Subaru Forester Owners Forum banner
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
97 outback
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My search continues. I had already decided I wanted an "S" or "S Premium" over an "L". Was looking at '01 & 02. Now looking at a 2003 and I like the model changes a lot! So '03 is my new baseline. Found one that does not have indication of head gasket leaks. Nice car, good condition. But 120k miles. Have service records. Has new windshield (2 yrs).

But it's an "X" not an "XS". It does have an aftermarket sunroof, so that desire is met. Still, I hate giving up heated seats and the big side view mirrors. I doubt I can retro seat heaters, but what about the mirrors? If I could get a couple "S" mirrors from a parts yard would it be possible to fit them on this "X" model?

Other odd issue is tires. A pair of Yokohama Geolandar G900's up front. On the rear one AS530, and AS430. Kind of an odd mix.

I guess I should plan on replacing all 4 with something consistent? What about Goodyear Comfort Treads or Triple Treads? Others?
 

·
Premium Member
2019 Crosstrek 2018 Forester XT
Joined
·
14,925 Posts
With 3 different tires on there I would stay away. You could be looking at differential problems. They need to be the same size.
 

·
Premium Member
2008 XS 4EAT
Joined
·
9,825 Posts
Aftermarket sunroofs eventually leak and rust out:icon_frown:
Different sized tires on a manual may not be as much a concern as on an automatic but still not a great start. I'd pass on this one.

Posting a more accurate location may bring some more responses from people in your locale. A ballpark figure you're a little flexible with and knowing if you're willing to travel somewhat, will let us help you.

Keep those questions coming.
 

·
Registered
97 outback
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Aftermarket sunroofs eventually leak and rust out:icon_frown:
This is not what I wanted to hear. But it is good that I did.

I'm in the Wash DC region. Willing to travel up to say, 75-100 miles. Only problem with further is I could waste a lot of time & expense travelling for something I might reject after 15 mins of looking.

So far I've been looking at asking prices of $7,000 or less. This one is asking $6500 for starts. I recently rejected an '01 that came down to $5400 but had a noisy a/c compressor, signs of a gasket leak beginning, and torn front drive axle boots with no grease left in them. Have rejected a couple others. (01, 02) for various problems, both including gasket leaks.

Today I am driving up I-270 to look at 3 with dealer asking prices of $8>11,000 and mileage of 90>107,000. Have a couple to look at further east, and one south tomorrow in similar asking $, about 20k fewer miles. One adv's as having new gasket.

Q: about head gaskets. Should they be absolutely dry, or is minimal weeping, like 1/4" for about 2-3" of seam, ok? Any dif between oil v coolant?
 

·
Premium Member
2008 XS 4EAT
Joined
·
9,825 Posts
I think what I was trying to say that with a more accurate location there may be some experienced Forester owners here, who might be willing to have a look with you or for you.

We all want to get the best vehicle for the best price so thats a good reference for others looking.

As far as head gaskets are concerned it would be wise to find one's that are dry. Coolant leaks tend to get worse quickly. That doesn't help with internal leaks that can be hidden with an oil and coolant change which might be the case with a dealer. There is a Subaru coolant conditioner that should be added any time the coolant is flushed and it would be wise to add a bottle if you find a great buy at a non-Subaru dealer if the coolant has been flushed. Mind you it is not fail-safe, you still can have head gaskets fail. You can check the undersides of the cylinder heads this way with a flashlight and mirror, if you have a small hand held mirror or an extendable one, with the engine cold reach down below the cylinder head and shine the light to illuminate and reflect the image in the mirror. According to my mechanic (a Subaru tech) the most common side to fail is the drivers side towards the rear of the cylinder head closest to the firewall. Unfortunately this has been a weak spot on the Forester block design. But many have done head gaskets and not had any problems after that. Just keep in mind that a head gasket repair inclusive of parts and labour can cost up to $1500 at a dealer but can be sourced cheaper at some specialty shops.

The only other issue that you should be looking at is at around 105,000 miles the timing belt and assorted parts should be replaced. Like many other cars the Forester has a zero clearance engine, so if a belt breaks you are looking at valves and possibly piston damage.

I'd suggest you post some similar questions in the Eastern Forum and use Washington DC in your title to attract interest from locals.

Good luck with your searches today, this looks promising http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.j...price=&cardist=67&standard=false&rdpage=thumb
 

·
Registered
97 outback
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the leads. The one in DE looks especially interesting. I will have to open my searches to that distance. Rejected another today for leakage. What I do is use a small digital camera that I hold as I reach down from above or up from below - unless I can get the car elevated and lower the splash guard. I usually find the left front the problem area, although today that area was clean. But there was oil coming out the right side covering hoses and braces down below.

And that's my concern about driving too far. Don't want to go to Wilmington, or Richmond, or York etc and find out I wasted my time on a leaker (which so far all have been). I can't trust a thing a dealer says. Seen some that I rejected still listed as clean and so-many-words to the effect of great condition.
 

·
Administrator
2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
Joined
·
41,230 Posts
Curious... How are you looking under the vehicle for leaks? You mentioned a camera, but do you have the plastic undertray dropped? Are you sure some of that oil you're running into isn't from sloopy oil changes or adding oil without a funnel? :confused:

Bobby...

