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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have been going back and forth a lot lately...

I am in the market for my very first forester. I am searching in the 04-07 range due to budget but also needing decent reliability (wanting to do an offroad type aesthetic but realistically will be doing highway commuting in traffic a lot). My initial budget is $6500 which should get me a forester with just over 100k miles. I was originally content with just the X model, but after reading horror stories of head gaskets I decided to move away from that and towards an XT. However, after I realized that you need premium fuel and they have their own set of issues I am beginning to get concerned again.

I will be doing about 60 miles of highway driving to downtown chicago 5 days a week this summer (which essentially means stop and go for 2 hours each way if you aren't familiar with Chicago traffic). I want a forester so bad but i'm starting to get concerned.

Should I be worried about the reliability of a forester in this year and mileage range? Also which option is cheaper overall? Getting an X and paying for the headgasket repair initially to be safe or just going XT and hope my turbo and such doesn't give me issues? Any guidance is greatly appreciated for a forester noobie.

Thanks!
 

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2005 Forester Automatic
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Do you REALLY need an AWD vehicle? Your commute sounds horrendous, and for $6500 you could get a used Corolla or some other small car that will get a lot better gas mileage and probably be more reliable too. Just throwing that out there. You might be better long term buying (or keeping) a more fuel efficient vehicle (you'll get around 22 mpg I'd guess in an X., less with a turbo) and banking the savings for a while longer till you can afford a used 2014 that doesn't have oil consumption issues. That would get you better mpg and a Foz too......

Dunno man. I'd hate to have my 2005 as my only driver. I have other vehicles. I put up with it, but it gets used in inclement weather mostly, and I spend a lot of time dealing with issues. You can do better than an 05 with $6500, but you will not escape the HG and turbo issues......
 

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MY05 Forester 2.5 XT 5MT
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Turbo failure isn't particularly common unless you're running higher boost etc.

Head gasket and ringland failure is a very real possibility on the Turbo engine. - The Non turbo head gasket problem seems far more common though.

I sort of agree with the reply above. Get a comfy commuter car like a Corolla or a Camry etc and then get something exciting for the weekend that you can turn into a real monster without having to worry about the commute and comfort etc - I couldn't imagine commuting 4 hours a day in my Forester in stop start traffic

If you are set on a Subaru, the 2.0 non turbo engine is pretty reliable. - You might need to import one and do an engine swap though. Failing that, the H6 is pretty reliable, as found in some Legacys and Outbackk
 

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2007 2.5XT Limited 4EAT
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Any used car with 100K+ on the clock is going to have some sort of issues. It's just part and parcel to buying a used vehicle. The associated issues with Subaru engines are no more prevalent than with other vehicles. The only difference being that they usually cost more to fix. These things have never stopped me from buying a Subaru. The head gasket issues with the N/A engines is a bigger concern than the turbo issues of the XT's. More costly to fix as well, with the exception of the turbo crapping out and taking the bottom end of the engine with it. If you are debating X or XT, get the XT you won't regret it.

When I got my 07 XT it had the banjo filter, oil starvation issue. I was lucky to solve the problem before it killed the turbo. The cost was about $200 for new AVCS solenoids and a few hours labor to fish out the clogged filters. Since then the car has been right as rain with no hiccups for the past 14K miles. It now has 95K on the clock. The problem with buying a used turbocharged car is just that, it's a used turbocharged car. People tend to beat them up and rarely take care of them properly. This being said, many of the horror stories out there are from people who bought a car that was rode hard and put away wet, so to speak.

Do you need AWD? Considering your location I wouldn't be without it. I'm across the lake in Michigan and I will never own a daily driver that does not at least have part time 4wd. Even if I only need 4 wheel drive for three days a year, I still would gladly sacrifice comfort and fuel economy to be able to get where I need to go in foul weather. The cost of fuel is the last box on the list when I shop for a new vehicle. Personal preference of course.

I cannot argue with the concept of having a fuel efficient econobox for commuting, and a fun weekend driver for driving. However, if you go down this road you now have two cars, two gas tanks to fill, two used cars to fix, insurance...etc. One of them will always need something. It's rarely cheaper to own two vehicles than one. This is why the Forester XT in particular is so enticing. It is as close to being all things to all men as you can get in this price range.

The last thing I will add is that for your $6500 you are not likely to get much in the way of an XT. They carry a fairly high premium these days. KBB and Edmunds are way off in their estimated values for these cars. I paid almost double your $6500 for my 07 with 81K on it. Also for the record, I sold my 02 WRX wagon with 160K on the clock for $6000. Just be aware that you may have to pony up a bit more cash to get a Subaru that has lower mileage, especially one with a turbo.
 

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2019 Crosstrek 2018 Forester XT
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When you buy a vehicle with 100K+ miles you are buying possibly expensive issues. Buy something simpler with fewer miles. Both XT and non XT vehicles in the years you look at reacquire timing belt, Water pump, idlers and tensioner at 110K miles. Best price is about $1600 add to that any auto tranny problems and other multiple issues of 100+K mile old vehicle.

