Subaru Forester Years To Avoid (Best and Worst)

Subaru Forester Years To Avoid – Since its debut in 1997, the Subaru Forester has been a beloved choice for drivers seeking a blend of ruggedness and practicality. With its distinctive boxy design and all-terrain capabilities, it quickly garnered a dedicated following.

However, like any vehicle, not all model years were created equal.

In this guide, we’ll explore the Subaru Forester years to avoid, shedding light on the specific models that may present more challenges than others.

Subaru Forester Years To Avoid

The Forester’s evolution over the years has been marked by innovation and refinement. Initially positioned between the Impreza and Legacy, it carved out its niche in the automotive landscape.

It’s essential to note that certain iterations faced more issues than others, making them worth a second thought.

Subaru Forester Reliability

Reliability is a key factor that often ranks high on the list of priorities for discerning buyers. The 2023 Subaru Forester, a popular choice in the compact SUV segment, is no exception.

One of the primary indicators of a vehicle’s reliability is its predicted reliability score, and the 2023 Subaru Forester boasts a promising rating.

Subaru Forester Reliability


According to J.D. Power, this model is anticipated to achieve a reliability score of 84 out of 100. This prediction bodes well for prospective buyers seeking a dependable and trustworthy vehicle.

Among compact SUVs, the Subaru Forester’s reliability rating positions it at 21st out of 26, highlighting its standing relative to its peers.

Consumer Reports, a trusted source for vehicle reviews and ratings, also sheds light on the Subaru Forester’s reliability.

Their evaluation of the 2023 Subaru Forester assigns it a reliability score of 3.0 out of 5.0, indicating that it falls within the middle range in terms of reliability.

Customer satisfaction plays a crucial role in determining a vehicle’s overall trustworthiness. According to Consumer Reports, the 2023 Subaru Forester garners a customer satisfaction rating of 4.0 out of 5.0.

Read Also: Are Subarus Good Cars?

According to Consumer Reports, not all Forester models are created equal when it comes to reliability. They note that 2006-2010 Forester models have been associated with the worst reliability within the Forester lineup.

Subaru Forester Years To Avoid

The Subaru Forester has long been celebrated for its rugged versatility and dependable performance.

However, not all model years are created equal, and some have faced more significant challenges than others.

When it comes to choosing a Subaru Forester, being aware of the model years to avoid can save you from potential headaches down the road. Here are some model years to avoid:

Subaru Forester Years To Avoid

First Generation (1998-2001): Gasket Head Woes

The initial years of the Forester’s production, spanning from 1998 to 2001, marked the first generation of this beloved crossover. Unfortunately, these early models were plagued by a significant gasket head problem, with the 1998 edition being particularly notorious.

The root of the issue lay in a single-layer head gasket that proved to be insufficiently robust.

Head gasket leaks were a common concern among Foresters from this period, typically manifesting around the 50,000-mile mark.

While it’s not uncommon for new models to have their share of growing pains, this recurring issue may lead potential buyers to consider avoiding all first-gen Foresters.

Read Also: Subaru WRX Years To Avoid

Forester Model Year to Avoid: 2003 – Common Issues

The 2003 Forester exhibited several noteworthy problems, making it a year to approach with caution. These issues included door seal damage, power window deficiencies, and airbag failures.

These concerns were generally fixable, but they were nonetheless frustrating for owners. The need to replace the entire door to address certain seal issues, for example, presented a significant inconvenience.

Airbag-related complaints, particularly the failure to deploy, raised safety concerns for drivers.

2010 and 2011 Subaru Forester – Engine and Interior Challenges

The years 2010 and 2011 brought their own set of challenges for Forester owners. Blown head gaskets and engine failures were prominent issues, particularly for the 2010 model.

Repair costs for blown head gaskets averaged around $2,380, occurring at approximately 91,000 miles. Interior accessories also posed problems, with reports of collapsing seats and malfunctioning critical locks.

In 2011, fuel efficiency, engine failure, and oil handling emerged as the primary concerns.

Excessive oil consumption and engine failures were significant issues, with repairs costing around $1,640 and occurring at roughly 46,000 miles on average.

