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2007 Forester XS Sport
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just bought a 2007 Subaru Forester XS with 139k miles for $500. The car was used as a work truck for a traveling commercial phone system repair guy. He just filled the gas tank up then suddenly the car started losing power and would only drive at 20 MPR and had no power. It idles great. He said he replaced the timing belt at about 120k. Since it would cost him more to fix the car, he bought a used car to get home to Cal. and I bought the car.

Long story short, I bought the Subie and drove it home (in the middle of the night) and actually got it up to 45mph going mostly downhill or on the flat. The engine ran but I need to really baby it over the 1000-1200 rpm mark and if I floor it dogs out with a kind of deep fluttering BWAAAA sound. If I baby it and kind of get it over that rpm hump, it takes off and kind of runs better but can flutter up and down a bit and never really reaches a power point.

The previous owner wasn't the maintenance type, using the low oil, add a quart, oil change method, so I immediately changed the oil and filter. I bought a new front cat and installed that. The honeycomb in the old cat fell out so I know that was a good purchase. I replaced the spark plugs and wires with the blue NGKs. There was a lot of old oil in the bottom of the sparkplug holes but the old plugs didn't show signs of any major problems, other than being way out of spec, meaning they really needed changing. Now the engine is running better, still no codes but it still has no power although I was able to drive it a few blocks and make it back home and back up the driveway. I did ad a can of Seafoam fuel system cleaner to the tank.

Without any codes, I don't really have any idea of where to start diagnosing the engine. I would think that any problem bad enough to keep the engine running so poorly would surely throw some kind of code. The previous owner said he had some code but he ran the battery down and cleared the codes before I saw them. He said they were cat codes so I figure they were the usual O2 sensor/cat codes. Another reason for changing out the front cat. I didn't replace the mid cat, not wanting to just start throwing parts at the engine and hoping to get lucky. Is it possible that the back cat is restricting the exhaust and causing the potato in the pipe problem and causing the engine power problem. I am getting exhaust out the pipe (which is really hot) and there is no white smoke indicative of a coolant leak and the engine isn't overheating.

At this point, I'm kinda stumped and would appreciate any insight into diagnosing the problem. I don't want to sink any more into the Subie until I get a better idea of the problem. As it is, I just spent another three hundred bucks buying new front fenders and bumper covers to fix up a few parking dings on the body. I also replaced the interior carpets because as I said, the guy was traveling and kind of living in the car and frankly he was a really nice guy but he was a real slob. I had to hose out the compartment to clean out the spilled drinks and cigarette ashes. I also replaced the moon roof glass, since he broke it with one of his service ladders. All in all I still only have about $1100 into the car and am hopeful of having a decent low mileage Forester to drive for a few years.

Thanks for reading my saga and for any help you can provide. This is my second Subaru, the first being a sweet 1991 Legacy Loyal Wagon I got from my Mom after she passed due to the covid19 virus. The Loyal was stolen from my house by a rogue towing company that was stealing and wreaking out cars in the Portland OR. area.

Sincerely,
MisterFixIt1952
 

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1999 A/T - 235,000 mi. WA state
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864 Posts
Nice story. If you can't resolve it quickly here, think about calling your local Subie dealer and ask if they offer a 'new car inspection' where they do an inspection / limited diagnosis in the hope of the 'new used' car becoming a customer. Around here these used to cost $50 and there could value there in your situation. You'll end up with a long fix-it list and an estimated cost per item.

Luck
 

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2007 Forester XS Sport
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
@UhOh Thanks, I'll try the Subie repair track after I exhaust all of my DIY possibilities. Most dealer encounters I've read about involve expensive OEM parts being thrown at a problem followed by a $1000 plus bill. I did invest in a good OBDII reader program (TOAD PRO) so I am able to see what the ECU is doing. I'm hoping to glean some useful information from the engine readings to diagnose the problem. I also have the factory service manual to help me. Most of my auto repair experience is with pre-OBD Hondas 91 CRX si and my 95 Delsol si SOHC Vtec. This is my first sojourn into OBDII ECU-controlled fuel injection. I'm not afraid of learning new skills and plan on owning Subarus for the rest of my driving days, at least until I die or can afford an EV, although at 69 I'm not sure which one comes first. :ROFLMAO:
 

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2020 Forester Sport
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50 Posts
I just bought a 2007 Subaru Forester XS with 139k miles for $500. The car was used as a work truck for a traveling commercial phone system repair guy. He just filled the gas tank up then suddenly the car started losing power and would only drive at 20 MPR and had no power. It idles great. He said he replaced the timing belt at about 120k. Since it would cost him more to fix the car, he bought a used car to get home to Cal. and I bought the car.

Sincerely,
MisterFixIt1952
I always start with "What was the last thing I did before the problem started?"
Assuming that last tank full is still in the tank, it may be bad gas.
 

