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Consider These Subaru Forester’s Engine Problems Before Buying

problems with subaru forester

Subaru Forester 2022 is the brand’s top model. The 2022 Forester is the highest-rated compact SUV, according to Consumer Reports. Are all Subaru Forester model years trustworthy? Check out these Subaru Forester years to avoid.

Subaru’s Forester is the brand’s best-selling vehicle. Its high ground clearance is ideal for off-roading and driving in rough terrain. Luky, the proprietor of Territory Car Rentals, a premier car rental agency in Darwin, Australia, states, “The Subaru Forester has emerged as the go-to option for car rental needs across the country. It’s particularly favored for its generous cargo space and capacity to seat up to five passengers with ease. These characteristics render the Subaru Forester an excellent choice for both extended journeys and off-road excursions.”

One of the most popular Subaru models is the Forester. When choosing to purchase it, there are still some things to look for. Let’s talk about the most typical Subaru Forester issues and which model years to steer clear of.

Initially, the Forester fits comfortably between the Impreza and the Legacy. The brand still has problems despite having some of the most devoted drivers. So, what do Subaru Forester years to avoid?

All About Subaru Forester

Subaru has been making the Forester small SUV since 1997. But what does a small crossover SUV mean? In other words, the Subaru is the same length and width as compact cars. Sedans, hatchbacks, and crossovers are a few of these.

In addition to being built on the same platform, the Forester and Impreza share many parts. They are essentially the same car under the hood. The appearance and the tools are different.

The crossover class is a hybrid between a sedan and an off-road vehicle. The vehicle offers a comfortable ride, soft suspension, and decent off-road performance. As a result of its higher ride height, the Forester can easily overtake obstacles.

However, this does not imply that you can drive this SUV up the steepest hills. This SUV is primarily for roads, and there is a region where they handle and drive best.

Only all-wheel drive is available for the Forester. Instead of front- and rear-wheel drive, you must purchase an AWD system separately as an option. Subaru only uses the highest quality materials in its cars when it comes to quality.

9 Main Subaru Forester’s Problems & Solutions

We assume everyone adores their Subaru Forester. Nobody ever expresses dissatisfaction with them. They are SUVs for families that never break down.

However, there are several issues with Forester models. Below we’ve listed common problems with Subaru Foresters and their solutions.

1. Whistling Muffler

Whistling Muffler

Problem: When you reach a certain speed, you may hear a whistling noise from the exhaust.

Solution: Your muffler might be internally corroding, which would explain the strange acoustics. In case the corrosion is severe, inspect the muffler and replace it.

However, if your muffler is in good condition, the issue is a deteriorating turbocharger bearing. You can learn to fix the issue, and it is quite simple.

2. Power Window Malfunctioning

Power Window Malfunctioning

Problem: The power windows have ceased functioning and are frozen in place.

Solution: This is a straightforward power window motor issue. It takes effort to remove Forester’s door panels. But after you’ve done that, changing the engine only takes five seconds. Window motors are always available at automobile stores.

3. Auto Car Acceleration

Auto Car Acceleration

Problem: While maintaining your current speed, the car starts to accelerate without your foot touching the accelerator.

Solution: The Forester’s sensors are most likely the source of this problem. The throttle position sensor is one of the ones that are most likely to malfunction. You can order a new sensor directly from Amazon and install it easily.

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If it’s not that, inspect as many sensors as you can to look for problems. It’s usually preferable to bring the Forester to a shop that can perform a complete diagnostic check.

4. Brake Lights Malfunctioning

Brake Lights Malfunctioning

Problem: When you apply the brakes, the brake lights do not activate.

Solution: Numerous Foresters have this well-known brake light switch flaw. Subaru hasn’t addressed the problem and has attributed the problem to various cleaning agents.

If it does, you’ll have to get a replacement brake light switch for the Forester from our parts page and install it yourself.

5. Poor Engine Idling

Poor Engine Idling

Problem: If your car’s engine idles poorly, you only need to clean out a few carbon-filled components. The most vulnerable components include the throttle body, MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor, and IAC (Idle Air Control) valve.

Solution: To remove the carbon, remove these components and use carb cleaner, MAF sensor cleaner, and throttle body cleaner. Refitting should resolve the problem.

6. Interior Parts Prone To Damage

Interior Parts Prone To Damage

Problem: The interior of the Forester is made up of several fragile tiny parts. For the first-generation version, this appears to be more of an issue. Particularly prone to breaking are components like the cup holders and stereo fascia.

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Solution: You will need to replace the damaged inner component to fix the issue. You can find interior parts at fair prices at several auto parts-specific stores.

7. Engine Warning Lights

Engine Warning Lights

Problem: Has the dashboard’s engine management warning light come on? If so, a malfunctioning oxygen sensor is the most likely culprit. An increase in fuel consumption or a loss of power further signs this issue.

