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03 Forester
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had the dealership take a look at my 2003 forester X, and they found many problems.

I am the original owner, and the vehicle is closing in on 80K miles.

First off, I have a flat tire on the front passenger side. It's on the side, and can;t be plugged. They recommend replacing all tires, due to AWD balance and differential issues. Can I get away with only replacing both front?

It not, i will downgrade from Geolanders to something cheaper. As of now, I have 4 geolanders on it, but one is the spare. All tires match in type, but the spare has less wear. Am I ruining my tranny by driving on it this way?

Secondly, I have coolant leaking into the #3 cylinder, and they want to replace the dreaded head gaskets. I don't have the cash for that at this time, but oddly enough, after the diagnostic the check engine light is now off and the engine temp has been fine. I read on the Edmonds forum that when a company requires a coolant and conditioner that only they provide, they have to give it to customers for free (magnussen-Moss Warranty Act?)

If that is true, do you think they added their brand of blue coolant and conditioner upon returning the car to me? Could I be lucky enough to have the conditioner plug that gap? I am super paranoid about mechanics, and since they didn't mention the coolant/conditioner as an option to plug leaks, instead recommending $1600 + in work, I am even less trusting in this dealership.

Finally, the recommend replacing the front brake pads and rotors. I had this same vehicle in another shop in December, and had them check out the brakes, and no problems were reported to me. How can this be? Am I riding around with only rear brakes? If so, could they in clear consience allow the vehicle to leave in that condition?

Thanks for the help. i've been lurking here for a while, and finally have something to post.

PS: The fog lights are both out, and since I don't use them I don't really care, but the dealership acted as if it could be something more than a bulb replacement, which would require more hours billed to fix. Am I right to be suspicious?
 

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Well It sounds like you know whats supposed to be done with the tires in regards to the AWD so the answer is yes, you should replace all 4. Head gasket leaks can be put off for a little while if the coolant conditioner (Barrs Stop Leak) somehow manages to plug it up, but this at best is only a temp fix and will eventually start to leak again. The Diagnostic reset the cel light and they probably topped off the coolant so id expect it to return soon if it is leaking. The brakes.. well if they say there in need of replacement and if they've never been done id say @ 80,000 miles you are probably due for new pads and rotors too. After all the car is coming up on being 8-9 years old.
 

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2005 Impreza RS Wagon Auto
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A second opinion would be good in this case, many dealers can be shady. For tires, technically you are supposed to replace all 4 but you can get a set of two which are nearly identical in all forms (tread, pattern, size, etc.). The HGs are something of concern, won't be cheap. Brakes are an easy tack on at many places.
 

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03 Forester
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I currently have Geolander HTs, but my spare tire is a Geolander G900(original spare, same as original tires).

I've been quoted a price of $710 from the dealership for 4 new tires.

NTB quoted $588 for 4 Falken ZE 329s, which are not as knobby as the Geolanders.

Anyone out there put Falken's on their Forester?
 

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2007 2.5X 5mt
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I currently have Geolander HTs, but my spare tire is a Geolander G900(original spare, same as original tires).

I've been quoted a price of $710 from the dealership for 4 new tires.

NTB quoted $588 for 4 Falken ZE 329s, which are not as knobby as the Geolanders.

Anyone out there put Falken's on their Forester?
YIKES! I spent $350 on my last set of new tires (mounted, balanced, and installed) at Firestone.
 

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2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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I had the dealership take a look at my 2003 forester X, and they found many problems.

I am the original owner, and the vehicle is closing in on 80K miles.

First off, I have a flat tire on the front passenger side. It's on the side, and can;t be plugged. They recommend replacing all tires, due to AWD balance and differential issues. Can I get away with only replacing both front?
All of the tires need to be with in 1/4" rolling circumference.
Read item #4.
https://www.subaru.com/my-subaru/faq-technical.html

You can also have a new tire shaved to match, however this may be a waste of money depending on the condition of your current tires.

If not, i will downgrade from Geolanders to something cheaper. As of now, I have 4 geolanders on it, but one is the spare. All tires match in type, but the spare has less wear. Am I ruining my tranny by driving on it this way?
It is hard on the center differential. Are you ruining it? I can't say, all I can say is Subaru does not condone it. There are better tires then the Goes that can be had for less money.


Secondly, I have coolant leaking into the #3 cylinder, and they want to replace the dreaded head gaskets. I don't have the cash for that at this time, but oddly enough, after the diagnostic the check engine light is now off and the engine temp has been fine. I read on the Edmonds forum that when a company requires a coolant and conditioner that only they provide, they have to give it to customers for free (magnussen-Moss Warranty Act?)
True in some cases, however not in this one. You are outside of the factory warranty, are free to do what ever you want and there is a non-OEM equivalent. The coolant conditioner offered by Subaru is relabeled Holtz RADweld, same bottle different label.


