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Discussion Starter #21
I know what you mean about the engine, it can sound rough at startup. I only recently learned that mine has a PZEV engine, and that they are programmed to rev at 1500+ when cold to get to temp faster. Its also programmed to idle as low as possible. I have been thinking mine idles too low, but it seems to be the nature of the beast. Cleaning the throttle body with some throttle body cleaner spray was beneficial. Idle is more stable, and the slight hesitation in acceleration is gone.
Changing the serpentine belt isn't so bad and unlike a lot of vehicles its right in front rather than hidden.

With regards to the transmission, I am wondering if the fact that its an older design, means that the same one was used in earlier Foresters and possibly other Subaru models and that it might give you the opportunity to find the pricey parts used. It's rare to have an issue with the transmission control module. You might be able to find one at a pick and pull yard, but you will need to research compatibility.
About the transmission, I can only hope that the TCM is fine. I'll have a chat with my shop if they allow for salvaged parts instead of their own. The first issue that has to be solved that they ran into in diagnostics was that the sensor that detects whether the transmission and the engine are at the same speed was out by a bit (about 15%). If it comes to replacing the TCM I will definitely look into digging for a salvage part because I sure as hell don't want to waste $1100 on it.
 

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Hopefully, it isn't but if you do have to track down a TCM it might be worth it. I helped my nephew with an Acura EL he bought used that had hit a curb. He did not realize that it would require replacing the crash sensors, seat belt actuators, and the airbag control module. Over 2 grand in parts at a dealer vs 46 bucks at Kenny U pull. Of course, you have to be a bit lucky and find the right donor car. Hope you can find one. For example, there is a 2009 Forester at a Pick and pull yard in Gatineau. It's an automatic and has the same transmission as ours, but of course, we have a different engine, so I am not sure if the TCM would be the same model. It might be though. Some research would be required. Before that, I would have a serious look at the connector for corrosion. For some reason, I am assuming it's under the transmission console. Maybe spilled liquid got in there. If you do have a look at yours post a pic of it, and I will try and research it a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
And another update...

Now the power steering pump is screaming at me when I turn the wheel while stationary. The feed hose to the pump was removed to changed the steering fluid (not by my recommendation) and I'm worried that it's allowed air to be introduced to the system... may need to replace the aging hose. Engine is also making some unhappy noises for a few revolutions after starting from cold but goes completely normal. Also one of the map light switches is messed up and I had to order a new one. I am getting really tired of this car already. It took me eight years to learn to hate my Tribute, and I already hate this stupid thing after one month of ownership.

Also, @Quadraria10 I gotta say, I would love to live where you do where you can get $2000 worth of parts for $46 at a pick-and-pull. The one I have heard back from wanted $65 for the dome light console. Luckily I found a switch that will fit, but I have learned that if anything else big goes wrong with this thing that scrap yards are not going to be an option for me.
 

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Man, this is sad to hear. I guess I have been far luckier. I bought privately and not through a dealer of any kind. I have also been servicing it myself these past 8 months. I used the turkey baster method to get as much new steering fluid into the system I could, and did 3 drain and fills. After changing the driver's side CV axle the car is almost perfect. I did note how cracked the rear bushing on the front control arms are and so I have ordered a set and plan to install them this month. Should make the Foz feel almost new.
For used parts I guess I am lucky that there are Kenny U Pulls in both Ottawa and Gatineau. For a TCM they will charge you the same as for an ECM-- $33.50 with a $10 core so your final cost can be as low as 23.50. They publish price lists and it makes no diff if the part is coming from a Mercedes or a KIA. I like that it allows me to practice the part removal before doing it on my own. Also, a great place to stock up on little trim clips and whatnots which you can usually get for free. FYI they sell the dome light assembly for $5.47. They had an SH Forester in Gatineau not long ago and of course one of the good things is that Subaru uses a number of interchangeable parts across different models.
I am not so keen on more traditional junkyards that seek to charge a high percentage of the dealer part price, but then that requires more service and knowledge which I guess you have to pay for somehow.
The breakdown for my nephews Acura was the SRS Airbag control module at Honda would have been over 900 Cdn, driver's side seat belt and buckle units over 650 and two front impact sensors over 300. Throw in taxes and its over 2K. At Kenny U Pull I paid the same for the SRS control module as an ECM, a bit less than 20 for the seat belt, and they let us have the impact sensors for free.
I hope you can get yours sorted out soon. Good luck with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
Yup. I wanted to use the baster method (we even had a vacuum pump at our disposal) but it was insisted that removing the hose would work best. I just want to fix and get rid of this lemon right now.
 

