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SOA Warranty Problems & Questions

bogey5bogey5 Posts: 35
edited March 14 in Subaru
I have a 2006 Outback with 18,500 miles. The first 7,800 were driven by a Subaru employee (factory car). A week and a half ago in anticipation of an 800 mile round trip I checked all the car's fluids. All were fine with the exception of front differential. I added 1.3 quarts of mfg. specified gear oil.

Arrived at destination with front end noise. Took the car to the nearest Subaru dealer who confirmed noise but said it would take them a week to fix it. Called the selling dealer who said DO NOT DRIVE call Subaru 800 number.

After discussion back and forth, SOA told me to get a quote to flat bed the car home 388 miles at 3.00/mi. Said they would pay if warantable repair.

Called the local dealer to say that I would leave the car with them and would retrieve after repair. Was told that they could not fix it in a timely manner so I should take SOA up on their offer to pay for transportation.

Transported the car to the selling dealer (even though there were four other Subaru dealers in the area where the car was located.) Without ever looking at the car he said that it would be $1,500. And they had no idea why SOA would authorize that expensive a tow.

Selling dealer called to say that the car had bad bearings in differential they were on order and car would be done the next day. Servise manager called back to say that the first call was a mistake. The co. rep had determined that the gear oil was wrong and they would not cover repair.

More than a week later the car sits at the dealership and I'm not feeling a lot of love from Subaru or the selling dealer.

Any thoughts?


  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,732
    We are going to need to crawl thru this for more details before passing judgement.

    I have an older OBW, so things might have changed depending on what tranny you have (4 or 5 spd auto, 5 spd manual). Making an assumption that you have the 4 spd auto, a full fill of the front differential after a complete drain is around 1.25 qts, IIRC, of 80w-90 gear oil. This is the little dipstick back along the firewall.

    If you put 1.3 qts in, then either it was completely empty to begin with, or it is now grossly overfilled. Also (assuming same front diffy as I have), did you use the correct gear oil?

    What did the dealer that confirmed the noise say it was?
    Why did the selling dealer say it would cost $1500, when the drivetrain is covered by a 5yr/60k warranty?
    Did you get a rejection from the area rep with an explanation in writing, clearly stating their findings and reason for rejection?

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'm going to have to agree with Steve, something doesn't sound right here at all. Need more details before we can help you.

  • bogey5bogey5 Posts: 35
    Went for oil change at an oil change store and was advised that Subaru recommends changing front and rear differential oil at 15,000 miles. They did not change the diff. oil. Until then I wasn't aware that the car had a front diff. So I went looking for it. When I found it I pulled the dipstick three times to find just a trace of fluid on the bottom. I bought api gl-5 80w-90 gear oil as recommended by the spec's and put some in, checked the stick, put in more and checked. Back and forth checking the stick and putting in oil until it was full.

    Prior to that I had had no noise or trouble with the car. There was no leakage before or after from the diff.

    I took the car to the closest available dealer in the other city and was told it would take them at least a week.

    Dealer to first inspect it said it was warranty and based on that assessment I finally agreed to have it transported.

    If in fact the diff was empty, why was it empty? There was not and is not now any indication of any leakage.

    I own a my04 OBW too and my son owns an older Legacy. I've had no problem with the 04 but it came from another dealer.

    I hate to be cynical but I'm wondering if the factory rep looked at the $900. transportation charge on top of the $1,500. repair and decided that it was too much.

    Additionally others have suggested that the $1,500 is retail and SOA wouldn't reimburse the dealer that much or as quickly as he can get my check. From the very beginning when I called him from 400 miles away I had a sense by the way he talked that he was predisposed not to find a warrantable problem.

    I cannot tell you how much I am hoping that I am off base and that we can work out a solution because I am now concerned about warranty coverage on both OBW's and don't want to face a similar dilemma in the future.
  • bogey5bogey5 Posts: 35
    Forgot to mention that it's a four speed automatic. Basic 2.5.

    Have not received an official rejection letter from the Co. it was verbal from the service manager. If cannot resolve it I will ask for a lot of documents including a copy of the 152 point check.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    It is often the case that the AT stick is pulled rather than the diffy stick when filling the front diffy. The Front diffy is also integrated into the trans housing so it can be an internal leak, instead of one you might see readily.

    As for the tow home, I'm still not sure why they would agree to it, as the contracts clearly state that it is to be fixed at the closest dealer.

