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Old 12-19-2001, 01:16 PM   #1
Conduit
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Default SOA Transmission Memo!!!

These are the facts, I cannot change them *unfortunately*:
1. I dropped my car off at the dealership today and was chatting with one of the tech guys about a used WRX that was on the lot. He mentioned an SOA memo that they had just received regarding transmission repair, and proceeded to tell me about it.
2. After my jaw dropped open, I asked to see the memo, which he showed me and I read. I also asked for a copy of it, but after he checked with the manager, I was told that I could not have a copy of it (I talk alot about the I-Club there, and I suspect they don't want it posted, frankly).
3. Here are the details that disturb me most. Please remember, I am trying to quote this from memory, so:
A. It should be assumed that vehicles with damaged 1st or 2nd gear have suffered this error due to driver negligence.
B. A repair should not be warrantied if any modifications to the powertrain/driveline, including non-OEM wheels or suspension modifications, have been made. The suspension and wheel selections have been made by SOA to protect the driveline.
C. Many symptoms are indicative of customer abuse, including a shuddering clutch when cold .

I do not remember the name of the person who signed and sent the memo. I also believe that he got into trouble for showing it to me to begin with, because he looked like he had intestinal cramps after returning.

This tells me one thing. The dealership may warranty your stuff, but you better be prepared if they won't. It looks like SOA has had their fill with these claims, and is readying themselves against future problems.
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Old 12-19-2001, 02:01 PM   #2
jackwrx
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Default

So why is it that I've been driving a stick shift car for 14 years now and I haven't ever had a shuddering clutch or broken synchros until this one? It's not the driver; it's a weak link in an otherwise amazing vehicle for the money. Sorry Subaru, but if this is the way a customer with a stock car that likes to drive aggressively on occasion is going to be treated I'm going to make the switch to back to another brand.
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Old 12-19-2001, 03:00 PM   #3
tt_ttf
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This sounds like they know they have a major issue and are trying to cover their butts any way they can. Gearbox warranty work is not cheap and not a lot of many dealerships have the quality of knowledge to do a good job of it.

I have a low mileage first batch WRX, never launched and now that the weather is getting colder, I am getting the same cold start shudders that my MY98 WRX got. It was supposedly the result of the material change they made - needed a little heat to be smooth. Same thing here, as the car warms up the problem goes away.

That note is making a very large assumption regarding the problem and I would like to see what the replacement parts laws would say about trying to extend that to wheels for example. Given that the car is sold STOCK with larger wheels overseas, it would be interesting to see that arguement holding up. Also given the Prodrive kits that significantly raise power levels are covered by warranty, the arguement is even more suspect

The MY94 WRX's in Australia had a problem with first and second gear syncro's and had a history of clutch problems. I noticed both were starting to happen when I sold the car and got my MY98 WRX. That model year had significant changes to the clutch and gear box (both were a LOT more solid)

My USDM does not have the smoothest first gear change I have ever had in a WRX but that was also an issue with the MY98 in that it needed to wear in as a result of the changes they made (hard to shift into 1st until approx 10,000kms).

Real question is did they change something in the MY00 to MY01 year with the gearbox and is the UK and Australia having any issues. Do we have something else in our gear boxes compared to overseas?
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Old 12-19-2001, 03:09 PM   #4
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The whole issue about Non-OEM wheels sounds bit suspect to me. What happens if you shell out the 3 Grand for the BBS Rims? is your transmission not covered?

I have Prodrive P7's that were specifically designed for my car and I have the cold clutch shudder, does that mean I'm screwed?

I don't like the sound of this
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Old 12-19-2001, 03:31 PM   #5
shippy1
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Default This sucks

I wish you could have actually got a copy of that memo. It sounds like a cover up. I have the clutch shudder too, and I have been driving a stick for 11 years. I rarely abuse the clutch on a quick start and when I drive normally I always start without revving above 1k rpm. So after 11,000 miles I would consider my clutch almost pampered so just because it shudders it must mean my car has been abused? That is a bunch of crap.
At this time I have no desire to take my car in because I hate dealing with service dept's no matter where I go or what kind of car it is. At this time I am just going to live with the shudder and hell I don't want to take it in if my car is going to tagged as being abused.
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Old 12-19-2001, 03:44 PM   #6
Bradus
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Well I've written to Subaru of America this afternoon to ask their opinion about this.

