hardly worth mentioning
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
104,187 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.

2004 Subaru Forester engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Subaru Forester Owner Comments

problem #17

Dec 072016


  • 149,966 miles


The contact owns a 2004 Subaru Forester. When the vehicle was started, a very strong fuel odor emerged from the engine compartment. The fuel tank leaked fuel onto the manifold. The failure was diagnosed by an independent mechanic as a fuel tank leak. The manufacturer was not notified of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 149,966.

- Windsor, CO, USA

problem #16

Oct 112016


  • 110,000 miles
The contact owned a 2004 Subaru Forester. While driving various speeds, the rpms began to increase and the vehicle overheated. The vehicle was pulled over to the side of the road and caught fire from the engine compartment. The fire was extinguished by the fire department. There were no injuries and a police report was not filed. The vehicle was towed and later deemed destroyed. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 110,000.

- Dixon, IL, USA

problem #15

Jan 052015

Forester 4-cyl

  • 130,000 miles
To whom it may concern, hello, I am the owner of a 2004 Forester xt which I love. I've owned the car for almost a year and its been nothing but reliable up to this point. The weather outside is frightful, and with that comes a common problem for many Subaru owners. During the cold snaps, say below 20F, there is strong fuel smells which fills the cabin. It only happens during start-up, and lasts about 15 mins before the car warms up. From searching many forums and internet threads it seems this problem has been occurring since early 2001. There was a recall notice (wvk-21)for the 2002 -2003 WRX's which had a same problem I am experiencing now. Unfortunately a recall was never issued for later model Subaru which suffer the same problem. The problem is fuel leaking from 5 main fuel lines going into the intake manifold. It seems that when it is cold outside, the lines are shrinking and is allowing fuel to spew out everywhere. Just from searching for 3 days I've seen 125 cases of this happening to other owners. Will you please put out a bulletin before someone dies from there car exploding because of extra fuel leaking out of the fuel hoses. Please I beg of you, please issue a recall!!!

- Dayton , OH, USA

problem #14

Nov 112014


  • 96,000 miles


The smell of fuel became obvious after a 10-15 minute drive. Upon examination, there was fuel dripping from a fuel line. This occurred after the first freeze of the year, fitting other descriptions of this issue I found for this model.

- Fayetteville, AR, USA

problem #13

Feb 122014

Forester 4-cyl

  • 76,485 miles
2004 Subaru Forester xt had catastrophic engine and turbo failure while driving on highway. It is clear that my vehicle suffered from Subaru service center negligence and a design flaw of a banjo bolt that filters oil to the turbo but easily gets clogged, shutting off oil to the turbo, causing oil deprivation to the turbo, burning out the turbo, and causing fragments to get into the engine, blowing out the engine as well. While I was spared an accident and injury, it was a close call as while I was driving I suddenly had a failure to accelerate, and very nearly was plowed in from behind by a large tractor trailer truck. My car now requires a complete replacement of engine and turbo, costing in excess of $7,000. I have decided to sell the vehicle rather than bearing the huge expense required to repair. The issue with this banjo bolt and Subaru turbo / engines of this era are well documented on the internet automobile forums and in social media. Subaru should compensate owners for devaluing their cars, and should have a recall before more drivers are harmed or killed.

- Scarsdale, NY, USA

problem #12

Feb 072014

Forester 4-cyl

  • 126,000 miles
Fuel lines crack in cold weather (approx under 25 and under). Strong fuel smell in cabin was enough to make passengers ill, car was not drivable. Fuel was pooling in the engine bay near the hot turbo and exhaust system. Contacted dealership, service writer knew what the issue was as soon as I told him make, model and year - said it's very common. Found pages of complaints on NHTSA site and hundreds in forums. Subaru issued a recall for the same issue on the 2003 generation WRX vehicles, but not the Foresters. This is a major problems. Subaru's are purchased as ideal snow vehicle, and repairs cost upward of $600. This is a direct safety issue.

- Richmond, CA, USA

problem #11

Dec 302013

Forester 4-cyl

  • 120,000 miles


Very strong fuel smell in the car with heater on so strong have to roll window down. Happens 2 to 3 times a week on cold days. Strongest when its a cold start.

- Aurora, IL, USA

problem #10

Jan 152014

Forester 4-cyl

  • 68,000 miles
In very cold weather (less than 10 F) the rubber gas lines leak very significant amounts of gas onto the engine and verynear the hot turbocharger. Another Subaru just caught fire in the O'neill tunnel. boston.cbslocal.com/2014/01/27/car-fire-causes-backup-in-oneill-tunnel/

- Grafton, MA, USA

problem #9

Jan 282014

Forester 4-cyl

  • 87,000 miles
On very cold days while car is warming up, a strong smell of fuel is coming from under the intake manifold. A closer inspection reveals a small fuel leak from the fuel supply lines near the turbo. A Subaru impreza enthusiast forum has a "raw fuel smell" log of more than 131 pages and 3,000 posts (forums.nasioc.com/forums/showthread.php?T=131755). Subaru issued a technical service bulletin (tsb) for certain Subaru imprezas, but they have not initiated any tsbs for any other cars all using the same or similar engines. See tsb 01-170-09. As leaking fuel onto your engine is a safety hazard, I would like to see Subaru initiate some kind of tsb or recall for all engines experiencing this problem. I understand many Subaru owners have complained to Subaru and NHTSA with no results.

