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Old 02-09-2015, 11:29 PM   #1
reide181
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Default The 08-14 Spot Welds Thread (Letter from SOA) (How to Check Your Welds)

Thanks Photobucket... I will be working on re-hosting these images elsewhere and getting this thread back up and running.


Introduction: This thread has grown a crazy amount with the help of many great NASIOC'ers! We were able to get a copy of an extended warranty letter from Subaru, along with a bunch of photos making this thread very informative and helpful! Several examples of fixes are detailed below. Everything should be explained thoroughly, so hopefully this directs people in the right direction. Thank you to everyone!


The 08-14 Spot Welds Thread
_____________________________________________

Since I have been talking about this a lot recently, I decided to do a small write up on how to check your 08+ WRX/STI spot welds. Lots of this post, especially the background info, is copied and pasted from my previous posts and build thread here.

What is the issue?
Basically the firewall is so thin that it flexes terribly every time the clutch or brake pedal is pressed. The big problem is the way the clutch/brake assembly is secured to the thin firewall. It only has 6 small spot welds that rip off the firewall after time. This makes it so you can't get in and out of gear. Clutch becomes useless.

Who?
2008-2014 GH/GR Impreza (2.5i/OBS/WRX/STI). I don't think the issue can be linked to a certain batch of vehicles, certain climate/location, or certain year. This has happened all over the world, all years 08-14, and all models (within the GH/GR chassis).

When does this happen?
Again, there is no telling "when" this happens. Of course older cars tend to have more wear and tear (not trying to be punny). From personal experience, my 2010 OBS creaked from the dealer on day one. My current WRX clicks at 50k miles but no creak. Several buddies have the creak: 09 WRX with 83k, 10 WRX with 40k, 10 WRX with 60k. Many people are saying the same. Could happen on day one or never.

Different types of driving? For the most part that should not effect this, but if you frequently use the clutch hard (autox, racing...) I'm sure this can happen faster. If you drive mostly highway miles, you use the clutch less, therefore on average those drivers should see more miles before an issue. For your everyday and spirited driving, I think everyone is just as likely as anyone else. If it takes an average of 'x' amount of clutch engagements until the problem occurs, people who use the clutch more will see an issue faster (not trying to scare people LOL).

As for a stiffer clutch, I would guess yes! Heavier clutch would require more pedal force to engage the motion. More pedal force would put more force on the firewall and spot welds. One of the WRXs I helped fix had a stage 2 Exedy, every weld ripped clean off the firewall by the time we fixed it. The driver had to float gears to get it home.

So, since this can happen in warranty, it must be covered right?
Our firewalls are causing huge problems, and Subaru refuses to recall or extend warranty coverage.

UPDATE: warranty coverage has been extended in June 2015 for 2008, 2009, and 2010 WRX and STI. But this only extends coverage for one extra year. Now 4yr/48,000 miles from original sale date. Thanks Subaru (sarcastic). So unless you were a leftover 2010 model car with the service date starting June 2011, you are out of luck. They are offering reimbursements for previous work. Either way, the letter might still help people argue their case at the dealer. Thank you slatere17, bmxhotsauce, and bigmaninjapan for their provided copies of the letter. I used each and re-uploaded a Google Docs link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxH...ew?usp=sharing

This is a shame and anyone that has seen the firewall flex is mind blown that this design made it out of the factory and into production. Good job R&D! Some people can't even get it covered in warranty. Stories vary from zero coverage to 100% coverage. So really, no one knows. Some dealers are nicer than others. Many people contact SOA with a greater success, including people out of warranty. Most of the stories start with the dealer denying work under warranty. Then after a call and fight with SOA, it is addressed. SOA is aware of the issue and addressing it in most cases.

I would like to remain hopeful that one day Subaru extends warranty coverage for this known issue. A recall would be extremely costly and not the best way to go about fixing this issue. Like said before, this can possibly never happen to some owners. So a recall would be a HUGE hit on Subaru. Therefore, Subaru should follow the idea Mitsubishi used with their ATC/ACD pump failures. On EVOs in the salt-belt, the pumps corrode and fail. In response, EVO owners received an extended warranty (for pump only) to 10yr/100k miles for free pump replacements. Mitzu letter here. Maybe we can be hopeful for a solution like this one day.

How do I tell if this is starting to happen to me?!
Three main symptoms most agree on:
1) Your clutch will creak and/or click when you push it in.
2) You can see excessive movement of the clutch master cylinder when the pedals are pushed.
3) When the clutch is applied, the brake pedal will move to the left a significant amount.

**All three shown in the video below in the "Good vs. Bad" Section**

Checking the spot welds:
The best way to check the health of your spot welds is from under your wiper cowl. You might want to do this for your own peace of mind or because the dealer says they "can't find where the creak is coming from". Takes about 20 min start to finish. While checking mine, took pics so I could lay this out and make it stupidly easy to follow.

