The 15K Question - 2010 Subaru Forester

Greetings, all. I’m nearing the half way point on a 36 mo./36K mile-allowance lease for a 2010 Subaru Forester 2.5X (standard edition). Up until now, I have followed my Subaru dealer’s maintenance schedule (3.75K, 7.5K, and 10.75K). Each of those first three visits went well, and there were no gimmicks. Total cost for all three visits was under $150.00. I’m now about 1K miles away from the 15K maintenance mark, which is on both the dealer’s and the manufacturer’s maintenance schedules. My dealer just informed me that their 15K mile service package includes a “highly recommended” full battery of system flushes and inspections–all in addition to the standard oil/filter change and tire rotation. They estimated a total cost for this 15K service package is $400.00. Unfortunately, I predict I’ll hit 15K smack in the middle of the Holiday season, and it’s never easy to part with $400, but that’s an especially tough time to find extra money lying around. At, the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance procedures for 15K are identical to those specified for what was done at 10.5K. Although my dealer’s service dept. said in their 15K notice that all the extra flushes, inspections, etc. were “as recommended in your owner’s manual”, I couldn’t find any such reference to them.

Please help! Should I…
(1) opt out of these additional procedures when it comes time and ask my dealer’s service dept. to perform ONLY those service points called out by the manufacturer at

(2) just spend the $400 to ensure maximum return value for my vehicle, since this is the same dealer I’ll return it to at the end of my lease?

(3) call the manager of the dealer’s service department and ask for more info, or whether this larger 15K package is truly a necessity for my Subaru to survive between now and 36K?

Any insight or recommendation you can make is most appreciated! Thanks very much, gcdc.

Absolutely no reason to do all this stuff at 15k. I follow my Forester’s manual (not the 'dealer maintenance schedule). The first big service is at 30k, to which I added a transmission fluid change. Nothing needs to be added to the 15k owners manual service. They are just trying to ‘flush’ your wallet.

The return on lease car typically has nothing to do with the maintenance performed. It is mainly on condition. Read the terms.

Forgot the flushes. Why should the next owner get the benefit of extra zealous maintenance that mostly lines the dealer pockets.

The jist of what you need to do is change the oil and rotate the tires. There are a few inspections. You can ask the dealer to do what is in owners/maintenance manual and see what transpires. If not find an independent shop.

I would pull out the owner’s manual and tell them to point out where it says that x service is recommend by Subaru.

Thanks texases, I could feel the stress falling off my shoulders as I read your reply. It sure did seem like a whole lot of work to be done (and wallet to be flushed!) only 15K miles out of the “new car” gate.

Your car would survive fine to 36k with regular oil changes and maybe a new air filter. Doing anything above what is required in your lease is a waste of money.

The dealership is definitely trying to take advantage of you, and sell you stuff you don’t need. At this point I would not trust them to be honest in the future – if they want to sell you a $400 boat payment when you need a $30 oil change, how can you trust them when they tell you you need an $1000 engine repair. Unfaithful in small things, unfaithful in big things.

If you intend to return the car at the end of the lease, I would only do the minimum service required in the lease contract.

I would also call the owner or general manage (not the service manager) and let them know that you will not be leasing or buying from them again, nor will you use their service department for any non-warranty work. Should you decide to lease or buy another Subaru, you will use a different dealership.

Hey all, thanks for the helpful feedback.

I’ve reviewed the terms of my lease, which specify that I am to maintain the vehicle according to the recommendations for maintenance in the owner’s manual, as well as attending to any other “maintenance required to keep the vehicle in good working order.” Doesn’t sound like any of the extras the dealer’s proposing for 15K service are required to keep the car in such order.

Do what’s required by the contract/owners manual and nothing more unless you’re thinking about buying the car at the end of the lease and want to know everything is in tip top condition.

Why do you take your car to the dealer for service? Just curious. An independent mechanic can perform the usual maintenance required, and as long as it is documented, you should not have any issues. Independent mechanics do not (as a rule) try to sell you stuff you don’t need.

I’m in agreement with everyone else that you do not need whatever flushes it is that they’re trying to sell you.
A 2010 model with 15k miles does not need anything flushed. After 30 or 40k miles and 3 or 4 years then some of that could be true but not at this point.

Even a severe service interval, which applies to almost every car out there, would not be applicable in this case.

The only things I could even possibly see as needing to be replaced at 15k miles would be the air and fuel filters and even that is a maybe. Much could depend on the locale (dust in the air, etc) or the possibility of one tank of contaminated gasoline.

