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A Subaru Experience Summary – CLINGING TO LIFE


A Subaru Experience Summary – CLINGING TO LIFE

A Subaru Experience Summary


I have replaced the engine on my 2011 Subaru, something I believe Subaru should have done – under warranty – years ago. Subaru knew there was a problem with many of their engines, but insisted that my engine serial number was not included in their ‘recall and replace’ list. We went back and forth on this issue and complaint for several years, while my engine oil consumption increased precipitously – to one quart every 500 miles. The engine began overheating regularly, and finally gave out. Genuine Subaru Parts at their finest, with maintenance performed at authorized Subaru dealerships, wasn’t sufficient to prevent that failure. 

After it finally quit this past summer, I e-mailed a letter to a Subaru media rep. That’s easy for me to do, as I write about cars, trucks, SUVs and motorcycles. (And good luck if you don’t have that connection…) 

My letter was immediately forwarded to the executive staff, where I was politely informed (in a phone call) that Subaru has no responsibility for their vehicles beyond 100,000 miles, and that my engine serial number didn’t qualify for a replacement. Subaru forgets that it was consuming oil like a drunken sailor for years prior to its demise. 

I was thanked by Subaru for buying a Subaru, and given a $1000 certificate toward the purchase of a new (previously untitled) Subaru within one year. And I didn’t exactly rule out buying a new Subaru. 

After all, I have tremendous loyalty to my 2011 Subaru Outback. Apparently, I have more loyalty to my Subaru than Subaru has. I just wanted a replacement engine since mine only had 170,000 miles when it quit running. The replacement – I told Subaru – didn’t have to be brand new; a used engine would be just fine.   

To Subaru: If you paid as much attention to your customers as you do to your advertising campaign supporting pets, you might find that you have more loyal customers. (FYI: I have a dog and he rides in the Outback everywhere.) But I’d rather support my dog and you support my Subaru. 

Finding a used Subaru Outback with a manual transmission has become nearly impossible, and definitely impossible to find a new one. Subaru just doesn’t build many manual transmissions any longer.  But engines? They still build engines! 

Note: Subaru CVT automatic transmissions have variously been described by reviewers as ‘Boring’, ‘Soulless’ and ‘Dreary’. So, I suppose there is some redeeming virtue in the fact that a car company inspires multiple English adjectives to address the same design failures. 

Here! Here! As the English are fond of saying.  Here, here, indeed.  

So, I found a few used engines out there and with the help of an excellent independent shop, selected one and had it installed – for an all-in cost of $6,600. With that I acquired a set of digital gauges that would at least warn you ahead of time when your engine was about to fail. 

Subaru: It’s not necessary to have a fuel gauge, a separate gauge that tells me when I’m using more fuel (accelerating) or less fuel (decelerating), as well as a third gauge that toggles off and on to tell me what my current average fuel economy is every moment of the drive. Especially when that fuel economy hovers around 20 mpg…at best. What is helpful is a coolant temperature GAUGE and an oil pressure/temperature GAUGE in lieu of a couple idiot lights. Because an actual gauge beats the ‘fait accompli’ of the so-called idiot light, each and every time. And Subaru: There’s even a place to put those gauges since I (and probably everyone else) really only need to have a fuel gauge. When my fuel gauge gets low, I fill up. 

Call me old-fashioned, but I have yet to hear of a fuel gauge failure with catastrophic results. Oil and coolant gauges, on the other hand, have prevented many a catastrophic failure.  

Getting a new customer is expensive. Keeping a customer? Priceless. 

Alan Pease is our Central Texas correspondent. He covers state and local government, as well as racing events at the Circuit of the Americas. His articles have appeared in Autoweek, and Automotive News. Prior to joining our staff, Alan produced automotive and motorcycle press introductions for BMW, MINI, Aston Martin, Jaguar and GM. Alan lives in Austin; you can reach him at

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