion) about Subaru so that others might become more aware of the overall unreliability of Subaru vehicles and perhaps reconsider their own opinion.Yes, some people have kept theirs on the road for many miles but I suggest that when you have some time, Google "Subaru + head gasket". You'll be treated to an entirely different opinion about Subaru than the one you hold! The hundreds, upon hundreds, of dissatisfied Subaru owners that have had head gasket (and wheel bearing) problems is truly astonishing. To my way of thinking, these numbers qualify as more than "These motors are known in some sense for the head gasket problem" AND "There are too many variables to claim that subaru is making an unreliable car". So, as long as you are assigning ignorance, please be sure you take a heaping helping for yourself! Furthermore, should you even care, I took the vehicle to a Subaru dealer at Subaru's request. They wanted it diagnosed at an "authorized" establishment, not the mechanic I normally take it to for service. After the dealer confirmed the problems, and estimated the repair cost, I smiled and walked out (perhaps not as ignorant as you have assumed). And Luca, thank you for your insightful social commentary but I continue to believe that a vehicle, impeccably cared for, and with less than 97,000 miles, should not need major repairs (those costing more than the car is worth). ADDENDUM: I recently traded my rapidly failing Subaru Forester for a new 2014 Mazda CX5 (AWD). I couldn't be happier! It's a pleasure to drive, has an extremely comfortable ride and handles very well. The car has less than 1000 miles but already gets just under 31 mpg highway/27.5 city. And keep in mind these are real numbers, not EPA estimates which often overestimate mileage (per gallon). Pretty wonderful for an AWD vehicle in the small SUV category! Yes indeed, life goes on.

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deck1024
425

I'm glad you've found a vehicle that has supplemented your needs. My point in my last response was that a car is topical of the bigger problem. Our entire economical market is based on fossil fuel consumption, even if you're saving gas with your new and more fuel efficient vehicle that doesn't save the amount of fuel being used to produce such vehicles. Not to mention the features that now come with them. Your electronics will now be the downfall of your investment. It won't be an extremely large mechanical fix that will blindside your bank account. But instead you'll bleed slowly as little features begin to dwindle and fade in and out. Then you'll finally have to fix them for they're finally inflicting the "efficiency" of your vehicle since the computer is no longer working right. I dare you to look up computer related problems with cars now. I'm sorry that you find telling the world about a mechanical error in your prior vehicle as the only means to prod back at the company that severely wounded your thoughts and expectations of what buying a vehicle from a large corporate manufacture led you to believe. Wake up, you're living in a world that is entirely based on the economy of fossil fuels. Your food is managed by pesticides that are by products of it, then shipped globally using it to distribute them, all while the poor get poorer and the rich climb the ladder to separate the middle class slowly fighting each other for a rung on the ladder of jobs related to the status of FUEL. I understand that you don't have an easy way out of not owning a car. The system has got you right where it wants you, pinned between a rock and a hard spot. You need a car to get to work, to provide for a family, to get food, to find pleasure and happiness in life. I don't blame you or hold you entirely responsible as it truly rests on all of our shoulders. We enable such markets and jobs. It's an extremely hard habit to break. Maybe I'm just ranting, sounding like a tree hugger or a hippy. But watch this summer as you'll see more and more people on bicycles, motorcycles, small tiny vehicles, walking, and desperate for jobs. Desperate for income and health. I just hope that you can see what a car manufacture cares about. It isn't getting you a vehicle to laugh and enjoy the wonderful nature of DRIVING places. It's to get you in a debt that you'll have to pay off and keep you coming back for more. Why would they ever want to give you a car that doesn't have you coming back for 20 years, there is no sense in that from a business perspective. You sound like a relatively smart person, but how can one see when the switch to the light is only in the reach of it's captors? I wish you and your CX5 well, that all the best of things come to you and your family! Truth is, I would of rather had you bought a car that was old and still had plenty of life left in it. We don't live that way any more though, we're in a society of consumerism. Use more, eat more, claim more, and in the end as a race of humans we are only but less. I don't think you're lost, or that you're ignorant for not seeing things this way. I think that most of us have done only what we know best to do. Make the change though, one day at a time, one step forward or write me off as some crazy loon who babbles and has no idea because he speaks of radical hog wash. Anyways, best of wishes and good luck!!

