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Considering buying 2014 Subaru Outback but…no service tip 15k miles

I am considering buy a 2014 Subaru Outback with just over 15,222 miles on it. The car fax list its first maintenance (oil and filter change) at 15,212. What’s going on here? Is there damage done for not having and maintenance (especially oil and filter change) prior to the current 15k miles?

First of all, Carfax is not a reliable indicator of…much.
Yes, if a Carfax report lists a major accident, you should probably take that information seriously–even though it could be incorrect.
A Carfax report is only as good as the information that was provided to that company, and in many cases maintenance information–as well as accident information–never makes its way to their system.

So, you need to ask for hard copies of maintenance records when you buy a used car.
Even though I can provide every bit of information on the maintenance of my cars, if you were dealing with the owner of a very old car, I could understand the absence of some records. But–with a car that is probably no more than 1 year old, there is no excuse for somebody’s failure to retain maintenance records. If they claim to not have those records, then I would assume that the car was never maintained–and that is certainly not a positive sign. Think about it…If the first owner was so careless as to skip the required maintenance at 7,500 miles, how diligent do you think he was about regularly checking the oil level and making sure that it didn’t fall too low?

However…if the car got regular highway driving, and if the oil level was never allowed to fall to a low point during the year that it has been driven, it is not likely that too much sludge could have built up in just one year. Lack of maintenance is…not good…but it is probably not going to be fatal in this instance, in view of the time period involved, as long as the oil level was kept as it should be. But…at this point…how would you know if the engine was run low on oil for months at a time?

All of that being said, the biggest problem hanging over your head if you buy this car is that if the car wasn’t actually serviced until it had accumulated over 15k miles, then the warranty–at least as it pertains to the engine–is null and void. Period.

In case of a mechanical problem in the future, it is possible that Subaru corporate could be nice and agree to cover a transmission problem, or some other non engine-related problem, but without question the warranty on the engine is gone…shot to hell…kaput. Do you really want to own a fairly expensive car without the normal warranty protection that it otherwise would have had for 5 years/60,000 miles?

Used cars are like commuter buses. If you miss out on one, another one will be along shortly.
Why take chances if you can readily find cars that have evidence of proper maintenance and that will actually retain their warranty protection?

Why are you even considering buying this car? Not enough red flags?

Some additional thoughts, just in case the OP is still considering buying this car:

In addition to an oil change being necessary at no more than 7,500 miles, the mfr’s maintenance schedule also calls for tire rotation to be done every 7,500 miles. From the question/post, it appears that the oil was changed at 15,212 miles, but that the tires were not rotated.

If this was a FWD or RWD vehicle, skipping the specified tire rotation would mean only shortened tread life for the tires. However, on an AWD vehicle–like this Subaru–failure to rotate the tires on a consistent basis (every 7,500 or every 5,000 miles) means that excess wear has been placed on the vehicle’s fairly sensitive AWD system.

Skipping two tire rotations means likely expensive repairs to the AWD system at some point in the future, and in addition to the skipped oil changes voiding the warranty on the engine, the skipped tire rotations means that the warranty on the AWD system has also been voided. And, it is possible that Subaru would also void the warranty on the transmission in a situation like this.

Some sucker will eventually buy this piece of damaged goods.
Don’t be that sucker.

As @missileman asked…Why are you even considering buying this car?

A 1 year old car with 15 grand on the clock? That’s not that terrible. I put 32,000 on my truck in the first year and ran out the 60,000 mile warrany in 2 years. I kept that truck for 16 years and 325,000 miles. Relying on Carfax for maintenance records? Not at all reliable.

How do you know the car has only had one oil change? If someone buys a car and has it serviced at JiffyLube, the corner service station, a local Firestone, or does the maintenance himself in his garage it will not be listed on the Carfax report. Carfax is just a network of dealers and shops that voluntary exchange information about maintenance of cars in exchange for the perceived benefit of being a member of the program.

Just because something doesn’t show up on Carfax doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. You can drive your car into a tree, tow it home yourself and have your brother-in-law fix it with parts from the junkyard. That will never show up on Carfax. It’s a poor indicator of maintenance history, too many holes.

I would be very leery of buying this car based on the unknowns of what has actually happened during those 15k miles.

Maybe that one oil change on record is one that was performed in hopes of solving a problem due to very low oil level or lack of oil with an ensuing pronunciation of everything is fine now. Not.

Carfax is by no means accurate in most cases but it if is accurate in this case I"d run from this car.
This car could be an expensive gamble as 15k miles of no oil changes is plenty enough to create a problem which you may not discover until later.

More likely than not the first owner did gave the oil changed at the recommended interval. Most people who drop $25k on a new car are careful to have the oil changed as recommended, but as others have said, it may not have been done at a dealer.

But without the receipts from the first owner, you’re left guessing, and you have to decide whether it’s worth the risk.

Just because something doesn't show up on Carfax doesn't mean it didn't happen.

Also just because Carfax says it happened doesn’t mean it did. Carfax says my car has been titled/registered 4 separate times even though I know my mom bought the car new and I bought it from her.

I’d get it checked out to see if your mechanic can tell whether it did or did not have more frequent or at least suitable maintenance. I don’t know whether there are tell-tale signs that the car wasn’t maintained (like air filters, tire wear, is the battery crusty, are other fluids low or filthy, etc.) or if that recent oil change would have eliminated all of the evidence, but it sounds to me like the CarFax is unreliable as a maintenance record and the car may be perfectly sound. Are you looking at this from a dealer or individual? Can you take it to a mechanic of your choice to check it out?

When this car was sold, it came with a two year maintenance agreement that included oil changes at 3k, 7.5k, 15k and 22.5k and tire rotations every 7.5k. It would not have cost the original owner anything to have the service done.

Instead of carfax, call the local Subaru dealer and have them run the VIN on their computers, if the service was done at any Subaru dealer, it will show up.

First of all if you are asking questions that should be warning enough to look elsewhere. Second why is this back on a lot so soon. Who ever bought it has taken a big hit financially.

important question . . .

Did you even ask the current owner of the car for the maintenance records?

Perhaps they are available. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know

Carfax information is perhaps better than nothing, but it’s incomplete, and not always accurate

Is this car being sold by a dealer . . . or the original owner?

I may be wrong, but I believe a dealer is not allowed to let prospective buyers look over maintenance records, receipts, etc. of their used cars. I believe this is to protect the previous owners, because their name, address, phone number, and other data will be visible on that paperwork.

CarFax only gets data from places that give it out. My guess is the selling dealer did the last oil change and it was reported out.

If you go to many independnent shops, quick lubes or even certain dealers they do not share with carfax. I would not use carfax as a record of maintenance unless it was actually a full history. I was lucky with my Acura and got incredible history with CarFax since prior owner only took to a Ford dealer(car on Nantucket) and Acura dealer who reported every item over 4yrs/80k miles.

Keith has the right idea…Check with the service department at any Subaru dealer to see if proper maintenance was performed…If you can’t verify it, be VERY cautious. Very few people buy a new car and trade it in after only a year…It could have been a demo, short-term lease, repo, dealer rental, any number of things where the driver of the car did not care about maintenance. Or most likely the service simply was not reported to CarFax.

drive it like you stole it…that’s what the po likely did if he can’t provide a record of maint.

db is correct that the service department may not show you the records, but they can tell you the dates and places of service and vehicle mileage. This was free (included in the purchase price) when the car was bought so I can’t see why the original owner would not have had this done.