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Subaru Service Sucks - HELP!

I am sorry to title this message this way but:

I have a 2006 Forester with 57,000 miles on it. I purchased is used from the Buick dealership in town. It had 13,000 miles back then. I registered it with “My Subaru” when I first got it. 2-1/2 weeks ago it started running very roughly and the check engine light came on. The next day I took it in to the dealership. It has been all down hill from there. First it was a stuck fuel injector, $400. Okay I said; then a call stating that for some reason that cylinder was only showing 1/2 normal compression. To investigate will be another $300 plus whatever they find. Okay I said (what else could I do?) They then called back and said the valve was corroded and had stuck open, probably due to cheap gas. It would be $1400 for a repair; but this would include the $300 look-see fee. Then I asked: Hey, isn’t the drive train still under warranty? I got an 800 for Subaru National Service and have been waiting for them to determine what will be done. After 2 weeks, the case was moved to the “elevated” status and a new person was in charge. Four phone calls made today and not one returned call. I stopped talking to the dealership because they were lying or not aware most of the time. HELP. Is there anyone out there at Subaru that cares about a loyal customer/fan? Sheesh… Can anyone offer some direction to be taken other than: Pay the $1400 and be glad? I am starting to reach that point.

Thanks for your time.

The odds of the problem being a corroded valve and/or bad gas is about zero. The stuck injector was also likely a bad, and incorrect, guess.

I’m inclined to think there’s a valve lash problem. What should be done is that the lash should be inspected and adjusted as necessary followed by rechecking the compression.

Sounds like you are covered by the 5yr/60,000 warranty possibly. If yes then you are not responsible for paying repair. Subaru can also goodwill the repair.

The dealership typically can check if vehicle is under warranty so not sure what is happening.

Is there an actual Subaru dealer or competent mechanic that knows Subarus that you can take it to? If there’s no warranty on the vehicle, you can take it to anyone. If there is warranty left, take it to a Subaru dealer.

The car it AT the dealership and I’m trying to get Subaru to honor the 5 year 60,000 mile drive train warranty.

Subaru is pretty good about honoring their warranty. It seems like their is a dealer problem in your case.

Your fine on 60k however the 5years is from date of registration of first car owner. So if first owner took possession before April 2006 you have to go into goodwill from Subaru.

It would be interesting to hear a bit more detail behind this problem about how a corroded valve was determined to be the problem, how this alleged bad gas had anything to do with it, whether the engine has been partially diassembled, exactly what are they doing for 1400 dollars, the definition of corrosion, etc, etc.

Valve lash is still my suspect but the point could be made that if a fuel injector was stuck (wide open only) the cylinder wall could be washed down with raw gasoline and compression would drop.

Depending on the exact cause of this problem it’s conceivable that it’s not a warranty issue at all.

Are we saying a stuck fuel injector that washed the cylinder wall down with raw gasoline that causes a problem is not covered by the warranty? Where does the 1/2 compression come in? The service folks started with a stuck fuel injector as the reason for the original malady, replaced it, and then noted the 1/2 compression in that cylinder. Then they took the head off.

Sounds like you found the worst Subaru Dealer near you.
Or at least, the worst Subaru Service Department near you.

As for Loyal Customer, that title gets handed out to an owner than buys new, typically.
Subaru’s bottom line is only helped by people who buy their cars new. Used car money doesn’t get put in Subaru’s pockets, so they technically have much less incentive to help an owner of a used Subaru.

How often did you service your car, what all have you had serviced on it since you have owned it, and what gas did you use that they are calling cheap?


Washed down cylinder walls can lower the compression. This could have been verified (before the head was removed) by squirting a small amount of oil into the affected cylinder and retesting the compression.
Compression goes up, rings washed down. Compression does not go up, valve open slightly and/or damaged valve face/seat.

Technically, if the injector was screwed up by the type gasoline or something in the gasoline then warranty would not pay for it. I’m having a near impossible time seeing something like this to be the case.