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If you do need a tcm-- this might be an option
Also occurs to me that there are companies that will repair them which might be an option.
A better deal
Still better deal! Roughly $100 Cdn with delivery and import fees included.
Yup should be the right part
To access yours you just need to remove the lower cover from the instrument panel and it is just to the left of the brake pedal. The service manual says to disconnect the battery before undoing the connections. Hope this is helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
If the TCM is in fact bad, then thank you so much for providing these links. I've saved them just in case - a lot cheaper than the $1500+ the shop quoted me. I'm hoping this hell will be over after replacing the TC lockup solenoid, this will be a good fallback in the worst case scenario. Since it's a computer I suspect it will need to be checked/programmed by the transmission shop, but I'll check with them to see if they allow for customers to provide parts... not many shops do.
 

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I suspect its plug and play. The service manual does not say anything about reprogramming it. Basically they seem to test and if defective replace. The TCM is attached by a bracket that you remove and transfer to the new one. A little contortion is involved but it would be a 10 minute job to replace it.
 

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Discussion Starter #29 (Edited)
I suspect its plug and play. The service manual does not say anything about reprogramming it. Basically they seem to test and if defective replace. The TCM is attached by a bracket that you remove and transfer to the new one. A little contortion is involved but it would be a 10 minute job to replace it.
What section of the shop manual did you find it in?

EDIT: How about "Transmission Control Module" that sounds right...

As a note, the procedure for installation requires a procedure called "Learning Control" that requires a Subaru Select monitor.. yeah I'll check with the shop to see if they allow for me to provide the part.
 

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I did not read attentively enough. That does complicate the replacement if needed. I wonder what it actually does, and if there is an aftermarket interface that will let you run Subaru Select?
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Alright, update on this lovely black hole of money... I have to replace the entire transmission. TC was slipping by 250RPM even under light loads (cruising on a flat city street). I officially hate this car and can't wait for the day I can get rid of it. Absolute garbage.

The jerk who sold this thing must have put some of that stupid slip reduction additive in the transmission so he could sell it without anyone noticing. Absolute scam artist. If I ever see him again he will be getting an earful.
 

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I am reading all this with an awe.
I drive a 2010 premium now.
158k miles. I am assuming you meant 265k killometers since you are in Canada. So close enough.
Yeat my ride seams better.
I literally had very little issues over the 10 years of ownership.
In 10 year's, a side from recalls, I had an AC failed, a blown radiator, just a few months ago.
And overall not much had been spent for maintanace except the neseseties. Still drives well.
I am planning on replacing it soon but only because with my commute I fear of getting stuck. If I didn't drive 80+ miles a day I would be keeping it for another 100k miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
Yeah I'm a little bewildered as well. In ten minutes I am parting with my beloved first car, a 2002 3.0L V6 Mazda Tribute (Ford Escape). Identical mileage to the Forester I am now "driving" (i.e. going nowhere in because it lives in the shop), drives nicer than any of the Foresters I test drove during my shopping, including low-mileage ones. It accelerates when you hit the gas, unlike every Subaru I test-drove that kind of thinks about it and then starts getting around to it by the time you retire. Even with all-terrain all-season winter-rated tires (which I recently discovered aren't available at any price point for the Forester) it's quieter on the road than Foresters with city summers on. No rattles. No trim squeaks. The engine did explode right after I bought it (I am cursed) but since replacing it for half of what this stupid transmission is going to cost me, it's been minor fixes except for the brake lines that were well overdue regardless. Oh, and it didn't need stupid expensive 0W20, custom trans fluid and overpriced proprietary coolant.

