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Subaru Forester, 2006, LLBean Edition
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are so confused. We needed a used car (had driven a Ford Escort '99 Station Wagon until it rusted past inspection in 09/19) so we bought a Subaru Outback 2011(153,000 miles) 18 months ago. Six months ago, Mom (aged 92) decided she could not drive anymore so she gave us her Subaru Forester 2006 LLBean edition (118,000 miles.)

We were not sure which car to keep and since the Forester had not been driven much (Mom drove to church on Sundays and kept it in the garage) it needed new tires, a new battery and a new oil sensor. The Outback has more rust (even though a newer car) and the Forester has no rust. The Forester had had the two head gaskets replaced right before Mom bought it at 87,000 miles. We also were advised to put a new timing belt and water pump on the Forester, which we did.

In the last six months we have struggled to get one or other car to the point where we could sell one but all hell has broken loose. The Outback needed a new torque converter (Subaru America gave us a $750 voucher toward this purpose), sway bars, and muffler. Three mechanics told us that although older, the Forester is the better car to keep since the Outback by now had 164,000 and the Forester 122,000, the Forester had no rust and had had both head gaskets replaced.

So we advertised the Outback on Facebook marketplace. One man, a mechanic, came to look at the Outback but when he saw the Forester, he asked expressed interest in that car instead. Meanwhile another person came and bought the Outback for $5,700. We had told the mechanic that if we could not sell the Outback, we might sell the Forester to him for $4,700. He still really wants to buy it.

Three days after selling the Outback, the Forester check engine soon light came on steady and Cruise light flashing. We took it to our local garage and was told it needs a new catalytic converter. There also appears to be a tiny oil leak by the Cam Shaft seal. The young mechanic says it is not worth fixing.

We had thought that if we sold both older cars, we could take the money from both($10,400) and get a halfway decent car that would not cost us so much in repairs. Over the last 8 months, these cars have cost us on average $625 per month in repair costs and we can't go on like this.

So should we still try to sell the Forester to the mechanic and if so, what do we tell him about the cat code, or do we get the repairs done to the Forester and try to keep that one? We have really looked in earnest at new used cars but are truly shocked how expensive they are. It seems there is nothing below about $16,000 with lower mileage and higher year of manufacture.

Up to now, we have spent about $2,300 on the Forester for: oil sensor, door repair, tires, exhaust repair, battery, timing belt, water pump, new transmission line, new brakes, 02 sensor, headlight, taillight.

The car runs great, gets good mileage and does not use much oil, but the cat convertor replacement and Cam Shaft Seal replacement will set us back even more and we are not sure what to do. Thanks so much for any advice you can give us. And best to Subie owners out there are we hope you are not facing as many repairs as we are.
 

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2007 2.5XT Limited 4EAT
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334 Posts
@Londear
Right up until you mentioned the cam seal leak, I would have been dead set on you keeping your Forester. With the exception of that issue, all of the expensive fixes have already been addressed. ie. timing belt, head gaskets etc...and no rust. It sounds like the car is in excellent shape. And while your mechanic is probably correct in that the cam seal leak will not prove to be a major issue in the short term, it is obviously a bummer considering the overall state of the vehicle. Plus, not having cruise control and having that incessant blinking in your periphery may become more of an annoyance. Too bad the cam seal leak didn't rear its head when the timing belt was being done, or the head gaskets for that matter. Pity really.

That said, with all the work you have done to the Forester, it should easily go another 100K. That is the beauty of these cars. More will probably concur than not on this forum. That yes, the typical Subaru will cost a fair amount of money in repairs around the 100-120K mark, but only because there is generally very minimal upkeep needed until that time, and after. Besides wear items like tires and brakes, not much to worry about...at least on the 2013s and under. The jury still seems to be in deliberation on the late model offerings in this regard.

I would suggest that even if you decide to have the cam seal leak fixed, you will still end up paying less over the next 100K that if you were to sell the Forester and start fresh. Especially if what you are finding in your price range is as you say. You're bound to end up with unknown repairs on an unfamiliar vehicle. This is always a big gamble in my opinion.

Although I am slightly biased as I love my Forester...and the WRX wagon I had before that. Good luck with decision. I'm sure a few more folks will chime in to help you along.

And welcome to the forum! Perhaps you'll end up sticking around.
 

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2004 XT 5 MT
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1,113 Posts
Cam shaft seal isn’t a death sentence. It’s one step past a timing belt job. Maybe 1200-1300$
 

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Subaru Forester, 2006, LLBean Edition
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks so very much for your helpful advice, @Snow3d And do you have any idea how much it will cost to have the Camshaft seal replaced? Should we have the Crankshaft seal done at the same time? Yes, I do wish our mechanic had offered to do the Camshaft seal when the timing belt and water pump were replaced at end of October. Live and learn. Thanks again for your suggestions.
 

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Premium Member
2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
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14,591 Posts
Keep the forester. But if only the water pump was replaced...find a subaru specialist and then the 4 idlers and tensioner replaced. That should not cost more than $1000.
I assuming the Head Gasket was done correctly. My daughter has 235K miles on my 2008. But the Forester will easily goi another 100K miles and then some.

Also do a couple of drain and fills on the automatic tranny.
 

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Subaru Forester, 2006, LLBean Edition
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks, we will take up the suggestions for sure!
 

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Subaru Forester, 2006, LLBean Edition
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
markinaustin,
Thanks, We will look into this for sure.
 

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2003 Baja, 2006 Baja, 2008 Impreza
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113 Posts
Any time with few exceptions, an older Subaru without rust issues is worth putting money into. No rust adds exponentially to the value. The rest is maintenance, something you will run into no matter what brand. You've already crossed many of the typical bridges in owning a Subaru or for that matter any other brand. If I had to and if I owned a non rusty older Subaru with all you've put into it, I'd go so far as replacing the motor with a used one of which there are thousands available and while I had the motors out, I'd do head gaskets etc on the replacement motor. Just my 2 cents. These older ones are 300,000 mile cars and simpler to repair than newer ones. Stay with what you know, not what you think or wish for.
 

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2003 Baja, 2006 Baja, 2008 Impreza
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2015 Forester Touring 2.5
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Three days after selling the Outback, the Forester check engine soon light came on steady and Cruise light flashing. We took it to our local garage and was told it needs a new catalytic converter. There also appears to be a tiny oil leak by the Cam Shaft seal. The young mechanic says it is not worth fixing.
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The check engine and cruise control lights could just be the gas cap needs to be screwed on a little tighter. Try that and if it is the cause the lights should turn off after you've started and driven the car a few times. Whenever you get gas make sure the cap is on good and tight - make it click a few times.
 

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@Londear
Could you please complete your profile; vehicle details at least, thanks:

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