My car does not suffer from any problems, transmission or otherwise, after 4 months and 6500 miles. That having been said, I am as concerned as people with a car WITH transmission problems in that if I mod my car in anyway, I run the risk of voiding warranty coverage for that part of the car.

I'm all for them covering themselves against truly abusive drivers but based on their TV advertisements and SCCA membership, I would expect the car to cope fine with occasional spirited driving on the street.

I'll post back here if I get a response.

David
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Old 12-19-2001, 04:09 PM   #7
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I noticed the clutch shudder after the first 1000 miles. Given that I babied the car (followed the no greater than 4k rpm limit for the 1st 1000 miles per the manual's break-in instructions) and have never raced or launched the car to date, I think Subaru has a real problem here. My car has 7800 miles on it and shouldn't be doing this in my opinion.
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Old 12-19-2001, 11:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
B. A repair should not be warrantied if any modifications to the powertrain/driveline, including non-OEM wheels or suspension modifications, have been made. The suspension and wheel selections have been made by SOA to protect the driveline.
The onus is on them to prove that with any given claim.

Quote:
C. Many symptoms are indicative of customer abuse, including a shuddering clutch when cold .
Well, given their history of clutch problems when cold, and the warranty repair on my MY99, this is just plain BS.

Glenn
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Old 12-19-2001, 11:53 PM   #9
Evaider
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This is my third stick car. In previous cars I have never had any shutter or had any clutch problems. Only problem I EVER had with a stick is the bolt that holds the shifter to the tranny fell off, YAY how exciting cost like $10 to fix. When I got my WRX I was really nice to it didnt ride the clutch any or grind any gears. At about 1000 miles or so it ground into first gear at a complete stop with the clutch to the floor.

It now continues to do this every once in a while. Also it will grind second gear on ocassion with the clutch all the way to the floor. I know for a fact that the clutch is all the way down because of my height and long legs, with the clutch to the floor my knee is still bent a little which given this situation it would be rather difficult and uncomfertable NOT to put the clutch to the floor when shifting.

I am afraid to take this to the dealer because of all the crap I have heard like that listed above. I think I might just spend $1200 for a nice new clutch and flywheel before the one I have breaks or before it screwes up my tranny. And maybe if I can find some good aftermarket synchros I might just replace them too. Probably be easier that dealing with SOA. =(
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Old 12-20-2001, 12:10 AM   #10
gary501
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anyone try contacting SOA on this?
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Old 12-20-2001, 10:57 AM   #11
Bradus
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Default Reply from Subaru - LONG

I contacted SoA yesterday and received a response late last night.

First, here is what I wrote to Subaru:

Hello,
I own a 2002 WRX and am still thrilled with it 4-months and 6500 miles later (I bought it in late August).

My question concerns the transmission on the WRX. I am a member of i-Club and have been reading - in amazement frankly - about a number of people who claim to have problems getting into 1st gear, and some who even report damage occuring from regular street driving. Thankfully, my car exhibits none of these problems.

Now, news of a Subaru memo was recently posted on i-Club where someone claims, and I quote:
"A. It should be assumed that vehicles with damaged 1st or 2nd gear have suffered this error due to driver negligence.
B. A repair should not be warrantied if any modifications to the
powertrain/driveline, including non-OEM wheels or suspension
modifications, have been made. The suspension and wheel selections have been made by SOA to protect the driveline.
C. Many symptoms are indicative of customer abuse, including a shuddering clutch when cold.
"

This person claims to have seen a Subaru memo at the service department of a local New England dealer.

Now, my car, as has already been said, is running perfectly and I have no complaints. I have been driving manual transmission cars for nearly 20-years and while the shift on my WRX is not among the smoothest in my experience, it is okay.

