2003 Subaru Forester- Please advice

Dear All! I have a 2003 Subaru Forester. I purchased the car last year and love this car. I take care of this car and do the maintenance as needed.
I am having two issues with my car:

  1. Recently the window on front passenger side stopped working { would not roll down}. It has been stuck ever since. The mechanic diagnosed it as a broken rotor/motor and it needs to be replaced. Yesterday, I rolled down the driver side window and sadly, it would not roll up. The mechanic had to physically pull it up as it was snowing outside. The mechanic said that BOTH of my rotors have to be replaced. He called and found out that the rotors cost $360 bucks a piece–not including labor.
    My mechanic felt that the price as ridiculous and he was not sure what kind of rotors are in the door, mechanical or motorized. He said that he would like to see if he can fix it. For that , he needs to open the door assembly and what if he cannot fix it and he needs to order a part then?
    I NEED your advice and guidance as to how to approach this issue. For now, I can drive without touching the windows.
  2. Since I live in CT and we have been having a horrible winter this year. I park my car in the driveway. I noticed the CHECK ENGINE light was on and would not go off. Took it to the mechanic and he diagnosed that the O2 sensor has gone bad and need to be replaced. He said that t is not an emergency, can still drive the car, but it is a good idea to replace it soon. I have had the check engine light issues with my previous car- Mitsubishi Galant as well. every time the outside temp fell, the light was on and it went away, when the temp went up. My question to you is; do I wait and see if the light would go away? The part costs around 180 bucks ( per the mechanic). do I shop around for a cheaper version of the part.
    Trust me, my mechanic is a honest guy and I do not believe he is making up stories.
    Please advice/ guide me. Thanks
    Somi Akella

If your mechanic has, or doesn’t have, experience with this kind of work is important. Most general mechanics don’t do this kind of work very often. Getting access to the window mechanism is tricky and if you don’t know what you are doing it is easy to damage the clips and hardware just removing the plastic interior panel on the door.

I’d take the car to a body shop for a diagnosis. Body shops know the doors, and the mechanisms inside much better than a general mechanic.

RockAuto has the motor/regulator assemblies for both your power windows for $118.00 each.


And while you’re there, might as well order a new O2 sensor.


Thanks- Uncle Turbo and Tester. I will go to a body shop and check it out. Regards.

Hi! Went to Pep Boys and was told that they will charge 45 bucks, rip the door open and see what is wrong. Then they will decide what to fix and how much it costs. what do you think? Thanks

I’d still check out a body shop first.

I have no doubt that Pep Boys would charge a bit less than a body shop would.
However, I also have no doubt that they would “rip the door open”, rather than doing the job properly.

Did Pep Boys tell you what it would cost, total, to replace the motor+regulator? $45 may just be the cost to get it apart, they you’ll feel compelled to pay the rest. Do you trust your current mechanic? Ask him if he’d use the Rockauto parts, what he’d charge.

I would wait until the weather is warmer on the windows, so you can sock away some money. Those motors are not cheap, but you can live without the windows rolling down for a while since you can just open the door at a drive through and the like. I would start with the driver’s side door and keep the window lock switch on so no one rolls it down, including you. Then you can do the passenger’s window when you get the money.

As for the 02 sensor,I’ve had experience with that. Mine got to the point that I also had to do my spark plugs and wires, which were needed as well. Mine was $80 from Amazon, but was not a plug and play version so I had to hard wire it. It still throws a code because of the connection. If I did it again, I would buy the plug and play version with the connector already wired and ready to go easily. Those version were around $180. I have small hands, so I could get right in there to take the old one out and put the new one in, but someone with larger hands may need to remove several other pieces that are in the way for their hands. I would make sure that they mechanic was experienced in doing these kinds of repairs, as many cars have much cheaper and easier to get to O2 sensors. One version of the Forester, turbo I think, just takes off the passenger tire and fender well flap and bam, there it is to remove and replace. My 04’ Forester was not that easy.

