really awful
Crashes / Fires:
8 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
3 / 0
Average Mileage:
48,556 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2003 Subaru Forester engine problems

engine problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2003 Subaru Forester:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2003 Subaru Forester Owner Comments

problem #14

Apr 222016


  • 150,000 miles


I was driving on the highway, going straight, when suddenly my car started accelerating at full speed. I checked and made sure my foot was on the break instead of the gas, which it was. The car proceeded to move forward even with both of my feet and all of my weight on the break, and it started accelerating again because the break could not stop it or hold on. I pulled to the side of the road and threw the car in park even though it was still going 15 mph and climbing. Even in park, the engine was going as hard as it could go. I have not driven the car since.

- Baltimore, MD, USA

problem #13

Sep 092011

Forester 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
2013 Subaru. Consumer writes in regards to brake problems. The consumer stated almost from the moment, he purchased the vehicle, he and his wife experienced problems with the brakes. The consumer stated on two occasions, his wife experienced a slow brake response. The consumer stated the first time the incident happened, his wife was driving downhill and when she attempted to apply the brake, the vehicle would not stop, which resulted in an accident. His wife suffered a back injury. The second time the incident happened, his wife was driving again, and the brakes did not respond. Consequently, his wife had another accident. The consumer also stated the air bags did not deploy in either accident. Updated 04/04/14

- Omaha, NE, USA

problem #12

Jul 102013


  • 89,500 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Subaru Forester. The contact stated that the vehicle was placed into park and suddenly accelerated. The contact depressed the brakes until he was able to shift into neutral and stop the vehicle. The contact took the vehicle to the dealer however, the dealer was unable to determine what caused the failure. The VIN was not available. The failure and the current mileages were 89,500.

- Richland, WA, USA

problem #11

Aug 152012

Forester 4-cyl

  • 55,000 miles


While parking at the office, the car suddenly accelerated. I was able to stop it by braking hard. There was no rug obstructing the accelerator or brakes. I ware a size 7 shoe, therefore there is no possibility of pressing both pedals at the same time. It was scary.

- Saint Joseph, MI, USA

problem #10

Apr 172010


  • 71,000 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Subaru Forester. While pulling out of the driveway, the vehicle suddenly began to accelerate up to 35 mph after the contact released the accelerator pedal. The vehicle crashed into a tree and was totaled. The contact was injured as a result of the crash. The vehicle had not been inspected at the time of the complaint. The failure mileage was approximately 71,000.

- New Paltz, NY, USA

problem #9

Sep 202005


  • 49,000 miles
The contact owned a 2003 Subaru Forester. While driving at speeds of less than 20 mph and entering her driveway, the vehicle abnormally accelerated at a rapid speed. The vehicle crashed into her home causing considerable damages to the vehicle and her home. The airbags did not deploy at the time of impact, however she did not sustain any injuries. The manufacturer was not contacted and repairs were paid by her insurance company. On a separate occasion, while driving at speeds of less than 15 mph and entering her driveway from the main street, the vehicle again abnormally accelerated at a rapid rate of speed, crashing into the rear wall of her home. The vehicle did not stop and proceeded to crash into her garage and into the rear wall of a neighboring home. She did not recall if she attempted to depress the brake pedal at the time because the incident happened within a matter of seconds. The police were called to the scene and a report was filed accordingly. The vehicle was destroyed. The night before the incident the vehicle was taken in for regular scheduled maintenance. She was not advised that there were any issues with the vehicle. The initial failure mileage was unknown, however the mileage was 49,000 when the vehicle was destroyed. The VIN was not available.

- Troy, NY, USA

problem #8

Feb 222010


  • 82,000 miles


On Monday, February 22, 2010, I had an incident of "unintended acceleration" on pooks hill road and Wisconsin avenue. I was stopping for a red light when I put on the brakes and the car accelerated instead of slowing and stopping. To avoid hitting the car in front of me, I swerved instead to my right into a snow bank. It was approximately 2:45 P.M. I was driving a Subaru Forester "all wheel drive" 2003 vehicle. Despite the all wheel drive, I could not get out of the icy snow bank and had to be towed out by aaa. It was a frightening experience.

