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SOA Warranty Problems & Questions



  • 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.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    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.

  • 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!

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Glad to hear it. Thanks for sticking around to give us a long-term update. :shades:
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    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.

  • 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.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    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!

  • 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.

  • 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.