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Old 12-19-2005, 11:22 PM   #1
roblange
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Default Fighting service bill, need advice.

I brought my car into EastSide Subaru's service department telling them I wanted my check engine light problem fixed and to make sure it passes emissions (WA state). The engine codes are:

P0447 Evaporative emission control system vent control low input
P1443 Evaporative emission control system vent control function problem

After looking at it for 30 minutes they called me and said the 02 sensor needed to be replaced to fix the problem. They did say that if that didn't work they'd have to call an electrition and check all the wires because there was some burn damage.

After another hour they called me and said it worked perfectly and the problem was solved. Later that day I picked my car up, but the next morning while driving 70 on the freeway the check engine light came back on.

I feel a little cheated that they replaced a perfectly good sensor and then told me it was fixed. Not only did they not give me the sensor they took out, but they also took my owner's manual out of the car and didn't put it back.

So, my plan is to go in there and convince them to put the old sensor back in and not charge me for the new sensor. I'm not sure how I'm going to pull this off because I have a feeling the guy is going to stone wall me. If anyone has any recommendations/advice please let me know.

I'd also be really interested to know if replacing the 02 sensor is common practice when dealing with these engine codes?

- Update: Please read below for my updated information and new questions that require advice -
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Last edited by roblange; 12-20-2005 at 08:50 PM.
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Old 12-19-2005, 11:37 PM   #2
Mulder
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Those evaporative system codes have nothing to do with the 02 sensor. They indicate a problem with the evap vent hardware or wiring (duh) and the manual has a specific troubleshooting procedure for those codes which should have been followed. No way would this lead to replacing an 02 sensor, which if bad would set totally different codes.
What wires exactly had "burn damage", and why do they need an electrician? It's a car not a house.
Something sounds very fishy about this dealer. If this is an accurate account of what happened, you should definitely be given a refund after which you should find another dealer to work on your car.
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Old 12-20-2005, 01:24 AM   #3
Pakin
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Unfortunately you went to one of the dealers that are notorious for this kind of thing.

You should have went to the NWIC forum and searched around for what dealers are best to go to.

Just by searching, you'll see that Eastside Subaru isn't viewed desirable at all.

Carter Subaru in Seattle/Shoreline and Chaplins Subaru in Bellevue are two of recommended dealerships that members of NASIOC would take their cars in for service. In addition, NASIOC members do work for those dealerships.

My suggestion at your situation is see if you can furthur solve this issue with the department, be direct. Take it to upper management if needed. If it doesn't work, contact a local Subaru representive and explain the situation.

Mulder is correct, the sensor they replaced has no relation to what the EVAP MILs indicated. One would realize that with logical reasoning given the location of the components.

In fact, ask for more details. Maybe letting them see the RO notes on the back. Just by reading what the technician wrote, may you actually draw a conclusion whenever or not they did their job "thoughtfully".

Good luck,

-paK +1
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Old 12-20-2005, 04:10 AM   #4
armand1
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Agree 110% with Pakin.

Chances are 99% they won't have your old sensor to reinstall - you just have to explain that the work they did wasn't related to the codes, and didn't solve the problem, and thus you won't be paying for it. Keep all possible paper documentation (don't give them the original receipt to look it if the ask, just give them a photocopy), take notes on every person's name/position that you talk with. Explain that you are happy to escalate this to the Subaru of America zone rep and file a dispute with your credit card company on the charge (you did pay with credit card, right?), but since the error was Eastside Subaru's, you're not willing to pay for their mistake.

BTW, what Subaru do you have? Was it already out of warranty coverage?
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Old 12-20-2005, 06:15 AM   #5
roblange
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I just bought a 2000 2.5rs w/ 55k miles that had two owners before me. The first was in Arizona (Eric SS) where he put in a 2.2 turbo engine and a few other mods. Then he sold the car to Trizzle in Portland. The engine blew on Trizzle and he put all the stock parts back into the car. Since the car had never had any sort of emissions tests and the engine codes were emissions related I assumed it wouldn't pass. So I called the service department around the corner from me and asked them to fix the engine codes and make sure it could pass emissions. Then when I got the car back after authorizing them to "replace the sensor that's causing the problem" the guy looked at me funny when I ask if it passed an emissions test and said he didn't even think their equipment to test that was working. I charged $92 for a sensor to replace an already working sensor and $134 for labor onto my AMEX card.

