Category Archives: Subaru Warranty

Posts relating to subaru recall and warranty issues.

Airbag recall for Takata now includes Subarus

airbag-check-650x400 (1)Well it seemed like Subaru owners may have dodged a bullet with this massive airbag recall by Takata but unfortunately news has just been released to add select model Subarus (and also some Saabarus) to the recall list.  Fortunately most Subarus will not be affected but if yours is, you should be receiving a letter from Subaru instructing you on how to proceed.
If you don’t get a letter you can still check for any outstanding recalls on your vehicle by visiting the recall page and enter your VIN number.
Vehicles that may be included
03-04 Legacy,Baja
04 Impreza and WRX
04 Saab 92-X
From what I have read, it may be a while until replacement units are readily available.


Mike Corbin
Smart Service – Your Independent Subaru Expert

Federal Law Prohibits Denial of Dealer Warranty Service

This article explains one of the most frustrating things I come across in the automotive world if not THE most frustrating. I receive calls nearly every day from people that purchase a new Subaru only to find that they firmly believe they must take their car to the dealer until the new car warranty expires.
For example, one of my customers recently told me, “See you in a few years Mike”. When I asked why (assuming they were moving or something like that) they said, “We’re trading our old Subie in this weekend for a brand new Outback so we’ll be taking it to the dealer until it hits 60000 miles then we’ll be bringing it back to you.”  Unfortunately they were under the same mystical spell that many dealers try to cast upon their new car buyers. Below I’ll discuss your legal rights under a new car warranty. 
Since the advent of the internet, new car sales have become less and less profitable for a dealer. It used to be a big money maker but now that the information is readily available about invoice pricing, specials and other dealers prices, it has changed the dynamic of how a dealer has to operate to stay profitable. Sales was always the number one most profitable department and service was just an add on convenience to take care of any warranty repairs and such. As the profit eroded  to just a few hundred dollars per sale, the dealers were forced to make big changes on the way they operated their business or they would soon be out of business.   
Selling tune ups, brakes, tires now became an extremely important part of the survival of the dealership even to the point that many single car line dealers opened up their service department to all makes and models just to survive. Based on a report by Lang Marketing Resources, in 1995 42% of factory maintenance was performed at independent shops while only 19% was done at dealers. Today only 23% is done in an independent facility vs. now 42% is done at the dealer. 

The importance of this issue has put pressure on the dealer to turn a new car sale directly into a new service customer for the dealer. Once you purchase your new car, the nice salesperson will likely lead you directly to the service department to let you know that you can have all of your factory required services and maintenance performed at their dealership to keep the new car warranty valid. They are clever enough to word it in such a way that it may even lead you to assume that in order to have your factory warranty remain in effect you must have the maintenance done at the dealership. A pleasant introduction to the service manager, and maybe a couple of other service staff and you take the bait… hook, line and sinker. You leave with the impression that in order to keep your warranty intact you must have the maintenance performed at the dealer.


Enter the MAGNUSON-MOSS WARRANTY ACT (1975) USC TITLE 15 CHAPTER 50 Chapter 2301-2312

Essentially, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act prohibits a new car dealer from requiring that your factory required service and maintenance be performed by the dealer in order to uphold your new car warranty. They can’t even require you to use their genuine factory parts unless they can prove to the Federal Trade Commission that they have the only part that will satisfy the manufactures requirement. For example, they cannot tell a consumer that they must use Genuine Subaru Oil or your warranty will be void. They would have to go through the painstaking process of proving to the Federal Trade Commission that their engine will fail with any other oil other than Genuine Subaru Oil.

Another positive for the consumer as a result of this law is the burden of proof is put on the business providing the warranty. An example of this would be that the dealer is denying warranty work on your engine because you installed aftermarket spark plugs in your engine. For them to legally deny you the engine repair, they would be responsible to prove that the aftermarket spark plugs caused the engine failure.

