15 Most Common Subaru Forester Problems Every Buyer Should Know

Knowing about Subaru Forester problems becomes a must if you are considering buying one in 2024.

It does not matter whether you are going to a brand new Forester model or something from the second-hand market; knowing what issues you can face down the road can help you be prepared from the start.

The Subaru Forester is among the buyer’s favourite SUVs in the American automotive market. However, despite this, the Forester SUV is not free from problems.

Over the years, this South Korean SUV has shown that, in some cases, it can be a big headache for its buyers. Thus, we bring you this guide exploring the most common Subaru Forester issues from old to recent models.

Keep reading to know if buying a Forester is a good decision or not.

What Are The 15 Most Common Subaru Forester Problems?

It does not matter whether you are going to buy a decade-old 2008 Subaru Forester 2.5i or the latest 2024 Forester. The first thing you need to do before making that final decision is explore what benefits and challenges you are bound to face once you park that car in your garage.

Subaru Forester is an amazing ride but even it is not untouched from the regular car-related issues.

Over the years, there have been several complaints regarding Subaru Forester problems on platforms like Consumer Reports, NHTSA, J.D. Power, and more, which have guided people greatly in their future purchases.

Below, we bring you all the prominent issues the Forester lineup has faced over the years. You will find some of the issues still haunting Forester while others are restricted to the older models only.

1. Check Engine Light Issue

Subaru Forester has had its fair share of engine issues, and one of the most prominent ones was the check engine light always illuminating.

This was happening due to a fault in the oxygen sensor, which developed a crack, causing the light to illuminate and fail the sensor. The problem with the oxygen sensor was too much that Subaru issued a recall for models from model years 1998, 2000-2007, and 2009-2014.

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If releases from these years, like the 2011 Subaru Forester 2.5i, were on your list to buy, you might have to rethink it.

2. Catalytic Converter Issue

The second most frequent problem that Forester models are facing is a failed catalytic converter, which also causes the Check Engine Light to illuminate. 

If this issue is there in your ride, it can make your SUV fail a smog test. Suppose you live in a region where having smog lights is a necessity, like the state of California. In that case, this issue is something you need to be aware of.

Subaru will cover the cost of repairs or replacement of the failed catalytic converter only if it is under warranty.

3. Knock Sensor Issue

Another sensor that can cause you problems in your Forester SUV is called the knock sensor. Its work is to detect vibrations of the engine block and inform the engine control unit. This allows ECU to adjust ignition timing and eliminate engine knock. But when it fails your check engine light gets turned on. 

The issue here is that sometimes when you test for a knock sensor after the illumination of the check engine light, it may or may not show any issues.

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But the good thing is that this sensor issue has not been seen in Forester models after 2010.

4. Head Gasket Failure Issues

Another prominent Subaru Forester problem that has been a nightmare to the owners is head gasket failure. The head gasket is either leaky or blows up, mainly due to the cooling system issues, causing people to spend up to $2,000 to get it replaced.

The blown head gasket issue was highly prominent in 2010 models. The severity of this issue made Subaru extend their head gasket warranty coverage to eight years or 100,000 miles for some vehicles.

5. Transmission Issues

The next Subaru Forester problems that can be a nightmare if you are not aware of them are related to transmission. Subaru transmission problems symptoms include shuddering or jerking, broken clutch, car roll backward when parked, and getting stuck in the parking.

Generally, the Subaru Forester transmission replacement cost is not among the costliest fixes for the ride. However, the level of severity may require professional assistance every now & then.

2014 Subaru Forester models are the ones to highly suffer from these transmission issues, and it is why it is among the top Subaru Forester years to avoid.

6. Electrical Issues

2020 is one of the best Subaru Forester years to buy. But that does not mean it is untouched from the issues. One of the most annoying issues you come across while investigating 2020 Subaru Forester problems is related to electrical parts.

