Did the battery really have to be changed immediately?



I just returned from my Subaru dealer’s service dept, where I went in for 120,000 mi servicing and a smog inspection (Calif requirement for registration) of my 2001 Forester. After waiting hours, I was told my battery failed the load test during inspection, and needed to be replaced (at a cost of $86.95, more than I have ever paid for a battery!). After that, the car could not be “smogged” for another hour until someone could take the car out for a test drive that turned out to be a 30 mile freeway drive, to “reset the computer”. Finally, they smogged the car and I left with a huge bill after 6 hours! My question is: could the car have passed the smog test and lasted another day on that battery, so that I could have gotten out of there without paying the ridiculous price of their battery and all the extra time I had to spend waiting? (I expected to be out of there in 3 hours, not 6 hours!). Thanks…


I don’t know about Calif, but in Missouri, you have the right to get it repaired anywhere you want, and the reinspection is free if done within 30 days. I would check with Calif DMV, to determine if their long and winding story constitutes a violation of California inspection law.

If the $86 batteryis all you paid, then you may have overpaid by about $40 or so, compared to getting a battery elsewhere.


My state of NC has similar rules. The inspection goes to completion and, if the car fails, you have 30 days to get it repaired and re-inspected – anywhere you want.

I suspect you had the same rights under California law. That is, get a failed inspection report and leave.

Incidentally, I find it hard to believe that a battery load test is part of the inspection. That claim is likely bogus. So is any claim that the test drive to reset must be done by one of them, not by the owner. I suspect they took advantage of your ignorance.


It seems to me that they could have completed the inspection prior to replacing the battery, which would have eliminated the need to drive it long enough to reset the computer. You could have had the battery replaced at a later time if it wasn’t dead.


Why don’t don’t you call your local district attorney. California has some of the toughest consumer protection laws around and I think your dealer violated some of them.


Modern cars will go crazy with really bad batteries, but if you drove in and dthe car was working fine, I would get in touch at least with the CHP to get some orientation on this one. They should know if there are any violations.