Subaru catalytic converty warranty; what the dealership did


You had faulty spark plugs installed; shortly thereafter, your factory cat went. You had the cat (but NOT the plugs) replaced, then (at some months into the future) had the plugs replaced due to misfires. After that, you discovered the new cat was bad?

Your problem, then, is almost certainly the bad plugs. They trashed the first cat and greatly shortened the life of the second cat. Your beef is with the “mechanic” who installed the bad plugs, NOT the dealership, or the male gender, LOL.

Well, OBVIOUSLY, the service writer isn’t given the authority to authorize warranty work! That’s “above his pay grade,” as the saying goes. So rather than answer you directly (because he couldn’t!) he put you on the horn to somebody who might.

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You had faulty spark plugs installed; shortly thereafter, your factory cat went. You had the cat (but NOT the plugs) replaced, then (at some months into the future) had the plugs replaced due to misfires. After that, you discovered the new cat was bad?

No. Please read my posts again.

Your problem, then, is almost certainly the bad plugs. They trashed the first cat and greatly shortened the life of the second cat. Your beef is with the “mechanic” who installed the bad plugs, NOT the dealership, or the male gender, LOL

No. Please read my posts again.
Then read my two questions again.

I have no “beef with the male gender.” I have an issue with shady businesses.

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Not one of you have examined my car. Yet, all of you you not only disregard what the mechanic at the family-owned garage who diagnosed the spark plugs and the catalytic converter told me (he did not say the spark plugs caused the problem and he’s been in the engine), but you and others are convinced that is undoubtedly what happened. It was suggested as a possibility. A possibility, not a smoking gun with clear evidence that any of you have observed in my car yesterday. I acknowledge the possibility, but the mechanic who diagnosed the problem has the immediate experience to make that determination, don’t you think? Not me. Not any of you armchair quarterbacks.

Shadowfax has gone so far as to accuse me of trying to scam the dealership.

Thank you all for reminding me why I shy away from posting on forums.

My first question was about the possibility of a new catalytic converter failing after 7166 miles/7 months, and how would I tell if the dealership had not actually replaced the original catalytic converter during the recall service but had only fixed/adjusted the original one? The spark plug idea from TwinTurbo was a reasonable response to part of that question. Nobody has answered the rest.

My second question was about who I should complain to about my experience with the service department at the dealership.

As the responses seemed to deteriorate into a personal attack at me or a defense of all male mechanics, I thought I’d call Subaru of America customer service and see what they had to say, although I wasn’t expecting them to help. Which was why I posted on this forum. I posted about that conversation because it is relevant. VOLVO_V70 commented “That is what you should have done in the first place.” Had I known that, I wouldn’t have asked. Thank you, VOLVO-V70, I wish you or someone else had offered me that advice before the conversation devolved. No reason for you to be snarky to me.

I have also spent a little time searching online, and I do take online reviews with a large grain of salt because people sometimes have ridiculous reasons for giving bad reviews, like the person they interacted with didn’t smile at them or the waiter didn’t give them free food. There are several complaints about the service department at Metrowest Subaru in the past two years about shady service, substitution of cheaper parts, upselling of service, and finding all sorts of additional costs to the customer when they brought their vehicle in for a warranty or recall repair.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have had many experiences with product warranties. Some companies are very honorable. Others are not. Bissell sent me a new Powermatch floor steamer no questions asked after the pump in the one I’d purchased broke after 2 months. I had a boiler manufacturer flat out refuse to honor their warranty and tell me to sue them. My husband and I did go to a liability attorney and of course, the attorney’s retainer alone just to start a suit would have been as much as paying the plumber to replace the part, and Utica Boiler refused to pay for the water damage from the boiler leak because that’s not part of their warranty, only the boiler part. There is nothing wrong with insisting that a company honor their warranty; that’s what a warranty is for, and we have consumer protection laws to support it.


Thank you for sharing your personal experience.
That has not been my personal experience.


Yes, on the 6/9/2016 service receipt from the dealership it is listed that the ECM was reprogrammed.


I have worked at car dealers (not Subaru). Let me throw this (my own theory) out here…

Trust me, Subaru did their best to make cars that wouldn’t need additional repairs in the form of Recalls or Service Campaigns (Voluntary Recalls). It’s costly and bad for customer relations/sales.

Subaru sold these cars. Some cars started showing up with problems (“check engine” and missing or quitting). It happens to all car manufacturers.

