Subaru advice (newbie)


New member
Hey guys, I recently relocated to Florida from Texas, wanting to downsize from my crewmax tundra to a wagon. Need the wagon for kayak hauling, and want the subaru for minor off-roading capabilities. I've wrenched on a few, nothing major, just wanted to get some advice on 1st gen foresters, these are cheap 2-4k (wanting something for under 7k, but being the cheap *** I am, 3k sounds perfect). I'm looking at examples that are 150k-200k, anything strange on these I should know about? I'm a land cruiser guy so I'm used to answering these questions, now I'm asking Anyways, I've been doing my searching and I've found a lot of helpful info and nothing screaming NO, DON'T DO IT!!!! so any more info from some experienced members would be great.

Duties will include:
Daily Driver (HOT South Florida)
Kayak fishing trips, 10-200 miles
Occasional long distance trip 500-2000 miles (once per year)
Camping out of occasionally (1-2 nights max)

by the way 2011 CrewMax Tundra, 5.7l, 4x4, custom bed rack with ARB tent, Icon stage 1 lift (1-2''). bumpers, lights, etc, FOR SALE $25k OBO



Biggest decision is outback or forrester :)

Great vehicles - will do well on lots of terrain or diff weather conditions.
Subarus are very endearing.

You'll be surprised how much utility you get out of one with a roof basket like a yakima.


New member
Yes, roof basket is definitely on the short list.

I feel like the forester (based purely on looks) will support a kayak better (longer roof line). Other than that I have nothing against outbacks.


I can only echo whats been stated above. They will take you the hell and back. The only things you'll have to worry about on the EJ25's (2.5L) are headgaskets and burning oil. I'm not too familiar on engine offerings, but if there is an H6 available, I would opt for them. I know they are much more dependable and the power increase would be welcomed when loaded down.


Outfitting for Adv
I find it hard to believe the Forester ever had a longer roof than the Outback...

The Forester has always been based on the Impreza. From my experience with the '02 WRX (02-07 models), I was extremely uncomfortable anything over 100 miles.

The LL Bean Outbacks had a 3.0L H6 with the 5EAT trans and VDC. Some came with a rear LSD although there is some debate to it's value. The optional McIntosh headunit would be a nice bonus. Note: 3.0R was the same but slightly sportier than luxo. XT (Forester and Outback) and Legacy GT nets you the turbo 2.5 but the throttles are difficult to modulate as power delivery is all or nothing.

One advantage of the manual trans cars is that the power distribution rearward is mechanical 50/50 instead of viscous fluid (ie. always available vs. slip reaction). I'm not sure years or models but if you want to go that direction, it'd be easy to find.


New member
Thanks guys, all good info.

ADVSubaru - they only offered one engine, the EJ25 in all the 1st gen models, not sure about the newer ones. So no 6 available

AdventureHare - I am definitely aiming for a 5 speed. I value simplicity so this is the main reason for this. I consider the roof longer based off the flat rear hatch, compared to the slanted outback.

Other than those picky options, any other value to getting an outback instead of a forester? Engine options are nice but I feel like I said I value simplicity, not interested in a turbo, at least not specifically, I also would value slightly better economy of the 4 cyl. My typical daily commute won't get over 40 mph. Which is 90% of this car's purpose.

Anything else? All helpful info so far, appreciate the insight, will look more into the outback.


Outback is longer so you get a bit more interior space. Similar ground clearance. 96-99 will have the DOHC EJ25 which is prone to headgaskets blowing.
Forester is shorter. 98 has the DOHC EJ25, basically same as the Outback. 99-02 get the SOHC EJ25 which is prone to headgasket seepage. Not a huge deal.
2000-2005 Outback gets redesigned rear suspension which is a much smoother ride on road. It also gets side impact airbags (if you care about such things) plus an available H6 on the LLBean and 2004 35th anniversary editions (optional, very rare basically a base Outback with the H6)
As stated above the forester is shorter, so turning radius is amazing. The amount of stuff you can cram into a forester is insane, I hauled generators, 10 cubic foot wheel barrows, firewood ect. Handles forest roads with aplomb, not to mention snow , and the twistys. The departure angles are better for light off-roading than the outback. The 2.5 has enough grunt to tow a trailer with a four wheeler.


Silent Footfalls
examples that are 150k-200k, anything strange on these I should know about?
Timing belt pulleys and life-long matching tires. Also TPS, Kock sensor, and/or MAF sensor, depending on engine year.

If you get a stick and want to offroad, might be worth noting my clutch fork went out (slowly) at about 250k miles.

New radiator.


New member
Ok so I'm definitely considering the outback now, still looking, need to go drive both.

Head gasket issues apparently are there regardless...

Clutch fork went out? like started rattling due to wear?


Silent Footfalls
Nope! Rust free! Super strange. I do blame over-use of the clutch or maybe that coupled with serious off-road abuse without low-range. I mean, 250k is a lot of clutch use. Either way, it was replaced with an after-market fork which was significantly thicker. But it was a fun problem, felt like the hydraulic lines were going bad but they were fine. It shouldn't be a concern, just something to remember. Worry about the timing belt pulleys first.

And wheel bearings. The rear wheel bearings on the old Outbacks like to go bad in the 200k's from what I've experienced and read. That's fair, though, considering you're a Toyota guy, the ball-joints do not fail. Like, ever. *knock on wood* ;]
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The fork is not common, but I have seen them fail on occasion. As cheap as they are, we used to replace them as part of a clutch job on higher mileage cars.


Silent Footfalls
Yup. But fr what it's worth, at 305k lifters are fine, wrist pins are fine, rings are fine....
cylinders walls: fine
water pump: fine
transmission: fine
differentials: fine
U-joints: fine
don't as about driveline play
front wheel bearings: fine
steering rack: fine
fuel filter: fine (lol)
Driver seat cushion: ************* sucks
A/C: Fine (deleted tho)
Everything else: fine

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