The law is set up in the consumers favor. If the issue goes to court, the business denying the warranty must prove that the failure was due to the aftermarket component or improper installation thereof. If they cannot prove this, they will not only be responsible for repairing the car under warranty, but also for all court costs and legal fees incurred by the consumer. Once a dealer is aware that their customer is fully aware of their legal rights, they tend to be motivated to solve the problem outside of court unless it’s obvious to all that the problem was a direct result of the aftermarket component.

So what do you need to do to keep your new car warranty in effect? Simply follow the manufacturer requirements listed in the warranty booklet provided with your Subaru and keep good documentation. At Smart Service, all factory required maintenance, parts and service procedures meet or exceed what is required on your Subaru as well as we keep back up documentation of any service or part we provide. In essence, the only thing you would ever have to take your vehicle to the dealer for is a factory required recall or if a covered component fails within the warranty period.

In closing, I don’t want you to leave with the impression that I’m bashing dealers. There are some very good dealers out that there that can provide quality service and repair. What I do want you to leave with is the knowledge that you are not beholden to the dealer ever. You have rights and freedom of choice as a consumer under the Magnuson-Moss act not just with new cars but with ANY new product you purchase that comes with a written warranty.

For more information please visit the link below. It’s an excellent article by the Federal Trade Commission


What dealers don’t want you to know about your new car warranty!

Is your Subaru still under warranty (or any other vehicle for that matter)? Have you been lead
to believe that your car must be worked on at the dealer while it is under
warranty? If so, then read on and I’ll educate you on some of the often
mis-understood facts about new car warranties.
When you purchase a new vehicle it comes with a factory backed warranty. In Subaru’s case
it has a 3 year 36000 mile bumper to bumper warranty, a 5 year 60000 mile power
train warranty, a 5 year rust perforation  warranty, and a lifetime seatbelt

Sounds great so far, right? Now, I realize there are extended warranties that can be purchased
beyond what the manufacturer will offer but I am only focusing on a new car
warranty in this blog. Whether you own a Subaru, Kia, Ford, etc. it’s good information to be armed with.

In 1975, one of our late, great Senators of Washington State, Warren G. Magnuson, co-sponsored a
bill aimed at protecting consumers from deceptive business practices and
improving competition among business. it was a win,win for consumers. The “Magnuson-Moss Warranty
” mandated that a written warranty on any consumer product that costs
more than $5 must completely and conspicuously disclose, in easily understood
words, the terms and conditions of the warranty.

One key aspect of the bill prohibits “Tie-in Sales” within a warranty. An example would be:

In order to keep your new Widget Brand Lawn Mower warranty in effect you must use only
Widget brand air filters and spark plugs in your mower.

Now, let’s apply this to your Subaru.  When you purchase your Subaru there is a schedule of
required maintenance. The manufacturer is within their right to require
that specific service, maintenance and inspections be performed at specific
times and mileage to maintain the vehicles warranty. An example of an illegal
practice would be:

Subaru requires the use of a Genuine Subaru oil filter at each oil change performed
during the first 60000 miles of your vehicles life.

In contrast: Here’s what is actually stated by Subaru in the warranty
booklet regarding your responsibility to maintain the factory

“It is your responsibility to have all scheduled inspection and maintenance services
performed at the times and mileages recommended at the back of this Booklet and
to retain proof that inspection and maintenance services are performed when
recommended. One method of proof is for you to have each maintenance service
record contained in this Booklet validated at the proper time or mileage by the
Authorized SUBARU Dealer or other service facility performing the service. You are also responsible for
checking such items as fluid levels and tire pressures regularly.”

Do you notice how they state “other service facility”? In summary, by law, Subaru or any
other car maker cannot stipulate that service and maintenance must be perfomed
at a dealer in order to maintain the warranty status of the vehicle. As a matter
of fact, it not only gives you the option to shop for your oil changes, brakes,
30k services elsewhere but if you’re qualified, you can even perform the
scheduled maintenance yourself. I must point out that if you are a DIY person,
you will want to keep detailed receipts of the parts you purchased and detailed
notes with time and mileage of when you performed your services.