- Bethesda, MD, USA

problem #7

Jul 172008


  • 77,920 miles
While driving 60 mph with cruise control engaged, I entered town limits and pressed switch to de-activate cruise control; nothing happened; depressed brake pedal; nothing happened- car did not slow down; frantically tried everything several times more using clutch, brake and emergency brake. Had to take a turn at high speed to avoid a tractor trailer stopped at light; car eventually stopped after making the turn and yanking up emergency brake.

- Salisbury, MD, USA

problem #6

Jul 262006

Forester 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
The contact owns a 2003 Subaru Forester. The consumer stated when she placed the vehicle in reverse the vehicle accelerated rapidly. The consumer hit a pole the consumer stated the brakes did not work. The vehicle continued to rev and accelerated and crashed into a gated display of propane tanks and an ice-cream machine. The consumer stated she was going to the dealer because her cruise control was not working. Updated

- Franklin, PA, USA

problem #5

Jul 172007

Forester 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 42,878 miles
The contact owns a 2003 Subaru Forester. While driving 35 mph, the vehicle failed to come to a complete stop when the brake pedal was depressed. The contact stated that when he released the brake pedal, the vehicle accelerated without him depressing the accelerator pedal. The dealer stated that the throttle plate was stuck open. As of July 18, 2007, the vehicle has not been repaired. The current and failure mileages were 42,878. Updated 09/18/07

- Waukesha, WI, USA

problem #4

Jul 072005

Forester 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,000 miles


2003 Subaru Forester speed control malfunction. While backing out of the parking space, the vehicle suddenly took off in an uncontrollable manner and struck two parked vehicles that were 10 feet away. One of the vehicle's hit another causing damage.

- Flemington, NJ, USA

problem #3

Apr 052005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 11,000 miles
While backing out of a parking space the vehicle accelerated. No impact reported. The problem had not been completely corrected. The consumer almost hit a pedestrian in a parking lot due to this problem. When backing out, the vehicle started out slow but would then surge in reverse. The brakes felt spongy. The front brake pads were sticking to the sliders. The pads were removed and the corrosion was cleaned. The vehicle accelerated like it was in cruise and when the consumers foot was taken off of the gas, the speed would remain the same.

- Rochester, NY, USA

problem #2

Dec 272004

Forester 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 1,900 miles
The vehicle shot forward when put in reverse causing it to hit the front door of a store. The owner then placed the vehicle in drive and the vehicle shot in reverse, while accelerating forward, the consumer almost hit a house. Owner will contact the manufacturer. Cause not yet determined.

- Pittsburgh, PA, USA

problem #1

Aug 092003

Forester 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 13,580 miles
I have a 2003 Subaru Forester and I was pulling in a parking spot at a horse farm, with my foot on the brake and the car just accelerated and I hit a tree. I have tried to contact Subaru of America and they have not called me back. My dealer has replaced the computer but is not able to state this will resolve the problem. I have put $305 for car rental $250 deductible for insurance out of my pocket not to also include a day of work missed due to trying to stop car with both feet on brake and banged both knees. Also I can not express the fear that this has put in me because they have not given me any reasons or answers. They just ignored the whole issue. I do know other Subaru's have had this problem. My family has been buy these cars since the 80's. I would have sworn by this company until now. I can not believe they would deny such an issue. Are they waiting for someone to become seriously hurt. I now cry at the commercial that states the Forester is the safest SUV. I trust my dealer but how can I be sure if they replaced the proper parts if Subaru will not even acknowledge the problem. My dealer has tried to go above and beyond but can not state that replacement will be resolution. I don't feel my insurance or myself should be put out do to a mechanical problem that has been brought to their attention before. I an scared to death every time I get behind the wheel of this car and any other car at this time.

- Hamilton, NJ, USA

Not what you are looking for?