Subaru Advice

Parent Q&A

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  • Our head gasket is leaking, and we need to rebuild the engine! I guess this is a known issue for 2000 - 2004 Subarus, so some shops probably have quite a lot of experience with it. We've avoided this so far; we bought the car 2nd hand a few years ago and it is still low mileage... Did someone do a great job rebuilding your Subaru engine? I'd love to hear about it.   

    Greater East Bay. We have a quote for $2700 from a shop in Santa Cruz where a friend had a great experience with getting the same work done, but we'd rather not drive it that far.  A lower price would be welcome, but not expected with prices where they are these days.

    Thank you!

    We've never used them for an engine rebuild, but XYZ Motors on 29th in Oakland has been servicing our 2004 Subaru Forester for many years and we've been happy with them.  Might be worth giving them a call. 

    I love XYZ Motors in Oakland, Broadway about 30th.  Hieu has helped keep our Subarus on the road at a fair price: we have old ones (1999) and newer ones (2017).  Try him at 510 835 8882!

  • Hi BPN Outback owners - 

    I'd like to have a hitch mount installed onto my 2016 Subaru Outback so I can put on a bike carrier, not to tow.  My research seems to indicate two options.  The first is to go to the dealer, who will remove the back bumper and lights in order to install the mount by bolting it onto the frame.  The cost is $1100-1200.  I watched a Youtube video of this process and it looks like a lot of work for someone like me.  The positive is that no drilling into the frame is involved.  The other option is that several non-dealers who sell bike racks will also install the hitch mount for about half the cost.  But they will expand two existing holes and drill two additional holes into the frame.  Of course they tell me this doesn't impact my warranty or compromise safety.  

    Has anyone had a hitch mount installed onto a fairly late model Subaru Outback and can you share your experience?  thanks, Want to Ride Far Away

    I went to UHaul for my RAV4 hitch and it was quick and cheap. I didn't get the tow package (bigger water pump and wiring), just the hitch because I was only planning on using it for bikes. If you think that you might want to tow, uhaul can install a tow package also. They were maybe 1/3 of the cost of the dealer and really nice. 

    I have a 2011 Outback and had a class II hitch installed on it to tow an 1100 pound teardrop trailer and bikes. My hitch was installed by Barstad & Donicht in San Leandro which has recently closed but it cost about $500 and didn't involve removing the bumper. Try U-Haul or the local RV/trailer places. If you're going to buy a hitch buy one that will see you through all your adventures!

    I don't know about Subarus specifically but I bought a hitch off Amazon for like $160 and installed it myself but my local service station (Piedmont Shell) would have done it for like $65.

    Hitch buying configurator on Amazon should tell you what to buy if you put in the year and model.

  • Looking for an updated recommendation for Subaru repair in the Bay Area (current postings are quite old). Looking for honest, reasonably priced mechanic. Thanks!

    I've heard good things about Art's Automative. I just went with a newer subaru (was just an oil/filter change), but place really struck me as high quality with no penchant for upselling on unnecessary work (we first heard of Art's because a friend was impressed when they talked her down from a repair that some other place had said was needed). Almost flawless yelp reviews, too.

    We have used Art's Automotive on San Pablo, just north of Ashby, for over a decade for our Subaru and Toyota. They only work on Japanese cars and we really like them. Professional, polite, educated, prompt and never seem to be unreasonable. They explain things, give options and seem quite honest. They will tell you when they aren't the cheapest but explain why. We have had nothing but excellent service there. We just sold our Subaru after owning it for 15 years and nothing they repaired ever went wrong. Best wishes. 

    Chris at Oceanworks 2 runs a really good garage.  I've been taking my Subaru there for years after becoming disenchanted with arts automotive. As a woman, I have always been treated fairly and respectfully by Chris, and my car is well cared for.

    Steve's Auto Care on San Pablo in El Cerrito, near the del Norte Bart station.  Honest, reasonably priced, and they know what they are doing.  I have been taking my Subarus there for 15 years or so.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Bought a used Subaru - whither owner's manual?

