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2001 Forester
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My car is a 2001 Subaru Forester I've had since 2003, when I bought it as a certified pre-owned with some 40,000 miles on it. It now has about 144,000 miles, a used engine (cost $2000 including all labor, with a one year guarantee, installed two years ago), and while I skimped superficial maintenance (minor dings need bodywork, bumper a bit loose, etc.), I have gotten regular oil changes and had repairs done on anything impacting safety or performance consistently. It may look like a complete beater, but it generally runs pretty well for a two-decade old car that has spent a decade and a half with me through northeast winters. I don't expect miracles from it, but I do expect it to keep me alive while driving it, and if there is a serious risk that it can no longer do that, I don't want to drive it on anything but extremely local roads at low speeds until I can get a replacement.

For the last few months, I have been hearing a rattling from the rear of my car. I assumed it was the plastic bumper which is a bit loose or one of the rear windows, but brought the car last week to the mechanic (someone I largely trust and have worked with for years), who told me one of the trailing arms is busted near the frame, and that the frame is so rusted there that it can't be re-attached. Basically, he told me the car is on the way out, rather than trying to sell me on repairs, and that it may last a week or a few months, but the next step will be for the strut to break, which will result in loud banging. After that, he said no more highways and I could use it in town until I get a replacement, and ideally that I shouldn't take it on the highway much now, either.

My main questions are as follows: How dangerous is it to drive with one busted trailing arm? I know the handling will be different than if it were working, but is there any risk of catastrophic failure while on the highway? If the strut breaks next, will I lose complete control of my car? Or will it just get really loud and I'll pull off the highway and take back roads home? Is it sheer lunacy to drive this car on a three-hour trip by highway this coming weekend? Basically, what do you Forester experts think? My car knowledge is pretty limited. I'd like to justify using it for some medium-distance trips in the coming weeks, but don't want to delude myself into doing something that's extremely unsafe. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

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I had a similar situation. Buddy got his winter tires put on and tech said aftere were done we cannot work on your car anymore it has major structural isues that we wouldn't even know who to contact for repairs. He tooks pics and then my buddy called and we through it on the lift identical situation. We COULD HAVE got some angle iron and rednecked some bracing but the others were almost rotted off too. You would cause more damage trying to repair it. If that side rusted out the others are going to as well. Its best to get rid of the car. Just being honest.
 

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2001 Forester S, 4EAT
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6,599 Posts
I had a similar and more dangerous situation. I was driving a 1977 Toyota Corolla Hatchback. And one day I was not able to steer the vehicle. I was able to get it off to the side of the road. And had it towed to a shop. They found the frame where the steering gearbox was attached to had fatigued and buckled rendering the steering useless. The shop was able to do what @Justin0009 and welded a thick angle iron over the area where the frame had fatigued!!! Kept driving the vehicle for several more years after that.

@MyForester1s0ld In your case it could be nothing and best case the back of the vehicle drops. And worse case, that part of the suspension actually falls off and damages a vehicle behind you.
 

· Super Moderator
2010 X Limited, 2.5L NA, 4AT. Purchased as the second owner in 2020 with ~126K miles.
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2,729 Posts
The indirect effect of suspension component failure could be the surprise you suffer when it cuts loose. Then you are swerving all over the place trying to get control back.

I have "patched" these bent sheet metal "frames" in the past on other type cars. Mostly to re-unify the body structure. I'd worry about load bearing on a disintegrating automobile.
 

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2020 Forester, 2021 Crosstrek
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1,932 Posts
A trailing arm is a major component and bears a lot of directional stress along the long axis of the car. It keeps the knuckle where it is fore/aft during acceleration and braking. If that's broken, it's putting a lot more stress on the remaining components. I wouldn't want to be behind or next to you when the strut and/or lateral links let go bcause that rear knuckle is going to go wonky in a big hurry. Yes, it could cause a pretty severe loss of control. Circled is your trailing arm (That's from an Impreza, but I think the same linkages are on the early Forester) Without that, your strut and lateral links are already taking loads they are not designed for.

Yes, a three hour trip on the highway is lunacy. You should not be on the highway at all. I'd junk it now, personally.