Another aspect of this law protects the consumer if a dealer denies a warranty repair due to an
aftermarket part. It requires the dealer prove that a part or service done
outside of the dealership caused or contributed to the damage or failure of the
otherwise warrantable component. For instance, let’s say you installed
aftermarket wiper blades on your car and then the wiper motor went out a month
later. If a dealer were to tell you that they must deny warranty on the
windshield wiper motor because of the aftermarket blades, they would also have
to prove that those wipers or improper installation thereof caused the failure
of the wiper motor.

Another example:

Joe brought his car in to the dealer because he heard a strange knocking noise from his engine.
Upon diagnosis the dealer found that the engine had a major internal failure.
The car was 2 years old and had 23,000 miles on it. The dealer had no service
history on file and asked Joe to provide records of his required maintenance.
Joe had no documentation. The dealer denied the warranty engine repair  because
it was their belief that lack of oil changes caused the internal damage to the
engine. (probably a fair assessment)NOTE: Due to economic pressures, dealers
have been requiring more documentation of service than ever before so keep your


My air
conditioning stopped working

My engine is
dripping oil

I hear a
clicking noise in reverse

My car runs
rough first thing in the morning

The ABS Warning
light stays illuminated

The radio
stopped working

I recieved a
RECALL notice


All tune up type
services (7.5k 15k, 30k, 45k, 60k etc)


Other fluid

Brakes (wear and tear related)
I am a strong believer in consumer choice and hope this will give you a better understanding
of your rights with any vehicle you ever purchase. I want to make sure it’s
understood that I am not dealer bashing. There are still stellar performing
dealers out there that can be great option for a consumer. I just to make sure
whatever your decision is it’s an informed one!

July 4th, 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act was signed into law by President Ford.

Fuel Smell Alert! on Cold Days-Subaru Models

If you’ve noticed that since the weather has become colder you are getting an obvious raw fuel smell coming through the vents of your Subaru you’re not alone.  SUBARU RECALL NO. WVK-21 for 2002-2003 Subaru WRX Models resolves a fuel leak from the fuel line under the intake manifold during cold weather condition. The fuel leaks out onto the top of the engine block from the fuel line creating a possible fire hazard.  If you have one of these models and have experienced this symptom, call you local dealer with your V.I.N. so they can check if the recall applies. If so, they can repair it free of charge. You should mention that you are experiencing the fuel smell symptom during your inquiry.

Other Subaru models are affected too. We’ve seen similar issues of fuel leaking from fuel lines under the intake manifold during cold conditions on numerous other Subaru models including the Outback and Forester. There is no current recall or service bulletin at this time that I’m aware of. If you experience this symptom. Bring it to your local Subaru specialist to diagnose and repair the issue right away.


Mike Corbin

Independent Subaru Expert

If you ever experience this symptom have it checked as soon as possible. We’ve seen some that just seep a drop or two but we’ve also seen a couple that were actually pooling fuel on top of the engine.

Click here to discover the services our experienced and certified technicians can perform on your Subaru

Subaru Head Gasket, Will Subaru pay for repair?

Failed Subaru Head Gasket

Have you been a victim of this?

Many Subaru owners have been faced with the dreaded head gasket failure on their Subaru. There has been much discussion about what the problem is, why it happened etc. I would like to discuss another subject that doesn’t come up often.

Is there any way Subaru will pay for my head gasket repair and how do I get them to do it?

Let’s start out with a few basics and work from there. When you first purchase your Subaru it comes with a factory backed warranty. A 3 year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper and a 5 year 60,000 mile powertrain warranty is standard. If you have head gasket failure within that time you are one of the lucky ones. Once that warranty expires you’re on your own.

Now I would like to share some of my experiences on how Subaru owners whose warranty expired did their homework and were fortunate enough to have Subaru pay for the repair.

