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The Forester rides and handles like a good sedan. It also provides decent acceleration and good fuel economy for this class. The controls are well laid out and the interior is nicely finished. Access is easy and seat comfort is very good. Impressive crash-test results are another plus.
Alerts
There are 3 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit,
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
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Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
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Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS available, standard from 2001. Side air bags available from 2001, standard from 2003. ESC available from 2007, standard from 2009. Head protection air bags standard from 2009.
Road Test

The Forester rides and handles like a good sedan. It also provides decent acceleration and good fuel economy for this class. The controls are well laid out and the interior is nicely finished. Access is easy and seat comfort is very good. Impressive crash-test results are another plus.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
AWD
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
4-door SUV
Transmissions Available
  • 5-speed Manual
  • 4-speed Automatic
Engines Available
  • 2.5-liter 4 (165 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2003 Subaru Forester owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

“Around windows”

Anonymous, TX (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Water pump leak, it was recommended to replace timing belt as a kit with other pulleys,etc at time of replacing pump”

Anonymous, PA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Frameless windows make for much wind noise”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The weather stripping around the window area of the drivers side door is so bad that, at highway speeds, it sounds as if you are traveling in a wind tunnel. Makes it difficult to listen to music or carry on a conversation”

Anonymous, WI (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“driver-side window has had poor weather-stripping seal for many years”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“engine gaskets leaking”

Anonymous, MA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The front window lets a few drops of water in during heavy rain”

Anonymous, MA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“loud squeak when using gas, not when braking. might be bearing”

Anonymous, WV (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“lose heat shield”

Anonymous, WI (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Rasping noise at low speeds”

Anonymous, OH (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Constant clunking from underneath when going over a rough road even though I changed all 4 shocks, stabilizer bushings and links. There is a differential support that seems to have the bushings collapsed, this could be the reason for all the noises”

Anonymous, QC (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The car is reLLY NOISY”

Anonymous, MA (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Glove box rattles and wind noises are strong”

Anonymous, SC (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“door leak & mirrors create noise”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Wind noise due to unframed door window displacement”

Anonymous, ME (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Due to unframed side door window displacement”

Anonymous, ME (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Door gaskets are dysfunctional and you can hardly hold a conversation when driving 40+ mph. Dealer says that is typical for this year/model Subaru”

Bradley J., VA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“It is so loud and annoying, especially at highway speeds. It is difficult to carry on a conversation with someone in the back seat. If you want to listen to music, you have to turn it up so loud that I often don't hear my cell phone if it rings. I know this is under wind noise, but the wind noise is mostly caused by the rubber seal around the drivers side window. A lot of rattles and squeaks too. All makes for a loud and unpleasant trip”

Anonymous, WI (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Windows are rimless and do not fit tightly against car body”

Anonymous, NJ (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Has wind noise even when traveling at low speeds or when there is little wind outside”

Anonymous, PA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The wind noise from the front of the car is annoying”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Always have had road noise from the start. Hard to hear radio, even with closed windows. Think the seals wear out quickly, but the Forester is noisier than other cars I've owned. The engine is quiet, though”

Carol W., CA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“very loud noise from windshield. needs to be re-sealed”

Anonymous, WV (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Wind noise comes from door window "gussets". Replaced driver's side, now need passenger too”

Don W., PA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“At speed over 60, occasional whistling noise from windshield that had been replaced”

Anonymous, MO (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“window gasket does not seal tight enough. It can be squeezed to reduce noise”

Daniel H., WA (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Car is very noisy when windows are rolled up tight. Air is coming in, very noisy”

Anonymous, CT (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Wind noise is a nuisance”

Anonymous, OK (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Subaru dealer replaced the gaskets around the front door speakers once under warranty, but they started to leak and make noise again after about 2 years”

Anonymous, NE (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“I've had a recurring problem with loud wind noise at my driver's window. The dealer replaced the mirror gusset a few times, and eventually I gave up. Under certain conditions, the noise is almost deafening, but most of the time it's just annoying”

Elizabeth C., NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“wind noise from drivers door,mechanic suggestet no to botter due to high cost of repair”

Anonymous, PA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Wind noise on front doors is annoying”

Anonymous, OK (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Drivers side door does not let air through into passenger compartment but makes whistling noise at speed”

Anonymous, VA (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

What Owners Say

“Blew the head gasket causing antifreeze leak”

Stephen G., MI (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Head gasket was replaced at 60,000 miles and now the same Subaru dealer claims it needs to be replaced again at 115,000 miles”

