Piston Slap: Seeing the Forester for the Trees?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap seeing the forester for the trees

Jim writes:


I hope you are well. I have several questions regarding my 2011 Forester (5 speed):

a) I drive 8 to 10K annually and change the 5w-20 every 6 months. Is this sufficient?

b) Subaru keeps sending me extended warranty offers. This tells me that I likely don’t need it. What do you think? My favorite moment when purchasing the Forester: The F & I rep mentioning “If people want to drive around without the extended warranty, it is not my problem.”

I have been surprisingly happy with this car. It handles well, is quick and I’ve been getting 23mpg city and 28 to 30 on the highway. I found this to be a much more enjoyable drive than a CR-V, RAV4 (not great at all) or the old Escape.

Best wishes,


Sajeev answers:

I am well, thank you so much for asking! If my googling is correct, Subaru has a somewhat complicated service schedule for 2011 models. To wit:

  • 2011 Outback, Legacy, Tribeca, Impreza, (exc turbos): Some owner’s manuals will recommend using synthetic but not require it. Owners manuals printed around March 2011 presumably indicate all Subarus require synthetic oil.
  • All 2011 models use 5w-30 except the Forester X which uses 0w-20

Oops. This leads me to believe you are using the wrong oil (20 weight), and indirectly justy-fies (get it?) the North American Subaru Impreza Owner’s Club’s sub-forum for warranty problems. That said, I think your oil change interval is acceptable, based on your letter and my first hyperlink. You could extend your oil change intervals to whatever the dashboard may tell you, but I don’t see the utility in it.

On to your warranty question: most Subies fare quite well if they receive regular maintenance and are NOT owned by the stereotypical clutch-murdering, turbo-overboosting WRX owner. The mere fact that you wrote a nice letter with good detail implies you will take good care of this vehicle and will love it. As such, no need for the warranty.

And go back and hug that F&I person for “not caring”, reminding them that this level of indifference is precisely what the automotive retailing industry needs to restore its regularly-tarnished image. Or not.

My last point: if you didn’t ask me how I was doing and wrote about owning (not leasing) damn near anything from Europe made in the last decade, well, that would be a different story.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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6 of 37 comments
  • Jim Zellmer Jim Zellmer on Mar 07, 2012

    I appreciate Sajeev's words and these comments. I mis-typed the oil information. The photo is close, in fact the color is correct, but, unfortunately, the turbo motor (hood scoop) is only available with a 4 speed slushbox..... I simply could not envision purchasing a 2011 car with a 4 speed of any type. Perhaps Subaru will update the Forester with the CVT. A 6 speed manual is of course preferred. Finally, I agree with a number of comments regarding the Forester's size and market position. I drove the competitors and was largely disappointed with their dynamics. Perhaps Ford's Kuga (US Escape) will improve their game.

    • See 3 previous
    • Grzydj Grzydj on Mar 08, 2012

      @Ubermensch I had an '06 Forester with the 4EAT and didn't care much for it, so I traded it in on a WRX with a manual. Drove that for a while and sold it and later ended up with an '06 Impreza 2.5i with the 4EAT. The difference in weight between the Forester and Impreza makes the Impreza a lot more fun to drive, even though it has the same engine and transmission, but it's 300 + pounds lighter.

  • Dolorean Dolorean on Mar 08, 2012

    Sajeev, I'm digging that obscure Justy reference as a pun. The Justy was Subaru's answer to a question nobody asked; 4WD in a sub-compact, two-door, too tall, hatchback with a little over 5" of ground clearance riding on those 13" tires.

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