Good on snow, but don't fall in love with it
Picked up another Forester at auction here in Japan, as I needed some wheels after getting in from Malaysia.
My previous Forester was making some expensive noises from the rear at 100,000km. Possibly differential and/or rear bearing/s.
The latest one has 38,000km, and in Japan you can pretty much bet the farm that this is genuine.
The Japanese economic climate means that at 100,000km on a Forester you either have to bite the bullet and shell out for expensive repairs and servicing, or replace and ship to another country, i.e. UK. Specifically, it's timing belt replacement time, which means the oil pump needs checking. And the Web is littered with anecdotal accounts of rear bearings giving up the ghost. I had taken to running in front-wheel-drive rather than four-wheel-drive. Partly to reduce the likelihood of the rear seizing up, and partly to improve fuel efficiency. Feels like taking two big dogs for a walk with them pulling in opposite directions. You switch by inserting a fuse in the fuse box under the bonnet (check the manual, you can figure it even if it is in Japanese).
Naturally the Trade in Japan is aware of the Forester's shortcomings, so it is discounted into the ground. And if you pick an unpopular colour like green, even more so. The Legacy Outback and Grand Wagon are an even bigger bargain, but I'm still wary of that 2.5-engine as changing head gaskets is not exactly my hobby.
And out here in the Japan Alps you do need the traction and ground clearance. Because once the snow is high enough to lift the car, you are quite literally screwed (technical term). Also, at this time of year with the frost coming out of the ground, what looks like firm ground quickly becomes a mud bath.
So within these parameters (buy at under 50,000km, dump at 100,000km), aim to be essentially the last owner. Particularly if it’s been thoroughly “wifed”, i.e. damaged on all four corners.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 17th March, 2008