My 08 (grandaughter has) has 195K miles but the car has been impeccably kept up. In that time it had weal beariong, suspension,radiator, 2 alltimators, head gasket replacement, timing belt with all the stuff, and valve cover tube gaskets. These are all normal things for Forester. the 195K mile vehicle should easily go to 230K miles and then the timing belt will be needed.

Foresters are amazing but are complicated vehicles
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for all the advice! I have a lot to think about but atleast I know there is a really great base of people on this forum that have their heads screwed on right! will post updates if a forester ends up in my driveway!
 

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2007 2.5XT Limited 4EAT
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[will post updates if a forester ends up in my driveway!]

Sounds like you have taken to heart what has been said on this topic, and are still considering the Forester. This is what I like to hear! Just know that even though these cars can be a bit more costly and labor intensive to fix IF something goes wrong, that most folks on this forum, myself included have willfully accepted this fact and bought a Forester anyway. Many of us are on our second, third, forth or more Subaru and wouldn't take it any other way. This should tell you everything you need to know.
 

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2019 Crosstrek 2018 Forester XT
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Sounds like you have taken to heart what has been said on this topic, and are still considering the Forester. This is what I like to hear! Just know that even though these cars can be a bit more costly and labor intensive to fix IF something goes wrong, that most folks on this forum, myself included have willfully accepted this fact and bought a Forester anyway. Many of us are on our second, third, forth or more Subaru and wouldn't take it any other way. This should tell you everything you need to know.
Exactly..I think any of us here can be a fanboy. But yes. You will get a lot (not all) unbiased opinion. And if a Subaru is not right for you now-maybe someday. :cheers:
 

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2019 Forester Sport
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I would think Consumer Reports would be a good place to start to get data on reliable cars. Since I ordered my Forester, I've been looking at parked cars when I am out walking. Note that this is the Bay Area and not snow country. In my limited and probably biases (by neighborhood choices), I see a ton of older Toyotas. Followed by Hondas. You can tell car age because CA uses incremental numbering of license plates. The third most popular brand I see, independent of age, is Mazda! Which surprised me. I see almost no Fords or GMC cars.

I have to admit, my 95 Civic Coupe DX has no fancy features (not even electric windows) and it has had only one very honest mechanic. I have never had a repair more than $500, except when they replaced the timing belt and water pump. And I live in an area with *very* high cost of living.

My mechanic looks at me funny when I ask him if he thinks it's time to replace the car. I stopped asking when he said it should get 200k miles.

With an older car and limited budget, I would consider reliability and repair costs. I have kept the Honda for this long because of the low insurance and registration costs. If I spend $500 per year in upkeep, I'm still saving money.

YMMV!
 

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2018 XT Touring CVT
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Expand your years to 2008, same vintage.
The XT does not have problems beyond any older car, what "own set of issues" are there?

Why is premium a problem? Not a bad trade-off for the extra power and much more reliable engine, which is a different engine than the N/A, only the size is the same.

For $6500, you will be looking at over 120000 miles for an XT automatic, and over 150000 miles for the much rarer XT 5 speed.

The automatic is only a 4 speed, but has proven to be very reliable.

The 5 speed with have more oil consumption, unless you install a catch can or OAS.
 

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2006 Forester xt Auto, 2017 fxt
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I had an 06 xt automatic for 12 years and 120k. Only issue is secondary air injection system which is an auxiliary emmisions control thing. It's expensive to fix, but had a shop delete it from the computer for a couple hundred bucks and done. Other than that, not one single repair that you wouldn't expect, ie brakes, belts, fluids, etc. Lots of punch and lots of fun. Go get one. FYI I sold mine for 8k two years ago.
 

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2006 Forester 5-speed manual
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Originally posted by bashfulbernie
.....The automatic is only a 4 speed, but has proven to be very reliable.

The 5 speed with have more oil consumption, unless you install a catch can or OAS.
Why will the 5-speed use more oil?
 

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2011 Forester 2.5X Automatic
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Okay ...so you're talking a car that's between 13 to 15 years old.

I would suspect any "head gasket issues" would've already reared their ugly heads ...um, to pardon the pun.

What you are looking at is a car with 200 to 230K on it ...based on 15K/yr. And the reality that maybe that second 100K service ...which is the expensive timing belt/water pump thing ...hasn't been done for the second time.

You're also looking at a car that has endured more Chicagoland winters than anyone, even a car, should have to endure (I lived in Aurora for about three years). When I lived up there they put salt on the roads and I don't care what kind of "rust prevention" the factory uses nothing will resist the corrosive effects of salt.

While I was shopping for my '11 Foz I stumbled upon an earlier model Forester at a CarMax ...the body and interior looked great but when I looked under the hood and body the visage was heart-stopping. The salesman said the previous owner had lived in Maine ...and I don't think there was one part under the car or in the engine bay that wasn't corroded or rusted or both.

So if this were me, I'd be really concerned with the timing belt work and how bad the ravages of road salt have gutted and corroded and rusted the guts of the car you're considering buying ...versus worrying about head gaskets.
 

