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Old 01-23-2013, 04:38 PM   #1
Scooby Specialist
Member#: 298233
Join Date: Oct 2011
Chapter/Region: NESIC
Location: Boston MA
2008 STi
wish it were white

Default 08+ Multiple Piston Failures (long read)

For the record I like to ramble a bit (okay, much more than a bit) so those of you who don't like to read long boring sob stories click the back button I won't be offended. I'm not the most articulate, intelligent individual nor am I a writer I like to consider myself a babbler so have fun bashing me

I am looking for a place to share with others who have had the same or similar story and try to find some reason for my problem but mainly just to vent. Call me selfish I don't care. Who knows maybe this will help someone else.

My story: It all started when I was just a boy... Wrong story, sorry.

There is probably a bunch of this story that I'm forgetting and there is always the other side of the story but it's my story, so there...

I bought a 2008 STi in Oct 2011 with 18,000 miles. The previous owner is a close friend and customer of mine and I was confident that the car was cared for with the utmost attention (he recorded every time he waxed it). I reviewed all service records and carfax. I researched the STi before I bought it and felt comfortable that the car still had a bunch of powertrain warranty still intact. The previous owner and I are both middle aged men (like that matters). His recollection is that around 15k miles he brought the car to the dealer for loss of power and some other minor issues and the dealer informed him that there was a computer update that needed to happen. They also told him that cylinder 4 compression was out of operating limits and they would replace the piston under warranty. Three days later he got the car back and it ran perfect. However, he has no paperwork from the dealer about the piston repair (different story). Kinda fishy I think now but I thought it would be ok.

List of modifications completed prior to my purchase:
perrin 25 mm sway bars front/rear
perrin end-links
h & r springs front/rear
kenwood navigation

After a long drive to his summer home where the car was being stored for the winter I finally was in the driver's seat but I was so excited to get moving I forgot the spare keys, stock springs and sway bars and the service records (foreshadow). I got the car with 18k and the first thing I did after my drive home was change the oil, plugs, air filter, wiper blades , battery and checked everything under the roof, including: all fluids, brakes rotors/pads, tires, engine compression, bulbs and everything else I could reach without tearing the drive train out. I install remote starters so I really wanted to put one in this car but I decided against it because of the balance of warranty and I wanted to avoid any possible issues, besides I forgot the spare key needed for the bypass. I read the owners manual to reset the rev warning light. He had it set to 6000 and that seemed to be a bit high for my needs so I set it to alert me at 5000 rpm. Everything was as I expected the car ran like a champ and handled like any race car I could imagine. This was the first day of owning MY new Subaru. 6 hours or combing through the car looking for problems. I took apart every plastic panel in the car and put closed cell foam around the edges to stop the squeaks and rattles. It is still a bit loud in the cabin while cruising but there are no rattles!

5 months and 6,000 miles later I noticed a bit of hesitation in the rain and at first I thought I was just slipping under acceleration. Boy was I wrong. The next day it was dry and the same thing happened. No CEL but the hesitation seemed to get worse so I pulled the plugs and did a compression test. With my results not good (#4 50psi and 150 on the rest) I headed to a local Subaru dealer for inspection. Keep in mind I didn't disclose my compression test results. The first thing they said was that my warranty was void if I didn't have service records. That is actually the first thing they said after I told them my concern. Knowing that the previous owner had kept such detailed records I knew this was not a problem (another story I actually had to drive 400 miles to get the records). The very next thing they said was the warranty was void if there were any modifications to the car. I asked if suspension upgrades would be considered. With an arrogant laugh I was told my suspension warranty has expired. I know jerk but that wasn't my question! (I didn't say it but I wanted to). They set me up with a rental, a 200k+ miles forester with a broken windshield and a check engine light! The next day I received a call to inform me that my turbo was bad and since I didn' have the service records in the glove box it would be repaired at my cost of $1800. At this point I am starting to get upset but the worst has yet to come. I asked f they had done a compression test and if they could call another shop to get confirmation of service records. They said no to both requests. Accusations of major engine modifications started to fly and short of calling me a liar directly they hung up on me. I called SoA. Holy crap this is terrible! So as not to end up in a verbal fight with the caller I decided to go the more civil route. I charged down there in my new forester with the broken windshield and CEL to engage in a fist fight. He was not there. So I got the keys to the STi and decided to take it to another dealer. I limped the car the 15 or so miles to the next closest Subaru dealer while on the phone with SoA.

