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Most Reliable Forester For around £5k?


Don Logan
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Hi, I quite like the Forester and am weighing up between one of these and an Outback.

Budget is £5k, which seems to get a 10-12 yr old 2.5 XTen Forester or 3.0 Rn Outback.

I'm not majorly fussed over whether to go for the Forester or the Outback, as long as I get the most reliable version of either- Which is it?

I've read up on crank issues with diesels, so know to steer clear of them. I'd prefer something pokey, though not essential if it means a more stressed engine and have seen a Forester XTen with around 80k miles for £4.5k, but have read about head gaskets going on these at around 100k. Is this the case with all turbocharged Foresters, such as the 2 litre? If so, then does the non turbo petrol Forester have any common faults?

Regarding the Outback, there are a couple of nice 3.0 Rn's available for roughly the same price/mileage as the above Foresters- are there any issues with these engines/gearboxes/other major components?

I've only just started reading up on these and am finding it fairly difficult to weigh up the pros and cons from looking around online. As mentioned, reliability is the main factor. I could forego the speed of the quicker models if it meant better peace of mind in relation to reliability when driving it through Europe this summer.

 

And lastly, what about the Legacy- pretty much the same as the Outback, but with less ground clearance and a couple of different engine options? It will be doing some light off roading so clearance is a factor.

 

And XT vs XTen- am i right in thinking that e= leather and n= sat nav? Any other letters to decipher such as R and n?

 

Sorry for all the questions but i really want to make the right choice and it seems that there are a lot of variables to consider.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

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go for a 2.0 XT forester or the 3.0 outback and older is better, you can get a 2004 to 2005 low mileage clean example for way less than your 5K budget meaning you got funds buy the best and spare cash service it and sort any tiny niggles.
Staying older than 2006 gives you better road tax annual fee on larger engines,and far better built/reliable car. .

the 2.5 has HG issue, the diesel is complete waste of time for efficiency and reliability as is any modern diesel on euro 4 and newer emissions .

The even older Forester SF was most robust car subaru ever built.
Common issues are rust on rear suspension, subframe and inner arches and rear self levelling suspension sagging but suspension easily changed to KYB excel g struts and you simply check well for rust concerns .
Outbacks can be good deals but the 2.0XT forester also can be found pretty clean as not always as abused like standard foresters .

Just be fussy and hold out for a truly decent one and build up some knowledge by viewing any local subarus first.

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31 minutes ago, Mr B said:

go for a 2.0 XT forester or the 3.0 outback and older is better, you can get a 2004 to 2005 low mileage clean example for way less than your 5K budget meaning you got funds buy the best and spare cash service it and sort any tiny niggles.
Staying older than 2006 gives you better road tax annual fee on larger engines,and far better built/reliable car. .

the 2.5 has HG issue, the diesel is complete waste of time for efficiency and reliability as is any modern diesel on euro 4 and newer emissions .

The even older Forester SF was most robust car subaru ever built.
Common issues are rust on rear suspension, subframe and inner arches and rear self levelling suspension sagging but suspension easily changed to KYB excel g struts and you simply check well for rust concerns .
Outbacks can be good deals but the 2.0XT forester also can be found pretty clean as not always as abused like standard foresters .

Just be fussy and hold out for a truly decent one and build up some knowledge by viewing any local subarus first.

 

Thanks for that, great info and it looks like i could be saving some money as i'd have otherwise just gone for the newest of whatever model I decided on. Looking on Autotrader, pre-2006 3.0 Outbacks seem to be pretty rare and the ones that are on there aren't a great deal cheaper than £5k:

 

https://www.autotrader.co.uk/car-search?advertising-location=at_cars&price-to=5500&postcode=bn28ff&body-type=Estate&sort=distance&fuel-type=Petrol&guid=0c7a06af-8498-4222-a556-42e94875c348&model=OUTBACK&page=1&radius=1500&make=SUBARU&year-to=2005&onesearchad=Used&onesearchad=Nearly New&onesearchad=New

 

There are a few more Foresters available and one of each nearby to me so i'll have a look at both.

Can either/both of these be remapped easily and safely enough to achieve a bit more grunt? I had been hoping the Forester 2.5 Xt would be the sturdiest of them all as I do like the sound of the 6 second 0-60 times...

 

Thanks again.

 

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autotrader tends be overpriced (always take 5 to 10% off priicing even before viewing)
look eBay and local gumtree too .
They tend come up in spurts and bit of a travel likely required for real gem of a car, preferred colour etc .

Spend some time look at them, you never know a good car until seen 3 or 4 same models and learnt the car .

