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Subaru Forester (2008 – 2013) – Buyers guide



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Subaru Forester is a no-joke off-roader and people love it for that alone. There seems to be a universal love for everything Subaru amongst some people who are die-hard Subaru fans. The Outback is basically an iconic car in some areas like Portland. Their distinct boxer engines and excellent 4×4 drive trains are what people love and keep coming back for. But the truth is, these cars and especially diesel boxer engines have quite a big amount of problems. Here is the list of all the problems with the 2008 Subaru Forester. Most of the data was gathered through owners forums and subreddits.

Major faults

  • Vehicles with factory conversions for Autogas or LPG fuels experience early exhaust valve wear. This happens before 60000 miles or 100000km. The repair costs are insanely high.
  • Early 2008 models with diesel engines have problems with the DPF particle filter which causes engine unreliability. The only way to fix this is to replace the DPF filter with a newer version.
  • 2.0 EE20 diesel engines are prone to crankshaft breakage. You can imagine what the cost of service is.
  • Diesel boxer engines are prone to an early dual mass flywheel and clutch wear. The problem reveals itself with the car struggling to start and it makes weird rumbling noises. The problem was resolved to a certain degree by reprogramming the ECU unit. They lowered the torque output between first and the second gear.
  • Older 2.5 petrol engines are prone to cylinder ring wear which causes high oil consumption. When looking at a 2.5 petrol models check for exhaust soot (if the engine burns oil the exhaust smoke turns blue-ish).
  • Many owners report problems with engine cooling which is a result of bad head gasket seals. This causes oil and water (coolant) to mix. Expensive repair costs.
subaru forester back side

Other and minor faults

  • When buying the Subaru Forester pay attention to any squeaking sounds coming from under the hood. This indicates a worn-out drive belt tensioner which must be replaced immediately! This is a common problem but an easy and cheap fix.
  • Some owners complain about the AC system being loud and noisy. This is usually caused by a bad AC compressor.

How can you tell if a car has been in a crash?

The only tool that reveals the truth if the car has been crashed and repaired is a Coating Thickness Gauge. Every professional car appraiser and all dealerships use it. Never trust the seller.

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Coating Thickness Gauge: Measuring Car Paint with a Digital Paint Meter

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“The Best Coating Thickness Gauge For Every Budget (with Reviews)”

Body and interior problems

  • 2008 Forester owners complain about bad body color and rust issues. Bad preparation of the steel before painting is the cause.
  • A big number of owners report that rubber parts of suspension need frequent replacing. This could be a bigger problem if the car is actually driven off-road.
  • The only interior problem seems to be the fast wear of seat covers. The interior could be better based on the price of the car. The boot is also small for the size of the vehicle.

Electronic problems

  • There are no electronic problems reported.

Official recalls

  • 10th of January 2014. Recall because of a faulty engine wiring.
  • 30th of November 2014. Recall because of a fault on the braking system. For cars made between 2009 and 2012.

Our recommendation

Based on all the major faults and problems this car has we would suggest looking at alternative vehicles first. Especially if you don’t need a true off-road car. The only good thing going for the Forester is the 4×4 system and its ruggedness. Other than that, finding and buying a good Subaru Forester is not an easy task. Make sure to check our complete guide for buying a used car.

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