I am concerned though that should my car exhibit any clutch shudder (whatever that is) or problems with 1st and/or 2nd gear, I am not going to be covered under warranty. I fail to see that so many people with clutch problems can be bad drivers. Getting into first or reverese on VERY COLD mornings is sometimes stiff and I have to resort to double clutching to engage gear. Thereafter, everything is fine.

Furthermore, while I did not purchase the 17' BBS wheels and tires, I was looking to buy some 17' wheels later in 2002. According to the memo quoted above, if I purchase any aftermarket wheels, I run the risk of being denyed warranty coverage. Do you have a list of approved wheels and
tire packages?

Will you please respond to these points? My car is 100% stock at present and I am bothered by reports (perhaps rumors, who knows) that Subaru is going to deny warranty coverage based on certain modifications.

Thank you in advance for your reply.

David Bradburn


And here is the response I received last night:

Dear Mr. Bradburn:

Thank you for your message. Your feedback and comments are very important to us. All Subaru vehicles go through a thorough quality check. We also pull some vehicles off an allocation and put them through a secondary check.

As a company, we carefully monitor warranty claims and quality survey comments to watch for any trends or concerns that can lead to customer dissatisfaction. Because of the number of various web sites out there, we cannot monitor the activity in them or report on anything we may see there. The process we have established works well for us and in turn, it is helpful to our customers.

Please remember that Subaru is a small company. While the information presented at the i-club is helpful, our needs are a bit more specific than what is supplied there. For example, we would need to track vehicle identification numbers (for production dates, etc.). An open posting forum is not the best place for a customer to keep this information in the interest of safety and privacy.

So far, we have not spotted any particular trends with the WRX. Subaru is very committed to customer satisfaction. Since the vehicle has only recently been released, we do not have a lot of data. As you probably know, we take a very proactive position if we become aware of a concern via our tracking methods.

Should you have a specific problem with your own WRX, you may want to call our Customer/Dealer Services Department at 1-800-782-2783 for a one-on-one discussion and resolution.

The only wheels and tires that we recommend for the '02 WRX models are:

16 x 6.5 JJ wheels with 205/55 R16 89V tires OR
17 x 7 JJ wheels with 215/45 R17 tires.

We do not recommend any other size wheels or tires. Using other sized wheels or tires would NOT affect your warranty, but any problems caused would not be covered by your warranty. And yes, most likely problems would occur if you changed tire and/or wheel size.

Thank you for the opportunity to be of assistance. Happy Holidays!!

John J. Mergen
Subaru of America, Inc.


I'll give Subaru 10 out of 10 for responding so quickly.

Cheers!
David
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Old 12-20-2001, 11:30 AM   #12
The Enemy
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I'm not sure if this is applicable, but in a hydralic clutch you do have to pump the clutch a couple times when it's cold to be able to put the car in reverse. It's something I've noticed on my WRX and it doesn't have 1000 miles on it. But I have an older Toyota truck and in order to put it in reverse I have to pump the clutch a couple times then it slides right in.
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Old 12-20-2001, 11:54 AM   #13
tt_ttf
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A couple of things

"Since the vehicle has only recently been released, we do not have a lot of data."

In the US maybe but really not true - the WRX has been available in one form or another since 1993 and in the current body since late 99. Climate wise they have Europe and Australia for baseline data so they have been through extremes. I know for a fact that some of the issues have been en****ered before overseas.

"And yes, most likely problems would occur if you changed tire and/or wheel size"

Big assumption that a wheel change will cause a problem. How about those people who are using true subaru designed wheels such as prodrive and others with the same offset. Or maybe they just want to sell you their very over priced 17" wheels.

The last thing is that is not the first time someone has posted that they were shown this memo and the SOA response very noticably said nothing about wheather it was true or not


I would be more interested to hear from anyone who has tried to get this fixed and been denied or someone with a stcok WRX who has had a gearbox and/or clutch replacement.