Forester 2.0 turbo more tunable, more versatile vehicle but outbacks is lot for money if really need bigger sized estate and the 6 cylinder 3.0 is superb bit of engineering.

Take a look at both and see what takes your fancy, older larger cars is buyers market and dealers selling at 4K have HUGE margins.

Take your time and buy proper clean car and only buy when you 100% no doubts not when a dealer/seller talks you into the car .

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Thanks again for the useful info. Prices for the 3.0 Outback are all over the place- as low as £1800 and up to £4200 for a 2005 with under 100k on the clock. Would £3.5k for a decent one from a dealer with RAC warranty (assuming it's worth the paper it's written on) be around the right price? It's hard to find relaible pricing online as there aren't that many about.

 

And also, is there anything essential to check apart from what you already mentioned, or anything that could be used to get the price down?

 

Cheers again.

 

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I wouldn't be too concerned on mileage as many times low miles cars are garbage as short trips and scooting around country lanes more wear and tear than clocking up big miles on the motorway .

Most of these subarus still perfectly good at 120K

Other areas look at is oil leaks, crank seals and cam covers can leak a little, check for noises from gearbox, wheel bearings, diffs .
Just be thorough looking at every car and test everything electrical, good test drive is essential and ideally once you pretty sure it car you want a second test drive and look is a must to be sure you not missed anything and no running issues pop up .

Warranty on older cars is almost useless if read small print so you generally down to good will of dealer .

The cars are not worth that much in todays car market, dealers get the better examples from trade ins either direct or from main dealers who don't sell cars of certain age .
Never be afraid knock price down as can always go back up but you never can go down .
Lot of dealers put huge margins on cars and if not selling quick you will see 20%+ come off pretty quick, most these cars they would pay around 1 to 2K tops and maybe little more for real one off examples .

I would say 3.5K about right for dealer price for good clean one but a true decent almost new looking example be worth bit more.
Private sales 2 to 3K would be price range, prices go up late autumn and through winter,

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Thanks. I looked at a clean one in what appeared to be very good condition earlier today. It's up for £4.3k with a dealer, fsh, 82k miles. I looked over it for about 40 mins, removed engine cover, checked for oil leaks, condition of all fluids, squeaks, rattles, suspension and bushes, etc. I couldn't fault it, though I'll admit I didn't look at anything above what I'd check on any general pre purchase inspection. Took it for a test drive and everything was quiet, smooth, etc. Not actually as quick as I'd have imagined, but then  quick isn't the appeal. There was a bit of corrosion underneath but I'd imagine that most are like this at 15 years old. I'm going to offer £3.5k, subject to another inspection and test drive and if he doesn't take it then I'll continue the search. I do have a 2.0 XT forester to look at, private sale, same mileage/history, etc. which is over £1.5k cheaper, so I guess this is an indication of what you can pay for these things private vs trade, albeit a different model of Subaru. Thanks again for the help!

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Good luck

Do have extra good look around rear subframes, trailing link to body mounts and inner arches for rust

Also look up previous MOT history online as advisories or previous failures on corrosion here will alert you to potential issues and where look

A nice condition older outback or forester ar reliable and easy live with and cheap running .

One of my Forester SF's is 20yrs old, everything works, nice and tidy and last MOT cost me £12 for a front inner CV boot .

The Forester XT is quicker on B road blasting and easier lightly tune if you desire, Outback great if really want that volvo size cross country estate and the 3.0 is almost bomb proof and running on chain one less service item .

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Great, thanks.

What's the general thought on Jap imports of these? I'm aware of possibly higher insurance costs, harder to sell, no way of verifying history/mileage, etc. but I had a 15yr old imported Hilux Surf for 8 years and nothing whatsoever needed fixing in that time, insurance cost was miniscule and I sold it for the same price I bought it for. There were no downsides whatsoever for me regarding it being an import.

The Jap Subarus that I see on eBay are typically of a very low mileage and are said to be rust free (apparently because they don't salt roads much/at all in Japan)- Can these things be clocked? I with the odometer being digital

 

Prices tend to be higher than for UK equivalents, but i'd have thought that's probably for the above reasons, compounded by the higher specs generally available in Japan.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi,
Just a thought, but how much more reliable pre-2006 are we talking? Including post-2005 models on the searches brings up a lot more results but I've been ignoring these until now. What tends to be the issue/s post- 2005? Is the build quality that much lessened to the extent of not bothering to consider one?
Thanks

 

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up to 2008 is okay but after early 2006 you be paying £500+ in road tax on larger engines .