1) Mark the wiper locations with masking tape. If you have heated strips then this isn't necessary but I still did it!
2) Remove the plastic wiper bolt covers. Pull up from the flat side. Then, remove the 14mm nuts from the wipers. Remove wipers.



3) Remove the 7 plastic fasteners: 2 philips-head pop clips per side and 3 plastic clips in the middle. If you break clips use zipties to reinstall later (I did this). Pic shows the 3 passenger side clip locations and the center clip location. Drivers side 3 clips are in the same places.
4) The wiper cowl is 3 pieces: the large center piece and the 2 small end pieces. You will only need to remove the center piece. Unclip the ends of the center wiper cowl piece from the 2 small pieces. This pic shows how the pieces clip together. Just pull straight up and then remove.


5) Now you will see the motor for the wipers. Disconnect the harness on the motor and remove the 3 10mm bolts. Slowly lift motor and assembly watching not to scratch your paint. This is what you will have off the car:


Now you will be able to clearly see the spot welds


Good vs Bad.
The white WRX is a 2011 with 53k miles. It has clicked for a long time but no creak (knock on wood). The red WRX is a 20xx with xxk miles (will be updated...). Was creaking for a long time then finally gave up completely. Had to float gears to get it home.



This video lays out the symptoms (thanks pandedrigo):

So.... the fix?
The solution is to pull off your interior dash pieces and secure the entire assembly via welds, bolts or rivets. Some people say bolts will eventually make their way loose, but from personal experience, 2 WRXs we have fixed with bolts are holding up great. Most people use the bolt or rivet method with great success because it is much easier to do. You don't need to remove the dash for the bolt method, but you really should. You will most likely waste time by not removing it in the first place (I did). You'll struggle and eventually realize it is much easier to remove the dash to reach all the welds. Example of the bolt method here and here (thanks bmxhotsauce and stars150!). Materials include high grade bolts, lock nuts, and large washers to spread surface area.



I found this good example of how to fix the top 2 welds, if you only are lucky enough to only need to bolt the top 2. This details how to disassemble the drivers side dash pieces. (thanks 08lrWRX)

Rivets provide an easy way to secure the assembly, and so far seem to hold to the test of time. Example post from briandamge including parts, links and pics here! Thank you!



Welding metal as thin as the firewall is extremely hard, it has been known to burn through the metal. Plus welding is dangerous, be sure to lay down fire retardant material in the work area. Here is a good idea of what the welding method looks like (thanks APM Tuned on Facebook). This will take place on the inside of the firewall (under the dash). Many Subaru shops are aware of the problem and provide services like this.



You can also try the dealer, if you want to go that route. The people who are having this problem covered at the dealer are only getting the factory spot welds touched up (since that's the OEM way). Be warned that some people are experiencing the issue again after the dealer "fixes" it. Almost always the stories start with the dealer denying work under warranty. Call SOA. SOA is aware of the issue and addressing it in most cases.

How can I avoid this issue?
I don't know if the issue is completely preventable unless you "fix" it. So, stronger welds and/or bolts. But why mess with something that isn't broken. Who knows, this might not even happen to your vehicle. Many people drive around and never even know about this problem.

Several company's make products that claim to help the issues. I have experience with these 3 products:

The 2 brake master braces do the same thing. Pick your favorite company and go with that one. I've used both. They are the same when it comes the "bracing". The Perrin has it's usual prettiness. The Grimmspeed has a nice pressure cup. Both are a small PITA to install but nothing crazy.

Perrin Brake Master Brace: http://perrinperformance.com/i-13324...08-14-wrx.html
Grimmspeed Brake Master Brace: http://www.grimmspeed.com/master-cyl...9-12-forester/


The only clutch master brace on the market is from Circuit Motorsports. I use this on my current WRX and it works nicely. Like the brake braces, it reduces firewall flex, taking a small amount of force off the welds.

Circuit Motorsports Clutch Master Brace: http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show....php?t=2697993

Neither the brake nor clutch master braces will directly help the welds. All they do is reduce the firewall flex. It helps to see that one design flaw (the firewall flex) has worsened another (the spot welds breaking). Therefore, not a direct fix but the braces help by reducing forces on the welds due to the firewall flex. You'll never be able to reduce the stress caused by your foot, because the clutch needs a certain amount of force to engage properly. This force will always remain in the system. I see these braces as preventative measures and not solutions to the problem.

That being said, many Circuit Motorsports brace users with the creaking sound have reported greatly reduced noise. Which means the brace is working and reducing forces on the welds. Again, not a fix; a very effective preventative measure.