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judge_roy
Not Active

We've all got something to say, everyone has a reason. No one is incorrect. all a matter of perspective. Many Engineering hours were spent to bring you these marvels, and are not playing with crayons and sticky tape, but Japanese students who will fight tooth and nail just to be part of the program...so yes, you all are spoiled and a bit verbose, if I should boldly assert~

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Michael Tutty
4,475

My feeling is that because all Subarus, to the best of my knowledge, are built in Japan, they are still thinking 5 years then scrap in their engineering mindset. Japanese tax laws are such that almost nobody keeps a car more than 5 years, so they are built for 7 to 10 good years. Honda, in particular, has managed to break that thinking, because they have been building cars other places for a long time. I have long asserted that for a long term automobile purchase, buy OLD North American boats. They are cheap, reliable, and affordable to maintain.

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Nick Eidemiller
2,705

Most of the Subarus sold in the US are built in a production plant in Indianna, not in Japan and it's been this way for over 25 years.

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.
darcic
10

need help w/question, have 2008 highlander since 6/2008, only have 9485 miles on it, dont drive much, considering 2014 forester cause it is smaller w/good visibility, considering i will never reach 100,000 miles, is it likely i will experience the engine issues other people have been plagued with, thanks for infor.......

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judge_roy
Not Active

what is your question darcic?, you could start another dialogue? seems like you have a lot to say/ask~

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darcic
10

question: i put approx 1500 to 2000 miles a year on my cars....considering buying a 2014 forester, when checking reliability seems people have problems with head gaskets and wheel bearings, if i keep the forester for 10 years, i will have approx 25,000 miles on it, will i likely run into any problems with head gaskets or wheel bearings during those 10 years, thanks........

Nick Eidemiller
2,705

probably not an issue for you.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
lizlubee
790

Darcic, You may not be troubled by head gasket/wheel bearing issues but brakes could be a real problem, even with low mileage. I replaced my brake pads and rotors TWICE before my Forester reached 76,000 miles. I also found the brakes to be very "spongy" even when the car was new.

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judge_roy
Not Active

Michael is onto something...big..heavy...American....wins everytime...who would not like to be the owner of a Chevy 350. Dodge 440 HEMI, even a 235 Chevy 6 cylinder...they are American...you still can get parts for them...they are cheaper for this reason...there is something to be said for these~

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
Onelilbit
50

Wow where do I start. I have a Subaru Baja. I love it and don’t what to get another vehicle. I take my Baja in for all the maintenance required. I just came back from one of those check ups to find out I too have a gasket problem at 155,000 miles. I drive up to 120 miles a week with a lot of in town driving. I was rear ended by a drunk driver in a 1963 Buick huge piece of metal. My truck took out his engine with only miner damage to my vehicle. The side panel popped out with no dents and messed up my hitch a little. Do I feel safe in my truck? Of course I do. Does it get me to work and back? Yes it does. People all vehicles have problems. I have had a Pontiac Ventura, a Ford, a Volkswagen and a Nissan. I also had a British car (piece of crap) Granted my Nissan ran like a charm until some mechanic put the timing belt on incorrectly. I gave it away and it is still running at 350,000 plus miles. But the owner is a mechanic so he can fix the issues. There is no vehicle that is 100% free of worries. Good luck trying to find one. I just want something that is usually reliable and does not slide in the bad weather. I feel safe and that’s what matters to me. I’ll pay the money to fix it.

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Nick Eidemiller
2,705

well said onelilbit.

