2004 Forester XS with 114k miles

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So I've mentioned in a previous post that the Subaru Forester from 2003-2005 was a contender in my quest for an older small SUV with AWD as a 3rd car Family from wife's side has 3 Foresters (2002, 2006 and 2017) and they have all been reliable so far. No head gasket issues etc. I have come across a 2004 Forester XS sold by a dealership with 114k miles on it. I like the XS trim because it has cloth manual but HEATED seats. I am not a fan of leather seats. (XS is the perfect trim for my needs. It has a few nice things the base X doesn't have but not too much. It's hard to find XS trim used ... it's either X or XT or premium.) It has factory tow hitch Looks mint inside and out What especially attracts me to this one: This dealership is a Subaru dealership that replaces head and valve Cover gaskets, t belt and service cooling system on ALL used Subarus they sell. They have it stated on their home page and is a very reputed old Subaru dealership. I checked the CarFax and it confirmed these services were done on this XS too. So this could be a dependable car I think because I know I will take good care of it. I am thinking of at least test driving it. They want about $5,700 for it. I am aware there will be other fees and tax. I can perhaps negotiate some. Thoughts? Advice ?
 
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My advice (i have owned a 2003, 2004 and 2005).. is test drive it and listen for piston slap. Make sure you listen to it at first startup not warmed up by the dealer. Also listen for Wheel Bearing noises. Piston slap isnt a dealbreaker but its hard to live with..it just doesnt give you that 'its gonna last another 100K feeling. A 2004 with head gaskets done and resealed with no piston slap is nearly bulletproof except for axles and wheel bearings. Price seems high though.
 

Ws6

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Originally Posted by krismoriah72
My advice (i have owned a 2003, 2004 and 2005).. is test drive it and listen for piston slap. Make sure you listen to it at first startup not warmed up by the dealer. Also listen for Wheel Bearing noises. Piston slap isnt a dealbreaker but its hard to live with..it just doesnt give you that 'its gonna last another 100K feeling. A 2004 with head gaskets done and resealed with no piston slap is nearly bulletproof except for axles and wheel bearings. Price seems high though.
My LS1 had piston slap and lasted 147K miles until I sold it, and was running like day 1. Is Subaru different?
 
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Thanks for the advice. I'll make sure to listen to piston slap and wheel bearing noise. What would you think is a fair price for this, considering it's a Subaru dealership and the work they've done on it?
Originally Posted by krismoriah72
My advice (i have owned a 2003, 2004 and 2005).. is test drive it and listen for piston slap. Make sure you listen to it at first startup not warmed up by the dealer. Price seems high though.
 
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Originally Posted by madRiver
Expensive for an a relatively uncomfortable vehicle. $4500 seems more right in the condition listed.
Thanks! I was thinking of something like $4,700 I guess it's pretty subjective how people rate how comfortable a vehicle is. I don't think a Forester was ever meant to be a supremely comfortable car, at least of that vintage. I also don't think it's that uncomfortable. I have driven a 2002 and a 2006 on rather long trips and they were more than comfortable enough for me and the rest of us. 2006 more so, and the 2004 should be the same. The 2002 did feel a bit rough compared to the 2006 but certainly not too bad on the highway.
 
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older vehicles are pot luck as the miles pile up + its overpriced for sure. if you really want it get it in writing from the stealer for what has been done because once they have your $$$$ its too late good luck! brother-in-law buys older hi milers + got a $3500 for the nephew + put another $3500 in it to keep it going!!!
 
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A buddy of mine had a '05. At around 100k he had a LF suspension failure and at 125k the engine blew. He literally limped it into the dealership (for trade) as it was letting go.
 
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Originally Posted by gofast182
A buddy of mine had a '05. At around 100k he had a LF suspension failure and at 125k the engine blew. He literally limped it into the dealership (for trade) as it was letting go.
My findings are hit or miss vehicle. My parents have 200k on a 2000 Forester since new that has only had a bunch of wheel bearings done, alternator, starter, exhaust and part of instrument cluster. According to Subaru folklore it should have blown the head gasket, leaked oil, burned oil. Everything works in car except a clock and lights behind heater controls. AC is freezing still.
 
