Subaru Forester 2.5 durability

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+1 regarding "maintenance being the whole thing" with these cars. I believe people who maintain 'em keep 'em. The ones which wash up on the auction house shores have been sieved and sorted so you're likely to get a rattly one. I had a '95 Legacy (2.2l-ran like a watch). Subaru weakened the 2.2 to make it a 2.5 and the used examples I've seen did not impress me. They seem to get rod knock and they leak. Be very careful (no drama-just fact)
 
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Mine -- 2002 Forester with SOHC 2.5L non-turbo boxer and 4EAT -- ran like a champ. UOA picked up coolant in oil at one point. The cylinder head gasket started weeping a bit. No overheating. I got it replaced at a local independent garage. When heads were checked, they came back with a great report of needing hardly any machining. The transmission was unlikely the most efficient in the universe but I liked it and it did not cook ATF. Fluid was nice and red when I did changes. Overall, it was a great car but I kind of babied it. Got totaled due to an accident (I was not hurt). Otherwise would have still been driving it.
 
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Originally Posted By: Floydian
One thing I know for sure about boxer engines is that changing the spark plugs are a pain.
+1. i put long life platinums in for that reason only to see car totaled a couple of months later. Mine had a slight external HG leak, stopped by the Subaru's stop leak fix.
 
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Originally Posted By: Wheel
That year's EJ25 engine was somewhat prone to external headgasket leaks- leaking coolant. Subie's fix was basically stop leak, and regular coolant changes, re-adding the stop leak. My Dad's got one with 300k on the clock. 4eat is usually fine up to 300ish HP. It even has a nice drain plug to change atf regularly.
+1. I liked the external ATF filter, too. but, IMHO, the diffs (both front and rear) were a bit weak for heavy duty use (I towed a boat). When I changed gear oils at 40,000 miles, they were worse than silver paint. By 60,000 miles, the rear one started singing.
 
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Originally Posted By: friendly_jacek
Originally Posted By: Wheel
That year's EJ25 engine was somewhat prone to external headgasket leaks- leaking coolant. Subie's fix was basically stop leak, and regular coolant changes, re-adding the stop leak. My Dad's got one with 300k on the clock. 4eat is usually fine up to 300ish HP. It even has a nice drain plug to change atf regularly.
+1. I liked the external ATF filter, too. but, IMHO, the diffs (both front and rear) were a bit weak for heavy duty use (I towed a boat). When I changed gear oils at 40,000 miles, they were worse than silver paint. By 60,000 miles, the rear one started singing.
Agree re: spin-on filter. That was a nice feature. Oils in the diffs when I changed them were very clean but then again... I did not tow and the engine was w/o turbo.
 
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I owned a 2003 Forester up until 2014 at 180K miles and then gave it to my son. He still has the car although he does not drive as much as I did. A couple of repair or maintenance items were experienced with the Forester at about the miles of the one you are considering buying. At 160K miles the head gasket went and was replaced by the dealer who did all of the service on the car except for oil changes, which I did myself after the warranty period passed. At 170K the rear wheel bearings were replaced and at 210K the exhaust including catalytic converter were replaced. These repairs were necessary due to the bearings wearing out and exhaust leaks. Being in the rust belt may well have contributed to the last two items. Overall, we think the Forester is a solid car that does many things very well. I only highlight the bigger repair items that occurred after 150K. Based on my years of ownership of the vehicle, I consider it a solid, durable, and safe car. The one you are considering is getting on in years, so I agree with other replies that maintenance and repairs should probably be expected, maybe more or less along the lines of what I outlined above. And, also to agree with others, having access to the car's maintenance history would be a big plus.
 
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Man, the Subaru fans came out in force with with my comment – claim down y'all, I didn't kick your dog. I think Hondas have weak autos, as well. And I've still owned several and still recommend them, same as Subaru. They are good cars, but they aren't indestructible tanks... I used to do a lot of racing (import) and have a seen plenty Subarus [censored] the bed.
 
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I've always heard great things about the 4EAT. I have been looking at the older Foresters - along with newer ones and crosstrek. I just can't justify what the used ones are going for.
 

JTK

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Foresters are nice. I agree with the above in that overall they are solid, durable, safe and great for snowy climates or light off pavement use. They do have lots more parts than your average similar vehicle of FWD only flavor. More CV axles, more prop shafts, gear boxes, two cylinder heads, etc..etc. My family has owned Subarus (and lots of others) since the late 1980s. If you're not a DIY car guy, I would avoid an older, high mileage one.
 
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How hard is it to do head gaskets on a Forester with a 2.5? Does the engine have to come out? I don't quite want to buy new, but I don't want to get myself into a disaster I can't fix. But I do want one of these.
 

JTK

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I've stopped in at my brother's when he was in the midst of a Subaru HG replacement and he always had the engine out.
 
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Originally Posted By: Miller88
How hard is it to do head gaskets on a Forester with a 2.5? Does the engine have to come out? I don't quite want to buy new, but I don't want to get myself into a disaster I can't fix. But I do want one of these.
The engine is removed. My Subie specialist can get it done in one long day he state for around 10-12 hours labor. At $65/hour and parts he state around $1000-$1100. I think some folks spend that on a timing belt change. I have seen a few in his shop for this repair so this issue exists but not sure if overblown in prevalence.
 
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My 2003 head gaskets were done without pulling the motor when i owned my own garage. I paid one of my mechanics to do it on the side.. he said he would never do it again without pulling. That was about 9 years ago and its still going strong. Its a good idea to go ahead and 'reseal' the whole engine if you are doing headgaskets..that way u have a bulletproof motor for a very long time. So pull it and reseal all.
 
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The EJ253/257 is a pretty good motor if not unrefined compared to its I4 Toyota/Honda/Nissan competition. Head gaskets are a known issue as well as the rear oil separator plate leaking oil. They're not that bad to work on when it comes to maintenance items(spark plugs, timing belt, water pump). SOHC Subaru engine timing belts aren't that bad to swap out, a few tricky parts(putting the cam/cranks in "service position" and installing the lower idler pulley first) but totally a DIY job. Use the right Japanese spec coolant and Subaru's coolant conditioner or Bar's Leak. If it was me and I had to pull the motor, I'd redo the head gaskets with the new Fel-Pro MLS ones and OEM for the rest of the seals, the updated steel oil separator plate sealed with Toyota FIPG and maybe if it was the turbo version, better pistons and rods to resist ring land failure which afflicts the turbo EJ series under pressure.
 

JTK

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^ Good point on the oil seperator cover. That's another common source of oil leaks on these indeed. I'm not familiar how the seperator is setup on the newer FB series, but I hope it's better than the EJ.
 
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