I used to hear that Subarus were some of the most well built and reliable cars on the road. I believed that hype and bought this car three months ago because I wanted a wagon and the reliability that were both so easy to find with Subarus. I saw this S model being advertised for a great price and test drove it. It felt solid, but had a few issues that I figured were not deal breakers and would be easy, cheap fixes. The things I noticed and what I thought:
A loud hum coming from the rear - wheel bearing, which I could get done for around $250
Central locking did not work - blown fuse
Clock did not work - blown fuse
Cruise control did not work - blown fuse, disconnected vacuum hose
With that in mind, I paid what would be a slightly discounted price and I drove it home. I started to check fuses left, right and centre and found all to be in tact. After a day or so, I fixed the clock, which turned out to be a bad solder on the clock's circuit board. The central locking turned out to be an issue with the module located under the dashboard and could not be repaired. I ended up fixing it eventually by installing an aftermarket module and wiring it in with the factory actuators. I've thus far been unable to get the lock switches on the doors to function with the aftermarket system. The cruise control still does not work. It either has a bad module or a bad vacuum system, both of which would cost more than the car is worth to replace. After a few days of ownership I tackled the wheel bearing and it did come in under $250, which was pleasing, but it took two days to do because of stubborn bolts. But my pleasure ended moments after driving the car a few miles. I realised I had a blown exhaust system, the sound of which was hidden by the noisy wheel bearing. After fixing the blown exhaust I noticed yet another sound, a thumping at speeds above 25mph. This turned out to be bad front axles. I went ahead and changed the axles and the front wheel bearings. After replacing the axles I noticed a strange vibration at idle. Research told me that this was typical of Subarus if aftermarket axles were used instead of original Subaru parts. I was warned that they would be toast in a few weeks and I would have to replace them yet again. Here I am, about a month later and I'm again starting to hear the thumping I heard before. I'm also hearing a whine as I accelerate and I simply have no clue where that is coming from.
I've since learnt that ALL the problems I have been seeing are inherent. I have totally had it with this vehicle and Subaru will never, ever get me as another customer. I hate to even see the name Subaru now and I feel so sorry for the hundreds of thousands of poor saps that are being duped into buying these garbage cars. It is absolutely the worst car I have ever owned. The online Subaru community is inept and ignorant. The owner's and workshop manuals are incomplete and recondite. The latter has gross errors in it, such as wiring diagrams that do not have the same colour wires as exist in the car. The online parts portal at Subaru's website is also lacking, often not showing some very basic parts. Sickening, is how I would describe this experience. I've spent more on repairs in three months than what I paid for the car. I'll be working tirelessly to get rid of this thing once and for all, and when I do I will never return to this brand.
I bought this car with 99k on the clock for $6000. I've bought several used cars over the last 20 years and have had pretty good luck. But this has been the best little car! I have a long drive to work, so I need a no-frills, comfortable, car with basic amenities (power locks/windows/mirrors, etc) that can eat miles no matter what the weather. I also own a sports car and a MINI, so I need cargo space. The little Subaru hauled me, my family, and my crap over 85,000 largely uneventful miles through rain, snow, ice, grass, and mud over the last 6 years. I've been through deep water and snow up to the bumper. You can't get this car stuck.
I have had a few problems, most of which are related to fact that the shady dealership I bought it from turned off the check engine light. Used oil analysis showed that there was coolant and oil in my oil, so I had the head gaskets done along with the timing at a cost of $3000. I also spent a grand on a new catalytic converter, which was fouled by burning coolant. The rest of the maintenance, other than routine brake and suspension upkeep, I did myself, including oil, filters, lights, belts, hoses, plugs/wires, new alternator, etc. One of the best things about this car is that it's easy to work on (even for a novice like me), which saved me thousands.
Despite the head gasket, this little car was as reliable as a metronome. Every time I turned the key, it started and ran perfectly no matter what. It's compact and easy to maneuver, has a TON of grip for the little tires (AWD), and gets 25 mpg. Crash ratings are 4-star, so I felt good teaching my kids to drive in it. The interior is pretty crappy...the seats are uncomfortable, the back seats have limited leg room, the interior materials are terrible, and the interior ergonomics don't make any sense. But I love it.
I get the Subaru thing now. They're ugly ducklings and they're not that nice inside, but they inspire so much confidence through how they start, run, feel, and drive that they just get under your skin. I'm trading this car today for a 1999 Legacy Outback with low mileage and look forward to more of the same.
Had a 2002 Outback automatic - a great car but wanted to go back to a manual transmission. Really enjoy driving this Forester - somehow it rides better than the Outback with a shorter wheelbase. Excellent visibility, easy to get in and out of. Geared lower than my '98 Outback which turned around 3200 rpm @ 65mph, the Forester is around 2750. Engine has enough torque to handle moderate hills in 5th gear. Never feels under powered. A lot of room for it's size - cargo capacity very close to an '02 Grand Cherokee. Feels like a sports car with high seating. Bought it at 98k, have about 104k now. Not a concern since I have a company vehicle.
Subaru Reliability, Good ride, decent economy for AWD. Great winter car with AWD, heated seats and windshield wiper de-icers. Really like the wheels of that year's S model. Not that I'm in the market for a new Forester, but it's good to know there's still an SUV available with a manual transmission - the Forester.
One thing lacking was an armrest. I know after market units can are available, I built a basic one from wood, foam, and fabric as close as I could match to the gray interior. It made a big improvement in driving comfort, especially with the
This Forester has been in daily use since we bought it new. It has had very few problems. Replacing the catalytic converter was the only signficant item so far. We also had to replace the CD player module when it started eating disks and keeping them! I was impressed that Subaru voluntarily replaced all the engine gaskets at no cost after some head gasket seepage was noted during dealer service. I for one like the placement of the cupholder, even though it puts your cup in front of the air distribution control knob. The cup is ergonomically in a good position -- up high and easy to reach. The holder looks flimsy, but it hasn't broken. A great little vehicle, easily the best I have owned.
Smooth, competent operation. Winter traction.
A little more leg room in the rear (delivered in current models).
I purchased my Forester in Feb of 2002. It was one of only a handle of vehicles around that fit my requirements: storage room for my dj equipment, AWD, great fuel economy, and manual trans. I just went over 250K last week and my goal for 300K is within reach. Once I hit 300K, then I will be shopping for a new Forester. Vehicle handles well and is very reliable. I replaced original clutch at 190K! May not need another one before 300K.
This vehicle is amazing in the snow and in poor driving weather - the AWD is great. The rear seats fold forward for cargo space with comes in handy when I dj my weddings. I maintain my Forester regularly so the fuel MPG is still in the upper 20s.
The clock stopped working after 125K and the cup holders are flimsy, but still intact. My fuel tank is 15.9 gal and I think the new models are at 16.9 - it would be great if Subaru could create a 19 to 20 gallon tank for their Foresters. Would love to travel 550- 600 miles in between fill ups.