How Long Do Subaru Foresters Last? (& Its Parts)

Subaru Foresters are SUVs that have the latest technology and many other features. Most people love their Foresters although some of these vehicles have had problems. Customers who buy a new car or a good used vehicle do not expect problems, but this sometimes occurs and the vehicle does not last for the expected amount of time.

Subaru Foresters last for about 200,000 to 250,000 miles. This is for 13-17 years depending on the miles you drive annually. If you follow all the Subaru requirements for Forrester maintenance, these cars can last even longer. The long life of the Subaru Forester makes it a great investment.

Foresters like all vehicles have their problems and issues. In this article, we will discuss some of these and give you ways to prolong the life of your vehicle.

There are times when vehicles are recalled by the manufacturer through no fault of the owner. Fortunately, Subaru will repair these problems at no cost to the owner if they have issued a recall on it.

Subaru Forester Reliability Scores

Reliability Scores grade various models on how reliable they were in past years. This gives the buyer a good idea of which models are best to buy and which to avoid.

Reliability refers to how many serious problems a vehicle had that kept it off the road. The following chart provides information on how reliable the Subaru Forester is:

                   Forester Generation  Recommended/Not Recommended
Generation 1 – 1998-2002   Avoid these years as they are not reliable.                              
Generation 2 – 2003-2008   These years were not reliable for various    reasons.
Generation 3 – 2009-2013   2009 & 2010 models were not reliable.
Generation 4 –2014-2018   All models in this generation had issues.
Generation 5 – 2019-Present   All models were found to be unreliable.

Unfortunately, the Subaru Forester was rated low on reliability ratings and a similar brand was recommended for buyers thinking of buying a Forester.

Worst Years for Subaru Forrester

The Forester has had some very rough years and some were worse than others. Below, we will explain the major problems that affected different Forester generations.

1st Generation – 1998-2002 – All models in the 1st generation of the Forester should be avoided. Some of the problems of this group of vehicles were not shifting into Drive, rear-wheel bearings failing, and the most common problem of head gasket blowing.

2nd Generation – 2003-2008 – These models were rated as being safe, but the other problems gave them a rating of being unreliable. Smelling gasoline inside the vehicle, rust on the subframe, and failing airbags were some of the issues these Foresters had. A blown head gasket was common as well.

The cost for a new head gasket is around $1,700-$2,400 to replace in a Forester if it also needs a timing belt.

3rd Generation – 2009-2013 – The 2009 and 2010 models are unreliable with many complaints. Some of these were airbag problems with 9 recalls just for airbag problems. These years also had the expensive repairs of a blown head gasket in some vehicles.

4th Generation – 2014-2018 – Vehicles in this generation were excessive oil consumption, faulty ignitions, and passenger airbag failure. Other problems were frail windshields and lower control arm issues.

5th Generation – 2019-Present – These models were also affected by frail windshields. The 2019 model had 3 recalls shortly after its release. It had unintended acceleration that could cause crashes and a loss of power to the power steering. This loss of power makes it almost impossible to steer the vehicle.

Faulty windshields have been a common problem in many Foresters. Windshield replacement costs around $1,000.

Best Years for Subaru Foresters

2011-2013 models are some of the best models of Foresters.  Models from 2019 to Present are much better than earlier models because they have the Subaru safety equipment and technology in them.

They have not been without problems, however. These problems include airbag issues, electrical problems, excessive oil consumption resulting in engine damage, and the air conditioner blowing hot air.

Despite this, many owners have driven this popular car for many miles without any problems. Even when a government and manufacturer recall is made, the number of vehicles included in the recall may be under 100 or up to hundreds of thousands.

Forester Vs. Other Cars in Its Class

The Subaru Forester is comparable to some other models which we will list below. This chart also tells how many miles each model is expected to have.

Models Similar to ForesterExpected Mileage in Their Lifetimes
Forester Vs. Honda CR VForester–250,000/Honda CR V – 300,000
Forester Vs. Toyota Rav4Forester–250,000/Toyota RAV4 200,000- 250,000 mi.
Forester Vs. Chevrolet EquinoxForester-250,000/Chev Equinox 200,000
Forester Vs. Mazda CX-5Forester-250,000/Mazda CX-5 200,000-250,000

Forester’s Maintenance Cost

All car owners pay some amount for the maintenance of their vehicles. The following chart gives more information about the cost of maintaining a Forester each year:

                              Age of Forester                                             Yearly Maintenance Cost
                                     1 year                          $250-$300
                                 3 years                           $389-$400
                                5 years                       $500-$600
                                7 years                         $1,000-$2,000
                                     9 years                           $1.300-$2,000
                                   11 years                           $2,000 up

How Long Do the Subaru Forester Components Last?

Foresters are built to last from 13-17 years. The following chart will tell you how long to expect tires, brakes, and transmission in a Forrester to last and how much replacements or repairs cost:

Brakes Last Between 30,000 & 70,000 MilesTires Last Between 30,000 & 50,000 MilesTransmissions Last Between 200,000 & 300,000 Miles
Brake Pads- $242Each tire-$100-$250Transmission Leak-$150-$1,000
Brake System Replacement of Pads & Rotors-$456-$536Balancing of Tires-$45-$100Transmission Slipping-Solenoid Switch-$345
 Alignment-$60-$150Clutch Replacement-$700-$750 plus labor of $500-$650
 Valve Stems-$12 

Do Foresters Rust Quickly?

