('09-'13) 2009 Forester, 120k miles - trade-in or repair? - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-21-2018, 06:17 PM Thread Starter
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2009 Forester, 120k miles - trade-in or repair?

Hi All-

My 2009 Forester is in relatively good shape but it has 120k miles on it and needs the work listed below, all estimates are from a Subaru dealer. Not sure if i should trade her in or make the repairs and keep her for some time. Any thoughts on what else i should expect in terms of other repairs in the near future would be appreciated. May make sense to put this money and the trade-in value to something newer,...maybe switch over to an Outback...

- timing belt replacement (overdue), $1,288
- replace front lower control arms (they are worn), $1,186
- minor oil leak, can get a clean and dye for $68 (will need to drive it for a bit and bring back for analysis)
total = $2,542

This could go up if there is an issue with the dye test and the oil leak.....

Thanks for your help!

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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-21-2018, 06:28 PM
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I've got a 2010 with 188,000 miles and I'm sure glad I kept mine after 120,000 miles.

$1288 seems somewhat reasonable for a timing belt at the dealer IF it also includes a water pump, tensioner and all idler pulleys. As a precaution, you might want to have them change the thermostat while they are at it.

Are you sure you need the whole control arm and not just the bushings? I had both lower front control arm bushings replaced for $254 at an independent Subaru-only shop.

Your minor oil leak is the big unknown. If you weren't overdue on the timing belt, I would say wait until you know what the oil leak is going to cost you.

If you have an independent Subaru-only shop, take it there for a second opinion and to potentially save money.

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Last edited by ForesterBill; 02-21-2018 at 06:53 PM.
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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-21-2018, 06:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Bill...the estimate says "the front lower control arms are worn $1186 (includes 4 wheel alignment)"...i am not savy enough to look myself and know if it is just bushings, i pretty much rely on the shop and have to trust them,...this is a new dealer for me as i just moved,...they seem reputable from what i can tell...i was going to an independent shop that i really trusted and they had recommended something similar a while back and said it was something to watch, i'll have to check on what they recommended,...

i like the thought of getting the 2nd opinion but the timing belt being so overdue scares the heck out of me,...it's my own fault though, kinda kept my head in the sand on this one....

Dealer actually suggested i not do anything until i get the dye test to check on the oil leak...as it may not be worth the cost to fix,...
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-21-2018, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by misterruby View Post
Thanks Bill...the estimate says "the front lower control arms are worn $1186 (includes 4 wheel alignment)"...i am not savy enough to look myself and know if it is just bushings, i pretty much rely on the shop and have to trust them
When you take it back to have the oil leak checked, ask them to show you what is wrong with the lower control arms. If they show you cracked bushings, ask them how much to just replace the bushings. 4-wheel alignment at the dealer should be less than $100.

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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-21-2018, 07:57 PM
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I'm in a similar situation with my 2010, I am having the timing belt and head gaskets done.

I think it would definitely be worth getting a second quote for your work.

Edit - I think you could get a better price on your timing belt quote. Saying that, it all depends on what kit you use. The OEM kits run about $500 whilst the Aisin kits, my choice, run just over $200.

Re your oil leak - what's the (most likely) worst thing it could be - head gaskets? If so, you can figure anywhere from $2000 - $2500 to do these.

Realise though that if they do the timing belt and head gaskets at the same time (as for me) then there are potential labour $$ savings there.

$3,000 - $3500 to do a standard timing belt replacement (with all idlers, tensioner, pump, etc) and your head gaskets is a very reasonable and realistic benchmark for you to measure quotes against. Good luck!!

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Last edited by ForesterCub; 02-21-2018 at 08:27 PM.
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-22-2018, 07:52 AM
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The only way to truly get your money out of a car is drive it until it costs more monthly than a car payment would be. This is old school ideology and correct ideology. I, do not follow this. I typically buy every two years, but we intend to curb that due to our new baby. Hopefully, she will drive this Forester of ours.
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-22-2018, 10:01 AM
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The $1200+ from a dealership is OK assuming that it includes everything that the belt touches as already noted. It would have been best if you had located a local independent subaru shop before now, but since you didn't, the best option is to have them replace the timing belt and pulleys.

For the control arms, take the time to find an independent subaru shop. I assume, since I've never had to replace the control arms, that you can drive a few thousand miles on them.

For the oil leak, it's best if you find it yourself. I know, its dirty. get some ramps and get under the front end. Wipe everything down, and look for leaks in a week. I guarantee you will find the location. The trouble with having the dealership find them is that they don't have a week to look for them and if they make a mistake, you pay but will still have the leaks. And no, they will not give you a refund.
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-23-2018, 01:54 AM
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I'd keep your car, while getting the timing belt work done now.