Bradley J., VA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“oil leaking from head gasket. Because of engine configuration (the flat 4), the engine had to be removed to replace the gasket”

E S., NV (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Left head gasket replaced at 85K miles. Required replacing AGAIN at 116K miles. Subaru of America repaired it free. No one but the Subaru dealer has ever touched this car for any reason in the last 14 years. Subaru took 100% responsibility for this repair having to be made again”

R L., MD (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Oil leak pointed to valve cover gasket, discovered head gasket needed replacement, discovered head needed remachining”

Anonymous, WA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Head gasket leaks were repaired twice during my ownership. It appears this is a chronic problem with this model year”

Anonymous, PA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The head gasket on one bank is leaking antifreeze out of the engine”

Anonymous, CT (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The head gasket leaked after 80000 miles. Subaru had used a new material which they claimed was phased out before my engine was made. The results did not support their claim. They split the cost of repair with me after I sent photos of the defective”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Engine gasket replaced. Piston replaced. Timing belt replaced”

Anonymous, MN (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Head gaskets were replaced at 104,000 miles and failed again at 144,000 miles. Subaru covered replacement the second time at a total cost to me of 300 dollars 4 years later”

Anonymous, PA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Head gasket was leaking. It had to be replaced. Dealer said newer models had different head gasket which lasted longer”

Anonymous, PA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“finally fixed head gaskets (problem was diagnosed almost 5 years ago) so no more leaks, smells, etc. Runs great!”

Pamela L., WA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Head gasket leaks and will need to be replaced soon”

Anonymous, WA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Engine light came on which alerted me to a problem. Oxygen sensor was replaced. Head gasket problem found. Also replaced was water pump, all seals and gaskets, idler belt/pulley, etc. Timing belt had been replaced about 3 years prior. $3000 cost”

Anonymous, WA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“repaired seeping head gaskets at 60,000 miles, leaking again at 96,500 miles. Well known Subaru problem CR never mentions!! $3500 repair”

Anonymous, MD (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Needs replacement and with it a bunch of other work to be done because it is convenient to do so at the same time”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Minor leak at time of timing belt replacement. Fixed, all is well”

Robert T., ND (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The head gasket is going out and the mechanic said it happens on all Suburus at 100,000 miles. The replacement cost equals half the value of the bluebook value for this model and year”

Anonymous, OR (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“It had to be replaced”

Anonymous, NJ (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Both head gaskets failed at 90000 miles. Replaced both at 108000 for $2100”

Anonymous, MN (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“had head gasket replaced and work had to be redone. It still leaks”

Anonymous, WI (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The Subaru started leaking oil; it still uses lots of oil, have to replace oil every 1000 miles or so, but it seems to use the oil and not leak. Dealer said that year/engine was known to have to replace headgaskets and such at 100,000 miles or so”

Richard S., MN (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“head gasket leaked and needed to be replaced, taking three days to complete and costing about $3300 dollars, also replaced timing belt”

Anonymous, NC (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Head gaskets have failed and replacement cost is approximately $1400 CDN”

Anonymous, NB (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Very expensive - $2700 to replace, plus out of commission for a week waiting for parts”

Brad R., WA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Timing belt Tensioner arm's retaining bolt sheared, caused loss of timing and bent 16 valves”

Anonymous, FL (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Coolant in oil caused overfilling. Oil light on. Drive shaft unharmed but other damage occurred. Now must use heavier grade oil and check level very frequently”

Anonymous, MI (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“I suppose at 235000 it was ready for an engine rebuild”

Anonymous, SC (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“It was convenient and cheaper to replace the timing belt when the other work was being done. Car is almost 12 years old”

Anonymous, MN (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Replacement only because of convenience during head gasket fix. This is the first time the timing belt is being replaced on this vehicle”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Replaced at 105,000 as per book. No issues”

Robert T., ND (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The work was scheduled and expected. Cost (>$3k) was likely more than average because we used a shop that we really trust and isn't cheap. Why doesn't Subaru consider timing chains instead of belts?”

