Automotive

Subaru Forester - Reliability and known problems?

  • Last Updated:
  • Aug 7th, 2019 2:46 pm
[OP]
Sr. Member
User avatar
Feb 16, 2016
676 posts
266 upvotes
Casselman, Ontario

Subaru Forester - Reliability and known problems?

My ex-girlfriend (we're still on good terms) wants a Subaru Forester and she asked me about the Forester. I know nothing about Subarus so I figured that I would make a thread on RFD!

She is looking for a pre-owned one from a Subaru dealership, around 2016 with 50k-60k KM.

1- Are there any known problems with these models?
2- 2.0L vs the 2.5L?
3- How easy is it to negotiate a price?
4- Anything else that I should know/worry about?

Thanks!
16 replies
Deal Addict
Jun 14, 2008
3399 posts
2204 upvotes
Montreal
1. No known issue in 2016, 14/15 2.5 may have problem with excessive oil consumption (a very small portion of them). 17/18 has revised acoustic windshield which apparently is easier to crack when hit by stone, but has next gen eyesight which is very well rated as far as driving aids go, the CVT also fake shifts.

2. 2.5 is adequate, just like your average 4 banger cars. 2.0 is pretty darn quick for an non-luxury compact CUV, and it's pretty bullet proof so far, zero known issue after 7 years on market. It does require premium gas (I know manual says recommended). Depends on how she drives, I'd say most people would never need the extra power.

3. Probably not easy, Subaru has pretty high resale and buying used doesn't save much, especially from a Subaru dealer.

4. Seat is a bit flat, not enough bolstering, the boxy shape mean fuel economy drops like a rock above 120 or so. Heater sucks in -20, Subaru even unofficially admitted it, at least heated seat is standard (except base, I think).
Deal Fanatic
Dec 24, 2005
5682 posts
1432 upvotes
we have a 2015 with the 2.0 Turbo motor. it has 51000 km
it the 51000 km i've replaced the battery and the a/c condenser (the condenser was under warranty)
i think the 2.0t is a great engine. ample power when needed.

1. no issues that i've noticed
2. the 2.0 is pretty rare -- it's very powerful for this class of car
3. we paid pretty close to msrp - it is reflected in my resale
4. nothing i really dislike about it -- i wish it had memory seats (i think the new one has it) i wish it had cooled seats. i wish it had a heated steering wheel (i think the new one has this)
Deal Addict
Jun 14, 2008
3399 posts
2204 upvotes
Montreal
^^Right forgot that, memory seat and heated steering wheel were also added for 17/18. Plus top trim got LED headlight that turns with steering wheel. 2.0 accounted for 5~10% of total sales, so probably not too many out there.
Sr. Member
Nov 26, 2008
916 posts
607 upvotes
GTA
My father in law and I both have 14’s and are borderline for oil consumption issue. We love driving them however I don’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling compared to my 2010 civic.

My issues are
1- the trunk or rear door opener lost its programming twice requiring a reset and it’s not as responsive as I would have thought. It sometimes take multiple button presses.
2- my windshield washer hose cracked some how
3- the sealing gasket around front passenger door came loose and just sags now.
4- the multiple oil consumption tests

Aside from that, my wife doesn’t complain at all about driving in the winter so it’s a win for me.
Deal Addict
Nov 10, 2018
4196 posts
4381 upvotes
Rust, rust, and rust.

Someone in my family has an early 2010s Impreza. Sure, the engine is reliable, but the paint quality is terrible and the damn thing rusts all over, despite the black tar underbody! (anything that isn't sprayed just rusts, and rusts QUICK).
For legal topics and discussions, the opinion, guidance, and thoughts provided are my own and are not considered to be legal advice, in any manner.
Member
Apr 26, 2018
292 posts
67 upvotes
Some Rusting issue of doors in 2016 model. Inside part of the door may rust.
It is covered by warranty but it requires replace the whole door. The dealer's body shop said it is not un-common issue because they replace the door for few car every month.
Maybe they already improve in the new model.
Sr. Member
May 21, 2015
966 posts
514 upvotes
Sarnia, ON
we have a 2015 and 2016 Foresters , 90k & 60k.. Never had any problems.
Sr. Member
Oct 3, 2011
583 posts
377 upvotes
OTTAWA
the 2.5L naturally aspirated engine is prone to head gasket failure. The one in my impreza (same engine) died before 100k It's an expensive job to do on subaru engines so if you love the car, plan for the 1500-2000$ price tag to fix in the lifetime ownership of the vehicle, usually you can do the timing belt at the same time for extra cost in parts. Lucky people never see the issue. Seriously unlucky people might get it multiple times. Proper amount of oil consumption on this engine for me was around .5-1L per 6000km or 1 oil change interval. Some cars see more than that though but usually some experimentation with what oil brand you use can reduce the amount that goes missing. If buying used you want to ask if the head gasket has been done or not, and you want to make sure it's not sweating or leaking coolant or oil. Check the coolant and oil for cross contamination. Usually the gaskets will leak externally and loose coolant to the outside of the engine, and not intermix into the cylinder (internal HG leak). My subaru specialist mechanic said my leak was a truly uncommon external oil leak.