- St. Peters, MO, USA

problem #8

Jan 022013

Forester 4-cyl

  • 117,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Subaru Forester. The contact stated when the temperature dropped, fuel fumes were emitted in and around the vehicle. The vehicle was not taken to the dealer for inspection. The manufacturer was not made aware of the failure. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure and current mileage was 117,000. The intake manifold was replaced. Updated 03/12/14 updated 3/12/14 the fuel lines, clamps and upper intake gaskets were replaced. The fuel lines were cracked. Updated 04/01/14

- Harrisburg, PA, USA

problem #7

Jan 012013


  • 129,000 miles


Strong smell of gasoline upon starting the car in very cold weather. Inside and outside the vehicle. Only happens when it is cold outside. Really gives me a headache and makes me nervous about igniting.

- Waterbury, CT, USA

problem #6

Jan 062014

Forester 4-cyl

  • 87,000 miles
During the recent cold snap here in Tennessee I got a report from a friend that his 2004 Forester xt was leaking fuel into his engine bay. I went out to start my car the next day and mine is doing the same thing. The fuel is slowly leaking onto the engine block. This is an extremely dangerous situation. I did some researching and it seems that almost all Forester models from 2002-2006 have this exact same issue! some have been recalled, but the Forester xt hasn't. the engines are the same...I don't understand why this dangerous problem hasn't been resolved by Subaru.

- Sevierville, TN, USA

problem #5

Mar 092012


  • 119,000 miles
There has been a continuous oil leak from my 2004 Subaru Forester xs. My mechanic diagnosed the problem as a leak in the main seal between the transmission and the engine. This is not normal and it will cost me $1,000 to fix because the transmission will have to be removed. There are other complaints registered about similar oil leaks in this model year. Subaru should investigate.

- Hamilton, NJ, USA

problem #4

Jan 102012


  • 118,148 miles
There was a very strong gasoline smell inside the car (2004 Subaru Forester xs) that happened in cold weather during January 2012. It happened again just recently in January 2013. It was so strong it made the driver and passenger have a headache and become nauseous. Many other owners have reported the very same thing and have not been successful in getting Subaru to at least investigate. Subaru has issued a recall for the WRX model, but not for the Forester. This is a health and safety risk that should be taken care of by Subaru.

- Hamilton, NJ, USA

problem #3

Dec 012010

Forester 4-cyl

  • 75,000 miles
Strong fuel odor inside cabin developed when operating on cold mornings; fuel odor typically went away within 15 minutes of starting the car. Inspection of fuel lines, filter, etc. Revealed no obvious leaks above the intake manifold. Dealer quoted approximately $800 to remove intake manifold and inspect. I have had two independent shops attempt to fix this issue over the past 3 years with varying degrees of success; the most recent (2011) removed the intake manifold and replaced all rubber fuel lines under the manifold, but the problem has recurred this fall and winter and at increasingly warm temperatures. Now, there is a visible and obvious leak from a fuel line just as it goes under the manifold--inaccessible without removing the manifold. Clearly, the problem is with the design of the metal fuel rail to rubber line interface, since this is a common problem in Forester xts across several model years. Subaru of America issued a recall for this problem on the WRX, but so far has not acknowledged the problem for the Forester or Forester xt. This is a costly repair and a huge safety issue: The leaking fuel drips directly onto the engine cylinder heads and in some cases (on passenger-side fuel line leaks) is in close proximity to the turbocharger--representing a significant risk of engine fire. The fuel fumes in the cabin are also a health and safety risk which should be dealt with by Subaru.

- Faifax, VA, USA

problem #2

Aug 302012

Forester 4-cyl

  • 84,572 miles
The engine overheated and seized while on a freeway without a single warning light regarding high temp or check engine. No coolant was visible in the radiator during inspection after the incident. Shouldn't a 21st century driver/owner be notified by some indicator that they are on the verge of heating an engine to the point of failure" and where did the coolant go? does this vehicle have a history of bad thermostats I'm not aware of" it would have been a lot safer if there were some warning light for high temp so we can pull over to allow the car to cool down in order to prevent an accident and save the engine.

- Dublin, OH, USA

problem #1

Sep 042012


  • 78,000 miles
The contact owns a 2004 Subaru Forester. The contact stated there was a slight leak of oil coming from the engine that was dripping into the catylitic converter. The vehicle was taken to dealer after learning of NHTSA recall campaign id number: 04V473000 (engine and engine cooling). The manufacturer was made aware of the failure who did not offer any assistance since the vehicle was not included in any recalls. The failure mileage was 78,000 and the current mileage was 80,000.

- New York, NY, USA

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