Disappointed with Subaru Warranty Extension

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Nov 12, 2018
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My wife and I have been Honda and Toyota owners as far back as 1978. In 2013 we purchased our first Subaru—a 2010 Outback Premium 2.5i Premium with 43K miles. We were so happy with our purchase and our driving experience, especially during New England winters. We readily recommended the Outback to any friends or acquaintances who were in the market for a new car.

In 2017 we received a letter informing us that Subaru was acknowledging transmission problems with 2010-2015 Outbacks and that if repairs were made prior to 07/31/2018 that Subaru would cover the cost as part of a warranty extension. In the beginning of 2018 we began noticing problems with the operation of the transmission (shifting hard into reverse, skipping while driving, shuddering when coming to a stop). The problems would appear randomly but steadily increased. We brought the car to Schaller Subaru in Berlin, CT. Since they could not replicate the issue they told us there was nothing they could do.

The problem persisted so we brought the car to Quality Subaru in Wallingford on 07/12/2018. They also said they could not replicate the problem and sent us on our way.

We were very frustrated as the problem was getting worse. I called Subaru of America on 07/23/2018 and spoke to a customer representative named Danielle S. She coordinated a second appointment at Quality Subaru for us (SR #1-34778008012). We wanted to have any repairs made to the vehicle before the 07/31/2018 deadline. The service department at Quality Subaru found that a transmission control module needed to be updated, which they did. However, they could not duplicate any of our concerns and did not recommend any further repairs.

The problems continued, getting worse each time we drove the car. During the month of August my mother-in-law fell very ill and passed away at the end of the month. The transmission was getting so bad that we rented a car to go to NJ for the services as we were concerned the car might not be reliable enough to make the trip at such a crucial time.

We went to New Hampshire a few days after the funeral to rest with some friends. On the way home the car began to make a squealing noise and then jerk almost as if the brakes were applied or the engine was stopping. On 09/06/2018 I called Subaru of America again to appeal to a customer rep (this time Kadie Bryan) about our situation. We knew there had a problem with the car earlier in the year and did all we could to have the issue repaired before the 07/31/2018 deadline. She issued a new service request (SR # 1-36039006962) and instructed us to go to a different dealer to try to find the problem. We made an appointment to take the car to Premier Subaru in Watertown, CT.

The Outback was brought to Premier on 09/17/2018 and we were given a courtesy car so they could take the time to replicate the problem. Once again, the problem could not be replicated, so my wife picked up the vehicle. Just miles from the dealership the car started squealing and jerking. She returned to the dealer, but the noise had stopped. It was recommended that the drive belt be replaced, which they did immediately.

We thought this would solve our problem. However, on her way home the car began to squeal and jerk again. On 09/27/2018 we brought the vehicle back to Premier, were given a courtesy car, and they pledged to do all they could to diagnose the problem. Finally on 10/02/2018 they were able to replicate the problem, and on 10/10/2018 to record the issue on a laptop connected to the vehicle.

Needless to say we were relieved, the folks at Premier were delighted they found the problem, and Kadie was excited that the issue was finally pinpointed. Unfortunately our hopes were dashed when we were told that because of the age of the vehicle and the mileage (159,450) Subaru would not cover any repairs. We were offered an "incentive" of $750 towards the purchase of a new vehicle.

We were so grateful for the incredible service we received from Premier Subaru, and because of that we were considering buying a new or certified Outback to replace our other car once the repairs were made to our vehicle. Sadly, this experience soured us toward ever considering another Subaru. We did everything we could to comply in order to have our Outback repaired. If the problem had been fully diagnosed a mere two months earlier we would have had our transmission repaired/replaced. Now we are left with a vehicle that grows worse by the day and has little value.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#2
You have not identified the problem that was found. Was it the transmission and was it the exact type of problem covered by the 2010-2015 warranty extension.? You have a 2010 car that you drove116,000 mi in 5 years; this is a lot of miles in 5 years and a lot of miles total. If the identified problem is covered by the warranty extension you should email Subaru cust serv starting at the first person on the list and escalating weekly if no/negative response. You should ask for a larger incentive credit for the purchase of a new car. Do not state "Sadly, this experience soured us toward ever considering another Subaru " as they will have no reason to help you further.
https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/subaru/
 
Nov 12, 2018
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The service department determined that the transmission needed to be replaced. The warranty extension said that any repairs to the transmission on a car with more than 100K miles needed to be done prior to 07/30/2018. I received a call from Subaru this afternoon after sending this letter to several execs. I answered his questions and said he would get back to me by the end of the day tomorrow.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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KBB.com value for your car is $2500-4000. Replacing the transmission is NOT cost-effective for Subaru or for you. Once the transmission is fixed/replaced your car will still be worth $2500--4000. See if you can get them to give you a $2000 credit towards a new car. If you or Subaru repairs your car it will still have 160K miles of wear and many other expensive parts to fail.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#6
I agree. I just don't want to walk away without trying to do better than $750 toward a new car.
Start emailing Subaru corporate and tell them you really want to buy a new Subaru. You can probably sell your car to a local mechanic for $1000 who will fix it and give it to his kids.
 
