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Old 01-10-2002, 03:09 PM   #1
Qujo
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She's a beaut, Clark

Default San Diego Dealers (Balboa and Bob Baker)

I just bought a silver WRX wagon in San Diego and thought that I would share my experiences.

Based on all of the bad posts here about Balboa Subaru, I went straight to BB El Cajon. What a mistake that was. I got a decent quote over the internet from them, but when I went there, they gave me a quote of $400 more than what they emailed me. On top of that, they kept trying to push a WRX with 300 !! miles on it on me as new. When I told them what I wanted to pay, they actually yelled at me. The salesman knew the cars well and was nice until it came time to talk money. Overall an unpleasant experience.

So against the advice of other posts here I sent an email to Balboa Subaru. This is where things get interesting. They have a new internet fleet sales manager who also happens to do their public relations. She gave me a call and sounded very nice so I drove over to talk to her. They had about 75 WRXs in stock, half of which have no accessories on them. She said that they would put on the two options that I want (armrest and boost gauge) for cost. She gave me a quote, I told her what I wanted to pay ($300 over invoice) and she basically said "OK". Amazing. She made the process so pleasant that my wife, who is very wary of car dealers, said that it was like going to the grocery store.

Having had a good experience there, I told the internet fleet/PR person at Balboa about all of the bad posts her dealer got on the I-club, and that I was very hesitant to go there based on the bad reviews. She was amazed. She immediately searched through the posts on the i-club about her dealer and printed them all out. She then showed them to the head manager guy and the next day they had a very serious meeting about it. They are now very aware of the problems. They know that their dealer looks like is is in the 1970's and that their service department is problematic and that the Subaru salesmen are slimy. She told me that they are going to aggresivly work to make things better, and that they are already scheduled to update the looks of the dealer. We shall see.

I can't say enough good things about my experience buying the WRX from Balboa. Granted I didn't talk to any of the salesman (only the internet fleet/PR representative) and having seeing Balboa's delapidated service department, I will only get my car serviced at BB El Cajon. My recommendation would be to talk only to Leeann, Balboa's internet fleet salesperson. Do not talk to any of the other salesmen.

Anyways, i love my new WRX

-Quentin
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Old 01-15-2002, 08:42 PM   #2
Herbie
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Quentin, I'm glad to hear you got the car you wanted at the price you wanted, but I'm leary of this "turnaround".

I seem to remember a previous story related from another SoCal member who was told that the GM was "surprised to hear" about their reputation and would be working hard to change things. That was over a year ago.

I REALLY want to like and trust their service department, since its by far closer to my house, but after so many bad experiences (just my own, not the ones I hear about) I can't do it.
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Old 01-17-2002, 12:47 AM   #3
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I would have to agree with Herbie. I've heard it from them before.
Not to stray too far off topic, but do all the service writers at Bob Baker hate their jobs? Every time I talk to any of them they are always in a bad mood.
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Old 01-17-2002, 06:15 PM   #4
Qujo
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Well, I was only reviewing the buying process, not the service dept. If you want to see reviews about that, do a search, there are lots of them

Since I live next to BB El Cajon, that is where I am going to go for service anyway. They seem to have a good rep here.

-Quentin
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Old 01-23-2002, 02:36 AM   #5
rayder
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Default hi

I have been a lurker for awhile and now serious about picking up a WRX as well. What was the price you got it for? I already have a preapproved loan... just looking for the right price. Thanks.
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Old 01-25-2002, 12:53 AM   #6
JSTFERFUN
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Just bought a WRX from Balboa and can confirm they have a great selection and gave me $2,000 off the sticker without any haggling. Who cares what the dealership looks like. Bob Baker Carlsbad guys knew very little about the car and had few choices.

I recomend Balboa (at least for the purchase). Anyone used their service?
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Old 01-26-2002, 01:33 PM   #7
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Thumbs up

I bought my silver wagon there yesterday. getting there was immensely difficult since the traffic right before you get there was indescribable, and MS streets and trips sent me to mesa college (***?)

once i was on the lot, a stupid happy grin flashed across my face. I saw a SEA of impreza front fascia.

