Last post on Feb 26, 2008 at 11:18 AM
You are in the Subaru Legacy & Outback
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Subaru Outback, Subaru SVX, Car Warranties
#47 of 140 Same song, second verse
Feb 13, 2007 (8:05 pm)
We were planning a trip to Miami for the Super Bowl, and our 2002 3.0 LLBean Outback (48000 mi). We took the car in on Monday to our regular mechanic for a whiny noise, apparently the s-belt. We got an oil change etc. The s-belt was replaced the next day (Tuesday). On Wednesday, there was still some noise, so back it went, but we were told the belt was just new. Thursday AM we drove south. The whining noise was very loud - you could hear it over the radio.
When we stopped for burgers and gas, I could smell the car. When we went to back out of the burger joint, the car jerked violently. I knew the transmission was shot. It would go forward so we searched quickly for mechanic. We found one. He pulled the differential dipstick and said "It's burnt up". I asked "Does it need fluid?" He said "No, it's got plenty of fluid." He said I might be able to limp it sliowly further (bad idea).
It died a little later. We had it flatbed towed to the closest approximate dealer (it was a near threeway tie). We were still covered by the powertrain warranty.
SOA indicated they would help. The Subaru dealer (in Savannah, GA) took a look and said the front diff was burnt up. They rented us a car to continue our trip the next day. Eventually on Friday, we spoke with the dealer. The car repair wouldn't be covered by the warranty.
Why? Because, according to the mechanic when he drained the differential, only a cup or two of fluid came out. He also didn't see any apparent evidence of leaks.
Based on those observations, my warranty claim was denied *by SOA regional rep Ed Lucksic.
The mechanic didn't measure the volume that came out, nor did he retain it. Just eyeballed it in the 30 seconds it takes to drain it.
The mechanic makes that statement, and, sight-unseen, Subaru denies my claim stating "Given that you had the oil changed recently, we believe your mechanic drained the wrong fluid."
They *believe* that's what happened. Can they demonstrate that?
So I spoke with a couple of mechanics (mine in Cary, NC), including the Subaru one, and the Service manager, Mark Naman. I asked our mechanic if he may have pulled the diff plug accidentally. He said that may happen, but if someone did, there wouldn't be *any* oil left in there.
I posed the question to the Subaru mechanic in the precense of M. Naman - If you pulled the diff plug, how long would it take for it to drain? He said "less than a minute". I continued, "If you pulled the plug accidentally, could you quickly screw it back into prevent it from draining all the way?" He said "No way. By the time you realized it was the wrong drain, it would all be out." So I asked, "Then how can we assign the loss of fluid to my mechanic pulling the wrong plug?" That was met with silence. Mark Naman, the Savannah service manager tells me he relayed that to SOA (Ed Lucksic the regional rep, and Kevin Shumaker, a superviser in NJ). I spoke with Kevin a bunch, and he said "That makes sense, but still denied". We have requested everything in writing.
When speaking to Kevin and Ed, Ed accused me of "grasping at straws at what might have happened" and that I should "just pay to get the car fixed, or get it off the lot." I asked to speak with Kevin's supervisor, Renee Fricke. She wasn't overly available, but eventually called back stating "It is not possible the oil got out any other way than my mechanic draining it."
So when I left Savannah a week ago, I was given the estimate of $3022. Today, I received a call that it was now going to cost $4700, with the explanation that when the diff burned up, it caused the transmission to overheat and that now has to be replaced as well. Gears are torn up, etc.
Now, Naman keeps telling me my mechanic has insurance that will cover this (not unlike VOIC/bogey5's situ), but will it? Why wouldn't they deny his claim?
Does the warranty work like this: I have to prove it was a mfg failure? Does SOA have to show it was some other cause from neglect, or abuse,etc. The NC Lemon Laws clearly state that under express warranty, that the mfg has the affirmative defense (not sure what that means) if it is shown that the nonconformity is from neglect abuse etc.
Doesn't "shown" indicate some level of proof other than mere supposition?
#48 of 140 Re: Same song, second verse [acdial]
Feb 13, 2007 (8:32 pm)
That 1 cup of fluid that came out when they drained it when getting repaired was probably the risidual left when the initial place drained it. The fluid in the diffy is considerable thicker than motor oil. If there is no leak in the diffy and there was little to no fluid in the diffy, why should SOA be saddled with the bill?
My guess is that the mechanic doing the oil change pulled that plug instead of the oil plug, realized it and put it back in. Figured it was the Automatic trans fluid and the small amount that came out wouldn't be noticed since ATs have 7-10quarts in them.