With the cylinder head off and assuming a valve is stuck slightly open (it only takes a few thousandths of an inch) this would more than likely be due to tight valve lash and that’s adjustable without removing the head.

There are a few other reasons why a valve may not closing all of the way but the details are unknown to me.
Very heavy deposits behind the head of the valve which is then causing the valve to be unable to close when those deposits hit the valve guide or an overly tight valve stem to valve guide fit which caused the valve to seize in the guide are a couple. At 57k miles these 2 possibilities are very remote at best.

Please understand that I’m theorizing here as the minutae are not known to me and I have no way of performing a visual look-see on this thing.
The guy who pulled the head should be able to point out to you in a minute what is causing that problem if he’s half competent.

The reason I mention valve lash is that thelash SHOULD be inspected/adjusted every 30k miles. However, the factory makes an idiotic recommendation of 100k miles plus and many Subaru techs go along with that ill-advised recommendation. Subaru is also not the only car maker guilty of this.

Valve lash inspection is a customer pay maintenance item but if Subaru wants to claim this
is not a necessary function for X miles then they should stand behind the repair cost if something goes wrong. Whether they do or not is another story altogether because I’ve had countless dealings with Subaru corporate (SOA) and I don’t trust them any further than I can throw the building with all of the employees, furniture, and office supplies still tucked away inside of it.

Buy the time this is over, you could have purchased a decent running Toyota or Ford for less money than it will cost you to repair the POS engine in your Subaru…

Had the oil changed every 3000 miles, took it into a 30 year old service shop in town that works on foreign cars at 22,500 and 45,000 for recommended maintenance. At the 45,000 maintenance some sort of fuel injector cleaning was performed and then a treatment added to the gas as I noticed the car was hesitating when first starting from a stopped position. This cleaning solved the problem. Gas = Speedway; Marathon, Sunoco, Citgo.

Yeah, I hear what you are saying about not being a new car buyer; but I was one hell of a fan of Subarus until 2-1/2 weeks ago. My brother in-law is leasing a Legacy in part due to my ramblings.

I just wish their service folks would at least have the politeness to return calls.

Hey, it was just $1447.47 Ouch. Subaru would do nothing to help. Okay, pay this and hope the car holds together for 10 more months until I am done paying it off and then get a Ford Escape maybe? Sheeshh and I still stand by this thread’s title:


Just my personal opinion, but I think that you’ve been yanked around to some extent with this problem. Fraud? Not likely. Incompetence or lack of clear thinking? More likely.

For what it’s worth I’m an ex-Subaru dealer Master Tech and shop foreman. If you think you’ve been dissed by Subaru corporate it pales in comparison to what they’ve run me through in the past and I could write a small book about some of those experiences.
As shop foreman I’ve also been in the middle of several customer/SOA interactions and went to bat for customers who legitimately deserved some help. Did SOA care? Not for a second.

The only customer I can ever remember SOA stepping up for was the one stereotypical person on the planet who not only deserved no help but should have been run out the front door by the goon squad. To this day it just stuns me that SOA defended this guy although in the long run that guy was left holding the bag.

Okay, here is what I read on my copy of the service work:

  1. Customer states the check engine light is on and vehicle is idling rough
    Performed inspection and found cyclinder # 1 injector sticking open and causing cylinder to flood with fuel - replaced #1 injector and still had problems with cylinder #1 - ran compression test and cylinder #1 had very low compression - removed cylinder head for further inspection - found excessive carbon build up on #1 valve not allowing valve to seat - sublet cylinder head to machine shop for repair - Machine inspection found carbon build up on the valve and it pulled the valve seat due to the carbon - replaced valve and seat on #1 cylinder - cleaned and tested all other valves - reinstall cylinder head and gaskets - filled fluids and performed induction service to try and clean up carbon from other head - test drove vehicle to verify concern

The above took 2-1/2 weeks to accomplish.

