Jack Johnson’s Cross Country Subaru Adventure

Jack Johnson is a Subaru owner and a long time friend of the family that is taking an epic road trip around our wonderful nation in his 1996 Subaru Impreza with over 220 thousand miles on it.

We’ve prepped his car and now he’s ready to disembark. Jack will be posting regularly about his adventure on our blog so stay tuned!



Mike Corbin
Smart Service – Your Independent Subaru Expert

Impreza Broken Clutch Bracket woes.

If you have a 2008 Impreza or WRX and the clutch is starting to creak or pop be aware that it may be starting to have the spot welds break on the bracket that is affixed to the inner firewall.

If you google this symptom you’ll find that there have been more than a handful of complaints about this issue.  What happens is that over time and repeated use, the bracket that the clutch/brake pedal assembly bolts to pulls free from the firewall. It is held in place by spot welds and the spot welds pull away from the firewall literally breaking small holes in the firewall. It is seems more likely to happen when a clutch is allowed to get worn because as the clutch gets worn, the pedal assembly loses some of it’s leverage over the release forks and more effort is needed to release the clutch.  This is also true of some performance clutch applications. This puts more stress on the bracket and may cause it to break loose.

Once the bracket pulls the welds out, the pedal cannot move the release fork as far and it results in difficulty getting the car into gear.

View with dash out

View with dash out

Broken Clutch Spot Welds

View from inside car with dash removed.










Now to see the holes that were created in the windshield cowl area- a total of 6 broken welds

Additional spot broken spot welds

Additional spot broken spot welds

Windsheld Cowl Spot Welds

Windshield Cowl Spot Welds










Here’s the bracket removed from the car before drilling and bolting in place:

Pedal Bracket Drilled

Pedal Bracket Drilled

Backside of pedal bracket

Backside of clutch pedal bracket after drilling










Now we’re ready for re-assembly. 6mm bolts with loctite applied, self locking nuts on back side and large fender washers on front side to spread out the load. Also paintable body seam sealer applied under washers and bolts to make sure all is water tight.


Now that we’re done, the repair is stronger than the original because it distributes the load over a much larger area than the original 6 spot welds (also a small 7th on an ear on the interior too).

Once it was sealed up we cleaned up the area and painted it with a metallic blue to match the rest of the car. Once the cowl trim is back in place it’s not even noticeable from the outside and will now stand up to the rigorous demands it was originally intended for.

I’ve seen posts of other people using sheet metal screws, rivets, welding etc. but in my opinion this is one of the best methods if not the best of insuring it will never happen again. It’s not for the faint of heard as it involves completely removing the dash, steering column, pedal assembly and windshield wiper cowl trim to access all 7 spot weld points.

The bottom line is if your clutch is getting worn and becoming stiff and you own a 2008 Impreza, WRX or STi, don’t let it go too long. It may not keep this issue from occurring but it may take longer to happen if the clutch doesn’t have to work as hard.



Mike Corbin
Smart Service – Your Independent Subaru Expert

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


Theftproof your Subaru

SPD Blotter | Seattle Police News and Events

According to the Seattle Police SPD Blotter, if you own a Subaru 2001 or older, you’re in the top 3 of the most stolen cars in Seattle.

I have a tip that could help slow down that would be thief from being able to start your Subaru. Although some of the older Subarus have became a target, with a little know how you may be able to confuse or slow down that would be thief into passing up your Subaru.

Most thieves will insert a screwdriver type device into a doorlock and just twist until it breaks open and unlocks. Once inside, they hammer out the ignition tumbler assembly and just twist the electrical portion of the ignition switch and off they go.

This tip will hopefully slow them down long enough that they’ll pass on your car and move on. It involves a simple method of disabling the ignition system. Since 1990 Subaru has used a coil pack instead of a distributor to fire the spark plugs. These coil packs can be disabled thus keeping the car from starting. It is located on the firewall toward the rear of the engine.

On a 1990-1999 Subaru model we accomplish this by disconnecting the ignitor assembly. The ignitor is responsible for triggering spark from the coil. If we disable this, the car will only crank over but it won’t start without spark.

Subaru Ignitor 1

Disconnecting the ignitor assembly is a simple process. There is a small tab that you need to squeeze down on while at the same time, wiggling the connector and pulling back on it.

Subaru Ignitor Release Tab

Removing Subaru ConnectorDisconnected Subaru Ignitor

Once the ignitor is disconnected, you may want to leave the connector partially plugged in to make it appear it’s connected just to make it less obvious.

If you own a 2000 or newer model Subaru you’ll have to disconnect the ignition coil pack itself.  It’s located on the top/center of the engine. It has the 4 spark plug wires connected to it as well as the connector that has the signal wires that tell it when to fire.

You’ll be disconnecting that connector as seen below:

Subaru Ignition CoilDisconnecting Subaru Ignition Coil









Hopefully you’ll never have your Subaru stolen but at least you have some good ammo to help prevent or at least slow that would be Subaru thief. Remember, criminals are lazy. If you make something more difficult for them, it’s likely they’ll move onto another car instead of risk being caught trying to figure out why the your Subaru won’t start.

Good luck and just remember to plug everything back in before you drive away!

