1999 Subaru Forester

Just brought the car in for a 90000 mile checkup-they changed the timing belt and a hose that was near it. We get the car back and the AT oil temp light comes on while driving. OH your transmission fluid must be low (dont they check the fluids at the 90,000 chk up? We bring the car in very 3000 miles and for every scheduled maintainance)) then we get the car bk and it is hesitating and theres a sound. Bring it in-they say theres a loose nut and bolt I forget where and oh by the way your radiator has a leak. Get the car bk after fixing these problems and its still hesitating, almost stalling (lurching) at times (when stopped and then going) Brought it back again and they are looking at it as we speak. I feel this is a problem caused by whatever they just did to “fix” the car. This never happened before. We have been going to these mechanics for 20 years! Are they bad mechanics or am I just unlucky? What causes the hesitating or stuttering? By the way my husband and I are car dummies-we know nothing!

“dont they check the fluids at the 90,000 chk up?”

The 90k service is supposed to include changing the transmission fluid, as well as the coolant/antifreeze, the brake fluid, the air filter, the spark plugs, and the fuel filter. If your mechanic did not do all of these things, he is not referring to the maintenance schedule established by the vehicle’s manufacturer–and that is not a good indication regarding his competence.

My theory, however, is that the trans fluid was changed, but that it was not filled completely–in other words, it was underfilled, which can lead to higher than normal operating temperatures inside the transmission, and this is also not a good thing. When a mechanic changes any fluid in your car, he is supposed to check the level of it, in order to verify that it was not overfilled or underfilled. However, all of this is mere speculation, since we can’t see, hear, or drive your car.

The hesitation and the sound (you did not specify what type of sound, unfortunately) could be the result of a vacuum hose that was disconnected by them while it was being serviced. The “radiator leak” could be related to changing the coolant, if they did not properly tighten a hose clamp or the radiator petcock. In other words, their work is sub-standard.

My advice is to persist until they rectify all of the things that have gone wrong since they worked on it, and then to seek out a new mechanic. All of the scenarios that I mentioned are just speculation, but one thing that is clear is that this shop does not test-drive a vehicle after they service it, they do not check for leaks, and they may not even verify fluid levels–all of which are indications that you need to divorce yourself from this shop once they make good on resolving the current problems.

Well it is possible that they did something to cause some problems. However, I would tend to think that more likely the work they did more likely only helped find things that were about to happen anyway.

In any case, at this time is it their place to find and fix the problems. Hopefully they will pay for the repairs, but remember they may not have caused the problem and it is possible that it is something you should pay for.

Based on what you have listed, I don’t have too many ideas about what it might be, maybe someone else will have some good ideas.

We are going to need more information before we can really say much.

You did not say who is repairing the problem. Was it a dealer or an independent mechanic or some quick oil change place? Either of the first two can be good choices, although the independent is almost always going to cost you less, while the dealer has nicer waiting rooms.

Keep us informed and make sure you are getting everything in writing.

Its our Sunoco station mechanic that we have used for 20 years and 2 cars. I cant descrivbe the sound as I never heard it-my husband did and the mechanic did while test driving it.

You’ve been going there for 20 years but that does not mean there has not been problems in the past. Maybe you’ve just been lucky enough (or unlucky) up to this point to not have suffered a glaringly noticeable problem before since by your admission both you and your husband are not knowledgeabout cars.

As to the noise and hesitation I can only theorize that the timing belt could be off a tooth or two. If the shop did not replace the tensioners and water pump at the same time as teh timing belt they’re on mechanically shaky ground; not unheard of for gas station mechanics.

If they did not check the transmission fluid level - they’re negligent.
If they changed the fluid and did not fill it up or used the wrong fluid - they’re negligent.
Since fluid does not evaporate and if they did not inspect for leaks (part of the service) - they’re negligent.

The transaxle final drive oil level should be inspected just to make sure this was not inadvertently drained. It’s easy to do when changing the engine oil if one is a bit careless. A binding differential due to little or no oil can also cause the transmission to work harder; along with eventually destroying the transmission.
Hope that helps.

Thanks for everyones help!

“As to the noise and hesitation I can only theorize that the timing belt could be off a tooth or two. If the shop did not replace the tensioners and water pump at the same time as teh timing belt they’re on mechanically shaky ground; not unheard of for gas station mechanics.”

ok4450 makes a very good point, as usual.

That unspecified noise and the vibration could well be the result of a botched timing belt installation, and this is potentially much more of a serious issue than the disconnected vacuum hose that I theorized. If the OP cannot get the problem rectified by the ham-handed mechanics who worked on her car, I really think that she should take the car to the dealership to have the timing belt’s installation checked. Yes, that will cost her additional money, but it could save her engine from damage.

After reading your responses we immediately called the shop and asked if the timing belt was checked and that maybe this was the problem and the mechanic said it isnt the belt we checked with the computer-----Is this valid?

The latest is that the shop called Subaru and went through all the results of the computer check of the timing belt and it was done correctly. They are now checking to see if its something with the cars computer.

Nothing wrong with the computer (phew) but they think the hesitation is the airflo sensor.