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SOA Warranty Problems & Questions

124

Comments

  • larryaklarryak Posts: 18
    Yep, in hindsight I should have brought it to their attention sooner than Nov' 05 but circumstances at the time made that difficult. Also, the very infrequent (at the time) occurrence of the problem made it unlikely that they would be able to fix it. Anyway, subsequent events proved me correct on this as they were unable, on their own, to get the problem to occur at the shop despite several attempts during 2006 (starting in Feb). In the end I was forced to drive the car over to the dealer during the day (unscheduled) to demonstrate the problem. The same thing happened last month...they had the car for 3.5 days, could not replicate, I returned to pick the car up and it malfunctioned for *me* right there at the shop. Then they said it was because it was in "fresh" mode rather than "recirculate" (!!!). Now it hasn't worked at all for the last two weeks (they did another recharge a month ago, I guess it couldn't take it).
    As for if the compressor was damaged by lack of lubrication, keep in mind that most of the time prior to Nov, 2005 it did kick in, so I think it got an average amount of lubrication.
    So far they haven't given me any rationale for their position other than that the warranty expired in Nov, 2005 and it's now March, 2007. The problem with this, of course, is that it implies that you're SOL of they can't properly diagnose and fix the problem within the warranty period.

    Larry
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sounds like the dealer could never figure out what was really broken, and they've given up now that the warranty has expired.

    Problem is, that's tough to prove. They're not going to admit their repairs weren't done properly, as that would be shooting themselves in the foot. :sick:
  • larryaklarryak Posts: 18
    Thanks for you comments.
    After the events of last month I contacted Subaru primarily to get some technical help for the dealer...they are clueless (fresh vs. recirculate??). The technical help didn't seem to happen but now I'm discussing the issue of covering the cost with them. The rep I've been in contact with has essentially said that it's up to the dealer to decide what will be covered by "goodwill". The fact that I did bring it to their attention before the warranty expired does not seem to carry much weight.
    Although it was functioning at the Nov, 2005 service, they say that the refrigerant was very low and recharged it. So they know that a.) I claim that sometimes it doesn't work, and b.) It was low on refrigerant. So something wasn't right prior to that date.
    BTW...I don't have a video camera.

    Larry
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    If the problem wasn't occurring when you brought it to them, it's pretty hard for them to diagnose the problem and bringing it to them so late which may be due to circumstances, doesn't really help the matter.

    -mike
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Even with all of that granted (timeliness of the original service call on it being the most pertinent point), the fact remains that the "recharge" did not help the situation, so whatever the problem was, it occurred prior to warranty expiration and was not fixed by the dealer's initial attempt. If you have made a committed effort to have the problem fixed after their initial failed attempt, then it should not matter when the warranty expired as the problem existed prior to warranty expiration - they know it existed because you brought it to a dealer for that reason. Heck, if the system was working properly, why would it have needed a major recharge with so few miles? My '96 had 220,000 miles on it and the A/C worked just fine without ever having had a recharge! The fact that the system either works fine or not at all points away from the "freon" as a potential culprit anyway. As the system loses charge, it will not cool as well, but it is not going to work perfectly once and then not at all the next time around.

    So, the issue now is to find a shop that can diagnose the problem. Without knowing the problem, there is no way that SOA is going to agree, at any level, to address it. Your refrigeration system aside, the problem now is that the service department you are dealing with currently is incapable of addressing the car's malfunction. If you keep bantering with them, they are going to keep wasting your time, and before you know it another year or two have gone by...... Time is a critical factor at this point since you are in the "goodwill" phase....

    I expect that, regardless of the outcome, at least some repair expense will be borne from your pocket. :(

    By the way, as far as fresh vs. recirculate goes, recirculate will ultimately allow the system to achieve a lower cabin temperature since the intake air through the cooling fins has already been cooled by them and is thus lower than fresh, hot, air. If the system is not cooling at all though, how could it make any difference?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    But it's not a week or 2 or a month past the warranty expiration. It's significantly past it at this point.

