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2019 Forester Sport CVT
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Discussion Starter #1
Went out what I intended to be a mild off-road run in the Tillamook Forest to see how the rig drove on the forest roads. I decided to explore a road that I had not been on before and it quickly turned to a pretty rocky ride. Saw some cool views as I wandered my way through. I picked my way carefully and never dragged at all, which was nice. One section I was going a little faster because it was smooth when a hole jumped out in front of me and I hit it with a loud thunk. Overall I was very happy with how well it performed. Really impressed! I even got it on three wheels on a dirt hill section. The dirt was wet and muddy so I got a chance to try out the Xdrive. It worked great.

About 2 hours in my low tire pressure light came on. I watched it going down while trying to find a flat area to change the tire. Got to an area with 8psi left in my left rear tire. Put the donut spare on and now super carefully picked my way out. The area I got in to was much rockier than I intended to go. Bad on me for not airing down, but the stock 225/55R18's don't have much sidewall so I kept them aired up to keep the rims safe. With the sharp rocks, I was driving over it was a crapshoot.

First stop after making my way out of the woods was to Discount Tire. They pulled the tire and said it was too big to be patched. I had planned on getting some different tires at some point. Either go down to 17" rims and get a 255/60 or 65 R17 or stay stock rims and get either a stock size Geolander G015 or go bigger with a lift and go KO2's. Neither I was planning to do now. I was hoping to not get a lift until I see what it can do at stock height. The only reason (for me) to go higher would be to get some more aggressive tires with more sidewall on the stock 18's. So, I decided to stick with OEM tires until I figure out what I am going to do long term. Discount Tire did not have the stock Falken's in there but will get it in tomorrow.

When I got home I cleaned all the mud off and noticed the left front tire had a gouge taken out of the sidewall that went down to the threads. The rim right below it had a little ding as well. That musta been the thunk I heard when I hit the hole on the trail. Called Discount Tire and ordered another tire. Now I'm replacing two and wondering if I should just go all 4 on a better tire, but I don't think there really is anything better because of the size I'm working with right now.

Not a cheap day off from work to go exploring!





 

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Personally, I would never take my Forester off pavement. No matter what Subaru shows in their ads, it is not an off road vehicle, at least in my opinion.
That being said, I use my Tacoma for off road travels and carry a tire plug kit, compressor, and "fix a flat" with me. The Tacoma has a real spare, but the plug/compressor combo has gotten me out of more than a few situations. I live in NH and travel on logging roads (no rock climbing) in ME/NH/VT for fly fishing. Sharp shards of granite and shale seek out tires. I don't know how they position themselves to do the most damage, but they try hard.
 

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2012 Forester X Auto
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Actually, Subaru specifically says it is NOT an off-road vehicle.
A road that once had a blade over it isn't actually a road, it's a trail.
Dirt roads, like maintained forest service roads, sure, but with a stock vehicle it isn't up to the task, although you can make it and fake it sometimes.. as you found out.
Actually, you were pretty lucky, as it sounds like you were very close to two flats out in the boonies.
You could also have easily had some suspension damage. The Forester isn't a rock climber.
Fortunately you got back to post rather than as a story in an obituary column.
 

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2019 Forester Sport CVT
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115 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
It was fun! Coming from a Wrangler, I did miss the low range for easing over the rocks and just generally having better control. The CVT did well though. This was not rock crawling by any means but when creeping over a rocky trail it would have been helpful. Below is the only pic I got of the trail and while this section isn't very rocky, if you look toward the right side you can see some of the squarer rocks that were much more abundant to the point of covering the whole trail on other parts of the trail. This trip would have been great but for the tire damage. It was obvious the tires are the limiting factor.

@vtdog, growing up in Maine and moving to Oregon I got to experience both kinds of trails and I gotta agree. Not much granite and shale out here but we get lava rock and whatever rocks those square ones in the pic are and I agree. Never had a problem like this with any of my Jeeps or trucks on any of my trips, but I was able to air down and it had havier duty tires. IF I had been smart I would have turned around when the trail got rocky. Being an optimist I thought it "would get better". It didn't :LOL:

 

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2019 Forester Sport CVT
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Discussion Starter #6
Actually, Subaru specifically says it is NOT an off-road vehicle.
A road that once had a blade over it isn't actually a road, it's a trail.
Dirt roads, like maintained forest service roads, sure, but with a stock vehicle it isn't up to the task, although you can make it and fake it sometimes.. as you found out.
Actually, you were pretty lucky, as it sounds like you were very close to two flats out in the boonies.
You could also have easily had some suspension damage. The Forester isn't a rock climber.
Fortunately you got back to post rather than as a story in an obituary column.
These were dirt roads, so I guess you are right in that it was not "off-road". I don't want folks to read rocks and think I was rock crawling, that wasn't my intent. I wasn't too worried about suspension damage due to having the clearance needed. The most dangerous part would have been coming across a washout which it possible. You are right, I was close to having two flats for sure and THAT would have sucked. Don't think that point was lost on me. Stock vehicle was up to it, stock tires not so much.

In my defense against being an obituary, I stayed on roads and any 4x4 vehicle would have been fine, given the tires were up to the task. I knew where I was, just not what those particular roads were like. I did have a map and had a GPS track running. Barring me just driving off the road down a cliff I was pretty safe.
 

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1999 "L" - 231,000 mi. AT
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Like that you posted up the adventure, and with photos!
I'm in WA state; thinking you're in Oregon.


I've gone on roads almost that poor^^^ without Subaru problems. <In an old Accord I went on worse roads - and did have problems. Sigh, those were the days.>

So, on this forum, how do I get notified when you do additional posts? Thinking you will do other trip threads ...
 

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2019 Forester Sport CVT
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Discussion Starter #8
Hello @UhOh Yep, I am in Hillsboro Oregon and this trip was in the Tillamook Forest. I plan on doing lots of trips with this vehicle and want to see what it can do stock form before adding a bunch of mods to it. What I DON'T want to do is break stuff and tend to take it easy when adventuring since the vehicle has to get me home. Next time, regardless of my tires I will air down since I think that was a big part of the reason why I got a flat. The gouge I'm not sure when that happened. Just guessing it was when I hit the hole. Thinking about it, I bet being aired down would have helped there too.
 

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2019 Forester Sport CVT
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279 Posts
Nice exploration. You'll never know how far too far is until you've been there. We don't "off-road" or even "soft-road" but sometimes outdoor activities take us "off-pavement."

Owners Manual Page 390 said:
Your vehicle is classified as a utility vehicle. Utility vehicles feature a higher ground clearance which enables them to be used for wide applications including off- road driving. But please keep in mind that your vehicle is neither a conventional off- road vehicle nor an all-terrain vehicle...water should be shallow enough that it does not reach the vehicle’s undercarriage...Never equip your vehicle with tires larger than those specified in this manual.
The G015s are to All-Terrain tires about what stock Subarus are to Off-Road vehicles. I stuck with the stock Sport tire size for warranty, but you could make the case stock 17" size tires are the same... with 1/2-inch more sidewall.

The Viair 88P air compressor now comes in a nylon case with room for a tubless tire plug kit and it just fits under the cargo floor back by the tailgate latch. If you're going into rocks (I'm not), I'd invest in some tire spoons and sidewall patches.

Some other thoughts...

To help others help you, carry a recovery strap and a pair of 3/4" shackles. I got a couple of Jeep/WARN "Trail-Rated" Kits for $35 each from a Jeep dealer's parts department clearing inventory. It just fits below the cargo floor near the rear seat. If I knew Bubba Rope's safer GatorJaws (or US-made copy thereof) would fit through the Forester eye bolt, I'd prefer those to metal shackles.