Then I notice that my owner’s manual is missing from the glove compartment and I’m getting a headache just imaging how they’re going to claim not to have it. How do you forget to replace an owner’s manual into a car? I wonder what they were even doing with it…
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Old 12-20-2005, 08:16 PM   #6
roblange
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Post Keep the advice coming!

Well I went in there today and got so stone walled the guy actually refused to talk to me anymore. Although I did find out that the tech notes said the car was giving off a P0031 so they replaced the 02 sensor to fix that code. Funny how when I had the car checked at shucks before I brought it in I only got a P0447, and after I got the car back from eastside the WA emissions inspection also found the P0447 code. Did it magically morph into a P0031 when it was inside eastside's garage? I don't think so. Frankly I think it was either an honest mistake by the mechanic or someone is trying to defraud me. Either way I'm not paying for it. Here is the letter im writing to the president/owner of eastside subaru (if anyone knows his name that would help)

PLEASE add your thought and opinions to what I could add to this letter. AND keep in mind I haven't done any spell-check or grammar proofs so this is the hardcore rough draft.

Oh and does anyone know if a broken 02 sensor would cause you to fail WA emissions?


Rob Lange
XXXXX 5Xrd AVE SE (dunno why i X'd it out for u guys cause I dont care, but whatever)
Bothell, WA 98021
(425) 770-XXXX
December 20, 2005
President of Eastside Subaru  FILL IN NAME
Eastside Subaru Service Department
11803 NE 116th St. Kirkland, WA 98034

Dear Mr/Ms FILL IN NAME

Emissions Compliance – Failure to accurately diagnose my vehicle

On December 14, 2005 I brought my 2000 Impreza into the service department for repairs and was charged $253.59. When the car was originally brought in I spoke briefly with Jeff Shue the service manager. I explained the car needed to pass emissions so I would need to have the emissions MIL codes repaired and do an emissions check to make sure the car would pass. Later that day I received a call from Toby Gabriel informing me they found the problem and recommended I replace a broken sensor to pass emissions. After authorizing the repair over the phone I got another phone call from Toby saying the repairs solved all the problems and I should be able to pass emissions now. The next morning the check engine light came on and when I took the car in for the state emission test, it failed. The WA state documentation cited the same engine code that I brought the car in to have fixed. I returned to your service department one last time to get an explanation for all this confusion by reading the technician’s notes. It claimed the car was giving off a broken 02 sensor MIL code and not the emissions system MIL code that I described. This however is logically impossible because if I tested the car before I brought it in and was given a P0447 code and after the service the state emissions facility also received the same code then it must have been on during the service. My complaint is that the car was incorrectly diagnosed and misleading information was given to me over the phone so that repairs were done to replace a completely operational part that had nothing to do with the reason the car was originally brought into the service department.

When I brought my complaint up to Toby Gabriel he insisted that this technician was correct and my information was not. However he was unable to explain why no one detected the P0447 code during the first diagnostic and after I asked more questions he became annoyed and very confrontational. Finally he refused to talk to me about it any longer and told the service manager Jeff Shue to “deal with me”. Jeff was very respectful, but explained that the mechanic was unwilling to do the labor for free and the parts department was unwilling to pay for the 02 sensor. He said there was nothing he could do about it, but seemed sympathetic. So I decided to take this issue up with someone like yourself who could properly handle the situation.

To rectify the situation I would like a full refund on the parts and labor that were charged to me. As I stated previously the part that was fixed had nothing to do with the service requested. The mechanic incorrectly diagnosed the car and did not do any work to help the emissions, which was the labor I planned to pay for. I look forward to your prompt response so we can reach an agreement on how to handle this situation.

All accompanying documents that support the facts I have stated in this letter are attached.

Yours sincerely

Rob Lange

Last edited by roblange; 12-20-2005 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 12-22-2005, 05:35 PM   #7
blshipe
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silver

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what was the fix to the code probs? i also am having a check engine light issue that is telling me to tighten the gas cap as per an auto zone diagnostic computer. the car runs excellent and there are no apparent problems with any other system. also does anyone know any good service dept.'s in az. pitre subaru in phoenix couldn't fix a previous problem even after the 600 dollar service bill i incurred after taking my 02 wrx in for a simple tune up.
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Old 12-22-2005, 10:08 PM   #8
armand1
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'95 Montego Miata