Sept 2013

I bought a used Subaru, very clean and with ridiculously low mileage, from a dealer. The owner's manual was not included. It would be sort of nice to have one, but I don't want to spring for the retail cost of having the dealer order one. Where would be the best source of such a thing? Thanks. Motor Mouth Mama

If you don't mind accessing it online, Subaru posts all their owners manuals here: For a hard copy, try searching for it by model and year on eBay - people often sell owners manuals there. Or you could print just the pages you're most likely to need from the PDFs on the Subaru website, or send them to a copy shop for printing. JP ----------------------------------- You can download Subaru owner manuals (2000 onward) here: AboutTheSame

i like having the factory manual if the car will be around... ebay, used parts places (alvins on san pablo)...i have paid 45 for a used manual. car guy

Looks like has all manuals for models since 2000 available for download. Google is a wonderful tool

Buying a Subaru near Lamorinda

March 2011

Hi - we are considering buying a 2011 subaru outback and live in Lamorinda but do not like the dealership in Walnut Creek. Anyone have any recent experience with buying a Subaru nearby and any recommendations for service? Also we have never had a Subaru (usually buy Honda) and would appreciate any comments about owning Subaru in general as well. We are planning on keeping this car a long time so don't want to be making a mistake. THanks. shopping for subaru

We are on our 2nd Forester and also happily owned both a Legacy and an Outback. Love Subarus. Bought all 4 at Albany Subaru-----had a wonderful earnest salesman last time named Calvin Spivey who I would highly recommend because he took the time to answer all my questions about the car including all the controls before I drove it home. heidi

I think the best place to buy a Subaru in the area is Albany Subaru. Check what people say on Yelp We bought from Sonny - who evidently is the sales manager there. Salespeople seem to be much nicer than the Concord and Novato/Marin Subaru dealership salespeople.

We drive to Tahoe every 3 weeks, during ski season and our Legacy Outback has passed many a giganto, spun-out on to the side of road SUVs with the very high center of gravity. As one person told us 'All the locals drive Subaru'. If you get the snow tires you'll never need chains again. And it holds big strollers and groceries, no problem. Repairs have been pretty much just recommended maintain. although we have had replace the CV boot on this car, probably because of hard driving we do. 3 Subarus in a row

We have bought Subarus, traded in Subarus, and have all our service done at Albany Subaru. I can't praise them enough. For my last couple Outbacks, I have bought from their refurbished cars, getting a good deal on a car a couple years old. It has been great for me. They have photos and descriptions on their website. cocosar

Experience Leasing a Subaru Forester?

Feb 2010

We are considering leasing a Subaru Forester and looking for people willing to share their experiences leasing vehicles from the Albany Subaru dealer or any other local dealer. Specifically, how were you treated at the end of your lease? Did you ''use'' your Forester (bikes, soccer gear, camping)? Thanks! Blaine

My husband and I just recently leased a Subaru Outback from Carlsen Subaru in Redwood City. This is our first car lease and we went to 2 other Subaru dealerships, Oakland and Walnut Creek, before deciding on Redwood City. The Oakland dealership tried to talk us into a model we already knew we didn't want, using tactics like ''no one buys the baseline model'' and the Walnut Creek dealership really pushed us to sign on the flag. In the end we ended up paying about $50 less than the quoted price in WC and were not hassled into getting an upgrade on the baseline model. By the way the baseline model on the Outback is fantastic, not sure about the Forester. Ask for Sam Levy. He will quote you over the phone too. We have a 100+ pound dog and baby on the way. We think it will be the perfect car for our expanding family. Good luck!! anon

Subaru Forester regular maintenance

Feb 2010

I have a 2003 Subaru Forester that I have always taken to the dealer for regular maintenance (first in LA, then in SF), and I've always been happy with that. I now live in Oakland and was going to take it to the dealer here, but the online reviews of the service dept are horrible. Can anyone with a Subaru recommend anywhere else to have it serviced in the east bay? And can you tell me what you like about where you take your car?Or if you like the dealer in Oakland, can you tell me about that? Thanks for any guidance... Subaru driver



  • Fairmount Auto El Cerrito
  • Torchios Webster St.

    2007 - 2009 Reviews

    Where to take Outback for service?