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BenCarWasher
30

During my youth, I had the priviledge of working at a car wash. Prior to working at a car wash, I knew zilch about cars. My dad was a "Ford man", and use to scoff at some of the imported cars, when I was young. Anyway, after working in the car wash, and moving cars around, every hour, for a few weeks, I made up my mind that I would only buy Toyota, or Honda. That was during the mid-1990's. And, I have owned eleven Toyotas, since then - sometimes owning three cars at a time. Also, I would never buy a Porche, BMW, Volvo, Audi, Volkswagon, Pontiac, Chrysler, Dodge, etc. During the mid-1990's, I drove scores of Toyota Camrys, and Honda Accords, that had roughly 300k miles, and that ran PERFECT, like a new car. Everytime I asked the owners, I was always told the same thing - changed the oil, and changed the axles. That is it. Lexus, and Acura, are also made by Toyota and Honda, and are good quality cars, too. Many of the other car models were in the shop every year! Virtually every Porche owner told me that their cars were in the shop, every year, at least once. I know that some of the other models have improved, since the 1990's. But, never fall for the "shiny paint", and the "pretty image". The physical image can be nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Try to find out from people who deal with alot of used vehicles, which ones are prone to problems, and which ones tend to be problem free. In Mexico, a tow truck operator told me that they see more Nissan Platinas broken down, than any other car. It sounds odd, being that Nissan usually is fairly durable. But, in this case, the product is not Nissan at all. It is a Renault car, wearing the "Nissan" badge. And, the lack of reliability is typical of Renault products. Also, to be fair, I tihnk that since Toyota starting assembling the vehicles in the United States, the actual quality has dropped some. After '98, much of the sheet metal became thinner. Prior to that, the older Toyotas were more strongly built. Anyway, hope this helps. Suburu is a Japanese product. But, most of the Suburus I have seen were not on the road. They were broken down somewhere, oftentimes left abandoned in the parking lots of apartment complexes.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
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Pescado
70

I am getting scared of purchasing a Subaru Impreza 2.0R, I Don't want problems. I am having double thoughts about the SUBARU brand. I will rather stick with TOYOTA

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.
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MrCommonSense
10

Some common sense people here have put things in perspective. Some of the post here are like these people have only owned one car in their entire life. Like Carcic 2000 miles a year go buy a $500 used car and wake up to your self, do you know what the initials ROI mean.???

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
operator_13
Not Active

No one respects common sense in this day and age~...is as rare as politeness on our roads and highways...RACE up, gettin' all up in your soup, violently cross the double yellow endangering any oncoming motorists only to be at THE SAME light as you....and a "punishment light" at that over three minutes long~

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
operator_13
Not Active

Toyotas are unparalleled in build quality and long life~

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
operator_13
Not Active

...once in while the CHPs catch this fu#%er~

Alvin Price
50

LOOK at the TSB bulletins for Subaru's - must install coolant additive if the antifreeze from the factory is ever removed. DEALERS is the only one that has it, nick named THE BLUE BOTTLE . IT WILL PREVENT THE HEAD GASKET PROBLEMS WHICH IS CAUSED FROM 2 LAYERS OF STEEL ' HEAD GASKET ' BETWEEN ALUMINUM AND INSTALL ONLY FACTORY CAM AND CRANK SEALS IT WILL SOLVE THE OIL LEAK PROBLEMS !!!!!!!! Now the car is good for years FROM A OWNER AND MECHANIC

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.
lizlubee
790

Alvin, So the lack of coolant additive is why Subaru extended the warranty period for head gasket repair to 10 years/100,000 miles? I think NOT!

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
broonklynbummer
170

My 2003 Forester's head gasket started leaking at 100,000 miles. I went to the dealer and was given cost that far exceeded the value of the car to fix the problem. I went to a chain repair shop and they wanted close to $3,000 for the same repair, including grinding the heads an valves. I went to an independent repair shop for the repair that costed me less than $1,800 but included, new head gaskets, new water pump, new thermostat, new fuel filter, new spark plugs and the head grind, valve grinding and adjusting, radiator flush and oil change. The car runs like new and the mileage is up to new car standards. I would not have spent this kind of money but the rest of the Subaru Forester Is in fine shape. Replaced brake pads at 88,000 miles, the rest only normal maintenance. I expect another 100,000 out of the Subaru.

10 out of 10 people think this is helpful.
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nabreg
80

Subaru are rugged but not reliable as Toyota or Honda. however, CR has double standard in recommending their products. the Subaru with the 2.2 engine was a good product. All the 2.5 eng until year 2009 will blow the head gaskets. This is well known but CR still make BS prediction but would slam Ford for MYtouch. Go figure

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
Anthony Barsic
105

Subaru makes crap compared to Toyota. They are poorly built and do not stand behind their product.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
lizlubee
790

Yes, that's pretty much my take on the situation! I sure do love my new Mazda CX-5!

