2001 Subaru Forester nightmare


#1

In March I bought a 2001 Subaru Forester with 130,000 miles on it for $4000. I drove hours and test drove many in this price range. Several even broke down during the test drive so I tried to find a good one. About a week after we bought it the engine check light came one with an evap system leak and a catalytic converter code. I took it to the mechanic but he said first it needed rear brakes which I did. I just put new tires on it. I decided to finally get that evap code fixed and brought it back in. Now I was told that I needed a starter coil, ox sensor, and a complete tune up as my wires were broken and my plugs and filters were very dirty. I agreed to do this and the bill came out to over $700. I still haven’t picked it up yet and have been told that it needs rear bearings that will cost an additional $600. I’m now getting pretty concerned that I’m just dumping tons of money into a worthless car. I don’t think the head gasket has been done and when the mechanic checked the coolant level he said it was very low, but then said not to worry about it because old Subaru’s “use a little” coolant and that it didn’t have the tell-tale smell of a head gasket problem. So basically with the tires and the current work I’m putting $2000 into this car. Is it time to bail? I know I’ll lose lots of money but I’d hate to spend $2000 just to need a head gasket two months later. I have to take out a loan just to pay for the repairs that are already done. I’m still not going to get that evap leak and catalytic converter fixed! I’d appreciate any opinions. Thank you.


#2

I would be concerned about the coolant level. It should not have been that low and it sounds to me there is a small leak somewhere. It sounds like the previous owner didn’t take care of the maintenance like they should have on this vehicle. I would suggest you make sure the headgaskets are ok by having the proper tests done. If that checks out ok then you may want to keep the car since you have already spent a fair amount on repairs so you can recoup the money spent. You should also fix the other issues so the CEL light dosen’t stay on all the time.

Buying a used car can be a gamble. The money you save over buying new can go out the window in repairs on a used one. You should have let a shop look the car over before deciding to buy it.


#3

You bought a 10 year old Subaru and problems are to be expected. Brakes, tires, bearings, filters, plug wires, and so on are normal wear/tear and maintenance items.

Subarus only “use a little coolant” if a problem exists and the mechanic is incorrect if he thinks a coolant smell must be present to detect a head gasket leak. That’s not the way it works.
If a head gasket leak is suspected then a series of tests should be performed to remove all doubt. Compression test, hydrocarbon test, cooling system pressure test, and so on.


#4

It’s water under the bridge now but it sounds like you did not have this car inspected by your mechanic before you purchased. In the future, you will find that this is time and $ well spent. Get your Subaru all fixed up and good to go and see what happens, if it continues to be a money pit you can sell it and move on.


#5

Yeah I know I really should’ve brought it to someone to look at before buying but in 10 years here I have yet to find a mechanic that I trust. lol…Really I completely agree that all of the work done so far is maintenance, it’s that coolant thing that’s really bothering me.