Wait until the other claimed 'issues' actually affect driveability before you address them.
A car does not have to be rated 'perfect' to give dependable, enjoyable and attractive service.

'99 Forester here.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 02-23-2018, 11:23 PM
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A little nugget of knowledge that nobody is explaining to you.

In most cases the dealer will just replace the control arm if the bushings go bad. If you look at parts cost, Parts+Labor for rebuilding the control arm is the same as just buying a fresh unit off the shelf. I just hit 105k on my SH and had the dealer do the timing belt for the like $900, call the other dealers they all charge whatever their book fee is for the job, so one may be a little cheaper. And I had the control arms done at the same time as my bushings had dried out and cracked (plus the alignment as well.) I paid roughly what you were quoted. If you have not had your airbag recall done yet, get that done, that entitles you to a rental car, so if everything gets done at once you get a car.
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-01-2018, 05:53 AM
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I have a 2009 with 155k on it. It's well maintained (oil changed every 3k, coolant changed, timing belt replaced, and the every 30k services performed all at the dealer). I went to the dealership yesterday for an exhaust system rattle that happens when starting up which was remedied by wedging sheet metal screws between the exhaust pipe and the heat shield and some other areas of the heat shield.

I was told I need the head gasket replaced at $2,200 and also my control arm bushings are worn and need replacing at $623 (both sides). I was a little concerned that the "oil" they discovered on the back side of the engine wasn't oil and was from a previous issue. It is also on the steering leakage boot and isn't fresh and it's actually old brake fluid.

The same dealership bled the brakes / changed the fluid a while back and after I drove the car for a few miles It burped brake fluid out all over the reservoir and exhaust (it smoked). I'm thinking what the tech saw is the residual from this.

I'm going to an independent shop to have them look it over. I'm not comfortable on the head gasket diagnosis based on some oil seen by the tech.

I also forgot to tell them at my December 2017 oil change I had to go back to the dealership because of a sloppy oil change (forgot the crush washer and was leaking oil & oil not cleaned up on exhaust - got the smoke). This oil change was done at a different dealer than where I got the diagnosis for the head gasket & bushings.

Also, I thought your service history is available for the service advisor to see for your vehicle no matter what Subaru dealership you go to.

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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-01-2018, 06:13 AM
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I was told I need the head gasket replaced at $2,200
Just out of curiosity...When your coolant was changed was Subaru Cooling System Conditioner added? This additive is suppose to prevent head gasket leaks.

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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-01-2018, 06:51 AM
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I'm going to an independent shop to have them look it over. I'm not comfortable on the head gasket diagnosis based on some oil seen by the tech.
Good move.

I don't take my 2010 to dealerships anymore after a catalogue of disasters, both mechanical and borderline fraudulent financial.

I do all my own work now and for stuff that I can't I use a good independent (Andrewtech Automotive). In my experience, independents are cheaper, more efficient and more trustworthy.

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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-01-2018, 06:59 AM
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Just out of curiosity...When your coolant was changed was Subaru Cooling System Conditioner added? This additive is suppose to prevent head gasket leaks.
I've used it throughout the ownership (since new) of my 2010 and it didn't stop my HGs going.

After doing lots of research and investigating, I discovered the conditioner was a desperation measure from Subaru. It's actually re-labelled 'Radweld' and it creates havoc inside the engine, gunking up coolant galleries and the like. Most knowledgable independent Subaru shops refuse to use it.

Like I said, it was a desperation measure from Subaru. They had to offer 10 year coolant changes to be able to compete with other manufacturers. This is how we arrived at the Subaru Super Coolant AKA the blue coolant.

Contrary to popular belief, the late series EJ Forester engines, E.G. 2008 onwards, never got any kind of MLS head gasket. The MLS only appeared in the later FB series. So the conditioner was a short sighted attempt by Subaru to try and prop up an ailing HG system, whilst also trying to use the blue Super coolant with longer change intervals.

Edit / add - the late EJ series Outbacks and Legacys got the new MLS gaskets but not the pre FB series Foresters and Imprezas.

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Last edited by ForesterCub; 03-01-2018 at 08:54 AM.
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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-01-2018, 07:17 AM
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Definitely get a second opinion, but consider that $2500 is about 5 car payments.
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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-01-2018, 07:38 AM
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Just out of curiosity...When your coolant was changed was Subaru Cooling System Conditioner added? This additive is suppose to prevent head gasket leaks.
I didn't see it listed under parts.
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