Shed of the Week: Subaru Forester

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



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Comments (56) Join the discussion on the forum

  • alorotom 23 Feb 2018

    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 23 Feb 2018

    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 23 Feb 2018

    seawise said:
    had two of these back in the day - wonderful cars. would have another in a heart beat.

  • Roger Irrelevant 23 Feb 2018

    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 23 Feb 2018

    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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