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According to some responses one should never buy a used car!!!? I mean my 2003 Elantra with 236k miles only had 1 mechanical repair done: a new radiator at 130k Miles. Everything else is regular maintenance items. Doesn't use a bit of oil and going strong and smooth as a daily driver at 236k miles. Original everything and AC still ice cold. All power items work. The 2 Foresters my relatives own, 2002 and 2006 never needed anything major yet. Not even the dreaded head gaskets. The 2018 is too new to judge. The work done on this particular Forester has been already documented and checks out. I agree that there is some risk associated with buying a used car but that doesn't or shouldn't mean one must avoid them altogether
 
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Originally Posted by 97tbird
Originally Posted by madRiver
Expensive for an a relatively uncomfortable vehicle. $4500 seems more right in the condition listed.
Thanks! I was thinking of something like $4,700 I guess it's pretty subjective how people rate how comfortable a vehicle is. I don't think a Forester was ever meant to be a supremely comfortable car, at least of that vintage. I also don't think it's that uncomfortable. I have driven a 2002 and a 2006 on rather long trips and they were more than comfortable enough for me and the rest of us. 2006 more so, and the 2004 should be the same. The 2002 did feel a bit rough compared to the 2006 but certainly not too bad on the highway.
Private Party Value is $3780. (was $25K new) I wouldnt give them any extra for replacing head gaskets, due to the fact that Subaru recalled or warrantied so many of them due to their inferior head gaskets..i know that sounds harsh but it was a known issue for too many years. I wouldnt put it in a class of vehicles that are designed for long trips..it does shine on icy/snowy backroads and secondary roads. Here is a list of known issues that you will probably run into at some point in that Forester.. Trailing Arm Bushings, Transmission Mounts, Engine Mounts, CV axles, Wheel Bearings, Ignition Coil, Radiator, Valve Cover Gaskets, Brake Calipers, Rusted Brake Lines, Catalytic Converters, Exhaust Rust Outs, Struts.. That is probably going to show up in the next 100K give or take. YMMV. If i were to sum up my Forester Experiences i would say that the engine is nearly bulletproof..you literally cannot kill an EJ25..however the rest of everything else is another story. also to end the story you will probably get a rock solid 23mpg in mixed driving. If you do the math it may be cheaper to get something more fuel efficient if you plan on keeping it forever.
 
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The thing is, it's so hard to find a Forester with low miles from private parties. I;ve been searching Craigslist and Autotrader.com in a 250 mile radius the last 3-4 months for Forester 2003-2005 (XS or higher), and Ford Escapes (XLT AWD, v6, 2003 - 2007). The Escape seems like it would be less complex to own and maintain, but low mile examples are also hard to come by; and IDK if the AWD system is as good as a Subaru.
 
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JTK

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Rust is the main thing and I'm assuming this has been a non rust belt Subaru it's whole life? That being the case and being a vehicle you want. Go for it. It that dealer did indeed do all the services you mention would probably cost $2k in and of itself.
 
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Originally Posted by benjy
older vehicles are pot luck as the miles pile up + its overpriced for sure. if you really want it get it in writing from the stealer for what has been done because once they have your $$$$ its too late good luck! brother-in-law buys older hi milers + got a $3500 for the nephew + put another $3500 in it to keep it going!!!
Put the pipe down man.
 
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If this is a clean and rust-free example, make them an offer. It sounds like they've dealt with all of the potential gotchas in an aging 2.5. The likely head gaskets along with the timing belt service have been done and that's worth a good $3K all by itself. If you fancy the car, you probably won't find a better deal on a properly maintained one.
 
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Originally Posted by 97tbird
The thing is, it's so hard to find a Forester with low miles from private parties. I;ve been searching Craigslist and Autotrader.com in a 250 mile radius the last 3-4 months for Forester 2003-2005 (XS or higher), and Ford Escapes (XLT AWD, v6, 2003 - 2007). The Escape seems like it would be less complex to own and maintain, but low mile examples are also hard to come by; and IDK if the AWD system is as good as a Subaru.
Well i think you are on the right track.. You say you like the Forester with the 2.5... Then you need to look at the Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner or even better Mazda Tribute with the 2.5 Duratec. (timing chain, non DI, non CVT trans). Good enough for NY taxi service.. Here is a link to an under valve cover at 500K https://jalopnik.com/this-is-what-a-500-000-mile-nyc-taxi-valvetrain-looks-l-1717745908
 