    Also if your diffy was low, and it was under warranty, why didn't you bring it to your local dealer when you noticed the problem? That is an indication that there was a consumption or leak associated with the front diffy.

  • bogey5bogey5 Posts: 35
    ...after I found the location down next to the firewall on the opposite side from the AT. After filling it I checked it the next day and it remained full. After detecting the noise after the trip (about 500 miles)I had an oil change place check all the fluids (AT, oil, front and rear differentials)and they were all full and clean Then I called the nearest local dealer.

    Took the car to the dealer at 8:30 a.m. the next morning. They again checked all of the fluids and drove the car. I cannot say if they opened the differential. They didn't say and I wasn't in the shop to observe but told me it would take a week to fix. I can't imagine that they could diagnose a problem that would take a week to fix without some kind of detailed investigation. Their invoice indicated that they had confirmed the noise, confirmed that there was no problem with fluids and it was a warranty claim. They also said that they believed that I "might" (a qualified might)be able to drive it home and then have the selling dealer fix it.

    I reported earlier the selling dealer's response. DO NOT DRIVE IT because we won't warranty it.

    I don't believe I'm being unreasonable but it's quite evident to me that there were a number of mistakes made,maybe the selling dealer was going to replace the fluid under the "152 point pre-sale prep" and forgot to refill. Maybe Subaru never put it in in the first place, perhaps the first dealer should have agreed to keep the car and repair it. Perhaps I should have insisted. Perhaps I should have taken it to the selling dealer rather than adding fluid myself.

    I think there needs to be some inherent reasonableness in this whole situation. If the first dealer had said it will take a week, we'll give you a loaner it's inconvenient but we'll do the best we can. So be it. Or if Subaru had said we'll pay for transportation because we want your car back with the selling dealer warranty or not. Again, so be it. But this is strange.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Some of the blame may lie with you in that upon discovery of the low fluid, you should have brought it to the closest dealer for repair, or at least to check it out. I never mess around with warranty work. At the very least I would have left it with the dealer that originally diagnosed the problem, as that's how the warranty works. I also don't believe you are entitled to a loaner car under the factory warranty.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    ...after I found the location down next to the firewall on the opposite side from the AT. After filling it I checked it the next day and it remained full. After detecting the noise after the trip (about 500 miles)I had an oil change place check all the fluids (AT, oil, front and rear differentials)and they were all full and clean Then I called the nearest local dealer.

    How did you know th fluid was "clean" unless they did a drain and fill, I belive the diffys have a magnetic plug that will collect any metal shavings so the fluid will likely look "clear" even if you sheared off a piece of the diffy.

  • bogey5bogey5 Posts: 35
    quoting the dealer invoice, "all fluids were checked and no problems were found."

    I don't know what a dealer does to come to that analysis.

    And I did try to leave the car with them. There response was that they didn't want to turn away business but they didn't think they could fix it in a reasonable time and I should take Subaru up on their offer to reimburse towing.
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,732
    I assume that your car is still sitting at the selling dealer awaiting a decision on how to proceed.

    Now that we have asked questions, and you have provided reasonable sounding answers, you need to collect all this data into one complete flow and get it to SOA for their review. I assume as you have been talking to someone at SOA (1-800-subaru3), and that you have a case number. Get an email address or fax number, and send in your full description (situation, dates, places, names, etc.). Request a review and official response as to reason for denial.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yep, call the 800 number to get everyone one the same page. They should coordinate with the dealer.

  • bogey5bogey5 Posts: 35
    Received a case number within a hour of having returned from the first dealer. And yes it has been sitting at the selling dealer for ten days. There doesn't seem to be any sense of urgency on their part or SOA.

    As a matter of fact SOA was on the phone with the first dealer at least twice before the dealer decided that they didn't want to repair it.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Call them again for a status update, and also ask to speak to a supervisor.

    Let them know you're part of the Subaru Crew community, and that we are all tracking your case closely. Hopefully that'll motivate them.

  • bogey5bogey5 Posts: 35
    Thanks everyone, I sincerely appreciate your concern.

    So that I don't mislead anyone I DO have some faults. At least according to my wife.