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
lkinohio
60

lizlubee: I had to register and create an account just based on your posting - I could have written it myself. Except - my engine (2003 Forester) blew at 50,000 miles. I submitted all of my maintenance/repair records to Subaru - they did not stand behind their product. That has been the biggest problem but it sure hasn't been the only one. After 10 years of ongoing problems - and only 85,000 miles on that vehicle - I have made the decision to call it quits. I plan to be in a new car within the next month and it WON'T be a Subaru. BTW - when my engine blew, Subaru offered me $1200 off the cost of a new one. A new Subaru when mine had only 50,000 miles??? That's beyond insulting. Enjoy your Mazda! It's (one) on my list for consideration :)

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.
lizlubee
790

Dear Ikinohio, I'm sorry to hear about your unfortunate Subaru experience! The motivation for posing my original question was to raise our collective car- buying consciousness so that we can all make better decisions. You helped further the cause by adding your personal story, so, thank you!

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.
AWDiesel
200

Bad wheel bearing? I've had to replace wheel bearings on just about all my vehicles, from Toyota, Saab 900S, a couple VWs. Just helped my friend replaced front wheel bearings on a Toyota Camry. Mercy!!!!! How could that possibly happen to a Toyota??????? Age gets to them too... the permanent grease isn't permanent. We all think there was a Subaru engine series around the late 90's to about 2005 that has the head gasket issue. That head gasket issue appears to be resolved in engines after 2005. Complaining about a head gasket with that engine series ('9X-'05) now only makes it look like you thought this would never happen to you. Well, are you still surprised? And the original poster... 95,000 miles in 12 years... not many miles. An average of 22 miles per day. That's a lot of short thermal cycles on the engine, and the catalytic converter is getting hammered with that short trip driving. We have two Subarus, and we are getting a third. Here in New England, Subarus are all over the place. If the Subaru were problematic as some make it appear, this could not happen. There are many very old Subarus on the roads around here, especially further north. A friend of mine travels up to Northern New England frequently and he tells me how he is amazed at the number of Subarus up there. Go to a parking lot at a shopping center and it looks like a Subaru dealership lot... Subarus of all ages all over the place. Upper New Englanders need a car they can trust. My last 90,000 miles have been with Subarus, and they have been trouble free, just maintenance. That's better than my previous cars.

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.
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subarujunk
90

my experience with my 2011 Subaru turbo has been a financial disaster. The coolant system failed the head gasket had to be repaired and now the transmission and front axel went out and I have less than 80,000 miles. The service at the Ontario Subaru dealership in California was equally nightmarish. The service department can not be trusted and be sure to take a lawyer for backup. I will never buy another Subaru. Not a reliable product or service.

9 out of 9 people think this is helpful.
Flourescent
60

I was all ready to go to the Subaru dealer for a Forester or Crosstek largely because of their marketing efforts and favorable reviews. I don't know anyone who has one. I took the original posters advice and Googled Subaru and just touched the letter H before head gaskets came up. What I read is that this is still a problem! Thanks for the Heads Up. The search continues. I need 4 or AWD SUV that will last me many years after I paid it off and won't cost a fortune to repair or maintain.

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.
SkiZen
10

Wow, very impressive and intense dialog happening here, thanks Luca for reeling it back into perspective. My 07 Forester XT just passed 100k is in the shop for a cam seal leak and timing belt, I live at 9k ft and it lives outside in sub freezing temps half the year... She takes a beating. However, I spend probably less than $1500/yr in maintenance/repairs... and am happy to do so. I've never been stuck in the snow (and we get 3-400"/yr), it keeps up beautifully in LA traffic madness, and the handling has spared me several close calls in my time. My Subi is one of the ones still built in Japan, I suppose this may have something to do with the quality...but, I also paid nearly 10k more for this feature. My point here is Subaru do enable a certain lifestyle...and for this reason I am loyal and happy. I have had Mercedes that cost twice as much leave me on the side of the highway... so, opinion is just opinion...I appreciate being able to learn from other owners perspectives, but please folks, it's just a car. I really just need to know - out of curiosity - how much other people paid for the work my car is having done now...I'm paying $1100 for the 100k mi service + camshaft seal replacement + few minor things. Does this sound about right?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Nick Eidemiller
2,705

That's actually about right, possibly on the lower end of what you could be paying to have that work done.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
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steambill
90

Subaru's are great cars in the snow. Just be prepared to have the calipers seize at least once a year even with regular service. With that goes warped rotors and worn pads. This has been an issue for over 10 years and Subaru has not done anything to improve . It sure is a money maker for the garage. Have and do own other makes of cars. Never experienced anything nearly as unreliable and expensive. You should expect that with caliper servicing once a year you would not have breaks seize . Not so with Subaru and dont let anyone at the garage blame the road conditions. The boots ,seals and engieneering on their seem inferior to many other competitors.