I was jittery as i climbed the steps to the dodge showroom, but confident i'd walk out with a good deal (especially having been in the road almost 3 hours by then, thanks to traffic)

I wanted popular equipment package 3a, air filtration, armrest extension, cargo net. there wasn't one on the lot like that, so we went for a bone stock one and agreed she'd ship me the items at no extra cost. test drive...test drive... man what a fun jaunt... I'm weary my car has over 50 miles on it, but that's ok. Leeann looked for a lower-mileage one for me, but to no avail. Nice gesture.

pricing... I was concerned that it looked like she was giving me a price of 500 over invoice, when i had wanted 300 over. Ok, so we looked at how she got to that price. Turns out she WAS 300 over invoice, she just couldn't get a better price from parts on the options i wanted, so we quickly tossed those out and dropped my price to a nice, clean, 300 over

we ran my credit...discussed my options, and i ended up springing for lojack. Now all i have to do is get it installed.

All in All, they were accomodating, pressureless, helpful, and amazingly nice the entire time. Balboa has a pretty big selection of wrx's right now too. Do i feel it was worth the 125mile drive? hell yes. after checking stock at a few other dealerships and not finding the exact one i wanted, and then having this kind of experience, my only regret is that they are so far away.

Balboa Subaru: two thumbs (and maybe a toe) up
MS Streets and Trips: thumbs down, with plans to give all microsoft web sites and programs the evil eye (O_+)
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Old 02-02-2002, 07:13 PM   #8
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Default

That's great to hear you guys had a good buying experience, however, avoid their service dept. Tons of people are having so many bad experiences with their service it's not even funny. I personally have had a few problems with them myself.

1. The scratched my front bumper. I just washed my car the day before i brought it in for an oil change, and the next day when I picked it up, i noticed that someone had scraped the front passenger side of my bumper against another car or something. I was quite upset and gave them a call as soon as i got home since i hadn't noticed it till i parked in the garage. The service dept rep i talked to said that i would have to bring it in and the management would have to determine whether they were responsible... but basically he told me I was wasting my time implying it was my fault!

2. You can never get through to their line... I've waited up to ten minutes listening to the phone ring waiting for someone in the dept. to pick up.

3. Regardless of what time you make your appointment to get work done, you have to drop the car off in the morning. I've owned a Toyota and a Honda, and i've never heard of this policy. Since I'm a student, i have class and can't drop off my car in the morning, so i'm forced to drop it off the day before and pick up the next day.

Needless to say, the service dept. is not competent at all. I've heard the service dept in Irvine is very friendly and does good work, so i'm debating driving the hour just to have my car serviced from now on.
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Old 07-13-2002, 01:06 AM   #9
MSuaReX
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Default There service sucks

Another Balboa Subaru bad experience. I thought I would give them one more try, but never again. I went for an oil change. I waited for over fifteen minutes in front of the service booth and not even a "Somebody will be with you in a minuter sir. " Employees were just walking around me saying nothing. So I ended up leaving. They just dont give a $hit. I hope I never see that dump again. I ended up going to Bob Baker in El Cajon where the service has been good.
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Old 07-16-2002, 10:41 PM   #10
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Thumbs down Balboa Subaru Service Dep't

Apparently I'm not the first to notice, but the service department at Balboa Auto Center is the worst I've encountered. I left my WRX there during a 10 day vacation to have a creek in the suspension tightened up and to have the front brake rotors fixed. The (stupid) "Da-Cromet" coating they come with had globbed up and made deep gouges in the steel. When I brought the car in, I told the service writer (John K) exactly what the problem was and what needed to be done. I explained clearly that the coating itself was gone by now (I was not merely describing scoring of the coating) and that the rotors needed to be turned or replaced. After the "your car is done" call, I taked with John, who told me there was nothing wrong with the car. Wrong, I said, and described the problem again. "Okay, I'll take a look at it myself," he said. A week later, when I got back in town, I called again, and got the same response. "My Master Technician says it's just scratches in the plastic coating." On a car with 6900 miles - right. So I describe the problem to him again, and tell him to fix it or I'll take the car somewhere else. We go through this process a total of four times before he actually LOOKS at the rotors and realizes that I was right all along. Replaces the rotors and I pick my car up - 13 days after dropping it off. When I complained to him about the service, he gave me the "My hands are tied" speech. It was a warranty job, so they didn't make any money off it, of course. But they ultimately wasted more of their own valuable time by not listening to their well-informed customer in the first place.

I will never take my car back to this service department again.

(Sales department is just fine - Hussein is a good guy.)

