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My son is looking for a safe reliable car for his wife and baby. I know the Forester has an excellent crash safety rating, but what about reliability. What are some of the problem areas that he should look at before buying a 5+ year old Forester?
 

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2007 Forester Sports XT 4EAT
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Welcome to the forum from Oregon! :biggrin:

+5 years would put you in an '05, which should be trouble free if it's been maintained correctly. The major service is at 105K miles for the timing belt & associated parts. You could even go with an '04 if the price & mileage is right. :wink:

When I'm looking at a used vehicle, I like to check out the dirty side. They usually don't detail that area. Check for oil & fluid leaks, plus excess rusting. :smile:

If you can get documented service records, that would help you verify the recommended services were performed, but don't expect it. Not even my '07 FSXT that I bought last year (June/09) came with that. A clear CarFax is nice, but doesn't mean a whole lot, as many have discovered. :frown:

Bobby...

'07 FSXT MODding Journal
'03 X MODding Journal
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So, I gather the major reliability issue is with the head gasket. What year did that change? I read somewhere that the engine needs to be pulled to change the head gasket, correct?
The engine doesn't have to be pulled to do the timing belt does it?
Are there any other, maybe annoying, problems that come up that seen to be common with the Foresters?
 

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So, I gather the major reliability issue is with the head gasket. What year did that change? I read somewhere that the engine needs to be pulled to change the head gasket, correct?
The engine doesn't have to be pulled to do the timing belt does it?
Are there any other, maybe annoying, problems that come up that seen to be common with the Foresters?
Wheel bearings are common to fail, rears at random and fronts generally from more "severe" use. The 98 DOHC motor had tons of headgasket issues and an internal leak. Newer SOHC motors and turbo models don't have nearly the issues and generally have external leaks which aren't as big a deal. Timing belt while not an issue is a pretty $$ service and is absolutely necessary as the boxer engine is interference. The radiator on the turbo models tends to split by the upper radiator hose (the end tanks are plastic).

It also depends where you're located. If in a northern area that uses salt, look out for rust. The 98-02 models especially had issues with the fuel filler tube rusting.

The 04+ models are generally quite reliable however.
 

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2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
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So, I gather the major reliability issue is with the head gasket. What year did that change? I read somewhere that the engine needs to be pulled to change the head gasket, correct?
The engine doesn't have to be pulled to do the timing belt does it? ?
I t doesn't have too but I believe the dealers pull them for both jobs.
I believe the HG change occurred after the 02 MY. Not sure all 03's got it.

Folks can correct me if I'm wrong.
 

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Make sure your son and wife look at rear seat leg room. In the earlier models it was painfully cramped back there. So if their child needs a car seat, it may require moving the passenger seat forward so that it can fit in back, and that might make it uncomfortable (or possibly unsafe) for the passenger.
 

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I would also look at the CRV it was designed mainly for the Young woman with small children, as I understand it. Its a very well designed vehicle and (I hate to say this) more reliable than Forester. It has zero head gasket issues and there is no timing belt. The K24 engine is as bullet proof as they come.
 

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I would agree on the reliability of the Honda CRV engine. If you do check one out, make sure there is enough room in the cargo area for you. The new models taper down quite a bit in the back.

On the HGs, I haven't had to do one personally yet on a boxer engine (I'm sure somebody else will chime in). But all the research I've done says that the best method is to completely pull the engine out of the vehicle. I have pulled engines in other vehicles and, if you have the right tools, the hardest part is getting the stubborn bolts loose. In situations like that PB Blaser becomes your best friend.
 

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IOn the HGs, I haven't had to do one personally yet on a boxer engine (I'm sure somebody else will chime in). But all the research I've done says that the best method is to completely pull the engine out of the vehicle.
My mechanic says the advantage to pulling the engine is that you can get the head gasket as part of a seals kit. Pull the engine, and while it is out change all the engine seals. Then you're good to for a really long time. Otherwise, you'll be replacing seals at different times over the next 100k miles. Which is what I did on my Outback, when I had the head gasket done w/o pulling the engine. :icon_frown:
 
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