Some reports of Foresters rusting while they are only 1 or 2 years old have been reported. Various forums include owners of Foresters who have had rust form on their cars, especially on their front doors. Older models of Foresters have rusting on the back wheel wells.

It can be very disturbing to have rust form on your vehicle that is only a year or so old. The problem with rust that if it is left untreated, it will continue to damage the metal.

Apparently, dealerships blame the rusting problem on road salt as a natural consequence of rusting. Some owners have had rust-proofing procedures for their Forester.

Subaru issued a recall for 300,000 2003-2008 Foresters located in states where salt is used in the winter to melt ice. The lower control arm hanger brackets could rust and eventually break, resulting in a crash.

Most Common Problems of the Subaru Forester

Many Foresters have been free of problems, but some models have had many problems and have been unreliable. Here are the most common problems of the Subaru Forester:

Windshield Cracking

Subaru refuses to pay for faulty windshields in the Foresters even though they chip and crack easily. A crack can begin from a small rock hitting the windshield and for other reasons that do not cause most car models to have a broken windshield. Owners have been forced to pay for new windshields even in newer models of Foresters.

Cracks usually start out small and keep expanding. Models from 2018-2021 are commonly affected by this problem.

There is a class action lawsuit against Subaru due to windshield cracking.

The cost of replacing a windshield in a Forester is about $450-$750.

Passenger Airbag Not Working

A problem with the passenger airbag not working has been seen in 2015 to 2018 Foresters. The airbag apparently turns off for no reason and posts a dashboard message that the passenger airbag is off. Sometimes, the car does not register that someone is in the passenger seat.

Nine recalls related to this vehicle’s airbags have been called over the past years. 366,000 Foresters were recalled due to this problem from 2015 to 2018 vehicles. It can be worrisome to drive your Forester not knowing if the airbag on the passenger side will work in case of a crash.

Besides a federal investigation into the problem and the company recall, a class action lawsuit was filed because some owners have paid up to $1,000 to have the airbag repaired.

High Oil Consumption

Having to top off your oil several times between oil changes is not normal. This is what some Forester owners who have high oil consumption issues have had to do to their vehicles.

When the oil leaks in your Forester, it damages the engine sometimes to the point that it does not work.

High oil consumption requires a new engine or at least major work on your vehicle’s engine.

Cracked Oxygen Sensor

According to Repair Pal, a cracked oxygen sensor is the most reported problem in the Forester. The oxygen sensor cracks and causes the Check Engine light to come on.

The oxygen sensor is very important because it notifies the vehicle’s computer when there is too much or too little oxygen in the system.

Symptoms besides the Check Engine light coming on include these:

  • Poor gas mileage
  • Rough idling
  • Failing emissions test
  • Engine performance not what it used to be

Take your Forester to the dealership to see if they will fix it. If you have received a recall, Subaru will fix it free of charge.

Catalytic Converter Failure

The catalytic converter is related to your Forester’s exhaust system. It converts some pollutants to those that are less harmful.

Models from 2000 to 2014 have been affected by this problem.

You can still drive your car with a non-working catalytic converter but it will emit pollutants into the environment.

This problem can be fixed for about $1,000 unless your Forester is still under warranty.

Battery Often Dies

Forester battery problems occur in some 2019 Foresters. This can be very frustrating when you need to go somewhere and your vehicle won’t start.

Even if a new battery is purchased, the problem may recur.

The price of a new battery for a Forester is about $258.

Shuddering and Vibrations

Shuddering and vibrations are most common from 2012 to 2017 models. Symptoms include the following:

  • Lunges forward on the freeway
  • Shudders when accelerating
  • Shakes when idling or braking
  • Hesitation at various speeds

If your vehicle has these symptoms, call your Subaru dealership and mention the number above.)

Head Gasket Failure

There are some symptoms that could indicate a head gasket problem. We will discuss these so you can see if your Forester is showing any of the symptoms. They are the following:

  • Exhaust leaking from the tailpipe
  • Smoke coming from the Forester’s exhaust
  • Overheating engine
  • White oil in the oil reservoir

Make an appointment with your mechanic or an appointment at the Subaru dealership. Take a list of problems to report to the mechanic.

A head gasket replacement costs about $1,000 in a Forester.

If you are looking for more things that could possibly go wrong with your Subaru check here.

Subaru Forester Recalls

02V282 – Some Foresters with automatic transmissions have a transmission rod that is faulty. The transmission may not hold in position when shifted to Park, Drive or other settings.

Subaru will replace the transmission rod at no cost to owners who have recalled vehicles.

03V047 – Seat belts in the front seat are defective and may disengage during a crash. Subaru will replace the buckle/latch assembly.

Have your seat belts checked at your Subaru dealership as soon as possible.

21V587000 – Some 2018 Foresters have been recalled for fuel pump problems. The fuel pump could stop working while driving and cause a crash.

Dealers will replace the fuel pump free of charge.

21V263000 – Some 2019 Forester models have been recalled because of rear stabilizer bracket bolts may be missing or loose. This could allow the rear stabilizer bracket to shift, increasing the chance of a crash.

Subaru will replace or retorque bolts to ensure that the rear stabilizer does not shift.

19V856000 – Some 2019 Foresters have been recalled because of a Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) valve defect. It can allow components to enter the engine. This results in a lack of power while driving and an increased risk of a crash.

Subaru will notify owners and replace the PCV valve free of charge.

Other problems and issues should be checked by your Subaru dealer as soon as possible before these issues cause more damage to your vehicle.