Kurt
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Old 07-26-2002, 03:46 PM   #11
sleeperrex
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I unfortunately had a bad experience with them also. For the last 4 oil changes i have taken it to them (you think they could not screw this up). Every time i have supplied my own Mobil one synthetic. I leave the box of six quarts of oil in my car and the previous times they have given me my extra quart back. On my way home yesterday i noticed they had not given me my extra quart back. I went back and talked to the service consultant Larry. Larry has been good with me and knows me on a first name basis. Unfortunately he is not the one working on my car. Larry takes me back to the person who worked on my car and asks how many quarts go in my car. The mechanic replies 5. I then ask him where is my other quart because i gave you a box of six. He looks in the trash can and says "Oops, that's what i get for bullsh***** with the guys. I put all six quarts in."

He emptied out the extra quart and gave me a credit of 5.00 for the extra quart they used. I was so pissed, i will not be taking my car back to balboa subaru again. I can't believe he told me the reason he put the extra quart in was because he was goofing around with the other mechanics when he should be concentrating on my car. There is absolutely no excuse for an authorized dealer to have this kind of service.

I will be taking my car to Irvine Subaru (where i bought the car from). Maybe i will plan the trip around having them install some of there aftermarket parts along with the oil change. I had them install the tein flex and there service has been great.

With all the bad things i had heard about balboa i should not have given them a chance to screw up. I thought service has been okay so far. Well, it happened to me and apparently things have not gotten any better at balboa. Just wanted to let everyone know my experience with them.
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Old 11-27-2002, 03:13 AM   #12
toecutter
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Default Don't do business with Bob Baker

I actually bought 2 brand new WRX sedans from Bob Baker in El Cajon. The first time I had a problem with the car I got treated like dirt. They don't have enough qualified Subaru mechanics working there and they don't care about their "valued customers" I ended up going to Irvine Subaru and was very well taken care of. Well worth the drive from San Diego.
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Old 12-19-2002, 10:21 PM   #13
jsmithjr732
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I'm in my own nightmare with "John K" at Balboa Subaru as we speak. Here's my story:

Took the car in for the following:

1. Gear chatter during deceleration
2. Clutch shudder
3. Grind when shifting into 5th
4. Glove box loose and needs re-adjustment/replacement
5. Driver window squeaks when going up/down
6. Noise coming from driver side door
7. Driver side seat is wobbly on turns

I went in on 12/10 to have them look at all of these. To make it easier for both parties, I decided to drop the car off the night before and left the keys and a detailed explanation of my problems in the drop-off box.

I called the dealership and spoke with John in the afternoon assuming my problems would be fixed or diagnosed. He indicated that they "couldn't reproduce" the problems. Since I couldn't be without a car for 2 days in a row, I informed him that I would come back next week and reproduce the problems for them. To his credit, they did fix the window squeak.

So I bring it in and take the technician (Moses) for a ride. (This was AFTER he got a sleazy look at my girlfriend). They show me to my car and keep re-iterating, "it hasn't been moved all night...it's cold as can be." This pretty much tells me that they're aware of the clutch shudder problem.

Well, I can't re-create the clutch shudder for them, however, it takes no time to re-produce the grinding in 5th. So we bring it back and Moses orders some parts. I leave with the assurance that the parts will come in later in the week for replacement.

A guy named Clyde calls and states that the parts are in and to call John to schedule an appointment. I called John and set it up for Wednesday, 12/18. I get there around 8:15 AM and wait around till 8:30 AM before I can even get John to focus on me (even though I had an "appointment"). I tell him the issues again since he couldn't remember exactly why I was there. After that, I told him again about the gear chatter. He stated that he needed a technician to ride around with me and that none were available (all busy). I waited and waited until about 8:55 AM and then went back to John. I told him that I couldn't wait all day for a technician to sit in my car while I help them diagnose a problem. He ended up getting a guy named Rod (service writer, not a technician) to sit in the car with me. Here's a funny part: Rod used to work at Poway Honda where I used to get my 2001 Accord V6 serviced. And he was a putz there! Guess Balboa's just adding to their gems over there.

So he rides in the car and I immediately re-produce the problem for him. He acknowledges this and states he's going to "run some numbers." What is he, the salesman???

I get back to John and tell him that Rod has heard the problem. John said they'd take care of it. I then asked him when the shuttle comes by. He said he didn't know and that I should wait in the lobby (dirty isn't a good enough word).

So I wait another 30 minutes until the shuttle pulls up. By then, I was pissed as all hell along with another couple that had been waiting since 8AM. We all get into the car and state where we're going: La Jolla, Clairemont, Rancho Bernardo....RB??? "No, we don't go there."