    -mike
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    No, I agree. It is significantly past. But, much of the problem is due to the dealer being unable to diagnose the problem even when it is occurring! Obviously, the owner cannot beheld faultless here that he is at this phase more than a year past expiration. But, even if he took it to the dealer when the problem first started, it is very possible that he could still be right at the same point today considering that the dealer has not addressed the problem at all.

    He would just have a much better "goodwill" case. ;)

    It is all a moot point though unless the problem can actually be diagnosed. Otherwise, everyone is just speculating.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    True. The way I look at it is this. If I was going to make a mountain out of a mole hill on this issue, I would have started just before the warranty was up, left the car at the dealer until it was fixed. Unfortunately on intermittent problems, it's hard to do that.

    I'd actually be more embarassed that I was trying to get my warranty covered a year after it expired.

    -mike
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Hahaha, agreed. I am not sure I would be embarrassed so much as frustrated, though, if it was a warranty (defect) issue. Even little warranty items tend to be frustrating to address.

    For example, with my car's "little things", like cracking shift boot, copious rattles, etc., even fixing is not the end. I had the car in back in January, they say "yes, it has these problems, we will order parts and you bring it back in two weeks." Okay, I do. They address a couple issues, but say "Sorry, we had wrong part on shift boot, bring it back in two weeks." I do. I call them the day prior to the appointment to ask if they can have the car done no later than 1400, as I need it early. They say that is fine. I take the car in and go to work. 2pm, I am there to get the car. Guess what?! They have only had it in the shop for 45 minutes! Well, that should be plenty of time considering they just have to swap out the shift boot and glove box..... NO! They give it back to me completely untouched. I take it back in just on Tuesday of this week. They swap the shift boot (same cheap material as last one, so it will have to be replaced again), but now the trim around it is loose and rattles, plus the glove box was the wrong part (surprise!), so it has another appointment. I think they are making me regret my decision to ever take it in for these petty annoyances! I just want to get it ironed out before I sell it, but I am worried that the touch-ups are just going to snowball the more I take it in.

    Whoa - sorry about that... speaking of snowballs!

    Anyway, Larry has an uphill battle for sure and it is likely to culminate in an unsatisfactory outcome for him. But, until the problem is diagnosed, it is all just a frustrating mystery.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    See if you can get a low-cost digital camera that also has a video feature. Nowadays that's pretty common.

    At least for future use.

    Cheers. :shades:
  • larryaklarryak Posts: 18
    Up till the "fresh vs. recirculate" moment I thought we were making progress. Just for grins, here's what happened that day:
    I dropped the car off on Tuesday A.M. I had a bad omen because the AC was working when I dropped the car off. Received no updates until I called on Thursday at which time they said they had not been able to replicate despite repeated attempts. Too late to pick up that day so I go in Friday noonish to pick the car up. The service advisor that I'd been dealing with was out to lunch, but another advisor was pulling lunch duty. I insisted on him being present as I started the car. Low and behold, the AC is not working. Compressor pulley is not engaged, no cooling fans operative, etc... Just warm air coming out of the vents since it was parked in the sun. Now this is where I made my "fatal" mistake. I noticed that it was set to recirculate, which I hardly ever use. So I switched to "fresh". Anyway, the guy agree with me that it was not working. We ran it for 5 minutes or so, during which time the compressor pulley never engaged. Since the adviser I had been dealing with was not expected back for 20-30 minutes I turned the motor off and walked down the street to have lunch. When I returned the two advisor's and the mechanic were gathered around the car and as I walked towards them the meeting broke up and my adviser announced that they had found the problem. Although dubious, I said "great!". This is where it got "fun". The AC was now working, pumping out plenty of cold air. They said the reason that hot air was coming out earlier was because the "fresh" air was being pulled in over the warm hood. Somewhere around here the service adviser who was present when the AC was not working scurried off. I then pointed out that earlier the cooling fans had not been running and the compressor pulley was not engaged as I would expect based on my previous observations during periods when it was cooling properly. In the ensuing discussion it became apparent that even the mechanic was seemed unsure about what cooling fans should be operating when the AC was on. Anyway, I wasn't getting anywhere and had to get back to work so I left. That weekend I emailed Subaru.

