January 23, 2013
We talk a lot about head gaskets on this site and a variety of other things. I encourage you to post a topic that you’d like to see covered in our discussions and I’ll see if I can shed some light on it for you.
Independent Subaru Expert
August 8, 2012
The West Coast Subaru Show is coming up Saturday August 18th
Any customer of Smart Service that is going to the show can pick up a FREE tshirt while supplies last at our Shoreline Location.
If there are any left I will bring them to the show to hand out. We have neon green, neon yellow and neon pink available at this time.
Thanks for reading,
July 3, 2012
One of the most often overlooked items on a Subaru or any car for that matter, are the coolant hoses. Often times we don’t know they’re bad until it’s too late.Steam coming from under the hood is the telltale sign along with the temp gauge heading toward the red. Back in the old days it was common to replace all of the coolant hoses every 5 years or 60,000 miles. They just didn’t hold up much longer than that. Now with improved material and technology in the molded and reinforced hoses, we would be overselling you if we replaced them at the same interval. Frankly they last so long, replacement as preventive maintenance has almost become an afterthought. Well, as the years pass and the mileage adds up, the hoses are overlooked but continue to deteriorate from the inside out. When an older hose failed, it would often show signs of seeping, swelling or cracking. Now, with the newer hose, it looks nearly as good as new until right before it blows.
If you have over 120,000 miles on your Subaru it’s probably time to get the hoses changed. There’s a simple test you can do yourself to evaluate the hose condition. When the engine is cold, locate a couple of coolant hoses and give them a good squeeze. If you squeeze them near where they connect to the engine or radiator you’ll probably get the most accurate results. If you feel a “crunching” feeling inside, the hose is becoming brittle and it’s time to budget for replacement. You can check multiple hoses on the car this same way but some are tougher to get to than others. As a rule of thumb, if one is going bad, and the others are the same age, it’s a good idea just to do them all and get it behind you.
Subaru coolant hoses really do last an unusually long time but eventually do need to be replaced.
Make sure you use quality clamps too. Many times the genuine Subaru wire clamps can be reused.
Independent Subaru Expert
February 1, 2012
Are they worn out yet?
Has your Subaru ever been diagnosed with bad struts? How many of you have ever been in one of those chain tire stores getting a set of tires only to be told that you need new struts and that your worn out struts will wear out your new tires prematurely?
It’s a question I hear from my customers all the time…”Mike, I just got my new tires you recommended but the tire store says my struts are bad also… how come you guys didn’t notice that?”
Since we started back in 1999 I’ve probably heard that same question over 100 times. Out of those 100 questions, upon checking out the vehicle very few ever really needed strut replacement.
The reality is that Subaru struts just happen to last a really long time under normal use. Sure… after 100,000 miles they may only work 85-90% as good as they once did but rarely are they ever “bad” at that point. Replacing your struts can be more of a decision based on your own preferences of how you want the car to ride vs. a decesion based on a mechanical failure.
If you’re unsure whether or not you need struts here are a couple of guidelines.
- Perform a bounce test. Go to each corner of the car and get that corner bouncing up and down as high as you can and then let go… the car should stop after about 1 1/2 gyrations. If it bounces more, that strut is wearing out.
- Inspect for hydraulic fluid leaking out of the strut. A small residual amount is normal as the piston goes up and down in the cylinder it wipes off some oil. If it’s more than just residual and trailing down the side of the strut, that strut may not be long for this world.
- Listen for clunking or popping over speed bumps. This noise may indicate a strut is coming apart internally.
If you’d like a second opinion you can always drop in and I’ll check them for you. If your struts are getting worn, there’s no better feeling than driving a car with new struts. It will bring back the quickness and firmness in the handling as well as add a degree of safety in case of a quick avoidance maneuver.
As far as which struts to replace them with, if you’ve always liked the feel of the ride in your Subaru, use Genuine Subaru struts. If you want to try something a bit more “crisp” than what Subaru originally installed, I suggest the KYB GR2 line (also referred to as KYB Excel). It offers about a 20% more firm ride. Handling is more responsive but the downside is you do feel more of the bumps and irregularities in the road.
