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Old 07-31-2005, 09:56 AM   #1
Gr8fulDave
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Default STI cluster swap into a WRX

Hi everyone:

I thought I'd do a write-up on the STI cluster swap into a WRX issue because several people have contacted me privately and it seems to come up on a fairly regular basis.

First a disclaimer: I am an attorney but this write-up is not intended to be legal advice and anyone who does the swap does so at their own risk.

Anyhow, whatever you do, do not replace the cluster yourself if you care about your warranty. I know that it is an easy mod that takes about 15 minutes if you don't care about getting the outside temperature probe to work, but you are almost guaranteed to run into warranty problems if you do. Obviously I don't know what every model year warranty book says, but in the 2003 WRX warranty book it states on p. 14, under the section titled "Cars Ineligible for Warranty Coverage" that "The car is not eligible for warranty coverage if . . . . the odometer mileage has been changed so that mileage cannot be readily determined."

The way to try to avoid this problem is to have a shop that is authorized to do swaps involving odometer changes to do it for you and to properly document the mileage on the original cluster and the replacement cluster. Apparently, there is a federally mandated sticker that is placed on the driver's side door jamb to document the actual mileage at the time of the swap and the mileage on the replacement cluster. The SOA rep told me that you do not need to have a Subaru dealer do this, but I'm going to my dealer anyway. I want to make sure that the information is entered into the Subaru computer system and that SOA can't challenge the swap by saying that an outside shop may have played games with the mileage or improperly documented it. Also, if you use a mom and pop type garage, you run the risk that the shop may go out of business and you may have trouble getting the necessary paperwork down the road if you need it.

Even if you do everything properly, there is a still a possibility that your dealer or SOA would attempt to deny warranty coverage if a defect arose after the swap. The warranty section also states that "The car is not eligible for warranty coverage if . . . . the vehicle has been dismantled, destroyed, or changed in such a manner that constitutes a material alteration of its original construction." SOA could argue that putting in a cluster that was not "designed" for the WRX is "a material alteration of its original construction." I personally think that is a losing argument since the STI cluster is 99% plug and play into the WRX ( I believe wire number B28 needs to be cut to avoid shorting out your radio; see Scoobymods.com for a complete tutorial with pictures), but that would not stop an attorney from trying to make it.

It probably would not be worth it to the average person to have to pay for a lawyer to fight them since it could very well cost them more than just paying for the repair out-of-pocket. However, I have the advantage of not needing to hire a lawyer because I could easily handle what would be a very simple breach of contract case.

Again, a final disclaimer, my statements are not intended as legal advice because every car, every situation, and every state involve unique legal questions. If you have any specific questions about your personal situation, I urge you to contact an attorney in whatever state that you reside before you have the swap done.

Good luck, have fun in your WRX, but be safe,

David

P.S.
Thanks to Jon [in CT] for the relevant United States Code citation of 49 USC 32704. It doesn't seem to bar a "person" from doing it themselves as long as the sticker documenting the change is affixed to the door frame, but I would still have a Subaru dealership do it. If an individual does it themselves SOA could always say that it was fraudulent or not properly documented and that "the mileage cannot be readily determined." Also, I'm not sure if the sticker has to be in a particular format; the dealer that is doing my install said that they had the right type of sticker, so it seems like there may be some sort of official federally mandated sticker. Again, a disclaimer, these statements do not constitute legal advice.
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Last edited by Gr8fulDave; 07-31-2005 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 07-31-2005, 11:19 AM   #2
Jon [in CT]
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The most famous related case around here was North Ursalia's, described at http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=143651. It was posted back when embedded html was allowed, so it's hard to read now. He did the instrument cluster swap himself and didn't add the sticker to the left door frame of his car specifying the mileage before the replacement and the date of the replacement, as required by 49 USC 32704. Matters were further complicated because his STi cluster was calibrated for kilometers instead of miles. He got so mad he started a new website, www.deniedmywarranty.org, and, on another website of his, he started selling pirated Subaru service manual CDROMs, I guess to recoup some of his tranny repair expenses.
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Old 07-31-2005, 11:28 AM   #3
Gr8fulDave
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Thanks for the relevant United States Code citation. See the P.S to the start of my thread for a further discussion.

Last edited by Gr8fulDave; 07-31-2005 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 07-31-2005, 03:19 PM   #4
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Not only could it mess with your warranty, but it could also mess up when you register the car and go thru inspection. If they can't prove the ododmeter, your vehicle can become "exempt" and cause more problems down the road, especially if you want to sell it.
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Old 07-31-2005, 06:03 PM   #5
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Also, even if everything is done correctly, if you want to sell the car down the road to a private party, some may be scared off by the resulting CarFax possible odometer rollback flag.
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Old 07-31-2005, 06:46 PM   #6
tony2298
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ok so lets say your wrx has 15k why not just buy a cluster with more then 15k and wait till your wrx reaches the exact millege on that clust then swap problem solved i would think
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Old 07-31-2005, 09:01 PM   #7
RexyGirl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony2298
ok so lets say your wrx has 15k why not just buy a cluster with more then 15k and wait till your wrx reaches the exact millege on that clust then swap problem solved i would think

Sounds easy and logical, and maybe not impossible, but how many people are going to do this? And, when ever you change the odometer, it still has to be logged. It will still throw up a red flag
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Old 07-31-2005, 09:11 PM   #8
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arent these clusters LCD anyway?......wouldnt that mean that the logged mileage would come from the ECU or some other place?...or is it on-board the actual oem cluster?
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Old 07-31-2005, 10:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony2298
ok so lets say your wrx has 15k why not just buy a cluster with more then 15k and wait till your wrx reaches the exact millege on that clust then swap problem solved i would think
what happen if you are in the middle of the highway when u reach the exact milege?
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Old 07-31-2005, 11:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StE823
what happen if you are in the middle of the highway when u reach the exact milege?
Make sure to keep the tools and odometer with you at all times and pull off to the side of the road and change it
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Old 07-31-2005, 11:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danny8630
arent these clusters LCD anyway?......wouldnt that mean that the logged mileage would come from the ECU or some other place?...or is it on-board the actual oem cluster?

I believe that the mileage is on-board the OEM cluster; if it was in the ECU it would probably be too easy to mess with.
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Old 07-31-2005, 11:50 PM   #12
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Bingo. There are a few companies out there that are capable of changing the Odometer reading on them, but they're few and far between.
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Old 08-01-2005, 02:52 PM   #13
North Ursalia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon [in CT]
The most famous related case around here was North Ursalia's, described at http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=143651.
The mileage was recorded per NH state law, and Subaru of America chose to ignore that, as it was more convenient than paying the claim. The cluster reads in KM perfectly, and there is no law that I am aware of that says an odometer must read in miles- we work on cars destined for Canadian markets that people in the USA own here at the dealership frequently enough that the "mileage" field on our repairs orders have a miles/kilometers flag.

I didn't start deniedmywarranty.org because I got mad and stomped my feet around; I started it because I know people with legitimate claims are being denied for ludicrous and often baseless reasons. Please get your facts straight before attempting to making authoratative statements on the subject.

Brian


Last edited by North Ursalia; 08-01-2005 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 08-01-2005, 04:50 PM   #14
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Brian, thanks for clarifying your actions and intentions! I think both you and all of us would be better off w/o the final sentence in your post, though.
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Old 08-01-2005, 04:55 PM   #15
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I suppose so


Brian

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