    1.I'm patient to a fault.
    2.I trust people
    3.I believe what people tell me even if there is evidence to suggest I shouldn't.
  • mrk610mrk610 Posts: 378
    OK wait a minute here . On post 4 he said that he took it to a oil change place.Did you discover the diff empty before or after you had the service done there. I have read on this board and others that those stores have emptied the trans or sometimes the front diff instead of the oil. I go to a local place for all the oil changes on the CO vehicle's I work for . I have seen with my own eyes them drain the wrong fluid . I'm wondring if they drained the front diff by accident and forgot to fill it back up . The diff plug is by the back of the engine and could be mistaken for the oil drain plug .
    Just a thought.

    Mike K
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,732
    Oooh, good catch, Mike! That would explain why it took 1.3 quarts.

    If I remember the sequence right:
    1) Quick Change place reported that diffs should be serviced, but did not actually report them as low.
    2) Customer drove home (how far?), did some research, found the front to be low, and filled it up (full amt, as though it was empty).
    3) Possible damage from dry running very evident after long trip.

    All this makes sense as to the initial cause. Fault probably lies with Quick Change shop. Certainly difficult to prove, unfortunately, but logical. How does it play into the response from selling dealer / district rep? As they probably do not knowing all of the above, what explains their actions?

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    I also don't believe you are entitled to a loaner car under the factory warranty.

    I had my '07 at the local dealer for warranty work last week. They called late in the afternoon to "ask" if they could keep it overnight. I told them fine, as long as they provided me with alternate transportation. They did (free of charge), but it was an '05 Hyundai Accent with POS slicks on it. Real chore to drive that tin can around after coming out of that Outback. :P

    I am unsure if I was "entitled" to a loaner, but I asked and they gave me something. It was sure a lot better than walking for a day.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Ding Ding, I think Mike K is correct. I hadn't followed it that closely but yup that sound exactly correct. If I were a betting man I'd put my money on it.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    I was coming to the same conclusion - glad I read through all the posts before chiming in!

    I would be very suspicious of the oil change place if your stop there was very recent prior to your checking the differential oil. It would take next to no time for the differential to seize up without oil, so it could not have been that low for very long. I have to wonder why SOA came to the conclusion that "the wrong oil was in the differential" if you filled it with 80w-90. That seems absurd. I also wonder if the quicky change place actually drained the engine oil. Makes me wonder if perhaps they realized they messed up and drained the wrong unit, but did not want to eat the cost of the fluid change, so instead of refilling it they tried to up-sell you on the differential change. When you did not go for it, they just shrugged it off. Haha, I would not put it past one of those places. :sick:

    If the damage was not caused by a drain situation, then it is definitely warranty work. I do not see how improper oil could even come into play unless it was changed out by the first dealership without your knowledge and they refilled it with the wrong lubricant.
  • bogey5bogey5 Posts: 35
    You know that could very well be the case. And if so I'm afraid that it would mean that every time we have work done we need to confirm that it was done correctly before we leave the shop. From what I've read that even means the various Subaru shops.

    SOA finally called to confirm what the selling dealer had warranty. What is troubling and should raise a RED FLAG for all of us is that I attempted to leave the car at the first dealer and in very polite terms they said no, they didn't want to repair it. Even though I agreed to let them keep it for a couple of weeks if they needed additional time. Again the response was "we hate to turn away business but..... take Subaru up on their offer to transport it."

    I can assure you all that I would never have spent $900. to transport the car if I had any inkling that Subaru would respond in the way that they have. Being disappointed in their service and response to my problem hardly describes my feelings at the moment.

    The problem is what do we do as consumers, as Subaru owners if the nearest dealer that we are required, under the warranty to find and transport our car to, refuses to make the repair. What should our expectation be of Subaru to provide assistance under the warranty. I was told that once the dealer said they wouldn't repair it I was on my own and that the decision to tow was exclusively mine. So what do we do, look for the best two out of three answers?

    They also said that they would not give me a written denial. That is the responsibility of the selling dealer according to them. That, even though the selling dealer had begun the repair process before the arrival of the factory rep.

    To date I haven't received an estimate of the cost of the repair beyond the selling dealer looking at my snow covered car in his parking lot and saying it will be $1,500. I haven't received anything but two verbal denials without specifics. I have learned that the warranty may well be more of a selling tool than a promise of assistance on Subaru's part.

    Finally, if in fact the oil change place "messed up" I wonder if the crank case is grossly overfilled with oil and if so can the dealer drain and measure to help me to approach the store with evidence to help me pursue it with them.

    Once again, any thoughts?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Hope you still have the receipts for that oil change...

