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Hello. I am a new dad looking for a relatively inexpensive and reliable baby hauler. I have researched Forester's a bit but I thought this community could help me more than I can help myself. For starters, I prefer the look of the 97-02 models and would like a manual transmission. My goal is to have a good looking, fun and reliable car that will accommodate the needs of a growing family. While I plan to leave the vehicle mostly stock I would like a lower stance and larger wheels. Again, mostly just for the look. I don't need full track suspension. I currently live in Charlotte NC and the weather is moderate. Road conditions during the winter are of little concern. My drive to work fluctuates between 1 round trip to 4 round trips a week and the car could sit parked at work for up to 4 days. I hope this adequately describes my intended use.

Is there a year within this model that I should target?
What are the pitfalls from other years that I should avoid?
How much should I expect to spend lowering the car once I own it?

I am sure most of you are tired of seeing the car pictured below by now. I have no idea how much work has gone into this car or how much money is into it. Like anything else this could be a $6k car or a $60k. That said, I would like to be able to accomplish this look without going too crazy on the funds. Can it be done? Thanks in advance!

 

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2008 2008 2.5i-2018 XT
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You want to stay away from pre 03 vehicles bc of leaking Head Gasket issues. Even Early 03 is iffy.

And remember Subaru has tons of moving parts so if it has not been well cared for you are talking some serious money. I personally would stay away from Pre-owned Subarus unless I knew their history. I will be the minority on this board but its my opinion. :)

Oh yea the timing belt, water pump, idlers, seals, and bearings need changed at 105K miles.
 

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2004 Forester XT Premium 4EAT
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I generally agree with what adc said - however... if you find a nice SF (98-02) with maintenance records and the head gasket issue has already been addressed (which, by mileage, should be the case for the large majority of SF's on the road because it tends to occur around 80-130k - for the 98's at least), then you should be in the clear. The re-designed gaskets hold up fine once the originals have been replaced.

Another thing to look out for is the rear wheel bearings. The Foz in the picture you posted looks "hella flush," but the general consensus is that low offset wheels can accelerate the demise of the wheel bearings.

Read up on lowering here: http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f70/sf5-ultimate-all-around-low-suspension-11160/
 

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2009 Forester 2.5x
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As the father of two girls ages 6 and 2, allow me to point out the flaw in your quest. You want a "relatively inexpensive AND reliable baby hauler." (Caps mine.) Wishful thinking, that vehicle doesn't exist. It's one thing if YOU get stranded in a broken down older vehicle, but with a tot on board we are way beyond simple inconvenience. And no, a cell phone won't solve every problem you could run into. Check out the dealers' lots for Subaru's certified pre-owned vehicles. Sometimes you can get a good buy on one and it's got a much better warranty than the vintage you are talking about. And lowering the car????? Okay Dad, I may be out of line here, but how about putting that "lowering" money into a Roth IRA or the baby's college fund?
Steve (what a spoilsport, sorry!)
09 2.5X AT
 

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I highly recomend the earlier fozzies also. I bought a 2000 and I am extremely happy. The best place to look is in the back of a Subaru dealership. The first one I went to was just rebuilding a 1999 L and only wanted 5800. And the had a warranty on the labor. Then i found another one that was rebuilt by a mechanic from another Subaru dealership. At least i know that everything was (hopefully) done correctly and to factory specs. Both dealerships said they always get older Subarus in but they usually sell BEFORE they even hit the lot. Mostly to family or looky-loos like me.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
As the father of two girls ages 6 and 2, allow me to point out the flaw in your quest. You want a "relatively inexpensive AND reliable baby hauler." (Caps mine.) Wishful thinking, that vehicle doesn't exist. It's one thing if YOU get stranded in a broken down older vehicle, but with a tot on board we are way beyond simple inconvenience. And no, a cell phone won't solve every problem you could run into. Check out the dealers' lots for Subaru's certified pre-owned vehicles. Sometimes you can get a good buy on one and it's got a much better warranty than the vintage you are talking about. And lowering the car????? Okay Dad, I may be out of line here, but how about putting that "lowering" money into a Roth IRA or the baby's college fund?
Steve (what a spoilsport, sorry!)
09 2.5X AT
You are out of line but if you must know, I have set up a 529 plan for my son to pay for college. The 529 has higher contribution limits than an education IRA and does not restrict income. Plus it allows me to deposit larger chunks of money without incurring tax penalties. I assure you my son's choice of college will not be limited by what we can afford and my desire to lower a forester will hardly impact available college funds. Does anyone else have a concern about Jr's future or my priorities?

I guess "baby hauler" was not an appropriate term to best describe my need. This vehicle will not be our primary family vehicle. Actually, it won't even be our second option to "haul" our baby. Currently, I drive a two door that is too nice to continue leaving at the airport and it is not exactly car seat friendly. So I thought I could get a fun, reliable, airport friendly car that has adequate space for a child seat SHOULD I ever have to drive my son around in it. And since I will be the only person in the car for an overwhelming majority of the time I prefer to be in something a bit more exciting than a 1984 Toyota Van.

I enjoyed my short stay here.
 

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I enjoyed my short stay here.
Why let one single smartass reply spoil your experience here? There were three other posts in this thread addressing your questions (or so I would hope). Ignore the "out of line" post and move on, there are plenty of helpful folks around here.
 

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you know what they say about opinions....:biggrin: don't let them bother you. you will find this is actually a nice, friendly, helpful forum. stick around.

I'm suprised this thread hasn't been supported more from the SF crowd (SF is the model code that you're looking for). While the headgasket is an issue once it's fixed there are no worries other than usual 10y/o car stuff. I'm currently tossing around finding an sf as a second car. there really isn't anything else that has the size/function/space and fun of the forester out there.

We currently have an 08 that we bought new from a dealership. we love it and it is a great car, but I still remember driving it off the lot knowing the $$ hit we were taking. Also it gets protectively-parked at malls etc away from other cars.. compared to the most fun car I ever had: a $1K 90 jetta that was beat up lowered and unlocked most of the time..
just my $0.02

ps. there are a few SF models around here that take the cake so-to-speak; that pic is one, look up angrytoaster as well. :biggrin:

mike
 

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Not sure if this will help but a co-worker just bought the Tribeca for similar reasons to the originator of the thread. It's a lot more $ than the Forester but he chose it over because he wanted more room, ground clearance, and less noise. He LOVES it. He won't shut up about it <g> and is making me jealous because the Tribeca is out of my $$ range - and it gets less mileage so more $$ at the pump. :)
 

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Why let one single smartass reply spoil your experience here? There were three other posts in this thread addressing your questions (or so I would hope). Ignore the "out of line" post and move on, there are plenty of helpful folks around here.
Well hush my mouth. Read the OP's first sentence , he was looking for an inexpensive baby hauler (his words). From there he's talking about lowering the vehicle. Not a smartass reply from me at all. I said I might be out of line with the last point I made (in case I was, and the consensus is I was, okay I won't disagree), I said I was a spoilsport (in case I was), and said I was sorry about that (the last word in my post.) I guess "baby-hauler" means different things to different people. To me it suggests a vehicle that will be used regularly to transport a baby. Now the OP says it will seldom carry the baby. If you say A is A, don't come down on me because you meant to say A is B.
Steve
09 2.5X
 
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