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I save the Consumer Reports magazine annual auto review issues. I wonder how reliable their reliability ratings are? Looking at the 2010 Forester and Outback "Engine Major' rating - the Forester has a less than reliable rating, likely from reports of head gasket failures. The Outback has a better than average rating. The Impreza much worse than average - all EJ25 engines.

Of course the 2011 Forester's engine rating was much worse than average due to the oil situation. At some point I hope to be in a (used) Subaru again. There are several 2011-13 listed at reasonable prices, but I wonder if a better bet would be an EJ25 model with new head gaskets and timing belt? There is a dealership in the state that promotes that every Subaru they sell has their engines reconditioned with those components. They are priced higher due to that policy, which I think is reasonable.

I know there's at least one member here with I believe 265k on an EJ25 Forester. I haven't heard of any FB25s around 200k and above, maybe because the oldest are just 10 years old.

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Our SF Forester has 243k miles on it and is fairly reliable.

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the 265k would probably be me, and mine is a 2002 model - supposedly hgs were done around the 85k mark - i bought the car (private sale) at 214k

and very near to hitting 266 now. ^_^

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Yes it was you I was thinking of! Wow, that's great. Proof the EJ25s are capable of great mileage if maintained well.

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pretty much... if maintained, and paid attention to, yeah, they can go for a long time.

The biggest issue those of us in the rust belt have to contend with is frame rot - have had it on multiple vehicles, and not just Subaru - pretty much every car suffers from it up here. might be able to slow it down some, but can not completely get away from it, no matter how hard you try - unless you never drive the vehicle, lol.

my first Suby - an 89 GL wagon - got up to 285k, but the undercarriage was so bad it just was not safe to drive anymore... motor & trans had lots more to give, but the chassis was done.

Hoping to get over 300k out of the Forester before she gets to be unsafe.. so far so good, but there are bits that are looking kinda rough..

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I hear ya re: the rust belt. I'm on the east coast and all of my (old) vehicles have rust. I had to replace the brake and fuel lines on my '99 Honda Accord. My 2002 Forester was just starting to rust around the typical back wheels area. Wish I still had the Forester. Years ago I had an 86 GL wagon with the manual lever for 4WD. Holy smokes 285k on yours! Those engines (1.8L?) sound like they were like the 2.2Ls which you'll hear about achieving close to 300k miles.

Ironically, where the winter weather is more severe in Maine north of Connecticut where I live vehicles tend to do better with rust. I've heard it's due to the less corrosive chemicals Maine uses on the road.

I hope you can safely make it to 300k on your Forester.

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yup, it is most definitely due to the road chemicals used.

They use salt or salt brine pretty heavily here in Wi so yeah, even 5 yr old vehicles are rusting out.

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On 5/4/2021 at 9:40 AM, Stelcom66 said:

Nice! What year?

1999.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/6/2021 at 2:59 PM, carfreak85 said:

1999.

And that would be the DOHC I believe. I had the EJ25 DOHC in my '98 Outback. Didn't have it to the point of head gasket trouble, I traded it in for a 2002 Outback because the 1998 exceeded the age allowable on the company's vehicle reimbursement policy at the time.

When I traded it in at only 103k miles it did have a noise when the clutch pedal was depressed, I think it was a throwout bearing? Same on my 2002 Forester. With the Forester I did get the clutch replaced. As much as I prefer manual transmissions. I think I'd go for a 4EAT. Over cost may be less than a manual as I've heard the throwout bearing going isn't that unusual.

Edited by Stelcom66

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Stelcom66 said:

And that would be the DOHC I believe. I had the EJ25 DOHC in my '98 Outback.

With the Forester I did get the clutch replaced. As much as I prefer manual transmissions. I think I'd go for a 4EAT. Over cost may be less than a manual

Oddly 99 has TWO EJ25s. Outback legacy got the dreaded DOHC EJ25D. Forester got the far more forgiving first year SOHC EJ25

Yes for Subarus (and many other modern vehicles) manuals are more expensive and problematic to own for a number of reasons.  Clutch maintenance alone is time and $ sucker.  Those 90s 4EATs were so robust they could out run MTs all day long.  Clutch replacement, Throw out bearings, cracked forks, warn snouts, less forgiving torque bind, synchros wearing, and the hydraulic clutch slave cylinders abs hoses frequently are problematic and need replaced and they’re annoying to bleed. And you can’t go FWD or install a diff lock switch like you can to lock the AWD like an auto. Lose lose lose lose lose.  waste of my time.  

