A tale of two foresters

So this may be a little confusing, but I’ve got two cars, same name, different years, owned by two girls, same name, different years, and they’re having what seem to be undiagnosable issues. Both ladies in question are soon to be driving their foresters cross-country, hauling small trailers, for doctoral internships, one in wisconsin, one in indiana.

The first forester is a 2001. For a while now, it’s had what seem to be an unreproducable “metal on metal” sound coming from the left front of the car while “under load”. I use quotes, because I have never heard the sound, nor am I able to reproduce it, but the girl swears it happens when she is accelerating and turning left. Most especially when she is turning left uphill from a stop light. She has a mechanic, and he has been working on the car regularly. I’m not sure of his ability, but I am 99% sure he isn’t ripping her off as far as part replacements go. So far I think he has replaced the axle, bearing and a few other things on the left side in the front, but the issue is still there. Last time she took it to him, he said, “take it to the dealer, I can’t find anything else wrong and I don’t want to keep charging you for nothing.” Question here is, any idea what this might be, and is she safe driving it cross-country and getting it looked at in indiana.

Forester number two. This one is a 2010. It is no longer under warranty, but by all rights, seems to be in perfect mechanical condition. I drive this car quite a bit and have noticed a couple of things about it. Cold starts are really rough, and it does amazing out in the sticks (my first time driving a forester for any period of time and just had to add that :). So there has been a pretty consistent intermittent issue with this one. For what seems like no reason at all, the traction control and check engine lights come on, as well as the cruise control light flashes on and off slowly. This doesn’t seem to affect the car in any way, other than at that point the cruise control doesn’t work. I am assuming the the traction control stops working as well, but that may not be the case, since I haven’t really worked out a way to test that when this is happening. It happens about once a month, lasts anywhere from two hours to two days, and then just “fixes itself”, meaning that it goes back to a normal, perfectly happy forester. This one was in to the dealer when she bought it and they gave it a clean bill of health, other than to say the one of the gel mounts on the tranny may need to be replaced at some point.

I’m completely flabbergasted by both of these issues, and would like to at least give these wonderful ladies a little peace of mind before they set off on their journeys. Any ideas?

Thanks in advance.

On the 2001 check the heat shields. Especially the ones right under the engine are notorious for rattling like crazy, being capable of making weird scary noises.
They tend to resonate at specific engine speeds or conditions. You can get some band clamps (home depot plimbing dept) and wrap them around the offending shield.

On the 2010, if the check engine light comes on, a code is stored. Go to a place like advance auto or pepboys. They’ll read the code for free
Dont let them do anything else on account of them being morons but report back with the codes.
Cruise contol stops working with an active code. That is normal… I forget what traction control does under that condition.

Traction control and stability control–along with cruise control–are all disabled when there is an active code.

As Remco stated, the OP needs to have the codes read as the first step toward resolving the problem. Then, come back to this thread to report those codes, which will look similar to, “P0123”.