Is it time for a new vehicle?

My 2003 Forester has 161,000 miles. Subaru says I need Struts and Bushings. It will cost $3200. Trying to decide what to do. The car is hardly worth that. Should I get a non-Subaru person to do the repair? Should I get a new pre-owned vehicle? I like my car better than the new ones.

How well has the car been maintained, overall?
Has the timing belt been changed on schedule?
If the car has an automatic transmission, have you done trans fluid changes on time?
(That would mean at least 5 trans fluid changes so far)

If the car has been well-maintained, and if it is essentially rust-free, it should have another few good years of use left in it after taking care of the struts and bushings. And, if you go to an independent mechanic’s shop, rather than a dealership, you should be able to have those jobs done at a lower cost.

I agree with VDCdriver. If you like the car, if it’s otherwise in pretty good shape, and if you don’t mind that you’re driving a car that’s not particularly reliable any more, then have a good local mechanic do the fix. Chances are that you can get a few more years and miles out of this one.

You should be able to cut that price significantly at an independent shop. But first make sure it’s worth it, as described above.

First, get another opinion. I doubt that you need bushings, and what bushings are they talking about anyway? You may need struts if you have a lot of potholes or bad roads in your area, or if you go off-roading with it.

The dealer is way overpriced, but beware of lowball quotes. Substandard struts could be worse than your old struts.

Are the tires showing abnormal wear and that is the reason for the strut/bushing (bushings undetermined…) diagnosis?
Did you take the car in with a specific complaint or were these problems discovered so to speak while the car was in for something else?

If the tires are wearing normal, there are no noises, and the car is not bouncing like a ping-pong ball I might say that you could bypass this repair given the age and mileage.

What should be done is to get another opinion from an independent shop. This is a repair that could surely be done for far less than 3200 dollars.

I agree , You can buy all 4 struts for that vehicle for $500.00 or less .

The issues you are dealing with are really maintenance at 160,000 miles. If you plan to keep the Forester for a few more years, it would be worth fixing the struts and bushings if they are really required. Any high expense item like struts deserves two or three quotes. Bushings on my cars are inexpensive and easy to reach. They should be no more than $150 or so including labor. If you aren’t familiar with any independent shops, as your friends and neighbor’s for recommendations. The name or names that turn up most are good bets.

$3200 is nuts.

Take it to at least two shops independent and see what they say. My guess is $1500 tops if it actually needs what they mention. Dealer is nice for warranty but finding a good independant is best for longer term ownership.

Based on the mileage . . .

I would not be surprised if the car legitimately needs struts and bushings. I’ll assume we’re talking lower control arm bushings

If struts are needed, I would go for pre-assembled struts of decent quality. Not monroe, in other words. If the struts are worn, the mounts, springs, bearings, bump stops, etc. can’t be in much better shape. Plus you’ll save on labor costs

As for bushings, I wonder if bushings are available separately, or if an arm is needed. Even if the bushings are available separately, it might be worth it to buy complete moog arms, for example.

First off, I agree that 3200 for this is very high. However, a high price does not necessarily mean that the dealer is ripping someone off.

Odds are the dealer labor rate is a 100 dollars an hour; or maybe more.
Factor in factory OEM parts which will have a dealer cost (meaning what the dealer pays…) higher than what any aftermarket retail price is and the sum total could be considered fair.

That rolls it back around to finding an independent shop which will be cheaper due to the use of aftermarket parts and a lower shop per hour labor charge.

Thanks for all the advice. Car is well maintained. Everything done on schedule. I will get a second opinion. A friend who has a Baja has recommended a local person. I don’t drive on bad roads or hit pot holes or go off road.

I took the car in for an oil change. I was surprised since the last time i was there they said there was nothing wrong with the car. No problem with the tires.

Which bushings need to be replaced? Did you take the vehicle in because of a suspension related complaint?

It sounds like OP took the car in for an oil change, and a free 21 point inspection was performed

Maybe last time, there was no free 21 point inspection.

That’s why at the last oil change, there was no mention of struts and bushings . . . ?!

Or maybe a different mechanic was looking at the car this time . . . ?!

Yes, a multi point inspection, the OP reported “oil change” while I was typing. It would be helpful to know the observations.

If one leaking strut was found on a vehicle with 161,000 miles four struts, mounts and springs if in the rust belt would be recommended. The question may be how severe is the leak? If significant perhaps two struts could be replaced. If minor and the struts are still functioning normally perhaps another year or two of service can be had with no action taken.

$3200 for struts and bushings is also known as “highway robbery.” Was the person that gave you the estimate wearing a mask? I’m just naturally curious in these matters.

I respectfully disagree that a high price (and it IS a high price) means highway robbery. If the 3200 was broken down it would likely be found that everything is kosher.

Example. Back in the late 80s I remember the first automatic transmission I had to replace as a complete unit on a Subaru. The car at the time sold for about 10 grand brand new out the door.

The transmission on the car in question was exploded and there was simply no feasible repair to be done on it so an entire new unit was required.
The retail price on the transmission was 4995; almost half the price of the entire car. That was for the trans only; no labor, gaskets, fluids, taxes, etc.

The customer went ballistic and I can’t blame him. At first he thought we were the biggest thieves on the planet but settled down once he returned to the dealership and was shown the breakdown on the cost.
The dealer COST on that transmission was right at 3900 dollars. This made the retail price a fair and legit one even though it was distasteful.

The trans that failed was on a 30k miles car out of warranty and it failed due to no fault at all on the customer’s part. The customer called corporate Subaru and complained and as shop foreman I spent 15 minutes on the phone with Subaru trying my damnedest to get them to Good Will warranty this to no avail.

Yet another example.
A certain OEM part cost the dealer 65 dollars and retailed for 95.
A NAPA aftermarket part retailed for 68 dollars.
See the difference here? There is simply no way the dealer can compete with the aftermarket on many parts. A 3 dollar markup wouldn’t even begin to pay administrative costs in procuring that part much less turn any profit on it.

I’m not trying to be argumentative; only pointing out that many times all is not as it seems.

I had a 79 Dodge Colt once. I went to the dealer for a new vacuum advance for the distributor, even the parts guy almost fell over when he saw the price, $27.12 for a part that would have been less than $3 for a American car. I asked how Dodge/Mitsubishi could sell a car for $5000 that had $50,000 worth of parts in it. They asked me not to return to their dealership ever again.

I am taking the car to a different dealer tomorrow for an oil change. I will see if they mention struts and bushings.