Subaru Maintenance

I have 37,000 miles on my 06 Subaru Outback turbo and need to get the 30,000 mile mainteance done. A dealer is quoting me $650 saying they would reprogram the computer. When I called 2 independent subaru mechanics, they both said they have never heard of doing that. I know that dealers typically charge more than independent mechanics, but now I’m confused about what to do? I don’t want to get taken for a ride by the dealer and to be honest, would rather support the independent mechanic. But I want to make sure I get the right maintenance done to my car. Thoughts? Thanks.

I work for a Subaru dealership and I can assure you that there is no such maintenence on a subaru. There is literally no way to “reprogram” a computer. You can check for fault codes and clear them but that is all. These people are taking you for a ride.

It looks like the dealer is giving you a snow job; the car’s computer is designed to reprogram itself if necessary.

At 35,000 miles a Subaru does not need a great deal other than fluid changes, since it is an AWD. Check your manual. Any good independent mechanic can do this.

Computer reprogramming should not be a part of scheduled maintenance. It’s news to me. One thing that makes it tough at the dealer level is that you the customer have to deal with service writers and service managers. Very, very few of these people know anything about the mechanical workings of a car and generally just BS their way through things in an effort to avoid looking ignorant.

You could inform the dealer that if the computer “needs reprogramming”, then the computer, and the catalyic converters, are covered in the 8 year/80k miles Federal emissions warranty. If they want to reprogram it then that’s on their dime, not yours.

Best bet is to just have the independent do the service. The independents will normally have lower prices on parts and a lower shop labor rate.
(Just a footnote here. A higher labor rate at the dealer does not mean you’re being gouged; it only means that the dealer shop have vastly higher expenses than the independent and higher rates are an absolute necessity.)
Hope that helps. :slight_smile:

While you’re at it, ask the independent mechanic to run and OBD-II code check. He most likely has this equipment. It doesn’t take long and will give you up-to-the-minute heads up on anything that needs to be checked out or the better news that there is nothing wrong with your car. Some Service Managers are paid a low salary with commissions thrown in as part of their compensation. Most don’t know Jack about cars. They’re there to boost the service department’s income and the service manager’s income in turn.

I have a similar car, the 2005 Legacy GT wagon(turbo). The 30k service ran between $350-$400 for the car at the dealer. They even did a few things like replace fluids instead of inspect them as they should have. Anyway that estimate is too high IMHO. Compare what they do to what is suggested in the manual or use the independent.

I only use the dealer mainly since I get free loaners and I have a Chase Subaru Mastercard which kicks back 3% for all purchases towards servicing or new one up to $500/year. So maintenance is essentially free for me. Worth looking at if you like your dealer.

To give your dealer the benefit of the doubt. There is a reflash of the computer that helps with an occasional problem called stuttering in the 2005+ turbo Legacy/Outback. I have never encountered it and many people don’t. The “reprogram” may be just another way of explaining the reflash of updates. If you don’t encounter any issues you should not have this done and especially spend any money on it.

I can echo each of andrew j’s points. I think that the dealership that offered to reprogram your onboard computer is not to be trusted, and I would suggest that you avoid them like the plague.

Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car.  They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies.  They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent. 

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic. 

All maintenance needed is listed by the manufacturer in the owner's manual.

aside from really listening to these responses, i recommend you print this page out, and (if you have either the time OR inclination) take it to the dealership and discuss this with the service manager, not the service writer, but the manager.

see how they present their side of the story. especially replies 1,2,3,5,6.

BUT, don’t have them touch your car except for warranty work.


I just recently got a quote from my subaru dealer for my 2005 OUTBACK wagon. I need my 30K maintenance. They quoted me $972. Change fluids, spark plugs, front and rear end stuff done(?), sorry dont’ have paperwork handy. But what they quoted wasn’t for everything on the 30K list! The service man said that the 2005 is more expensive for maintenance than the 2006 and 2007.
: /
He also said to change the spark plugs is $200.(special subaru plugs) This price sounds iNSANE to me. Any suggestions?

Find a reputable, long-established independent shop and have them perform the services as stated in your owners manual.
Use this for a guide. I think you’ll find there’s not a lot of difference between an '05 and the '06/'07 models.

A grand is a bit much. It’s possible the plugs could hit 200 if they’re iridium plugs and branded with a Subaru logo. Logos always mean a bit extra. Figure in an hour+ flat rate labor and that could be about right.

Bottom line; price this service around. It’s not rocket science and any decent shop can handle it.

The plugs are not due on the posters turbo car as the interval is every 60k miles. It does approach close to $200 at the dealer I believe mostly in Subaru parts prices at least for turbo engine.

Your price quote is insane. I can get guess they were flushing everything.

From the online version of Subaru maintenance schedule:

Vehicle: 2005 LEGACY 2.5 GT WAGON
Interval: 30000 miles / 30 month service

Action Description
Recommended Inspection Fuel systems, lines and connections
Inspect Drive belt(s) [Except camshaft]
Inspect Camshaft drive belt
Replace Engine oil
Replace Engine oil filter
Perform Replace engine coolant and inspect cooling system, hoses and connections
Replace Air cleaner element
Inspect Transmission/Differential (Front & Rear) lubricants (Gear oil)
Inspect Automatic transmission fluid
Replace Brake fluid
Inspect Disc brake pads and discs, front and rear axle boots and axle shaft joint portions
Inspect Brake linings and drums
Perform Inspect brake lines and check operation of parking and service brake system
Inspect Clutch operation
Inspect Steering and suspension
Perform Rotate and Inspect Tires

For $400 on my car they ended up replacing the diff. fluids also but did not rotate/balance tires($70@dealer)

Thanks so much for the advice.
I’ll do my research.

Thanks for all the input regarding my Subaru. This is a great site.