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2008 LL Bean (4EAT)
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4,906 Posts
... just filled the gas tank up then suddenly the car started losing power and would only drive at 20 MPR and had no power. It idles great... got it up to 45mph going mostly downhill or on the flat. The engine ran but I need to really baby it over the 1000-1200 rpm mark and if I floor it dogs out with a kind of deep fluttering BWAAAA sound. If I baby it and kind of get it over that rpm hump, it takes off and kind of runs better but can flutter up and down a bit and never really reaches a power point...
We had a car that did that exactly.
Wife filled up her 3.8L Buick at a gas station on the Interstate about 10 miles from home. The engine began to sputter and miss and buck, and would not go over 30 mph on the level and would slow for hills. Would idle without dying, but would not take throttle. She made it home and we had the car towed to a shop.
The shop called to say they found a lot of water in the gas -- later showed us a milk jug with some gas drained from the tank, and there was water visible in the bottom. I immediately called the gas station and they said other people had just reported the same problem, that their tanker truck had delivered gas with water in it, and that the water-warning system in their storage tanks had failed, and they had now shut their pumps down.
The shop charged us $900 to clean our car's gas tank and fuel system, and the gas station repaid us. I assume their insurance covered the claims. I wonder about the poor people who were on trips and bogged down on the Interstate.
 

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2009 Forester M5 2.5 SOHC
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106 Posts
I loved the loyales! I had two a 90 and a 94.
A few things come to mind: plugged fuel filter and/or pickup screen
Vacuum leak.
bad MAF sensor/plugged engine air filter.
 

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2010 X Limited, 2.5L NA, 4AT. Purchased as the second owner in 2020 with ~126K miles.
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33 Posts
It sounds like an egr valve issue. Check your connections. Disconnect, wait for code, reset codes, reconnect. Some trouble shooting along those lines. In vacuum operated valves you could verify movement, opening/closing, full/partial.
 

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2007 Forester XS Sport
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks, donkpow. That's the kind of tip I need. I'll disconnect the EGR and see if it'll code.

Thanks, everyone for your answers. I really don't think it is fuel but I'm going to investigate the possibility. When I first got the car I put a whole can of seafoam fuel system cleaner into the gas tank. If there was any water in the gas that would have mitigated any major problems (unless of course it was like a gallon or two of water and that's highly unlikely). Also, the engine runs steadily when in park. It doesn't even skip a beat until you put it into gear and put the engine under a load. Also, if water was in the tank, I would think that the car would misfire causing an engine code. My gut instinct tells me it's some kind of sensor if it isn't the cat.

As I said, I replaced the front cat but not the back one. Could it be clogged up enough to cause the problem? I don't have much experience with catalytic converters. I do know that if you clog up the tailpipe, (like with a potato) the engine runs like poop :poop: (anyone ever seen Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop).:ROFLMAO:

If it is fuel, what is the best way to drain the tank? Is there a drain plug or should I just try to siphon it out? Most cars are a bear to get a hose into. Because it's completely full it will take a huge effort to completely drain the tank. Where would I even put it? Also, I wouldn't want to put it into one of my other cars, at least until I could separate out the water. If there is a bit of water, one of the alcohol additives should absorb the water and allow it to be burned. I think tomorrow I'll buy or rent a fuel injection pressure test kit. I can check the pressure and fill up a container and see if there is any water. The water should go to the bottom and be visible.

Thanks again, you guys rock.
 

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2007 Forester XS Sport
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I loved the loyales! I had two a 90 and a 94.
A few things come to mind: plugged fuel filter and/or pickup screen
Vacuum leak.
bad MAF sensor/plugged engine air filter.
Yeah, my Mom's Loyal was a clean little rig. It only had a bit over 100k on it. I hope the illegitimate offspring who stole it breaks down in the middle of Death Valley.
 

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2007 Forester XS Sport
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
We had a car that did that exactly.
Wife filled up her 3.8L Buick at a gas station on the Interstate about 10 miles from home. The engine began to sputter and miss and buck, and would not go over 30 mph on the level and would slow for hills. Would idle without dying, but would not take throttle. She made it home and we had the car towed to a shop.
The shop called to say they found a lot of water in the gas -- later showed us a milk jug with some gas drained from the tank, and there was water visible in the bottom. I immediately called the gas station and they said other people had just reported the same problem, that their tanker truck had delivered gas with water in it, and that the water-warning system in their storage tanks had failed, and they had now shut their pumps down.
The shop charged us $900 to clean our car's gas tank and fuel system, and the gas station repaid us. I assume their insurance covered the claims. I wonder about the poor people who were on trips and bogged down on the Interstate.
The same thing happened to my brother's Ford F350 Van a couple of years ago. Really screwed up his new engine. Luckily the station paid for it.
 
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