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Subaru is synonymous with reliability, and the automaker has a long-standing reputation for building incredible vehicles that stand the test of time. The Forester is no exception. This popular Subaru model remains a favorite among consumers, even though a few model years prove to be more problematic than others.

Some Forester models of years past have more maintenance issues. So, what are some of the absolute worst used Subaru Forester models? CarComplaints suggests these three years were certainly not the Forester’s best.

A 2014 Subaru Forester  on display at an auto show.
2014 Subaru Forester | Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

1. 2014 Subaru Forester has engine and oil issues 

You’re usually not going to have to worry about reliability with even the older Subaru Forester models. However, the 2014 model year proved to be chock-full of engine and oil issues, as CarComplaints describes. With more than 50 vehicle owner complaints regarding engine-related concerns, it might be worth staying away from altogether. 

In terms of oil complaints, 2014 Forester owners claim to top off their oil reservoirs upwards of four times for every 5,000 miles. Despite seeming excessive, Subaru’s response was that those needs for oil were well within “normal specifications.”

These excessive oil consumption complaints also prove to be costly, especially if engine replacement is necessary, costing $2,000 on average. It’s also important to note these issues arose early in ownership, around 31,550 miles.

As many as 31 owners cite these oil-related issues, while others experienced different engine concerns. These include engine dying (9,) rough idling (3,) and sudden engine surges (3.)

2. 2015 Subaru Forester has the most documented complaints of all 

Of all the used Subaru Forester models with complaints against them, the 2015 model year may be the worst of all. With more than 100 documented owner complaints, it’s been a downright nightmare for some owners. The previous model year’s oil consumption problem tops the complaint list for 2015, too. But that’s not all. 

Forester owners also cite interior features malfunctions, including more than 10 reports of the vehicle’s Bluetooth connectivity not working, which costs roughly $150 to fix. Others shared issues with voice recognition failures, the Eyesight Driver Assist not engaging properly, and a bizarre dash vibration.

Still, for other owners, cruise control shut off randomly, and fuel/speed displays would disappear from view. And these various concerns seem to present early, around 35,000 miles.

3. 2016 Subaru Forester has electrical, engine, and transmission concerns 


3 Best Used Subaru Forester Model Years Under $15,000 in 2023

There’s an engine acceleration problem occurring around 35,000 miles that’s plaguing owners of 2016 Subaru Forester models. Other acceleration complaints for this year include acceleration “dead spots” and jerking when applying gas. There are electrical problems to note, too. Repairs range from $50 to 150, depending on the actionable solution taken.

Other problematic Subaru Forester model years

The 2014, 2015, and 2016 model years weren’t the greatest for Subaru Forester owners. But the three sequential years that followed weren’t especially reliable either. Based on the CarComplaints collection of actual reports from vehicle owners, 2017, 2018, and 2019 were also problematic for many.

Owners of 2017 Forester models had complaints of transmission troubles. And 2018 Forester owners cited issues with their windows, windshields, and interior accessories. Even the relatively newer 2019 models have concerns with electrical components, interior accessories, and windows. And many of these documented problems presented before these Forester models hit 40,000 miles.

In general used Foresters continue to be fan favorites because they’re reliable and dependable vehicles. But even Subaru has maintenance woes.