RE: Shed of the Week: Subaru Forester

RE: Shed of the Week: Subaru Forester

Friday 23rd February

Shed of the Week: Subaru Forester

Most modern crossover SUVs are appalling. The Forester isn't though. It's too honest for that.



Forester. A good, manly name for a car, and a good name for a good car.

All good, then. But is this week's Shed, a 2004 XT Turbo, any good?

Using his special privileges, Shed has unearthed this car's MOT history. There's good news and not so good news. The good news is that the current ticket runs until the end of November. The not so good news is that the tester used quite a bit of ink on the advisories section last November.

In the usual manner of advisories, it's the owner's choice as to whether they want to address them by throwing a bit of cash in their general direction. In this case, he didn't. That could be because he'd already spent a fair-sized wad on rectifying the items it actually failed on, to whit 'seriously weakened' rusty front subframes (both of them) and the offside front suspension arm.


Those advisory issues then. Deep breath. Play in the nearside front suspension arm, a light misting of oil on the offside rear shock, most of the brake pipes showing corrosion, three of the tyres showing outer edge wear (not uncommon on this model), some sub-10mm damage in zone A of the windscreen, corrosion on an unspecified suspension component and on a 'not seriously weakened' rear sub-frame, both rear inner sills showing signs of tinworm.

All these are of course all capable of being sorted by the simple application of time, parts and money. Or, as the vendor did, they can be ignored until they become critical. None of these issues was regarded as being serious enough to warrant failing the car last year, so you can understand the owner taking that line. But there are so many advisories with the dreaded word 'corrosion' in them you do wonder what sort of bill you'll be facing in November, just when you're trying to save up for Chrimbo and wondering (in the case of this particular car) how you're going to fill the boot up with presents if the tailgate is still refusing to open like it did for the MOT tester. The remedy for that could be something as simple as a squirt of WD40 into the mechanism, or washing the salt out of it a bit more often, but given what's been happening to the rest of this car it could just as easily be yet more corrosion.

All that is in addition to the vendor's own revelation of a mysterious and as yet untraced coolant leak, plus the current need for a second replacement window winder motor (a used one will cost you around £55 off eBay).


You could read something into the fact that the seller is leaving Subaru to go to Land Rover. Or you may believe that, with big bills approaching (Subaru service charges can be dizzyingly high), he's simply bailing out. He wouldn't be the first to do that, and he won't be the last. Clearly he's someone who puts some store in 'characterful' motoring, but understandably perhaps has run out of patience on the maintenance side of things.

Who wouldn't want a Forester, though? They're comfortable, practical, incredibly useful in bad weather, fabulous for towing (this one has all the back-end trankilments in place), and immensely tunable to 400hp and beyond, according to the girth of your wallet. On top of all that, the flat-four sounds amazing. Here's one going fast on the drag strip.

And it's called a Forester. As it happens, Mrs Shed is quite familiar with a couple of beefy lads who run a small forestry operation in the woods just outside Shed's village. It's a 'green' setup using no conventional fuel-powered machinery whatsoever. Instead, everything is driven by huge beasts of burden. Naturally, the lads have invited Mrs Shed round to take a look at their gigantic ox, but she'd need something like a Subaru Forester to make the muddy trip up there. And Shed isn't sure about this particular one.

Is it worth the gamble? Depends how quickly rust spreads in your neck of the woods.

Here's the ad.

2004 (54) Subaru Forester XT (2.0 Turbo). 126,000 miles with almost full service history.

I've owned this car for nearly three years, but I'm going back to Land Rover ownership and so it has to go. New radiator just before Christmas, but there's still a slight coolant leak which I've not had time to investigate, hence the low price.

New front brake pads a few weeks ago, new stainless exhaust (cat-back) about two years ago, new driver's window winder motor (although the passenger one now needs doing too). A few minor scuffs & dings to the bodywork. Climate control, electric heated wingmirrors, sunroof & OEM stereo

 

 

Author
Discussion

alorotom

Original Poster:

4,832 posts

120 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
Looks like a decent package for the cash ... always fancied a JDM STi Forester and would love one at some point but can’t see it happening at the moment

Seems like a cheap way to ease into ownership!

Cambs_Stuart

297 posts

17 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
I'm a subaru fan, and a forester fan (especially the FSTI), but the amount of rust mentioned would worry me. But if it was non-structural and could sorted at reasonable expense then it'll make a fine workhorse.
From what I understand they're basically an impreza on stilts, so share a lot of components..

seawise

1,398 posts

139 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
seawise said:
had two of these back in the day - wonderful cars. would have another in a heart beat.

Roger Irrelevant

961 posts

46 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
Having a Subaru (Outback) of similar vintage and really liking it I would not be averse to giving a Forester like this a go at some point. However it would not be this particular one - while I'm used to replacing suspension/brake bits on the Outback from time to time I don't mind that as it's a solid car that's generally been well looked after. This one looks like it hasn't been and is dying on its arse.

helix402

3,851 posts

115 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
Disgustingly dirty rusty shed. £1100! Just look at the previous owners dead skin all over the upper steering column shroud-that’s free.

