Q: Reliability and the four wheel drive system - 2016 Subaru Forester

asked by on September 15, 2016

Was told to avoid the Subarus do to head gasket problems and four wheel drive problems..I didn't listen i got a 2016 i love this forester so fare..did i make the right move?

My car has 6000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hello. I will be glad to help you relative to your question about the reliability of the 2016 Forester. "Reliability" data on all vehicles is available from at least two very significant and authoritative sources. The first is the NHTSA - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - database of complaints that is model year and make specific. Typically, if there is a systematic problem (e.g., head gasket in your query) with a "particular" model or year, you will see a lot of customer complaints logged into NHTSA’s online searchable database at NHTSA website.

You will also get an indication of any problem areas in specific vehicle systems by searching at that same site for Technical Service Bulletins (TSB’s) for your specific vehicle. I did a quick search of the NHTSA database for the 2015 Forester which revealed only 81 Complaints and 12 TSB’s none of which implicated the head gasket or 4-wheel drive problems. Furthermore, in my experience, to see merely 81 Complaints logged for a particular model year is really low. On some cars if you do random checks of the database as I have done over the years, you will see literally hundreds of complaints.

Another source of reliability data comes from the Consumer Reports annual survey of vehicle owners from which they have compiled (for many, many years now) extremely detailed statistical reliability reports for every major vehicle system for all of the makes and models out there. The data is reported on a model year basis, too. That data is readily available in the Library, or online by subscription. I did not look up the CR data but I doubt that you will find any significant indication of a problem, certainly nothing that exceeds "average" failure rates that are associated with cars.

To sum it up, if you want to gain a really detailed understanding of what issues have arisen for owners of your particular car, your best bet is to read the fairly detailed entries in the NHTSA database (i.e., in your case, the complete text of the 81 Complaints). But keep in mind, even out of these 81 complaints, many are quite irrelevant as people will often complain about very routine, unavoidable failures and will even report their own "crashes" as the facts disclosed have nothing to do with any particular vehicle fault.

The point is, as I would have expected, the number of complaints for Foresters covering any of the major vehicle systems is actually quite low. So you made a good choice. Your car will be reliable as long as it is well-maintained. But if you run into any issues, or need maintenance, feel free to get in touch with a certified technician from YourMechanic.

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