black subaru forester driving in woods


Is Subaru Forester Reliable? Common Problems You Should Know About

Subaru has long been known as a maker of practical, stylish, family-friendly cars capable of off-road driving. Their horizontally-opposed engines and all-wheel-drive configurations make them a great choice for all kinds of people with a wide variety of driving needs. On top of that, they have multiple models ranging from sporty sedans to midsize SUVs, including their popular compact crossover, the Forester.

If you have been considering purchasing a Subaru Forester, it is important to know what you can expect regarding performance and abilities. However, knowing everything you can about the Forester’s reliability can help you decide if it will be a good investment.

Is the Subaru Forester Reliable?

Overall, the Subaru Forester is a relatively reliable vehicle that you can expect to get a lot of miles out of with very few problems throughout the car’s life. But, as with any major purchase, you should still do your research before you purchase a Forester. And of the best ways to find out about a vehicle’s dependability is to look up its reliability rating with different consumer advocacy publications. These publications will look at owner satisfaction throughout the years and see where it stands as the vehicle ages.

The Subaru Forester has a 4 out of 5-star reliability rating with Consumer Reports due to customer satisfaction over five years. For the 2020 model year, the Forester received a perfect score based on projected customer satisfaction over the first two years of the vehicle’s life. However, RepairPal, another vehicle consumer advocacy publication, rates the Forester with a 3.5 out of 5-star reliability rating, placing it 21st out of 26 different SUVs in its class, though it averages only 0.4 unscheduled trips to a repair shop each year.

Common Subaru Forester Problems

While the Subaru Forester is a somewhat reliable vehicle, it still has its share of issues that will arise from time to time. After all, even the most reliable cars will need repairs. Still, the seriousness and extent of these repairs will determine whether you can count on the vehicle over a long period. Knowing what you can expect when purchasing one of these SUVs will help you decide if it is the right car. Keep in mind that some of these problems might be covered by Subaru warranty if your vehicle is less than 3 years old.


A failing O2 sensor is one of the most common problems reported by Subaru Forester owners. The O2 sensor checks the oxygen ratio in the vehicle’s exhaust and makes adjustments automatically with the vehicle’s computer. The Forester’s stock O2 sensors tend to crack, resulting in your car’s check engine light illuminating and issues with the vehicle’s gas and air mixture. A new O2 sensor for a Subaru Forester will cost between $150 and $475, depending on the model year of your vehicle.

Catalytic Converter

Foresters are also known for having issues with their catalytic converters. The catalytic converter is responsible for cleaning up the emissions and getting rid of dangerous hydrocarbons. A catalytic converter is required in most states, and if it fails, you will not be able to pass emissions tests. Unfortunately, catalytic converters use many precious metals to clean the emissions, which can be very expensive. A new converter for your Subaru Forester will cost between $800 and $2,000 to replace.


Head Gasket

Due to some issues with the Forester’s cooling system, the head gasket in the engine tends to crack fairly easily. When a vehicle overheats, even slightly, it can cause stress on the head gasket. When it cracks, it will cause pressure imbalances in the engine block and leaks that can become very serious. Fortunately, Subaru recognizes this issue and includes the head gasket in their factory and extended warranty coverage on all their vehicles. But, if your Forester is out of warranty, a new head gasket will cost anywhere between $1,500 and $2,000.

Engine Misfire

The Forester is also known for having issues with oil leaking into the spark plug tubes. When this happens, the engine will misfire, cause fuel efficiency problems and rough operation, and can turn on the check engine light. If your Forester develops these leaks, you must replace the tubes to ensure the engine stays in good condition. In some cases, the spark plugs, ignition wires, and ignition coils will also need to be replaced. Depending on the extent of the damage, fixing this issue will cost somewhere between $150 and $500.

Subaru Forester Maintenance Costs

One of the biggest factors determining an individual Subaru Forester’s reliability is the quality of its maintenance. According to Repair Pal, the Forester has an annual maintenance and repair cost of $632. While this is slightly higher than the average cost of maintenance for comparable SUVs, keeping up on the maintenance will increase the Forester’s dependability.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the Forester has the lowest total cost to own over five years out of any other SUVs in its category for the 2020 model year. It also holds its value for longer periods of time than other comparable vehicles. All of these factors combined make the Subaru Forester an incredibly reliable vehicle that offers high levels of dependability for many years.

Protect Your Subaru Forester With an Extended Warranty

If you want to ensure that your Subaru Forester stays in good condition long after you buy it, an extended warranty can help. After your Forester’s factory warranty runs out, you can protect yourself from expensive repairs and costly breakdowns should they come up. With the right extended warranty, you can rest easy knowing that you own a reliable vehicle covered by a comprehensive protection plan. Explore our extended warranty provider reviews and buying guide to find out which extended warranty will work best for you and your vehicle.

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