One other point is that sometimes Subaru’s tend to wear out the rear struts sooner than the front. Although it’s optimum to replace all 4 at the same time, it’s acceptable to do just the rears if the front’s are still performing well.
Independent Subaru Expert, Seattle WA
January 18, 2012
This post is to let you know that if you are in the greater Seattle area make sure you consider buying your new or used Subaru from Joe Spitz.
Joe is an exceptional individual I have had the pleasure of knowing since we opened 1999. He the internet sales manager for Carter Subaru of Shoreline.
I send all of my customers to him including my mother AND mother-in-law for their Subaru purchases. Joe has a simple no-nonsense approach that most people really appreciate.
You can contact him at email@example.com or request him if you visit Carter Subaru. Also, try his website at www.cars101.com to find an encyclopedia of knowledge about current and past Subaru models.
October 28, 2011
I can’t see out of my Subaru!
One of the most difficult driving conditions to deal with in the fall and winter is visibility. What good is all wheel drive if you can’t see where you’re going?
I have a few pointers that can improve things dramatically.
- Wiper Blades. In our climate, they seem to last around a year or sometimes less if the car is parked outside. Take the time to wipe down the edges of the blades with a clean cloth. A wiper that may seem worn out may just need cleaning.
- Glass Scrub. Ever put on new wipers and still have difficulty seeing through those hard water spots? A product called glass scrub solves that problem.
- Headlight lenses.Most Subaru headlights are now made of a plastic composite that fades over the years. If they are cloudy you can loose up to 50% of the light that’s meant to illuminate the road ahead. We can perform a restorative polishing procedure that clears up the lenses for 1-2 years before they fade again. The ultimate is to replace the lenses’ but with a $200-400 price tag per headlight, this isn’t the most cost effective solution.
- Headlight Bulbs. There have been major improvements in headlight technology over the past few years. Sylvania now offers an amazing headlight bulb called the “Silverstar” or “Silverstar Ultra” which are plug and play and provide up to 40% further down the road visibility and 50% better roadside visibility along with a “whiter” light. They are more expensive than a standard bulb but once you try them you’ll probably never go back to the old ones. I use them in all my vehicles.
- Foglights. Subaru foglights are handy when they work but because they’re so low to the ground they become broken and we neglect to replace them. Get them now before the fog and snow.
- Windshield. Get those rock chips done now before the cold weather arrives. If moisture gets inside and freezes it may develop into a crack. Most insurance companies waive the deductible and cover the repair 100%. FYI Smart Service does rock chip repairs at both locations and we bill the insurance companies for you.
- Glass Treatment. If you really want all around visibility, think about applying a product called “RainX” to your side and rear windows. It keeps the windows clearer and beads up the water so that it blows off as you drive. I don’t advise it on the front since it can cause the wipers to chatter.
Independent Subaru Expert
September 1, 2011
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It’s that time again. Smart Service is competing for the Best of Western Washington honors. Your votes in the past have helped us win in 2009 and recieve runner up in 2010. Please vote for us if you can find the time. It’s greatly appreciated by all of us at Smart Service and it really helps get the word out about our quality.
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August 9, 2011
If you’re in the market for a used Subaru it may be prudent to hold off for a while. Since the Japan earthquake, Japanese auto makers have been struggling to maintain supply chains to manufacture their vehicles. Even though many are built in the United States, they still rely on parts built in Japan.
It appears now we’re nearing the peak of the effects of the shortage.
Due to this, dealers have fewer new cars to offer the public. In order to maintain their inventory, dealers have been much more agressive in their pursuit of the used car market. Rental returns, lease returns etc. are sold to dealers at wholesale auctions. Because of demand, dealers have been competing with each other and paying much more than they were once willing to spend to acquire a used car. This pushes up the cost thus pushes up the retail price. From there it’s trickle down economics. Higher demand, higher cost, higher prices.
Now, if you have ever been thinking of selling your Subaru you may be in for a pleasant surprise. Some of the used Subarus have seen as much as a 10% increase in value over the past year.
So to sum it up:
Buyers, be patient, things should be caught up by January of next year.
Sellers…. Strike while the iron is hot.