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Buying advice 04 Forester XT


Jelly
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Hi Everyone

I was hoping some experienced subaru owners might lend me some of their knowledge 

Hopefully soon ill be getting my first subaru, a 2004 forester 2.5 XT. 

Im really looking forward to it but i was hoping for some advice on what to look out for and what to ask the current owner as the car is too far away for me to check it out and i dont want to waste a trip. 

 

The car has around 89,000 miles (which im sure really means 90,000) and will have a full mot when i buy it.

Its just failed the mot with worn front droplinks, a leaking CV boot and a brake fluid leak which the owner is now getting fixed. 

Its had some work done to it including the cambelt, new aluminium radiator, BC Racing Adjustable coilover suspension & stainless steel exhaust. 

It also sounds like the car has been used for towing another car at least once. 

 

I was wondering what questions should i be asking, what should i expect when i go and see it and what should i be looking out for as red flags to turn the other way. 

 

I know im asking people to do alot of the work for me on this but i cant seem to find any buyers guides on the car or any consistent information of common problems.

Im already aware of some of the more common little faults - window motors, sunroof problems, window wind noise etc but none of the main mechanical ones.

 

Any help at all will be very much appreciated.

 

Thanks

 

Jelly

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It's essentially the same as an impreza of the same year so any guides will cross over, I wouldn't worry too much about the towing, it's normally the auto's that end up with problems increased wear on the box etc.

The coil overs will make the car sit alot lower than stock suspension and will give a harsher ride, (depends what your used to)

So may be worth considering if you do loads of miles or need the clearence,

The mot fail items are fairly usual subaru used rubbish plastic droplinks so they wear quite frequently,

Cv boots split over time and again are cheap to put right.

Mechanically, bottom end knocking is very bad news, make sure you hear it from cold and check all the usual bits you would on a 'normal' car. The radiators tend to go quite frequently again due to rubbish construction, so the ally one may have been put in place as an upgrade.

Is it a 2.5l car ? The heads gaskets are a known weak point too so ask if there's any history of overheating or the heads being done,

Where is the car located ?

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Hi Stants thanks for all the info.

The Ride height doesnt look too bad (pic below), the current owner says that the owner before him put them on and he's readjusted them for more height so hopefully it wont be too bad, he's still got the original suspension so i could always swap it back. 

 

Its is indeed a 2.5l and its in Scotland, a mission and a half away from me in Birmingham but im working a few hours away their next month so its not as bad. 

 

 

post-4158-0-99981200-1429912767_thumb.jp

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It's essentially the same as an impreza of the same year so any guides will cross over, I wouldn't worry too much about the towing, it's normally the auto's that end up with problems increased wear on the box etc.

The coil overs will make the car sit alot lower than stock suspension and will give a harsher ride, (depends what your used to)

So may be worth considering if you do loads of miles or need the clearence,

The mot fail items are fairly usual subaru used rubbish plastic droplinks so they wear quite frequently,

Cv boots split over time and again are cheap to put right.

Mechanically, bottom end knocking is very bad news, make sure you hear it from cold and check all the usual bits you would on a 'normal' car. The radiators tend to go quite frequently again due to rubbish construction, so the ally one may have been put in place as an upgrade.

Is it a 2.5l car ? The heads gaskets are a known weak point too so ask if there's any history of overheating or the heads being done,

Where is the car located ?

Thumbs up to what Stants has had to say especially if its a 2.5. I have had the head gasket problem just recently on a 2006 and they want mad money to fix it as there is 2 head gaskets on the 2.5 XT. I would double check that mileage as well and ask for any old mot certs or proof of mileage as its not unknown these days for the clock not to be showing genuine miles. I'm not trying to cast any aspersions on the owner but as a bvuyer you need to know the cars history and service record. And just one other thing, -do not expect good mpg on this car as they are thirsty on fuel. 

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Cheers Rusty, 

How much are we talking on that head gasket if you dont mind saying and how long do they last? 

Ive already seen a copy of the service book showing the millage at each service and that all adds up, im going to make sure that it all matches with mot's and HPI check as well.  

 

Also what is the mpg like, if i can get mid 20's around town if i keep it off boost ill be fairly happy as thats what i get at the moment in my 3 series. Im sure ill miss getting mid 40's on the motorway though :(

 

With the cost of the head gasket and the fuel and high tax, do you think its worth it?

