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Old 01-31-2002, 03:59 PM   #1
Opie
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Default SOA's Defense

After a dispute between SOA and another i-club member that you can read about it here, I had this to say to SOA:

Quote:
January 30, 2002

Subaru of America, Inc.
Subaru Plaza
P.O. Box 6000
Cherry Hill, NJ 08034-6000
Attn: Customer/Dealer Services

Subaru Warranty Issues

I bought my first Subaru, a used 1995 Impreza L, in September of 1997 as an inexpensive 2nd vehicle. Even though the car had over 83,000 miles when I bought it, it ran and drove great. Over the next 3½ years the car had very few problems, none of which I considered out of the ordinary for a car that had over 130,000 miles when I traded it in. This is what convinced me of Subaru's reliability. This information and the great warranty coverage offered by SOA led me to purchase two more Subaru's; a 1999 Legacy and a 2000 Impreza 2.5RS and also helped me convince my Mom ('99 Forester) and two co-workers to purchase Subaru's ('02 2.5RS & '02 Outback Sport) recently as well.

Now to my concern; Lately it seems that Subaru of America (SOA) has become increasing difficult in getting warranty work taken care of, not specifically towards me, but towards many of the Subaru owners I know. Things that are clearly not the fault of the owner, but more a manufacturing defect are being denied warranty coverage using a broad range of 'excuses'. Excuses from; 'owner abuse' because of warn tires and the supposed nullification of factory warranties (by the regional SOA rep) due to the installation of non-OEM or performance parts, even Subaru performance parts sold under the SPT name. These excuses have been given to personal friends of mine, people I know who do not abuse their vehicles or treat them in a way that would cause equipment failure.

Now I'm beginning to wonder what is going on at SOA? While other manufacturers are selling performance upgrade parts from their parts counter that retain the factory warranty (i.e. 2002 Honda Civic - available Performance Suspension Kit that includes upgraded struts, springs, wheels and tires and GM's new Supercharger Kit for 2.4L Chevy Cavalier's and Pontiac Sunfires, both of which are warranted by the manufacturer, sold from the dealer parts counter and do not interfere with the factory basic or powertrain warranty). Subaru of America sells the same types of parts, from the Subaru dealer's parts counters, and then uses them as an excuse to not warranty legitimate complaints! Subaru parts sold from Subaru parts counters should all carry a warranty and should not compromise any of the factory warranties, including Subaru's performance line of parts.

This all from a company that supposedly supports exploring the performance of their cars by giving ever new buyer of a WRX a free year membership in the SCCA. (I guess this would make it pretty easy to 'Flag' or 'Void' your warranty as soon as you send off for that 'free' membership.) The same company who flaunts the performance, tough rally heritage and 0-60 mph times of the WRX in their advertisements. These advertisements include a WRX in the ads that has every available Subaru performance parts SOA sells installed on it! SOA even compares the Subaru WRX to the likes of Audi and BMW, I don't think Audi or BMW would blame manufacturing defects on the people that buy their cars. I hate to suggest that if Subaru doesn't want their vehicles driven 'aggressively' (read: I said aggressively, not abusively...there is a difference) they shouldn't produce a performance vehicle or advertise a vehicle as such.

SOA sold a record number of vehicles last year, 8,060 more WRX's than the 10,000 expected to be sold. After having Subaru's most successful year in 2001 I would think that the people of SOA would want to continue that trend of growth, this growth will be hurt greatly by getting a reputation of not honoring the warranties you offer. What will this position have on the future of SOA in North America? Will people still want to purchase a Subaru with the fear that something they do, regardless of how trivial, will void their warranty? What am I supposed to tell my Mom, or my co-workers who purchased their Subaru's after my constant praise of Subaru 's quality, service and warranty when they have true warranty issues that SOA decides should not be covered? To tell you the truth, the current trend is giving me serious second thoughts about purchasing my next Subaru.

I do understand that there are people out there who abuse their vehicles and take advantage of the system to get the damage they inflict covered by the warranty. I've read on various internet forums some people 'bragging' about doing all kinds of abusive things to their Subaru's and still expecting to get the damage they are causing warrantied. Regardless, this should not cause undo warranty denial for any of the Subaru owners that do not mistreat their vehicles. I hope SOA will take this into consideration before Subaru's reputation for quality and reliability are damaged any further in the North American marketplace.