If that is true, do you think they added their brand of blue coolant and conditioner upon returning the car to me? Could I be lucky enough to have the conditioner plug that gap? I am super paranoid about mechanics, and since they didn't mention the coolant/conditioner as an option to plug leaks, instead recommending $1600 + in work, I am even less trusting in this dealership.
The only way I could see them adding the new blue coolant is if a full flush was done. If they added the coolant conditioner, they most likely charged you for it. In all honesty the coolant conditioner is only a band-aid fix if it works at all. If the HG are leaking they need to be done.

Finally, the recommend replacing the front brake pads and rotors. I had this same vehicle in another shop in December, and had them check out the brakes, and no problems were reported to me. How can this be? Am I riding around with only rear brakes? If so, could they in clear consience allow the vehicle to leave in that condition?
With out knowing your driving conditions/style, 4 months could be enough to kill a set of pads and rotors depending on how worn they were when they were last inspected and depending on the quality of the parts last used.


PS: The fog lights are both out, and since I don't use them I don't really care, but the dealership acted as if it could be something more than a bulb replacement, which would require more hours billed to fix. Am I right to be suspicious?
It could be simply that both bulbs are bad or that the switch is bad..... but you wont know until some one looks into it.


I would however get a second opinion on every thing and price shop.
 

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2008 Forester AE
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Sometimes mechanics aren't out to rip you off, they just want to fix your car.

Tires can be an issue; you will have to get a new set of 4, unless you want to add differentials/transmission parts to the list of fixes.. I just went through the same thing; got a bad tire valve and had a flat, tire got damaged and wasn't safe to run, needed new set. It sucks but that is the trade off for AWD (and not just a subaru thing).

Headgaskets; ugh, bummer. well you can hope that the 'patch' of magic mixes holds and drive around sweating about it (and possibly overheat and wreck more part$) or you can have it fixed now and not worry about it again. Don't forget the first question you are going to get asked if you try to sell is; headgaskets done?

Brakes, well there are some parts of the car that you can get by without and there are some you don't fool with. Can you guess which brakes fall into?
I would get a second opinion myself, I've had tire shops tell me that I have 40% left and the drums are worn out and the dealership tell me I'm still at 80% all around within the same week. they are wear items so if you have never replaced them be
fore they are probably almost done.

Fogs are nice but if you don't need them then don't worry about it.

Has your Forester been regularly serviced? usually any issues are brought up at that time, and upcoming things are noted as well, I have a stack of service reports that list my brake % from 100 down to where they are now at every 6k, Tires and Headgaskets just go, but brakes wear out.

I'd say you have some decisions to make;
your tires need attention now, your headgasket is not going to get any better, and your brakes wear out every time you stop.
sucks doesn't it?
 

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03 Forester
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
thanks for the feedback

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

I'm looking around town for lower prices on all repairs. Got a brake quote for $100 less than the dealership, so that helps.

Tires, I'm still curious about. FLSTFFXE, what tires do you prefer to the geolanders?

I've been told that due to the billable hours invovled in access this area of the engine, it might save money in the long term to replace the timing belt and water pump at the same time as the head gaskets, but that might push the price over $3K.

Can you verify the veracity of this situation?

Thanks again,
Adam
 

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2017 Forester Premium
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Continental ContiProContact's 215/60R16 are $81.00 ea at Tirerack The Fuzion VRi's are 72.00 ea
And replacing the timing belt, water pump, tensioner and pulleys while having the head gaskets done is a good idea since your getting close to the recommended mileage for that service and it will all be apart anyhow. You can save more money by sourcing a complete kit on ebay too..

something like this one
Timing Belt Kit Subaru Forester 2.5L 1999-2002 Complete : eBay Motors (item 360224141975 end time Apr-07-10 08:58:47 PDT)
 

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2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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Tires, I'm still curious about. FLSTFFXE, what tires do you prefer to the geolanders?
It really depends on what your driving conditions are and what you want out of a tire.

When I/we ran all-seasons year round I needed a tire that did well in the snow/ice as well as daily driving in the summer I went with the GoodYear Triple Tread at a hefty $130 a tire. It meet my needs. There are other less expensive tires that would have done well too such as the Continentals TC2000 mentioned, just these were my poison of choice.

Now that I have started running dedicated winter tires Hankook IPikes W409s on the Misses Foz and Firestone Winter Force on mine I don't have/see the need for a all-season tire good in the winter, thus opening up the door to more lower priced tires. To replace the Misses Geos I have been leaning towards Fisk Tires Fisk Classics for $67ea or some of the ultra low rolling resistance tires out on the market now to help increase fuel mileage since in the summer hers only sees to and from work travel which demands little from a tire.

I would say with some price shopping you should be able to find a reputable place to do the HG and Tbelt related items for around $2500.
 

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I'm willing to bet that you could get a better price. I just got the headgaskets, radiator, oil pump, timing belt, water pump, engine knock sensor, 02 sensor, rotors, and several other things replaced at two very good independent shops for a total of $3200. (Just about everything went wrong in a period of two months with my '98 at 138K).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
found some good tires

i found a deal on some YOKOHAMA avid envigor, buy 3, get one free for a total of $419. Best deal I've found so far.

The shop also offered to machine the rotors, instead of replacing them. anyone ever done that?
 

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If these are the original rotors with 80K miles on them I would say you got your worth out of them. There may or may not be enough material left on them to turn down and still be within allowed tolerances. Turned rotors have a tendency to warp quickly due to there being less material to absorb the heat. It will cost probably 15-20 dollars to turn each rotor, and that could be put towards new ones that will outlast the old ones by a wide margin. Rotors have a minimum thickness allowed usually stamped on the inside of the rotor. New rotors are not too expensive considering they provide around 70% of your stopping power. The ones from Subaru may be more expensive than some aftermarket, but if you got that much milage out of them why not get them again. If you do go the aftermarket choice, then I would at least go with a good quality rotor.
 

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2015 Highlander AWD XLE 6AT
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i found a deal on some YOKOHAMA avid envigor, buy 3, get one free for a total of $419. Best deal I've found so far.
That's a new model tire, so there's not much known about 'em yet. However, initial customer comments seem encouraging. And, FWIW, they're made here in the USA at Yokohama's plant in Salem, VA.

Tire Rack's unit price for the ENVigor in size 215/60R16 95H is $89, or $356 for a set of four, plus shipping. $419 for a local set sounds rather good, especially if it includes mounting, dynamic balancing, valve stems, and installation, although I suspect that shop fees, taxes, and old tire disposal will be extra.

The shop also offered to machine the rotors, instead of replacing them. anyone ever done that?
This is fairly common as long as the rotors are not machined / turned to less that their "min thickness" spec, which should be stamped on the rotor(s). However, I too usually just go with new rotors.

HTH,
Jim / crewzer
 

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2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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Our rotors new from Autozone are <$30ea if I recall correctly. Granted these are more then likely Chinese but they have done OK for many people.

As far as machining them. Absolutely OK as long as after they are machined they are still above the minimum service spec. The spec for '03 front rotors is 22mm(.87") minimum. New thickness being 24mm(.94").

The reason for the minimum thickness spec is as the brake pads wear down the caliper piston moves out of the caliper to keep the pad in contact with the rotor. If the pads and the rotor wear down too far the pistons can come out of the caliper entirely leaving you with out any front breaks(in this case).

I routinely run turned rotors. The first time the brakes need to be done I buy a set of replacement rotors, install those and take the originals into work and turn them down. Leaving me with a fresh set of rotors for the next time.

The price on the tires is also good if it includes mount and balance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks again guys. I was able to get a new set of H rated Yokohama tires and have the rotors machined for less than the dealer wanted for the just the tires alone, so I am happy. Now I need to shop around for a better price on replacing the headgasket & timing belt. The dealership quoted me $1700 for both, but they told me that the water pump doesn't usually need replacing. This kinda runs counter to what I've read on this foum about doing the HGs, T Belt and Waterpump in one go. Any ideas?

Thanks again!
 

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2008 Forester X Premium 5MT
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Truth be told, $1700 for the HG and T-belt is not out of the ball park. Really depends a lot on your local market. MPLS/St.Paul I see $1400-2500 fairly often.

The reason we on this board recommend the water pump when doing HG/T-belt is that you are already there, at this point it is only another 15 minutes to do it VS. a few hours. It is also driven by the timing belt and if it happens to fail later on down the road and the T-belt is taken out with it, the valves and heads can be damaged. For the members here it is cheap insurance($60-120).
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks

Thanks again for the tip. I mentioned the waterpump issue to the service rep, and he totally downplayed the possibility that it could fail, requiring me to pay for the same labor twice. It's another thing that makes me distrust my dealership service center.
 

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Good advice as always being offered.

Not sure if this will help you, but if you update your Profile (Quick Links pull-down menu), with a more accurate location, you may get some recommendations from locales on where or who can do you your repairs either for less (not always the case) or are trusted to do a good job from other users experiences.

Keep us informed as to your progress, eventually we all have to pay a little more (for something) than expected to get it right.
 
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