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New 03 Forester owner


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15 replies to this topic

#1 zooma37

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 11:38 AM

I am the owner of a new 03 auto Forester. I've never owned a Subaru before, and I would like some input from the experienced owners on the following questions. Some of these questions may have been answered in other threads, but I need some clarity.

1. Is the Forester generally a reliable car?
2. What oil should I use in the car?
3. What do I need to know so that I get years of good, reliable service from an AWD sysem - tire pressure, rotate tires, etc.?
4. Any other unusual issues that I need to know about?

#2 1ABAJA

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 12:43 PM

Yo Zooma, what's up??

A lot of people on this forum sleep when they are on-line, or only respond when they want to burn somebody with their impressive Subaru knowledge...so,

1)As to the relaibilty of the Forester...I am not a Forester owner myself, but what usaully makes a car relaible is the drivetrain. Soobs DO have relaible drivetrains...I have never owned cars that hold up as well as the Soobs...just keep maintaining them, and you can't go wrong!

2)As to the oil, I just go cheap and use Napa 10-30 and change religiously! Every 2500-3000! It's so cheap, why not!

3)As the the AWD system, I am currently having problems with my 90 Legacy...we think the problem stems from bad trie maintenance. The previous owner drove around with different tire pressure....the only reason we think this is because the sound almost goes away when the tires are exactly the same pressure. We could be way off, but always check you tire pressure to make sure that they are that same.

4)As to the unusual issues with you car...I am in the dark with the Foresters. I can tell you that a bunch of people have had bad experiences with quick lube places...so change it yourself ot take it to the dealer! Also, make sure you break in your ride before you take "baja'n"!:brow:

You baught into a great car company! I am curious why you did buy into Subaru since you had'nt before....what was it that sold you......

Josh!

#3 BlueSoob

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 01:39 PM

HEY! I have an 03 Forester Man. - I have had 7 subarus come into my life... three of them mine...
But as for the Forester:

I have 35,890 on mine.. UGH pushin warrenty here...
I have run into some issues with the Forester that I have never seen on any other of mine - and some issues that other people have had:
Watch out for the AirBag light. As it turns out, if you slide the seat forward and back too much, it will pinch the airbag wires under the seat and set off the light... it is nothing to worry about... just annoying.. subaru has made a kit to fix this... may want to check with the dealer about this... there is a service bullitin about it...
Since you don't have a Man, you won't need to worry about the shudder clutch...
I switched to Synthetic Oil on my Forester at 12,000. I now change the oil every 5,000 miles. But if you decide to stick with the regular oil 10-30, PLEASE religiously change the oil every 3,000 miles.
Be wary of the paint.. You may want to get a heavy wax job on it or another protective barrier... mine started to chip off in 4000 miles... and now I have a rust spot on the trunk.
Keep an eye on the tire pressure and be sure to check the owners manual if you ever get a flat... well before you get a flat.... Otherwise you may face a bad booboo in the AWD - just peoples experience with Subarus in general.
Hmmm trying to think....
This 03 is the first year of the model... so if you don't mind the minor fixes in the first year... dont worry.. Just make friends at your local friendly dealership and you'll be set and always able to get a loaner car! (In other words... suck up!)
The small things aren't bad... I trust the engine/drivetrain/transmission so you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

#4 zooma37

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 07:30 PM

I bought the Subaru because the car received good reviews from Consumer Reports, and I trust the magazine's opinion. Also, I like what the Forester offers compared to other cars of the same class. It has so many more features that are standard, and since I like to ocean kayak and scuba dive, the Forester seemed like a smart purchase.

#5 alias20035

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 07:43 PM

Most Forester service issues are minor in nature and are related to quality control.

Only major item on the Forester is rear wheel bearings. They frequently fail because they are a terrible ball bearing design.

It is now common practice to replace the Forester ball bearings with the much better roller bearings from the Legacy. The Legacy part fits perfectly. Subaru of America just updated there technical bulletin and now authorize the use of Legacy bearings for warranty repairs.

Clutch judder was mentioned by BlueSoob and it is a problem that requires a replacement clutch, your Forester is automatic, so no issue for you. Later 2003 and 2004 models have the revised clutch already.

Torque bind (often refered to as an AWD system failure) is common on older high mileage automatic transmissions. Most Subaru dealers blame unequal tire sizes, but this is not the main cause. Subaru changed the AWD tailshaft assembly in 1998 to correct a technical weakness. So your ok here too.

It is important for Subaru's to have four equal and properly cared for tires. Check tire pressures regularly and rotate every 10,000 miles or so.

But a few PSI low on one tire will not destroy the AWD system. I have never torque bind due to minor tire size differences, nor have I seen torque bind on transmissions with less than 60,000 miles on them. Failed duty solenoids are the only cause of failure that I have seen on the newer automatics, and it is a somewhat rare occurence.

I know of few owners that change a single tire (with an identical model tire) due to road hazard damage, and they have not had any issue with torque bind.

Pre 1998 transmissions just seem to develop torque bind regardless of conditions at about 100,000miles. Subaru has a replacement part for 1989-1997 modesl that has a steel sleeve that corrects this issue permanently.

Attn: 1ABAJA: how many miles on your 1990 Legacy with the torque bind problem?

Just follow the service intervals indicated by Subaru and you should be fine with your Forester.

#6 zooma37

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 07:49 PM

Wow... thanks for all of the help. Your info and feedback will help me enjoy my Forester that much more. Glad this board exists.

#7 paladin_w

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 08:40 PM

I agree with most here, and hey, welcome, the biggest thing I say is keep up on the maintance, I have subarus that are pushing 200K on milage, these babies can take abuse and just as we do can get better if they get a booboo. So take care of her and enjoy.

