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Loss of Power in a 2002 Forester

I have a 2002 Subaru Forester that has recently been losing power upon acceleration–especially when starting at the bottom of a hill. Trouble escalated when I started to experience a complete loss of power where I’d have the gas pedal floored and it would inch forward at less than 5 mph. The engine was running it just wouldn’t go anywhere. After a few minutes, it would catch and get going again.



I took it in to the shop and they said that it was my catalytic converter and have replaced it, though it’s still in the shop because after replacing it, the acceleration is still not at 100%.



Here’s the hitch. My sister’s car did the same thing about a month ago–she took it into the same shop and had the same thing replaced. My boyfriend is suspicious and thinks we are both being taken for a ride. I’d love to trust my mechanic, but I’m not sure if I’m just wishing he is being truthful.



One thing to consider–my sister and I live in Seattle (rain, rain, rain), we live at the end of a .25 mile gravel road FILLED with potholes, and I do notice a sickly sweet smell & sizzling sound when I get out of my car after driving down the road. From my research, I think my mechanic is right. What do you all think?

Highly plausible. The condition would also be present in neutral. The cats will only allow so much exhaust gas to go through them. I would have thought it to be a more progressive thing where you would start seeing the pavement turn to wet cement at lower and lower engine speeds.

The rain aspect has merit too. If there was lots of puddle splashing, the shock could have disintegrated the internals of the cat(s) and have them just block off the cat outlet.

A similar thing used to happen in the 70’s with double walled exhaust. You would hit a puddle and the interior pipe that stayed hot, crushed. The exterior pipe looked normal after it expanded. If you got 35mph out of the thing you were lucky.

I haven’t heard of this occurring in recent history, but it’s (as I said) plausible.

Cat clogging failures can be determined with a vacuum gauge.

The first step in diagnosing an engine performance problem should always be a compression test and a vacuum test; no matter the car history or mileage. One cylinder down can kill performance.

A leaking head gasket could explain loss of power, the sickly sweet smell (coolant), a failed converter as coolant entering the engine combustion chambers will be burnt and expelled through the exhaust headers and into the converter.

There are other things that could cause this problem but not enough info is provided to make much of a guess. Failing fuel pump, EEC fault, or even a slipping transmission (automatic) or slipping clutch (manual) could be the cause.
Has anyone scanned the car for codes and performed a fuel pressure check?

Thanks for the response. It is an automatic transmission. I’m not sure what the car codes were. I’m going to call them and ask if they’ve scanned the codes.

Did you get it fixed ? Mine is doing almost the same thing ,replaced the fuel filter and fuel pump. No check engine light is on but I took it and had it read by the code and it’s saying it was my speed sensor and it’s like three hundred bucks I don’t want to keep spending money on it if that’s not fixing the problem so if you had yours fixed could you let me know

Wildbill , this thread is 10 years old so I doubt it the original poster will reply.
On the home page click on the new topics button and start your own thread with all the symptoms and info about your vehicle. You will receive replies that will help you.

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