I have an old GI "entrenching tool" folding spade, but am exploring fastening a larger spade to the rear seat back child seat LATCH points with Quick Fist Clamps. That could be a small snow shovel in winter.

We carry frozen water in milk jugs in a cheap Igloo Cooler that just fits behind the front passenger seat with it adjusted for me. We also have a LifeStraw, a couple of space blankets, a folding saw, and some fatwood sticks and fire starter under the cargo floor (BIC lighters, compass, multi-tool, head lamp, batteries, tourniquet, Israeli T3, etc in the glove box or console).
 

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2019 Forester Sport CVT
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Discussion Starter #10
Good points and I think I am going to stick with the stock size, for now. It has less than 2000 miles and I don't need the extra height. I take it you are happy with your Geolanders?

I do have a kinetic recovery rope, tow strap and shackle odds and ends. Good idea on the other items!
 

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2019 Forester Sport CVT
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So far, we're delighted with the G015s... on pavement. They're quiet, ride well, and handling and braking seem as good or better than the stock Falkens. It was a toss-up between Nokian WR G4s and G015s for us. The Nokians may be better on ice, but aren't as aggressive for snow or dirt. Both are 3 Peak Mountain Snow Flake rated.
 

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2019 Forester Sport CVT
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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks. I will look at the Nokian's. Living where I do, it snows rarely so having a dedicated snow tire I don't think is needed but 3 Peak rated is a good compromise.
 

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2019 Forester Sport CVT
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Thanks. I will look at the Nokian's. Living where I do, it snows rarely so having a dedicated snow tire I don't think is needed but 3 Peak rated is a good compromise.
There have been winters here where I prepped the snow blower and never used it... and others where we had a few days of deeper snow. So IMO dedicated winter tires aren't worth it here either. The WR tires are Nokian's "all-weather" (as opposed to all-season). I don't think they'd be as good as the G015 off-pavement.
 

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Sometimes bad luck just happens! Glad you made it out safe. I miss my 2014 Forester! I climbed stuff with that and went places I had no business going. I was shocked at how capable it was in the mountains of Idaho and Wyoming. I definitely avoided most serious rocks, as I just had the stock tires. But it really impressed me off the pavement.

That said, 95% percent of my driving was on paved roads, as intended. Great highway MPG for an AWD vehicle.
 

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2019 Forester Sport CVT
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Discussion Starter #16
I decided to just replace the two damaged tires with like. I would be down the car waiting for the new tires to a couple of days, but more importantly, I'm bleeding money right now with some summer house projects. I did get the road hazard as this is my third damaged tire in 1300 miles. The first one was a nail I got in the tire on day one.
 

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2019 Forester Sport CVT
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Probably based on your driving style you may want to get a set of 16’s or 17’s with an offroad tire. Off roading is subjective and common sense goes a long way, a lot of SUVs are more than capable going off the beaten trail you just need to understand its strengths and weakness. CVT alone isn't ideal but with some basic knowledge i don't see why you cant find some nice views.
 

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2019 Forester Sport CVT
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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks! I think I will get some 17's and better tires at some point. Discount Tire ends up with some good sales on occasion and I at this point I can afford to wait a while.
 

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2017 Forester Touring 2.5 CVT
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I decided to just replace the two damaged tires with like. I would be down the car waiting for the new tires to a couple of days, but more importantly, I'm bleeding money right now with some summer house projects. I did get the road hazard as this is my third damaged tire in 1300 miles. The first one was a nail I got in the tire on day one.
Please check the manual.
Depending on degree of wear, you may have to replace all 4 or, alternatively, shave the two you are replacing.
 

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Sahuarita, Arizona USA 2018 Forester Limited
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Tires are a Forester's weak point. I've learned that the hard way too, once on an unpaved FS road and another time on an unpaved BLM road. Had to buy a set of four tires both times due to un unrepairable rock cut to a single tire that was already worn more than 3/32".
 
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