Solution: To accurately determine if the oxygen sensor is causing the error, you might want to perform a diagnostic test. If so, replacing the oxygen sensor will fix the problem. We can assist you in locating an inexpensive replacement oxygen sensor.

8. Oil Leaks

Oil Leaks

Problem: Have you observed oil pouring from the engine’s front when you lift the bonnet? Most likely, the alternator/power steering belt tensioners are malfunctioning. On the Forester, this is a frequent malfunction.

Solution: You must replace the hydraulic belt tensioners to halt the leak and resolve the issue.

9. Mushy Clutch Pedal

Mushy Clutch Pedal

Problem: When pressed, the clutch pedal has a mushy feel. Once pressed, it may remain attached to the floor and clatter or rattle.

Also Check:

Solution: This is normal wear on your clutch mechanism and typically occurs every 60,000 miles. You can use a video walkthrough for installation and find online to order a new clutch system.

7 Models Of Subaru Forester You Need To Avoid

Forester model years might seem like a lot to avoid, but each has its justification. Conventional experts recommend avoiding redesign years so that current models can fix the issues. The years redesigned are 2002, 2008, 2014, and 2019.

In actuality, though, only the 2014 redesign model had serious problems. Apart from a few that had problems, the others mostly come from the first and second generations.

1) Subaru Forester Years To Avoid: First Gen 1998-2001


  • Gasket Head Problems
  • Leaking Gasket Concern

The Foresters from 2001 and before had the worst head gasket issues. The poorest model from the first generation was in 1998. A single-layer head gasket was inadequate at the root of the issue.

The head gasket of almost all Foresters from this era leaks after 50,000 miles. There may be some problems with Subaru Forester’s new models. Overall, it isn’t too bad but consistent enough to recommend avoiding first-generation models.

2) Subaru Forester Years To Avoid: 2003


  • Door Seal Damage
  • Power Window Deficiency
  • Airbag Failure

Subaru Forester problems this year include broken door seals and wind noise from the window seal. The door had to be essentially replaced as the only practical solution.

Additionally, if you don’t, you can get problems with the power window not rolling up. This is an annoying issue, even at the reported 80,000-mile mark.

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Among the most frequent complaints are the airbag not deploying and the airbag light coming on. These problems often arise at 60,000 miles and are classified as having a severity of 3.0 out of 10.

Subaru Forester engine problems typically stem from a failed head gasket. A car’s engine dies while accelerating, misfires, and loses power abruptly.

3) Subaru Forester Years To Avoid: 2010


  • Head Gaskets
  • Engine Failure
  • Interior Accessories

The most frequent Subaru Forester engine problems are blown head gaskets, cold starting, blown turbo engines, and the diesel filter warning light. Blown head gasket repairs typically cost $2,380 to replace the head gasket at 91,000 miles.

Compass and critical lock-in are the most malfunctioning interior accessory components. Interior accessories on the 2010 Forester are frequently reported to collapse and break.

Forester interior accessories are commonly reported for collapsing seats and breaking hatch arms. The only solution to the seat collapsing at around 64,000 miles is to install a new seat.

4) Subaru Forester Years To Avoid: 2011


  • Fuel Efficiency
  • Engine Failure
  • Oil Handling

Oil leaks, excessive oil consumption, and burnt oil odor are among the most common issues with the 2011 Subaru Forester engine. These problems affected the 2014 model much more severely. As the year progressed, this problem became increasingly problematic for customers.

Engine replacement or oil addition is the most common therapy for high oil use. The typical repair, which costs around $1,640 on average, happens every 46,000 miles.

5) Subaru Forester Years To Avoid: 2014


  • Suspension
  • Transmission
  • Electrical

The 2014 Forester model is the one to stay away from. This year, several engine failures, high oil consumption, suspension failures, and gearbox issues plagued Subaru Foresters.

Even if a bad suspension is awful, it is worse when gearbox issues occur. Coil spring failure is the primary source of suspension issues for the 2014 model year. Spring, strut, and rear coil spring replacements typically cost $1,200 after 50,000 miles.

Automobile rolling, a damaged clutch, and vehicle surging are the most frequent transmission issues. The manufacturers can resolve such familiar issues. The 2014 model is one of the Subaru Forester years to avoid.

6) Subaru Forester Years To Avoid: 2015


  • Interior Accessories
  • Fuel Efficiency
  • Engine & Transmission

The most common engine problems for 2015 Forester owners are unexpected acceleration, engine stalling while driving, and malfunctioning check engine lights.

Also Check:

With the 2015 model year, interior accessories are still available. Speech recognition and sporadic Bluetooth connectivity had problems identifying commands. The simplest remedy, costing between $150 and $250, is to replace the radio.

The Forester’s engine and transmission are another set of standard repetitions. There are concerns about the 2015 model’s transmission failing, slipping, delaying, and surging at low speeds.

