New Subaru giving trouble within 2 hours of buying

We bought a new Subaru outback 3 days ago from a dealership. Brought it home, parked in our driveway for an hour or so, started it again to go to the grocery store and within half a mile of driving, several lights on the dashboard came on and wouldn’t go away. The check engine light and traction control lights came on constant also transmission oil temperature light and Brake lights started flashing. Cruise light also stayed on.

It was late in the evening so we called the dealership the next day. They asked us to bring it in if it was driving ok. We took it in, they said they reset something in the car and gave it back to us. We stated for home but within 3 miles, the lights came back on again.

We drove back to the dealership. They took the car in again but the service dept. manager refused to give us a service ticket. He was very rude. Then they asked us to leave the car there and gave us a rental car. The next day they called us to say that a faulty part needs to be replaced which will need to be overnighted from somewhere so they will need to keep the car till the next day.

Today again they said they need to keep it for another day. We also sent an email to Subaru of America but they are not much help except giving us their apologies. We spoke to a lemon law firm and they said we have a strong case.

Anyone had a similar experience? Should we have fight to have the car replaced or take it back for now and wait for it to give trouble again and then return it?

First off, you might clarify the meaning of the word “new”. Many people use this word when referring to a used car or a dealer demo model, the latter being a used car also.
Brand new means 5ish miles on it. If the car has a 100 or 200, etc. then it’s a demo.

Assuming this car is a brand new vehicle my feeling based on your post is that you’re prematurely wound up about this car. Jeez, you just bought it and you’re already talking to a law firm about a Lemon issue?

Things happen, even with brand new cars, and my gut feeling is that this service manager did not get rude with you unless you went in there raising hxxx.
Calm down and give things a chance before siccing ambulance chasers on them.

As OK says, hang in there, esp if this is a brand new car, you have warranty. No need to start suing, YET.

But I will also add, despite staying calm and reserved, grab a pen and paper and start writing events/names with date and time. Keep as many papers that you get your hands on. It will become handy if this proves to be an ongoing problem.

The lemon law varies according to state, so check your state:
Beware of firms that promise a strong case unless they will take the case on contingency, and even then be careful. You may well end up winning back the full cost of replacement for your car, but you will need to return it and then pay the legal fees out of your award.
You may also (and more importantly) be protected by a mandatory minimum guarantee or warranty period (two different things) depending on your state.
Finally, the dealership itself or the manufacturer may have a guarantee. Check all of your paperwork.

Aside from the rude service, so far you have the dealer engaged in the repair and have been provided with a (I would seriously hope, free) rental car. It might be taking longer than you like, but if you pay nothing and the problem is solved, there is no real harm. Don’t rush to get litigous. DO keep every record of everything, and make and keep a journal concerning the current and any future problems with this car. Be sure to include mileage and the date for every issue. Otherwise, see what happens with the car after you get it back. It might just be a fluke.
I’d also review this dealership based on the entire experience once you have the car back. It may just be that you encountered a rude service manager in front of some very qualified mechanics who should be given the time to do their jobs.
Maybe you can find another dealership to service this car in the future. Or just a qualified foreign motors repair shop.
Finally, when I hear about rude sales people, clerks, etc., especially in the face of any complaint or problem, I always wonder about that ridiculous axiom that the customer is always right. In fact some customers are just bullies. Rude behavior is unacceptable each way.

The car had 20 - 30 miles on it. We didnt get rude with the guy at all. He was all fine till we asked for a service ticket for bringing the car in a second time. Since this was the first time we came accross such a problem, we were just checking our options with the law firm. No plans to go that route unless absolutely needed.

Thanks fo rthe advice. We will make sure to keep all the paperwork and see how the car works once we get it back.

You MUST have paperwork to document any problem. Without paperwork you would be dead in the water if this turned into a Lemon Law claim.
The documented complaint must be for the same problem.

If the service manager would not provide paperwork for a second trip then he’s out of line. Document this yourself as to the time, who you spoke to, etc. and if he does this again make sure you have the number of SOA’s regional office handy. Immediately call SOA right in front of him and put him on the spot.

I used to work for Subaru and several other car lines as a tech, shop foreman, and service writer and would never, ever dream of not providing the customer a paper document on any complaint or service work.
Any of that “give me the keys, we’ll take a look” and “here ya go. We didn’t find anything” can possibly lead to problems later on. Amnesia is not that rare a disease.