    Someone here had Jiffy Lube drain his trans oil and then proceed to overfill the engine oil, potentially damaging both systems. :mad:

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I would have the Subaru dealer check all the fluids and start taking it up with the "quick-lube" place with the written estimate from the selling dealer for the repairs. I would also not be too confident that the quick-lube place is going to pay and in the end it may end up being cheaper and less hassle to pay out of pocket for it. However, I have had good luck with going after quick-lube places as long as you have the reciepts for damage done.

    I had transmission work done by AAMCO on an old Ford and they repaired it under warranty 4x, eventually the last place that had my car in Philly did some damage to it (burned cig hole in the seat, several scratches and dents, and a ticket in a place I had never been, and never finished fixing it properly) I contacted them and eventually after 2 or 3 months they wound up totallying my Ford Escort and their insurance company paid me out like $3k for the car. It wasn't easy but in some states if you take them to small claims court, a company is required to pony up a lawyer which will usually cost them more money than just paying out the claim.

  • wlbrown9wlbrown9 Posts: 838
    Most of the Jiffy Lube and VIOC places keep your records on the computer...but it just depends on what they entered as to what is there. If they show servicing the diff in their records you 'might' have the starting point for making a case against them. They ususally will note that they have checked certain things, so if they show they checked the diff and you had to add fluid when you got home, then that might help.

    On the topic of quick lube places, I hate it when they show you the mfg calls for service ever 15K miles...that is usually off the severe service schedule. I think it is deceptive that they use that as a selling point without being clear that the 'normal' schedule would call for 50K miles and the severe schedule would call for 15K miles. Seems the older I get the less tolerance I have for BS like this :-)
  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,732
    You are indeed the victim, but I'm not sure that SOA is the villian. To be fair, if the Quick Change place really did dump your front diff, they are responsible for the failure. Of course this is still a best guess based on the history related to us. But if this is the case, to expect SOA to foot the bill is unreasonable. I think I'd be looking at small claims court as your recourse.

    This is not to say that SOA and the two dealer's actions are beyond reproach. I assume that you told the whole sequence to the dealer you encountered on the road, and that may be why they didn't want to touch the car. Or, they simply figured it out for themselves, based on experience. They didn't want to be involved in something that was going to get ugly fast. But if they suspected it was due to neglegence, especially if they told SOA and knew that the expense of a tow plus the toasted diff might end up being your bill, they should have been honest with you. You might have been able to make choices that would have minimized the loss.

  • bogey5bogey5 Posts: 35
    haven't disappeared folks. Just doing some research.
  • bogey5bogey5 Posts: 35
    Spoke with Valvoline store manager and told him that his tech had drained the diff. Service manager at Subaru drained my crankcase and found that there were three quarts too many in the engine.

    One of you I believe mentioned how both plugs are in close proximity. The tech obviously wasn't being attentive.

    It would seem that the VOIC home office might send out a service bulletin to its stores advising them to be careful. Maybe they have.

    Meeting with VOIC tomorrow morning to present copies of bills.

    I will let you know how it goes. Thanks to all for your knowledge and advice. It seems that maybe we Pastors ought to be cross trained in automobile maintenance.
  • bogey5bogey5 Posts: 35
    Spoke with Subaru service manager today. Engine had three quarts of oil too many. I have an appointment with VIOC manager tomorrow morning. I have already reported to him and VIOC home office that his tech had drained the differential and overfilled the oil.

    While he offered a couple of possible explanations including the front diff. dipstick worked loose and the gear oil was pumped out, it's apparent that he doesn't believe that himself. It would seem that VIOC would sent out a technical bulletin cautioning their techs that the two plugs are in close proximity and to be SURE of what they drain.

    Thanks to all who offered insightful advice and counsel. I'm thinking maybe we Pastors don't need to be cross trained in auto mechanics after all. We just need to turn to you folks.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508

    I hope it works out for you. It sounds like, at this point, there is some measure of hope for an appropriate resolution!

    If the engine is overfilled by 3 quarts, it is quite likely that all the seals/gaskets are shot on it as well. You will likely see leaks in the camshaft seals and the valve cover gaskets, if not other locations, begin to noticeably develop within the next 3,000 miles (assuming the differential is replaced).
  • bogey5bogey5 Posts: 35
    I'll make sure that VIOC is aware that I may be revisiting them in the future.

    Diff is being replaced as we speak.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,508
    Hey, maybe they will give you free oil changes for the life of the car! Oh, wait.... that might only be one or two more oil changes..... :P
This discussion has been closed.