7 out of 7 people think this is helpful.
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Nick Eidemiller
2,705

I now currently have 4 Subaru's ranging from 93-02 and have never had a caliper sieze up, not saying it can't happen but I have yet to see it happen and I do all of my brake work myself.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
steambill
90

Hey Mark. Your lucky to be handy and to have a place to service your calipers regularly. I rely on the subie dealership and still have problems. Im not knocking the vehicles in general but the breaks on all of mine have been frustrating and expensive. The dealership last time were kind enough to replace the rear rotors and pads for free because it had only been 7 months since they were completly repaired with new parts because of the same issue :(

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Truthfinder
40

Holly crap.... I just spent nearly 32k on a 2014 Forester Touring... You guys have me feeling a bit I'll over what I've been reading herein.... After reading all these horor stories, I think I'm going to bite the bullet and go for the 7 yr 100k extended warranty. Its not cheap, but I imagine it may turn out to be money well spent with all things considered. The best price I've found for this warranty with the $100.00 deductible is $1275.00. Would any of you guys or gails know if and where I could get this warranty for a more reasonable price? Thanks to all, steve

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
broonklynbummer
170

Most Subaru Foresters manage to get 100,000 miles before problems develop. This means you are gambling that your Forester will crap out before the 100,000 mileage mark. Mine went 105,000 miles before the head gasket had to be replaced with other preventative repairs due to the mileage and age of my Forester. My costs were $1,700 done at a non-dealer repair shop. I purchased a five year extended warranty and had zip go wrong, thus I wasted my money. Make sure that who ever is supplying the warranty has a good record for following through and make sure you read all the fine print. I would not generally recommend purchasing the extended warranty since there is a good chance you will never collect a dime on it, as happened to me.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Jeff Smith
1,055

Truthfinder, your 2014 Forester is completely different from the Foresters everyone here is complaining about. I wouldn't consider past issues that people have had to be in any way related to your car.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
nabreg
80

We will have to wait and see. This engine is relatively new. has been out in 2011. It does consume oil though. I heard Subaru has installed sensors that will let you know if the oil level is low. owners have complain about the engine being out of oil. I do hope they fixed the head gasket problem. They have been claiming they did. A Google search has revealed owners in 2009 still have the problem.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
Anthony Barsic
105

The 2014 Forester is better then the older ones but reliability is still below industry average. For example USnews and JD Power rated the 2014 Forester with 3 stars in reliability. The Rav4 is rated 4 1/2. They are greatly improving.

4 out of 4 people think this is helpful.
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nabreg
80

I hope they do get better. Consumers magazine keeps recommending them. I guess they don't use google or conveniently turn a blind eye on the problems. They will nail Ford for somethings stupid like Synch, Also, Subaru may be donating to them. Consumers have to do their own research and not trust Consumer report.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
Jeff Smith
1,055

I've never ever considered Consumer Reports to be a reliable source of information for automobiles. It's simply impossible to do accurate, widespread, long term, and comprehensive testing on autos as they claim to. Furthermore, much of their long term reliability reports rely on surveys of owners. For a car to have high long term reliability ratings, either the car must be largely reliable in the majority or the survey has low exposure among the owners of the car that do have trouble.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
dirkidoo
30

subaru brakes seize because of the lack of clearance in the bracket that holds the pads.The problem is widely misdiagnoised as sticking calipers. The cast iron bracket rust expands and pushes the stainless shims tword the pads. The backing plate of the pads rust and further decreases clearance.The result is pads jambed in the holder so tight you have to beat them out with a hammer and chisel to replace them.Leave the shim out and they won't stick! But they will rattle as the shim is what keeps them from this. A poor design- difficult to repair properly.If you replace the holder,caliper rotor and all the pads will be free and work great untill it all rusts up again-and it will -because the holder is unpainted bare iron.....

