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1999 Forester
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking at purchasing a 1999 Forester L, the last Subaru I owned was a 1986 DL hatchback I bought new so I'm way behind the curve. I've owned VW's and Volvos mostly since then, in fact I'm an admin on a VW/Audi site. I have a VW friend who works at a local Subaru dealer and he's been telling me to consider Subarus as an alternative to VW's (all of them rust to pieces, terrible electrical issues) and Volvos (rare to find a manual tranny, otherwise pretty decent).

I've done some research on the web (epinions, carsurvey, KBB) and people either seem to love or hate them. Those that hate them have been through the head gasket or wheel bearing issues, not a lot of other things people mention unless it's a random CEL.

The 99 I'm looking at is a one locally owned car with 179k that was traded in on a Chevy HHR because the new Forester is much bigger and won't fit in their garage. It has a manual tranny (a must for me) and a few nice option packages (CD, nav panel on the dash, front bumper guard etc) and it seems to be in excellent condition in and out. The seat bolsters aren't mashed, there are no tears or stains inside. No rust underneath at all or anywhere on the car, it drives well, no noises or rattles or hums out of the wheel bearings or drive train, smooth and fairly quiet. The HG work was done at 140k, the PO said she had it done because they were getting ready for a trip to Florida and they kept hearing about problems and decided to have it done. I don't have service records (yet) but the dealer has been happy to call and ask the PO and she has been able to answer my questions. I have my friend at the Subaru dealer looking up records via VIN, the CARFAX is totally clean and verifies the miles and single owner.

The front tires have been replaced, the backs are worn, they are all the same size however, so I'm not sure if there are issues with the AWD or not.

So...thanks for reading this far. My question is basically if the car has made it this far and still sounds and feels as tight as this one does, do I have myself a winner? 11 years with one person owning it and they were ready to buy another one seems to indicate that it's been pretty decent. I have to go 50 to 60 miles a day for a work commute on country roads that get bad in the winter so the AWD would be handy, and the room in back looks handy as well. On one hand the miles scare me a little but on the other hand, I hear the 2.5 can go a long time without problems. I hear there was a motor change somewhere in mid year 1999 that makes a difference? Is there any information on VIN break or build date on this?

Since this car is at a dealer, I'll be paying a little more than with a private owner (no warranty) so I'll need it to hang together for me. It's the color I want (dark green), a one owner, and not rusted or ever wrecked, and a manual tranny - all things that are important and hard to find where I am.

What do the experts (you guys) think?

Thanks
 

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2005 Impreza RS Wagon Auto
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3,658 Posts
The badly worn tires will need to be replaced immediately with the same size. Most of the issues with the '99 is either related to rust or the HG blowing. I would want to be really sure that they changed the HG before paying top dollar for it, that is easily a 1600$ job that can make the buy much better if done already (I bought mine at 90k, hg done at 80k).

To test to make sure there is no major issues with the drivetrain, do some slow circles with the wheel at full lock one way, if there is no weird thumps you should be good.
 

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04 Forester X, MT
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The second 2000 Forester I bought at a Subaru dealer. I gave a small credit card deposit to hold, and drove about 250 miles to get there. The tires were somewhat similar tread depth but different brands. It had a few dings and was worn more than average on the interior. I told them they should have known better and if they couldn't drop the price then they needed to give me my deposit back and I was going home and they could sell it to the other person or 2 that they said were interested. They came back pretty quickly with offer to drop a little more than a set of new tires cost.

I know what you mean on the 5 speed and color. I really like green too. That 2000 one I was talking about was red after the wife totaled a green 2000. I looked occasionally (not real hard, maybe every 3-6 months) and last year finally got a 2004 woodland green 5 speed X. This year I had to have headgaskets done but fortunately the dealer I bought this one from had their own warranty they really stood behind so it wasn't as expensive as it could have been.

Good luck!
 

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2005 Impreza RS Wagon Auto
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The second 2000 Forester I bought at a Subaru dealer. I gave a small credit card deposit to hold, and drove about 250 miles to get there. The tires were somewhat similar tread depth but different brands. It had a few dings and was worn more than average on the interior. I told them they should have known better and if they couldn't drop the price then they needed to give me my deposit back and I was going home and they could sell it to the other person or 2 that they said were interested. They came back pretty quickly with offer to drop a little more than a set of new tires cost.

I know what you mean on the 5 speed and color. I really like green too. That 2000 one I was talking about was red after the wife totaled a green 2000. I looked occasionally (not real hard, maybe every 3-6 months) and last year finally got a 2004 woodland green 5 speed X. This year I had to have headgaskets done but fortunately the dealer I bought this one from had their own warranty they really stood behind so it wasn't as expensive as it could have been.

Good luck!
That is a good point, TECHNICALLY the car MUST have four matching tires (depth, brand, type) by oem spec, if it doesn't you can chop the price of four new tires off the tag.
 

