1998 Subaru Forester with 270,000 miles on it.

Asked by Aug 29, 2014 at 01:24 AM about the 1998 Subaru Forester Base

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 1998 Subaru Forester with 270,000 miles on it. Seems to work fine, only one
owner besides me, Only problem is the Engine Light is on. I've had it a month and have
put 1,000 miles on it. When I bought it the head had been replaced and it was tuned up.
Am I looking at a world of trouble? My daughter thinks I should sell it, but I'm in Hawaii for
about 4 months a year and this car is cheaper than a rental.

19 Answers


Hard to say what is causing the light to come on. Could be hundreds of things. Drive to a local auto parts store and have them scan the car for free, post the 4 digit code back here and we can help you figure out what to next.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Thanks. I'm not sure the auto parts stores in Hawaii will do that, but I will try. The owner's manual said it might have something to do with the ignition. I don't know if it is worth putting money into this car.


Yeah, until you figure out what is wrong with it you need not worry about what awful things could be wrong. It's like getting the sniffles and reading on webmd that you have some incurable disease.. It could be something really simple.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Odds are on that particular vehicle, if you're not noticing any adverse things while driving, it's just an O2 sensor.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Thanks. Can I drive it with the O2 sensor broken?


yes but it affects your gas mileage and has potential for other issues. An effective O2 sensor is constantly fluctuating the ratio for the best efficiency. It is still highly recommended you get the code to verify exactly what is going on.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Definately get the codes checked, but if thats what it is and you don't have the $$ to replace it right away, you can drive with it bad untill you have the fundage.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Ok. I'm convinced. I'll go to town, Hilo, Hawaii, and find a place to scan the car. I tried to contact the guy who overhauled the engine and he has to wait for his boss's ok to work on it. I haven't driven it much since I noticed the light but have to drive it tomorrow. Keep the suggestions coming, Thanks.

checked with the local auto parts store. They said that a scan would cost between $60-100. All of the places were closed because it was Labor Day. Will check tomorrow.


Really? It's never cost me a dime for them to scan my cars. Where were you going to have it scanned at?

The place was O'Reilly Auto Parts in Hilo HI. I called Midas and they said it would be $62.50 for scan and 1/2 hour of checking the code. Everything is more expensive in Hawaii. Is it worth it?


You can buy a decent reader for that. Sorry to hear your misfortune. Are there ANY other "mcparts" places around? Auto Zone / Advance Auto / etc? They offer these services (generally) to get you to their store and then while you are there you might as well buy the parts, too. It's a quick way to make money and sales. Worth it? Not if you can't find someone to do it for free-to-very-cheap. What kind of mileage have you gotten with it?

You are so right. A friend has a reader and will check the car. The other places all charge. I've gotten low mileage. Have to check what mileage I've gotten since the check engine went on. I don't think it is very good. I will post what happens when he gets around to scanning the car. Daughter and son-in-law are pressuring me to sell it, but I only need it for short trips for the 4 months a year I am in Hawaii.


Have the codes checked by your friend before you make a decision on selling it for sure. If it's an O2 sensor like it sounds like then it's like $100 (last time I bought one for a Subaru) and it's not worth selling an otherwise sound car over a $100-$200 (tops) part that you can change yourself with a wrench and pair of pliers in 20 minutes.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Thanks so much. I haven't heard from the person who has the scanner yet. It would be worth it to just replace the O2 sensor.


It is pretty interesting to watch how the O2 sensor works. If he has live data you can see how long it takes to go from open loop to closed loop (now vs new) and then see the A/F ratio and how it drops and raises the fuel amount, etc. They last anywhere from 75k-100k+ "generally" and so it might be one of those things that's ready to be done. 100 bucks in gas goes quick, it will pay off as well. You can find some EXCELLENT write-ups on wwwDOTsubaruforesterDOTorg (not DOTcom) and other subaru sites and the difficulty, special tools, etc. My 03 was kind of a pain but I think it was stalling on me and so I had to change it.


Hey Ari, did you ever figure this out?

No. Got back to Hawaii mid December. The car is working. I'm going to have someone look at it next week when I have the oil changed. Thanks for your concern.


Certainly :) and thank you for coming back. Keep us informed on what is the culprit.

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