    Sept 2009

    Hello BPN, We just purchased a used Subaru Outback Wagon and we are looking for a reliable, honest and affordable dealer or shop to get the car serviced. We have heard nothing but terrible things about Subaru Albany so we are wondering where everyone takes their Subarus to get serviced. Thank you! rachel

    We had a Subaru until recently for many, many years (got so old it finally had to be junked). We took that car, and now the 2 Toyotas we own, to Dana Meyer Auto Care on San Pablo, just down the street from Albany Subaru. They're really nice people, do good work, and we've never felt uneasy about the work they've said needs to be done. anon
    Art's Automotive : Kendra
    High Street Auto in Oakland, on the border of Alameda. They are EXCELLENT mechanics and offer great customer service too--transit to the Fruitvale BART, detailing the car if it repair time is longer than quoted, internet in the waiting room, plus it's right at the High Street bridge, a pleasant walk into Alameda.

    They fixed an engine growl that the mechanics at two places in Berkeley said were normal (but I knew wasn't), found the reason why there was a rattle in the door, and more. My Subaru had never run more smoothly or efficiently.
    441 High St Oakland, CA 94601 (510) 532-5332

    Trustworthy mechanic for '99 Forester

    June 2009

    Hi everyone, My husband and I are relatively new to the area and need a recommendation for a mechanic experienced with Subaru cars. Our '99 Forester is making some strange noises from one of the wheels and there is smoke coming from beneath the car (my husband thinks there might be an oil leak). Can anyone recommend a trustworthy mechanic? Thank you! Lisa

    I have a '99 Forester too and have had great work done by Oceanworks 2 (in west Berkeley, on Carleton at 10th). I had had another mechanic investigate one problem last year before I found Oceanworks 2, and they gave me a disturbingly high estimate; Oceanworks 2 found and fixed the same problem for much less. Recently they worked really hard over several days to diagnose a persistent mysterious problem with the cooling system, and charged me a very reasonable rate for the repair given how much time they spent investigating it and pursuing various solutions. Chris, the owner, is extremely easy to work with -- considerate, patient, thorough, and friendly. It's a fact of life that a 10 year old car is going to need more in the way of repairs, and having found Oceanworks 2 has made me feel confident about our decision to keep making the old car last rather than buying a new one at this time. Good luck. Katie
    If you can take your car to SF, you can't do better than Action Auto . Run by Robert, the place is a combination of high quality service and sterling reputation. I'd happily leave Robert with a signed blank check for him to fill out when the repairs are finished. I also drive a Subaru and service it at Action Auto:
    2040 17th Street (between Kansas St & Vermont St) San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 487-1210
    He can understand a budget, and limit repairs for cost, but will clearly explain the potential consequences. He will never let you do anything unsafe. He will fix things other mechanics have screwed up, and not chastise you for ''cheating on him'' out of convenience. :)

    When I first started going to him, I met a guy who had his car up from San Jose, and I couldn't understand that. But after 15 years with Robert, I do now. I've lived in Marin, SF and Berkeley in that time, and I use Robert b/c he's the best and most honest mechanic I've ever met. Good luck, Car runs well

    Alternative to dealership for routine maintenance on Subaru

    May 2009

    I'm looking for an alternative to the overpriced dealership for routine maintenance on our Subaru. Do you have a reliable/trustworthy mechanic who does the regular checkups on cars that you recommend? Ideally, I'm looking for someone in N.Oakland or S.Berkeley, walking distance from Rockridge, but will go further for someone I can trust. Thanks in advance. Karen

    I would recommend you stick with the overpriced Subaru dealer for maintenance though it'd be nice to be able to shop around. The one time I used a budget shop for routine maintenance, I began hearing a weird sound which took months to diagnose. It turned out the budget shop replaced a belt in the air conditioning system with a non Subaru belt which was roughly, but not exactly, the right size. It was really hard to figure out where the sound was coming from----the budget shop took no responsibility and even the Subaru dealer had a hard time figuring it out since, of course, no noise unless it was hot enough to need the air conditioner. Good luck though. Forester owner
    I highly recommend Oceanworks...Angus has always been friendly, patient, professional, and accountable when I've taken my car there (and when others I've recommended to him have taken their cars to the shop). However, they are not located in the Rockridge area - the shop is on 10th St. If you need a rental while your car is being worked on they have rentals for $25 per day. 510.849.1383 Andrea
    I highly recommend RC Imports for your auto repair needs. The owner, Daniel Santos, is totally honest and very fair. All of the mechanics are smart and capable. I have been going there for years and have always had great results. I have sent many friends there as well and they are all pleased with cost, service, etc. RC Imports 6501 Fairmount El Cerrito, CA 94530 510-526-8084 (right across from El Cerrito Plaza and El Cerrito BART station) gretchen
    I can HIGHLY recommend Albert at Auto Repair Master in Oakland. He's on 25th between Telegraph and Broadway near the YMCA, so I just nab the 51 bus from his shop- 3 block walk. I live in the Elmwood so it's super easy. Most important is his HONESTY, reliability, and knowledge. I have been with him for 20 years and my grown children now use him. He works on all models except Volvos I believe. He is never one to inflate prices or suggest unneccessary work. He's close to all the parts distributers so there's no long waits for parts. You can't go wrong Susan
    I highly recommend Stauder Automotive Services, at 5930 College Avenue. We take our Subaru there (and all our previous cars too) and have found the service to be excellent. My husband has been using this business for 30 years, I for 11 years, and you can find more recommendations on the Car Talk site. Madeline
    I have a 2003 Subaru WRX and have used a number of independent mechanics. Here's the run down from my experience:
    1. Angus Powelson at Oceanworks is good, but does NOT work on Subarus. I took my car to Oceanworks II (which does work on Subarus) once when it was fairly new. For a routine maintenance, the service was not very good
    2. Art's Automotive at Ashby and San Pablo. They did a good job, but are not convenient for my location so I haven't continued to use them.
    3. Oakland Autoworks on MacArthur near Broadway. I had an ok experience there.
    4. Young's Automotive on Grand Avenue at Mandana. This is the mechanic I have recently changed to. He's done one major and one minor service, and so far I am pleased.

    Suggest you take a look on yelp for more comments on these mechanics Subaru WRX owner

    Subaru repair in Oakland?

    Oct 2007

    In addition to Unitech in Berkeley, are there any other Subaru repair shops, preferably in Oakland? Stuart

    I have a Suburu Outback and Mazda truck, found Art's Automotive on this list, and have never ever been happier with an auto repair shop. They are friendly, as well as exceptionally competent and well-organized and responsible.

    Here's a fun story, an example of something that I can't imagine any mechanic or shop I've ever gone to doing. I had a totally oddball problem with my rear windshield washer last year- they'd never seen or heard of it before, but thought they'd most likely find the answer either in the fluid tank and/or pump or inside the back door panel, and gave me an estimate of up to $150.

    But no explanation either place- they went online to several sites where mechanics post and share solutions to unusual problems, but nada. So they called me and asked permission to remove the interior panels and follow the tubing to look further for the explanation at no charge to me, just because they'd become so curious about it. Of course I said ''sure'', but they found nothing! I was ready to call it into ''Car Talk'' when a mechanic there remembered he'd once heard of a similar issue with a Mazda sports model that Mazda solved with a little in-line valve.

    They said, ''we can try out a work-around by retrofitting your car with this valve, and if it works we'll charge you the $150., if it doesn't we won't charge you anything for any of this''. Well, it worked!

    They are in Berkeley, on San Pablo right near Ashby, 540-7093. Cece

    Art's Automotive is on San Pablo, just 2 blocks north of Ashby. If you work in SF you can take the AC Transit bus into the City form Ashby and San Pablo. They are very honest and reasonable, IMHO. Just don't try for an appointment on the day I need one, okay? Anon
    I like Art's Automotive in Berkeley on San Pablo Ave. Not too far from Oakland and might be well worth the trip. good luck! rosie

    Subaru Repairs in Berkeley/El Cerrito

    June 2007

    Am looking for a good repair place for a Subaru Forester in the Berkeley or Richmond area. Am unhappy with Albany Ford Subaru dealership. Recommendations? Thanks. jbee

    Art's Automotive on San Pable near Ashby! I found them on this list, take my Subaru Outback and Mazda truck to them, and think it's the best auto shop I've ever dealt with hands down. Cece
    I have been going to Bunta at Unitech (753 Folger) just behind Ashbey Lumber. I started with Unitech 11 years ago when I had an Isuzu. Then I got a Subaru and after a year of going to the dealer, was delighted to realize Bunta took care of Subarus as well. He is reasonably priced, honest, and high quality. I wish he could take care of my new Toyota - I've asked him to consider adding Toyotas! He is really just the best!!! Phone number 510-843-9118
    My husband's business, Dana Meyer Auto Care fixes Subarus. They've been in business for 30+ years with a great reputation. 648 San Pablo Avenue, Albany, 2 bl. north of Solano ave. The number is 527-1938. June
    I have to say that I disagree with the posting recommending Dana Meyers auto care . While we were initially satisfied with our service there, for a couple years, our recent experiences were not as good... when we went to have a hatchback lid repaired (one strut broke), my wife was told, when she came to pick the car up, that the struts only came in packages of two, and we had to replace both-- which, of course, doubled the price. And, they never cleared it with her first. When I brought our other car in for a computer problem (body control module), I had a lot of trouble dealing with their counter person who couldn't tell me how long it would take to order the part and held our car for a couple days before telling me the dealership couldn't get the part for them. Dana Meyer Auto Repair may have been good before, but we're not going back. Jim
    I'm responding late to this message, but: for years we took our Subaru to John Wansick at Fairmount Auto , right by the BART station in El Cerrito, 510-524-0313. We've used him for all scheduled maintenance and for the occasional problem-fix as well. He's done a great job with our car, and really takes the time to figure out what the problem is before starting to do any work (and therefore costing you money), so that he gets it right the first time. Our previous mechanic had been taking shots in the dark with a brake vibration issue we were having, but we took it to John and 14 later, problem solved, never to recur again. He does a great job of explaining stuff, too. He's friendly, his prices are reasonable and his hours and location are both incredibly convenient -- you can do your shopping in El Cerrito Plaza while they work, and he'll call you on your cell phone when it's done. I'm responding about our Subaru, because that's what you said you have, but he's definitely not limited to Subarus -- we recently got a new Mazda, and will be taking it to him as well. A happy customer

    Britax carseat in '03 Subaru Forester

    Jan 2007

    Has anyone securely installed a Britax Boulevard rear-facing in the middle seat of their Subaru Forester? We have an '03 Forester and the car seat technician wasn't able to secure it in the middle (with the seat belt that comes from the top rear and/or the lower anchor). It's currently installed and secure behind the front passenger seat but I guess I'd just prefer it installed in the center. gemma

    I have an 2003 Subaru Forester too and when I tried installing my Britex Marathon (rear-facing) in the middle it didn't work also, so I sympathize with you. It has been 2 years now and I think being able to use the latch system on the side was a safe alternative, and it wasn't as hard on my back (reaching in to carry my child in and out). Now I actually have 2 Marathon's forward facing in my Forester and my big problem is not being able to sqeeze another adult between the 2 car seats! - Best to you. Courteney

    2004 - 2006 Reviews

    BMW 3 series wagon vs. Subaru Outback

    Oct 2006

    We are ready to upgrade our Honda Civic, which has been so cheap and easy to repair, to a 4 wheel drive used Subaru Outback or a BMW 3 series wagon. We are a family of 4 and now that the kids are bigger we will be skiing on a regular basis and would like a car that is good in the snow but not a huge SUV. I was initially interested in a Subaru since my inlaws have one and while it drives and handles well I'm not impressed with the quality of the interior and they have had quite a few problems with it. I have been doing some research and for not much more money we could get a used BMW 325 (2003 or 2004) and from what I've read they have high ratings for quality, safety, comfort etc. The question I have is it expensive to maintain a BMW and are people satisfied with owning one?

    I made that same decision 5 years ago, BMW vs. Subaru (vs. Passat/Jetta wagon, etc.) I got the Subaru and haven't really enjoyed it that much. I have numerous relatives who have the Subaru and love it, but I've found it annoying mainly because the clutch constantly ''burns'' when I go into reverse. The mechanic said it is my fault, but this never happened in my old Honda Civic or in my husband's BMW. I had to get a new clutch after 19K miles, whereas my Honda's first clutch lasted 75K. Also, the Subaru gets pretty abysmal mileage, 19 or 20 in the city.

