Pull up a chair , get a cup of coffee …and bear with this saga of woe…for which I need advise
We took our 2014 Forester for an oil change at a nearby local tire franchise.
Convenient. cheap. Till now.
We show up at the time noted “Sorry, we stripped ‘a plug’, it will be another hour or so.” We wait; we drive home. The next morning, we detect a slight hesitation when cold, we ease off the gas pedal, drive slow for about 10 minutes, it’s fine. Over a week, the hesitation continues, only upon start up, for about 10+ minutes or so.
We bring it back to the tire franchise. Manager sends a young tech to test drive it; nothing happens, because we have been driving it, so it is warm. They state "nothing we do during an oil change causes what you are saying."
Life happens: Hurricane Irma hits, then a pre-planned flight home to visit family… a month passes- it is getting worse.
We take it to the Subaru Authorized Service Center; they find nothing, do a throttle service for $293, as a possible resolution, but the next day - it happens again, After 45 days, the hesitation is now a bucking.
We take it back to Subaru; it takes them 4 days, but they finally figure it out:
a stripped transmission ;plug and sign of transmission fluid leak. They say this transmission is a Sealed System, and any breaching of it is dangerous, especially if, as they suspect, the technician who seems to have mistaken the transmission plug for the nearby oil pan drain plug AND when he realized his mistake, must have tried to replace the fluid with something other than transmission fluid.
They showed us - and had us smell- their proper transmission fluid, vs, the sample they drained out of ours. Theirs: pretty translucent aqua colored and strong but not offensive smell. The sample: murky dark, viscous looking and vile, ‘nose corrosive’ smelling. Note: our Forester has ~45,000 miles. I have no idea what transmission fluid that has been used for 45000 miles would look or smell like, I could only go by what Subaru told us.
They said to replace it would be $8,500. We NEEDED that car, so we sadly said we would pay for the repair, then go back to this big company and ask them to reimburse us (right?)
We went back to the Tire Franchise manager; he was defensive, said we had no proof because so much time had lapsed, some other place could have done it (legally, I suppose we cannot prove that negative, but …).
We asked him to get their insurance company involved; over a week passed and he did nothing (he did offer “if you had brought it to me, I could have a had a friend of mine fix it for you.”…hmmm.)
We called the parent corporation, Manager of Customer Service He immediately passed us on to their third party "Claims Service Management"
We just got a letter stating they tested the fluid, that it WAS transmission fluid, so they are denying the claim. They ended with threatening verbiage about how Fraudulent claims are punishable by law AND, that the Statute of Limitations for this issue ENDED 3 weeks after it occurred!! ie: 2 MONTHS before we even knew there was any damage!!
We talked to a Consumer Protection lawyer; he said it would probably cost more than what we’ve already paid out to hire him to take them to court.
We will now go to Small Claims Court to at least get back $5000 (minus the $500 filing fee, and any subpoenas we have to issue) of the $8,950. that our “oil change” (inc car rental, throttle service, etc) cost us out of pocket.
So, we figure first we have to prove whether it was the wrong fluid
where do we go to get this fluid tested? (Subaru kept the old transmission exactly as they removed it, in the same box the new transmission came in) … I live in Southeast Florida if that helps
If it IS actual transmission fluid, we still know that this leak over 2 months caused serious damage to the transmission, so …any suggestions?
Should we just give up… and never again get an oil change at a non-authorized service center, even if we have to drive 1 1/2+ hours round trip to do so,