Several electrical issues have plagued Subaru Forester:

  • Weak battery
  • Navigation and radio system freezing often
  • Unable to open taillight
  • The brake light switch defect
  • Blown fuses
  • Warning miscommunication lights

While these electrical issues don’t seem much as they do not make your car inoperable, they sure do cause extreme inconvenience.

Other than the model year 2020, model years 2018, 2017, and 2014 suffered from severe electrical issues.

7. High Oil Consumption Issue

Another most concerning Subaru Forester problems that you should know about is its high oil consumption. Many Forester owners have complained about needing to change their car’s oil more frequently than they have had to do in any other ride they have owned or driven.

In addition, this high oil consumption issue is mainly seen in Subaru’s F-series engines, which burn more oil than their predecessors.

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One of the most common reasons for high oil consumption in any car is due to oil leaks or cracks in the crankshaft, camshaft, and oil pump seals. 

So, if you encounter them in your regular or lifted Subaru Forester, have a professional inspect the ride. Also, stay away from 2014 Forester concerning this particular issue.

8. Interior Accessories Issue

When it comes to Subaru Forester problems, you will be a bit shocked to learn that this popular SUV suffered from interior accessories problems at some point.

The most common complaints about Forester’s interior accessories include seat collapsing, hatch arm breaking, spotty Bluetooth connectivity, and speech recognition having trouble picking up commands (especially while driving).

While these issues do not impact the driving of your car, they do provide extreme inconvenience. Model years 2010 and 2015 suffered heavily from this issue.

9. Air Conditioning Issue

Before you start exploring Subaru Forester size dimensions, ask questions regarding the cooling system of your next car purchase.

Air condition failure is another one of the prominent Forester problems that have troubled owners greatly. Owners have reported hot air from their rides, leading to a faulty air conditioner. A bad A/C condenser was the culprit which was replaced by the manufacturer.

If you think that A/C issues are among the 2024 Subaru Forester problems, then take a breath of relief as the model year 2024 is immune to such issues.

10. CAN System’s Parasitic Drain Battery Issue

A lot of newer Subaru Forester owners have complained about waking up to dead batteries on a regular basis. The batteries aren’t defective, but they cannot handle the car’s electrical system, mainly when they are turned off.

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The main reason for this battery draining is due to the problem with Forester’s controller area network (CAN). This system, instead of going into sleep mode, continues to draw power from the battery, called a parasitic drain.

The weak and draining batteries are major Subaru Forester problems in 2015-2020 model year releases.

11. Unintended Acceleration Issue

The fourth generation Forester model years, 2012 to 2018, have been plagued by this issue. Owners have complained about their vehicles accelerating on their own when the ride is stopped and their foot is on the brake pedal.

These unintended acceleration incidents often happened when drivers were simply trying to park their cars. 

There have been lawsuits filed against Subaru regarding this issue in California and New Jersey.

12. Cracked Windshield Issue

There is no point in finding out what length the Subaru Forester can take you if it can not ensure you have a clear driving view. Cracked windshield is a common Forester problem that has been affecting the recent model years. 2017-2020 Subaru Forester models are severely affected by this issue.

Many owners have complained about their car’s windshield forming cracks without any reason. What’s shocking is that this was an issue even in the newer rides that have barely had any miles on their odometer.

The only solution was to change the glass, which was a) expensive and b) required reinstalling EyeSight, an expensive event that Subaru would not do for free.

13. Subaru EyeSight Issue

To ensure your safety, Subaru has EyeSight technology as a part of its 2023 Subaru Forester configurations, along with its many predecessor and successor models.

However, this advanced safety suite of technology of Subaru is not helpful because it is known to fall asleep on the job. The system relies on cameras that are said to have difficulty seeing in rough weather.

The newer versions have improved for sure, but the system is still bulky and comes with overly expensive upgrades. 2014-2018, the fourth generation and 2019-2012, fifth-generation Forester models are suffering from this issue. 