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The suspension has probably been changed due to the sls units dying, so the original suspension is probably useless, however if you don't like the coil overs they are the same for the impreza so you could sell on for around 400 depending on which bc's they are, and get after market regular ones for cheaper than 1 sls unit from subaru ! you can tell by looking at other cars that have sls fitted they look like a dog scraping it's bum along the floor when they have gone.

Heads are dependant on how the cars been looked after, driving on boost when the cars cold will kill them pretty soon, however the pic you posted the chap has a classic in the background so I reckon he knows what he's doing with them.

Don't expect much change from a grand for the heads doing from a specialist double that at least from a subaru dealer [emoji33] it's easier as an engine out job but can be done with the engine in situ, don't be put off by this as there's loads out there that have seen over 100 on the original gaskets.

Parts and a skim of the heads aren't that expensive it's the labour that's a killer.

Wheel bearings tend to be a bit of a weak spot but you'll hear that on a test drive, also a slight clunking from the front end may occur, I've changed shocks,springs, top mounts, anti roll bar bushes and droplinks and it's still there !

If it doesn't sound to loud and nothing is falling apart I wouldn't worry too much.

If you plan on keeping the car for a long time a remap may be the way to go, outlay is again around 500 but mines already paying me back in fuel, I used to get around 75-100 miles out of 25 litres it's now up to about 150 miles,

Long trips are even better, saw just over 22miles out of 40 quids worth of petrol last week [emoji51] ah and i find the turbos only really run well on vpower

if it's an 05 tax should only be around 280 as opposed to the 55 rate of 500 [emoji26]

Suppose if it's worth it is up to you, how it drives what smiles it puts on your face and costings add up.

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Headgaskets tend play up between 80K & up but not all do. Proper effort on headgasket will be around £1,000+ if use top quality parts & do cambelt fully during rebuild.

With turbos you want be looking for smoke, engine rattle, clutch engagement, transmission clunks & smooth changes on all gears.

Check for accident damage too.

wouldn't worry on things like elec windows & sunrroof as they not overly common, drivers window sometimes issue or the switch, obviously test all .

MOT items are nothing, drop links on the SG is metal but they tend wear out in 80 to 100k plus I expect that BC suspension helping wear the drop links.

I don't think the 2.5XT is particularly worth the extra running costs plus they harder sell on. I prefer the 2.0XT (perhaps the PPP version if spot one).

It easy buy good 2.0 & 2.5 turbo forester if don't rush at first you see, they normally far less abused as work horse or family bus so almost mint low mileage with FSH can be found reasonably easy & prices good.

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Cheers Rusty, 

How much are we talking on that head gasket if you dont mind saying and how long do they last? 

Ive already seen a copy of the service book showing the millage at each service and that all adds up, im going to make sure that it all matches with mot's and HPI check as well.  

 

Also what is the mpg like, if i can get mid 20's around town if i keep it off boost ill be fairly happy as thats what i get at the moment in my 3 series. Im sure ill miss getting mid 40's on the motorway though :(

 

With the cost of the head gasket and the fuel and high tax, do you think its worth it?

 Very good advise coming from the other two posters and theres not much I can add. You will get around mid 20s and maybe more with a 2 litre as mine is an XT turbo.  Prices for the head gasket here in Ireland are slightly higher than Uk so between a grand and 1200 would be average but i was quoted 1800 by another garage. I have now found a private mechanic who will do it cheaper but I am still waiting for his quote. By the way have you considered buying one from Ireland and driving it over on the ferry from Dublin straight to Liverpool or Holyhead. The sterling is very high against the euro right now so you would be quids in straight away as the trip would only cost a couple of hundred. I will post a link below to some ads on one of our main advertising sites here and see whats available.

http://cars.donedeal.ie/find/cars/for-sale/Ireland/?filters%5Bmodel%5D=Forester&filters%5Bmake%5D=Subaru

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Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all the fantastic information, i really appreciate it. Ive got alot of thinking to do i think as dont have that much money to play with so i cant afford to get anything with lower miles and i cant afford to have £1000 head gasket problems. From what ive read the head gasket issues mainly plagued early 2000-2002 foresters but i suppose its still a gamble.

I have considered going for a 2.0 xt instead of a 2.5 xt but having driven the 2.5, my heart definitely says 2.5 :)  

 

I think im going to take all of your information and go and look at the car, if it doesnt show any of the problems you guys mentioned ill probably be driving home in my new to me forester in the next few weeks. 

 

One quick question for you stants, where did you get the tune as its something i was always looking into, mainly for power gains but if i can swap power for mpg to a certain point i think id be really interested. 

 

Again, thanks alot to all of you for taking the time to help me out.

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