Sincerely,
Will *******
Concerned Subaru Owner
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Last edited by Opie; 01-31-2002 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 01-31-2002, 04:04 PM   #2
Opie
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Default

Here is SOA's reply:

Quote:
Hello Will:

Thank you for visiting the Subaru Web site and for your comments. We appreciate that you took your time to make us aware of these situations. We also appreciate your continued loyalty to Subaru products. Because of the length of your message (which you obviously are aware of,) I do apologize if I miss anything or do not follow the 'flow' of your message.

First, it seems as if you have not personally had any problems with your Subaru vehicles or the warranty coverage provided by Subaru of America, Inc. Also, by your 'wording' it does not seem as if any of your family members have had problems. I have to assume that you had some problems with your Subaru vehicles, at least the '95 Impreza. But, I also assume that they were not major concerns, since you did not mention them.

Now, to your friends. You do not mention it directly, but again by your 'wording' it seems as if all of the Subaru owners you are referring to are WRX owners. This should not be an issue, but you and I know that the WRX is a performance vehicle that just screams to be modified. It is in our culture to modify and personalize. Again, as I stated, this is not really the issue.

I can read your message, but I am only getting pieces of the information. Also, you are only getting the one side of the story. There are always two sides, at least. And, it would be pointless for me to state anything without knowing all of the facts. So, I will not comment on any individual concern that your friends have.

I will state that I hope that they did and will contact us, Subaru of America, Inc., whenever a situation arises with a warranty concern. Our Customer/Dealer Services Center is here to provide assistance to Subaru owners. They can be contacted at 1-800-782-2783. I believe that you are aware that we, Subaru of
America, Inc. provide the warranties for Subaru vehicles, not Subaru dealers.

Okay, now a couple of your statements or points that I need to comment on.

1. I do not know what excuse we used about 'warn tires,' but if it was a problem with the tires on a Subaru, then we would not be part of this warranty concern. Subaru does not provide the warranty on tires. Tires are warranted by the tire manufacturer. So, we would not be involved in any warranty regarding tires.

2. That word 'VOID.' I should have addressed this first. Forget the word VOID. The only way to void your warranty would be to total your vehicle or to take it out of North America.

We do not recommend the installation of any aftermarket parts. Doing so will not affect your warranty. But any problems caused will not be covered by your warranty. This is not a Subaru policy, but a United States government regulation. I cannot remember the official act, but I know that I read it on one of the internet club Web sites.

3. Subaru performance parts - STi muffler and suspension upgrades. These accessories are sold without any warranty coverage. All other accessories sold by an authorized Subaru dealer have normal warranty coverage. The muffler and suspension upgrade are sold without any warranty coverage because they are intended for off-road usage and may take the vehicle out of US government emissions and/or safety regulations. (Again, we have to comply with US regulations.)

4. Performance parts sold by other car manufacturers. We do not generally comment on other manufacturers' products or policies. But, when we were instructed about our performance parts (without warranties,) we were advised of the policies of other manufacturers. Since we are in the Customer Service
Department, we were concerned about offering accessories without warranties. Therefore, they provided us with the details of other car manufacturers, and their policies were the same. They too do not offer warranty coverage on performance parts that do not meet US government regulations.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be of assistance. I hope that I have calmed some of your concerns regarding Subaru's warranty coverages.

Best wishes!!

John J. Mergen
Subaru of America, Inc.

Last edited by Opie; 01-31-2002 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 01-31-2002, 04:06 PM   #3
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Default

And my reply back:

Quote:
Mr. Mergen,

Thank you for responding to my concerns. Indeed, I have not had any issues with getting warranty repairs completed on any of my own Subaru's, what concerned me is the general trend of resistance towards certain warranty repairs. Friends have conveyed many examples of this “resistance” to me, and I have read many others on the internet. (For example: on the i-club website, Warranty & SOA Troubles Forum - http://www.i-club.com/forums/forumdi...?s=&forumid=64).

