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2003 Subaru Forester
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10 Posts
We bought a 09 Forester about 8 months ago and have been very happy with this one. We had had a 1999 Forester before until it was killed in a accident and I still miss that car. We discovered that the previous owner made some strange mods. According to the VIN it's a L.L Bean model. No L.L Bean plaque on the back. They switched the preva (sp) from the right to the left side. They also didn't keep up with the recall repairs. I'm looking to get the plugs changed because power does seem to be a bit low. I googled doing it but can't do it myself like in the old forester but local garages are wanting $300 + to do it. They say it's mostly because the proper spark plugs are $35- $45 each and they have to take the engine out. Is any of this true or are they blowing smoke. I checked and the OEM plugs from the manual are about $5.00.

Captain Quack.
Hi, I would not attempt change the plugs on my 2003 Forester, which is gone now; plugs were just too inaccessible for my 70+ body. But when I recently changed the plugs on my 2003 Honda - at 104,000 miles -- it was a snap. I had to buy some of the things I needed - a new spark plug socket, a simple gap guage, and dielectric grease. I already had a long extension for my 3/4" ratchet wrench, and I was lucky enough to have a neighbor who let me use his torque wrench to tighten plugs to spec.
The whole business, including plugs, and tools cost a little over $50 -- and I'm good for another 100,000 miles.
 

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2016 Forester Premium 2.5
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32 Posts
Hi, I would not attempt change the plugs on my 2003 Forester, which is gone now; plugs were just too inaccessible for my 70+ body. But when I recently changed the plugs on my 2003 Honda - at 104,000 miles -- it was a snap. I had to buy some of the things I needed - a new spark plug socket, a simple gap guage, and dielectric grease. I already had a long extension for my 3/4" ratchet wrench, and I was lucky enough to have a neighbor who let me use his torque wrench to tighten plugs to spec.
The whole business, including plugs, and tools cost a little over $50 -- and I'm good for another 100,000 miles.
Yes! We had a 2003 Honda Civic, and spark plugs were a 15 to 20 minute job to replace them. I have replaced plugs on all the My Subaru‘s from 1993. That is one of the few things I don’t like about the boxer engine. On my last boxer engine spark plug change, I had a little over an hour, and only completed one side before the car was needed. I had to wait until the next day to complete the task. I use several different lengths of 3/8 extentions and a flexible joint with a spark plug socket that grips the plug lightly. Here are my tips.
1. Do not let ANY shop remove your engine to replace spark plugs. Find a different shop.
2. Do not extend the maintenance interval. Replaced as noted in the maintenance schedule.
3. Use ONLY the OEM NGK plugs, but they don’t have to be from the dealer. Other plugs may work and last as long, but they may not. It is a difficult enough job, and not worth the risk to save a couple of bucks per plug.
4. It is an easy enough DIY job, but allow plenty of time, and if possible have another vehicle available to run out and get a different length extension or other tool that you may need.
5. Look for oil on the plugs ceramic after removal. If you see oil, the valve cover will need to be removed and the plug seals replaced. Put a new valve cover gasket on when you reinstall the cover. In my experience, this is usually the case on a spark plug replacements after 100k miles. Oil on 1 plug? Do seals on ALL 4.
6. Tell your shop that you can get the plugs for x$, And that you can provide the NGK plugs. If they will not do this for you, reconsider the DIY route or find a different shop. If it was only a few bucks more per plug no big deal. But $35 versus $9 is out of line.
Good luck!
 

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2005 Forester EJ251, 2011 Forester FB25
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159 Posts
Use platinum or Iridium. You may never have to replace them again or possibly once before you sell the car. Good for 100,000 km. I found that I could buy on ebay NGK Iridium in the United Kingdom mailed to Australia for half or a third of the Australian price. Strange as Japan is closer to Australia than the UK.
 

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2009 Subaru Forester. the dealer and VIN said "LL Bean Edition" but it doesnt show that badge.
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22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #24 ·
I've found a mechanic who is charging $35 an hour less than everyone else in town but who has come with execelent references from several people I know and trust including 2 who are car people. I tossed the problem to him and I'm just waiting for him to get back to me. If this goes well I'm going to have him do the other routine things that I don't know if the previous owner did or not over time as money allows. Timeing chain and so forth. He did mention he has seen similar situations with Subaru's with regards to the transmission fluid filter. She does have 152K miles plus on her. Is it too damn hard to just drop any service reciept in a zip lock bag and put it in the glove box?

Captain Quack.
 

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2000 Forester
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27 Posts
I've found a mechanic who is charging $35 an hour less than everyone else in town but who has come with execelent references from several people I know and trust including 2 who are car people. I tossed the problem to him and I'm just waiting for him to get back to me. If this goes well I'm going to have him do the other routine things that I don't know if the previous owner did or not over time as money allows. Timeing chain and so forth. He did mention he has seen similar situations with Subaru's with regards to the transmission fluid filter. She does have 152K miles plus on her. Is it too damn hard to just drop any service reciept in a zip lock bag and put it in the glove box?

Captain Quack.
No timing chain in these engines. Timing belt, yes. And definitely a good idea to replace it if there is no record of it having been done.
 

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2005 2.5X 4EAT 2017 2.5i Prem CVT
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93 Posts
@Captain Quack Based on your profile I'm strongly guessing there's an independent Subaru specialist near you. The Palouse is FULL of Subies!

Even here in the STL area where the dealership techs are all union I've never been quoted anything near that much for a plug swap.
 

