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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm in Madison, WI and bought a 2001 Forester S with 108K for my daughter to take to college in Colorado knowing that I would put some money into it before we left. I got it from a street-corner car-flipper who is generally a nice guy, but in it to flip cars. Regardless, there has been more to fix than I anticipated. I have bought a lot of used vehicles, but made a major mistake by not having this one looked at before I bought it simply because of the low mileage and the body condition. I bought a CARFAX on it, and--on paper--it has had very little done with it in the last 25K. The flipper said that he put new tires on it (true) and did an oil change.

My daughter noticed a vague idle surge when we first drove the car, but not on the second test drive. After I bought it, the check engine light came on two miles from the lot. I had already had an appointment to take it to my mechanic, who said that the battery was the wrong size and that it was loose. (As it turned out, the battery was LITERALLY loose, meaning that it was not mounted in the vehicle.) I had the battery replaced, but did take it back to the flipper to have the CEL attended to as well as some other work (new A/C belt and motor and wiper motor) that was part of the original deal. He replaced the knock sensor, dumped some fuel injector cleaner in the tank, and complained that I took it to another mechanic.

CEL came back on; I took it back to my own mechanic who diagnosed the O2 sensor and said that the CEL would come back on because the fuel filler neck was rusted out and recommended that I do the 90K service even though all fluids looked clean. I replaced the fuel filler neck. CEL has stayed off, but now we are back to the idle issue.

Three days after the replacement, she started the car, the idle surged to a high RPM, back down, and then doggedly accelerated. The next day, it did the same thing, then stalled twice in city driving.

I was thinking that there might an idle issue or fuel injection (throttle is dirty per my mechanic) and that maybe I should just do the 90K service that may or may not have been done. According to several threads in this forum, it may be the idle air controller valve or need an ECU reset.

HERE'S THE BIG QUESTION: Do I go back to my mechanic--a large, local shop with a couple of locations who are pricey but generally honest and do good work--tell them what I think it is and to do the 90K service OR do I go to another mechanic who specializes in Subarus and knows the little glitches and whatnot? (Granted, I should have done this brief google search three weeks ago, but I am not psychic.)

I have never owned a Subaru, but have friends who SWEAR by their longevity. I knew that I would have to do some things because of the age and stage of mileage, but now I am stumped as to which direction to go. I will probably have to do a wheel bearing before we drive across the country, so I have been weighing which things are safety issues and which could wait until the next oil change when I got her to Colorado. At this rate, it won't make it. Thanks!
 

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2001 Forester S, 4EAT
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It is a stepper motor actuated by a solenoid. The ECU detects Coolant, air temperature etc....and sends signals to the solenoid to open or close to varying degrees. So you'll likely want to test to see if the stepper motor is actually able to move the IAC Valve freely. Note that if you take the IAC valve off, you'll need a new gasket.

Dirty intake - Take some intake cleaner and manually hold open the butter fly valve and spray inside. What codes have been read regarding CEL?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
442 was the last one. I’m not doing the work myself, but am wondering if I should make a mechanic switch to someone who works exclusively on Subarus rather than my regular shop.
 

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2001 Forester S, 4EAT
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Ah, the P0442, you fixed with the fuel filler neck. Where are you geographically located. But yes, you would be wise to find a Subaru specialist vs a generalist. Although if you find a tuning shop, they may have people there that know a lot about Subaru (WRX type guys).

The bearings would be top priority since they affect safety before the road trip. The ECU reset may or may not fix anything and can't hurt. But I am skeptical with our 2001 units. Every time I have disconnected the battery for any length of time and reconnected, it starts and runs a few seconds and sounds like it's about to die and that's it. Our 2001 have a mechanical throttle unlike the newer models that are drive by wire, which is why I am skeptical of the procedure.

But I would definitely look for a Subaru specialist to help give you a road map to allow you to prioritize what to fix now vs what to put off.

I am giving our 2001 to our son for college as well. Wish us luck, you and I both need it!
 
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