So, if you were looking for 2021 Subaru Forester problems, there is nothing more concerning than the issues you face from a feature that is technically there to keep you safe.

14. Takata Airbags Issue

The Takata airbag issue caused the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. The inflators were said to become unstable over time. They could rupture or explode when an airbag was deployed, shooting metal fragments into the cabin.

Please understand this airbag issue was not limited to Subaru models only. Several other automakers who were using Takata airbags faced the same problems.

Subaru Foresters of model years 2009 to 2013 suffered from this life threatening issue. So, if you were after any of these model years in the used car market, we suggest you steer away from them.

15. Rust and Corrosion Issue

The next issue on this Subaru Forester problems forum is related to the rust and corrosion building up on the models. Subaru has rust and corrosion problems in its Forester models, mainly on the underbody of the car. One of the biggest reasons for this occurrence is road salt. 

Other than this, the type of primer & paint you use, how well your car is wielded, how often you clean or wash your car to get rid of road salt, and the presence of unrepaired dings and paint chips are culprits for rust formation on your car.

Every model, from the 2011 Subaru Forester 2.5i to the 2018 Subaru Forester problems with this structural burden.

Furthermore, please understand one thing: all vehicles are prone to rust, but with proper care and maintenance, the worst can be avoided.

New 2024 Subaru Forester

New 2024 Subaru Forester

If you wish to own the latest Forester model, then the 2024 release is for you. This sport utility vehicle is powered by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine paired with CVT, channeling 182 to all wheels.

You get an impressive mileage of 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, making it reliable and efficient.

As per the 2024 Subaru Forester dimensions outlook, this new ride is about 183 inches long, 72 inches wide, and 69 inches high. However, these measurements may vary depending on the trim, package, and any genuine Forester accessories you buy with your car.

Configurations For 2024 Subaru Forester

  • Base: Starting From $27,095
  • Premium: Starting From $30,295
  • Sport: Starting From $31,865
  • Limited: Starting From $33,975
  • Wilderness: Starting From $34,920
  • Touring: Starting From $37,395

2024 Subaru Forester Problems

The latest Forester is indeed a great ride. However, if you were thinking it was free of any issues or problems, think again. It may not have the problems that its predecessor faced, but it still has some burden of its own.

Subaru has issued callbacks for certain 2024 Forester models due to problems related to the driveshaft and engine & engine cooling.

Driveshaft: The front driveshaft assemblies’ outer race is prone to developing cracks and breaking, causing loss of drive power while driving or vehicle roll away when the ride is in the park without the parking brake engaged.

Engine: The engine water pipe may have loose attachment bolts, allowing the pipe to lose its seal and leak coolant. This is a concern because leaking coolant can come in contact with a hot exhaust pipe, increasing the risk of a fire.

How Long Do Subaru Foresters Last?

Despite being plagued with several issues down its journey all these model years, the Subaru Forester is still one of the long-lasting rides available in the American automotive market.

Since its launch in 1997, for more than 2 decades of production, the Forester model lineup has built a reputation for being a reliable ride that can easily cross the 200,000-mile threshold.

And you put this all with several verified sources and consumers’ experience; Subaru’s Foresters can easily last 200,000 and 250,000 miles, but only with proper care and maintenance.

However, if you are buying your Subaru Forester on a used car market, we recommend you do not go for a ride that has too many miles on it.

Sure, Forester can last 200,000 miles, but going for a ride with already too much usage on it already comes with its own fair share of issues and problems.

Bottom line, Subaru Forester can last longer than you can anticipate but try not to reach this limit with a beater car.


Before you make a final decision on your car buying, it is always better to explore the most common Subaru Forester problems. Knowing what issues you can encounter in the car you will be driving for an extended time is a must.

Forester was crippled with engine, transmission, and electrical issues, which Subaru has been able to handle to a great extent.

However, you can never be too sure. Thus, always have a professional inspect the ride for all the prevalent issues and make your buying decision accordingly.

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