Subaru scrambled for a solution and discovered a deficient program in the ECM (engine control computer) was causing the convertors to become polluted and fail. They ordered these cars to get NEW convertors and NEW engine computer programming. This kind of thing goes on all the time with all car manufacturers, unfortunately.

From my experience, it’s possible that the Service Campaign didn’t completely solve the problem in all cars, for some reason. They thought they had it handled, but didn’t have time to thoroughly road-test it. They needed customer cars back on the road.

Contacting Subaru Corporate is a good move. It is possible that others have experienced the same thing that you have (Problem…Campaign…Continued problem). They might have another solution or two up their sleeve.

It’s too early to blame, dealers mechanics, and men. A good outcome would be if Subaru sent a Regional Service Representative to a dealer to meet the Dealer Service Manager/Director AND your car and get things hashed out.

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Um, if you don’t think we can diagnose your problem…then WHY DID YOU ASK US TO DO SO?
Misfiring plugs are KNOWN for melting cats. I have made beaucoup bucks, buying up cars that have plugged cats secondary to a misfire, replacing the coil packs/plugs and fixing the cat. Can I KNOW that’s what happened? No, but that’s where I’d start.


Okay, fine and fair enough: the easy way to tell would be to see how rusty the cat is W/R/T the surrounding metal. Also, you said the new cat replaced a known deficiency in the original cat. That means it has a new part no, and possibly a different design. That stuff can be determined via a close look at the cat.

The reason nobody went too far down that route, is that the odds of them not replacing the cat are VANISHINGLY small. Honestly, your obsession with this one implausible scenario seems to say more about your own tendency to see yourself as a victim (of shady mechanics and the entire male gender) than it does about the dealership you frequented.

But, hey, since all you wanted is “how do I tell if they changed the cat?” and no further help, the “TL;DR” is “look at it!” Thank you and good-day, ma’am!


That’s a lie.

Because your mouth gets you in trouble and you don’t like the blowback?

No, we are convinced that it’s possible that that’s what happened. As you had bad plugs which was causing the engine to “run rough,” it’s entirely possible that the bad plugs and the rough running dumped fuel into the cat and burned it out. Since that’s a strong possibility, then it’s reasonable that the dealership would balk at automatically replacing a part that there is a strong possibility was damaged through the incompetence of someone else rather than being a faulty part.

Instead of coming on here like a carload of turkeys howling about being oppressed because you’re a woman and then angrily arguing with us when we don’t immediately jump on your misandric bandwagon, perhaps you should… Grow up.


Let’s review my initial post.

I went back to the mechanic, he told me the catalytic converter had failed, but the heat shields were still shiny and looked new. He asked if the catalytic converter had been worked on fairly recently.

Notice that the mechanic did not say that the catalytic converter that is presently in my car looks new(ish). He said the heat shield looked new. He asked if the catalytic converter had been worked on recently. He was suspicious. And so I am suspicious.

Yes, each part will have a part number. Maybe a serial number, I don’t know? Something I was hoping one of you “experts” on this forum might suggest? I’ll find out when I ask for the parts that the dealership will remove next week, as I said I would when I follow up with the Customer Service guy at Subaru of America and I will give him those numbers. He’ll take it from there.

As I have written, in the past I have been charged for replacing a part in my car when in fact it was not replaced but repaired. Not by this dealership. But I have learned to ask for the parts removed. Consider yourself fortunate that hasn’t happened to you. I have also been charged for a manufacturer OEM part when an aftermarket part was installed. And I have been charged by an independent shop for a new air conditioner in the old 1991 Subaru Legacy Wagon that broke a year later and then learned a used part had been installed in my car.

Put the bat away. It doesn’t reach through cyberspace.


You can ruin a cat pretty fast. I wrecked my $700 one in about ten minutes of a misfire. I don’t know what its like to be a woman but try being short for 68 years sometime. At least I’m not bald.


"I’ll find out when I ask for the parts that the dealership will remove next week…"

Please be understanding if the parts are not returned to you.

A couple of exceptions apply to the return of parts to a customer.

Warranty or Recall parts are almost always retained at the dealer for inspection by the manufacturer (so they are not accused of charging for work not done and in case the manufacturer wants to verify they actually needed replacement).

Also, catalytic convertors are valuable, dead or alive! They contain platinum and I’m sure I don’t have to explain the value of that metal for recycling purposes.

Most states that require parts be returned upon request make some exceptions (re-manufactured parts, too), but will usually allow the customer to inspect the parts when that’s not possible.