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

·
Premium Member
2008 XS 4EAT
Joined
·
9,825 Posts
Did what I should have in the first place...look at a map to see the logistics that you are facing. Still with the popularity of Subaru's increasing the are commanding top dollar in some areas, so there might be a need to be flexible with looking outside your comfort zone. Granted it is a bit of a dissapointment when you've gone somewhere hoping it's the one only to be dissapointed.
When I spotted the one in DE I figured it's one of those deals I imagine, older couple, second car, downsizing, low mileage etc. let's hope that is the case if you go look at it, worth contacting them soon, don't think it will last. Looks like an XS model with the alloys + all the other options you want especially heated seats!
 

·
Registered
97 outback
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Curious... How are you looking under the vehicle for leaks? You mentioned a camera, but do you have the plastic undertray dropped? Are you sure some of that oil you're running into isn't from sloopy oil changes or adding oil without a funnel?
On most of these I have been able to remove at least one side of the undertray's attachments. So I am looking right at the gaskets.

Two of the first three cars I had my mechanic check. He brought me under the lift to show me problems such as the boots, etc, and also the exact places where he could see the gasket leaks. On a couple others I did my own photo survey and reviewed with him on my laptop. On one he could see the evidence of something leaking in the lower wide shots (as did I - it was pretty obvious something sustained was happening). Then as the images I'd shot progressed upwards and inward, traced them back to the gasket that was causing them.

When I cannot get a car lifted and the tray removed (as many private owners are squeemish) I know where I need to inspect, tho it is harder to access from above. But with digital snaps being free I can get down and shoot enough to see the areas most likely to have evidence. On one case I did a test drive alone around to the back of a shopping center and put two wheels up on a curb while I got underneath and pulled one side of the tray down.

I'm opening up my distance search, but still have to bear in mind my ability to get somewhere on transit if I buy. So Wilmington, Richmond, Trenton, could work whereas Pittsburg, Wheeling, would not.
 

·
Administrator
2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
Joined
·
41,230 Posts
I see you have 15 post now, so you can link to a picture hosting service. Post up some of those pictures you take so we can look them over. :wink:

It sounds like you're looking for "perfect"... can't blame you, so you're going to have to shoot for very low mileage vehicle. :smile:

Bobby...

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

·
Registered
97 outback
Joined
·
16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, I don't expect perfect unless it's new. And even then there is some wobble room for dealer/factory post sale correction.

I just want to know what I am likely to spend in the first year or two after purchase. I can handle brakes, tires, some of this and that. But if there is anything major, like a thousand dollars upward, I want to know, be willing to deal with it, and have that expectation reflected in the price. On the '01 I saw, having to do both front axles, and a/c compressor (perhaps more), and head gaskets, was way too much for what they were asking. (btw, since I walked they have raised the price $500 and rave about how they "checked and detailed" everything.)

I have made contact with the folks who have the '03 low mileage in DE. It's certainly worth high consideration. There is now an '02 S down here with 120k, but a good list of post 100k work done and parts replaced, for about 1/3 less (and very close by). I will see it on Tuesday. If any problems, maybe the '03 on Wed.

Thanks for the info about links. I will see about putting some of my survey pix online so others can see what I was looking at.

Btw, I bought my '97 Outback used and thought I had a good price. I did not know then to be wary given the number of auctions it had been in. And I did not belong to any owner list serves or forums to know why it might have been passed around so much. I accepted the "no known mechanical defects" assertion and the high buyer ratings of the out of state dealer. :crazy: Once I got it home I then put, I think, 2 thousand dollars or so into it. And that was before the gasket blew. :shake:

So now I am careful. I wish I could afford a 2-4 yr old model with dealer warranty. But I'm almost a full time caregiver and don't have enough hours I'm able to work to be able to afford that. So I am trying to be a very careful older model buyer.
 

·
Registered
2003 Forester
Joined
·
7 Posts
I just bought my first Forester--an '03 X--from 500 miles away. In my case, I asked for extra pictures, asked specific questions, ran the VIN number, etc. The seller was very obliging. Then I dropped 90 bucks on a greyhound ticket to drive overnight and get there at 10 in the morning. I had a return trip booked for 12:30pm, in case I didn't want it. I figured 90 dollars and a day of my time were worth the possibility of finding a much better deal than I could around here. It paid off.

So maybe that could work for you too!
 

·
Administrator
2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
Joined
·
41,230 Posts
There are good deals out there! I guess it has to with timing & being willing to travel to where it's at. I really wanted an low mile '04 XT & I was about to buy one that I found on the East coast, but that deal fell thru. I finally settled on an '07 FSXT that was for sale up in Washington State. I like the '07, but still kinda wish I'd found an '04... :smile:

Bobby...

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

·
Registered
04 Forester X, MT
Joined
·
1,039 Posts
Just replaced headgaskets on my '04 at 86,000 mi due to external oil leak. It happens sometimes with these. As near as I can tell there is no rhyme or reason to it. It is a non-ideal design. Some failures are on cars not taken well care of yet some are on cars babied rather well. It's a crap shoot.

I would still rather get a low miles '04 and put some $$$ into it than get a 2009+.
 

·
Registered
2010 Forester X Premium
Joined
·
931 Posts
Not true. There are a few folks here reporting HG's issues all the way up to a 2009 model I believe. Just less prevalent after 2002. Its the open deck/block design of the N/A 2.5
Every manufacturer have head gasket problems, or other problems, you can call it "design flaws" for example crv has issue with it's differentials, that been going on since 2004. ;) get used to it. No car is perfect. For every 100 cars produced there is 1 that is complete crap shoot. Every car that I ever owned prove to be 100% builet prooved, and trust me you will find a lot of people owning same models and year and haveing issue with them. It's a roll of a dice.
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top