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Buying a '02 Subaru Forester, worried about head gasket reputation

Hi everyone! For many good reasons I’m on the verge of purchasing a pre-owned 2002 Forester - I found three, mileages btwn 25-65K. After a lot of research though, I’ve learned about that probability of the head gaskets blowing around 100K. Do you all think it’s worth buying, as long as I get a generous warranty/extended service plan, or am I just playing with fire here? Thanks in advance!

Our 03 Legacy 2.5L engine at 130K mi and no signs of head gasket issues. I have put in the Subaru cooling system conditioner (about $4 at the dealer) since its first 30K service. My experience could change next week, but so far no issues. Might be worth asking the seller if they have done the same in the Forester. It is recommended in the owner’s manual.

Extended warranties generally don’t pay for themselves, but that is your call.

The issue seems to have left in 2005. I think the likely hood is likely 30% of the engines not 100%. My family has 6 cars that fall into the range (96-2004) with that engine and only one blew the head gasket at 230k miles.

Subaru benefits greatly from the much better QA reputations of the top Japanese brands, Honda and Toyota. Of the three, Toyota is by far the front runner in terms of reliability and cost of ownership. You did your own research. A blown head gasket at 100,000 miles is not acceptable.

Hi Everyone, thanks to all of you for your replies. Buying a car on my own has been nerve wracking, and I felt less alone with your help. It was also really helpful to read this mention of the extended warranties, which I hadn’t given much thought to either way until then. Good advice. I didn’t find a Forester with good records, that I felt I could take a chance with. But I came across and purchased an '06 Impreza wagon that was a lease turn-in, which still has 2 years/50K left on the manufacturer’s warranty and didn’t cost me extra anything. Checked out great, so I’m off to a good start now. Thanks again and happy travels. :slight_smile: