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Project 300K

Welcome to "Project 300K"; This was my effort to get 300,000 miles from my 2004 Subaru Forester 2.5 XS that was purchased new on December 10, 2003.  Below is a picture of the car taken recently (left) and in the early spring of 2004 (right).  I hope the reader enjoys this site.  If you are interested in my other vehicle projects you can click on the tab above.  I took advantage of a beautiful spring day and took some photos of the Subaru at 215,000 miles.  You can click HERE is see how it looks.

Mileage Update - As of December 30, 2015 - 234,250

Project 300K sadly has come to its end.  The car just got too unreliable to depend on.  The car lasted just a touch over 13 years and just over 234,000 miles.  The mysterious stall gremlin just got to be a little too much.  It went from being intermittent to being quite regular.  As far as the "gremlin" I still believe that something electrical was somehow getting jarred loose from time to time and "self corrected" when it gets jarred back in the correct position. The Check Engine Light had gone out for a while but as expected has returned. It's the same P00420 so I continued to ignore it since in no way does it effect anything with the car.  Needless to say I won't be spending any money chasing this gremlin and will just deal with it as we go forward.  We didn't hit 300K which is a bit disappointing. After purchasing a 2016 Traverse, I sold the car to a junkyard for 500 bucks.  I probably could have gotten more if I parted it out in my garage but since I am not running a junkyard and really didn't want to look at it anymore I took what I could get and as they say got on down the road.

With the final update I will preserve these pages as a record of "My Subaru Experience".

What is Project 300K?  Project 300K (P300K) is my quest to get 300,000 miles out of my 2004 Subaru Forester.  Since the day (December 10, 2003) I drove the car off the lot from River City Subaru in Huntington, WV, I've always known that I wanted to keep this car a long time, but I really didn't think about this in terms of a "project" until just recently.  I plan on updating the mileage status above.  Through my use of Quicken, I have kept pretty good records regarding costs of operating this vehicle.  Using these numbers I also intend to determine and share the true total cost of operating this vehicle.  I also hope to pass along some recommendations on how to really make your vehicle last.  The photo above on the left was taken outside our home (at the time) in Milton, WV, on April 11, 2004, a couple months after the vehicle was purchased new in December 2003.  I took the picture on the right on November 13, 2012.  December 10, 2014 marked the 11th anniversary of owning the car. Considering that we'll have owned the car now for over 11 years, 233,000+ miles really isn't driving that much as I know plenty of people who easily average 25,000 and even 30,000 miles (or more) per year.

While I will be tickled if I actually reach 300K, I feel right now that this car owes me nothing.  Not many people get anywhere near 234,000+ miles out of any car.  If it were to die tomorrow I honestly don't think I'd be all that upset.  Additionally, other than routine maintenance, I have really spent very little on this vehicle.  If I need to spend a few bucks to get to that 300K number I will gladly do it as long as the car continues to be safe and reliable.  The head gasket repair job (The Big Fix) was a bit of a hit (OK, it was a pretty big hit), but it has restored performance to almost "as-new".  In December 2013 I had to spend 300 bucks to get the air conditioning repaired (an odd job to do in the winter but there was a hint of smoke coming off the compressor clutch - not good!).  Frankly I would be willing to drop a few more bucks if I was certain it would get me to the 300,000 mark, Just as an aside as to the durability of Subaru vehicles, several years ago I was stationed with a guy who owned a Subaru and just wanted a new car.  His wife balked at him getting a new car while his Subaru was still running well.  He tried everything to kill the car; he started driving it hard, he no longer parked in the garage, you name it - but the car wouldn't die.  He finally did get a new car but not until he was able to sell the Subaru for far more than he thought he could get for a used vehicle.

Please note (yes this is a bit of a legal-type disclaimer) - this is not an "official" Subaru website and any thoughts/opinions/recommendations are my own and are based entirely on my own personal experience with my vehicle only and conversations with other Subaru owners.  You should always follow manufacture's recommendations regarding your vehicle.  If you deviate from them you are doing so at your own risk.  I am not a professional automotive technician but rather somewhat of an enthusiast who enjoy everything about automobiles.  When I lived in central Kentucky, I trusted difficult repairs to the trained technicians at Bachman Subaru in Louisville.  Frankly they have never let me down.  I have yet to seek out Subaru dealer here in central Florida.  As always, my best advice is that if you really aren't sure - leave it to the pros.

If you have been directed to this page via the Proj300K web address I welcome you to Retroman40s World and invite you to check out what else is going on around here.  You can access the main page by clicking on the HOME button in the upper right or here.  I try to make the entire site both informative and entertaining (and to some maybe even a little irritating).  No matter how you got here I welcome you and hope you enjoy your visit and come back often.