Best built in terms of reliability due to over engineered quality components and thicker/better frame steel is 97 to 2002.

any proper decent example from those years can be super easy live with, enjoyable and pretty cheap from purchase to yearly costs .

\All down to you balance your preferences .

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Wifey has gone from a 2002 H6 Outback, to a 2008 2.5 XT Forester.

Outback softer ride, quieter, more refined, solidly planted on the road, no matter what the weather if you've got decent tyres on the car will just do whatever you ask of it.

XT faster, much noisier inside, harder ride, more nimble but can feel a little skittish in comparison to the glued to the road Outback, due to the estate section being square there seems as much room in the boot as the Outback for the dogs.

Not a great deal of difference in fuel costs, we had both converted to LPG which they run well on.

Exhausts for H6 are not cheap, we ended up getting a full stainless system fitted for less than the cost of the genuine by-pass silencer (on the pre 03 model), there is no correct aftermarket standard system available for the 3.0 litre up to 03 that i could find, sellers try to pass off the 2.5 silencer as the same, they aint.

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3 hours ago, Mr B said:

up to 2008 is okay but after early 2006 you be paying £500+ in road tax on larger engines .

Best built in terms of reliability due to over engineered quality components and thicker/better frame steel is 97 to 2002.

any proper decent example from those years can be super easy live with, enjoyable and pretty cheap from purchase to yearly costs .

\All down to you balance your preferences .

Is that to 2008 inclusive, as in a 2008 on a 57 plate (Outback), the one with SI drive?

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I bought more or less the first Forester that I came across in December (I'm nuts like that but its how I work) - 2008 2.0 XS petrol, spent about a grand on it for four decent tyres, cam belt change and a service - its never let me down and skips along where ever I need to go ....my very comfy van with occasional rear seats 🙂  

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Where are you based Don, I will have my 2.5XT coming up for sale soon. FSH but a bit high on miles, but engine rebuild and plenty of mods/remap and fully spec'd. In the last 10k miles, new clutch exedy, new coilovers and dics/pads and timing belt when engine was rebuilt. Also looks like a STI, has a quite unique quad exhaust conversion.  Previous member owned car, Sean.

Thanks

Rahail

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Update- I've looked at a couple of Outbacks, one in exceptional nick but very overpriced and owner would only knock a couple of hundred off, and one that I got down to £3.6k but needs new sunroof glass and aircon isn't working. The sunroof is about £150 delivered and the AC could well just be a regas (as says the dealer, but if that's so then i'm sure he'd have had it regassed before putting it up for sale- he isn't willing to do this though, so is probably a more expensive fix than a simple regas, though could easily be a relay or other simple fix). Anyway, due to the rarity of the 3.0's, I can't be arsed with spending my weekends driving around the country, looking at the few examples that I can find.

 

Which brings me onto the more easily found Forester...

 

I called a Subaru indy today to ask about servicing costs on Outbacks and after chatting for a while was told that he has a clean 2006 XT 2.5 with a knackered engine (in good nick otherwise). He has a spare 2.5 lump that he's going to be putting into it and said he'd give me first refusal on it once complete. Will include cam belt change, new mot, service, etc. I'm a bit put off after doing an MOT check online that the car is at 138k miles and the engine, although i'm told is in good condition, is of an unknown mileage. Also, regardless of donor engine condition, a 138k car is always going to be at least a 138k car to any future buyer, so by the time I may be finished with it will be hard to sell. Also, am i right that being post 2005, it will be in the £500+ per annum tax bracket?

I'm kind of of a mind to rather be buying one from a Subaru specialist (seemed a very genuine bloke, gave me a ton of buying advice for about 20 mins regarding the Outback, long before i'd even mentioned being interested in Foresters as well, but think also that the engine is a bit of unknown quantity, and being the 2.5, could pop the head gasket any time after driving it away. I suppose it comes down to price, which he said he'd work out and let me know tomorrow, once he's seen what they generally go for online.

 

Any advice here?

 

Thanks

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Cut off point for VED rip off is as i recall is March 23rd 2006, so registered after that date its well over £500.

We're in that band with the good lady's car, but we bought it well underpriced (it had only done 27k miles) so the difference in VED is already paid for as it were for as long as we're likely to keep it.

Any car in the top ved band is going to be a hard sell when the time comes, so make sure you buy it cheap enough.

The car and engine you are looking at is an unknown quantity, only you can judge the car on its merits, though doing your research on the indy might throw up whether this is likely to be a gem or a lemon, first question is what sort of warranty, and on what, is the chap prepared to offer, i don't mean a worthless bombsite authur daley special either, i mean the indy himself warranting the car...something my MB indy always did on car he sold on.