For the most part I’ve  found that dealing with Subaru of America is a pleasant experience. They are very straight forward reasonable people that want you to be happy with their Subaru. Unfortunately they have to draw a line somewhere or Subaru would have limitless requests of persons wanting their Subarus repaired way outside of warranty.

In the old days of the automotive industry, we wouldn’t think twice if a car had a major mechanical failure at 60,000 miles or more. At 100,000 we thought it was a major milestone and were ready to trade it in on the next car before it broke down.

With advancements in engineering and higher quality control, we’re seeing Subarus and many other makes go well over 300,000 without any major failures as long as a person has kept up on their maintenance.

Now that  our expectations have been raised on how long a car should last, we’re thrown a bit of a curve ball when our head gaskets fail before we think they should. Especially if one has been meticulous about their maintenance.

Click here to view our Six-Star Head Gaskets

If you happen to be a victim of failing head gaskets on your Subaru there are some things that some of our customers have shared with us that were helpful in getting Subaru to pay for the repair even though the cars were technically out of the warranty period.

1. Check with the dealer for any outstanding campaigns or recalls.

A simple call to any Subaru service department with your VIN # will reveal if there are any outstanding recalls or campaigns relating to your head gaskets. There was a campaign ( WWP-99 ) in which Subaru added a coolant additive and would then provide a 8 year 100,000 mile warranty for external head gasket coolant leakage.  Most of those cars are now beyond the limits of the campaign but it never hurts to check.

2. Keep your Subaru maintained and save every receipt.

Even under the factory warranty,  Subaru can deny a claim if they believe lack of maintenance contributed to the problem.  It’s within your rights to have your maintenance done anywhere you like so don’t let them use that as a reason, but you must be able to provide them with documentation that you have met their minimum maintenance requirements as defined in the warranty manual that came with your Subaru.

3. Put together a history of all the Subarus that you and your family may have purchased over the years.

This may be very good leverage to show them that you are a very loyal client. It may even help on a local level with a Subaru dealer you’ve purchased your car through.

4. Call 1-800-SUBARU3

This is the customer service hotline to begin your effort to get help from Subaru. Once you’ve done all of the above, call Subaru and explain your situation. They will likely refer you to a local Subaru dealer to confirm the issue before discussing things further. They will also likely be in close contact with that dealer.You may even want to ask for an appointment with the regional Subaru rep. for that dealer. It may make sense for him/her to be present when your car is being looked at.

From there things can go in many different directions. Here’s a few examples I’ve heard of.

A customer schedules their appointment with the dealer. The dealer confirms the issue then relays the info to Subaru. From there a decision is made whether or not Subaru the dealer will participate in the repair.

Whether they offer to help will usually be related to all of the above items I discussed. Once it’s been decided you’ll either be told no, or they will offer to fix the car. The level of participation can vary .  In some cases the whole repair will be covered by Subaru. In other cases Subaru may say no but the dealer decides to use some of their own discretionary good will fund to help you out. Most dealerships have a fund set aside just for this kind of situation. You may be offered some kind of partial help also. An example may be either a discounted price or a split between you and the dealer.

Keep in mind that if they do opt to help, they will only repair the very minimum that is necessary. If only one head gasket is failing they will only repair one. If that is the case you might inquire how much it would be to add in the second head gasket and timing belt since things will be partially apart anyway and the second gasket may fail in the future.

Smart Service will always be there to repair Subaru head gaskets and we even carry a gasket that we believe is Superior to what Subaru has to offer. If that time comes give us a call and we’ll take good care of you but if there’s a chance that you can get it done and paid for by Subaru it’s worth a little effort.

Based on our customer reports, Subaru is choosing to opt out of helping in most cases but I am writing this because there have been a few that actually did get help from Subaru. The information above is what helped them sway Subaru into partcipating.

If you were  successful for you in getting help from Subaru in an out of warranty situation, please share it with us. We’ll pass it on.


Mike Corbin