555138
 

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457 Posts
Driver it? No
Junk it? Don't know . . is it rusted badly? Yes
As said, photos would help.
 

· Registered
2001 Forester
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi all,
Thanks for your thoughts. My mechanic has helped prolong the life of the car significantly, but his current verdict is it's too badly rusted to be repaired. He said when the strut fails, it will cause the rear wheels to wobble, which I should be able to manage if I'm not flying down the highway, but definitely said the most he would risk it is a few exits on the highway, tops. Regardless, he's lending me a car for the weekend so I can take that three hour trip, and I am on the lookout for a permanent replacement. In the meantime, the furthest I'm willing to risk it is a few exits on the highway, maintaining a lower speed than I would usually, and I definitely am getting ready to send my longtime Forester companion to the junk heap. It served me well for 18.5 years and will be missed.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply! Definitely helped disabuse me of any notion I could get a few more months of use out of it safely.
 

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2001 Forester
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Did the math wrong. Was actually 17.5, but the point stands, regardless! Pouring out a 40oz for Blue right now...
Of course, I say that, but I still intend to use her on local roads until I get a replacement. But, she's not long for this world. Let's call the 40oz slightly preemptive, or exclusively for her days of highway driving.
 

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2017 Forester XT Touring EyeSight
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2,028 Posts
and avoid all sharp turns and panic stops and any kind of emergency maneuver, and never exceed 15 mph, and be prepared to walk home at any time from any place you've driven. IE, I'm joining the chorus, this is dangerous, don't drive it.
 

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2020 Outback
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112 Posts
My car is a 2001 Subaru Forester I've had since 2003, when I bought it as a certified pre-owned with some 40,000 miles on it. It now has about 144,000 miles, a used engine (cost $2000 including all labor, with a one year guarantee, installed two years ago), and while I skimped superficial maintenance (minor dings need bodywork, bumper a bit loose, etc.), I have gotten regular oil changes and had repairs done on anything impacting safety or performance consistently. It may look like a complete beater, but it generally runs pretty well for a two-decade old car that has spent a decade and a half with me through northeast winters. I don't expect miracles from it, but I do expect it to keep me alive while driving it, and if there is a serious risk that it can no longer do that, I don't want to drive it on anything but extremely local roads at low speeds until I can get a replacement.

For the last few months, I have been hearing a rattling from the rear of my car. I assumed it was the plastic bumper which is a bit loose or one of the rear windows, but brought the car last week to the mechanic (someone I largely trust and have worked with for years), who told me one of the trailing arms is busted near the frame, and that the frame is so rusted there that it can't be re-attached. Basically, he told me the car is on the way out, rather than trying to sell me on repairs, and that it may last a week or a few months, but the next step will be for the strut to break, which will result in loud banging. After that, he said no more highways and I could use it in town until I get a replacement, and ideally that I shouldn't take it on the highway much now, either.

My main questions are as follows: How dangerous is it to drive with one busted trailing arm? I know the handling will be different than if it were working, but is there any risk of catastrophic failure while on the highway? If the strut breaks next, will I lose complete control of my car? Or will it just get really loud and I'll pull off the highway and take back roads home? Is it sheer lunacy to drive this car on a three-hour trip by highway this coming weekend? Basically, what do you Forester experts think? My car knowledge is pretty limited. I'd like to justify using it for some medium-distance trips in the coming weeks, but don't want to delude myself into doing something that's extremely unsafe. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Your Forester has a "multi link" suspension system - which means that each wheel is attached to the body at several points. For proper handling and safety, all points must remain intact. If one link is broken, it puts additional stress on the remaining link points. So, with 1 link point broken the Forester is not safe to drive.
Regular inspections and rust treatment can prevent suspension components from getting to the point where they fail. For your own safety, get rid of your old Forester and get a newer one, and get the undercarriage inspected annually.
 

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2021 Forester LTD 2013 Crosstrek LTD 2011 Forester (sold) 2018 Outback LTD w NAV
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39 Posts
If one side becomes unrestrained by the strut or trailing arm, it is free to act as a steering axle without a steering wheel. I would not move it anywhere. Most dangerous failure to have. Severity level 10.
 
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