Of the repairs, I would do the O2 sensor first because that will soon affect your gas mileage and you won’t be able to go over 45 in it. I was at that point after about a year of ignoring it. Then do the driver’s side window and then the passenger’s. This way you aren’t doing the repairs all at once and don’t cost so much.

Email Jackie at Annapolis Subaru, Jackie Whetzler jackie.whetzler@annapolissubaru.com, for prices. She has really great prices on factory parts and consider price comparisons since your mechanic is probably going to the local parts place for it. Also Auto Zone, Advance Auto Parts, OReily’s Auto all offer online coupons for customers. The Rear O2 Sensor at Advance Auto Parts is 154 and the current promotion is 15% off but you can google other coupons to 20-39% off. That does save money that your mechanic will need on the labor side. I say the rear O2 sensor is the one that went because it is the most expensive of the two sensors you have, and that is my luck to have to replace the most expensive one.

Good Luck and love your Subaru! I have an 04’ Forester at 209K miles and going strong! I’ve only done the fan belts, rear O2 sensor, charcoal canister, both rear ball bearings, oil filters, and fuel filter.

I have an 04' Forester at 209K miles and going strong! I've only done the fan belts, rear O2 sensor, charcoal canister, both rear ball bearings, oil filters, and fuel filter.

…and timing belt kit?

No timing belt yet. It behaves well and without issue.

"No timing belt yet. It behaves well and without issue." Yes, it will continue to "behave well" until about a microsecond after the timing belt snaps--with no warning whatsoever. At that point, you will have extensive internal damage to the engine, which could potentially cost ~$1k--over and above the cost of the timing belt kit.

The fact that you told us earlier, “I take care of this car and do the maintenance as needed”, is apparently not true, as the engine is overdue for this service by at least 3 years on the basis of elapsed time, and–depending on odometer mileage–it could be even longer overdue.

IMHO, somebody who is worried about their power windows while ignoring vital maintenance has…mis-ordered priorities.

Thanks guys. Just got out of work–I teach high school science:-P
The pep boys will charge 45 to look at what is wrong…and then give an estimate for what ever they have to fix. I guess I will not go there.
My mechanic at least said that he will open and see if he can fix it , if he could. By the way, the —Dorman 741-003 Subaru Forester Front Driver Side Window Regulator with Motor–is for $124.31 on Amazon. Will shop around. My mechanic orders from NAPA.
I will get the O2 sensor done first, just like Dena said and then one window at a time. I can roll the back ones for now. Some times, I wish that I had the old fashioned manual windows…good old style.
Will go to a couple of body shops then and see how it goes.
Many Thanks. I Will keep you posted. Best Regards.

VCD Driver,
Timing belt was done just before I purchased the vehicle. The seller showed us the bills. Regular maintenance entails; oil change, spark plugs and tune-up and other stuff that needs to be done regularly. I need this car to go to work and school. I hope I answered your questions.

Yes, you answered my questions, but I hope you now realize that “No timing belt yet” is very different from your later statement–“Timing belt was done just before I purchased the vehicle”.

Thank you for the clarification.

You bet.

Unlike some of the others, I believe any mechanic worth his salt should be able to replace window regulators on common vehicles without too much trouble. Worst case scenario . . . he has to look at alldata, mitchell, etc. to figure out how to take off the door panel or regulator

Window regulator replacements are extremely common, and a mechanic will do many of them in his career

If you want to let this mechanic fix your car, I suggest you let him get the parts at napa. That way, if the parts are wrong . . . or his diagnosis is wrong . . . he can quickly return them

Another thing to think about . . . this mechanic will most likely NOT offer you any warranty on the rockauto part which YOU supply. In general, mechanics do not offer warranty on parts which the customer supplies. In general, mechanics also don’t want their customers to supply parts. That’s their job, not yours

Shops make a profit on parts and labor. That is fair, and the nature of the business. If shops charged you rockauto parts prices, they’d be out of business in a hurry