The 4EATs aren’t crisp when they age, that’s normal but they’ll run forever and are the !@!!&@ energizer bunny of subaru transmissions and a win for practical utilitarian low down time low cost Subaru owners.  

Edited by idosubaru
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yup, the 4EAT is a darn good tranny, all things considered.

my Foz is an auto, and it still shifts quite nicely - super smooth when fully warmed up.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/9/2021 at 10:00 AM, Stelcom66 said:

And that would be the DOHC I believe...

SOHC EJ253, 4EAT.  On the third pair of HGs, but the last set is EJ257 MLS gaskets and the first HG repair that wasn't done at the dealership.

Edited by carfreak85

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On 5/9/2021 at 10:48 PM, idosubaru said:

Yes for Subarus (and many other modern vehicles) manuals are more expensive and problematic to own for a number of reasons....

Another good case for my next vehicle to be an automatic. Some 'professional' reviewers berate the 4EAT, many find it fine, especially the later ones with the + - manual option. The opinions from other Subaru forum members are mostly positive. Enhancements aren't always for the best - as one forum post stated Subaru didn't upgrade the 4EAT for the sake of upgrading to keep up with others. Sure, there's the CVT. As much as I like it (had one in a company vehicle) there's the reliability concern.

On 5/10/2021 at 7:44 AM, heartless said:

my Foz is an auto, and it still shifts quite nicely - super smooth when fully warmed up.

Coming from you with the miles you have - a great testimonial for the 4EAT!

 

On 5/10/2021 at 1:42 PM, carfreak85 said:

SOHC EJ253, 4EAT. 

Noted re: SOHC not DOHC, and 4EAT. Chalk up another one well above 200k miles. My mindset was a manual transmission cost a bit less initially and maybe saves a bit of fuel - that all goes down the drain with a clutch and/or bearing replacement.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Stelcom66 said:

Another good case for my next vehicle to be an automatic. Some 'professional' reviewers berate the 4EAT, many find it fine, especially the later ones with the + - manual option.

I'm fairly sure online commentary heavily favors MT's. I've never kept data on it, but it seems people who favor MT's will be inclined to internet car forums more than people who favor AT's - by a long shot.  I know far more MT lovers/owners in Subaru forums and groups than I do personally or work on weekly locally.  Seems kind of how it goes - online forums will be heavily MT biased. And that crowd often hates AT's. 

I'm not suggesting Subaru AT's are awesome over all - they may have drawbacks, they may not perform as well as in some situations or compared to other automatics, they might not feel as smooth, etc.  I don't care about those things - I only like they for their longevity, forgiveness, and reliability. 

If you're buying a new(er) car then longevity, forgiveness, maintenance might not matter as much and people focus more on feel, performance, comparing it to other manufacturers vehicles. I'm not talking about that. So there's good reason to favor MT's and I'm not trying to change anyone's mind.  Except there is a predominate genearl perception that MT's are more reliable and cheaper which is no longer the case.  

But for practical and reliability reasons - it's a very good transmission to have, particularly on any vehicles with age/mileage. 

Anecdotally the 4EAT's also seem more resilient in the face of a large portion of the public who never change anything but engine oil.  The 150k+ MT's that i've seen with grinding synchro's and popping out of gear when driving haven't ever had their transmission fluid changed.  Meanwhile...I don't think I've ever helped anyone with AT issues except to change the fluid to firm them up, address torque bind, or get out of the 99 delay-park-to-drive issue.  I've encountered multilple MT failures and no catastrophic undriveable AT issues...and i see waaaaay more AT's than MT's.  Anecdotal since I'm not a shop or full time mecahnic and don't see a lot of trans failures overall. But I've seen enough to encounter almost every common MT issue. 