Nov 13, 2018
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#7
I've been through this with my own Outback and that of 2 neighbors. The issue involves a faulty torque converter. Essentially, when you come to a stop, the torque converter doesn't release which is analogous to coming to a stop with a manual transmission and not engaging the clutch which is to say, the car shudders and often stalls out.

You can search for this online under, Technical Service Bulletin, Subaru Outback/Legacy Torque Converter, where you will find more than you want to know.

**links removed by moderator

It is an $1,800 repair. We were initially denied coverage due to high mileage. After appealing to the USA Subaru President in Camden, they reversed their decision. It's worth a shot. If they don't repair it, aside from the annoyance, my understanding is that the ailment won't leave you stranded.
 
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Sep 6, 2015
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#8
We own two 2010 Subaru's, one an Outback the other a Legacy with the six cylinder engine. My Outback only has about 60K miles on it, and I haven't had any problems with it. The Legacy (which we bought as certified used car) developed an oil leak that required the head gasket be replaced (which ruined a previous Outback). When we continued to have issues, the dealer kept saying no go on repairs. Even after being turned down by corporate, my husband took one last shot at it and contacted Subaru of America, explaining the problem and that it was our 4th Subaru since 1995. They finally agreed to cover the cost of a new engine (it was chronicled here on Elliott s a Good News story). Prior to replacing the engine, the dealer insisted this "never happened and was incredibly rare." When we tried to book an appointment to get the new engine, they said they were so backed up because of all the engines that needed to be replaced. Don't give up on Subaru and don't take the dealership as the last word. Write to them and give them the details of what has happened and what you did about it (I don't know if the Outback you bought had their variable speed transmission that they launched on some 2010 cars, but not all. My husband's Legacy does not have it, mine does). Our argument was that they campaign on the basis of customer loyalty--the need to reward that loyalty by backing up their customers. And in our case, they did. Eventually.
 
Nov 12, 2018
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#9
Received an email from Andre Sullivan at Subaru of America. After speaking to the service department at Premier Subaru, SOA agreed to "pay for your CVT replacement as a one-time goodwill gesture." We were very surprised and very grateful. The transmission could not be fixed—only replaced. That would have cost $8000. The dealership really wanted to help. It was originally SOA that said no. So glad that I appealed to them one last time. Also grateful that we were never angry or demanding through the whole process. I'm sure that had some role to play in all this. Looks like Subaru may have a loyal customer once again.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#10
Good news. Why Subaru is willing to put an $8000 transmission repair into a $4000 car is a mystery. Ask if you can get $8000 applied to a new Subaru. If not, once the repair is made would suggest trading it in or selling it on your own and buying a newer car. This vehicle has enough miles on it to reach the point of general unreliability esp if you are putting 20+K mi/yr on it. It is a great car for a 16-year-old though.
 
Likes: Paul Salvador
Nov 12, 2018
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Good news. Why Subaru is willing to put an $8000 transmission repair into a $4000 car is a mystery. Ask if you can get $8000 applied to a new Subaru. If not, once the repair is made would suggest trading it in or selling it on your own and buying a newer car. This vehicle has enough miles on it to reach the point of general unreliability esp if you are putting 20+K mi/yr on it. It is a great car for a 16-year-old though.
That's what we were thinking. I'm sure it's not costing them $8000. Probably will try to sell privately first before trading in. Either way we are grateful to have a vehicle now that's worth more than $1K on a trade in.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#12
That's what we were thinking. I'm sure it's not costing them $8000. Probably will try to sell privately first before trading in. Either way we are grateful to have a vehicle now that's worth more than $1K on a trade in.
We have a 2016 Impreza 5 dr, our 4th Subaru. Other than rust issues in the '80s and '90s when we were in CT, they have been good cars, and the current one is really good. Quiet, smooth ride, plenty of room, comfortable. Not very powerful (has the smaller engine) but where we live is flat so it does not matter. If they will allow you to apply the money to a new one, and the 2018s are on model end sale, it would be a good deal.
 
