(Mis)Adventure: My Subaru Nightmare Chapter Three


Hey, you’ve had my car for two weeks. Why bother reattaching the front skid plate? It makes such a great noise banging around at highway speed……..

In the past twenty four hours I’ve spoken with TWO friends who were on their way to Subaru to buy Foresters. Both of them said “Glad I read your post first.” One was going due to his wife being pregnant and he wanted to upsize from his Crosstrek. The second was already researching skid plates and lift kits when he came across my post. Both were entirely puzzled by why Subaru would think a brand new car being in an oil burning protocol was remotely acceptable. Neither is going to acquire a new Subaru.

It’s Friday morning here in California and I just came from my local dealership. This was my first visit to this dealer as I realized I can’t trust the original dealership AT ALL. The new dealer reinstalled my front skid plate/splash guard, which the previous dealership only halfway bolted back on after having the car for nearly two weeks. When I got in the car this morning I thought to myself, “Okay, this is it.” “This is the drive when the car feels normal.” And then the engine cutout over over again as I drove to the dealership.

There is a ray of hope, at least to some degree, as this new dealership is just that, new. I told my sob story to three different people. Two service folks and one manager who I’m guessing is a sales guy. I can only imagine being in their shoes and seeing someone like me walk in. They don’t want to hear this stuff, I get it. What I did like hearing was “Our service manager is a master mechanic and can diagnose anything.” That was the ONLY positive thing I’ve heard from Subaru in the last two months. This dealership did seem surprised that I’m in an oil burning protocol. I got confused looks. I also got a “Why didn’t they just replace the motor?” I also found out a motor replacement is somewhere between two weeks and two months. But I don’t want a new motor. I simply want what I’m paying for, a fully functional, new car. The new dealership people at least humored me and were pleasant overall.

By the way, I told three different people the entire history of this debacle because I need translators. I need people to help me help those who are attempting to fix my car. Did I really just have to write that??????????

I describe the engine cutting out at highway speeds, and on the paperwork it says “engine dies.” And I’m like….“No, no, no, it doesn’t die, it cuts out!” Arrrrrgh.

I’ve been thinking about what Subaru service first told me. If two quarts of oil in 4000 miles is “normal,” then I should be carrying THREE QUARTS between oil changes. Just one question. How does a car that burns this much oil pass emissions? How do I pass smog check with this car? And if my car is burning this much, and other people are having the same issue, how do ANY of these cars pass emissions?

So far Subaru has had two chances to do the right thing and every time they have chosen to abandon the owner.

A friend said to me, “Subaru has NO idea what a fan they would have had if they had just delivered a functioning vehicle.” What is truly strange is when one division of a dealership is telling me “things are totally normal” and other divisions of the SAME dealership are telling me “Subaru needs to buy back this vehicle.”

On a funny side note, in the middle of all this I’m getting my new owner packages from Subaru and my online travels have assured me a relentless barrage of Subaru advertising every step of my internet way.

15 Comments on “(Mis)Adventure: My Subaru Nightmare Chapter Three”

    1. Mike,
      Only issue is that is a MASSIVE repair for a brand new car. Plus, I was told one mechanic did an engine replacement in four hours, another said two weeks and yet another said two months.

  1. I agree with the person that said that Subaru should buy back (eat) your car and give you a new one and problem solve. That is how customer service works. Sorry we sold you a piece of shit, sometimes there is a rotten apple in the basket, let us replace it for you at no charge. Done!

    1. EB,
      Well, if I put myself in Subaru’s shoes I would say “Okay, we have procedure we need to follow.” However, the fact is this isn’t the car I ordered. They botched the deliver of the vehicle, then the one they delivered hasn’t been right since I bought it. To diagnose the issue they are going to have to dig. Really dig. Dealerships aren’t paid the same for warranty service as they are for post warranty service, so they don’t want to go the extra mile while a car is still in warranty. I’m guessing the issue I’m having is the same one that caused the class action in 2014. Bad rings or seals that causes extra oil burn. They don’t want to eat this car, but they may have to. It will end up in auction in Kansas or Michigan and someone will end up buying it under the Lemon Law. What is REALLY interesting is that I checked the oil yesterday……and it looks to me like the last dealership overfilled the oil. It looks like it’s at least a half a quart over the fill mark. This makes me VERY suspicious. My car is in an oil protocol and suddenly it has MORE oil than it should?

