I recently bought a 98 Subaru forester with 133Kms. The engine is the 2.5L DOHC. It had tapping noixes on both sides of the engine and a serious hesitation in the 1500 to 2500 rpm range and ran rough. It pulled to the right also.
1. I replaced the tires with new Nokian summer tires and had it aligned. The mechanic said that all four wheels were pointing in different directions and it was amazing that it stayed on the road. It only takes a couple of encounters with curbs to do this.
2. I replaced the oil, air and fuel filters on spec. Air and Fuel looked original!
3. I unplugged the battery to reset the ECU.
4. I replaced the spark plugs with new ones. That is an absolute pain to do but the plugs were badly worn.
After this work the performance of the engine was vastly improved. The tapping was gone, so I suspect that it was a result of bad ignition causing a "tapping" sound ala spark knock. That sort of tapping could have fed back throught the knock sensor causing timing retardation and ultimately the hesitation I was experienceing. At any rate the hesitation is gone and the engine runs more smoothly, though not as smooth as I would like.
This car is now very nice to drive and I am looking forward to many years of doing so!
p.s. I'll let you know if the fuel economy is improved substantially by this as well
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