Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Need a new Subaru dealer?

My last two oil changes at the nearest Subaru dealer wound up with 1 to 1.5 quarts of oil high. Checking the dipstick should be elementary. Now i don’t trust him to even rotate the tires.

So I guess I need to switch dealers, or use an independent. This guy is about 6 miles away, there are two others about 20 miles away.

I could use an independent, but during warrantee, I think I should stick with a dealer.


Bill you say you can’t accurately check your oil level in other posts you made so how do you know you have too much oil.?
Your questions should be directed at the service manager and if not answered to your satisfaction then the dealers general manager.

There is no requirement to have the dealer service the car during warranty. None. Keep your receipts from normal maintenance just in case you need to “prove” you took proper care of the car if something fails withing the warranty period.

I can’t check it to any degree of accuracy, but several quarts high is readable. And the dealer agreed in both cases that the level was high.

In all my previous cars, the dipstick would have a level line on it, easy to read. Now, there is just an irregular blob of oil, different on the two sides of the stick.

Mustangman: I did talk to the service manager, and both times he said he would talk to the technician. different ones each time, or so he said. But the problem is more severe than that, it points to general incompetence or lack of training. Since I can’t be the first one with problems like this, it also points to management problems.

I don’t see that there is any way they could prove to me they took corrective action, but I will talk to the general manager.

Funny thing the service manager mentioned: how to read the oil level: let the car run for a minute, then turn it off and wait 5 minutes.

I had exactly the same situation back in–I think–2009, with my second Subaru.
The service manager had the tech immediately do another oil change, and they found that the level was again too high. Then they decided to check the accuracy of the device that dispenses the oil from the 55 gallon drum, and found that it was “off” by a fairly large amount.

I received yet another oil change free-of-charge, as well as an apology, and I was assured that they would have the “meter” on their oil system changed. Apparently they did, because that problem never recurred with either that Subaru, or my present one.

VDC: but they never checked the dipstick, but relied on the oil dispenser.

That is where the problem is, in my opinion. There are a half dozen or so engines they see on a regular basis, easy to set the dispenser wrong, they should always check after.

This is Mechanics 101 problem… Never trust any kind of dispenser… You simply fill a container with the known oil capacity…then pour THAT into the engine. Not that hard to do.

People who blindly rely on tech gadgets will be the ones that are confused or dead after the Apocalypse… I will be Mad Max… LOL


Subaru eh ?
That’s another one of those brands you DON’T buy in this town since the closest dealer is 140 miles one way !
Depending on your location it may be just as hard to ‘‘change’’ dealerships.

I’ve also had bad luck with our local Subaru dealer (now closed). I took my nephew’s Outback in for a simple 02 sensor change and had to fight with them for 3 weeks to get the car back in running condition. The problem was that they were trying to use a new 02 sensor for an Outback when his car was actually an Impreza Outback. When I finally pointed out their mistake they finally fixed the car. Simple mistake but it’s one that they should have caught sometime in that 3 week period.

The dipstick on Subaru’s is notoriously hard to read because of the bend in the tube. Even if the vehicle has sat overnight, the dipstick is hard to read as most of the oil gets wiped off when you remove it.

Overall Subaru’s are pretty good cars, but there are a few items that indicate that there is some poor engineering decisions made there. But that is true of all vehicles.

Using a 1620 battery in the FOB is another example of a less than stellar engineering decision. They are not widely available and expensive when you find one, and they don’t last very long because they are so small.

They don’t check the oil level after an oil change? Even the JL near me does that. Imagine, dealer service bested by Jiffy Lube! The shame of it all!

" Even the JL near me does that. Imagine, dealer service bested by Jiffy Lube!"

The JL near you may do it, but–clearly–this is not a corporate policy that is etched in stone.
Otherwise, why would we hear of fairly frequent cases of cars that left JL with a dry transmission and a crankcase that is filled to twice its normal capacity?

"The JL near you may do it, but--clearly--this is not a corporate policy that is etched in stone."

This statement could be etched in stone.

missileman: We had a similar incident. Wife was rear ended at a stop light. We took the 1985 Ford LTD Crown Victoria to the State Farm Insurance estimate center (I’m not sure if it was called that). The car was raised on a lift and the adjuster determined the extent of damage. We gave information on the body shop of our choice and they were contacted with the damage information and parts needed. Damage was minimal so we drove to the body shop which was owned by our next door neighbor. When we pulled in he thought we were just stopping to say hello. We told him we were dropping the car off for repairs and were informed that State Farm had given part numbers for a 1985 Ford LTD which is a completely different car. He corrected his parts order and called the nearby Enterprise Rental to “pick us up”. It was all covered by insurance. Our car was ready the next afternoon. I guess an insurance company employee could type in Ford LTD and get the wrong part numbers. A Subaru dealership mechanic not knowing the difference between a full size Outback and Impreza Outback and taking 3 weeks to “discover” the mistake is inexcusable. I’m thinking Subaru owners in the area are well served with that dealership being “now closed”!

I could see if the oil changing staff were in a hurry they might do the fill/filter then check the dipstick, expecting it to read a little high b/c the oil hadn’t circulated to the new filter yet. That’s the case w/my Corolla, even though I carefully meter the amount oil I put into the engine, it reads high on the stick until after I turn the engine on and let it run a few minutes. But immediately after running the engine it’s difficult to read the stick accurately, so I have to let it sit for 5 more minutes, then it reads right at the top line. So maybe, esp w/this dipstick design which seems difficult to read even in perfect conditions, they are just trying to save that 10 minutes.

I’m not saying you don’t have a valid complaint OP, just that this might be the shop’s thinking. And good for you for double checking the shop’s work. Definitely shop around for a better place to have your oil changed. And let the next shop’s manager know you expect them to check and verify the oil level is spot on after every oil change.

I should have pointed out that when you pull the dipstick out, it somehow gets oil above the line, even when the engine is cold. If you don’t know what specifically to look for, it looks like it is overfull.

Keith: yes, that is the problem… due to a sharp curve at the end of the dipstick tube.

I can easily see this happening if the oil dispenser isn’t properly calibrated . I would think the discrepancy would be caught before too long though . When we pull up to a gas pump we all assume when the pump says one gallon , we pumped one gallon of gas .
I know gas pumps are checked by weights & measurements but as a society we assume much . In a high volume oil change place , I doubt the dipstick gets pulled much .

“I can easily see this happening if the oil dispenser isn’t properly calibrated . I would think the discrepancy would be caught before too long though.”

Who knows how long…?
When the service manager learned that their oil dispenser was inaccurate as a result of my situation, I can recall him saying, sort of absentmindedly, “I wonder how long that thing has been off?”. He was actually a very decent guy, and I was sad to see him go when new owners took over the dealership.