Common 1998-2002 Subaru Forester Problems

Some of the worst issues 1st generation Forester owners have to deal with.

  1. Leaky Head Gaskets

    Why can't Subaru build a decent head gasket? The automaker has had issues with leaky gaskets in their 4-cylinder engines since the 1980's. And repairing the issue is expensive as it requires the engine to be removed.

    Continue reading article "Leaky Head Gaskets" A close-up of a clean black head gasket above two silver pistons.
  2. What Are We Missing?

    We know there's more problems than this. Let us know which one you'd like to see us cover next.

    Continue A close-up of a clean black head gasket above two silver pistons.

What Owners Complain About

Sometimes it helps just to tally up the complaints and see where the biggest stacks are. Use this information to learn about troublespots or to run for the hills.

What Breaks the Most

Years to Avoid

1st Generation (1998–2002) Forester Key Numbers

  1. 5 model years

    Grouping all models by their year can reveal some baddies.

  2. 57 complaints

    Running tally of owner grievances filed to

  3. 27th in reliability

    Overall reliability rank out of 38 eligible generations.

What Forester Owners Say About This Generation

Subaru Head Gaskets Can't Seal the Deal

After our first head gasket blew back in 2006 we were amazed to have the second one blow last night, only two and half years, and 20,000 miles later.

2002 Forester Owner