Aug 13, 2016
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#13
I bought a 2018 Subaru Outback 3.6 in June 2018. From the outset, it balks, shudders and lurches. After a year of testing with assurances from my dealer that it would be then care of, Subaru of America just told me that the car is "operating as designed" and they won't do anything. I suspect the Torque Converter but they are not willing to do anything and are stonewalling. Here in Virginia we have a Lemon Law and I am going to pursue that. I am surprised and disappointed in Subaru. I tend to be brand loyal but this will be my first and last Subaru.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
2,214
2,560
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Maui Hawaii
#14
I bought a 2018 Subaru Outback 3.6 in June 2018. From the outset, it balks, shudders and lurches. After a year of testing with assurances from my dealer that it would be then care of, Subaru of America just told me that the car is "operating as designed" and they won't do anything. I suspect the Torque Converter but they are not willing to do anything and are stonewalling. Here in Virginia we have a Lemon Law and I am going to pursue that. I am surprised and disappointed in Subaru. I tend to be brand loyal but this will be my first and last Subaru.
Have you searched any of the online auto forums/bulletin boards to see if this is a problem with your engine/transmission combination?
 
Aug 13, 2016
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#15
Have you searched any of the online auto forums/bulletin boards to see if this is a problem with your engine/transmission combination?
Yes, the Subaru Lineartronic has been problematic since it was introduced. Subaru extended the warranty to 100k miles/10 years to head off a recall. As for the cause, I have read lost of speculation but not sure what the fix might be. If I had to guess, I would suspect the Torque converter but it is only a guess.
 
Aug 13, 2016
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I did ask the field engineer if the 3.6 engine has too much torque for that transmission. He said no it should be less of an issue. Subaru did design a different Lineartronic CVT for the 3.6. But I still wonder if the bigger engine could be a factor.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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#17
Yes, the Subaru Lineartronic has been problematic since it was introduced. Subaru extended the warranty to 100k miles/10 years to head off a recall. As for the cause, I have read lost of speculation but not sure what the fix might be. If I had to guess, I would suspect the Torque converter but it is only a guess.
Before you pursue the Lemon Law route, take your issue up the Subaru cust serv/executive chain. This will strengthen your Lemon Law claim (and may be required anyway). Compose a concise bulleted list of the problems with the car, and list each Subaru evaluation response, including their assurances that "it would be taken care of". Hopefully, you have detailed service records and Subaru's actions on paper. Do not attach anything to your emails to Subaru until they specifically request documents.

if you wish to post your email before sending we can advise you on the length and content.

Subaru contacts: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/subaru/

See post #9 above; this has worked.
 
Aug 13, 2016
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#18
Thank you for your suggestions. I have been dealing with this issue for over a year so am pretty far along in my process. I did contact Subaru customer relations and have been dealing with the head of the department. She got into stonewall mode fairly quickly. I have also been communicating with the dealership who I like but ultimately they have little authority over what could be a major repair. That is up to Subaru of America.

The first step in pursuing the Lemon Law in Virginia is to send a hard copy letter with signature confirmation. That is imminent. Once I have that draft tweaked I would be happy to share it with an interested group here for constructive input. I will only get one shot with that so want to make it as effective as possible.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
2,214
2,560
113
Maui Hawaii
#19
Thank you for your suggestions. I have been dealing with this issue for over a year so am pretty far along in my process. I did contact Subaru customer relations and have been dealing with the head of the department. She got into stonewall mode fairly quickly. I have also been communicating with the dealership who I like but ultimately they have little authority over what could be a major repair. That is up to Subaru of America.

The first step in pursuing the Lemon Law in Virginia is to send a hard copy letter with signature confirmation. That is imminent. Once I have that draft tweaked I would be happy to share it with an interested group here for constructive input. I will only get one shot with that so want to make it as effective as possible.
If you are being stonewalled by the head of cust serv, you need to move progressively up the Subaru of America executive ladder. The head of cust serv is paid to stonewall.

Subaru contacts: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/subaru/

Email the first executive on the list and tell them you have been stonewalled by so-and-so. Repeat weekly if no/negative response.
If you have not gone beyond the head of cust serv you have not really pursued your issue yet.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Aug 13, 2016
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#20
I had been doing that but was referred to this person in customer relations who is quite senior and handles all warranty issues. My plan is to send this letter (once it is finalized) to someone up the chain.