Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Rain Leak in Brand New 2012 Subaru Forester

I purchased a 2012 Subaru Forester on May 15th, and now have a leak issue after heavy rains. I’ve brought the car into the dealer twice now (three times if you count having to bring it in the day after purchase to have a dial fixed) and they’re saying they can’t find or recreate the issue even after running a hose on it, and I’m extremely concerned and frustrated (honestly regretting buying the car at this point, though I do love it).

• Both times I have noticed this happen, the car has been parked in torrential downpours either all day at work or overnight at home, and rain somehow seeps in and collects somewhere inside above the driver’s side, where it sits until I drive the car. It does not leak until the car moves - water does not leak to my knowledge when the car is parked.

• Once the car moves from a parked position and I take a right turn, the water dumps out in about 1-3 occurrences onto my left foot (not a constant flow or predictable dump) – the water does not leak until the car is in motion and has turned right.

• The dealer says they think the heat shield may be missing a grommet or something along those lines, but I don’t know why they aren’t able to check this to see if that’s the case and fix it. They claim that they’ve only seen something like this once before, and it fixed itself (in other words, the person never came back after the first occurrence). It’s happened to me twice now, and I know it’s going to happen again, and I can’t keep bringing it back over and over (and don’t think I should have to). Any help would be much appreciated.

Why are you still dealing solely with the dealership at this point?
You need to contact Subaru of America at the corporate level. Contact info is contained in your Owner’s Manual.

Once you get SOA involved, there will be an index number for your complaint, and this will make it easier to follow-up with them if the dealership continues to be incompetent.

Since you have had the car at the dealership twice for this problem, the clock is ticking on a potential Lemon Law complaint by you. I strongly suggest that you educate yourself about the details of the Lemon Law in your state, as most of these statutes give them only 3 attempts at a fix before you can file a claim under the Lemon Law.

If I were you, I would first educate myself about the Lemon Law details for your state, and then contact SOA. Make sure that you remain civil and polite, but firm. State that you want this resolved to your satisfaction, or you will be compelled to seek relief under the Lemon Law statute.

My guess is that SOA will send the regional service supervisor to the dealership to supervise the next repair attempt, so that it will be the last attempt, thereby short-circuiting a Lemon Law claim. That is exactly what happened when I helped a friend of mine with his problem-plagued Toyota. After two failed attempts at repair, Toyota’s regional service supervisor and a Japanese engineer met us at the dealership and assured us that they would personally work on the car. Three hours later, they had resolved what the local Toyota mechanics were not competent enough to fix.

Good luck!

I had a similar leak in my brand new 2002 Toyota Tacoma just after I bought it. The leak was the result of a factory defect in the sealant applied between the front fender and the cab. Toyota had to remove the fender, reapply the sealant, and reattach the fender to the body. It was already a known defect by the time I brought it back to the dealer, so they had a Tech Service Bulletin (TSB) issued by Toyota that told them how to fix the problem.

You might do some research online and see if you can find a TSB for this problem. If so, you can then point it out to your dealer and expect them to fix it. If there is a TSB, they should know about it, but sometimes they don’t want to bother. But if you march in with a TSB in hand, they can’t just shrug their shoulders.

I’ve had to find a leak too which turned out to be a grommet out of place. I finally found mine with the tail lights removed, etc. and a hose. It’s not the case that it is not leaking until you drive it. It is leaking and filling up whatever it is leaking into. When you drive it, the water moves over the tray or whatever and comes down on your foot. It may be coming through the front cowling and the drain is plugged, coming through the bottom of the windshield, firewall panels, etc. If it were me, I’d be crawling under the dash with the trim panels removed to see exactly where the water is collecting. Should be signs by now. Then I’d be looking at the body manual that shows all of the sheet metal parts and so on. Then running a hose over the potential problem areas might yield a solution. Sometimes you’re just going to have to lead them a little. I think OK440 may have some comments on Subbie customer service.

Yep, get paperwork every time you take it in and find out about you state’s lemon law. A water leak is unacceptable, it’ll cause problems. Either they fix it or you go the lemon law route.

It’s difficult for me to fault the dealer at this point because an errant water leak (like an electrical gremlin) can be near impossible to find at times and many problems are not always clear cut. We had a new SAAB in once for a water leak complaint at the rear hatch and we could not make that hatch leak no matter what we did. This even included my being sealed inside the rear compartment with a flashlight while a co-worker took a hose to it and then a pressure washer. Even the pressure washer would not cause it to leak.

I’m in agreement with VDCdriver and Bing about documenting this problem because someone in the corporate line is going to have to be responsible for this glitch. Hopefully it won’t turn into a Lemon Law claim but you need to prepare for it; just in case.

Without knowing the methodogy used by the dealer to locate the leak about all I can suggest would be dropping the knee panel under the steering column and have one person use a hose gently up top while another guy gets underneath the dash with a decent light to see if they can get a handle on where a leak may be situated.

It may be time to contact the regional office of Subaru and drag them into it. Keep your dealings with SOA cordial and they may schedule a meeting with the service rep when he makes his monthly round at the dealer. The reps are not mechanics but may know of glitches that pop up and which are not common knowledge at that point. They can also prod things along a bit and you need to keep after this problem until it’s resolved.

Thanks so much for all of this helpful info and advice, everyone - I really appreciate it!