#8 1ABAJA

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Posted 13 November 2003 - 09:54 PM

My bad, it has 175,000!

I have never loved another as much as my Legacy!

Josh!

#9 Lesbaru

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 01:10 PM

Hooray, another Subaru driver!

Welcome to the board. The folks here are great, and have always been very patient (and informative) with my questions. (even the kinda dumb questions... I have a lot of those)

My gf has an 02 Forester. The only problem she had was a failed oxygen sensor, which I gather is pretty common. Don't know if the 03 would have the same thing. If you start getting funny engine stalling and dying, take a peek at the oxy sensor.

#10 Sweet82

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Posted 14 November 2003 - 05:30 PM

I purchased my 82 Hatch back in ...........................82!

I STILL HAVE IT! IT'S A GREAT CAR! See my picks in reader rides

My 82 is what inspired me to purchase another Subaru earlier this year.

I purchased a Forester. If it is half as reliable as my GL, I'll be happy as a (well never mind).

My .02
Glenn
82 Hatch, transforming...........:temper:
01 Forester, jealous.............:burnout:

#11 brus brother

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 06:22 PM

Hey Blue Soob,
I thought I'd remind you that Subaru has a fairly extensive warranty concerning rust. From what you said in the post, you should still be covered. Go get 'em.

#12 99obw

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 06:46 PM

If you plan on keeping the car a long time you will thank yourself for always using a good quality oil, change it at 3-5k or 3 month intervals, and use an OEM quality filter or equivalent. I would never take it to a quick lube place, they are mechanically challenged. I think a lot can be said for using the same oil at each oil change, excluding seasonal adjustments to viscosity that you may decide to do. In the southern california climate I would be tempted to use a 10w-30 all year. I think one important benefit of good oil is it's ability to keep the engine internals clean. Follow the Subaru maintanence schedule and it should last you a long time. Use only OEM parts. You probably don't have to worry about a lot of the issues that us salt belt folks face.

Enjoy!

#13 BlueSoob

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Posted 30 November 2003 - 11:22 PM

not really... the rust protection only covers rust- through spots up to 5000 miles I think. I'll have to check it out..
Its not that it matters anymore... its out of warrenty. I'll be passing 40,000 mi. this coming month.

#14 alias20035

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Posted 30 November 2003 - 11:55 PM

Originally posted by BlueSoob
not really... the rust protection only covers rust- through spots up to 5000 miles I think. I'll have to check it out..
Its not that it matters anymore... its out of warrenty. I'll be passing 40,000 mi. this coming month.



If the car is exposed to road salt or salty air (near an ocean) you should get it rustproofed yearly (or every 18-24 months depending on the type of rustproofing used, see the products warranty guidlines).

Cars will rust from the inside out, usually it is the fender edges, and door and tailgate bottoms that will rust out first.

In Canada, where a lot of road salt is used, most cars of ten years of age have very significant and dangerous amounts of rust. But cars that have their annual rust proofing usually have no rust at all and so long as the rust proofing is continued, the vehicle bodies will last practically forever. Some cars are better than others at preventing rust, and Subaru's are somewhere in the middle, but I find that Subaru's tend to start falling apart once rust appears.

Subaru has an interest in keeping their cars looking good for five years (hence the rust through warranty), but beyond that it is in their best interest for it to rust apart so you need a new one. Most people are conditioned to accept rust after 5 or 6 years, and just replace the car, but with rust proofing this does not have to be the case.

I recommend Rust Check (availble in Canada and many states), or Ziebart (popular in the US). The rustproofing agent to use is not an oil or a wax, it is a product used in the aircraft industry that is used to protect planes from corrosion. Rust Check uses this chemical, and I think Ziebart now uses the same stuff. I think the aircraft rust proofing agent is called CSC 850? Aircraft are exposed to very corrosive chemicals (like Skydraulic fluid) and deicing fluids, and need to be protected for both safety and economic reasons. About 30 years ago someone decided to use the aircraft rust proofing on cars, and Rust Check was born.

I had a Rust Check "Coat and Protect" application every summer on my 93 Legacy, and after 8 years and 466,000 km I had zero rust. Even though the car spent 5 months of the year on heavily salted roads. In fact the car was in such good shape that I got a $5,000 settlement on it from insurance when it was totalled, about $4,000 more than its book value. Older used cars that have been Rust Checked are a lot easier to sell in Canada, the same is probably true for those in the northern states as well.

It is best to have the rust proofing done in the summer because the summer heat will expand the metal allowing the rust proofing to seep in and protect.

http://www.rustcheck.com

#15 howards11

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Posted 02 December 2003 - 09:00 PM

Originally posted by alias20035
Only major item on the Forester is rear wheel bearings. They frequently fail because they are a terrible ball bearing design.

It is now common practice to replace the Forester ball bearings with the much better roller bearings from the Legacy. The Legacy part fits perfectly. Subaru of America just updated there technical bulletin and now authorize the use of Legacy bearings for warranty repairs.



:eek:

I have a 2000 Forester. Does the rear wheel bearing problem apply to this year too ? If so what would be the replacement ? The rear bearing from a 2000 Legacy wagon?

Should I use preventative maintance and have them changed at my next service ?


~Howard
:banana:

#16 Crashton

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 07:11 PM

Howard- That's a pretty expensive repair. I'd wait till you need to have it done. At least that's what I'm going to do. My 2000 Forester has 80,000 mile & my bearings are still ok. (Knock Wood)

Chuck




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