      1. Very suspicious! i mean you are in an oil burning protocol, they fill it up more than it should, you go back to the dealer … This car look fine, oil level looks normal … and you take it back thinking the problem is solve. Then come back maybe in 2 or 3 months again, they repeat the operation, and at some point they have a stack of reports that said that your car was fine every time you left the dealer and every time you came back after they put you in the oil burning protocol. At this point you are who is eating the car …
        I don’t know, maybe it’s me that I tend to think bad about all the car dealerships, but I think they are playing you out.

        1. EB,
          It’s hard NOT to think that. I just wrote Subaru America to find out if overfilling the car was a normal part of the procedure?

  2. I have given Subaru a bunch of business. I will probably continue to do so. Unfortunately, my decision to do so is entirely wrapped up in the fact that I like the feel of driving the cars……most of my Subaru dealer experiences would have driven me away from any other brand. Last time I dropped my wife’s car off for service I recieved a phone call advising me it would be another $60.00 because they had snapped off a lug while rotating the tires. My response: You mean you broke my car and now you want to charge me for the pleasure? After about a half an hour I received a phone call from the service manager: Sir, we have decided to extend you the courtesy of not charging you for the lug repair………..I could go on.

    I recall reading that, of all major brands, only Subaru and Cadillac did not see a decline in sales during the last economic downturn. It is my theory, Subaru does not feel any significant pressure to spend a lot of time and money on effort to purify their dealer base. So they don’t.

    The Subaru engine is a boxer configuration. It is not difficult to see, the challenges associated with oil seeping by piston rings are greater in a boxer engine than in an engine having pistons moving vertically or in ‘V” configuration.

    I love the cars. I feel better knowing my daughters and wife are behind the wheel of a Subaru while driving in bad weather. The dealer experience has sucked, though.

    1. Wayne,
      Hey, I like them too but there is clearly something wrong with my individual car. They loaned me a Forester base, automatic and it’s a TOTALLY different car. First off it accelerates evenly. Yes, I have a manual and this is auto, but the manual suffers from low rpm stumble, so nothing is smooth. Second, the auto is 1200 RPM’s lower at highway speed. This is a HUGE discrepancy. What I know now is that the Forester manual is really a five speed not a six speed. At highway speeds the engine is just HAMMERING, and as soon as you let off the gas it feels like the car is being pulled from behind. The auto on the other hand is totally quiet at highway speed, and when I let off the gas it coasts like a normal car. And, my manual also suffers from “rev-hang,” which is also common with the manuals. Meaning when you let off the gas the tachometer doesn’t lower it goes UP! NOT TO MENTION THE TWO QUARTS OF OIL IN 4000 MILES WHICH IS WAY OVER WHAT THEY ALLOW.

    2. Wayne,
      Subaru allows for 1/3 quart per 1200 miles. So I’m WAY over on the oil burn. And, the track record for over consumption is well known and has been legally troublesome for Subaru in the past.

    3. Wayne,

      I’m also starting to think their delivery of an automatic, “by accident” after I waited for two months perhaps wasn’t an accident. I’m starting to think they don’t want to sell manuals because they know how many problems they have.