Anonymous, OR (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Ball joints

“Worn out”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Would not handle right on snow. Had it to 3 dealers before finding that it had a broken anti sway bar link”

Mary K., MI (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Power steering leaks

“took car to get a road safety inspection and oil change for a long trip, was told it was leaking power steering fluid, nothing too bad, but still it seems that everything is now starting to leak, not sure if it's because of age of car, but it's got under 80,000 miles and it's over 14 years”

Carlos G., NC (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“As stated flushed the system and added a new fluid with stop leak and it worked”

Anonymous, ON (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“I'm told that it needs a new power steering pump. The car is still operable, it is just noisy and difficult to steer in slow gear, especially when cold. Will be a pretty pricey fix according to dealer”

John P., IL (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The struts failed around 60,000 miles”

Anonymous, NE (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Normal wear and tear causing replacement”

Anonymous, WI (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Sway bar linkage broke”

Stephen G., MI (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Steering linkage (includes rack and pinion)

“Rack and pinion leaking at outer ends, flushed and used a steering fluid stop leak which resolved the issue”

Anonymous, ON (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“apparant failure or inability to grease steering universals”

Anonymous, WI (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Had to completely replace steering rack/pinion, with accompanying alignment”

Anonymous, TX (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Subaru CA sent me a letter informing me that my 2003 Forester might have problems with the front lower control arms (transverse links). Subaru carried out an inspection of the affected parts and determined that failure was a possibility. Subaru C”

Roger V., ON (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“This was part of a recall for Foresters”

Don W., PA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Sub chassis support were rusted out and failed. They had to be replaced at great cost and work”

Anonymous, RI (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Wheel bearings

“Replace driver side front wheel bearings”

Anonymous, HI (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Worn out”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Right wheel bearing needed replaced. So I replaced it”

Brian A., FL (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“replaced rear wheel bearings, which greatly reduced noise and improved ride”

Pamela L., WA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Wheel bearings should last longer”

Anonymous, WA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Rear wheel bearing went bad making a terrible noise. Had to replace”

Vicki M., FL (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“I had wheel bearing replaced on the rear drivers side”

Anonymous, PA (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

“Pulley bearings failed”

Anonymous, NJ (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“harmonic damping pulley died”

Anonymous, WA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Started since Feb 2015--gas pump clicks off from backwash in the fueling hose/tube. Must go very slowly-- more frustrating than anything... Still trouble-shooting”

Anonymous, OH (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“twice we've been to the shop for engine light issues, once was the idle air filter once was fuel line to passenger side injectors”

Sarah Z., VA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Some 2003 Subarues have too short piston skirts. The result after 20,000 miles is a very load rapping noise that sounds like a Ford diesel engine. It gets somewhat better after the engine warms up. The dealer refused to change out the pistons”

Anonymous, CT (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The engine has a knock. Probably piston slap. Had it fixed once and it is doing it again. It is a defect in the pistons installed in this year engine”

Mary K., MI (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Fuel line connection are effected by cold and leak small amounts of fuel during winter months. I have had these connections serviced several times. Subaru would not address problem do to age of car. Also, head gasket failed at 100000 miles. Many other forester owners had same problem Subaru would not address due to age of car”

Jody C., NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“In severe cold weather, gasoline odor escapes, can fill garage with smell of fuel. Took to mechanic, says a common problem where injectors need to be tightened in cold weather”

Anonymous, CO (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“There is a RAW fuel smell in the cabin, but no mechanic can discover where the leak is. The fuel line looks fine. It is not causing any performance problems, just a bad smell”

Anonymous, MA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Oil dripping from engine compartment”

Anonymous, CT (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“There a a smell of fuel in cold temperatures that came from the injector connections”

Anonymous, QC (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“With low mileage, fuel rail leaks causing safety issues”

Anonymous, VA (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Oil leaks

“replaced head gasket several years ago because it was leaking oil severely and needed about a quart a month, which was a lot for a car that doesn't get driven much. over the past 3 months the leak has started up again, first just a few drops in the garage, but now oil level is noticeably lowered when the oil gets changed”

Carlos G., NC (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Oil leaks due to head gasket problem. Too expensive to fix, just nursing it at this point”

Anonymous, CO (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Oil pan needed to be replaced because drain plug could no loner be tightened”

R L., MD (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“This vehicle goes through more oil in a month than my high school daughter goes through outfits. Even replacing the head gasket again, and replacing oil seals, this thing chugs the golden fluid”

Anonymous, MN (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Head gasket on car failed at 100,000 miles. Many other Forester owners experienced same issue. Subaru would not address because of age of my car and my use of independent mechanic”

Jody C., NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The oil pan rusted due to limited use - we don't drive enough to heat the system to eliminate water. Had to replace the oil pan”