Read Also: Subaru BRZ Years To Avoid

Forester Model Year to Avoid: 2014 – A Troubled Year

Among the Subaru Forester years to avoid, the 2014 model stands out as one to steer clear of. This particular year was plagued by a range of serious issues, including engine failure, excessive oil consumption, suspension breakdowns, and gearbox problems.

The combination of suspension and transmission issues compounded the challenges faced by owners, with broken coil springs at the core of most suspension problems.

The average cost of addressing these issues amounted to about $1,200, occurring around the 50,000-mile mark.

Additionally, transmission-related problems, such as vehicle surging and clutch issues, were added to the list of concerns for 2014 Foresters.

These issues were predominantly resolved by manufacturers and dealerships, but they underscored the model year’s troubled history.

Forester Model Year to Avoid: 2015 and 2017 – Lingering Issues

The 2015 Forester presented its own set of challenges, including problems with interior accessories, fuel efficiency, and engine and transmission issues. Bluetooth connectivity and speech recognition difficulties were common complaints regarding interior accessories.

Engine-related concerns included excessive oil consumption, unexpected acceleration, and engine stalling while driving.

In 2017, issues persisted, albeit to a lesser extent. Engine failures and electrical system problems were reported, with battery issues and radio/navigation system malfunctions being notable complaints.

Subaru Forester Best Years

For years, Subaru has been synonymous with reliability, safety, and outdoor adventures, and the Subaru Forester encapsulates these qualities perfectly.

As one of the pioneers in the compact crossover SUV segment, the Forester has garnered a loyal following among outdoor enthusiasts and those living in challenging climates.

But with a production history dating back to 1998, which are the most reliable and best years for the Subaru Forester?

Subaru Forester Best Years

Let’s explore each Forester generation to reveal the model years that stand out as the most dependable choices.

1998-2002 Subaru Forester: The Early Years

The first-generation Subaru Forester, introduced in 1998, blended the best of SUV practicality with the agility of a car. However, in terms of reliability, these early models come with a few caveats.

Head gasket issues and self-leveling shocks could pose problems, making them less than ideal for long-term reliability.

Nevertheless, if you’re set on this generation, the 2000 model year stands out as the most reliable option. Consumer Reports rates it with a reliability score of 3.0 out of 5.0 and a customer satisfaction rating of 4.0 out of 5.0.

Read Also: Subaru Outback Years to Avoid

2003-2008 Subaru Forester: Second-Generation Assurance

The second generation of the Subaru Forester, introduced in 2003, brought improved interior space and enhanced visibility. Among these models, the 2003-2005 model years shine as the most reliable choices.

These Foresters scored high in reliability and received the “Seal of Awesome” badge from

However, the 2006 model year should be approached with caution due to significant reliability issues related to the engine, cooling components, and transmission.

2009-2013 Subaru Forester: Third-Generation Challenges

The third-generation Forester, debuting in 2009, featured a less boxy design, improved interior comfort, and ample interior space. Unfortunately, this generation faced its share of issues, partly due to the infamous Takata airbag scandal.

The 2009 and 2010 models, in particular, had low-reliability ratings and were prone to the engine and head gasket problems.

However, from 2011 to 2013, Subaru made improvements, resulting in better reliability scores.

2014-2018 Subaru Forester: A Mixed Bag of Reliability

The fourth generation of the Subaru Forester, spanning from 2014 to 2018, brought substantial redesigns and enhancements, including a roomier interior and improved fuel economy.

Nevertheless, a few models in this generation, such as the 2014, 2015, and 2017 Foresters, garnered numerous complaints.

Issues like excessive oil consumption and suspension problems plagued these years.

Read Also: Subaru Crosstrek Years to Avoid

2019-Present Subaru Forester: A Return to Reliability

In the current generation, Subaru seems to have struck the right balance with the Forester. Models from this generation have consistently earned high-reliability ratings, with all achieving at least a score of 4.0 out of 5.0 according to Consumer Reports.

Among these, the 2020 Forester stands out as a reliable option, offering a spacious cabin, excellent fuel economy, and impressive handling.

The 2019 Forester is also a solid choice, it has received some user complaints, albeit for relatively minor issues.

