Should I Buy a Used Forester? Great car, but check these first


When shopping for a new car it’s worth considering an SUV. They’re often just as affordable as a sedan but give you more cargo and carrying space. If you have kids, or just want the extra room for yourself, an SUV could be a great option for you. With so many Foresters sold over the years, there’s a very good chance you will come across a used one. Although there’s no doubt that they’re one of the more popular SUVs on the market, you might find yourself asking, should I buy a used Subaru Forester?

A used Subaru Forester offers fantastic value, reliability, and safety. However, buyers should be aware of head gasket issues and ensure the car has received proper maintenance.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the things that should be considered when buying a used Forester.

Subaru Forester in the forest

Should I Buy a Used Car?

Before we look more closely at the Forester, it might be a good idea to look at the advantages and disadvantages of buying a used car.

Advantages

While buying new is often more appealing, there are several advantages to buying a pre-owned vehicle, some of these advantages include:

  • Lower prices: A vehicle depreciates as soon as you drive it off the lot, and it’s likely that it will have depreciated quite a bit before it ends up back on the market. However, just because a vehicle’s value decreases does not mean the car does not have plenty of life left in it.
  • Depreciation: While on the topic of depreciation, a used car will depreciate at a much slower rate than a new car because much of its depreciation happened within the first year of its life. What does this mean for you? Aside from a lower sale price, it is a better investment in the long run.
  • Extended warranty: Many used vehicles are under five years old, which means that they are still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Additionally, most certified pre-owned cars will come with an extended warranty and have gone through a full inspection.
  • Insurance: You will need to have full coverage insurance if you lease a vehicle. However, because the vehicle is valued at a much lower price, the insurance will not be as high. Additionally, if you buy a used car outright, you will not have to have full coverage insurance (although it’s still recommended).
  • Hidden fees: When you buy used, you avoid fees such as shipping costs. Additionally, used vehicles may come with featured add-ons that the earlier owner paid for when they bought the car.

Disadvantages

Although there are several appealing advantages to buying a used vehicle, there are some disadvantages as well, such as:

  • Extra Features: While buying a new vehicle, you will often have the choice to customize it. You can choose the color, trim, add-ons, etc. However, when you buy used, those decisions have already been made. It is worth noting that you can still customize a used vehicle with aftermarket parts.
  • Warranty: If the vehicle is no longer covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, or is not certified, you may have to buy the vehicle “as-is”. This means that you are buying the car in whatever current condition it is in and nothing is guaranteed.
  • Earlier Owners: When you buy new, you know the history of the vehicle. However, you will not have this same peace of mind when buying a used car. Although you can typically get the vehicle’s history through the dealership or by purchasing it yourself online.
  • Maintenance: The probability of a car needing a major repair increases each year, so when you buy used, you will probably face repair costs more quickly than if you bought a new vehicle.

What To Look for When Buying a Used Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester was one of the first crossover vehicles to become popular with the public, and it has remained a popular choice among families. This content is owned by moc.sotuaytsur. There’s a good chance that you will find a used Forester on the market, but before you decide, you should know what to look for.

Problems By Generation

Foresters have undergone many changes since they were first released in 1997 and different generations have different issues. You should be aware of the most common problems with each generation so that you know what to look for when buying one used. Bring a mechanic and have him check these common Forester faults first before sealing the deal.

  • 1998-2002: The most common problem with this generation was blown head gaskets around 100,000 miles. The repair typically costs $2,000 – $3,000 but will last for another 100,000 miles. Additionally, window leaks, rear-wheel bearings failing, and rust issues around the rear suspension were also common.
  • 2003-2008: This generation also suffered head-gasket problems. Additionally, because of the switch over to a timing belt, be sure to ask if the belt has been changed every 100,000 miles. Changing a belt may be costly, but it can destroy an engine if the timing belt breaks while the vehicle is running. Other common problems for this generation included rust on the subframe, problems with window seals, and window motor failure.
  • 2009-2013: Head gasket problems continue to plague this generation, but it was not as common. Some of the most common problems with these years were oil consumption, weak breaks, and squeaky doors. Additionally, a large number of vehicles were recalled because of dangerous Takata airbags, so be sure to inquire about that when buying this generation.
  • 2014-2018: This year brought the addition of a CVT automatic, which improved fuel economy drastically. It also offered the option of EyeSight collision avoidance. Common problems with this generation include oil consumption, problems with the rear hatch, unintended acceleration, EyeSight problems, and leaky head gaskets.
  • 2019-2021: Although this generation is well equipped and offers many amazing features, it has received some complaints from users. Some of the most common problems to watch for are CAN system parasitic drain on the battery, cracked windshields, problems with the tailgate, and EyeSight issues. Additionally, it is worth noting that as of April 2021, Subaru recalled 448,000 vehicles to stop the rear stabilizer brackets from coming loose due to gas between the bracket and the frame.

You can find more detailed descriptions of the most common issues with each generation at Subarucomplaints.com.

Are Subaru Foresters Reliable?

According to J.D Power, the Forester has an above-average reliability rating. Below you can find the reliability rating for all years between 2007-2021.

202183/100202081/100
201974/100201885/100
201785/100201685/100
201577/100201475/100
201377/100201280/100
201182/100201084/100
200989/1002008 
200788/100 

Additionally, RepairPal gives the Subaru Forester an above-average reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0.

Are Foresters Expensive to Maintain?

According to RepairPal, the Forester has an annual maintenance cost of $632, which is a little bit above average when compared to similar SUVs. Additionally, owners report an estimated 0.3 visits to a repair shop each year and a 13% chance of needing a major repair. When looking at the cost to maintain a Forester over a longer period, CAREDGE reports that it will cost on average $7,931 to maintain and repair a Forester during its first ten years of service.

How Much Will It Cost to Insure a Used Subaru Forester?

The cost of insurance on any vehicle varies depending on several factors, but the average cost to insure a Subaru Forester is $1,126 annually. This places the Forester as one of the cheapest cars to insure in its class. Many older models are less expensive, especially if the owner has only liability insurance. For example, the average annual cost to insure a 1998 Forester is $755 for full coverage and $508 for liability.

If you do choose to buy a used Forester or any used car, it’s worth investing a few dollars to check the VIN number against the vehicle database. An audit with a company like VinAudit (links to VinAudit) will guard against Mileage fraud, Salvage rebuilds, Title washing, Vin cloning, and a ton of other uglies.

You may find the following posts helpful:

Should I buy a used Honda Pilot?

Why don’t new cars have CD players?

Should I buy a used Camry?

Should I buy a used Accord?

Buy new or used SUV?

John Cunningham

John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. I've been a mechanic for over twenty-five years, and I've worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Landrover, and Jaguar dealerships. My passion is cars. I use my knowledge and experience to write articles that help fellow gear-heads with all aspects of car ownership, including buying advice, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

Recent Posts