(Mis)Adventure: My Subaru Nightmare Continues…

My new car experience is now officially dead.

Just got off the phone with my insurance company, and when supplying the information for my new Subaru I was asked by the agent what model I bought. I said “Forester.” She said, “Oh, that’s what my mom bought, but she’s been in over and over because it burns so much oil.”

So here is where we stand now.

1. Subaru America contacted the dealer, learned what they could, but then came back to me and said “Just keep the car in oil burning protocol.” This is exactly what I knew they would say. Hold the corporate line. The fact that my car is brand new and finds itself in a 1200 mile oil burning protocol apparently doesn’t seem strange to anyone.

2. When I picked up the car at the dealership I inspected the paperwork to make sure that all THREE issues were noted properly. I noticed the paperwork said “…client declines to perform test at this time may schedule future event.” I did actually agree to start the procedure, so I had them change the paperwork to note this.

3. Then something truly remarkable happened. As I was going through the paperwork someone from service came over. I explained that I was checking details but that I was confused by the oil consumption. This person said “Back in the day, we use to have to put a quart of oil in every 800-1000 miles.” I said “I’m not talking about back in the day, I’m talking about my brand new car, today.” “Totally normal,” he said. “What?” I asked. “That’s totally normal oil consumption.” I said “Wait, you mean burning so much oil that my oil light comes on and your dealership service department tells me NOT to drive the car, then has it towed back to the dealer……that is normal?” “Totally normal,” he responded. I then ask, very politely, if he would repeat what he said because I was having trouble believing what I was hearing. “Totally normal,” he said.

4. Over the next hour I met with three different managers at the same dealership, all of whom said “No, that is NOT normal oil consumption.”

5. A manager at the dealership said someone else had recently purchased the same vehicle, with the same options, and had the exact same issues.

I actually really don’t want to say this or even think this, but this is certainly the last time I ever purchase a Subaru vehicle. If I didn’t stand to lose $7000 I would get rid of the car today.(This really sucks because a healthy Forester is a capable, fun vehicle as are all the Subie models.) The real downer is the time and energy required to deal with this nonsense. I cancelled my upcoming trip to New Mexico because now I need to stay around Southern California for however long it takes to drive 1200 miles. I’m sitting here dreaming of a miraculous recovery. The seals miraculously tighten up, the rings self medicate and the engine remedies its consumption problem.

I think I see a project and book about this little adventure in the near future.

Stay tuned for the next chapter as there have been additional mechanical developments and shoddy service issues, believe it or not. Live and learn.

19 Comments on “(Mis)Adventure: My Subaru Nightmare Continues…”

  1. Daniel,

    What a bummer! What a frustrating situation to be in.
    Can you hear the sympathetic and collective grown from the readership?
    Knowing that your followers here are legion, surely there must be someone that could speak out of the ether and provide some insight. I’m never great at this stuff but man, I’ve sure met some people who are. That are able to, with a smile, give Subaru’s nuts a quarter turn on the vice until things are resolved to your satisfaction.
    Sometimes it’s a subtle twist of phrase or vocabulary that shifts things.
    Sometimes it’s saying that “I have a problem. If you can fix it great. If you can’t, please put me in touch with someone who can. I’m not leaving until this is resolved.” And on you go skipping the front line folks, the managers, the corporate stooges with no pull, until you’ve moved up the food chain to find the person that can make things happen and make it right. Like right now….let Subaru drive the car another 1200 miles and do whatever protocols they’d like.
    You need a new one that works as promised or your money back. They can take the car back…there is no $7K hit on their end and even if there was, I think Fuji Heavy Industries is good for it. 🙂

    I’m going to pop some corn and hang out here in the bleachers to watch the rest of the show.
    We’re cheering for you!

    1. Aaron,
      Just emailed with another buyer who has 200 miles on his brand new Forester and has the EXACT same issues as me. Like all makers these days, they won’t do the right thing unless they have to. They just figure you will tire of you the situation and move on. I know now there is SOMETHING going on with 6-speed manuals and low rpm engine stumble and oil burning. There is ONE person at the dealership that has been great, but she can’t do much. Everyone else has just blown me off. And Subaru America just held corporate policy…”keep it in protocol.” What they don’t realize is I’ve already stopped two friends from buying Foresters. One came over and one called and said “Jesus, glad I read your post, I was ready to buy.”