 

Edited by idosubaru
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^^^ good point. It's always a problem for marketing/data-collection folks. Self-selection. It isn't always a true snapshot of reality. You don't get info from folks who don't 'select' themselves to participate. It is also a problem with perception and expectations. If someone's previous car was a Fiat, the Subaru may seem stellar (no pun intended) but, if they are coming from a Lexus, they may be disappointed. Subarus, in some respects, are also like Jeeps in that, they often get used in a manner that exposes them to more risk of damage and severe situations.

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for the record, my Foz is an EJ251 version... and if I could, I would have a manual, but due to foot problems I cant work a clutch anymore - too painful - so automatic it is. For me, it is just more fun to drive a stick than an auto, but yeah, upkeep costs are quite different between the two. The Subaru 4EAT is just stupid reliable for the most part, making it quite cost effective in the long run.

I live in the country and we get a lot of snow in the winter, so having a capable vehicle is pretty much a must have. Most around here have 4wd trucks (most are farmers, too) I get the benefits of Subaru AWD with relatively good fuel economy, and a much more comfortable ride than a truck for my average everyday driving needs. We do own a 4wd pickup, but it rarely gets used much - more of a backup vehicle & plow in the winter, lol

My first Subaru, as I have mentioned before, was an 89 GL wagon, FWD, 5 spd - I paid $150 for that car, with about 154k on the clock...Put about $1100 into it for new clutch, front axles, tires, alternator, and a few other odds & ends and I drove it for 8 yrs. As long as I could get rolling forward, she would go thru some pretty deep snow. She had 285k or so when she went to Subaru heaven. That car did not owe me a dime. And that is why I like Subaru..

Take care of them and they will go for nearly ever. The body will rust away around you before the drive train gives up the ghost.

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Sorry to hear about your foot situation. Fortunately, although I'm in my 60s things currently I'm not experiencing anything like that. Kind of ironic that a manual transmission could very well end up being more expensive than an automatic. If I saw a good deal on a manual transmission Forester or Outback, it's still possible I'd go for it. Some, or most don't get the appeal of a manual. On another forum I was questioned how in the world could I like driving a standard shift with all that 'work' and 'banging' the clutch. I don't even think about it - the process is very 'automatic' to me. I'll admit I've had company vehicles for over 10 years, and if I had to commute 5 days a week with a manual transmission that could sway me a bit. At this point it's almost flipping a coin.

Encouraging the Subaru 4EAT is 'stupid reliable' - a good summary! While maybe not the most refined, it does the job reliably. The manual option of later 4EATs is a plus IMO, and I believe there's very little, if any fuel economy advantage with the manual.

Holy smokes 285k miles on the 89 GL!! Yea talk about the car not owing you anything - that's amazing. I had an '86 GL, similar style. That had the manual lever for 4WD. Also manual transmission. While I believe not typical, that 1.8L(?) engine used or leaked oil. I also have an old 4WD truck used mainly for getting wood for my wood stove, so it doesn't get much use. I also prefer not to drive a truck exclusively, especially now with gas prices - even before the pipeline shutdown.

We get a moderate amount of snow here - probably not as much as your area, but enough to justify 4 or AWD. When I travelled to Vermont a few times for work a few years ago, Subarus were a very common sight - and many of them were rusted and looked like heck but ran fine.

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9 hours ago, Stelcom66 said:

While I believe not typical, that 1.8L(?) engine used or leaked oil.

actually, that is quite typical, lol. and yes, 1.8l EA82 engine. 86 - carbed? or spfi? mine was spfi (single port fuel injection)

yeah, a lot of people don't understand the appeal of a manual. had a couple of younger friends that were like that.. until I took them for a ride and showed them the fun that can be had. ;)others were like - you drive a truck for a living, why do you want to drive a manual when you get home? cause it is FUN in the car! lol

Not to 60 yet, but close... 58 this year, and nearly 20 yrs of driving truck has proven to be hard on the body.. dealing with some physical issues right now, not fun. Can't do even half the things i used to be able to do.

have no experience the 4EAT with the manual option, only the plain jane ones.. have had 3 different cars with that tranny... one had to have a transplant when i got it - had lost reverse (teen driver beating on it), but a good used one worked fine. the other half's 06 Outback has the 5spd auto with that manual thing.. they tend to be a bit fussier than the 4s, tho - or at least that is my understanding.... have not had any problems out of his, however.

