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Discussion Starter #1
So I’m in the market for a car and I’m interested in a 2001 Forester S manual with 95,000 miles. It’s had two owners and appears to be in good condition, though I haven’t driven it yet. I’ve been reading about reliability of the vehicle and just wanted to hear some opinions from some insiders on here. The main concern I have so far is the head gaskets. According to the dealer I’m looking at they were replaced recently, but how soon could this become an issue again? Is this a car I should expect to pour a decent amount of money into to repair, or does it tend to be pretty reliable?

Thanks!
 

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2010 Forester 2.5 XPremium 4EAT
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863 Posts
Hi & welcome!

Assuming MLS gaskets were used and that the job was done correctly, the HG should last the life of the car. I would want to see evidence that they have been done. Is there paperwork to support this? Warranty? Also, look in the engine bay and you should be able to see the MLS gasket sitting very slightly proud of the head in places.

Ask also for them to confirm that the timing belt was replaced. You would want to see all the idlers replaced, too, (with the kit) and hopefully the water pump.

Bear in mind the timing belt and idlers will need replacing again in about 100K / 9 years.

How mechanically minded are you? Have a look underneath the car or ask a mechnically minded friend to on the dealers' ramp. Look for oil leaks under the heads etc. Should all be dry under there.

Check wheel bearings carefully.

Ask when brakes were last serviced. How does the brake fluid look in the engine bay? Should be appear clean and not dark.

Open coolant overflow tank - should be no signs of oil and should not smell of fumes.

A compression test on the engine usually tells us all we need to know about engine health - would the dealer do one to seal the deal for you??

Test drive the car. Should pull well, stop well and the transmission should be quite smooth. Walk away if you hear clunks and bumps from the gearbox.
 

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2003 EJ20K Forester
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Headgasket like mentioned above and the AWD system are the only things that make these cars different than shopping for any other used car.

Turn it in a few circles L and R. Don't want any clicking noises from the driveshafts, or hopping of any of the tires. Hopping might indicate the centre differential has been overheated and welded itself together from running mismatched tires, or towing, etc.

Your profile sucks, but your username suggests you live in Cleveland. I'd check rockers, wheel arches, subframes, and suspension for rust issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the quick responses, I love to see an active community surrounding a vehicle. And sorry I posted in a rush during my lunch today, I’ll get my profile updated haha.

To ForesterCub, if any of the issues you mentioned are present in this vehicle should I walk away? I’m fairly mechanically-minded but will definitely have an actual mechanic look at it before purchasing.
 
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