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Car runs rough in January. Car continues to be driven.

The mechanic tells the OP the car has the wrong spark plugs and replaces them although the car has gone for 2 years on the improper plugs.

OP CONTINUES to operate the car in a poorly running manner until the CEL and Cruise lights come on. Car is STILL being driven on the way back to the mechanic who now says the cat has failed.

Since a cat can be killed in one day due to a condition like this it’s very reasonable to assume that multiple weeks of poor running will do the same thing.

A cut and paste below from Subaru about their warranties…

“These warranties do not cover damage to a covered component directly caused by the failure of a non-covered part, accessory or occurrence of event.”


Uh, the heat shield is part of the cat, dear. It’s riveted and/or spot welded to the cat…it’s sold as one unit. So if the “heat shield looks new,” then the cat is new…unless you actually think they 1) drilled the welds on the OLD heat shield, 2) Tack welded the NEW heat shield on the old cat, and 3) sent you on your way?

But why? this would take FAR longer than just doing the correct repair, and they couldn’t even resell the cat, because of the missing heat shield! (Is it part of some “vast conspiracy” against you?)

And, the cat HAD been worked on recently! So what’s “suspicious” about that?

NOBODY “repairs” cats, dear. There’s nothing inside one to repair, and I’m pretty sure the EPA forbids it. You either replace it, or you fraudulently hollow it out, and “spoof” the ECU. (NO dealer would do the latter, though, due to EPA coming down on them hard.) You have no clue what you’re talking about!


If you live in Calif, suggest to phone up the CA Bureau of Automotive Repair. They may tell you the dealer must replace the defective cat as part of the CA new car emissions warranty. Even if it has already been replaced. I don’t know that to be the case, but it is worth asking. CA doesn’t want cars with defective cats on the road, and require the cats be warranted to work by the manufacturer for a lot of miles, so you got that possibly in your favor.

It’s a tough one from the manufacturer/dealership perspective tho, because as mentioned above, improper maintenance can damage the cat. And very quickly. They’d argue it is unfair to them to be required to replace the cat at their expense, if another shop’s incompetence damaged it. I think you can understand that argument, right?

Re: whether the dealership shop should have done more testing, other than just replace the cat?

Usually there are diagnostic codes stored or the check engine light is on if there’s a problem with something that might damage the cat, like the mixture ratio, or the engine is misfiring. There’s merit to your claim that the shop should check for those codes as part of a cat replacement. I presume they did that, and found no codes. Otherwise they’d have told you about them.

Beyond there isn’t much they could do. A tailpipe emissions test would be expected to fail with the defective cat, and expected to pass with the replacement cat, even if there was some kind of cat-damaging problem with the engine.


A reasonable person can…but I’m NOT optimistic she can1


First, catalytic converters cannot be repaired. I have never heard of anyone taking one apart. They are welded together. Usually when they fail it is because they are clogged. Installing a cat is straight forward - unbolt the old one and bolt in a new one. The O2 sensor is usually the first go to attempt to fix a smog problem if no other issue can be determined. Somewhere in this thread someone mentioned defective spark plugs. I’ve sold thousands upon thousands of spark plugs (Bosch, ND, etc) and never had a legitimate bad one come back. If a spark plug is causing a problem it is because the wrong part number was installed not because it was bad. This said, if you have an emissions problem you should take the car back to the dealer. In California (where I am ) there is a 10 year warranty on emissions. Also, most independent repair shops do not have the knowledge or equipment to fix these issues. Usually they will just keep changing parts until they get it right. Keep taking the car back to the dealer until they get it right.


Hey, Bing! Me, too! What month? I hit that milestone last November (2016). I still have a full head of hair, too.


Ok, I’ll chime in on the bald men thing. I decided to get a hair piece, maybe 20 years ago. I figured what the heck, see what happens. Might meet women I wouldn’t have an opportunity to meet before, you never know, right? At that time I was still a little women-chasing crazy. I was doubtful about whether it would have any effect tho. You know what? It made a huge difference. Both with women, but also with gay men … I had to get rid of it because I was constantly approached by gay men for a date … not that there’s anything wrong with that, just not one my interests is all.

Funny or not? The irony of a man getting a hairpiece to impress the ladies, only to have the problem of being approached by gay men for a date? Come on, that’s a little funny, right? …lol


What’s up with your sense of humour lately? :confused:

Please don’t get too upset, but I think you’ve been crossing the line lately :frowning2: