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Old 06-28-2016, 01:14 PM   #1
Scooby Newbie
Member Sales Rating: (0)
Member#: 191575
Join Date: Oct 2008
Default Beware Annapolis Subaru, part of the Annapolis Subaru/Hyundai/Volvo dealership chain

In early June of 2016, my driver's side secondary air valve failed in my 2008 Subaru WRX STI. I contacted Annapolis Subaru over the phone for an estimate to make the repair. I was told with parts and labor, it would $950 to replace both valves. I researched the work required to replace the driver's side valve and the cost of an aftermarket part. The part only cost $150 vs $250-$300 for the genuine Subaru part. I ordered the valve and replaced it myself without issue.

Four days later, the passenger side valve failed as well. I again called Annapolis Subaru for an estimate for the labor. I was told on the phone it would be $350. I then researched the work required to replace this valve and decided that the job would be too tough for me to perform. All instructions that I was able to find indicated the intake manifold had to be removed in order to get to the valve's bolts. The following morning I scheduled an appointment via Annapolis Subaru's online scheduling tool. Within 2 hours I received an email from the Service manager, Doug. The emailed stated that the job would cost $550 if I provided the valve. We exchanged emails because I was blown away that the cost went from $350 to $550 once they knew I would be supplying my own valve. During the course of the exchange Doug stated that the manifold had to be removed. I never questioned this, but he stated it anyways. Eventually, I agreed to pay $470 for the labor and shop parts because I was trying to sell the car in short order and this dealership was the most convenient for me, plus I had been using them for several years for maintenance. We also purchased my wife's car at the sister Annapolis Hyundai dealership a couple years ago. I dropped the car off June 15th, 2016 and picked it up in the afternoon of June 16th. I also had the dealership appraise the car prior to leaving.

While driving home I noticed that the car wasn't performing the way it was the previous day when I dropped it off. The turbo was obviously not spooling as early (~3000 RPM) as I was accustomed to. Not only could I feel this in the acceleration, I could no longer hear the turbo spool. This was because by the time the turbo spooled, the engine was past 4000 RPM and loud enough to drown out the turbo whistle. The car at the time had the Cobb stage 1 tune installed. Using the access port, I first confirmed that the turbo was actually spooling the whole way to its intended target of ~18 PSI. I then reflashed the ECU with the stage 1 tune because I was unsure if the dealer altered the ECU mapping. The car continued to drive sluggishly at 3000 RPM. By this time, the dealership was closed.

The following morning I contacted the dealership to let them know what I was experiencing. They told me to bring the car back in and they would have a look at it that afternoon. One of the technicians took the car out with the stage 1 tune still installed and his computer hooked up to the OBD port. He came back and showed me graphs that had the car reaching peak boost at approximately 3200 RPM and that the car drove great. In his words "I shouldn't worry about it". We then discussed that I was running a tune and how it could be the problem, never mind that I have been running the Cobb stage 1 tune for more than 6 years without a problem. We agreed that they couldn't accurately diagnose any issues with the after market tune installed and that I should go back to stock. Before leaving the dealership I reflashed to the "stock-like" tune saved on the access port. At this time, I was unaware that it was stock-like and not the actual stock tune.

I spent time logging data with the access port in gears 2 through 4 doing hard pulls. The data was clear that peak boost was not being reached until, on average, 4000 RPM. I sent this data to the service department at the dealership and again stated the car was running differently/poorly. We agreed that I would bring the car back in the following day, Saturday, but it wouldn't be seen until Monday morning. Shortly there after, I received a phone call from Doug, the service manager and his first question to me was "What if the part you supplied is bad?". I calmly started to explain to him that the secondary air valves were part of the emissions system and that it had nothing to do with the engines performance. He cut me off before I could finish and said "I know what it does". Since he already knew the valve had nothing to do with the performance, he was, in my opinion, already feeling out potential scapegoats. He then started to prod the tune I was running, and then finally, when I mentioned that I couldn't hear the turbo, suggested that the turbo was shot. I informed him that it was stilled reaching max boost, just late. He abandoned this and just said to make sure its running its stock tune when I bring it back. I uninstalled the access port the following morning, returning the tune to actual stock, and dropped it off at the dealership.