    During '06 I had the car in for 3 "official" visits, the first in Feb, the last in Sept. Plus there was at least one other unannounced visit when I took the car there while it was malfunctioning and demonstrated it to the service adviser.

    Does anyone have an opinion on if there is anything to be gained by talking to the regional rep or asking for someone higher in the organization? Does that ever work?
  • larryaklarryak Posts: 18
    Actually, now that I think about it my digital camera will record for 15 seconds.
    The issue with recording it is how do you prove a negative? If I show them video of the AC not working, who's to say that I didn't have the switch on? I guess I'd need to have a notary present during filming. :-)
    A video might be useful in "proving" that I'm not hallucinating, but if they can't replicate on the premises and there's no service bulletin dealing specifically with "phantom" AC malfunctions then I probably would not have been much better off.
  • larryaklarryak Posts: 18
    I think I didn't start beating on them right away because I expected the frequency of malfunction to increase over time, which should have made it easier to diagnose. As the standard warranty had already expired and the extended warranty had 18 months left there wasn't an urgent reason to bring it to their attention. Initially the car would go for a few weeks between malfunctions, and in '05 there was a period of several months when it behaved itself. Made a dealer visit easy to put off as the car was not in need of any other service or maintenance in early to mid '05.

    Larry
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Well this (the service personnels' behavior) is very curious, indeed, because the problem does not seem to me like all that much of a mystery. Seems the problem is with the clutch on the compressor pulley, or with the electronics that control it. Either should be a relatively simple (labor-wise) fix unless the compressor clutch cannot be replaced independently from the compressor.

    As for the cooling fans (I assume you are referring to the dual electric cooling fans mounted to the radiator for the engine coolant), they turn on based on the temperature of the coolant. I do not think they come on automatically simply because the A/C compressor is on, though the compressor does add a significant load to the engine at idle so it is far more likely to come on once the car is warmed up.

    There are many times that my cooling fans do not run at all during the winter months (or very intermittently), even at highway speeds, simply because the ambient air temperature is cold enough to keep the coolant temperature down even without the forced induction.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    The secondary fan comes on anytime the compressor is engaged on Subarus.

    -mike
  • bogey5bogey5 Posts: 35
    Good Day All,

    Five months and five thousand miles after the damage to and replacement of my front differential following a catastrophic draining of the differential during an oil change, the car is running fine. Mileage is as expected. No noise, no smoke, no smell, no nothing.

    Thanks again to all those who offered advice and counsel during the height of the anxiety. I always recommend CarSpace to folks who are having car problems or questions.

    Bogey5 (Pastor Steve)
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Thanks for the update Pastor Steve! Hope all is well and spring is treating you well!

    -mike
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Glad to hear it. Thanks for sticking around to give us a long-term update. :shades:
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    Absolutely. I am still amazed at how well this event worked out (thus far) for you; due mostly to your persistence! I refer to it frequently when musing "oops" scenarios with service centers.... I hope you do not mind! :D
  • bogey5bogey5 Posts: 35
    Don't mind at all. I think that anything that contributes to better service at service centers helps us all.