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I wouldn't bother with the 2.5.

You either want a 2.0XT Forester or the 3.0 outback .Nothing major to choose from them in running costs. sometimes paying more for real clean example is money and hassle saved and a car with bit more  value when you sell .
If you don't want travel too far then you going have accept what in your travel range, you can waste a few quid travelling long way to look at junk so even when find a great deal you spent couple hundred running around and many hours .
Don't expect specialists always going have best cars, lot will have bad examples refreshed to some extent .
Best cars are generally always found private sales .

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23 hours ago, Don Logan said:

Update- I've looked at a couple of Outbacks, one in exceptional nick but very overpriced and owner would only knock a couple of hundred off, and one that I got down to £3.6k but needs new sunroof glass and aircon isn't working. The sunroof is about £150 delivered and the AC could well just be a regas (as says the dealer, but if that's so then i'm sure he'd have had it regassed before putting it up for sale- he isn't willing to do this though, so is probably a more expensive fix than a simple regas, though could easily be a relay or other simple fix). Anyway, due to the rarity of the 3.0's, I can't be arsed with spending my weekends driving around the country, looking at the few examples that I can find.

 

Which brings me onto the more easily found Forester...

 

I called a Subaru indy today to ask about servicing costs on Outbacks and after chatting for a while was told that he has a clean 2006 XT 2.5 with a knackered engine (in good nick otherwise). He has a spare 2.5 lump that he's going to be putting into it and said he'd give me first refusal on it once complete. Will include cam belt change, new mot, service, etc. I'm a bit put off after doing an MOT check online that the car is at 138k miles and the engine, although i'm told is in good condition, is of an unknown mileage. Also, regardless of donor engine condition, a 138k car is always going to be at least a 138k car to any future buyer, so by the time I may be finished with it will be hard to sell. Also, am i right that being post 2005, it will be in the £500+ per annum tax bracket?

I'm kind of of a mind to rather be buying one from a Subaru specialist (seemed a very genuine bloke, gave me a ton of buying advice for about 20 mins regarding the Outback, long before i'd even mentioned being interested in Foresters as well, but think also that the engine is a bit of unknown quantity, and being the 2.5, could pop the head gasket any time after driving it away. I suppose it comes down to price, which he said he'd work out and let me know tomorrow, once he's seen what they generally go for online.

 

Any advice here?

 

Thanks

So, turns out the car is actually a 2008.

 

With 140,000 miles on it.

 

And he wants £3750 for it once it's had the used engine (with unknown mileage) fitted.

 

 

The search continues....

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I'm following this with interest. I'm also looking for a 2.0l petrol, manual Forester. I think it will need to be 2008 onwards though. All the pre-2006 I've looked at have MOT failures for serious corrosion (no doubt fixed up to pass MOT).  I'm looking for a car with minimal rust underneath but sadly all the older ones seem bad for rust. I'm also keen to get the 2-ton towing capacity from the post 2008 models. 

Please keep us updated Don.

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i see many 2003 to 2006 still clean, no heavy rot .

The older sf is harder find no rot rear end but then it 20yrs old .and most had some real use at some point .

only plus with newer ones is tow weight .

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I went and looked at one the other day which didn't appear to have any rot. Stuck it up on ramps and layed underneath with a torch giving it a good go over. It looks ok, with 85k miles and fsh and the bloke said he'd take £2k for it.

 

I looked at images and videos showing corrosion problems with Foresters and with Subarus in general, which seemed to indicate that it really is a widespread problem and people were showing rust in areas that I don't think I checked when I went to view this one. I'm going to go back for another look, is it just wheel arches, subframes, and strut mounts (or whatever the part that suspension bolts into is called)?

The Indy I spoke to said you've really got to stick your right hand up next to the rear springs to feel for any rust and you can't always see it. Thinking about it, the only area where I noticed any rust was a tiny little spot on the front wheel arch, on the external painted surface, with wheel arches is it just a case of looking at the external area around the wheel or can I get in behind some trim somehwere to look at the internal side? And do arches tend to be easy enough to fix? There's no mention of corrosion anywhere on the MOT history, so can that be taken as much of a positive?

And how's £2k for this car if it's in as good nick as it appears to be? As, mentioned, prices are all over the place, even privately.

Sorry for all the vague questions but I've got no idea about costs to repair body work and don't want to end up with a big bill after buying and i'm !Removed! obsessive when looking into buying a car....

Thanks!

 

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