Some NASIOC spot weld stories, unfortunately updated often:
http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show....php?t=2495639

Thanks for making me worry, so... like... should I do something about this?
Here on NASIOC we are blessed and cursed all at the same time. We have access to get this information but now it leaves people, like me, paranoid as **** LOL. If you do your own research and feel like the braces are something that interest you, then do that (I did). As for the welds directly, I wouldn't go fixing something that isn't broken.

Use your car. Drive it hard. Who cares. At first this issue was a nightmare in the back of my head, something I thought about while driving. At the end of the day don't worry yourself. You bought a Subaru to have a little fun, so do that. After performing this fix I have realized that it is not as big of a nightmare as I thought. Time consuming, yes, but not "hard". Most people are having luck with SOA if you choice the dealer route. Long story short, enjoy your car!

Hopefully this helps,
-Reid
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Last edited by reide181; 09-22-2017 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 02-10-2015, 02:11 AM   #2
jrands
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Nice summary, thanks!
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Old 02-10-2015, 10:06 AM   #3
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Nice summary, thanks!
Thank you!
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Old 02-10-2015, 10:34 AM   #4
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Great write up!

I had my welds fixed by the dealer 3-4 months ago, after a short battle with SOA I was able to get the whole thing covered (2009 WRX, out of warranty, Im the 3rd owner of the vehicle)

However, it started squeaking about a month ago. So you are right, it is not a permanent fix. I have the Perrin Master Cylinder brace waiting to be installed, and will be ordering the Circuit Motor Sports brace soon.
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Old 02-10-2015, 11:37 AM   #5
reide181
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Great write up!

I had my welds fixed by the dealer 3-4 months ago, after a short battle with SOA I was able to get the whole thing covered (2009 WRX, out of warranty, Im the 3rd owner of the vehicle)

However, it started squeaking about a month ago. So you are right, it is not a permanent fix. I have the Perrin Master Cylinder brace waiting to be installed, and will be ordering the Circuit Motor Sports brace soon.
Well that is good to hear. It is a shame that Subaru doesn't recall the issue. Of course I see why they don't (extremely expensive labor costs for alllllll those Imprezas). Extended warranty coverage would be nice so we don't have to fight with SOA.

I use both of the braces and wrote reviews in installs for each in my build here. I included more pics there!
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Old 02-10-2015, 11:41 AM   #6
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Great write-up and documentation of the issue, the info was all over the place before and step by step documentation of the quick check is very helpful! I have noticed a creak on mine from about 10k all the way to where I was a couple weeks ago at 72K. Just installed the lovely piece from Circuit Motorsports and my creak is gone! No spot welds had broken yet, but as you said, who knows when or why haha!
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Old 02-10-2015, 01:32 PM   #7
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Thanks man, solid write up
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Old 02-10-2015, 05:04 PM   #8
reide181
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Originally Posted by mkvaron View Post
Great write-up and documentation of the issue, the info was all over the place before and step by step documentation of the quick check is very helpful! I have noticed a creak on mine from about 10k all the way to where I was a couple weeks ago at 72K. Just installed the lovely piece from Circuit Motorsports and my creak is gone! No spot welds had broken yet, but as you said, who knows when or why haha!
Thanks! I'm glad to hear that piece is working for you, I installed it as a precautionary measure!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dark hawk View Post
Thanks man, solid write up
I hope it helps!
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Old 02-10-2015, 05:44 PM   #9
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i do not see how the brake master cylinder brace will help. but i can see the Circuit Motor Sports brace being the best option. i re drilled and bolted my GFs 08 wrx and have not had issues with noise at all for the last 6 months.
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Old 02-10-2015, 06:33 PM   #10
reide181
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Originally Posted by bmxhotsauce View Post
i do not see how the brake master cylinder brace will help. but i can see the Circuit Motor Sports brace being the best option. i re drilled and bolted my GFs 08 wrx and have not had issues with noise at all for the last 6 months.
Brake master brace doesn't help directly with the welds. Neither does the clutch master brace. All they do is reduce the firewall flex.

It helps to see that one design problem has worsened another. Therefore, not a direct fix but the braces help by reducing forces on the welds due to the firewall flex. You'll never be able to reduce the stress caused by your foot, because the clutch needs a certain amount of force to engage properly. This force will always remain in the system.

I see it as a preventative measure and not a solution to the problem.

Last edited by reide181; 02-10-2015 at 06:39 PM.
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Old 02-10-2015, 06:35 PM   #11
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Drilling and Bolt/Washer/Nut is the way to too IMO, get nice Hardware and a lock nut with a thick washer.

If you tightened the bolt properly which also means choosing the correct bolt diameter , then you will never see it loosen.
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Old 02-10-2015, 06:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reide181 View Post
Brake master brace doesn't help directly with the welds. Neither does the clutch master brace. All they do is reduce the firewall flex.