John F., NY (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Oil leak around head. costly”

Anonymous, TX (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Last week the oil leak led to smoke coming out of the front end of the vehicle after the car went up a mountain over 6,000 feet in altitude. I am taking the car into service next week to fix the leak”

Anonymous, AZ (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

“Required $500 repair. 1 Day out of service”

Christopher B., IL (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Replaced them in order to try to pass emission test, was not successful”

Anonymous, ON (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Catalytic converter replacement”

David W., CT (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“check engine line keeps going on even with cap replaced”

Laurie M., NH (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Engine lights would turn on but would never go off. Mechanics kept telling there were no problems repeatedly. After nearly 6 months they are now saying there is a sensor problem. it is not yet fixed”

Konasale P., PA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Fuel pump

“In hot weather, the fuel pump has been vapor locking”

Anonymous, NE (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The vacuum pressure sensor at the top of the gas tank activated the Check Engine light. After three smoke tests it was determined that the sensor was bad. That bad sensor had no affect on the performance of the car. Replacement costs $750, half fo”

George J., NY (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Intermittent camshaft position sensor failure, which took 2 shops to diagnose”

William T., TX (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“it is still with the dealer. we are not aware of the outcome”

Konasale P., PA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Front and Rear O2 sensors failed, probably due to oil burning from engine. Could never get it to pass emissions test. It also needs a new catalytic converter, but have not gotten one”

Anonymous, ON (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Check Engine light remains on most of the time. Can sometimes smell exhaust fumes in the car. Have not checked the problem as the vehicle is used only occasionally”

Terry K., FL (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“CEL won't turn of! Cost me a couple of hundred so far”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“replaced front O2 (air/fuel ratio) sensor, around 180,000 miles”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“I have replaced the sensors twice. I replaced the catalytic converter last year. The vehicle continues to have emissions issues”

Paula T., NH (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The Check Engine light came on and the computer indicated that the car needed a tune up. When that didn't solve the problem, further testing revealed that the O2 sensor was not working correctly and was sending too much fuel through the system”

Lea W., CO (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“the check engine line goes on due to the cap or the fuel gauge sender. At this point we just keep having the ck. engine line reset to get it through inspection”

Laurie M., NH (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

“check engine light indicating cat converter malfunction”

Anonymous, GA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The catalytic converter went bad after about 130,000 miles”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Rattling heat shield has recurred many times. Repair shop wants to replace the entire exhaust system (more than 3K)”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Rattling heat shields have been a recurring event, but last year the rattle was actually from the catalytic convertor, whose mounting tabs had broken loose. The catalytic convertor was close to falling out from under the car. It had to be replaced, for many hundreds of dollars, the largest expense I've had with this car. Nonetheless, I still love the Forester”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The heat shield was loose and began dragging. Before I could pull over to get out of traffic, it fell off and into a field. I could not find it so now I have no heat shield”

Anonymous, OH (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“This is the second time I have had to replace the rusted heat shield”

Anonymous, VA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The loose, rattling heat shield is a common problem on Subarus with the age and mileage of my cars. A muffler shop fixed the problems by welding a few pieces together”

Anonymous, VA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Ongoing issues with rattling exhaust systems. Continually ask for this to be resolved but six months later this begins to rattle again”

Anonymous, NJ (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“I've tried to have this fixed several times but it keeps not getting fixed right”

Sara M., OR (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Constant problems with the exhaust heatshields. These have been replaced or re-tightened annually. The problem has never been resolved”

Robert M., ON (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“hole in muffler was under warranty from midas”

Alison G., NH (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“corrosion; coming loose from the underside”

Anonymous, MI (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Entire exhaust system had to be replaced”

Anonymous, MD (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

A/C compressor

“AC compressor clutch started to fail intermittently -- when operating at ambient temperature over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the AC would work fine for approximately 30 minutes, then cut out for about 30 minutes, then resume, etc. etc. Apparently the magnetic coil did not generate a sufficiently strong field when hot to engage the clutch. Was told by the Subaru dealer that this is a common failure”

Ignacio P., VA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Ac clutch bearing makes grindig noise and ac idler pulley is siezed”

Anonymous, ON (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“We have decided not to replace the A/C. We use the car mostly in winter (when snow/ice are likely), and have been able to stand hot days (city driving only, windows down, etc). In comparison to the worth of the auto the cost of A/C would be too expensive”