7) Subaru Forester Years To Avoid: 2017


  • Engine failure
  • Electrical systems

2017 was the final model before the most recent overhaul, yet it still has several issues. The battery life might leave drivers stranded, the radio and navigation system crashes, and the battery may be weak.

There have been reports of stalling throughout the vehicle’s lifespan, and the battery fails as early as 25,000 miles. Although not the worst, this was the last year before the Forester saw a considerable improvement.

3 Best Years For Subaru Forester

The most recent model years are the finest ones to consider if you want to purchase a Subaru Forester. These models have high safety ratings, better connectivity and technology, and positive user evaluations.

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There are three options you can choose from. However, it may still be too soon to tell if they will experience the same problems as their predecessors.

A. Subaru Forester 2019

Customers looking for an all-wheel crossover SUV have plenty of options with the 2019 Forester. It has a roomy interior, a smooth ride, and responsive handling. Also standard, as one would anticipate from a Subaru, is all-wheel drive.

The 2019 Forester has a few, albeit small, dependability issues that warrant attention. The windshield’s propensity to chip readily, even with a low mileage car, is its main gripe.

B. Subaru Forester 2020

The 2020 Forester is another expertly-made SUV with a large interior and great fuel efficiency. The segment’s best all-wheel-drive system, the base model, performs as promised.

Concerning dependability issues, Forester’s windshield tends to fracture easily, which is the main source of the complaint. The SUV’s electrical system is also problematic, particularly with the sporadic power liftgate that opens without warning.

C. Subaru Forester 2021

The 2021 Forester, another lauded SUV from Subaru, epitomizes toughness and usefulness. The Forester isn’t the most eye-catching SUV on the market, but its practicality makes up for it more.

It’s difficult to go wrong with the 2021 Forester thanks to its ample interior room, fantastic EyeSight driver assistance system, and top-notch AWD system.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs About Subaru Forester Problems)

Why Avoid Some Subaru Model Years?

Depending on your Subaru model, you should avoid specific years. Any model year when Subaru made significant revisions is generally a good bet to steer clear of. Unexpected problems that the corporation will eventually fix are nearly a given.

Safety comes first when deciding which Subaru model years to skip. The NHTSA’s recall rate is the strongest predictor of which model year to stay away from. Also, we look at consumer complaints since they often reveal mechanical problems without a recall warrant.

Do Subaru Foresters Have Engine Problems?

The engine of the Subaru Forester is the subject of dozens of complaints each year to the NHTSA. None of those concerns, however, have prompted a recall. The Subaru Forester’s engine frequently receives criticism for consuming too much oil.

2014 appears to be the worst year for Subaru Forester, according to reports. Subaru Forester owners complain less than owners of other compact SUVs. Some owners claim that as they accelerate, the transmission surges and bucks.

Are Subaru Cars Reliable?

Generally speaking, most Subarus receive respectable reliability ratings (usually between 3.5 and 4.0). And few vehicles indeed have the same longevity as a Subaru. These vehicles can last for many years with the right repairs and upkeep.

It is important to consider not just how long an automobile lasts but also how costly and often it needs repairs. According to Repair Pal, the average annual repair cost for Subaru models is $617.

What Are The Most Common Subaru Problems?

The most typical Subaru issue is a transmission issue. But it’s also known that things like broken gasoline pumps, fragile windshields, and electrical problems can occur. Subaru has a long history of producing incredibly dependable automobiles.

Nevertheless, every automobile has engineering flaws. If you own a Subaru, you should know the typical issues you’re most likely to have.

What Is The Lifespan Of A Subaru Forester?

A Subaru Forester can travel between 200,000 and 250,000 miles before needing replacement. This indicates that the Forester should survive between 13 and 17 years with 15,000 miles of driving per year. This depends on adequate upkeep and safe driving practices.

Is Subaru Forester Expensive To Maintain?

The Subaru Forester costs $632 for repairs and maintenance each year. Compact SUVs cost $521, and all vehicle types cost $652. the typical annual sum for unplanned maintenance and repairs for all model years of a car.

Final Thoughts

No car is ideal for everyone. And each one has drawbacks that one should consider before buying. Subaru Forester offers safety, style, size, and versatility without burdening your wallet. Additionally, because they endure so long, they are a wise investment.

However, there are Subaru Forester years to avoid. A key to making any investment is to be aware of the dangers and prepare for them. You may be able to make the best purchase ever if you understand the potential problems discussed in this guide.

Kevin Williams is an automotive enthusiast and expert writer with a passion for all things related to cars. With a wealth of knowledge in the world of vehicles, Kevin's mission is to provide informative articles that empower car enthusiasts to make informed decisions about their automotive interests. With extensive experience, Kevin has contributed numerous articles to Cars Cache, covering a wide spectrum of topics from vehicle reviews to maintenance tips and more.


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