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Subaru dealer upsells

Preparing to pick up our new Subaru Legacy in a few weeks, and researching the upsell process. They’ll try to sell me extended warranty and prepaid maintenance, neither of which I want.

Is there anything likely to be offered then that I SHOULD consider accepting right away? Not sure what else is going to be on the table, but in general I’m inclined to either say “no” to everything or at least tell them to give me all relevant materials to read at home, including any fine print.

As Nancy Reagan suggested, “just say no” to everything that they are trying to peddle to you.

Read the sales document carefully as they may have added items without telling you. Things like rust protection, paint protection (wax), and other “extra special” add ons may show up. You don’t need any otf them and should refuse to pay for them since you didn’t ask for them. Be prepared to walk out. You should expect to see line items for delivery and possibly for advertising. Those are considered reasonable charges.

+1 to VDCdriver; Just say no.

I’ll add that after taking possession of the car, use the dealer only for warranty work, or work that is heavily discounted for you to return to the dealer for maintenance work. If they offer you free oil changes for a period…great. But dealers like to try to talk you into other work that is not required in the manual.

Avoid any chain type, oil change, transmission, or auto repair shops, and find a good independent mechanic to do the routine work. Read your owners manual and follow the maintenance schedule that they recommend and be sure to keep records of all work done. Keep your receipts!!!

This way, if at some point you need to make a claim you can prove that the recommended work was done as per the owners manual.

Finding a good independent mechanic now can save you a lot of money down the road. If you are a regular at his shop, for oil changes, brakes, tranny fluid and filter changes, etc… he will consider you a regular customer that he wants to keep, and when that time comes for some big dollar job he will give you a little better price than the client that he never sees but when all else fails.


Much appreciate the good advice.

JT, the sales document/contract was written and signed a couple of months ago. We ordered the car from the factory, paid a $500 deposit, and the document shows the price we agreed to, the amount they’re giving for our trade in, and the total we still owe.

I have two lingering fears:

  1. They’ll say, "unless you buy this extended warranty (or whatever) we can’t afford to honor the price we gave you.

  2. They’ll say, “you’ve been driving the trade in too much, so it’s worth less now.” (We have always put about the same mileage on it per month. No big trips.)

These fears are even though the salesman specifically said that the new car would take 2-3 months to come in, and that when we gave him the deposit and signed the contract, the deal was the final deal.

Anyway, maybe these moves are beyond even car dealers’ ethical standards, but we do have that 500 tied up.

If they say #1 tell them they’re violating your agreement. There’s nothing in writing regarding an extended warranty, right? Just say no, or NO!!, if necessary. As for #2, document the miles as of thei offer and as of now to prove no excess miles. Any terms in their offer on that?

Upselling is common with any dealer and part of the game. The only thing I will add is that you do not want the pre-paid maintenance package (not an issue) but one hopes that a rigid maintenance schedule will be carried out by you the owner. Document everything maintenance related in a notebook and save all receipts.

As to reading fine print in the future I hope you’re not referring to fine print on the documents you signed a few months ago…

They signed the contract and they have to honor it. #1 is easy to thwart. As for #2, ask them where in the contract it states a mileage accumulation that voids the contract. You should have a copy of the contract and can read the caveats now.

I don’t see how they can insist you deliver your trade-in to them with the same mileage since they know you are not delivering it until the deal is complete and your new vehicle is delivered. If they try something like that – and your used car is in the same condition as it was with the expected number of add’l miles, that’s a reasonable expectation – you always have the option of refusing delivery and forfeiting your $500. You might be able to get the $500 back in small claims court in that event.

I doubt that will happen though. At least if you play your cards right. What I’d do is constantly remind the staff there at every opportunity that you appreciate their help in this purchase and based upon how you’ve been treated you hope to purchase another car from them, next time you need to buy a new car. And if they still try to upsell you other stuff, don’t get overly offended, that’s them just doing what they are told to do by the dealership manager. Just tell them the cost of the purchase has put your bank account balance so low that if you buy anything else you’ll overdraw the account, so while you are happy to consider their ideas, you’ll have to postpone other purchases for now.

When I purchased my Corolla from a dealership – this was 20 years ago or more – I started with this rhetoric right from the start. I kept repeating to the salesman “Wow! It costs $11,500? This is a major purchase for me. I’m broke after this. I’m not able to afford anything else”. I must have said the same thing 10 times over the course of a couple weeks of negotiations, as the staff there were searching for a car with the options I wanted, which was a manual transmission and no other options. (I did have to agree with one other option, the radio. Ok, I made a compromise! )

Anyway by the time the deal was struck and the paperwork was written up, the salesman said to me “George, we usually ask our customers at this time if they’d like to consider some other purchases like extended warranty, undercoating, paint protection, etc, but I’ve left those off the paperwork because of your earlier comments. Is that ok?” … lol …

To answer some questions:

  1. Nothing in writing about an ext. warranty as part of the negotiated sales price.
  2. Nothing about a mileage limitation on the old car.
  3. Actually, contract looks very boilerplate with nothing added or deleted.
  4. My plan is to follow Subaru’s maintenance schedule precisely, not take extras.
  5. Fine print I referred to is NOT the contract I signed, but anything extra that they try to sell. At least I can say I’ll think about it if I can take home and review all the fine print I’d have to sign. (I’ve noticed that there seems to be nowhere on the Web that the actual extended warranty is available for download. Just brochure.)