It's not just the lemon that I made the stupid decision to buy. Everything about Subaru screams "horribly designed so you have to give even more money to us." There are a lot of parts you simply can't buy, even as a Subaru mechanic. I mean, how does a company go two decades with a continuous "engine blows up because of the head gasket and timing belt" problem and not even pretend to fix that? How did they get away with selling tens of thousands of cars that consume gallons of oil between changes? I hate Subaru. The dealership is run by scam artists and clearly unqualified technicians that lie to get more money from you, the cars are poorly designed, they are noisier than anything else I've ever driven, and everything about them is expensive to maintain, even just periodic maintenance. On top of that their gas mileage is garbage when compared to even cars a decade older. That V6 3.0L Tribute only consumed one extra litre per hundred kilometres compared to the Forester, and its engine didn't consume a dingle drop of oil between changes.

I don't know if there are any profanity rules on this forum but I will start breaking them if there are.
 

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That is bad news. Why can't the transmission be repaired? Or is that simply not cost-effective? If it's really cursed maybe you just need to get rid of it.
No idea what you mean about all-weather tires not being available, TireRack lists 10 different models just in the OE tire size. Throttle body cleaning was beneficial for the slight hesitation I felt on acceleration. It does not have huge low-end torque, but it gets going nicely.
As for fluids-- I use 5w30 Pennzoil synthetic ( or equivalent on sale)high mileage now as it leaks with 0w20, for the transmission I used Castrol full synthetic transmax, Prestone blue coolant for Asian cars, and Valvoline for gear oil. You do not need to buy these at the dealer.
As for the drive and handling, I understand your anger, but I have driven an Escape before of that vintage and a 2009, neither was as good as a Nissan X Trail. And the 2011 Forester is better than the 2006 Nissan which like the Escape/Tribute can suffer structural rust issues. In fact, the 2009 was bought by a friend last fall who sold it after 2 months at a loss because it had transmission issues. He got a Honda Element instead.
As for fuel ratings, the 2002 V6 Tribute with 4wd and an automatic uses 5.6 US gallons per 100 miles whereas the 4AT 2,5 Forester uses 4.3 per 100 according to the EPA.
Anyway, I hope you can find ways to save on repairing it. In your shoes, I would get a second opinion. Good luck. I am glad I have not experienced similar issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
That is bad news. Why can't the transmission be repaired? Or is that simply not cost-effective? If it's really cursed maybe you just need to get rid of it.
No, I'm cursed. First car I bought (the Tribute) blew up after five months. Blew up my parents' car while I was borrowing it the next year... both were "it's happening no matter who's driving it" problems but it didn't feel good.
No idea what you mean about all-weather tires not being available, TireRack lists 10 different models just in the OE tire size.
I'm looking for proper AT tires. I got a really nice set for the Tribute two years ago for $650CAD. The only thing available to me for the Forester are Nordmans... which are okay if you never want to leave pavement. My Nordmans were shredded (two of them, sidewall) by a tiny rock on a logging road. I don't trust anything less than a light truck tire off pavement.
Throttle body cleaning was beneficial for the slight hesitation I felt on acceleration. It does not have huge low-end torque, but it gets going nicely.
Throttle body was scrubbed out and cleaned properly. Still drives like a brick on sandpaper. Maybe that's the AT talking though, we'll see when the new AT goes in. The new AT has only 3000km on it.
As for fluids-- I use 5w30 Pennzoil synthetic ( or equivalent on sale)high mileage now as it leaks with 0w20, for the transmission I used Castrol full synthetic transmax, Prestone blue coolant for Asian cars, and Valvoline for gear oil. You do not need to buy these at the dealer.
I thought Subaru specifically stopped listing 530 as suitable "alternative" oil for the 2011 model. My engine only has one tiny leak, around the driver's side valve cover. Nowhere else (bottom of the engine is spotless and dry). That being said, it consumes about half a quart between changes according to the previous owner who I don't trust at all at this point. As for the coolant, everywhere that I've read online, at the scammy dealership and at the shop I trust I've been told that you absolutely must used Subaru Coolant and Subaru Coolant Conditioner or your radiator will fail due to corrosion. As for the ATF, I'll ask the shop what they've put in it, as they are a transmission shop that's been in business since the early 90s... they'd better know what they're doing. The manual doesn't specify anything unique for the diff oil, so I will just be going with whatever's on the shelf.
As for the drive and handling, I understand your anger, but I have driven an Escape before of that vintage and a 2009, neither was as good as a Nissan X Trail. And the 2011 Forester is better than the 2006 Nissan which like the Escape/Tribute can suffer structural rust issues. In fact, the 2009 was bought by a friend last fall who sold it after 2 months at a loss because it had transmission issues. He got a Honda Element instead.
The fact that you've stuck a Honda Element in the same category as a Nissan X-Trail... scares me. I've never driven an X-Trail, I've heard they handle exceptionally well on trails but I've never seen on on rough roads... I guess it doesn't have the cult-of-personality that the Forester has or the high supply and visibility that the Escape had (post-2007 are garbage, my parents have one and I've driven it many times). My biggest complaint about non-power handling is the suspension on the Forester. It feels like an old Cadillac, whereas my old Tribute/Escape was as tight as a rock. You never bottomed out from bounce. I've already bottomed my Forester on a speed bump because of bounce.
As for fuel ratings, the 2002 V6 Tribute with 4wd and an automatic uses 5.6 US gallons per 100 miles whereas the 4AT 2,5 Forester uses 4.3 per 100 according to the EPA.
Anyway, I hope you can find ways to save on repairing it. In your shoes, I would get a second opinion. Good luck. I am glad I have not experienced similar issues.
Second opinion was this shop, which I have learned to trust. The dealership refused to provide diagnostic trees, show me what was wrong with my car, or anything. They didn't even torque my lugs (four were finger loose). My current shop takes you into the shop, points out what is wrong, demonstrates, explains, gives you photocopies of the diag trees covered in notes, and comps when their repairs don't work. I live in a place with a car market that could fit in a shoebox. I had to travel 150km to get this pile of hot garbage, the only stuff available locally was even poorer priced (even taking into account the $3000 it will take to replace the trans) and in worse condition/older. And yes, be very glad. It's not nice owning a car for a month and a half and having it spend literally two weeks of that month and a half in a shop and costs two months of your income to get to minimal working condition.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
I know what you mean about the engine, it can sound rough at startup. I only recently learned that mine has a PZEV engine, and that they are programmed to rev at 1500+ when cold to get to temp faster. Its also programmed to idle as low as possible. I have been thinking mine idles too low, but it seems to be the nature of the beast. Cleaning the throttle body with some throttle body cleaner spray was beneficial. Idle is more stable, and the slight hesitation in acceleration is gone.
Changing the serpentine belt isn't so bad and unlike a lot of vehicles its right in front rather than hidden.