The term “Flush Kings” could be applied to this dealer although the point could be made that these services may be recommended by a service writer for one of several reasons.

  1. The service writer is being prodded behind the scenes to push this stuff.
  2. The service writer (few are mechanically competent) may honestly believe your car would benefit from these services.
    No matter the reason, your car does not need anything flushed at this point and with a 3 year/36k miles lease I wouldn’t worry about flushing anything. Turn the car in at the end of the lease and don’t worry about flushes.

@oldoutbackowner, I take it to the dealer because I’m a first time car leasee, and up until now I’ve had no reason to distrust the service department at my dealership. I suppose I also assumed that somehow having the dealership perform the service, there could be no dispute at the conclusion of the lease as to whether I’d honored the agreement to keep the car in the best shape possible from a maintenance standpoint. Based upon many of the helpful comments here, I guess I’ll have to rethink whether I want to keep going to my dealer for the remaining half of my lease.

Before making any assumptions you may want to read your lease carefully and see if it requires that you just DO the maintenance (which would require a completed shop order to prove) or that it needs to be done by the dealer. I confess to being unaware of the requirements of a typical lease, never having done so myself, but it’s a thought to consider.

And the dealer is doing what many dealers and chain repair shops do - trying to ‘upsell’ you on unneeded services. You can either insist on only the needed work, or find another mechanic, but they may do the same thing.

Hey all, well I’ve just scheduled my 15K mile service appointment with the dealer for Friday 10/21/11. On the phone, I explained that I wanted only those services which are specified as “manufacturer recommended” for the 15K mile mark at Subaru of America’s website (change of oil and oil filter, complete inspection of breaking system to include pads, discs, boots, emergency break, and lights, clutch and steering inspection, and tire inspection and rotation). The service department rep at my dealer said in addition to those services, they change the cabin air and engine intake filters, and change the transmission fluid for a total cost of 389.00. I asked the service rep, “Do I need all of those additional things?” And he scoffed and said, “Well, I can’t tell you whether you need them or not, sir, I can only tell them what we recommend.” I think that means, no, i don’t need those additional services. I’m going to print out the manufacturer recommended service roster for 15K, take it in on the 21st, and ask them to perform only those functions.

The transmission fluid does not need to be changed at 15k miles. It’s also highly unlikely the cabin air filter is dirty enough to worry about.

Regarding the engine air filter I will say that it’s at least a distinct possibility that may need replacement as those can easily become clogged, or partially clogged, in 15k miles. This is especially true if you live in a dusty environment, farmland area, or one where a lot of airborne contaminants from plants are present.

As to the service rep (a.k.a. service writer or service advisor) I recommend that you NEVER give any credibility to anything they say. There are a few mechanically astute ones but the vast majority cannot even perform a service like this on their own car.
Job One for them is to talk and sell service work. Selling service work is not inherently an evil thing as long as it’s legitimate.

15k is really early for a transmission fluid change.
Normally, this service should be done every 3 yrs/30k miles in order to prevent trans problems later.

If you are planning on buying the vehicle at the end of the lease, then I would advise you to change the trans fluid at the interval noted above. If you don’t plan to buy it at the end of the lease, then I would skip all trans fluid changes while you are leasing it. In any event, it is way too early to be changing trans fluid on a 2010 vehicle with 15k on the odometer.

However, it is very possible that your engine air filter is ready for changing at this point. Only doing a visual examination will tell you whether it is ready for changing now. This service is required at the 30k service.

The cabin air filter is probably ready for changing, as pollen, insects, and road dust can really clog this type of filter. I change mine every 15k miles, in order to reduce my allergic symptoms. Additionally, if the cabin air filter is clogged, it can impede HVAC air flow, and you can wind up with a fogged windshield in the winter months. That can be a safety issue.

However, it is really easy to change this filter yourself. In most cars (and I believe that this includes yours), you simply release the glove compartment door from its “pins”, and allow it to drop down. That will reveal the cabin air filter so that you can change it. I believe that your Owner’s Manual likely has schematics to help you change the cabin air filter, as well as the engine air filter.

I suspect the dealer service rep is following the “severe” service schedule which isn’t required unless you use the car for towing, you live and drive on a lot of dirt roads, or use the vehicle for “police” activity.

Whether the cabin and engine air filters need to be changed or not depend on where you live. It’s OK to inspect them, but I would not let them replace them unless they show them to you and they are dirty. I bet they don’t have time to show them to you and change them immediately unless you wait while the services are performed. As VDCdriver said, the cabin air filter is easy to change. The engine air filter is a bit harder, but it has not been difficult on any of my cars. But I don’t own a Subaru.