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
Truthfinder
40

As far as the breaks of to Subarus, I've been through numerous cars over the years, and can go back to two vehicles in particular that I purchased brand new and had one break problem after the next. My 1990 jeep Cherokee had to have new calipers, rotors, and pads replace every 5 -10 k. The factory sent the vehicle to a test facility and they never did figure out the causation of this problem The next vehicle was a 2009 Honda accord 2dr coupe. This vehicle had rear calipers lock up on me two times in a three month period of time. Also, the car ate rotors like crazy. I just got rid of the Honda, my 2nd one. Never again. I purchased a 2014 Forester Touring a few weeks ago. I'm hoping I don't go through this aggravation all over again. Anyhow, I was offered a good deal on the Subaru Gold plus 7 yr / 100k warranty with a $50.00 deductible for $1080. No tax or other fees. I figured that $1080 bucks is a small price to pay when your already into the car for so much cash. My 2 cents Best to one and all.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
broonklynbummer
170

My 2003 Subaru Forester has about 106,000 miles on it. I had all the brake pads replaced at 80,000 with some life still in the old pads. I have never had a problem with my Subaru Brakes. Getting the 100,000 K warranty may be worth getting due to the head gasket problem the Foresters have had. I hope that the timing belt may be covered, the Subaru warranty is seven years or 100,000 miles. Other than the brakes, timing belt, drive belts, head gasket and normal maintenance, my Subaru has been trouble free and reliable.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
broonklynbummer
170

Subaru dealers pretty much hose the customer with the head gasket repair. For $1,700, at an independent garage, I had my 2003 Forester head gasket, spark plugs, drive belts, thermostat, water pump, oil changed and radiator flushed and valves and head ground. My Forester is running like new. The dealer is just going to charge you the labor hour rate for each individual item even though it takes them half the time and the parts are at full retail. I hope you can find a good independent garage to get the work done.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
12Justin
10

Almost all Subaru's (1996 - 2009) will have head gasket problems eventually. I work at a dealer and cost to repair headgaskets here is $1500.00. I think $1500.00 is not too bad to invest in your Subaru to get another 150,000 miles...These cars are AWESOME in the snow & ice!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Dfm503
0

I've driven three cars in the last 2 years, a 1983 280zx I got for $650, the head gasket blew and I kept driving it to work and back (35 miles) for 2 months until I could sell it for $500. Then I got a $600 1994 Mercury Sable 3.8 (the less reliable engine), I drove it over ten thousand miles with only minor repairs, but at 170,000 hard miles (I purchased it 7000 miles overdue for an oil change) the headgaskets were starting to fail, but I was mean to that car, I once hit 112 MPH on the freeway, and the electronics had fallen apart, so I traded it for my current 1988 Ford Ranger 2.3 4x4 with the manual 4 speed, runs strong at 215K, slow as hell though.

troutfisher0966
20

Reading these posts has me concerned about our 2011 Forester. It definitely burns oil like no body's business. Have any of you considered posting on carcompliant.com? Because they have so few complaints many of the subaru cars are on their list of best cars. Please help inform people like me. Thank you.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
tfrank36
0

People here complaining about Subaru making junk vehicles. Every vehicle manufacturer has 1 or 2 vehicle models aling the way that give nothing but problems. I own a 95 2.2 impreza with 205k miles that I beat the hell out of everyday that doesn't give me a single problem. If its a 4wd or awd vehicle, you're gonna have to replace the CV axles/joints at some point I don't give a shit what it is. And for the head gaskets, every Subaru 2.5 engine will need those replaced. Been a problem for awhile. I'm sorry but to be having alot of problems before 100k you must be driving it like its a demolition derby car. I'll stand by Subaru all day. Cars aren't made like they used to be. Any of them. All car manufacturers care about now a days is comfort and feature.

lizlubee
790

Dear tfrank36, If rough treatment was the cause of my numerous malfunctions, I should think you yourself would have encountered problems by now since you claimed you have a Subaru “I beat the hell out of everyday that doesn't give me a single problem”. Try another explanation!