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


Mike Corbin
Smart Service – Your Independent Subaru Expert

Tire Time

Tiretread Well now that the summer is winding down and the weather is due to change for the worse any time now, it’s time to check  your tires.  Once you’ve checked all the pressures it’s time to check for tread wear. Your all wheel drive Subaru may climb a snowy hill like a mountain goat on an energy drink but it can only do so if the tires are good.  Take some time and inspect the tread depth at different spots on the tire. There is a simple way to do this and all you need is a penny. Place the penny with Lincoln’s head facing downward. If you can see the top edge of his head the tires are worn to their legal limit and it’s  time to replace them. If they’re getting close you still may consider doing it now instead of when they’re totally worn out. Another important aspect of tire life is the tires age. A tire that still has plenty of tread can be more dangerous than one that is worn out if it has lost it’s structural integrity. Look closely for cracks in the sidewall of the tire and if you’re unsure, have a tire expert evaluate them for you. Think of an old and new rubber band. Side by side they look the same but when you go to stretch them, the old one starts cracking and then breaks. As tires age, and deteriorate due to sun damage, they loose their strength and elasticity also. If you are unsure of how old your tires are, there is a DOT Date code stamped on the tire. Here’s a link that explains the date code in more detail:

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

Tire Rack article on tire date codes


Be safe out there!

Mike Corbin

Smart Service

Smart Service turns 15! Happy Birthday
















Well, this May, Smart Service turned 15 years old. I thought it would be fun to post some pictures we’ve taken over the years for those of you who’ve known us from the start.  We couldn’t have been more blessed to have the customer support that you’ve shown over the years as well as I feel so fortunate to have such a great group of Subaru enthusiasts  working here.

Thanks to your support and a lot of hard work by the employees of Smart Service we’ve gone from a 1 man shop to a 2 location shop with over 13 full time employees.

Thank you all again and we hope to be around for another 15 and beyond!


Take care,


Mike and Samantha Corbin and the rest of the staff at Smart Service including:

A.J. Temple, John Melseth, Ron Mackenzie, Kevin Cyr, Charlie Krieg, Arturo Tolentino, Matt Olsen, Tom Hoag, Dan Rodriguez, Walt Westerinen, Tom Dahlen, Larry Friesner and Lois Rule







Subaru Fuel Smell when Cold

This is just a follow up to a prior post about a strong fuel smell on the very cold mornings after the car has sat overnignt.

As the cars age and fuel lines age, we’re hearing this complaint more frequently. In most cases it can be traced back to fuel line connections under the hood.

The fuel lines loose their resiliency when they age as well as the very cold weather causes them to shrink thus sometimes causing them to leak where they are connected to the fuel rails. In some cases it’s found with a mirror and a flashlight. You may not actually see the wet fuel but usually you’ll see some staining on the underside of the hose. Replacement of the hose with new is optimum but in many cases just tightening of the clamp will solve the problem.

If you have an early WRX there was a recall may apply to this particular issue and it could be done at the dealer free of charge if your model is within the recall range. You simply have to call the dealer with your VIN number to see if it falls under the recall.

We hope this information helps some of you out there solve this problem.


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

Snow Tires for your Subaru-sooner is better

Just a quick reminder that if you were thinking of getting snow tires for your Subaru don’t wait too much longer. Once the foul weather hits the sales tend to dry up if you know what I mean. Also, now is a good time to scour craigslist for a used set. I prefer to have a set on rims for easy changeover. The bonus is that many of Subaru’s wheels interchange with other Subaru models.

If you’ve never driven your Subaru with snow tires it’s quite amazing. They may not be necessary for driving around town but if you are frequently going over a mountain pass or skiing it’s a great investment.


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

Subaru Sunroof leaks in Seattle?

Well with the rains we’ve had I’m sure you’re aware if your sunroof on your Subaru leaks or not. If it leaks there are a few things you can check that may help. If you own a 2000-2004 and some water comes out of the map light, there is a Subaru technical bulletin that addresses where to put some sealant to solve it.

There are also some simple things to do if the sunroof leaks. First of all open it fully and use compressed air to blow out any debris from the channel as well as the front drain holes. Once you do this, pour water in the sunroof channel to see how quickly it drains. If it still drains slow you have a problem further downstream.

Usually we find that mud and road silt has built up in the sunroof drain area behind the front fender liners. Once you clean the muck out of these it usually solves the problem.

If it still has issues the headliner may need removal to inspect the sunroof drain lines (any model). Sometimes we find they are kinked or possibly disconnected from the sunroof altogether.

Simply put, the sunroof is supposed to leak water but it’s supposed to catch it and drain it away in all circumstances.

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

Biggest Subaru Show of the Year! August 6-8 in Longview, WA

Come join us at the 15th annual West Coast Subaru Show held September 6th through 8th at the Cowlitz County regional conference center.

More information and pre-registration available at www.westcoastsubarushow.com

One of our staff members, Dan Rodriquez and his friend Chris Walker have yet again, organized another great event for Subaru entheusiasts far and wide. Whether you swing by for a few hours, camp overnight or stay in a local hotel, this is a must do event on the Subaru circuit.

Smart Service will be sponsoring the awards this year.

Hope to see you there,

Mike Corbin