    When I test-drove the BMW it was of course much more fun to drive--better acceleration, more sporty, etc. On the downside, it seemed to have quite a bit less cargo space, and cost about 10K more, so we went with the Subaru. I loved my husband's BMW, but did not love the repair bills--they were huge, even for something like an oil change it was ridiculous. So that is definitely a consideration. Good luck
    Will be trading in the Subaru for a hybrid mini-van, some day

    I've had both cars, and I'd vote for the Subaru. I loved how my BMW looked, and I liked how it handled, but AWD is great, and you will also get better mileage with the Subaru. I found both cars to be reliable, but even just routine maintenance on the BMW is easily twice as expensive as for the Subaru. It sounds like your only concern is the quality of the interior - I'm sure the BMW interior is nicer, but if you are using the car on ski trips and with kids, won't the interior get wrecked up anyway? My BMW's sure did and I don't even ski. Fran

    Can you fit 2 boosters & a carseat in a Subaru Outback?

    Feb 2006

    I have a 2000 Subaru Outback. In the back seat I have a Britax Roundabout for my 18 month old, and a booster seat for my 5 year old. It doesn't seem that there's room for another booster, yet I would love to be able to fit something so that I can occasionally transport another preschooler. Has anyone found any booster or carseat products that will fit? Thank you! debra

    Curious to see what you hear back. I tried and tried in a '98 Legacy with no luck. The only thing that fits is the little booster without a back, placed in the center. But, our car doesn't have a shoulder belt in the center, so it wouldn't work for us. If you have a center shoulder belt, it should work - and they're only about $20-30 for the small booster seats.
    Resigned to a minivan...
    I don't have a Subaru Outback, but I have been able to fit 3 carseats in the back of a similarly-sized Ford Focus. The trick is to find the right carseats. There are 48'' across the back seat of my car, meaning 16'' per carseat. I took my measuring tape to the store and used a combination of a new high-back booster, a hand-me-down toddler seat and the infant seat I already have. While at the store, I did confirm that there are new toddler seats available at 16'' wide. It's snug and it's kind of tricky to get the seatbelt in for the booster seat, but it's a lot cheaper than buying a minivan.
    Practical mom of 3
    yes, yes, yes. i didn't see the original post, so i don't know how old your kids are. we fit a britax roundabout, a britax marathon and a graco seat that's made for toddlers/preschoolers. it's snug, but it works great. we have a 2003 - it's the same model/size, etc. it took my husband a good hour to install all of them, but i'm so happy to be able to keep our beloved outback. anon

    Small Subaru shop in Oakland

    Nov 2005

    Hi -- Anyone know of a Subaru repair shop around the downtown Oakland area. I'd rather take it to a smaller shop rather than a dealer. Any recommendations? Dan Recommended:

  • Unitech

    Installing a Britax Carseat in a Subaru

    June 2005

    We recently tried to install a Britax Marathon rear-facing in a 2001 Subaru Outback, and could not get it secure in the middle. We had to resort to the outboard position using the LATCHes, but I would prefer the seat be in the middle. Per Subaru, you must use the lap belts (not LATCH) in the middle. But the plastic ''clamps'' on the carseat that are supposed to hold the belt tightly in place do not hold it. I called Britax, and they do not keep records of their seats' fit into certain car models. Subaru refused to opine. Two Berkeley police ''seat checkers'' were as puzzled as I was. Were any of you out there with my seat and my car able to get the seat installed in the middle and pass a ''seat checker's'' inspection? If so, I'd like to discuss how you did it. Thanks! kate

    We have a Roundabout, not the Marathon, but we have had the same problem in our Subaru, with the seatbelt not staying tight in the middle of the back seat. Our solution was to use those big metal binder clips from office supply stores to hold the belt tight - two of them for extra security. I don't know if that would pass with the carseat checkers, but it definitely keeps the carseat really securely in there. Jen
    Our Subaru Outback was great until we had twins. We lasted with the two carseats in the back for 18 months and then we purchased a Toyota Sienna. There was just no way to comfortably (or legally) sit a third person in the back row. I understand that Saturn is coming out with an AWD minivan next year if you want the AWD option you've had in your Subaru and don't like/want the Sienna. Good luck. Not a sardine either!