I understand that there are usually two sides to every story, so let me detail the actual situation that initiated this letter. A friend of mine, started hearing strange noises from the transmission of his 1999 Impreza 2.5RS. The car has just over 30,000 miles on it and the only modification done to the car is the addition of the SPT Performance Exhaust. Upon taking it to the dealer (Mastro Subaru, Tampa, FL) for service they diagnosed a bad syncro in the transmission, the repairs were authorized and the dealer repaired it. Less than a week later, the transmission again began making noises, he again took it to the dealer. This time the diagnosis was a bad center differential and instead of authorizing the repairs a regional rep was sent out to "assess" the car. After the car was assessed, the warranty repair was denied stating that the cause of the failure was owner abuse. The rep went on to say that the evidence of the abuse was the obvious wear on the cars tires. As I know the driver and the condition of his car, this was the most ludicrous thing I had ever heard. I guess that was the best “evidence” they could find. "Owner abuse" seems like a common "catch all" excuse lately that SOA’s reps are using when they cannot find an obvious cause for a particular problem. I am not ignorant to the fact that there are people who abuse their vehicles, but the "owner abuse" explanation just seems to flow to freely.

The second part of my concern would be Subaru’s “instigating” of “aggressive” driving through the Subaru’s WRX ad’s and free SCCA membership offer. Only to turn around when a warranty problem arises to say that the owners “aggressive/abusive” driving caused the problem.

If I am reading your statements regarding the SPT line and warranty’s correctly, it seems that the only parts sold by Subaru dealers that do not come with a warranty are the Performance Exhaust systems and the Performance Suspension systems for the WRX and the 2.5RS. If I have read this correctly thank you for clearing it up. Regardless, I am 100% sure that these items would pass any U.S. government emission and/or safety regulations and could be covered by a warranty if Subaru was willing to subject the parts to the tests. Furthermore most of the parts in these "kits" are mostly aftermarket parts re-labeled as SPT parts; Brospeed, KYB, Eibach...all of which whom offer warranties with the identical versions of the same parts that are offered in the aftermarket. It shouldn't be too far of a stretch for SOA to test and warranty these as well, even if they would become more expensive to justify the testing. This would make many people happy and keep the dealers out of any awkward positions concerning which parts have warranties and which ones don’t.

Again, I thank you for replying and listening to my concerns.
Will ******
Looks like we are making some progress, hopefully it will reach the area reps! I'll keep everyone posted.

Last edited by Opie; 01-31-2002 at 04:27 PM.
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Old 01-31-2002, 05:24 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info.
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Old 01-31-2002, 05:41 PM   #5
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You are the Man!! or Women
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Old 01-31-2002, 06:11 PM   #6
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Excellent letters Will, you couldnt have written them any better!
Remind me to buy you a diet coke, the next time we have a meet.

Jeff
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Old 01-31-2002, 06:37 PM   #7
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Thumbs up Great letter Will!

Let me just point out that your 95' L is still going strong! (144k miles and counting)!

Again, great letter, keep us updated.

-Vic
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Old 01-31-2002, 08:01 PM   #8
Jon [in CT]
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Strong letters, and you obviously ran it through a spellchecker, but you should've had them proofread first by an 8th grader. "Warn" instead of "worn?" Does anyone else notice the sarcasm oozing out of the SOA's response (it repeats the phrase "your 'wording'" twice)?
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Old 01-31-2002, 08:32 PM   #9
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I noticed it. I think long letters like that are a big waste of time.
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Old 01-31-2002, 09:20 PM   #10
Opie
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Jon - Geez, one word one letter off, trust me, it was corrected in the registered letter sent off the same day, this was the e-mailed version. I could've corrected it to avoid the "8th Grader" comments, but left it as it was sent.

Quote:
I think long letters like that are a big waste of time. - GRWRX
You might feel that way until you have a need to write a "complaint" letter yourself one day, although I guess I could have wrote: "Subaru - Bad, Thank You" instead and made the same points.
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Old 01-31-2002, 09:35 PM   #11
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Why do you bother writing letters to their customer service people? Do you think they have anything to do with what goes on in servicing warranty issues?
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Old 01-31-2002, 10:28 PM   #12
Matt
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Quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Wallace
Why do you bother writing letters to their customer service people? Do you think they have anything to do with what goes on in servicing warranty issues?
Wow, that's great.