The 2L direct injection motors are supposed to be much better but I can't remember what year they started putting them into foresters.

2.5L turbo motors have an uncommon ringland failure on piston 4 but that's usually due to abuse or neglect since most people modify their turbo cars.

2.0L turbos are doing well, I haven't heard of any major issues.

4speed autos are ok, no idea on the cvt. both my impreza and wrx have been manual.

Outside of standard maintenance items (oil, brakes transmission fluids), I have not had any other major issues with either my 07 impreza or 17 wrx. my 07 had a wheel bearing replaced under warranty and the same wheel failed again outside of warranty 5 years later which is around 300-400$ done by an independent subaru mechianic.
Deal Addict
Jan 23, 2017
1116 posts
1137 upvotes
Calgary
Just got into a 2017 XT with Eyesight recently.

Full maintenance history reflects oil changes, tires and a few windshields (normal for Calgary).

Only existing issue is with the power tailgate, the power function doesn't work so it's manual. The two Calgary dealers book 4-6 weeks out, which is ridiculous and I will not go to them for anything outside of warranty on that account.

I've never done an easier oil change; filter on top, crawl underneath for the drain (no need to lift it) and it's done in 15 minutes.

It's my first Subaru, after being loyal to Mazda for over 10 years. Very happy at this point!
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 26, 2003
9927 posts
1370 upvotes
angryaudifanatic wrote: Rust, rust, and rust.

Someone in my family has an early 2010s Impreza. Sure, the engine is reliable, but the paint quality is terrible and the damn thing rusts all over, despite the black tar underbody! (anything that isn't sprayed just rusts, and rusts QUICK).
We have a 2010 Forester with no body panel rust.
lurkknight wrote: the 2.5L naturally aspirated engine is prone to head gasket failure. The one in my impreza (same engine) died before 100k It's an expensive job to do on subaru engines so if you love the car, plan for the 1500-2000$ price tag to fix in the lifetime ownership of the vehicle, usually you can do the timing belt at the same time for extra cost in parts. Lucky people never see the issue .
Fixed our head gasket last year at 200k km.
Jr. Member
Jan 18, 2012
159 posts
78 upvotes
Hello wife had 2015, and now in a 2019 Forester both sport trim.

2015 -- only 3 years of ownership no problems to speak of

2019 -- too new... only issue is the infotainment software sometimes reboots on it's own randomly. Other than that great car.

As for negotiation price at a Subaru dealership good luck these people are tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. But it maybe different buying a used car. However I feel like they hold their value...... you're probably looking at spending at least 20 grand on a used Forester just as you described. Check out leastbusters take over a lease where owner has put money down, and buy the car out.
Deal Addict
Jan 17, 2009
3314 posts
3289 upvotes
Toronto, Ontario
Friend has one and it burns oil like crazy. Other minor issues as well. Turned a Subaru fanboy into a Subaru hater actually..

He puts on a TON of mileage so might not be typical use case.
Member
May 30, 2011
255 posts
19 upvotes
North York
My daughter still driving 2008 Impreza, lucky, no rust, no burn oil yet as just passed 135k km, but almost there for Head gasket replacement.
My wife is driving 2015 OutBack, just the wind noise a bit loud, and suspect the wheel bearing is going, lot of owner has failed bearing in early life,
no oil burn so far.

If you buy the 2019 Forester, I think someone in the Subaru Forum USA the engine is fine in term of oil burn, as it is better engine than the 2018.
From what I heard when in the dealer, the Sport trim is the most demanding, the sales say if you go for higher Trim can have bit more discount,
of course that is more expensive and have room to go around.

The most you may get, i would assume is around $2000 discount, if not less.
I am looking to replace my 2015 Outback with the 2020 Forester, but dealer told me no Front view camera/monitor as option.
Also 2020 Outback not too much more money than Forester but have options that I want, Front view camera at top Trim,
and lot more new stuff than 2020 ForesterSmiling Face With Open Mouth
Member
May 30, 2011
255 posts
19 upvotes
North York
My answer to your #2 question:
If you can find one with turbo 2.0L XT, it is different engine should not have Head gasket problem, as read from the Forum.
So if you put the $1500 repair cost you may encounter on a 2.5L model, then lucky to find a 2.0 XT within the $1500 extra cost,
then may as well go for the turbo.

You may check for the 2019 Outback lower model trim, as dealer told me they have hard time to sell as most owners wait for the 2020 OutBack.
But then they put out discount or low lease rate, then the selling is up again .
Member
Oct 24, 2018
384 posts
361 upvotes
I wouldn't worry too much about head gasket issues on the model years the OP is looking at, they addressed those issues a long time ago and failures on newer model years are very rare. Sure they do happen, but no more than other makes/models.

I've had 2 Foresters in the the past, a top trim normally aspirated, and a XT. The XT was fantastic. I had no issues with either except for sunroof rail failures out of warranty which Subaru Canada was good enough to pay for the parts if I paid the dealer's labor to fix.

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