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Shopping For A Used Subaru Forester - Models To Avoid With Rust Problems

If you are shopping for a used Subaru Forester, there are some years you should avoid. Here is a list of years that have potential rust problems if you live in certain states.

With the lack of new 2021 Subaru Forester models on retailers' lots, many buyers are turning to a used model. Subaru Forester shoppers should be aware of some used Forester years that could have a potential rust problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a recall in November 2011 for the front lower control arms, known as transverse links, that could corrode in the hanger bracket area if exposed to salt for a prolonged time.

The recall affected around 300,000 2003-2008 Subaru Forester SUVs and 2002-2007 Subaru Impreza compact cars. The NHTSA said continued exposure to salt could cause the lower control arm hanger brackets to rust and eventually break, possibly resulting in a crash.

Subaru Forester, Impreza recall for rust

The Forester and Impreza recall was only for vehicles registered in twenty-one "salt belt" states where salt and corrosive chemicals are used on roads in the winter. The states include Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

According to the NHTSA and Subaru of America, a technician would inspect and test the current condition of your vehicle's front lower control arms. If both were found to be acceptable, antirust materials would be applied to the areas of concern as a preventative measure. If either control arm were found to be unacceptable, both would be replaced.

Subaru Forester, Impreza recall for rust

A recent report from FOX 9 News says owners of some Subaru Forester models had the antirust spray treatment done to their vehicle; the part continued to rust from the inside, causing the front lower control arms to fail.

The report says Daniel Savage, who lives in Minnesota, purchased a used 2008 Subaru Forester because he wanted a safe second car for winter driving. As he was getting on Highway 610 in Brooklyn Park, “with clear skies and a dry road ahead, his car suddenly, and without warning, seemed possessed.”

"The car just started shaking violently; I lost steering," Savage said. "I was just thinking, I have to get this car off the road, or I'm going to get hit." Savage was shocked when he looked underneath his Subaru Forester. The control arm, which holds the wheels straight, had suddenly snapped off from the frame of his vehicle.

What should shoppers do if they are shopping for a used Forester or Subaru Impreza?

If you live in one of the "salt belt" states, have a mechanic inspect the vehicle for any rust issues. If you live in another part of the country, check if the Subaru Forester has been registered in any of the twenty-one states and if the parts were replaced or received antirust spray treatment.

Taking the extra time to have the used 2003-2008 Subaru Forester or 2002-2007 Impreza inspected thoroughly could save you time and money.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: The Auto Channel, Subaru USA


Andrew (not verified)    December 24, 2021 - 6:00PM

My wife and I own a 2016 Subaru Forester Limited and we are very pleased with it. But now the chickens are coming home to roost...or should I say rust.
We went to the dealer for routine service and they told us rust might be a serious problem in the near future.
And just yesterday when my daughter was unloading stuff from the rear trunk the door fell on her...! The bolt holding the trunk door failed and brok. Under close examination, we noticed it was all rusted and it had snapped

JoAnne (not verified)    December 6, 2022 - 12:21PM

Our 2017 Subaru Forrester Touring model started shaking violently this month and it was determined that the upper and lower arms are experiencing considerable movement and need replaced. This is a known Subaru problem but not recalled. I’m very disappointed in the reliability of our car. What to do?

Chris Parsons (not verified)    January 9, 2023 - 12:23AM

Watch 2020 White Foresters. I have a warranty claim in with Subaru Australia who have admitted that rust was found in all four doors, front and rear crash bars and tailgate hinges. Don't think this is once off other cars must also be affected.

Aida Cantu Amador (not verified)    May 5, 2023 - 3:43PM

I have a Subaru forester my sister bought it in Michigan then gave it to me it's a 2008 i'm going to have it check from the arms.