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Subaru Has A Model That's One Of The Most Expensive To Maintain - One That's The Least

Subaru Forester rates high for 10 year maintenance costs and Impreza is rated one of the lowest. Should you avoid buying a 2020 Subaru Forester?

Your Mechanic website has a large database of vehicle maintenance costs and has compiled the most expensive cars and brands and the least expensive to maintain over the first 10 years of a vehicle’s life. But there is more to consider when buying a new car.

They report the Subaru Forester has a fairly high cost to maintain over a 10 year period. Forester comes in at number 10 on the list with a 10-year cost-to-own of $12,200 ($1,220 per year average). The Chrysler Sebring is the highest cost to own car at $17,100 over 10 years.

2020 Subaru Forester

According to the website, another Subaru, the Impreza compact sedan and 5-Door model are one of the lowest costs to maintain cars. Impreza comes in at number 20 on the least expensive list with a 10-year cost-to-own of $7,500 ($750 per year average). The Toyota Prius is the lowest cost to own vehicles at $4,300 over a 10-year life span. There is more to a vehicle’s ownership cost than just maintenance.

Look at a vehicle’s total cost-to-own

Does it mean you should avoid buying a 2020 Subaru Forester? Your Mechanic is just looking at one factor in owning a vehicle. According to Kelly Blue Book, the Subaru Forester is rated the lowest 5-year cost-to-own vehicle in the Compact SUV category. For the initial five-year ownership period, Forester is the lowest compact SUV. In addition to maintenance and repairs, you also need to look at the total cost-to-own which includes fuel, financing, insurance, and one of the biggest factors, depreciation.

2020 Subaru Forester

Your Mechanic says Subaru’s lineup of nine models has an average 10-year cost-to-own of $8,200 ($820) which ranks number 11 out of 30 automakers. Subaru vehicles incur less maintenance costs than 19 other brands. According to a survey of owners by Consumer Reports, Subaru vehicles incurred total out-of-pocket maintenance costs of $267 in year 5 and $500 in year 10, much less than what Your Mechanic is reporting.

As everyone knows, maintenance costs of any vehicle you buy will increase as the car ages. The longer you keep it, the more likely you will have more expensive costs like a transmission or engine rebuild. Other factors include how you drive the vehicle and if it has had the recommended maintenance performed.

Should you avoid the 2020 Subaru Forester? There is more to a vehicle’s ownership cost than just maintenance. When a car’s total costs are factored in, Subaru vehicles incur fewer costs than all mainstream automaker’s lineups. You need to consider all costs that include fuel, maintenance, repairs, financing, insurance, and one of the biggest factors of all, depreciation which could mean more money in your pocket when you sell or trade in the vehicle.

You Might Also Like: Subaru Takes Best Resale Value Brand From Toyota And Earns 5 Segment Awards

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!

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Photo credit: Subaru


John Fischer (not verified)    June 10, 2020 - 1:56PM

This is all useful information if you're considering buying a 10 year old Forester. It means virtually nothing though if you're looking to buy a 2020 as they are nothing alike and the repairs costs of a 2010 have little bearing on a 2020.

Rick Ludolph (not verified)    June 11, 2020 - 10:53AM

In reply to by John Fischer (not verified)

My experience of owning 3Foresters validates this research as both of my previous Foresters needed costly head gasket replacements at just under 10 years. My 3rd is a 2020 model and I expect the same with it as the design flaw continues.

Andy Klink (not verified)    June 10, 2020 - 3:58PM

My guess is this is due to the oil consumption issues on the Forester. My 2012 blew its engine after 5 years and 70k miles.I have to add a quart about every 1500 miles in the used replacement engine.

Brooke Gordon (not verified)    June 11, 2020 - 11:52AM

In reply to by Andy Klink (not verified)

I have this problem also - not quite to 70k (on my 2014), but getting there. Have to add a quart in between oil changes every time. Overall it is an amazing vehicle, and given how it drives, how safe it is, etc. I wouldn't get anything else, but it does have some irritating problems.

Don (not verified)    December 15, 2021 - 6:07AM

In reply to by Andy Klink (not verified)

2010-2014 2.5 liter engines had a well documented problem with oil consumption. It was fixed in 2015 by Subaru. Recent models do not have the problem. My brother in law’s Subaru has over 300k miles with zero motor issues (he said it burned oil though) but lost it’s transmission around 250k and believe it or not, Subaru fixed for free…….with a new one. Some kind of extended warranty issue covered it. My 2019 Forester has 16k miles and has not had a oil consumption issue. With one oil change it has not shown and consumption at all, yet.

Benign Bodger (not verified)    June 10, 2020 - 4:27PM

I notice that no mention is made about WHY there is such a difference between models. So far as I know the two vehicles have pretty much the same drivetrain -- the plain vanilla Subaru AWD package. So, if you can say what causes this difference...

Shikami Ken (not verified)    June 11, 2020 - 2:58PM

In reply to by Benign Bodger (not verified)

The best I know is the first Forester was basically build on an impresser chassis and the performance of both models though thought different are the same. More flaws are observed at Subaru after the takeover by Toyota. I stand corrected.

mike j (not verified)    June 10, 2020 - 7:20PM

Let's see....plan on CV joint boots at between 70 and 100K miles...dealers get about $400 per side. Wheel bearings at all 4 wheels at 100K to 125K miles at $300+ per wheel. If you're handy, you can do each of these repairs for less than $50 each and it will take you less time to do it at home than it would for you to take your car in. Oh yeah, don't lean too hard on your car's body panels since you will leave a depression.

Joe B (not verified)    June 10, 2020 - 9:02PM

The data from Your Mechanic is from 2016. I'm not sure how accurate that is for someone purchasing new today?

Yal (not verified)    June 11, 2020 - 11:20AM

^^Correct, the 2010 Forester has the EJ25 engine and a lot of mechanics figure in the cost of timing belt replacement and cost of headgasket replacement to that engine by default. Especially when its 10 years old and has a lot of miles on it. Jury is still out on the new FB25 engine, but it has a timing chain so thats hundreds of dollars off the maintenance cost compared to EJ25.

Ken (not verified)    January 25, 2021 - 9:34PM

In reply to by Yal (not verified)

Newer Subarus have direct injection fuel systems, which will likely require additional maintenance costs of over $500 every 30k to 60k miles, to physically clean fouled intake valves. Some people will remark that this negative aspect of direct injection "has been corrected." It hasn't. Toyota, and some Ford engines, use a combination of direct- and port-injection, which should at least partly mitigate the problem. Newer Subarus also have much more complex electronics to troubleshoot, if a problem develops.

Lou (not verified)    January 15, 2022 - 5:02PM

My 2017 Impreza with 85k miles is in the shop as I write this comment with a cam carrier reseal at $4,500. I heard it's not a common problem but still disappointed.

Jennifer Priebe (not verified)    November 23, 2022 - 6:04AM

I owned a Forester for 7 years from when it was new and I agree with the company stats. I had no repairs until the 7th year and it was the batteries on the tire pressure sensors. All I did was new battery, new tires and new brake pads and oil changes which I consider to be the bare minimum.

Biswajit (not verified)    January 9, 2023 - 6:56AM

I own a new 2020 Subaru forester, its little less then 2 years and i have already driven for 60k, to my surprise the timing pully and tension pully was damaged in 30k mileage and both were replaced under warranty. Fuel consumption still a issue specially just before the service is due. i am really worries on head gasket as i had the same issue before with my impela on 200K milage.