My Subaru Story

So why did I purchase a Subaru Forester in the first place? 

My earliest recollection of the Subaru brand was a ad from the 70's or 80's (I remember the ads quite clearly but not the exact time frame) that said the police in Dutch Harbor, Alaska all drive Subaru's.  If you ever visited Dutch Harbor in the 80's (I did regularly between 1985 and 1987 while stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter Ironwood - check out Dutch Harbor/Unalaska at the time) you would notice that (1) the "roads" (more like wide trails that were barely suitable for walking much less driving) were horrible and (2) the police indeed did drive Subaru's (Outback's if memory serves me correctly).  Any vehicle tough enough to handle that environment is pretty stout.  I actually considered buying a Subaru BRAT when I got back to the lower 48 in the fall of 1987 but instead purchased a Mustang GT (I was younger in those days).  Who knows, considering Subaru longevity I might still have the BRAT!  (As an aside, I think that if I could score a BRAT that was in marginal operating condition for the right price I might just take it on as a "project").  For a while I really didn't give a lot thought to buying a Subaru.  It wasn't until the early 2000's that I started really thinking about Subaru again.  I started to see more of them on the road and really liked the way they looked; particularly the Forester.

At the time I bought the Forester (December 2003), I was the Commanding Officer of the U. S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Huntington, WV.  If you aren't familiar with the area, there are a lot more hills that there are flat roads.  The part of West Virginia where I lived (between Huntington and Charleston) is right on that line you see on national RADAR during the winter where ice is more common than snow and rain.  As the Commanding Officer, I needed a 100% reliable vehicle that would get me where I needed to get to regardless of the weather conditions.  As the Commanding Officer, you don't get to make a lot of excuses about "car trouble".  Of course, as a husband and father of two young children (when we bought the car my son was 10 and my daughter 7), safety was also of paramount concern.  Well when you hear the word "Subaru" the first things you think of are safety and reliability. Let's face it, Subaru pretty much owns bad weather performance and safety.  Regardless of their competitors slick ads, Subaru was (and pretty much still is) the clear leader in All-Wheel Drive.  They've been doing it a long time and they are very good at it).   I had seen Foresters on the road and I really liked the way they looked.  Our 1993 Chevy Van had delivered ten years of excellent service but it was starting to get a little tired so I headed down to River City Subaru and made the deal. It only took about a 5 mile test drive to realize that the car had decent power and excellent handling.  While I wanted the XT (turbo) version, it only came with manual transmission (trying to teach my wife to drive a manual is another story) so after looking at both the X and XS we quickly decided that the XS with upgrades like heated seats was the way to go.  It took about an hour to make the deal and drive it off the lot. 

It was only a couple days later that I really knew we had made the right choice.  We held our annual office Christmas party at a very nice facility we had rented at a local park.  There was a moderately steep hill coming into the place.  Naturally there was freezing rain that December evening.  As the party broke up I watched several of my people struggle to get up the slick hill.  The Subaru went up the hill like it was a dry August day.  We brought the vehicle home on December 10, 2003 and we've never regretted buying this vehicle. 

While Subaru's are well known for their safety and reliability, they are provide excellent performance too.  The 2.5 L "Boxer" type engine (similar to what you find in a Porsche) delivers (and continues to do so even at 233,000+ miles) excellent acceleration and overall power.  The fuel economy isn't too shabby either.

This vehicle has transported my family safely from Maine to Florida to Texas to Ontario without a lick of trouble.  I did a lot of driving in my final years in the Coast Guard in this vehicle and never once ran into a situation the vehicle couldn't handle.  The ride is very comfortable on long trips and the handling is such that you don't arrive worn out.  I have driven through horrible weather (rain, snow and even ice) and never felt even close to being out of control.  I've actually tried to get the car out of shape in an empty parking lot that was snow covered but can't seem to do it.  If there is one downside to a car like this it with the excellent foul weather handling you have to be careful not to overdrive the thing since you know you are fine but the people driving around you in less capable sleds are a constant risk. 

Of course, as of this update the car has now been used to train both my kids to drive.  If that isn't a challenge for a vehicle I don't know what is!

The bottom line is that if you are in the market for a car that is safe, reliable, fun to drive and won't set you back 50K (Subaru's are priced very competitively), you need to check out Subaru.

Please check out the tabs above for the rest of the Project 300K story.

I feel my quest for 300,000 miles is not particularly out of line.  I will only quit if for some reason the vehicle becomes unreliable or unsafe.  You can check out my thoughts on when to give up on a vehicle here.
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