Someone decides to do what they believe to be a possible solution and you just don't have anything nice to say. Thanks for sharing. As for John J. Mergen, where does it say he's customer service? Why doesn't he divulge his title?
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Old 01-31-2002, 10:42 PM   #13
Opie
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Glenn - The above letter was sent via the "Contact Subaru" portion of the www.subaru.com website. The registered letter I sent, and have not heard a reply from, was directed to a specific individual at SOA, not the CS department.
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Old 01-31-2002, 10:47 PM   #14
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Way to go opie. If enough people like that raise there voice and speak up it may help every owner of a subie. I can't wait to get my rex in a few months!!
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Old 02-01-2002, 12:27 AM   #15
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Uggh! Letter Good!
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Old 02-01-2002, 01:53 AM   #16
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Will, sincere thanks for writing these letters! You're obviously a true Subaru fan to take the time to do things like this. I'm also impressed that someone at SOA actually took the time to write a (mostly) thoughtful response to your words. I hope this person has forwarded the letters on to executive-level personnel for their consideration.

For anyone following the story, Mastro Subaru and SOA have, in the end, made this situation right. It took much more effort than necessary for all involved, however, and the future is still somewhat unclear. I hope that it won't happen again, and I'm confident that if Mastro has anything to say about it, it won't.

If letters like these will help get SOA's warranty division in touch with their design, manufacturing, motorsports, and marketing divisions, all sides will benefit. I'll have to write my own on the plane ride home tomorrow...

Well said! Thanks. Opie - good!

Neal
(owner of a certain '99 2.5RS with 3x,000 miles on it)
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Old 02-01-2002, 11:56 AM   #17
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Quote:
As for John J. Mergen, where does it say he's customer service? Why doesn't he divulge his title?
Right here in his response:

Quote:
Since we are in the Customer Service
Department, we were concerned about offering accessories without warranties.
He is "the guy who answers email". Pam Federer is another.

I guess my question is, what are you trying to achieve?

As far as the abuse issues go, the onus is on Subaru to PROVE it in each case. The district tech managers and fixed operations managers are the ones that get involved in stuff like that.

As far as warranties on performance parts go, check out the Ford Motorsport catalog. Plenty of stuff there "as is, no warranty, off road use only".

SOA is to be commended for bringing the parts in and selling them - you don't have to buy them. They consulted with at least two other manufacturer's performance parts divisions (TRD was one) about warranty and certification and I guess they came to the conclusion that we'd be happy to get the suspension parts at a decent price (the muffler is a bit pricey), and they'd be saved the pain of warranty and certification costs. A fair trade off.

I'm loving the suspension. If it breaks, I'll just replace it. What is most likely is that a strut would leak/blow, and they're about $250 per corner (with spring) -- the incremental cost of warranty coverage and certification would have added more than that to the price of the package.

Also, I am a bit rankled by your suggestion that they'd use the SCCA membership as a lever to flag or void the warranty for racing.

SOA did the deal with SCCA to help promote the WRX and motorsports in the USA. People that really "race" WRXs know what they are doing (if they've read the warranty book) and I am not aware of SOA ever denying warranty coverage on a car that has been autocrossed.

I've spent a bit of time with the people at SOA, and they are genuinely trying to do the right thing - i.e. promote the WRX here and have happy customers.

If you want to have some impact, write a letter to SOA's head of product planning, and ask for factory installed performance parts (e.g. my "WRX Plus" idea, comes with the 4 pots, 17" rims, STi suspension, alum arms, JDM seats etc., but stock US spec engine)

Glenn
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Old 02-01-2002, 12:08 PM   #18
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Glenn as this post was supposed to be more informational than a debate on why I sent the letter, I will answer you via e-mail.
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Old 02-01-2002, 02:11 PM   #19
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Seriously Glenn, no need to belittle Opie just because you feel his letter is ineffective.

An opinion is an opinion, but you were just plain mean about it.

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Old 02-01-2002, 05:50 PM   #20
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Default Letters can be effective

It is sad that there are some of the opinion that expression is useless. The letter is a great idea. Good companies will make the situation right. Bad companies will go out of business...but it is up to the consumer. These forums will, with education of the consumers, force Subaru to either change or die. Business is not rocket science. As the letter mentions, if Subaru wants to capitalize on its recent success in the US, it needs to address the issue of warranty claims and establish itself as the quality company it wants to be.