John F., NY (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The belt broke on the A/C compressor. My husband tried to replace the belt and broke the adjustment lever. The repair shop wanted $1500 to fix, so we decided not to fix it”

Anonymous, OH (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Would not engage”

Anonymous, ME (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Blower (fan) motor

“blower does not direct air to windshield when defrost/defog is selected. No air to windshield. will not defog or defrost. need to use a towel to defog”

Anonymous, MD (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Blower motor ceased working because coupling to controls melted/burned out. Subaru does not sell this part (worth a few dollars) but instead only sells complete wiring harnesses (for ~$1400.00). Was able to get junked wiring harness for ~$200.00 an”

Anonymous, TN (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The high pressure line was leaking and that was replaced”

William W., TX (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Radiator cracked, left us stranded”

Cecil L., NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Automatic climate control

“Just doesn't work very well. Little heat, virtually no AC”

Paul L., CA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Not Automatic”

Anonymous, WI (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Electrical failure

“A sensor in the climate control of my 2003 Forester failed which caused erratic operation. The problem was promptly found by my favourite mechanic and repaired at minimal cost”

Roger V., ON (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“replaced water pump and timing belt”

Anonymous, VA (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Heated or cooled seat controls

“The driver's seat heating element failed”

Peter-Elizabeth C., NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Rear Hatch latch is severely rusted/deteriorated to the point that it will require replacement within the next year or two”

Robert M., ON (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Doors or sliding doors

“rubber tube under the door came out”

Anonymous, VT (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Wind noise since new. Fixed twice under warranty. Returned!”

Anonymous, KY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The compass on the interior rearview mirror failed. I'm having the mirror replaced next week”

Elizabeth C., NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“driver seat heat failed”

Anonymous, AK (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Sunroof

“Wind deflector mount broken. Difficult to close”

Anonymous, KY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Windows

“Window controls no longer all work”

Anonymous, MO (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Front windows fell off theirbtracks”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“replaced electric motor”

Gerald M., MA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“the driver's window quit operating. It needs a new motor”

Anonymous, FL (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“After-market windshield came loose”

Anonymous, CO (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Transmission Major

Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.

What Owners Say

“In theory this is the fourth clutch in this vehicle , however I suspect that on one occasion I was charged but the clutch was not replaced”

Anonymous, BC (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“What a mess. Burnt out the clutch because the anti roll kept engaging. Towed 3 times before problem was identified. $$$$$$$$$$”

Anonymous, DC (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Clutch has gone out twice”

Anonymous, MO (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“have had to replace clutch 2 times”

Anonymous, AK (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Our mechanic asked if we had ever had the clutch replaced. As far as we know, it was the original clutch”

Dorothy S., NE (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Gear shifter was loose in gear and wobbly - needed a new clutch”

Harley R., CO (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“slipping”

Anonymous, ME (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“the awd was not working. I took it back to selling dealer 3 times and everytime they would say it was fixed but when winter came along car was usless in snow. finally took it to another dealer my brother had dealt with and was told the automatic tran”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Driving in the cold on the interstate this past winter and the transmission went out. Engine ran fine to keep me warm while tow truck came and got me. Had it replaced with a used transmission and so far so good. Also, had a wheel bearing go out too!”

Richard S., MN (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“In last year, spent over $2K replace transmissions, cylinder 3 & 4 had electrical failures”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Gauges

“Instrument lights are dim”

P S., WI (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Headlight halogen bulbs have to be replaced frequently 3 to 4 months”

Cecil L., NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Exterior lights (other than headlights)

“The fog lights burn out frequently and are nearly impossible to replace without tearing in to the underside of the vehicle. This is a horrible design”

Anonymous, WI (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Rear stop light bulb had to be replaced”

Anonymous, PA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“electrical problem with heater on driver seat. decided not to spend the money to repair it”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Drivers side seat belt warning light often remains on until a connection under the seat is re-established; this is difficult to do”

Anonymous, IL (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Check engine light comes on for apparent reason”

Anonymous, NM (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Cruise control

“cruise control did not function. Replaced s/o clock spring that fixed problem sun roof does not work, not spending money to repair it”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Keyless entry

“The remote on the key had to be replaced. My dealer did not know that one was available. I had to call Subaru to get the part number so my local dealer knew what to give me. It works but not very well”

John F., MN (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Wiper motor or washer

“rear wiper motor died”

Anonymous, MA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

“Parked outside always Fading and chalking of paint”

Michele W., CA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“paint on one side has faded and is peeling”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Paint on top of car is peeling. Back bumper has also lost paint”

