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2003 Forester Standard
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Im extremely new to this forum but ive had my forester for little over a month. Its a 2003 2.5 non turbo, standard transmission with 209,000 miles. When we went to buy it, it was missing EXTREMELY bad. The whole car would shake. After a few times of shutting her down and starting it back up it seemed to clear out so we drove it home. (About 45 minutes away). The next day i went to start it to go to the parts store (ironic) and it was missing again. I brushed it off and kept going but now it was stalling, every time i let off the gas. I got it back home (3 mile drive in a circle) and found it was the ignition coil. Cylinder 1 had no spark at all. I pulled the plugs and 2 of 4 were completely worn out. There was no tip left. So new plugs, new distributor, and it now has a knock. Ive put over 2,000 miles on it and still the same exact sound. Other than it sounds horrible when its cold. When its warm, its still there but not as bad. The knock completely leaves past 1500-2000 rpm. If i drive for 20 minutes, it will sometimes disappear. If i shut it down and restart it the sound comes back. The knock is most prominent from the injectors. More so on cylinder 4. I just dont know if I damaged something from that 3 mile drive on 3 cylinders or if it was a sound waiting to surface. If so, is it okay? Or am i looking at the price of a rebuild/new motor?
 

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G'day & Welcome aboard @Mogly Yep

Any CELs?

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2003 Forester Standard
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I apologize, I will try to get on my laptop and finish some stuff up. But no cel other than the downstream O2 sensor.
 

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2012 Forester X 5 MT
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Knocking that diminishes as the engine warms up is usually piston slap. Yours seems especially bad since it doesn't go away completely.

Baby the engine and it probably won't cause a problem
 

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2003 Forester Standard
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Would piston slap cause a knock code? How easy is it to throw a knock code? It runs a little rich too. I use 93 octane. Im running thicker oil too. 10w-30 as it has 211,000 miles now. I used a stethescope today and the sound comes from cylinder 4 more than the others but it's VERY loud from the oil cap.
 

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2003 EJ20K Forester
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You have to back up a bit here. 209k miles. Just replaced ignition coil and what stubs were left of spark plugs. Stalled on overrun. Not sure how you replaced the distributor because the 03 has full electronic ignition - can you clarify what you meant.

Presumably it idles better now and doesn't die or miss anymore, but it has a knocking sound? Worse when cold, goes away over 2k rpm. sounds worse near cyl 4. Only code is O2 sensor, but you mentioned knock codes. Do you have a knock sensor code? Are you sure it is downstream O2? What code was it exactly? This might be quite important since you had driveability, ignition, and "runs rich" issues.

Is this a SOHc or DOHC motor?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I meant ignition coil, im used to them being called distributors. But you are right. It does not die or miss anymore and idles perfect after installing the new parts. And yes, after i replaced the spark plugs and ignition coil the knock started. It is worse when cold, but quiets when its warm. No knock over 2000 rpm. It does not have a knock code, but the code for the O2 sensor is P0032. How do i tell for sure if its DOHC or SOHC?
 

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I think it has to be a SOHC based on the year/model. You can tell just by looking at the cylinder heads - space for one pulley/cam or two.

P0032 is bank 1 sensor 1 - the one that is actually used for fuel trim. I would replace the sensor, that should fix a lot of your driveability issues (or maybe you don't even notice it considering how it used to be with the ignition problems)

If you blip the throttle, does the noise get louder? This test is to see if the noise is related to engine load or not. Try to ignore any change with RPM. If it gets significantly louder when the throttle is suddenly opened, then it might be a bottom end (rod bearing) problem.

If it doesn't change, it might be a valve clearance issue. This is supported by the noise going away as it warms up. Piston slap would follow the same trend, but sounds different - can you post a video of the noise?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
@2.5x_sleeper Thank you. Those actually helped out alot. The first thread had a video that sounds IDENTICAL to mine. It just seems to have a higher idle. Im going to probably tear the forester down tomorrow and replace the knock sensor if it doesnt read right on a multimeter, the upstream O2 (I was wrong about it being downstream) and if I need to, a whole timing belt kit. Crossing my fingers its the pulley. There was a sticker in the car that said the timing belt was replaced at 187,000. It came from a sketchy dealership that wanted anything they could get for the car. Hopefully that wasnt a sign... Thank you guys! I'll update tomorrow.
 

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Well I don't think it is rod knock, so that is good. I had forgotten about the timing belt noises, that is also a strong candidate except its weird that it goes away when warm. I think you're on the right path - Replace the known bad parts, and pop off the timing covers and take a look there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Any advice on getting the harmonic balancer off? I pulled the radiator fans, coolant reservoir, main belt and the tensioner and belt for the AC compressor. The only way i could get it off on my other car (2000 Eclipse GT) was to get a long breaker bar, jack the car up, get it close enough to the ground the bar will touch and just tap the key to get it to barly turn over. Im afraid thats not an option this time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well I don't think it is rod knock, so that is good. I had forgotten about the timing belt noises, that is also a strong candidate except its weird that it goes away when warm. I think you're on the right path - Replace the known bad parts, and pop off the timing covers and take a look there.
^^
Thats how I do it when I'm by myself on my Foz. Bar either resting on the ground or a frame rail.
Quick tap on the key and presto.
Well. I pulled off the cover. No marks on it and the belt is tight. Is that bad news?
 

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Lightly put the balancer back on to hold the timing belt in place and run the car for a few seconds while looking at the timing belt. Nothing obvious?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It has a light movement and now with the timing cover back on you can hear a slight little sound that honestly doesnt sound bad. It doesnt match up with the original sound either. Could it be a rod bearing?
 

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light movement is ok, but really it shouldn't move much at all. You can see some subaru TBT failures on youtube.

Rod bearing that bad would show metallic slivers in the oil and oil filter - probably easiest thing to check.

The oil pressure switch is located on the top of the engine block, near the centre. It is sorta behind/below the PS pump. I would plumb a 100 psi gauge in there and run it. You should peg to 90PSI at startup, and hot idle should be above 10 for sure, up to 25 ok. If you have a pooched rod bearing it will be low.

Beyond that, on an inline engine I would suggest turning the engine over by hand and pushing a wood dowel down the plug hole to see if you can detect the bearing clearance ( push a few deg past TDC and see if you can push piston down), but that is hard to do on these. Aside from pulling the oil pan to inspect them directly, I'm not sure how else you would confirm the diagnosis.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Im about to go buy some new stuff for an oil change. This will be the third time since ive had it but the other times i wasnt able to check for shavings. I'm buying a new drain pan too. As for the oil pressure gauge, whats the easiest way to get to it? Just remove the alternator? I have a voltage and oil gauge in my other two cars, should i invest them into the Forester as well? When i first got it, the oil light was blinking. I had a PT Cruiser that did the same but only at idle, like the forester. I changed the sender and the problem was fixed. The same with the Forester. Could it have actually had low oil pressure?
 
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