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2009 Subaru Forester. the dealer and VIN said "LL Bean Edition" but it doesnt show that badge.
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22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #27 ·
We keep joking about Foresters being the official state car. We go to the wellness pool and it's like Forester, Forester, Forester, Outback, Forester. Toyota. Forester. We used to have a really good regular mechanic but he retired and the guys working for him opened a shop but they came back with the same price point. $300.00. Timing Belt. I hate to think what that would cost me.

Captain Quack.
 

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2000 Forester
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27 Posts
I just watched this video and it didn't look all that hard to me, but I guess it's all relative. Harder for sure than on my 2000 Forester, but easier than my '97 F-150 4.6L V8, which involved letting the air out of the front tires to lower it to a workable height and using just about every 3/8" drive gizmo in my tool box to get the rear two plugs out. Had six plugs and wires done in an hour and it was like another hour to do the last two! My uncle had a 1960s-something Pontiac Firebird and he told me that changing the plugs involved removing the fenders! I bet all your local shops are going by the flat rate book, which is based on jacking up the engine and they haven't figured out they can get some more business (maybe they don't need it?) by charging less and doing it as shown in that video. See if somebody down in Lewiston wants your business. Tell you what, if I still lived in Moscow (went to U of I, '84), I'd come over and do it for half that plus parts! :)
 

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2009 Subaru Forester. the dealer and VIN said "LL Bean Edition" but it doesnt show that badge.
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22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I called one place this afternoon I hadn't called before. They've been here for years. They quoted me $165.00. That's a heck of a lot better price for a job I can't do myself anymore. I used to do the plugs on my old '99 forester myself with no problem but now the body just won't let me do that. Trying to slip a socket over a bolt can take me 10 minutes now.

Captain Quack.
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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40,534 Posts
@Captain Quack I seem to recall the cost for spark plug replacement in my son's '03 X was around $125 at our trusted Subaru dealership shop. I provided the spark plugs, as I wanted a specific type installed. The Forester was in for coolant & transmission service, so I figured I might as well have them do the work.

Bobby...

['07 FSXT Member Journal] ['03 X Member Journal]
 

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2000 Forester
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27 Posts
Good deal! At hourly shop rates these days, $165 ain't bad, especially if it includes the plugs. I'm 64 now and it's definitely harder working on my vehicles than it used to be, mainly because I'm packing too many pounds. I dread the day when it becomes too difficult or impossible for me. I witnessed my dad's struggle with macular degeneration and how hard that made life for someone who had worked with his hands and eyes for many, many years. It was tough just to watch.
 

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2009 Subaru Forester. the dealer and VIN said "LL Bean Edition" but it doesnt show that badge.
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22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Getting older and disabled isn't for wimps that's for sure. I've been calling around and getting the quotes again and most of them are still in the $300.00 range. My nearest Subaru dealer quoted me $460.00 "Because of labor". I'm going to call again today and double check that one.
 

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2015 Forester
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172 Posts
Not sure about the 09, but on my 15 I had to get a new plug socket (a different size yet) and ended up with a magnetic one (all they had that would fit). Worked great! Worth the extra couple of bucks. I prechecked to make sure it would come off the plug with the extension, which it did. Like previous poster said, remove the battery and air box. Took me 1.5-2 hrs. The back left one I had to put the socket in the hole, then the extension, then the ratchet as there is not enough room to get everything in there at once. There is enough room to take is apart and get the socket and plug out and back in. Just snug.
 

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2009 Subaru Forester. the dealer and VIN said "LL Bean Edition" but it doesnt show that badge.
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22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #34 ·
I did get a much more reasonable quote from the shop that took over after our old mechanic retired. His employees bought him out and set up a new shop. I'm taking it in Tuesday afternoon and they are going to look it over and see what needs to be done. After I explained the history he did bring up the dreaded timing belt. They are going to check for that and check one of the plugs as well. Not bad for $50.00. I think I may have found my new mechanic. Rough quote for a new belt is about $1300.00.

Captain Quack.
 

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2011 Subaru Forester
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1,303 Posts
What happened to your $165 place to do the plugs? That seemed a pretty good deal. $1300 for the timing belt seems rather high to me
 

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2009 Subaru Forester. the dealer and VIN said "LL Bean Edition" but it doesnt show that badge.
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22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #36 ·
The $165 place is a good shop. I've had work done there before. Right now I'm kind of banking on the successor to my old mechanic. Going to take it in Tuesday and see what they say before I make any decisions. They only do Asian cars. Kind of a specialist shop.

Captain Quack.
 

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2007 Forester Columbia Edition
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346 Posts
I changed the spark plugs yesterday, and decided to run the NGK 5464 Iridium IX which are slightly nicer than the OEM NGK 5463 Laser Platinum. For a set of 4, it was only $27 CAD anyway.

I'd rather spend an extra few bucks per spark plug to not have to do it again in the likely life of my 2007 Forester lol. It's never about the actual change itself, it's fiddling with every rusted bolt in the engine compartment and hoping it all comes back together again.

Good luck with your change!
 

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2015 Forester "Premium", 2.0 NA
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59 Posts
Nice choice of plugs but I'm interested in the "slightly nicer" statement. How does one quantitfy niceness? lol
 

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2007 Forester Columbia Edition
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346 Posts
To tell you the truth, I haven't a clue. I just went by the fact that RockAuto had it listed under "Iridium (lasts up to 4x longer than copper)" and the other at Double Platinum "(lasts up to 3x longer than copper)"

Either way, still longer than I'll probably end up keeping the car lol (though that's what I said 5 years ago).
 

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2015 Forester "Premium", 2.0 NA
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59 Posts
All good. I'm sure the Iridium IX will give you at least 60,000km. I've used them before in some modified engines and they did the job very well until some oil leaks fouled the plugs, as in the tip never wore down.
 
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