Well isn't this just icing on the cake! I look at him like he's crazy and ask him again. He says he'll ask John what they can do about it. After a long dog and pony show, they get the Service Mgr to come over to me and state that they can't do anything for me. I'll have to bring it in another day. That means I just wasted 2 hours for nothing! I told them to F-off and I'm never going there again.

Unfortunately, I still have this problem, so I reluctantly called them back that day and told them I'd take it in that afternoon. So I take it in and drop it off with John, thinking I'd give him and Balboa Subaru one more chance.

After not hearing anything by 2:30 PM, I call them up. John states that they can't re-produce the gear chatter problem and will probably have to take the transmission out to investigate. RE-PRODUCE THE PROBLEM??? I told him I already did that with the Rod-man in the car. He stated that he needed a technician to ride with me for that. Well, what the HELL was the point of taking Rod on the little joy ride? He then ran off that he needs my help to get this problem fixed.

Needless to say AT ALL, this is UNACCEPTABLE service for a warrantied, $25,000 vehicle. From what I've been reading, I should've have just got my car serviced where I bought it (Irvine Subaru). Guess I'll be taking a little drive up to Irvine.

Last edited by jsmithjr732; 12-20-2002 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 12-19-2002, 11:40 PM   #14
toecutter
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Yes.Call up Irvine and schedule an appointment. Ask for Albert. Don't bother trying Bob Baker.
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Old 12-20-2002, 12:07 AM   #15
jsmithjr732
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Thanks for the recommendation. I'll do that!

And thanks for reading my long post... I just saw how much scrolled by... I was pissed a few hours ago!
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Old 12-20-2002, 12:37 AM   #16
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Irvine Subaru is the best. That's where i bought my WRX from three weeks ago. They beat Bob Baker and Balboa Subaru by well of $600 dollars on the options i wanted. I would recommend Irvine Subaru to anyone who's looking to buy a WRX in the future.
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Old 12-20-2002, 12:38 AM   #17
jsmithjr732
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Yeah, that's where I bought my car too...should've gone with my first instinct and drove back up to Irvine. Thought I would give Balboa a change...BIG mistake!
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Old 12-20-2002, 12:49 AM   #18
triguy
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Default Happy w/ deal from Balboa

I bought a WRX wagon from Balboa six months ago. The finance guy pushed the extended warranty too hard but that's his job. The sales manager was willing to negotiate on the price more than the Baker dealership. I service my car myself - oil changes, etc. to save money and avoid interactions with dealer service technicians.
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Old 12-20-2002, 01:44 AM   #19
toecutter
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I was satisfied with Bob Baker too until I got my first problem with the car. Like I said I bought 2 WRX sedans from the same dealership within a couple of months and spent around $50 K for the combined total.

I had a problem that I noticed after driving the car for a while. It was a loud thumping that occured at around 75% of full wheel turn in either direction. I booked the car in for an early service appointment at 8:00 AM. I left full instructions on how to reproduce the problem. The service guy " Bob " did tell me they were busy and could I leave it the whole day. I said If they needed to keep it until tomorrow, that was Okay, but call and let me know. Needless to say there was no call. Next day I called at 10:00 and got no call back. I called at 3:00 and got Bob. He said there was no problem found. Then, after I pressured him, he admitted he thought he felt something. Now, here is the kicker, no qualified Subaru techs were available in this whole 2 days to look at my car. He admitted that there wasn't anyone who knew enough about the Subaru transmission available to diagnose the car.
I went and picked up the vehicle. I told him I was worried about driving the car. He told me not to worry because it was probably a "Transfer Pack" and not serious. I asked him to call me when I could be guaranteed a Subaru tech could look at it. He promised to call me the next day and schedule it.

After waiting a week I emailed the story to the salesman that I bought the cars from. I asked him to forward it to the service manager and that I would probably go elsewhere to get my car fixed. He replied with some B.S. about me being a valued customer and hoped Bob Baker could regain my trust in the future. I replied that a good start would be to do something about fixing my car. He never replied and I never got a call back from Bob Baker service.

I went to Irvine and got the problem fixed. It was actually a shot center diff. It was fixed under warranty very well. The inconvenience of the 1Hr 15 minute drive from San DIego was a lot better than the poor treatment from dealing with Bob Baker.

I only wish I spent my 50K at Irvine. I only hope people reading this thread cost Bob Baker sales of vehicles because of these problems.
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Old 01-03-2003, 12:40 AM   #20
jsmithjr732
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Dropped the car off last night at Irvine and have a rental car. So far, I'm really pleased with the service. They gave me accurate updates when I called and got me a rental car w/o a hassle. In fact, I didn't even have to ask. They simply wrote an invoice and showed me where the Enterprise center was (100 yards up the street).