Anonymous, KY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Overall loss of luster on paint”

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“reat wheel well rust”

Anonymous, WI (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“hole in rocker panel. numerous rust spots recently appearing above lower vinyl trim”

Gerald M., MA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Rear wheel wells are badly rusted. Rocker panels need to be replaced”

Anonymous, NB (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The molding around the doors has had to be glued several times”

Anonymous, KY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Trim on inside of windshield, passenger side, came loose”

Anonymous, CO (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

“Alternator failed to charge--warning light on dash let me know of this problem. The alternator was replaced”

Anonymous, WA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Alternator.stopped working approximately 2 years ago”

John C., TX (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The alternator went out suddenly on the freeway”

Anonymous, OR (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Battery was unable to keep its charge--needed to be replaced”

Anonymous, WA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Coil

“One part of it burned out, resulting in the car jerking. It gave some warning and car did run when it failed. Was able to replace and car working fine again”

Anonymous, MN (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Original coil failed and required replacement”

Anonymous, MN (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Electronic ignition

“Related to coil failure”

Anonymous, MN (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Engine harness

“Rodents chewed several of the wires”

John C., TX (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Ignition switch

“Occasionally can't turn key. Must pull hard on steering wheel. afraid of breaking something”

Anonymous, MI (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

“The front calipers froze and overheated, so needed immediate attention”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Had a lot of trouble trying to correct it”

Paul L., CA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“rear brake cylinder froze destroying the rotor”

Philip S., GA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Because of the calipers overheating, the rotors needed to be replaced”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Needed new brake pads”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“rust in brakes due to proximity of ocean”

Anonymous, MA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Step on brakes after vehicle has sat for extended time (like overnight) and brakes squeak first 2 or 3 times they are used”

Dorothy S., NE (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“I replaced the rear brakes, resurfaced the drums and replaced the rear cylinders”

William M., CA (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“cost”

James H., NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

What Owners Say

“I'm not certain what the head gaskets leaks were leaking. I do not know if it was oil or antifreeze”

Anonymous, PA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“radiator clogged. caused overheating. drove too long and one head was remilled and gaskets replaced”

Anonymous, MI (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Radiator

“leak”

Anonymous, GA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Both radiators in both our Subarus failed at the point of the intake hose nipple. The nipple sheared off in both cases requiring replacement of the radiator”

Anonymous, KY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Radiator crack near neck of radiator. Lots of blow-by under hood, accompanied by smell (probably coolant escaping). Had entire radiator, all hoses, and thermostat replaced”

Carol W., CA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“overheating, ended up replacing the radiator”

Anonymous, FL (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Water pump

“Engine overheated. Mechanic said water pumps never fail on Foresters, but then he was surprised when it actually was the water pump!”

Anonymous, CO (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“water pump failed when engine overheated”

Anonymous, WA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Driveshaft or axle

“Wheel-bearings...passenger side...Front and rear”

Anonymous, ME (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Bearing failed”

Anonymous, NJ (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Left rear wheel bearing, complicated by frozen bolt in stabilizing bars making repair complicated”

Mark F., MN (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“the awd problem was solved when the transmission was replaced”

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“trans clutch grabbing”

Judith B., WA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Rear differential worn ring and pinion - makes a howling sound above 30 mph”

Anonymous, GA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
CV joint

“The CV boots had to be replaced, a major but predictable repair”

Richard P., NC (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Hydraulics (clutch master or slave cylinder)

“This may not be the correct term, but I had to replace the head gaskets and that cost $1600. It was a know problem that should be a recall item”

Anonymous, AB (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Rough shifting

“some clutch slippage. can still drive”

Anonymous, UT (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“last 3 months have had a spot on garage floor of fluid about the size of a half dollar. Had it fixed but is still dripping”

Anonymous, SD (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Watching a slow leak of fluid; trying ti avoid major work”

Anonymous, IA (2003 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Dipstick tube leaking at the base requiring new oring”

Anonymous, GA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“transmission oil pan was cracked”

Anonymous, TN (2003 Subaru Forester X 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

Display screen goes blank

“The trip odometer stopped working, and then all the dash dials/lights failed. I had the entire instrument panel replaced”

Peter-Elizabeth C., NY (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
CD player

“CD is stuck in player and will not play or eject”

Anonymous, CO (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Disks jammed and would not eject”

Kirk G., CA (2003 Subaru Forester XS 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
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