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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

I am new here and planning on fixing up my girlfriends Forester. She bought it used a few years ago and I have no idea about it's maintenance history. I wanted to tune it up for her and see if I couldn't get it to run better. I figured spark plugs, air filter are the best places to start. Is there anything else like wires, rotor, distributor cap, etc?

I have a jeep and diesel truck I do all the work on so have good mechanical experience and tools.

I have never worked on a subaru before and would like any pointers or advice. I tried to search for the info here, but couldn't find it.
If anyone has a good link or help that would be great.



2003 XS
169 Posts
Hey Shawn,

There isn't a whole lot you can do to "tune up" cars these days. Subaru uses a coil pack, so there is no distributor cap or rotor to change. You could change the coil pack and wires, but I wouldn't bother if your GF isn't having driveability issues. Adjusting the valves, another old school tune up task, also isn't needed. Spark plugs are still around, so you can change those. Before you go spending time and money on a tune up, though, I would make sure the timing belt has been replaced. The single most important maintenance item on these cars is the timing belt. It should be replaced at 105,000 miles. If it breaks, the engine is toast. If you know that has been replaced, the second best thing you can do is change all the fluids and filters. Below are all the maintenance tasks I did on my fiancee's 2003 Forester when she bought it with 70,000 miles. It also had no history.

Replaced Oil
Replaced Oil Filter
Replaced Coolant
Replaced Automatic Transmission Fluid
Replaced Automatic Transmission Fluid Filter
Replaced Front Differential Fluid
Replaced Rear Differential Fluid
Replaced Brake Fluid
Replaced Spark Plugs
Replaced Fuel Filter
Replaced Air Filter
Replaced Cabin Filter
Rotated Tires
Inspected Brake Pads and Rotors has some pretty good write ups. I'd start there.

Good luck!


1998 Forester
593 Posts
Take a close look at the ignition wires also...if they have not been changed in awhile it's likely they could be disintegrating slowly. Pollution, heat, cold, etc almost always degrades those wires and even though you might not notice any issues, they could be performing under par now.
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