The new service department was much more friendly. They offered to set me up with a loaner but I had arranged another vehicle so I declined but not before I asked what the car was. I just had to know if the 10 year old forester was a common rental/loaner for Subaru dealers. They offered me a 2012 legacy outback (I think) and they were not requesting I pay for it. Nonetheless this was starting to shape up into a decent experience. After a long trip to retrieve the service records, keys and suspension parts I left behind a few months ago I finally had the answer I wanted. My engine would be covered under warranty. They told me that my turbo, which was diagnosed by the previous dealer as bad, was actually fine. The remedy was to replace 1 piston. Woha! That has already been done and it didn't last 10k miles. That is protocol for the repair if they find no other issues I guess but to do it again. I didn't like the sound of this so I questioned why they would not just replace the motor. Well it so happens that there is no record of the first piston replacement. Whatever, I just wanted my car back, but now I think I should have pressed a bit more. They told me the car would be done in a week or so and satisfied my immediate desire. I asked them to do the 30k mile recommended service and check the brakes while they had it so I was expecting to pay for at least that. I figured I would be in for $800 plus or minus $200 for the service, so I was happy when they gave me a bill for $260. Wow, these guys were my heroes. Car ran like a dream for 30 miles until the check engine light came on. I plugged in the code reader to find something with the cruise control. Not to mention the 20 or so nuts and bolts that flew off of the windshield when I busted the u-turn to head back to the dealer. I got out and tried to gather up all of the bolts but only managed to find a hand full from the road and another hand full from the wind shield pocket. When I returned to the dealer the next morning they found that a wire had been pinched while installing the piston. I am totally cool with that because I have worked on cars and things happen but the bolts missing is a different case. From my count at least 25 nuts and bolts were not installed. They said it was an oversight. New hardware was used and the old ones simply had not been disposed of properly. They apologized and sent me on my way. When I got home I popped the hood as any car guy would do and inspect the work. I just happen to be a pretty confident quasi mechanic so I start digging and looking for missing hardware. You know the mystery bolts that went for a flight. There were so many missing nuts and bolts I don't know where to begin. Let's just say I spent the better part of that day installing the missing bolts just from the turbo heat shield alone. The great part of owning the car is that when I get in the drivers seat and switch the knob to s# all of my stress goes away and I forget about everything behind me.

Skip to 10 months later: Rough idle, skips on start up, smokes like john wayne, and burns oil. Oh boy here we go again! I just did a compression test and whaddaya know! Cylinder #4 has gone on vacation again. This is a common theme with my rig. Maybe I need to get a 5 cylinder audi so when one goes I still have 4. Just kidding my last car was an Audi B7 S4 V8 and that is not an option ever again... EVER! Glove box latch, $980 center console latch $850 finally selling the pig, priceless! But is the Subaru any better? By my count 3 pistons in cylinder #4 by their's its 2. I really think that because there is no damage in any of the others there must be a problem with the actual block by now. If they think another piston in the same hole will fix the issue I have to consider the thought that they 1. don't really care, 2. don't really know or 3. just want my damn warranty to expire already so they can get this nightmare out of their hair. Take a screw and drive it into some wood until it spins freely then back it out. If you put the same size screw back in it will still not hold. Metal is less forgiving and a small score will reduce the integrity.

After the last failure I decided my passion for the car greatly outweighs the disgust so I began amassing the components necessary to have a reliable engine. I have a freshly bored block, forged pistons, rings, rods, bearings crank and all the fixings to go with it. This was all supposed to happen next winter as I will have the necessary time and cash to finish. Keep in mind that I don't want more power and I am fine with the stock turbo, intake, exhaust, fuel system and tune. I just want the car to make it to 150k. Now is that too much to ask?

Right now I am sitting here passing time while waiting for a service rep to call about the delivery of the car. It sits in the garage sans coil packs and plugs, intake and battery from the compression test. Not to mention it is 8 degrees outside and the garage isn't heated so re installing everything is not an option right now. If there was a dealer out there that would agree to install my parts instead of the same crap that has failed on numerous occasions I would pull the car there with dental floss and my riding mower. If not I will be forced to do the motor myself. I'm not sure this is a good idea but I don't want them to throw another pile of poop at the pile of poop that has a pile of poop already on it. If I find a a dealer that will fight to replace the entire motor I will again drag it there with my riding mower if need be.

Thanks for reading this rambling mess and if anyone cares I might pop in here and there for updates.

Best regards

p.s. I love my car just not the motor.
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