Subaru Forester Lemon

23 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Subaru Forester Lemon

Questions and Answers

Subaru Forester Lemon

Q. Dear Vincent, I just bought my new Subaru Forester in April. It worked fine for about six weeks; then I noticed a hesitation problem. What happens is, when I step on the gas pedal, there is a hesitation, (the car does not move) for a couple of seconds, and then the car lurches forward, almost giving me whiplash!

At first, it only happened once every week or two; then it started doing it once a week. My first thought was that maybe it was part of the break-in period, and the problem would go away after the oil was changed at the 3,000 mile check-up. I drive my car twice a day; to work and home from work. The distance I drive is 30 miles each way.

It happens when the engine is cold, when I start out in the morning, and/or when I leave work in the afternoon.

After the engine runs for a short period of time, it doesn’t do it again, until it has been setting for a while. When I took it to the dealer for the 3,000 mile check-up, I mentioned it to the service manager. He said I should bring it in to have a mechanic check it out.

He said their best mechanic was not there that day. A couple of weeks later, I was going on vacation, so I left the car at the dealership for the week I was gone, giving them plenty of time to find the problem.

When I came back to get my car, I was told the problem was defective spark plugs. They replaced them with another brand. Unfortunately, the problem was still there the next morning. They called the Subaru Tech Support people, and were told that they were unaware of this problem with any other vehicles.

I made another appointment to have them check it out again.

Being that the problem was intermittent, they said it could be difficult to find. The next answer they gave was that the tensioner on the timing belt was defective. I had to wait until they ordered a tensioner, then they replaced that.

After that, the problem was even worse! It was doing it every day, now.

Again they called the Subaru Tech Support people, and were now told that they are aware of the problem. They said it is a problem with the computer. The way it is programmed, it is too sensitive to changes in gasoline.

They said there is to be a recall on it in the future, but due to government red tape, it could take six months for the recall to take place.

At that time, they are to reprogram the computers to be less sensitive. In the meantime, they told me they were going to reset the computer memory for me. Then I was to make sure I bought my gasoline from a place that just sold gas, rather than a place such as Sheetz or Uni-mart.

They claim that these other companies get their gasoline from various sources, and mix them all together, which adds to my problem.

After resetting the computer, and buying gasoline from a place they recommended, the problem was still there. They said it may take a couple of tanks of gas until the problem is gone. After filling up again, they reset the computer memory again, and it doesn’t do it as much.

During this time, I am spending a lot of money buying more expensive gas, when the problem is with their computer settings.

I average 20,000 to 25,000 miles a year due to my traveling back and forth to work. That adds up to a lot of money spent for gas. This supposed six months until the recall could easily turn into a year or more.

Are they feeding me a line? If they are aware of this problem with the computer, why do I have to wait for a recall to have it fixed? Shouldn’t they be obligated to fix it now, while my car is still under warranty?

Do you have any other recommendations?

2002 Subaru Forester

2.5 Litre engine, 4 cylinders

4 speed automatic transmission

Approximately 9,000 miles

Multi-point fuel injection

Anti-lock brakes

Power steering A/C



A. I checked all my Subaru Technical Service Bulletins and I see nothing pertaining to this problem. And I would take the information about the upcoming recall with a grain of salt. And since this problem occurred before the warranty expired and it is documented so, the problem has to be fixed under the warranty even if it takes 20 years to do it.

This is a tough one to advise you on. You certainly have grounds for a claim under the Lemon Laws of most states. But if this is a problem with all Subaru Forester‘s then nothing is going to resolved by giving you another vehicle. I would check the Lemon Laws in your state and see if there is a provision for returning the car for the purchase price.

I know in New Jersey if the vehicle is not repaired within a reasonable time, the manufacturer has to buy the vehicle back.

Have you been dealing with the Subaru factory representative? I think he would be the one best able to help you resolve this situation with either repair, replacement or refund.

Added 1/11/03


Concerning the letter from a lady saying that her Forester is a lemon I think I know what the problem is.

The Subaru’s are equipped with a sensor that will Kick the automatic transmission into a special power mode when the accelerator is pushed quickly. I have a Forester and have noticed that this feature works like it says, and will indeed throw you back if you aren’t careful. Subaru designed these cars to do some light work and I suspect this is something they added to give the car some snap.

I hope this helps.


Additional Information provided courtesy of ALLDATA

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