I've had both an 11 Fusion and 6 Subarus (3 Foresters, Tribeca, Outback, and Impreza). The ONLY thing the Fusion really does better than the Subarus is gas mileage. The 08 Tribeca averaged about 23 long term and was the worst, my current 07 Impreza is the best at about 29.6. Those are "lifetime" numbers, individual tanks were sometimes much higher or lower. The Fusion once I started driving it exclusively (no leadfoot wife influence) realistically it was about 35mpg and could see as high as 38 on long highway trips. I'm not going to call myself lucky, but here's what I consider to be "sure bets" for maintenance on any of the 2000-2008ish Forester/Imprezas: right rear wheel bearings, valve cover/spark plug tube gaskets, CV boots, timing belt/pulleys/idlers every 100k, 30k coolant & thermostat changes with Subaru coolant conditioner to avoid HG issues, and quarter panel & exhaust system rust. I really like the Forester as I had all three of mine before an Outback, but now that I have an 05 Outback I would wholeheartedly recommend looking at it vs the Forester. It's not much bigger externally but feels larger inside, is better appointed (leather, nicer door cards etc) and everything else is similar, with the exception of one major plus: the rear wheel bearings are a different design, with tapered rollers instead of the flat rollers of the Impreza/Forester style, and is much more durable. The other benefit to this design is it is very easy to simply swap the whole bearing/hub assembly by removing 4 bolts- the flat bearing needs special tools and usually the dealer to do it because of the complexity. In NC, it's your call on your usage if you need the AWD- but in Indiana, the Fusion was downright scary even with 3MP tires in deep snow. The Subarus are basically mountain goats on bad roads. So, if you get lots of snow in your area and/or want to take it soft-roading, I would stick with Subaru; if you don't get much and have good snow removal and want to save money on fuel the Fusion is a solid bet. My Fusion only needed 2 sets of rear brakes and normal maintenance over 134k miles- nothing else broke or needed fixing. The Fusion "should" be less maintenance intensive than the Subaru but I have seen stories about some poorly assembled ones.
 
OP, I guess a good way to summarize my big post is this: I consider the 2001-2008 Subarus to be my "go-to" for used cars. I've bought my last three Subarus inexpensively and had no major repairs. The target for me is 2005-2007 in the $4k-5k range to maximize existing condition and value. I've got plenty of experience to know what to look for as far as risk; parts are usually cheap because they were built like LEGOs (all engine/trans/most of suspension parts interchange); you only need 1 Subaru and are covered for all 4 seasons. Get a good indie mechanic you trust and have him check out your target car pre-purchase, then enjoy!
 
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Thanks for your very detailed and nice responses. It's interesting: i have been thinking of the outback vs Forester a bit over the last few days ... I have driven Foresters but not a single outback. In some ways, the process involved with the ob is less complex than with Forester: One always gets heated seats which I do like. It is probably a more refined ride. If I get a 6 cylinder then I don't have to worry about head gasket issues that much. Ground clearance is about the same or more Don't have to be that picky about the trim level as ob has more stuff standard as you said It will have to be a 2005 - 2008 gen which might cost a bit more though. —-But what I am concerned about is: I really like the size and the driving position of the Forester. It feels higher, just like the Ford Escape but not overly so. Length of the vehicle: how really does the extra length of the ob effect parking and squeezing into small spaces? I know it might be in my head but it FEELS like the Forester is a more nimble car than the OB due to the compact proportions.. boxy and short and small and this is also why I am looking at 2003-2007 Escapes. They both feel compact and small and one sits higher with great visibility... the ob seems to be really long ... and looks like one would sit a lot lower than in a Forester or a Ford Escape. Almost like in a normal sedan. I guess the best way to judge is test drive an Outback and see for myself ... And as far as maintenance I am pretty sure that an Escape is probably less costly to operate. But to get heated seats one needs to get the Limited (highest leve) trim And regarding AWD: it's mostly for when we travel out of state for outdoor activities like hiking and climbing and whatever snow we have to deal with and unpaved roads etc. I do need / would like to have it. I just don't think the Ford Escape auto AWD system is as good as the full time Subaru AWD but the Ford system might be adequate for our needs? It's normally FWD but will engage rear wheels also if front wheel slip is detected and has a good reputation in MOST reviews I have read
 
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Al

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Originally Posted by JTK
Rust is the main thing and I'm assuming this has been a non rust belt Subaru it's whole life? That being the case and being a vehicle you want. Go for it. It that dealer did indeed do all the services you mention would probably cost $2k in and of itself.
Subarus handle rust belt better than most vehicles. Was the Water Pump, 4 idlers, and tensioner replaced with the TB change? That is a requirement. Other than rear wheel bearing you are good for another 100K miles. My 08 has over 200K (Granddaughter has it). I replaced the radiator precautionary. Also change the A/C idler bearing. They are good for 75K miles. CV joints are pretty trouble free. Tranny is bullet proof. Replace ATF,and rear and front differential fluid.
 
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