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13 hours ago, heartless said:

actually, that is quite typical, lol. and yes, 1.8l EA82 engine. 86 - carbed? or spfi?

Good question! I'm guessing carbed, because if I recall correctly the horsepower rating was less than 100. 

Sorry to hear driving has taken a toll. Hopefully you've retired from truck driving - except for the Dodge pickup truck! (I recall a photo)

I drove one of my son's Legacy with the 4EAT manual option several years ago, but forgot to try the option! Nothing wrong with just 4 speeds, or older vehicles for that matter. I hear of some strange never heard of before situations with some newer vehicles. On another Subaru site someone said that after a software update overnight - his sunroof switch was backwards, open closed the roof and the close position opened it! I've had Windows updates be detrimental to my computer - now the same can happen with cars I guess. No thanks, I'm glad I don't have to worry about that with my old car and truck.

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yeah, not a fan of all the fancy, computerized stuff in modern cars.. just so much more to go so terribly wrong. Also makes for less attentive drivers, imho. Why pay attention if the car is doing it for you (lane assist, blind spot monitors, etc). rather than having wifi connectivity, i think the phone should be disabled in the vehicle unless it is stopped/parked. just my 0.02 cents worth. my Forester still has a throttle cable... the 06 Outback has an electronic throttle. Had to replace it once so far, and not a cheap proposition either.

yeah, i quit driving truck in 2009, but the damage has already been done after nearly 20 yrs and around 2 million miles, give or take. and yes, we do have a Dodge pickup, lol 1995 model. It gets used as a backup vehicle & snow plow in the winter.

The old GL/DL models were, if i recall, a whopping 89 hp... but they were never meant to be hot rods, just good reliable transportation. I regularly got about 30mpg out of mine, and i was not a slowpoke with it.. lol. I liked to have fun with it.

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Posted (edited)

Hi,

IMHO, the CR reliability reports are valid. Why the '10 Forester and OB are rated differently I can't comment.

I'd also check the 'carcomplaints.com' site. It's more opinionated in that its title is the 1st clue - complaints vs. overall experience. People frequently share an opinion when it's broken and not when it's working properly.

After the '11 FB25 issues, I'd still be suspect if Subaru actually fixed the oil usage. Their policy  - in years past - has been 1qt/1K miles oil consumption was normal, which means you're out of oil well before the next oil change (OCI). But I've not kept pace with the current reliability of the new(er) FB-series engines. 

Ideally, you'd have a local independent Subaru mech- not a dealership tech- that you can trust for info, too.

 

Good luck

 

Edited by wtdash

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Hello,

Good suggestion re: the 'carcomplaints.com' site. I forgot about that one. Several other sites, such as Edmunds, Cars, Vehiclehistory, Surecritic (all .com) and others have a notable amount of positive reviews for the 2011 and newer Foresters with the FB25. Those sites as it's probably known will have general comments,  positive or negative. The term 'Reliable', 'Love the car', 'Will stick with Subaru' are somewhat common. So there must be some FB25s that don't consume excessive oil?

My theory (or hope) is a 2011 or so Forester with mileage within my budget (~90-120k miles) would have had the shortblock replaced or maybe wasn't prone to excessive oil consumption. The key word is 'maybe' - it's taking a chance. Then again, that's generally the case for any 10 year old or so vehicle. 

Except for the dealership mentioned in my original post, any 2009-2010 with the EJ25 will very likely be at or over the mileage for the timing belt replacement. I believe due to the design of the FB25 reports of head gasket trouble are far less than the EJ25. My thought is I may need to put oil in it but the cost over time will still be significantly less than a head gasket replacement. Same for the timing chain as long as it holds out, but I've heard they can be prone to a leak around a plastic cover.

Thanks for the information and luck. I know there's other choices out there, but Subarus still have an appeal that I can't ignore.

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