2021 Subaru Forester: The Latest in a Line of Excellence

The 2021 Subaru Forester continues the tradition of practicality, ruggedness, and dependability. While not the flashiest SUV on the market, it excels in interior space, all-wheel drive capability, and advanced safety features.

Subaru Forester Problems

The Subaru Forester has garnered a loyal following of drivers seeking a capable SUV.

However, like any vehicle, it’s not immune to its fair share of common issues.

Subaru Forester Problems

1. Transmission Woes: Navigating CVT Concerns

One of the most widely reported issues with the Subaru Forester pertains to its Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Numerous owners have voiced their frustrations over intense jerking and shuddering experienced while driving.

This problem was addressed by Subaru in a service bulletin, which identified insufficient CVT fluid as the root cause.

It’s crucial for Forester owners to monitor their transmission performance and seek professional assistance if any abnormalities arise.

2. Excessive Oil Consumption: Engine Quirks

Another common concern among certain Subaru Forester models revolves around excessive oil consumption.

This issue predominantly affects Foresters equipped with a 2.5-liter engine, particularly those produced before 2014.

Owners have reported the need for frequent oil top-ups, necessitating vigilant maintenance practices to ensure optimal engine health.

Read Also: Subaru Impreza Years to Avoid

3. Check Engine Light: Unmasking the Culprit

The dreaded illuminated check engine light can be a cause for concern for any vehicle owner. In the case of the Subaru Forester, a prevalent trigger for this warning indicator is a faulty oxygen sensor.

Subaru has acknowledged this issue, specifically with the front O2 sensor, and initiated a recall affecting various model years, including 1998, 2000-2007, and 2009-2014.

Forester owners should be vigilant in addressing any check engine light warnings promptly to prevent potential complications.

4. Air Conditioning Woes: Cooling Challenges

A common complaint among Forester owners revolves around air conditioning (A/C) malfunctions. Many have reported the circulation of hot air within their vehicles, eventually leading to A/C failure.

The culprit behind this issue has been identified as a faulty A/C condenser. It’s imperative for Forester owners to address any A/C anomalies promptly to ensure passenger comfort, especially during warmer seasons.

Proactive maintenance practices, such as regular fluid checks and scheduled servicing, can go a long way in preventing and addressing potential problems.

Consulting with certified Subaru technicians, staying informed about recalls and service bulletins, and participating in online forums or communities can provide a wealth of knowledge and support.

What is the high mileage for a Subaru Forester?

The high mileage for a Subaru Forester can reach up to an impressive 500,000 miles if the vehicle is exceptionally well-maintained. This is a testament to the durability and longevity of Subaru vehicles, as a significant number of them continue to thrive on the road even after extensive use.

Are Subarus Foresters expensive to fix?

Yes, Subarus, including Foresters, can be relatively more expensive to repair compared to domestic brands. The specialized engineering and technology that goes into Subaru vehicles may result in higher maintenance costs.

Does Forester have good resale value?

Yes, the Subaru Forester maintains strong resale value over time. After five years, a Subaru Forester will have depreciated by only 22%, indicating its enduring appeal and desirability in the used car market.

This is a positive aspect for owners looking to sell or trade in their Foresters.

Is the Subaru Forester a good value?

The Subaru Forester is widely regarded as a good value in the automotive market. It offers safety, spaciousness, and competitive pricing, making it an attractive option for a wide range of drivers.

While it may not be known for its sporty performance, the Forester excels in providing practicality, comfort, and a host of features that cater to various needs and lifestyles.

The introduction of models like the Forester Sport aims to enhance its appeal with fresh aesthetics and intriguing interior materials.


The data suggests that the 1998-2001 first-generation Foresters had notable gasket head problems, particularly the 1998 model. The 2003 model year experienced problems with door seals, power windows, and airbags.

Moving forward, the 2010 and 2011 Forester models were marked by head gasket and engine failure concerns.

The 2014 model year, however, stands out as one to avoid due to a range of issues including engine failure, excessive oil consumption, suspension problems, and transmission troubles.

These years are highlighted for caution, it’s worth noting that Subaru has a strong reputation for producing reliable vehicles.

This way, you can confidently navigate the market and select a Subaru Forester that best suits your preferences and requirements. Remember, informed decisions are key to ensuring a satisfying and trouble-free ownership experience with your Subaru Forester.

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