    I installed the britax seat facing rearward in our legacy wagon. It's not an outback, but my guess is that doesn't matter. The britax comes with a loop of webbing that can be used for this purpose. I looped the webbing around the fixed support for the front passenger seat. It does not go on the actual seat, which moves, but on the part fixed to the floor. I believe I removed the bolts that support the seat rails (two), put the loop in, and then replaced the bolts. We can still move the passenger seat forward and back without interfering with the tether. The seat is very stable, much better than the infant seat that we had. One of the employees at Rockridge Kids (on College Ave.), who has some training for installing britaxes, said that my installation seems very sound. Adrian

    We have tethered two Britax roundabouts in our Subaru Forrester with a simple extra strap (that came with the seat) that loops around the seat leg where it is bolted to the floor. Your seats have to be bolted to the floor and I can't believe the seats are that different. If you want to ask me some more questions. Dana and Josh
    We have a Britax roundabout in our subaru outback wagon and we currently have it tethered rear facing. We bought it at Rockridge Kids and they helped us install it and tether it. Essentially, you can tether it rear facing by tethering under the place where the front seats go forward and back. I don't know what that part of the car is called, but the tether will loop under where the front seats meet the floor. I'm sure if you go by Rockridge Kids they'd be happy to look at it and help you figure it out. Just takes a minute. We've found them to be unbelievably helpful in making sure our car seat was installed properly. Good luck! Jana
    We have a rearfacing Roundabout in our Outback as well. Go to Rockridge Kids and get a Britax Tether Connector Strap. Wrap it around the seat frame, on the floor of the car, of the seat in front of the carseat and attach the tether to that. Ask Christian at Rockridge Kids to show you if you have any questions, he was extremely helpful when I had the same problem. When your child turns around to face forward, get a tether hook from your dealer (the newer model cars may come with these included), and attach it to one of the three anchor points at the back of the car. Steadmn
    We have a Saturn sedan (SL1) and a Suburu Legacy wagon. In the Saturn we had our mechanic install a bolt in the floor of back of the car for when the Britax seat was rear facing. The Saturn dealer put a bolt in the back shelf (under the back windshield for when the seat is front facing as it is now. We just purchased the Suburu which is a 92. A mechanic ordered the bolt from the dealer and installed it for less than $20.00. The bolt is in the back somewhere but does not interfer with the opening and closing of the hatch. The owner's manual of the car includes information on location of installation. We have traveled with the Britax car seat and just did not anchor it. It's not as safe as anchoring, obviously, but seemed just as safe as some anchorless seats. Hope this helps.

    Good & Honest Subaru Mechanic

    July 2004

    Does anyone have a good Subaru-authorized mechanic? Perhaps you can share your dynamite mechanic with me? Thanks. Sharon

    We've been really happy with Fairmount Auto (on Fairmount in El Cerrito, right by the BART station, 524-0313) for our Subaru. John, the owner, is very nice, and he is always very forthright about what needs to be done vs. what could be done. He provides a lot of information in a manner that I can understand, his prices are better than where we used to go, and he's always been done with the work on time. We go there even though it's not at all close to our house, but he opens early (we've dropped off at 7:30 am) and the location right by BART makes it convenient for us. Anne

    2003 & Earlier

    Looking to buy a Subaru Forester

    Aug 2003

    We're looking for information about: (1) the Subaru Forester; (2) the quality of service at Downtown Subaru in Oakland; or (3) the quality of service at a different Subaru dealership or independent (and authorized?) repair shop in the East Bay. We'd appreciate any information. Kate

    We just purchased a new Forester XS in April, which we really are happy with so far, after our '97 Outback fell apart (another story). It has been improved since older models and the boxier interior is good getting 2 kids in and out. We weren't happy with the finance dept. at Downtown Auto and the service there has been so-so for us... I feel they're a bit condescending and haven't always found or fixed our problems right away. We've used Oceanworks II in Berkeley for regular tune-ups, but they couldn't handle (or wouldn't) the major stuff with our Outback. Good luck. A Happy Forsester Owner
    I'm a huge Forester enthusiast and can't recommend them highly enough. I also can't recommend the Oakland Subaru dealer at all, we had terrible service there.