Sounds like it need lots of welding and four tyres......etc.

I’m not knocking it when it was new, I’m sure it was lovely.
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Ryvita

442 posts

143 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
These are great, great cars, but I'm not sure I'd go with this one. Spend a little more, and get one that's been better cared for (and preferably waxoyled earlier in life).

Also the classic failing of XT foresters is the self-levelling rear suspension. This ad includes no straight shots from the side so it's hard to tell, but I think it might be starting to suffer from this. The symptom is a lowered rear end, akin to a dog dragging it's ar$e along the carpet. smile

dontlookdown

73 posts

26 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
These have a lot going for them as a model. But this particular specimen sounds like it is falling apart. Epic rust will kill it at MOT time - if it even gets that far without blowing a head gasket thanks to the coolant leak. Move on.

DaveCWK

956 posts

107 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
This generation of Forester is a good car when in fine fettle, I wouldn't buy this one though.

Rust is a pain & an undiagnosed coolant leak could be something simple like a hose, something medium like a water pump (which if replacing you'd do belts/bearings/tensioner etc) or could be leaking head gaskets.

Nice ones that haven't spent their lives as farm hacks will only cost a bit more.

EXMX5

13 posts

11 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
I sold mine earlier this year. Same age, 140k miles with a full service history. No rust as it was waxoyld every year and everything worked except the a/c which needed a compressor at £350. Sold for £950.
The saggy self levelling suspension can be swapped to normal easily enough, the previous owner of mine did that. Bloody good reliable cars which are faster then the numbers make them look. I wouldn’t have another as I’ve had one but I now have a legacy and an outback as the fozzy was so good.

Lewis Kingston

156 posts

10 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
Looks familiar, haha – here's mine.



Funnily enough, ended up parked next to one in the identical colour scheme last week. Anyway, still got it – and it's one of the best cars I've ever owned. Well over 160,000 miles now and still running like a top. smile

Always tempted to re-map it but it's so sweet that it'd be a shame to do so then, say, pop a gasket or similar. Still, as EXMX5 has mentioned, they're surprisingly swift even in standard form.

(Hat tip to PHer Ved, who I bought it from last year!)

Edited by Lewis Kingston on Friday 23 February 09:02

Dale487

726 posts

56 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
Nice to see the increased SOTW budget throwing up some different & interesting metal (Or should that be rust). But I agree with everyone else, spending more on another Forester is likely to be a better & cheaper bet in the long run - unless you’re really handy with a spanner.

BFleming

677 posts

76 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
Lewis Kingston said:
...here's mine.

Hats off to your photographic & car cleaning skills - looks ace!

Back on the SOTW though... private seller is good & the way it should be. The rust & coolant leak are the obvious negatives - particularly as it has had a new rad & that hasn't cured the issue - you can't help but think that's why it's being sold on. People generally keep these until they break - which I fear this one might be about to.
I will admit to never owning a Subaru, and having had only one Japanese car on the fleet (2002 Honda CR-V). But you never hear horror stories about a Legacy - which is probably the one I would have. I'm not looking though, so all very hypothetical.
Not bad Shed, not bad...

Edited by BFleming on Friday 23 February 09:26

sgtBerbatov

720 posts

14 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
In fairness it's only £1,100 because he'll need money to rent cars with while his new Land Rover is in the shop for the 6th time in as many months.

marshall100

1,100 posts

134 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
At what point in life do you go from a Subaru to a land rover? Yes this is a bad example of a very good car, but whatever land rover he gets it'll fall apart long before the tin worm claims the forester?

culpz

3,893 posts

45 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
I was looking at these the other day and never realised they were so cheap. There's also a guy i see on my commute with a modified one of these, that's been lowered so much that it just looks like an Impreza! It looks and sounds really nice though, although i think his is the 2.5 engine.

My only issue with running old Subaru's is the maintenance side of things. I know parts and stuff like cambelt jobs can be very expensive. They're also very reliable if looked after though so i suppose you pay for what you get.

Good Shed but keep on top of that rust!

Ryvita

442 posts

143 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
I know it's not a PH ad, but this one looks in better condition, and cheaper...

MOT'd only to the end of April but much healthier.


Date tested
28 April 2017
Pass

Mileage
140,039 miles

MOT test number
6587 7822 6786

Test location
unavailable until further notice

Expiry date
1 May 2018

Advisory notice item(s)
•Front Brake pad(s) wearing thin (3.5.1g)
•Nearside Front Headlamp deteriorated but light output not reduced (1.7.5a)

Ryvita

442 posts

143 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
And since we're sharing pictures, this was mine. smile


soad

29,063 posts

109 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
Ryvita said:
And since we're sharing pictures, this was mine. smile

That's hardly in budget, much more appealing though. driving

Maldini35

1,756 posts

121 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
Ryvita said:
And since we're sharing pictures, this was mine. smile

Very cool

(Literally)

Dale487

726 posts

56 months

Friday 23rd February
quotequote all
Maldini35 said:
Ryvita said:
And since we're sharing pictures, this was mine. smile

Very cool

(Literally)
Nice gaff - bet that costs a bit to heat