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1999 Forester
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More of a question...?

I am original owner of a 99 Forester which has had that weird thumping noise during slow tight turns with the wheel locked. I have had it looked at my a mechanic who couldn't figure out what it was.
It only happens after being driven 10 miles or so (warmed up) and only in those very tight turns.
Thanks for any advice on this, if anyone knows what it is!
Jessie
 

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1999 Forester
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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies -

Well, the dealership is well known for being hard to deal with on price, it appears they aren't going to drop the car enough to make it worth my while. When researching the service history with a friend who works at the local Subaru dealer, he pointed me to a 97Outback that is also one owner (with 20k less miles), full service history at that same dealership, needs absolutely nothing, is also dark green and a manual transmission.

If the HG's are done and it's as clean underneath as the Forester, I'll probably go that direction. The extra room would be nice and it appears there is little to none MPG penalty for getting the Outback.

I'll look at it tonight after work and see how it pans out.

thanks again.
 

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2005 Impreza RS Wagon Auto
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I am original owner of a 99 Forester which has had that weird thumping noise during slow tight turns with the wheel locked. I have had it looked at my a mechanic who couldn't figure out what it was.
It only happens after being driven 10 miles or so (warmed up) and only in those very tight turns.
Thanks for any advice on this, if anyone knows what it is!
Jessie
Kind of out of place here, but it is most likly your cv joints, search it. :icon_biggrin:

Thanks for the replies -

Well, the dealership is well known for being hard to deal with on price, it appears they aren't going to drop the car enough to make it worth my while. When researching the service history with a friend who works at the local Subaru dealer, he pointed me to a 97Outback that is also one owner (with 20k less miles), full service history at that same dealership, needs absolutely nothing, is also dark green and a manual transmission.

If the HG's are done and it's as clean underneath as the Forester, I'll probably go that direction. The extra room would be nice and it appears there is little to none MPG penalty for getting the Outback.

I'll look at it tonight after work and see how it pans out.

thanks again.
Good to hear that you have options, the Outback has a superior interior if that is what you like, good luck.
 

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1999 Forester
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4 Posts
Thanks, I will. I'm new and not exactly sure what I'm doin here.
I've been searching the site for anything on this problem. Love that car and need to get it fixed!
 

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2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
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14,499 Posts
I would be leary of the mismatched tires..there could be damage to the front/rear differential. Also when was the timing belt changed and was the waterpump/idler also changed.

Sorry with these issues and that mileage...pass.
 

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1999 Forester
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42 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Good to hear that you have options, the Outback has a superior interior if that is what you like, good luck.
Unfortunately, the Outback was a total slug. I drove a diesel Rabbit for 7 years so I know what glacial performance is, the Forester certainly outperforms the Outback by a lot more than the 300# weight difference.

Outback is off of the list, back to the drawing board.
 

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1999 Forester
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Discussion Starter #12
Well, I have an update. I bought it, almost.

I went uptown to the DQ to pick up my son from a staff meeting and the Forester was out front of the dealership on a one day sale for $2626 down from $4995! I live in a farm town in SW Ohio and a Subaru is extremely out of place on a Chevy lot, I'm probably the only one that showed an interest.

If you go to to boosechevrolet.com you'll see it in the used cars. I can't post a URL link because I'm a noob.

So I drove it again, did everything recommended to check out the AWD etc and went home to get the checkbook and plates. Coming out of the driveway I got on it a little and it dropped off in power maybe by half and the CEL came on. It did the power drop thing a few more times when accelerating after a gear change into second or third but then it seemed fine.

I put a deposit on it with the understanding that they were going to have the CEL scanned and tell me what it was. I should have that monday and I can make a decision, I know that they just washed and detailed the engine and there was no CEL when I previously drove it so I imagine something is damp??? The battery is extremely weak as well, which might have something to do with it. My friend works at the Subaru dealership who just did the 180k service on the car and they didn't see anything wrong with it, certainly no CEL. For $3k out the door, I don't think I can go terribly wrong. It runs strong and sounds great.

So there you have it, I ended up with it after all. Is there an online source for translating CEL codes so I can have that handy for monday?

Thanks
 

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1999 Forester
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Discussion Starter #14
Good looking buy, just be aware of the CEL implications.
Thanks for the link.

I will try to factor in what the CEL will require, unfortunately I don't have a lot of understanding of the Subaru engine management system yet.....
 

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1999 Forester
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Discussion Starter #15
The CEL was for a knock sensor. I'm ordering one from my buddy at the Subaru dealer and taking delivery tonight.

Thanks for all the advice and input.
 

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2005 Impreza RS Wagon Auto
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The CEL was for a knock sensor. I'm ordering one from my buddy at the Subaru dealer and taking delivery tonight.

Thanks for all the advice and input.
Common part to break and easy to replace, hope you enjoy your new buy!:biggrin:
 
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