The WRX is leading the pack in the performance compact car market. But, Ford's SVT is working hard, Honda is never going to be left behind, and so on. If I pay $24k for a WRX and the tranny falls out and I'm not satisfied with the warranty fix, then somebody else will get my money next time. You can burn me once...

So, consumers, the ball is always in your court. Speak up when you aren't satisfied. There is no excuse for poor engineering not being corrected. There is too much technology and too many suppliers.

FYI, I found this page because I'm thinking of buying a Subaru. Until I'm satisfied that the warranty problems discussed on this board are corrected, Subaru will not get any of my money. That's lost revenue, and stakeholders will not stand for too much of that.
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Old 02-02-2002, 08:26 AM   #21
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Everybody. shut up and drive.
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Old 02-02-2002, 01:05 PM   #22
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that response from SOA was extremely unprofessional sounding IMO

if enough people express their concerns (yes, to customer service) then word will make its way to the higher ups

writing a letter directly to the head of blah blah blah only means the administrative assistant to the head of blah blah blah will read it

pretty good letter though...they'll soon be getting one from me as well
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Old 02-02-2002, 11:57 PM   #23
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I wasn't trying to belittle Opie - just trying to make it clear that it isn't the best path to cause change.

Opie and I swapped quite a bit of email over this -- particularly over the performance parts warranty issue.

The owners that have been affected by bad dealer/DTM decisions are the ones that need to force the situation by taking action.

Glenn
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Old 02-03-2002, 07:26 PM   #24
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Default Warranty "voiding"

After reading about the warranty issues, I decided to take a look at my "2002 Warranty and Maintenance Booklet." Now, there have been at least two places that I've seen John J. Mergen say that there is no way to "VOID" your warranty, and to "forget the word VOID" and to "get that nasty word VOID out of your vocabulary", but I found the following paragraph in my booklet:

Cars Ineligible for Warranty Coverage

The car is not eligible for waranty coverage if the vehicle identification number is altered or cannot be read; if the car has been declared a total loss or sold for salvage purposes; if the vehicle has been dismantled, destroyed or changed in such a manner that constitutes a material alteration of its original construction; if the odometer mileage has been changed so that mileage cannot be readily determined; or if the car is ever used in any race or other competitive event.


That last part of the paragraph kind of jumped out at me, and it would seem that John J. Mergen is putting out just a little disinformation (or more to the point leaving out some information). According to my Warranty booklet, taking my car out of North America does not make my vehicle ineligible for warranty coverage, but there are a few extra things that he left out. Ok, so we won't call it "voiding the warranty", instead, the vehicle becomes "ineligible". Semantics.


Hmmmm.............
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Old 02-04-2002, 03:46 AM   #25
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Default I like what I am reading

I own a 02 WRX I am 32 years old and own my own business I have a few slight mods to my car and my synchro’s are going out in first gear for the second time. I have owned my car for 7 months and have just under 20,000 miles on it and I am having the same problems as everyone here. I don't race my car but I enjoy it as it was meant to be enjoyed i.e. watch a commercial for the WRX. They said they would fix it and put a whole new transmission in this time instead of just the gears and synchro's but would not cover my warranty if the same problem ever arose again! Well let's see twice in 20,000 miles I have a 75,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty which I paid extra for, should I take that chance. I think not, how can anyone make that stipulation. My cousin had his claim out-right denied and was told if he paid the price to fix it they would give him a warranty. I guess so they could come back and tell him they wouldn't honor that warranty when and if he returned!? I don't know about you but someone would have a bloody nose if they did that to me. My cousin is a bit young and has also been put into that category or abusers. He is a college grad with a bachelors degree and a great career, i.e. a responsible individual who doesn't abuse his car but does drive it like the commercials as do we all that aren't in that 13 second category the one's that are still in the 14 second category like the adds.

If you haven't already read my forum.

http://www.i-club.com/forums/showthr...hreadid=109493

Please if you would follow up with me, it can only help.

I too have had great success with the local dealer they have been great and done whatever they can for me.

Nick
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