The Subaru Forester, with its rugged design, all-wheel-drive capability, and reputation for safety, stands as a popular choice among SUV enthusiasts. However, before you rush into purchasing this versatile vehicle, it's imperative to delve into the potential engine problems that have plagued some Forester models. This comprehensive guide will provide you with valuable insights into engine-related concerns you should consider before making a buying decision.

Common Engine Problems in Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester, like any vehicle, is not immune to engine issues. Here are some of the most prevalent problems reported by Forester owners:

Overheating Issues One of the most frequently encountered engine problems in subaru forester years to avoid. Particularly in models manufactured before 2015, cooling system troubles have led to overheating incidents, posing a risk of severe engine damage. This issue can often be attributed to problems with the radiator, thermostat, or head gasket.

Oil Consumption Concerns Certain Subaru Forester models, particularly those equipped with the 2.5-liter engine, have been associated with higher-than-average oil consumption. Owners have reported the need for frequent oil top-ups between regular oil changes, which can become a significant inconvenience and expense over time. The root cause of this problem is often traced back to issues with the engine's piston rings.

Transmission and Engine Compatibility

Another crucial aspect to consider when buying a Subaru Forester is the compatibility between the transmission and engine. Here are some concerns in this regard:

Manual vs. Automatic Transmission The Subaru Forester offers both manual and automatic transmission options, each with its own set of advantages and drawbacks. However, some model years with manual transmissions have been known to experience clutch and transmission problems. If you prefer a manual transmission, it's essential to research specific model years and their track record.

CVT Transmission Considerations Foresters equipped with Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT) have faced criticism for potential reliability issues. While CVTs are renowned for their smooth operation, some owners have reported problems like transmission shuddering, jerking, or even complete failure. Understanding these concerns is vital, particularly if you're considering a Forester with a CVT.

Timing Belt vs. Timing Chain

The choice between a timing belt and a timing chain can significantly impact engine maintenance and longevity. Here's what you need to know:

Timing Belt Maintenance Certain Subaru Forester models come equipped with timing belts. Unlike timing chains, timing belts require periodic replacement, typically between 60,000 to 100,000 miles. Neglecting this crucial maintenance can result in catastrophic engine damage. It's essential to factor in the cost and timing of timing belt replacement when considering a Forester with this configuration.

Timing Chain Durability In contrast, some Forester models feature timing chains, which are more durable and typically do not require replacement throughout the vehicle's lifespan. Opting for a Forester with a timing chain can provide peace of mind and long-term cost savings, as it eliminates the need for regular timing belt replacements.

Mitigating Engine Problems

While engine problems are a valid concern, there are proactive steps you can take to mitigate the risk and ensure a more trouble-free ownership experience:

Thorough Vehicle Inspection Before finalizing your purchase, have the Forester thoroughly inspected by a trusted mechanic. They can identify any existing or potential engine issues, providing you with a clearer picture of the vehicle's condition.

Maintenance Records Request and review the Forester's maintenance records to ensure that routine services, such as oil changes and timing belt replacements, have been performed on schedule. Well-maintained vehicles are less likely to encounter major engine problems.

Extended Warranty Consider purchasing an extended warranty or certified pre-owned (CPO) Forester. These options often come with additional coverage and peace of mind, reducing the financial burden of potential engine repairs.


In conclusion, the Subaru Forester remains an attractive choice for its reliability, safety features, and off-road capabilities. However, it's essential to be aware of the potential engine problems that some Forester models have experienced. By familiarizing yourself with these issues and taking proactive steps, such as thorough inspections and maintenance record reviews, you can minimize the risk of encountering significant engine-related issues. Ultimately, the key to a satisfying Forester ownership experience lies in informed decision-making and diligent vehicle care.