  3. My wife’s Impreza is a manual. She refuses to drive an automatic. Fortunately, we have not had any of the problems you describe with your Forester. Don’t get me wrong, I was in no way trying to justify the excessive oil burning or other problems of your car. Resolved: dealing with Subaru through a Subaru dealership can be a very dissatisfying experience. I do sympathize with issues other folks have had with Subaru. Being a Cubs fan, I used to joke- before they screwed it up for me by winning the series this year: The Cubs don’t win because there is no money in it for them, there is a butt in every seat, every game….. win or lose. I think the cult status Subaru brand has achieved, has created an environment where they are not too concerned about creating dissatisfied customers. The money comes in regardless. I know!….It seems impossible to believe. I have even noticed it in new car salespersons.

    True story:

    The last new car I purchased was a Honda Civic, new, for one of my daughters. Prior to purchasing the Honda, I stopped by the Subaru dealer and told them I was interested in a new Impreza. They did not have one on the lot, but I told the sales person to see if he could find one; and if it was close to Civic money, I would take it. One week passes. We go to the Honda dealer and purchase the Civic. Daughter is very happy. About a month later I see the Subaru salesperson as I am picking up my wife’s Impreza after service.

    Salesperson: Hey, I thought you were interested in buying an Impreza for your daughter
    Me: I was. I wound up buying her a Civic.
    Salesperson: I found a car for you.
    Me: I never got a call from you.

    I guess I was supposed check in with him. Sorry, I like my Subarus, but………………

    1. Wayne,

      Before I bought the Forester I went to four Subaru dealerships looking for a manual transmission. THREE of the four sales people I spoke to said “Subaru doesn’t make a manual transmission.” One sales guy left to check the manifest in the downtime another salesperson came up and started talking to me about life in general only to have the original guy come back and see me talking with him. The first guy goes crazy and starts yelling at me like I’m trying to snake him somehow with the other guy. First guy keeps yelling at me and then storms off. Second guy flees. I end up walking the lot by myself looking through windows at locked cars. Third guy comes up and I said “No way I’m talking to you.”

  4. I have always had a great interest in cars. Earlier in life, I had a friend who ran a buy-here-pay-here operation. He had his roots in large, new car sales operation………a real car sales animal. I enjoyed hanging out with him and traveling with him to auctions, and even stood-in for him on some Saturdays. I have seen the business top to bottom. I have yet to enter a Subaru dealership where the atmosphere was elevated beyond that of a used car lot. I mean, the accoutrements of a new car dealership are always there, but once you get to personnel, it is all used car world. If you want to see a good movie, if you have not already seen it, Kirt Russel in’ “Used Cars.” Even if you have seen it, but it has been a while, watch it again. It is not far from how it really works in that world.

    I am beginning to sound like a parrot, but, I am convinced that Subaru has very loose controls in their franchise operation. The only explanation I can come up with is that the folks in Japan are concentrating on the bottom line; the bottom line must be good.

    One other Subaru story:

    I am matter of fact about cars. I have stated earlier, I drive Subarus because I like them. To me, the Impreza about as close as you get to a four wheeled motorcycle. I am willing to put up with a lot to have that feeling. I was test driving a car for my other daughter in 2009; the sales person, probably in his late teens, observes: “Sir, you are not like the other Subaru drivers I deal with.” Me, “What do you mean?” Him, ” They seem to really identify with the idea of driving a Subaru. You don’t strike me that way.” Before I know it, he is making fun of the other customer’s attitude toward Subaru. I have to guess, his was the prevailing attitude in the showroom.

    I lied. There is a second part to this story:

    I did wind up buying the car. As I recall, during negotiations for the car, taking a few days/trips, I believe I may have crossed sales persons…not intentionally, just a matter of different guys being there on different days. As I was leaving the showroom to get in my new car and drive off, I overheard one of the sales persons make derisive comment to another- loud enough for me to hear- about me. I spun on my heals, went back in, and spoke to the sales manager about it.

    As I read what I have written here, I realize one could get the impression I am a bit of a story-teller. It all happened exactly as I have described.

    I really like my daughter’s Honda. I also really like the service experience. Very professional. That new H-RV is a very cool little crossover. Unfortunately it is not available in standard…….if you have to have all wheel drive. It does come with all wheel drive with an automatic transmission.

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