Subaru says the car requires synthetic oil and, of course, they urge the use of their own. Would it make sense to buy a bunch of Subaru oil and filters online and have my local mechanic put them in as needed? I’m not physically able to do it myself.

Also, do they try to upsell with accessories at closing? If so, should I bring a printout of the best online dealer prices for those, in case something sounds tempting?

Thanks again for this help. This forum is a halogen headlight in the darkness!

It might indeed make sense to make a bulk purchase of oil and filters at Subaru and ask your shop to use those when you need an oil changes. I think this would be especially true for the filter. The oil, not as much. But if the price is about the same, why not buy it in bulk at the dealership? It is important whatever oil you use – from the dealership or a major brand like Penzoil etc – that it meets Subie specs, and, this is what I think is the most important issue, that you use the same oil (brand/type) for every change.

Seems to me they would have tried to sell you those items & other stuff before you signed a contract - have you not worked out the financing yet? That finance guy is the one that usually pushes the extended warranty. We got some sort of Subaru coupon book for deals on service & parts/accessories. I promptly lost it and never used it = worthless. I hope we didn’t pay anything for it.

It would be unethical and possibly illegal for them to now try to make your contract contingent on anything that was not originally included in the deal, so don’t be shy about asserting that the deal is already done & at this point you are basically just picking up your car.

Remember that you can buy anything they sell as accessories at any time - so don’t buy them under pressure at the last second at the dealership. Personally I love the plastic liner in the back of my Outback wagon, I love my bug deflector on the hood and my floor mats, and I like the look of some of their other accessories. I wouldn’t really want aftermarket versions of those so we bought them when we bought our car. Of course we drove our car off the lot, didn’t wait 2 months. If there are certain items you want, research them in advance for your make/model and know the prices. If they are offering a discount on something you want then make an informed decision, otherwise wait on these items until you’ve educated yourself as to exactly what you want and what is a good price.

Well I am going to go against the grain here and suggest having the regular maintenance done at the dealer. Most dealers are competitive on pricing with the independents for basic maintenance, the dealer will also use the correct oil and filter. It also helps to have the services done at the dealer in case you have a problem outside of warranty. Most manufactures will cover repairs outside of the factory warranty for customers who are regular service customers. Like all shops, there are good and bad dealers.

Where ever you decide to have your work done, don’t use Jiffy Lube type places or shops that have oil changes for $20. These type of places often use the cheapest oils and filters out there. A new car is a significant investment, protect it by using good quality parts and it will last you a long time. Also be aware of shops that recommend flushes and other repairs that are not listed in your owners manual. Newer car fluids can last 100K+ without issues.


They can very well try to step in when the car is delivered and attempt to sell you extras. Your Subaru will be fine as delivered.

Regarding the Subaru maintenance schedule you should pay especially close attention to oil change intervals. Quite often a car needs this service more often than is recommended based on driving habits, environmental conditions, fuel quality, elapsed time, etc, etc.

This would be a severe service schedule and may include other things such as spark plug change intervals, air filters, valve lash inspection and adjustment, etc.

Betcha they don’t talk about valve lash inspection during the sales process… :wink:

Buy nothing extra at closing. That is where the dealer makes much of its profit.

You don’t need to buy anything they try to push, just politely decline and the finance guy will probably have you sign the paper as such (I declined everything the finance guy was pushing, even brought a check for the exact amount to the dealer) You can get accessories that day but there are ways to get those online for a better price. I’ve checked and the oil change price at my dealer is in line with what my independent shop would charge for the same thing.

Actually, I just looked at the Subaru accessories catalog, and I didn’t see anything that really appealed. The gadget lover in me liked the self-dimming mirror with compass, but logically it baffles me. Conditions are either day, with regular mirror in day position, or night, with mirror in night position. I don’t see much value in switching to an undimmed setting at night, as you wouldn’t see much in the dark.

I should have asked: under what guise would they introduce me to the finance guy for upsells?

We are paying cash and buying, not leasing. If they introduce him as the finance guy, I will probably say that he doesn’t really have a role in our transaction.

Well, in our case even though we were paying cash for our VW, the finance guy tried to talk us into financing the car anyway. The finance person seemed like the responsible person when it came to taking your payment and may have a role in doing the license & title transfer paperwork, so you may still have to deal with someone other than your sales rep.

@Powerdogvt the finance guy/gal is the person you will take care of the financial part of the transaction, I paid cash too so this was the quick “no thank you” part of the presentation. The finance person will try to get you to use their financing instead or to buy various warranties and other up-sells that are there to make the dealer more money. The Majority of the process involves your sales rep but you will have to visit the finance dept to hand over the check.