'05 Subaru Forester potential maintenance and repair issues?

What are the major maintenance issues with the 2005 Forester? Is there still the head gasket problem and are their any other things I need to look for? the one we are looking at has 218K and was used as a business/traveling vehicle. This comes to be 31K per year which seems high, what could be a concern from high mileage?

Personally, I wouldn’t buy ANY vehicle that already has 218k on the odometer, but in particular I would not buy an AWD vehicle with that many miles on the clock. But, to answer your questions…

Yes, the head gasket problems were supposedly resolved as of 2003, but only time will tell if that is actually the case.

My biggest concerns would be the following:

Has the timing belt been changed within the last 100k miles?
This is something that needs to be done every 105k miles, or big repair bills will be the result.
Don’t take anyone’s word for it. Only accept documentation via invoice that this has been done.
If it was not changed within the last 100k miles, you need to do it immediately, as this engine is of the interference design, and when the belt breaks (with no warning of any kind), it is like setting off a grenade inside the engine. (Translation: A couple of thousand $$ in repairs, over and above the cost of the belt replacement itself). When replacing the timing belt, you should also replace the water pump, the serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners.

Has the car ever been run with mis-matched tires?
Unfortunately, on a used car, you have no way of knowing this if the present tires are all of the same brand, size, and tread depth. For all you know, the tires could have been switched last week. The consequence of a past episode of mis-matched tires is the need to do major repairs to the viscous coupler that transfers power from front to back.

Has the transmission fluid been changed at least 7 times so far?
If not, you are undoubtedly looking at transmission failure in the very near future.
No, I am not exaggerating. Transmissions that are not serviced on that type of schedule can fail any time after ~100k miles, and after ~160k miles, failure is a sure thing.
Just as with the timing belt, you need to see invoices proving at least 7 transmission fluid changes in order to have some assurance that you will not be paying a lot of money for a trans overhaul in the very near future.

With any used car of this age/this many miles, you need to expect repairs on an ongoing basis, even if the maintenance has been perfect. That is just the nature of things when the odometer mileage gets this high. I would suggest that you budget at least $1,000 per year for repairs if the maintenance has been perfect. If the maintenance has been lax, an annual repair budget of $3,000-4,000 may be more realistic, as things like transmissions are very expensive.

There is an occasional problem with the catalytic converter on the 2005 Forester. I agree with VDCdriver. Almost anything can go wrong on a car with that many miles. I would only add the suspension to the list of concerns. You didn’t provide enough information to price it, but you should expect to reduce the price of an average mileage car by $1900 for the high mileage. If you are still interested in it, tell us what model and options it has on it.

Other than agreeing with the others I would only ask how much money they’re asking for this car.

This is all the info I have on this 2005 Subaru Forester. I am waiting for a reply about the engine size, transmission, and features in this car.


This is the only info, I have and have contacted the owner for more info.

  • still in the process of putting together the maintenance log
  • recently put in a new air conditioner,
  • recently bought new tires.
  • bought in Colorado and drove it out here to Seattle.
  • the previous owner lived in Kentucky and did a lot of road trips for work.
  • It does have a lot of miles but is in great working condition.

We are looking at three other cars, but they are
1998 (200K@ $4,800),
1998 (120K @ $4,500)
1999, (150K@ $4,000)
2001 (191K@ $6000)

Newer model year with lots of miles or older models with lots of miles? This is all new to me and don’t want to be duped.

A 2005 Forester is a very solid car but just beware that anything can go wrong at any time with a car that has that kinda mileage. Not sure if 6 grand is a particularly good price, though. For that price, they should have definitely done the timing belt and water pump twice - once at 90K and the other at 180K.
I think it would make for a good second car but probably wouldn’t pay more than 4500 for it and stick the leftover 1500 under my mattress for when the engine decides to bite the dust.

Dealer retail on it is quite a bit less according to Edmunds, you might want to appaise it there. Something like $4000 is what I got.

Six grand is way too much for an 8 year old car with well over 200k miles on it. With some patience and footwork I think you can do much better.

Stick below 150k and 8 years old. Budget 1000+/year for repairs. I would take it free maybe but not pay.

“recently bought new tires.”

…and this makes it impossible for you to know what was mounted on those wheels prior to the recently-bought new tires. They may have replaced perfectly-matched, evenly-worn tires of the same brand and size. Or…they may have replaced an odd mixture of tires with widely varying amounts of tread. To me, this is just not the type of mystery that I would want to experience, given the potential financial penalty for the new owner.

“recently put in a new air conditioner”

Huh? Did they install a 5,000 BTU window unit from Sears?

Was the A/C compressor replaced? (most likely, yes)
You do not replace “the air conditioner” on a car.

But…overall…the asking price is far too high for a vehicle with this many miles on the odometer.

For an XT with A/T, the price is reasonable; $300 below private sale for a car in clean condition in Seattle (Edmunds); $1600 under retail. For an XS, the price is about $100 over average in a private sale and $1100 under at a dealer…

I agree with others that you should FORGET the Subaru; too many miles even if it was well maintained. This vehicle will ebcome a real maoneypit for you.

I would suggest something without All Wheel Drive (AWD), unless you absolutely need it, and 90% of posters do not need AWD.

IMHO if 6k all you can afford buy something with 100k miles and 7ish years old. Expensive repairs are likely on something this used(up at 218k)