I understand there has been several of both and that there is a new WRX clutch kit around
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Old 12-20-2001, 12:55 PM   #14
mturmel
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Thumbs up My dealer will fix it...

Hi,
Since I'm the first WRX owner at our dealership over here, they really listen whenever I have a problem. I even met with the Eastern Canada Subaru rep because he was looking for my comments on the WRX...

Anyway, they'll fix my clutch/flywheel next time I book an appointment. Personnaly, I will change the clutch/flywheel to aftermarket (actually from a WRX STi Type RA...) since the clutch is a "wearable" item not usually covered under warranty unless it's a manufacturing defect, in our case it seems to be a tolerance issue on the pressure plate... Don't want to do this again!

Get this opportunity to get a lightened flywheel/ better clutch installed...

Matt
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Old 12-20-2001, 01:58 PM   #15
bbrewer
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Sounds like Subaru isn't quite sure they want to be in the performance market.
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Old 12-20-2001, 06:14 PM   #16
Hondaslayer
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Gee I have'nt seen this in tech t.i.p.s yet ( Technical information pertaining to subaru's) So I'm skeptical
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Old 12-21-2001, 07:56 AM   #17
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Nice response from Subaru.
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Old 12-21-2001, 09:34 AM   #18
rlarose
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Boy, I hope mine is covered. Backing out of my cold garage this morning, my transmission broke. They can't look at it for a week (and they are keeping it there) but said they need to inspect it for abuse. If there is the slightest sign of abuse in my RALLY CAR, they will not cover any costs. (I have no mods to the car)

If they don't cover costs, they'll be introduced to my lawyers...
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Old 12-21-2001, 09:45 AM   #19
gtguy
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I wonder if that memo is the cause of the problems that Stallion is having with his warranty issue (see this forum). Interesting.

Kevin
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Old 12-21-2001, 10:14 AM   #20
Bradus
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Hi Kevin,

There was no link to any forum in your message.

David
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Old 12-21-2001, 11:47 AM   #21
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Sorry, it must not have worked. Go to the thread in this forum about "Subaru denying warranty coverage to a stock WRX..."

Kevin
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Old 12-21-2001, 11:56 AM   #22
Bradus
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Okay, thanks.

Here is a LINK to the forum Kevin mentioned.

David
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Old 12-26-2001, 12:17 AM   #23
Conduit
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Default

I'm wondering if the memo was a regional one. That occured to me, since quite frankly, I didn't check. It did have a subaru logo, but

I bet they can and will make a claim about the stickiness of wider tires and their effect on the transmission.

I can also say that I have already had a subaru tech say these two things to me:
"Well, the loose bolts (in the driver's side door ONLY) are probably from your exhaust."
He had no comment when I asked why the ones on the passenger side weren't loose, except to say that they were probably tighter from the factory
"With as much power as you have in the car..."
Since when did a short shifter and a turbo back running the stock boost controller suddenly equate to "this much power"

Again, none of these things scare me particularly. I really want the warranty for the things that are just irritating to fix, power windows, AC, body trim, headlights...those things add up. But it concerns me that everyone is potentially just overreacting. I mean come on, blaming loose bolts in a door on your exhaust vibration is...irrational.
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Old 12-27-2001, 11:12 AM   #24
igalwrx
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Could someone please tell me what this clutch shudder thing is.
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Old 12-27-2001, 11:34 AM   #25
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Post clutch shudder

Clutch shudder is a vibration that you can feel in your foot (and elsewhere depending on how bad it is) when you are letting out the clutch. It is usually caused by poor contact or inadequate friction between the clutch and the flywheel. This may be caused by an inadequate, worn or warped clutch, or a pressure plate that does not provide enough pressure on the clutch during engagement. In the case of the WRX the culprit has been thought to be either a weak pressure plate or flimsy clutch, or a combination of the two. It seems to occur mainly when the clutch is cold, implicating a low coefficient of friction between the clutch and the flywheel during this period. To put it simply, it is the sensation you feel when the clutch intermittently slips and grabs (or vibrates) on the flywheel.

You'll know it when you feel it.
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