I'd let the mechanic that did the oil change be responsible for it as that is the only logical reason for the failure.
#49 of 140 Re: Same song, second verse [paisan]
Feb 14, 2007 (2:21 pm)
No, this time around, I am not so sure that is the case. Keep in mind here that the "whining" noise was present prior to taking it to the mechanic in question. Granted, how that mechanic came to the conclusion that the "s-belt" - is that the serpentine timing belt? - needed to be changed, I have no idea. So, the failing on the part of the mechanic was to not diagnose the problem correctly and, what is more, to recommend an irrelevant "repair." Sorry, but belts do not whine. They might squeal, but no whining - bearings whine (and sometimes crunch!).
Second question - why would the later mechanic have said the differential fluid was full if, indeed, it was not? The only basis that person had to judge was the dipstick, so if the dipstick was within the "safe" zone, how could it have ended up nearly empty in the interim without a significant leak having developed?
I think I would find out exactly what failed in the differential. It sounds to me like it was a bearing - hence the whining sound.
#50 of 140 Re: Same song, second verse [paisan]
Feb 14, 2007 (3:31 pm)
While that's an interesting observation, mike, why would there be 1-2 cups of residual? That's not how the Subaru mechanic (nor our shp) said it worked. The car had been driven into the shop, so it isn't likely it had time to pool up like that.
The diff only holds 5 cups. 20-40% is a lot to still be left behind after draining. And any diff oil coating the interior should still be coating the interior unless someone flushes the diff. - which hasn't happened. In addition, the mechanic didn't measure the amount that came out AT ALL> He guessed - I don't think that's enough to invalidate a warranty. If he measured the amount and said only a cup, I might be more sympathetic, but it flowed out. If it took 10 seconds, it's one cup, 30 seconds it is three cups. Should I be responsible for $5k worth of damage off a "guesstimate" by a guy who was barely paying attention?
I think the burden of proof for Subaru is a bit more than that.
#51 of 140 Re: Same song, second verse [acdial]
Feb 14, 2007 (3:54 pm)
Agreed. If they admit that there was fluid in there, and yet did not retain the fluid, then that cannot possibly be grounds for refusal. Amazing, really. As routine as warranty claims must be for any auto manufacturer, it is surprising how sloppy they behave.
I will remember this with my car, and if anything major turns up I will insist on being present for "inspections." Hopefully, though, this incompetence is not as widespread as it would seem from reading the entirely of the thread here!
#52 of 140 1 cup can be
Feb 14, 2007 (6:53 pm)
due to the temp when it was drained. Don't forget the diffy fluid is a lot like molassas when it's cold, so perhaps he drove it into the subaru dealer and they checked it while it was hot, then it would be flowing. If it sat overnight at the mechanic, it would be ice cold and not flow as easily, leaving that cup worth in there.
Looking back, if they want to deny the claim you guys are right in that they should have retained the fluid and checked it in a more controlled way.
Which reminds me that I need to get my front diffy seal done for the 2nd time on my Armada as I keep seeing fluid under it.
#53 of 140 Re: Same song, second verse [acdial]
Feb 14, 2007 (7:08 pm)
Have the mechanic drain, measure and save the oil. I've learned some in the past few weeks IE an analysis of the oil can tell if there are more than one brand. If the engine was grossly overfilled that would be a good indicator of the mechanic draining the diff. That's what happened to mine. Sounds like a similar deal.
#54 of 140 Re: Same song, second verse [bogey5]
Feb 14, 2007 (7:44 pm)
I didn't make myself very clear. Have the Subaru dealer measure the engine oil. Mine was more than three quarts over full, which is what convinced VIOC, get a written report confirming the overfill to take to your mechanic.
Then go back to your regular mechanic and tell him he drained the wrong thing during the oil change. That is not suggest that the whining noise wasn't the differential in the first place but he still misdiagnosed. If your mechanic has any ability maybe he'll repair the car since Subaru won't cover it. Since they won't it doesn't seem to me that it ought to matter to them where you take it.
#55 of 140 Re: 1 cup can be [paisan]
Feb 15, 2007 (9:58 am)
The second time? Mike, you have to go easy on that Armada. It is not as tough as your Subie racers.....
#56 of 140 Re: 1 cup can be [xwesx]
Feb 15, 2007 (10:54 am)
Actually it was leaking the day I brought it home, probably because it was sitting on the dealers lot for 6 months before I bought it, not being driven. We initially thought it was the seal weaping/settling. I'll bring it in and have them replace it though. I'm fairly easy on the Armada actually. I only took it offroad 1x.