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2004 Forester 2.5 XS 4EAT
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Discussion Starter #1
New to the forum and have done research on this but can’t come to a definite conclusion. It’s a 2004 forester xs with 75,000. Just changed the oil but this sound was there before I did that. This is how it sounds after it’s warmed up. The sound is a little worse when cold but remains there when warm. It’s a constant ticking sound from what seems to be the driver side of the engine. I’m going to try and upload a video of the sound.

I bought it from the original owner but due to her age it sat for long periods of time.

https://youtu.be/WEXuJf-A58o
 

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2003 Forester 2.5X 5MT & 2008 Impreza WRX 5MT & 2009 Impreza 2.5i 5MT
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106 Posts
I don't think it's piston slap. When the engine is cold you probably hear piston slap, but after it warms up what you are hearing is nothing to be concerned about. That's how these older motors sound. I have a 2003 forester 2.5X it has 143,000 miles on it and mine sounds just like yours.

btw I'm in DFW and will be driving my 2003 Forester to Hot Springs AR this next weekend for a little vacation.
 

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2004 Forester 2.5 XS 4EAT
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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply, I used a long rod as a makeshift stethoscope and isolated the sound to the driver side front cylinder. Im unsure if the previous owner ever changed the plugs and Im hoping that new plugs might quiet it up a bit. Maybe that front plug is out of spec or not seated properly Im no mechanic so I am starting simple, plus it wouldn't hurt to get new plugs in there. My wife is from DFW and makes trips there pretty often, the weather up here is perfect right now but this coming week looks stormy.
 

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249 Posts
valve noise, cheapest way to see about this is to use a heavier viscosity oil and a higher flow filter, 5w30 or 5w40 full synthetic oil and something like a wix xp ,fram ultra ,puralator boss, made for full synthetics ................. use a engine oil flush at change up, to clean valve/cam area next cheapest is additive like lucas or stp type,................. then pull ocv and screen and clean or replace then, if still loud, then pull cover and see what is what, can need adjustment or shim or valve guide is worn down and needs repair you either have a worn mechanical part or need to increase oil flow to that ,.............. it can also be possible to need a higher flow oil pump, but that is rare, compared to crud buildup or filter needing to be changed
 

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2004 Forester 2.5 XS 4EAT
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Discussion Starter #6
New plugs didn’t help but the original plugs were way out of spec. Time to dig a little bit more into it.
 

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2004 Forester 2.5 XS 4EAT
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Discussion Starter #7
I found a local shop who specializes in subarus and are very reasonable. The shop is doing the timing belt and changing out the pulleys and tensioner while in there, he's only charging 625 for everything which is a couple hundred cheaper than the subaru dealer. Ill probably have him check a few more things while I have it in his shop and see what he thinks of the sound.
 

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2003 Forester 2.5X 5MT & 2008 Impreza WRX 5MT & 2009 Impreza 2.5i 5MT
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106 Posts
My forester is a 2003 2.5X , and just like yours it sat for a while. when i first bought it and drove it there was a piston slap noise when it was cold and if i remember it seemed to be there when it warmed up. it was faint but it was there. i had the oil changed (5w-30 conventional oil , no oil additives just straight conventional motor oil) and i drove it for a while. the more i drove it the better it ran. i have put almost a thousand miles on it since i bought it and i don't hear that faint slapping noise anymore when it's warmed up. it could have something to do with it sitting for a really long time. If i were you i wouldn't stress over it. these older Subaru engines make lots of noise, but they are very reliable. Once you get your car back from the timing belt change, just drive it and enjoy it. If there is a problem it will turn up.
 

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2003 EJ20K Forester
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326 Posts
My EJ20K engine sounds like that and it always stresses me out. Never had a car with such a noisy engine (owned and cared for Mazda B6, BP, K8, KL, BMW S52, M54, Honda B series....). Driven this car for 3 years now with no engine issues (knock on wood).
 

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2004 Forester 2.5 XS 4EAT
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Discussion Starter #12
My forester is a 2003 2.5X , and just like yours it sat for a while. when i first bought it and drove it there was a piston slap noise when it was cold and if i remember it seemed to be there when it warmed up. it was faint but it was there. i had the oil changed (5w-30 conventional oil , no oil additives just straight conventional motor oil) and i drove it for a while. the more i drove it the better it ran. i have put almost a thousand miles on it since i bought it and i don't hear that faint slapping noise anymore when it's warmed up. it could have something to do with it sitting for a really long time. If i were you i wouldn't stress over it. these older Subaru engines make lots of noise, but they are very reliable. Once you get your car back from the timing belt change, just drive it and enjoy it. If there is a problem it will turn up.
It idles and runs super smooth so I don't assume its a problem, it was only driven 4-5k miles annually so it probably had bad gas sitting in it for a while. Im not driving it until I get that timing belt changed, a 15 year old belt doesn't instill confidence in me. Its been killing me having it sit there until Monday when they can change it but id rather be safe than sorry.
 

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2004 Forester 2.5 XS 4EAT
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Discussion Starter #13
My EJ20K engine sounds like that and it always stresses me out. Never had a car with such a noisy engine (owned and cared for Mazda B6, BP, K8, KL, BMW S52, M54, Honda B series....). Driven this car for 3 years now with no engine issues (knock on wood).
Ive owen toyotas my whole life and my wife has a mazda and a honda. There pretty quiet engines so when I heard the sound from the subaru it made me worry a little. A 1999 forester was parked outside my work and I awkwardly stood in the parking lot when the lady drove it away to hear how hers sounded. While it sounded similar it was hard to tell since I wasn't right up on her car. I swung by the shop today that will be doing my timing belt and they had a few older foresters there so when I bring mine in ill have him make a judgment call.
 

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2008 Forester AT
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I nicknamed my 2004 the "tick-tick machine" and yes mine also sounds similar and its engine has been really reliable.
But I'll warn you since yours sat for a while- rubber hoses may leak. Maybe thats New England issues though.
 

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2004 Forester 2.5 XS 4EAT
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Discussion Starter #15
I nicknamed my 2004 the "tick-tick machine" and yes mine also sounds similar and its engine has been really reliable.
But I'll warn you since yours sat for a while- rubber hoses may leak. Maybe thats New England issues though.
My check engine light keeps popping up with the gas cap code even though I have replaced it. This leads me to believe that a line might have a small air leak. Oklahoma summers get pretty hot so a lot of the trim and rubber is hard and crispy :smile2:
 

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2003 XS 4EAT - maybe someday I'll hit 60K
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107 Posts
I nicknamed my 2004 the "tick-tick machine"
I refer to my 03 XS as the "sewing machine".

When possible, I try to let it warmup until the idle just drops off high, then I put it in gear and drive. I try to "be kind" in my driving until it's fully warmed up.
 
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