  2. Daniel,
    I know that California has strong Lemon laws that protect consumers. Have you looked into just getting Subaru to take the car back? I’ve worked at car dealerships, and in general, they are scum. They will do whatever it takes to prevent you from being taken care of (at the dealership level).
    I hope you’re able to get this resolved, it sounds like an incredibly frustrating situation.
    I’ve had insanely good luck with both Toyota and Honda vehicles, I’m glad to hear this about Subaru because I’ve been thinking of looking into a Forester down the road, now that’s off the table.
    Good luck to you.

    1. Tobin,
      At this point that is precisely what I want. Out of this car. Buy back or void the contract. Return the car, walk away. I’ve had great luck with both Toyota and Honda as well, but they don’t make anything AWD like Subaru does. A working and healthy Subaru is a great car. I just got one with major issues.

      1. I hope this works out in your favor. It’s a major pain but I’m confident that if you push hard enough for long enough, you can get them to take this car back.

        Honda did make the element (not sure if it’s still in production?), that’s the closest equivalent that I can think of. They look pretty funny, some people love them.

        I’ve always thought that Foresters were awesome, I’ve driven them (a 2005-ish model) and it was amazing in the snow. This oil burning situation is really unfortunate.

        1. Tobin,
          It’s a long, strange process for sure. The Element came in a 4wd model but did’t have the clearance or great all wheel drive. Still a great car however and they last forever. The Foresters from 2013 and earlier were much more bulletproof than the modern versions. This is probably true of most brands.

  3. I think the dealer just want you to stay with the car long enough so you pass whatever is their time limit in these cases so they are covered by their policy and don’t take the car back. That 1200 miles sounds like total BS to me.
    Do it “American Way”. Customer is always right. You want the car back to the dealer and full reimbursement of your money. They say no. Lawsuit!
    I always liked Subaru. Especially the Impreza … but after this adventure of yours … And I’m in the market for a new ride but I think I should consider other options instead, lol.

    1. Erlantz,
      Actually, I think they need something to go so wrong that it is easily identifiable. Items that are intermittent are perfect for any dealer because all they have to say is “Couldn’t recreate.” They will do that until the end of time. But a repair order is impossible to ignore. If they acknowledge a problem then you have something to stand on. The oil burning with Subaru is a known problem which has already resulted in a class action suit. They put me in this protocol SO fast it was a nice clue as to how widespread the issue is. Now, they deflect responsibility for another 1200 miles. They just hope I go away.

  4. Have you talked to a lawyer? I am NOT a lawyer, and I have NO IDEA what the current state of lemon law is, but it feels like it’s time to retain counsel.

    Hopefully the dealership will just walk away and give you your money back without a fuss when you walk in with a lawyer. But maybe not.

  5. I was teached and experienced it myself that flat “boxer” engines are more susceptible to oil burning. Is it because gravity is harder to cope with when a piston is running horizontally? I wish you all the best putting the misadventures to an end.

    1. Reiner,
      Yes, a SLIGHT increase in oil burn. What they are telling me is that 1 quart per 2000 miles is normal. This isn’t true. If it is then I need to carry three quarts between oil changes. There is NO WAY this is true, and would also make me believe there is no way I can pass emissions.

  6. 1st thought: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subaru
    Who wrote the last paragraph on the super ultra low emission?

    2nd thought: Toyota owns a big part of the mother company Fuji Heavy Industry, Toyota which is committed in low emission car building.

    Sometimes clearly wrong here…

    I know for sure Japanese culture has huge difficulties with admitting their errors even when they are clearly exposed and recognised by all!

    1. Reiner,
      The engine stutter is tied to the oil consumption. I know it. But they have to first diagnose there is an engine stutter. For them this is a problem because then we know there is a problem. Total engine replacement is next. At that point I want out. I was told one mechanic did a replacement in four hours, another in two weeks and yet another in two months.

      1. Engine stutter could also be indirectly related to oil consumption, IE the oil consumption is throwing off a sensor, causing ECM to read incorrectly and make adjustments that affect engine performance. If there’s a lot of unburned oil in the exhaust, it could be fouling your 02 sensors. This will also make your catalytic converter go bad really quickly.

        1. Tobin,
          I’m realizing A LOT about the Subaru manual transmissions. Man, the Forester manual is terrible. At highway speed the tach on the manual is above 3000 rpms and the engine is hammering. The automatic at same speed is 2000 rpms and you cant’ even hear the engine. I don’t think the 6-speed is 6-speeds. I think it has two fifth gears. If you live in the city you might not notice, but man, if you do road trips it’s horrible. The car doesn’t even feel like it wants to stay at highway speed. This is connected to the oil burn, although I’m positive something else is at issue with mine.

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