    The weather in the Northeast is spectacular today and for any friends in the mid-west especially Greensburg, KS our prayers are with you.
  • acdialacdial Posts: 4
    Our follow-up: After breaking down in SC and having car towed to Subaru dealer in Savannah, car was diagnosed as having damaged differential and trans due to low differential fluid level. Subaru refused to cover under powertrain warranty (still in effect). They claimed mechanic must've drained fluid during most recent oil change (several days before break down). Took the issue to the mechanic, who said he would submit paperwork to his insurance company. We had to pester the mechanic several times before he finally gave us his insurance company contact info. We talked with an adjuster and submitted supporting documentation (service order from Subaru dealer, letter from SOA stating why they wouldn't cover under warranty, service records for the car showing regular required maitenance, etc.). Within 2 weeks of that, we got a check for $5,000 from the mechanic's insurance company. That amount covered the cost of repair, towing, and rental car. We actually traded the car as-is to the Toyota dealer affiliated with the Subaru dealer for a 2007 Rav4. The amount we lost in trade in value was also about $5,000. So we came out even and have a brand new car that we actually like better (roomier interior and better mileage than the Outback). It just took some persistance on our part. We still feel that SOA could have done a much better job in the customer service area. Due to that, we will never buy another Subaru.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Stories like that make me paranoid enough to change my own oil.

    It's really the mechanic's fault, though, not Subaru's. How would you have wanted them to help more? I'm sure they backed off due to the liability issue.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'm with Juice, how on earth could you hold SOA responsible for a mechanic's problem? That would be like me missing a shift and going into 3rd instead of 5th and blowing my trans, then complaining that SOA wouldn't cover it under warranty.

    To each his own though.

    -mike
  • snowbeltersnowbelter Posts: 286
    I don't know how often this "mistake" with the wrong plug happens, but when it does the consequences are serious and expensive to fix. If these plugs are made of metal and look alike, couldn't Subaru stamp each of them with an O for oil, T for transmission, and D for differential?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Well, it's not a problem at dealerships. They seem to train their mechanics well enough to avoid that.

    We had one Edmunds member take their Outback to Jiffy Lube and the same thing happened - they drained the transmission and then proceeded to overfill the engine oil. :sick:

    I found at least one Sienna owner that had the same thing happen to them at a quicky lube place.

    I'll do it myself, thanks.
  • bat1161bat1161 Posts: 1,784
    That is the risk you take not going to a dealer/knowledgeable party for service.

    Years ago before I had my first OB I had a Honda Accord. On a trip up to Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side my transmission started to slip. I went into a Canadian Tire who said they could get me running to get home to Brooklyn for service. Turns out they put engine oil in the transmission so I had to get a new tranny. After going back and forth with them for a couple of weeks they finally reimbursed me the cost of parts, not labor. Wound up costing me enough that I started looking around for a new car. That's one reason I go to the dealer for everything now -this way there is a record.

    Definitely have to watch what these guys do.

    Mark
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,499
    It would be very difficult to pull the wrong plug by mistake. Anyone who has ever removed an oil plug would know exactly which one was for the engine oil. Sheer carelessness is the only explanation, in which case the party at fault should absolutely be held fully liable.

    The fact that Subaru changed their differential plugs to a T70 Torx is a testament to their willingness to reduce the frequency of the problem... at the expense of mechanics and DIYs of course. ;)
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Also, anyone who is at all concerned about their work, or works in the auto-repair/mod environment, would CLEARLY know the difference between fluids coming out:

    Motor Oil: Blackish/brownish/distinct odor/distinct viscosity
    Differential Oil: Clearish-redish/VERY RANCID SMELL/significantly thicker than motor oil
    Automatic Trans Fluid: Redish-brown/different odor from Motor or diffy oil, thinner viscosity than both those.

    As Wes said, plain and simple old fashion lazyiness/carelessness is to blame, and marking the plugs with an O, T, or D would not help that!

    -mike
  • subearusubearu Posts: 3,613
    At least on my '04 F-XT, the engine undercover is clearly marked "ENGINE" where the oil filter and drain are. I bet your '05 LGT has similar markings on the undercover.

    -Brian
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Absolutely correct, my wife calls it "gear oil cologne" and won't even get near me until I've showered - twice.

    It doesn't look, feel, or even smell anything like used oil.
This discussion has been closed.