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.
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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.