    I ended up buying my Forester through, a service that connects you with dealers that deal in high volume and will give you a very good, non-negotiable, rock bottome price. I ended up actually buying the car at the Subaru dealer in Redwood City (Carlson's, I think.) For service, I take it to the Albany Ford-Subaru on the corner of San Pablo and Solano. I have had pretty good experiences there I guess, not an intimate little shop where you get to know the guys, but they seem to do fine work. And my Forester (2000) just hasn't given me any problems to speak of, it's such a sweet car, so I haven't spent much time taking it in for service at all. happy driving! Kathleen

    I purchased a subaru legacy wagon at downtown subaru about 6 years ago and if the same folks are still there *don't* go. The car had a minor factor defect that they never fixed no matter what I did (I finally gave up & lived with it -- paint issue on the bumper). Pretty classic sales techniques that involved alot of waiting, two sales people, etc. I had done enough reserach to konw what I wanted to pay (Consumer Reports) and got a good deal. Anyway, I have friends that purchased a Forester through Albany Subaru and were very happy with the service and the car. I do love my legacy and would probably purchase one again.
    I bought my 2001 Forester from Albany Subaru. They were listed as a ''no haggle'' dealership in the CSAA magazine. I got their price and then called other dealerships within an hour's drive. The Walnut Creek people had the lowest price, so I called Albany and asked if they would match it (it was a few thousand lower than their no haggle price). They did, so I felt like a got a good deal. So far, I haven't had any mechanical problems, but I feel the bumpers scratch too easily (my steep driveway is narrow and I've had a few scrapes).

    This was my first new car, and I'm hoping to use it for 15+ years. In retrospect, I wish I had considered a mini-van. Vans don't fit my image, but I regret not having more seating. With carseats, you can really only fit two kids in the back, so the Forester becomes a four-person car. We're a two-person family, but often we go on trips (to camp, the Zoo, Fairyland) with other families (of 3 or 4 people), and it would be nice to go in the same car. Jenne

    Subaru Dealership for 50K mile tune-up

    May 2003

    We have a 2000 Outback and the time has come for our 50K mile full tune-up shebang. Could someone give a recommendation for an East Bay or Peninsula Subaru dealership they have had a good experience with? We will NOT go to Downtown (Oakland) Subaru on Broadway. Thanks! Jennie

    If you want a dealership, I was very happy with Albany Ford/Subaru, where I bought my car- expensive, but very nice to deal with. But having found Art's Automotive off this board, both my Subaru and Mazda go there for everything (even if they don't shuttle me home!). Cecelia

    Pet barrier for Subaru Outback?

    Sept 2002

    Where can I get a pet barrier for my 2000 Subaru Outback? I'm looking for the metal barrier that goes between the backseat and the trunk of the car. I know I can buy one online but I'd prefer a local company. Thanks, Laurel

    Go to a subaru dealer; they have a pet barrier made for the subaru. Very solid, made of metal. It is easy to install, although the dealer can do it for you. You can call and get prices to compare to online ordering if you desire. Heather

    Mechanic for Subaru Outback

    Aug 2002

    Can anyone recommend a good, reliable and reasonable mechanic (routine maintenance) for a Subaru? We have an Outback, and live in Rockridge. Elizabeth

    Recommendations received:

  • Art's Automotive
  • Autometrics
  • Jeff Hagan
  • Oceanworks
  • RC Imports
  • Unitech

    Older Mechanic recommendations

  • Marty's Metrix
  • SOS

    Seeking feedback on the Subaru Forester

    July 2000

    I'm looking for opinions and feedback on the Subaru Forester. Both pros and cons will be greatly appreciated. Also, can anybody recommend either a Subaru or Dodge Dealership that is not in the immediate, more pricey area, i.e., is there advantages to driving 30 miles out of the Bay Area to get a better deal on a new (or 1999 models) car somewhere???? Any advice would be so much appreciated. Thank you.

    We bought a Forester in February after much research and thought. So far, we are very, very pleased with the car. We like the ride, we like the cargo space, and have had no problems (but what do you expect in 5 months?).

    We bought it at Diablo Subaru in Walnut Creek. We tried Albany Subaru first, because we wanted a local dealership. We found the people at Diablo much easier to deal with (and negotiate with) than Albany, and we got a much better price.

    The more price research you do before you go shopping, the less you will pay, I guarantee it. Go to the library and look at back issues of Consumer Reports and their carbuying books. Go online and try to find out how much the dealer has paid for the model you want (try for a start). See whether you can get a low $xx over invoice quote online from a local dealer (it will be lower than anything they'll quote you when you go in person). Knowledge is power... Kristine