On Monday morning I received a phone call from Doug - in their opinion the car was fine. I asked questions about whether they checked all the connections. Doug stated they checked the intercooler, especially the connection underneath it. I then asked about the intake manifold connections to which he replied "We didn't take the intake manifold off, we have special tools. If you look on your bill there is no charge for seals". Note: the seals need to be replaced if the intake manifold is removed. I lost my cool and called him a liar and that I didn't believe him. He then responded that I should just then come pick up my car. This wasn't quite the end of the conversation but I told him I was going to continue to research the issue. He said that I should find data from Subaru tuners pertaining to when the car is to reach max boost. I asked him how he knew the car was performing correctly and he had no sources. The only information he supplied that was accurate was that the stock tune's max boost is ~15psi. After the phone call was over I confirmed with 2 separate, non-affiliated Subaru dealerships that the manifold had to be removed in order to perform the service.

The following day I went to the dealership and asked to speak with a GM. I came with various pieces of information including the email that Doug stated the manifold had to come off and a stock power curve as produced by Perrin tuning company. I asked that they buy the car from me for the amount I had a buyer interested in. In good conscience, I couldn't sell the car to this individual at this price knowing that the dealer may have damaged or incorrectly installed something. He said he would have to discuss the information with his service manager before he could do anything.

A day or two later I received a call from the dealership chains VP. He said they would buy the car from me for the trade in value I was being offered at a non-competing dealership. This offer was $2000 below what my potential buyer was interested in but $1500 more than their appraisal. At no point did he admit to wrong doing but became very agitated when I used the word "fraud" and "gross negligence" to describe what may have happened. After getting off of the phone, I emailed him and appealed to the VP to meet in the middle between their offer and my potential buyer and offer me $1000 more.

Several days later (June 28), he declined to increase the offer because of what needed to be done to the car to resell it - none of which pertained to the engine. In my opinion, this demonstrated that they were only interested in turning a profit on the car and not righting a wrong. Note: the previous service I had performed they sheered off one of the bolts and left off 2 clips holding on the plastic engine bay protector underneath the car. I didn't notice until I changed the oil 3000+ miles later. During this time 2 bolts and 2 push pin clips were the only things holding on the giant potential sail/road hazard. They tapped out the bolt and replaced the clips at no charge but informed me that the tech who did the work had since been "let go".

The core of the issue here is whether or not the dealer removed the intake manifold. If they did and lied to me, I have no way of knowing whether the seals were replaced as manufacturer dictates. I don't know what effects this could have for the engine down the road. If they didn't remove the intake, they charged me 3.5 hours of labor for a job they didn't perform. All of this is then wrapped around the fact the car does not run as I expect it to. Either gross negligence occurred, or fraud.

I was a big proponent of using the dealership for service even though they are generally more expensive. I had an independent shop do $5000 worth of damage to an engine in my previous car. Now, my attitude will likely be re-adjusted, at least with the Annapolis chain of car dealerships.
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Old 06-28-2016, 01:33 PM   #2
Scooby Newbie
Member Sales Rating: (0)
Member#: 396861
Join Date: Jul 2014

i'd take their offer and be done with it. in the future, find a reputable shop to do any work you aren't comfortable doing yourself. stay away from dealerships for service.
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Old 07-03-2016, 04:17 AM   #3
Scooby Newbie
Member Sales Rating: (2)
Member#: 3409
Join Date: Jan 2001
Chapter/Region: NWIC
Location: Oly
98 My FMIC
Is bigger than yours.


Dealerships aren't any different than aftermarket shops. No shop out there gives away time or materials, parts are marked up no matter where you go. Stay away from crappy shops, or get to know the mechanics at your local shop and request that particular tech to work on your car.
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