Our State Requires A Written Estimate For Car Repairs (Even If It’s Zero) And An RO With The Mechanic(s) Certification I.D. And Signature. I Would See If That’s The Case In Your Area. Then You Can Ask For That With Each Service.


It is disconcerting when something so new breaks. Give them a chance of repair. The first attempt was stupid on their part. The 2nd time plan rude irregardless.

Let them fix and see what happens. Things go wrong with all makes out the door. Hopefully this gets corrected fast.

It amazes me that most cars roll of the assembly line and are sold with no problems in the first year of so. I once replaced a clutch on a Ford Ranger and some months later all manner of electrical problems occurred. It was quite humbling to explain to the owner that it took me 2 days to find that I had let a harness get pinched which eventually became chaffed and shorted out. My employees never let me live that down. Automobiles are outrageously complicated these days and a minor glitch on the assembly line or a sensitive sensor that is marginally defective can be a nightmare to find. Good luck. Document.

I agree, but perhaps I’m not as kind as some of you - - The minute the service manager got rude with me I’d have returned the car under buyer’s remorse, since I’m fortunate enough to live in a state that has such a law.

Thanks to everyone for your advise. I will wait and see how things go after we get the car back. Unfortunately where we live, we can’t return the car otherwise I would have done that the next day. Even though we didnt get any paperwork the second time, from here on, we will not let this happen. And we will document, document and document…at the same time hoping that we dont have to use them.

We had a problem almost right away with a 2003 Toyota 4Runner just after we purchased it brand new. A chirping noise developed in the engine and it was determined that it was the serpentine belt. The dealer replaced the belt, but the noise returned a couple of days later. Another belt was installed and the same problem occured. A third belt was then installed and not only did the chirp come back, but the engine began leaking oil. The belt had been installed incorrectly and it pulled out the oil seal behind the crankshaft pulley. We returned to the dealer. The service manager assured me that he would put the best technician on the car. Well, the oil seal and belt were replaced. Two days later, the chrip returned. My wife wanted to take the car to our independent shop at least for a diagnosis. I insisted we go back to the dealer and told him that he could buy it back under the lemon law. The dealer begged for one more chance and gave us a car to drive. The problem was the belt tensioner and after that was replaced, we have had no more problems. The 4Runner hasn’t seen a dealer’s service department since that time. I bought another Toyota, a 2011 Sienna back in March from a different dealer. I’ll see how things go during the warranty and then make a decision as to whether or not to use the service department.

My advice is to be firm but polite with the dealer. Cars aren’t made perfecdtly. However, if the car can’t be made right in a reasonable time, then insist on a replacement.

…however, obtaining a replacement is done through the manufacturer, not the dealership.

The OP needs to educate himself about the details of the Lemon Law in his particular state, and then proceed exactly as the statute requires.

Its a lemon. Dump it

Most lemon laws allow the dealer some chances to fix the problems before condemning the car. This is why they have warranties. I agree that the service writer was way out of line for being rude, but the dealership still gets a chance to make things right.

This car is not a Lemon yet. A Lemon is a car that suffers repeated problems from new in multiple areas or has a single chronic problem that apparently can’t be solved.

Give this situation a chance to play out before condemning the car.
Any item that rolls off of an assembly line from cars on down to pop-up toasters will have a certain percentage of failures involved. Sometimes the failures are from the get-go and some take a few days to manifest themselves.

You aren’t anywhere near lemon status. The purpose of the warrenty to have it fixed at their expense. You can go to a different dealer. In Minnesota anyway, it is something like returning the car five times for the same problem that they are unable to repair and the car being out of service something like a total of 30 days. So you need to find out what it is in your state and document the trips and purpose. If the guy is rude, maybe have a chat with the sales person you dealt with and let them run some interference for you.

Im curious on the time frame for the dealer to make it right…

In most states, the company gets “three bites of the apple”, so to speak.
If the same problem recurs after three repair attempts, that usually puts one in the category of being eligible for a Lemon Law settlement. However, the specific details vary from state to state.

In some states, the total amount of “downtime” for repairs can also be counted toward Lemon Law eligibility. For instance, if a car was in the dealer’s shop for a total of 30 days–even if this represented just one or two repair attempts–that would qualify in many states for settlement.

And, the nature of the settlement varies from state to state. Many just call for an equivalent replacement vehicle, but some–like my state–give the consumer the option of getting a total cash refund, including tax & license fees.

If you want to see the specifics for your state, go to:

Many states have all of the details and the appropriate claim forms on the website for the state’s Attorney General.