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I know what it's like to want something badly, all other opinions be hanged! However, as much as I love Subarus, I have to advise a different path for you.

Given your budget and commute distance, go get you the nicest Accord/Civic/Corolla/Camry you can buy for $6,500. Notice I didn't mention any other brands or models. You need lowest chance for repairs over the longest number of miles. Since you are commuting, the Accord or Camry are the most comfortable. Northern Illinois is flat, you don't need the AWD. FWD is fine, even in the snow.

$6,500 basically buys you a worn out or salvaged Subaru. Recipe for repairs. Resale value on Subaru is pretty much the highest in the business. Which is not in your favor as a buyer.

Make a small car payment to yourself every month in a separate dedicated savings account. In no time at all, you'll have enough to buy a decent used Subaru that will have some life left in it.
 

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Why will the 5-speed use more oil?
The way the PCV system works on downshifting, for those of us in hilly areas. A catch can or OAS will keep that oil vapor so it can re-condense.

However all Subarus of that vintage will use oil.
 

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Very interesting...

I have a severe oil usage problems at times, minimal at others. I have to check now and see if that reflects the roads travelled at the time.

Thank you.
 

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For the kind of commute you mention, I would not buy Forester. Ours is 2015 and about 30K on the odometer but we try to avoid using it within the city. The mileage takes a good hit.
On the other hand, our 2006 Sentra works pretty well in the city traffic.
 

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Bumping this thread to ask a similar question, but my situation is a bit different than OP's:

Currently I have an '08 Prius that's my only car. It's a fantastic, reliable commuter, and I think I aim to keep it, but I want to get something that could be a weekend warrior and a platform that I can start to mod on top of and get more into cars with. In comes the Foz. I'm looking at CL because my budget is definitely in the used car tier. Found a '05 fx with 117k miles and was hoping people could give me an idea if it seems worth looking deeper into. She's willing to come down to $3k because of the mechanical issues she's highlighted, and I would definitely be doing a pre-purchase inspection first.

Here's the ad: https://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/cto/6839808150.html

If anyone could tell me whether or not to go ahead with checking this one out, or if there are some red flags already (or ones I should definitely be looking out for if/when I go see it). Definitely wary of head gasket and timing belt/water pump issues, as I'm not sure she's had either of these done at the 110k mileage.

Thanks in advance for your kind input!

P.S. I'm pretty new around here and didn't see anything against posting CL ads for review, but if this is somehow against the rules or would go in a better place, please let me know
 

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Bumping this thread to ask a similar question, but my situation is a bit different than OP's:

Currently I have an '08 Prius that's my only car. It's a fantastic, reliable commuter, and I think I aim to keep it, but I want to get something that could be a weekend warrior and a platform that I can start to mod on top of and get more into cars with. In comes the Foz. I'm looking at CL because my budget is definitely in the used car tier. Found a '05 fx with 117k miles and was hoping people could give me an idea if it seems worth looking deeper into. She's willing to come down to $3k because of the mechanical issues she's highlighted, and I would definitely be doing a pre-purchase inspection first.

Here's the ad: https://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/cto/6839808150.html

If anyone could tell me whether or not to go ahead with checking this one out, or if there are some red flags already (or ones I should definitely be looking out for if/when I go see it). Definitely wary of head gasket and timing belt/water pump issues, as I'm not sure she's had either of these done at the 110k mileage.

Thanks in advance for your kind input!

P.S. I'm pretty new around here and didn't see anything against posting CL ads for review, but if this is somehow against the rules or would go in a better place, please let me know
I think I found the one in question. Listed on CL on 3/12. Salvage title. I would never buy a car with a salvage title, but that's just me. Do you want a MT? The MT is actually less robust that the 4EAT. I don't see that being a very good deal, given the known problems and Salvage title.

But if the seller can get that, then great. Means my 2005 is worth more than I thought!

Now, this one is worth listening to and driving IMHO. Listed 9 hours ago.

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/cto/d/santa-rosa-2003-subaru-forester-25/6856350224.html
 

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2004 Forester XT Premium 4EAT
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If anyone could tell me whether or not to go ahead with checking this one out, or if there are some red flags already (or ones I should definitely be looking out for if/when I go see it). Definitely wary of head gasket and timing belt/water pump issues, as I'm not sure she's had either of these done at the 110k mileage.
I fixed the link for you. :smile2: Looks like it's located in my neck of the woods.

First off, I'd be very wary of the salvage title. I know this is more of a personal preference, but I'd dismiss this one based on that fact alone. You'll have to decide for yourself how risk-tolerant you are in that respect. Definitely ask for service records. If none can be produced, you should assume things weren't done and budget accordingly. Keep in mind that the timing belt service alone (with all parts and labor) can easily set you back $1000 or more here in the Bay Area. Wheel bearings (I'm guessing that's what she meant by "ball bearings") run about $400 per corner in parts and labor.

So in my opinion, I think you can do better in that price range. If you're at all thinking about modding your future Forester you'd be best advised to find a solid and well taken care of specimen first.
 
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