A couple of questions:

1 This isn’t covered under the drive train warranty because of the carbon build up which is beyond anyone’s control? If the valve stem had just bent or something THEN the warranty would apply?

2 Should I plan on having this induction service done just as a normal course of service events every 12,000 miles or something? Is there anything else to do to minimize this carbon build up?

I really dislike the corporate Subaru Nation now. I also really dislike the local Subaru service center in this town. BUT dang if it didn’t feel good to get behind the wheel and drive that Forester again! :sunglasses: 8-( :sunglasses: 8-( :sunglasses:

When does your drivetrain warranty expire?

Some of this sounds very unusual to say the least and I’m having a difficult (impossible) time seeing a problem like this on a 57k miles Subaru.

They’re claiming bad gas, carbon build-up, etc. and if one assumed for the sake of argument that was really the case then why did it pick on one valve? By all rights bad gas should have gotten all of the intake valves and carbon build-up would have gotten every single valve or all of the exhaust valves. Seeing something like this would be a first for me and at this point I’m not buying it.

My theory? I think the valve lash was tight and a valve was being held open a few thousandths of an inch. This will lower the compression and cause rich running. Rich running in turn can cause excessive carbon (think of it as chimney soot) and this makes any valve face/valve seat problem even worse.
These guys removed a cylinder head and had to send it out to a machine shop for an answer?
This Subaru dealer mechanic is not aware of the Subaru service tool in the arsenal that is specifically used for removing valves from Subaru cylinder heads?

I would also point out that on a Subaru one never replaces one head gasket. Both are changed at the same time and I would also hope (coin flip it sounds like) that whoever pulled the cylinder head checked it for flatness. An auto machine shop may or may not have depending on what they were told by the dealer.

Regarding question No. 1 I can’t really answer that one because the carbon build-up thing is very fuzzy to me. My humble opinion is that if the factory warranty is in effect then the service manager should have intervened with SOA and tried to coax it through. The SM may not be successful but the problem is justifiable and some kind of effort should be made anyway.
Regarding question No. 2 you should not have to have an induction service performed except maybe at 40-50k miles intervals and even that is a hazy maybe. If the engine runs fine, idles smooth, no codes, etc. then I would not worry too much about it.

Something stinks a bit on this deal but I can’t say with any certainty what it is.
This is a problem in which a hands-on look would be very fascinating to say the least although it’s water under the bridge now.

Thank you for that information.
here’s my opinion on what you should do:

Thank the Service Manager for the detailed analysis of the fault of the engine, and request that he refunds the money for the fuel injector replacement, since that was not the cause of the poor engine running.

Then contact SOA, and request the refund of the valve seat under the Powertrain Warranty due to the valve seat becoming damaged. This 100% qualifies.

If SOA refuses to refund your money for the valve seat replacement, take them to small claims court, bringing your work order statement as evidence, and that will be your shop’s official testimony to go against anything SOA can possibly say.

You will get your money that way.


I’m not buying bad gas as the root cause. You used various gas brands. How long was the car used with the CEL on and the rough idle and running? A few hours, or a few weeks? If only a few hours then I don’t see a stuck open injector causing the valve damage in such a short time.

I think you had a preexisting valve problem in that one valve in that one head. Removal of the other head should show either similar damage or confirm that the repaired head and valve was defective. I think you can file a claim with Subaru for reimbursement of the repair bill, IF you are willing to let someone take the motor apart and document with photos and take it all to court if they deny it.

Bad gas would not isolate on one valve in one head. Most likely the original valve seat was defective, the valve was defective, or the valve was out of adjustment.

If you drive few miles per year and mostly around town. Get the car out on the open road every month or so and use the shifter to get the rev’s up to the 4,000 to 5,000 range for a bit. This the “blowing the carbon out” excuse I tell myself to justify some fun driving. In fact, I do think it helps to get all that air and gasses moving through the motor quickly to clean things out a bit.