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New Forester, what should I do.

1915 Views 17 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Shakeman
Well I just bought my first forester/first car with 175k miles for $3000(they are more expensive here in the south it seems.).

The Dealer had just changed the Timing belt and Head Gasket, but it still has some minor issues.

I just changed the wiper blades today, but this is what I still KNOW I need to do:
-Tune up(how much should I pay for this?)
-Fix back passenger window, comes off track about half way down(Is this something easy to fix?)

What else should I do? Anything I should check?

It also vibrates a decent bit at stoplights, should I worry about this?

Also, how should I go about fixing some rusty dings where the previous owner went offroading?

P.S:I know pretty much nothing about mechanics, I'm 19 and all of my knowledge comes from researching things in the last 2 weeks.

Edit: 1999 Forester L
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Not sure what a Dealer charges of a tune up...this should be plugs and possibly wires. Get an estimate. You could then find a good mechanic and compare prices.

One thing...just changing the timing belt is probably not enough. Normally you should change the 3 idlers, tensioner, and water pump. I doubt that was done at the required interval of 105K miles.
Welcome and glad to see were having people around my age having the same common interest in cars.

I also own a 98 subaru forester (SF5), if you're going to do a tune up ( Plugs and wires ) I would do them yourself, its easy and you'll spend maybe a hour or two w/no experience.

When ordering parts I HIGHLY recommend RockAuto Parts Catalog , extremely cheap parts and large variety.

When it comes to the basic maintenance with a vehicle, look into reading and doing it yourself and ask around and see what others say, if you can tackle it rather easily with basic tools, go for it and learn the knowledge i.e Oil change, window off track, speaker blown. But just make sure you search around before asking questions, more than likely someone has been in your footsteps before and somebody more than likely answered it.

So when it comes to your back window coming off track, heres a link , and when it comes to taking your door panel off , its rather easy, just be careful with the plastic.

But lets see some pics of this beast!
Alright, ordered the stuff for the tune up from rock auto just now.

I forgot to put this in my first post, my back struts need to be replaced, is it safe to drive without replacing them till I get my next paycheck or should I just do it now? They don't make any noises when you go over bumps but if you push down on the back you can tell they need to be replaced.
I was out driving around today and my check engine light came on, dropped in to the local autozone and the code showed up as P0133, so I need an O2 Sensor, I guess the struts will have to wait. Anyone have a recommendation for a sensor to buy?
O2 sensors are easy to replace, when I first bought my car like 30 miles in my CEL came on for that as well, luckily the previous owner had one in the glove box. So go with w.e you really like, as for the struts, have you gone through any water or snow lately? Once I drive through alot of water or snow on previous vehicles mine would make noise like that as well. They can wait.

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Wow, dealer said he would replace it for free, I told my father I was going to get an 02 sensor and he called the dealer while I was getting dressed, was shocked a used dealership would do that, but I just saved myself 80 bucks.
That is good of them. But I can tell you, having sold new and used subarus, they knew the light was on, they just shut it off for the sale.
But if you shocks are bouncy don't worry about it now. Your tune up should be a top priority. Well what is recommend is going to the south eastern section on this forum and see if anyone in that area recommends a good mechanic. And alo on the engine part of the forums. You want to pay someone an hour-2 to look the car over and give you an idea of what it needs and when.
I forgot to put this in my first post, my back struts need to be replaced, is it safe to drive without replacing them till I get my next paycheck or should I just do it now? They don't make any noises when you go over bumps but if you push down on the back you can tell they need to be replaced.
Yes, safe to drive on them. They affect ride quality but bad struts do no harm otherwise.

Another user has commented on timing belt idlers, water pump, etc. That's good advice. The timing belt usually does not fail. Rather, one of the idlers stops turning and it's a rapid trip downhill from there.


Do you plan to change your own oil and filter? You can save a bit of money doing this and doing this forces you to 'get you under the car' and 'under the hood'.

If so, decide which oil filter you plan to use. I recommend the genuine Subaru part - they're cheap enough and work fine. Take one of them to your friendly auto parts store and get an oil filter wrench that fits this particular filter. Note that some aftermarket filters have the wrong setting on the pressure relief valve, plus, they are slightly different size, so your oil filter wrench may not fit. Here's my favorite wrench style . . .


You mentioned the rear window off the track. I've never fixed a rear window, but I have had the door panels off. As part of removing the panel on any door, you will need to remove a single Phillips-head screw in the bottom of the armrest tray - it's under a small pop-out tab. I mention this screw, because it tends to rust in place and can be a real PITA to remove.

Spray the screw(s) with Liquid Wrench. Do this a couple of times over several days. Get a good Phillips screwdriver (tip not worn). Try to get the screws out using a lot of down pressure on the screwdriver.

If the Phillips screwdriver slips out of the slot, then try to remove the screws with a flat-blade screwdriver that just grips two points in the screw slots. I know this sounds odd, but I've done this a couple of times and the flat-blade screwdriver worked well (when the Phillips bit slipped).

To remove the actual door panel, it helps if you have some "trim tools". Try an auto parts store, eBay or Amazon. The plastic tools came as a set.

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Just an update.

It stalled out at a light yesterday morning, I thought that there had to be some moisture in the fuel line. Did a fuel treatment, started to run better.

Took it to a doctor's appt. today and on the way back the hose connecting the coolant to the radiator blew off. I pulled over, reconnected it and put in some coolant which was now bone dry. made it another mile to a mile and a half, started to overheat again, looked under the hood and couldn't see anything wrong looking, though it didn't sound quite right.

Called the dealer who sold it to me since it is within the one week period, they said they'd come get it and see if the could fix it. I brought it down there this evening and they said they could work on it tomorrow.

Anyone have any idea what might be going on? It has been idling quite roughly for the past 3 or 4 days, but I thought that was caused by the fact it had been sitting for so long.
Headgasket? Im not that much hands on but it used to do the same thing to my gfs mazda 626, and I was told it was the head gasket

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I hope that's not it, they replaced the head gasket on the vehicle back in June.
What's their return policy?
I ended up having the radiator replaced, did the tune up today and it is running magnificently.
I ended up having the radiator replaced, did the tune up today and it is running magnificently.
There ya go! Glad to see it was that easy.

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* Be sure to add the highly recommended Subaru Coolant Conditioner to the cooling system. Pour the conditioner into the radiator, not the overflow jug. You may have to evacuate some coolant in order to add the conditioner to the radiator. The conditioner is a must to prevent HG failures. Do all when the vehicle is stone-cold. Purchase Conditioner from the Subaru dealer.

* If the age/condition of the PCV is unknown change it.

* Use dielectric grease at all spark plug wire connections. This will avoid any possible moisture problems in the ignition system.

* Inspect the Fuel Filler Pipe by removing its shroud that's located in the rear-passenger wheel well. If necessary remove all dirt and debris.

* Clean MAF

Good Luck
If you decide you want to have the pullies and tensioner done, get the gates kit. THe pullies are OEM and even though it includes a belt it is still much cheaper than the pullies and tensioner from the dealer.
Learn how to check the oil ... and do it on a regular basis, perhaps once a week
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