The service person (not sure who it was) didn't make any outrageous promises like "we'll get it done right" or "we'll take care of you here" like Balboa did. They simply stated that they need to examine the transmission closer and would have an update by tomorrow.

Again, very pleased so far. No hassles in service--just like their sales team!
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Old 01-03-2003, 12:41 AM   #21
jsmithjr732
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Oh yeah, and they have $9.95 oil changes and wash your car for free with every service!

I paid more for parts at AutoZone!
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Old 01-03-2003, 06:35 PM   #22
jsmithjr732
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Default Very happy with Irvine so far

Check this out: at Balboa, they had the tech listen to the sound of the tranny. After that, he ordered all the parts they supposedly needed. It took 3+ days to arrive (never had them install them though).

At Irvine, they took apart the tranny to REALLY find out what was going on. They ordered a synchro, some gaskets, etc. and it'll be there on Monday (1 business day). I mentioned the clutch shudder and they said they'd take a look at that while the tranny's apart too. Balboa simply stated that they "couldn't reproduce the problem."

I spoke with Richard (Rich?) both times and he was very professional. When I asked about my rental car (currently have one), he said that he'd extend it and call the rental place for me. WoW, hassle free! I've never had this easy of a time with a dealer--NEVER.

One funny thing--I was on hold for a second when a lady got on the phone. I thought it was the operator making sure I'd been helped (yeah, they actually do that too!), but... turns out, it was another customer! Something happened and I got transferred over to another customer's line. We both had a laugh and I called back. Rich thought it was funny as well. Whu, a dealer with a sense of humor too???
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Old 01-04-2003, 01:24 PM   #23
sleeperrex
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Got to agree with you on the Irvine Subaru service. Free rentals, car washed, and performance parts. I live in San Diego (actually further south) and feel the 1 and half drive is worth doing rather than dealing with the dealers down here.

As i posted earlier, they have a bunch of idots working down here that can't even do an oil change.
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Old 01-12-2003, 05:22 AM   #24
jsmithjr732
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Default Original problem fixed--more problems discovered

Irvine fixed my synchro issue, however, I'm having a new problem. The minute I left the lot, I had trouble shifting in 3rd, 4th, and 5th. It seemed like a random problem--sometimes one gear would be affected, sometimes others. Basically, it's difficult to shift into these gears while stopped with the car on or off. This problem was not present before I took it in. It's also wasn't apparent on two 03 WRXs I tested at two different dealers. Since I picked my car up at 6PM, I had to wait until the next day to take it back in (another trip from SD to Irvine).

I took it in the next morning and had one of the techs look at it. He said that it was normal and was probably due to my Kartboy shifter/bushings. I told him that there is a SIGNIFICANT difference in shifting after taking it in. He recommended taking the shifter out and driving a little. He also said that the synchros are working in neutral when shifting, and this is most likely the reason (doesn't explain why this happens randomly with the car off).

I took it to Kartboy's shop in Miramar and had them look at the bushings. I took out the shifter myself and wanted to show them the bushings for any possible installation problems Irvine caused. They took a look and didn't see any bushing issues, however, they noticed PLIER marks and scratches all over the shift linkage by the transmission! I can only deduct that the tech in Irvine made this mark when disconnecting/re-connecting the linkage to the transmission. I asked Mark and Tom if there was any logical reason to have those marks. They said no way.

Another issue was the tranny fluid--it was overfilled. This shouldn't be the reason behind the shifting problems, but it's worth mentioning.

I have an appointment next Wednesday to resolve this shifter issue, but I may try Bob Baker Carlsbad due to the distance. I see mostly positive things about BB--not as much as Irvine, but mostly good.

If anyone in SD has a 02 WRX and has some free time, can you PM me. I'd like to compare your shifting with mine to get a consensus that I'm not losing my mind!

Thanks!
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Old 01-20-2003, 04:09 AM   #25
ObsidianRS
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: San Diego, CA
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2004 Impreza WRX STi
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BB Carlsbad had "okay" service for me until I had some issues with our local Subaru Rep. I don't know if I should go into details until the issue is resolved. Let's just say SOA ain't too happy about it right now...

So the point is: San Diego/Orange's Subaru Rep sucks! And BB Carlsbad service department is all too happy to go along with him. Don't go there if you have the slightest mods on your car.

But I have no complaints with BB Carlsbad's sales staff.
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