With regards to the transmission, I am wondering if the fact that its an older design, means that the same one was used in earlier Foresters and possibly other Subaru models and that it might give you the opportunity to find the pricey parts used. It's rare to have an issue with the transmission control module. You might be able to find one at a pick and pull yard, but you will need to research compatibility.
Found what is effectively a brand new (3000km) transmission for $1600, which is only $300 more than the cheapest, high-mileage AT that we could find. Some internal components are different in the 2011, which was discovered by my mechanic when he tried to order a replacement solenoid (before realizing the whole transmission is crap) and found out that you can't buy a solenoid for anything after 2010. I just want this to be done and I'll pay the price. And yes, everything to do with cars in British Columbia is incredibly expensive... for reference, when my dome light failed (and before I realized that Honda dome light switches are compatible with Subarus) only two wrecking yards within 300km had the right trim level of Forester and they wanted $65 for it. I guess I have the PZEV as well, as until the stupid blue temperature light goes out, it revs between 1200 and 1500. Glad to know that I'm not the only one who starts rough. Does yours stall when your start it when its hot? Mine starts great when cold, but needs to crank up to twenty-five times to start when hot and sometimes stalls after that.
 

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Maybe you need new rear struts as well. Hope the new transmission fixes your issues.
For AT tires, there are lots of tire threads here, and I am sure you will find a listing of some alternate sizes that work.
Hopefully, curses come in threes and you will have filled your quota. And yes you can use 5w30 and Subaru specs it for all non-NA markets. The trade-off of a bit worse gas mileage for better engine protection.
For the coolant you can use this
I don' think there is any need to use the conditioner in a 2011, and did not use it in mine.
 

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Discussion Starter #40
Alright, for my next change I'll use 530 and use the 020 to top up when I need to. Maybe it'll even further decrease the minor leak around the valve cover. And for the coolant, I think my local store carries that one so I'll check. Cheers!
 
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