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
skypilota72
75

We just purchased a 2015 Forester Premium along with the extended 7 year 100,000 mile warranty . We love the vehicle, but are very concerned after reading these posts. We thought our pre-purchase homework was solid in regards to resale value, maintenance and reliability. At 60 years of age, I have owned many vehicles through the years and have never experienced such poor reliability with any of my purchases. My 2001 Camry XLE now has 285,000 and the only major issue was a transmission replacement at 150,000 miles. The head gasket, valves and various components are fine and never have needed replacement. Even brakes were only changed at 100,000 mile intervals and I have never had to replace wheel bearings. We usually try to keep our vehicles for at least 7 years, but it looks like that may no longer be possible here. If I'd known the reliability issues, I would have leased the Forester for 3 years instead. As I have said, we love the safety, the ride, its capabilities and roominess.

broonklynbummer
170

When I purchased my 2003 Forester, I also purchased a seven year 100K warranty and never used it once. I did have to replace my head gasket after eleven years and over 100K miles. There has not been much work done on my Forester. The brakes lasted over 80K, still have the original muffler, rotors and most other parts. I did replace the struts after almost twelve years and 110K miles but that was more preventative than absolutely necessary. I would say that Subaru could have solved the problem as they have made some changes to the Forester over the years. Drive and enjoy your new Forester. I still enjoy driving mine.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
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GatorIsaac
10

Having owned many autos of many brands I have to say my 2003 Baja ranks among the best and most reliable, especially as compared to others in the above 100,000 mile range. I've just replaced front wheel bearings at 267,000 and replaced the transmission at 176,000. Other than that, all repairs have been routine maintenance (brakes, belts, hoses, ball joints). I've buried it in snow and driven it through water high enough to risk entering the doors. It crawls through mud and snow without trouble and climbs steep terrain on wet grass without disturbing the turf where 4x4s leave ruts and rip out grass. I fully expect this auto to give me another 200+k miles.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Kidrid
0

Some posters seem confident that the newer 2.5 engines (post 2011) aren't as likely to have HG issues. If the HG issues don't usually appear until higher mileage, how do you know that? I am looking at a new 2014 Forester so am very concerned about this issue. Thanks.

crr528
35

All I can add is I had a similar problem ($2500 engine repair) that received a similar response from Subaru ($750 towards a new Subaru), only in my case it was a 2009 with only 29K miles (but just past the 3-year bumper to bumper). To clarify, this was Subaru corporate - not a dealership. The car broke down (came to a dead stop without warning) in Canada, and the warranty policy is you pay the Subaru dealership in Canada up front and then send the receipt to Subaru corporate for reimbursement (FYI, for those who travel). I appealed twice, but Subaru conveniently determined that the repair - to the engine - was not covered under the powertrain warranty. This car was not only practically new, but also well maintained and civilly driven, so there was no issue of wear and tear. In the following year, it had a number of other problems (transmission case, catalytic converter) that were covered by warranty and a few (brakes, fuses) that weren't, but combined with the fact that it burned through oil every 2-3 thousand miles, I was baffled by its reputation for reliability - it was hands-down the least reliable/most expensive car I have ever owned, all before 40 thousand miles (when I sold it).

dugnooutbacks
0

Do all of yourselves a favor and get a Toyota. At 100k I had to replace the starter! I just bought a 2010 outback and WOW what a piece of shit! Looked and sounded good at the dealer but MPG is through the floor. At 96k my corrolla was just getting started. While this pile is in the shop I still drive my 93 corrolla with 250k to work. VERY undeserved title of reliable.

Catherine Cook
0

Think your buying a Honda and you will have a reliable car that will last forever, think again. Honda has notorious transmission failure problems. We were nearly killed in an accident after our Honda transmission failed while going 55mph. Ever shift into first gear from 5th at that speed? The car was dealer maintained and 7 years old with less than 100k. It has been cleared for a road trip by Honda less than a week before it died and nearly took us with it. I also had a CRV that needed MAJOR suspension work multiple times. I will NEVER buy another Honda EVER.

dugnooutbacks
0

I've never owned a Honda...just Toyota's, Nissan's, and GM's. My brother had some issues with his Honda Odyssey though. It's hard not to become a little nostalgic about my Toyota bailing me out on multiple occasions. I pictured Subaru would easily fill my Toyota's shoes:( I was mistaken:(

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