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blshipe: there is a known issue with '02s and the CEL that is fixed by getting your ECU reflashed. I can't remember now if it was a recall (in which case it would be free for you) or just a TSB (in which case it likely won't be free if you are out of warranty). Try searching for "CEL ECU reflash."
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Old 12-22-2005, 10:18 PM   #9
armand1
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'95 Montego Miata

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roblange: based on people's past experiences, you will need someone/something external to Eastside Subaru to help you out. That will be either the SOA zone rep or American Express (if you dispute the charge). You need to do some key things:
1) Find out from American Express what the deadline date is for filing a dispute on the Eastside charge. It's often something like "60 days from the date of the statement with the error on it." You need to complete all dealings with Subaru and/or Eastside by 7 days before this date (to give you time to mail in a dispute to AmEx).
2) Include a specific reply-by date on your letter to Eastside. 10 business days is typical. Be sure you can prove that you sent the letter and that it was delivered (certified mail is the cheapest way; don't get a return receipt, just type in the Certified tracking number on the usps.com web site and it will tell you when the item was delivered).
3) Tell us what documents you have that prove your side of the story. Most important is the service order receipt specifying what work was to be done on your car. This strengthens your position immensely if it shows that you brought it in "to have xxx done on it" or "because of CEL and codes xxx".

PS - Add a first paragraph that in one or two sentences explains the problem, then in one sentence states your desired solution (including $ amount), then in one sentence provides the 10 business day deadline (I'd use a specific date).
PPS - Yes, O2 sensor problems will cause you to fail emissions. O2 sensors are key to detect whether the engine is running too rich or too lean, both of which increase pollutants.
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Old 12-22-2005, 10:34 PM   #10
armand1
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'95 Montego Miata

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In the description in your letter, you write
Quote:
Jeff was very respectful, but explained that the mechanic was unwilling to do the labor for free and the parts department was unwilling to pay for the 02 sensor. He said there was nothing he could do about it, but seemed sympathetic.
I would parallel this by including something in your letter like:
"Since there is no indication that the O2 sensor was defective, and its replacement did not improve any of the problems in my car, your mechanic apparently made a mistake in replacing my O2 sensor with a brand new one. As I am naturally unwilling to pay for an unneeded repair, the responsibility for paying for this unneeded repair thus falls upon your your organization -- all I ask is that you promptly credit the full amount of this unneeded repair (which I did not request) back to my American Express credit card by xxxday, January xx, 2006."
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Old 12-29-2005, 03:25 PM   #11
dreyna14
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CGM

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Any problem with the emissions control systems, things like cats,
O2 sensor, and all those other treehugger devices, is under a minimum Federal warranty.

"The Performance Warranty covers repairs which are required during
the first 2 years or 24,000 miles of vehicle use because the vehicle
failed an emission test. Specified major emission control components
are covered for the first 8 years or 80,000 miles. If you are a
resident of an area with an Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) program
that meets federal guidelines, you are eligible for this warranty
protection provided that..."

If they repair or replace anything dealing with emissions that fit under the requirements of the law they cannot charge you.
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Old 12-30-2005, 09:16 AM   #12
RexyGirl
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Location: Mastro Subaru, Sanford FL
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1996 Volvo 850 Turbo
with mods :)

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreyna14
Any problem with the emissions control systems, things like cats,
O2 sensor, and all those other treehugger devices, is under a minimum Federal warranty.

"The Performance Warranty covers repairs which are required during
the first 2 years or 24,000 miles of vehicle use because the vehicle
failed an emission test. Specified major emission control components
are covered for the first 8 years or 80,000 miles. If you are a
resident of an area with an Inspection and Maintenance (I/M) program
that meets federal guidelines, you are eligible for this warranty
protection provided that..."

If they repair or replace anything dealing with emissions that fit under the requirements of the law they cannot charge you.
Doesn't apply to his car....he is out of all warranties that would apply, plus the car was originally modified. Most warranties for emission related components are 3/36 unless you live in California emission states, then it's a little different. (but he does not)

The only thing covered under the 8/80 warranty is the cats, ECU and OBD system.
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Old 12-31-2005, 01:18 AM   #13
Bimmer
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White

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Possession is 9/10ths, remember...

Do as Armand said, and dispute the charge when it shows on your AmEx statement. Given that you're never going back there, there's no harm in burning them, and AmEx should go to bat for you.
At a minimum, these shysters will have to prove that the charge is legitimate (which is a PITA for them and should give you some satisfaction). More likely, they'll be too sloppy to argue with AmEx, and you won't have to pay for it.

The bad news is that your owners manual is gone...

Ben
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