It helps to see that one design problem has worsened another. Therefore, not a direct fix but the braces help by reducing forces on the welds due to the firewall flex. You'll never be able to reduce the stress caused by your foot, because the clutch needs a certain amount of force to engage properly. This force will always remain in the system.

I see it as a preventative measure and not a solution to the problem.
great rebuttal. and great info. i have a write up on here when i did our firewall with the bolt and nuts. if you Google it there are many out there was well. hope you guys fix it. i didnt want to go to subaru since they were going to we weld it the same as before so why put a band-aid on it when i can fix it myself and never have to worry about it again.
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Old 02-10-2015, 06:54 PM   #13
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RE-POST for my other thread regrading the fix.
this weekend i attempted to fix the welds myself with a buddy on my GF 2008 WRX.
whole process took about 4 1/2-5 hours. i have never taken a 2008+ dash out.
i only seen 3 crack the 2 main top welds were really bad. so i drilled them out and put bolts and washer threw it. for additional and prevention i tack welded the nut to the threads so the nut can never loosen up. only thing that i got caught up on was the DASH air bag. but i found you can take out 2 10mm bolts that hold it to a bracket and you can remove the dash with ease.






you can see the crack. once i did 1 bolt the noise/cracking sound went away. i still went ahead and did the next weld over.
the far left weld. i didn't drill out only cause i couldn't find where it went. so i didn't want to drill into something or hit wires.
once i had the 2 bolts in no more brake pedal movement when compressing the clutch and no more noise.
i did re weld the far left weld but the 2 bolts itself fixed OUR issue.

Last edited by bmxhotsauce; 02-16-2015 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 02-10-2015, 07:36 PM   #14
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are there any other correlations with this? does is happen more on stage 2 clutches with stiffer pedal? does it happen more with people pressing the clutch to the floor? city driving?
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Old 02-10-2015, 09:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thescreensavers View Post
Drilling and Bolt/Washer/Nut is the way to too IMO, get nice Hardware and a lock nut with a thick washer.

If you tightened the bolt properly which also means choosing the correct bolt diameter , then you will never see it loosen.
I agree! We used lock nuts and large washers to spread the force (larger surface area).
The small surface area the weld "held" on to was the problem in the first place.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bmxhotsauce View Post
great rebuttal. and great info. i have a write up on here when i did our firewall with the bolt and nuts. if you Google it there are many out there was well. hope you guys fix it. i didnt want to go to subaru since they were going to we weld it the same as before so why put a band-aid on it when i can fix it myself and never have to worry about it again.
I agree. I've seen many stories that end in a second dealer fix. I'd rather fix it myself (like everything on these cars) vs the dealer. Too many negative dealer stories.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmxhotsauce View Post
RE-POST for my other thread regrading the fix.
this weekend i attempted to fix the welds myself with a buddy on my GF 2008 WRX.
whole process took about 4 1/2-5 hours. i have never taken a 2008+ dash out.
i only seen 3 crack the 2 main top welds were really bad. so i drilled them out and put bolts and washer threw it. for additional and prevention i tack welded the nut to the threads so the nut can never loosen up. only think that i got caught up on was the DASH air bag. but i found you can take out 2 10mm bolts that hold it to a bracket and you can remove the dash with ease.

you can see the crack. once i did 1 bolt the noise/cracking sound went away. i still went ahead and did the next weld over.
the far left weld. i didn't drill out only cause i couldn't find where it went. so i didn't want to drill into something or hit wires.
once i had the 2 bolts in no more brake pedal movement when compressing the clutch and no more noise.
i did re weld the far left weld but the 2 bolts itself fixed OUR issue.
Awesome man! Good story and glad it worked out. I might start to reference these kinds of posts so other readers can easily find them. I agree with tack welding the end of the bolt to the nut. We did this on one of the WRXs.

EDIT: I used your post as an example!

Quote:
Originally Posted by coogs View Post
are there any other correlations with this? does is happen more on stage 2 clutches with stiffer pedal? does it happen more with people pressing the clutch to the floor? city driving?
Different types of driving? For the most part no, but if you frequently use the clutch hard (autox, racing...) I'm sure this can happen faster. For your everyday driving and WOT runs, I think you are just as likely as anyone else. Of course this is only my opinion.

As for a stiffer clutch, I would guess yes! Heavier clutch would require more pedal force. More pedal force would put more force on the firewall and spot welds. One of the WRXs I helped fix had a stage 2 Exedy, every weld ripped clean off the firewall by the time we fixed it. The driver had to float gears to get it home.

Last edited by reide181; 02-10-2015 at 09:57 PM.
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Old 02-10-2015, 10:16 PM   #16
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So I updated a few sections based on questions and info that was come up in recent replies.

bmxhotsauce I quoted your post as an example for the bolt method.

coogs your questions here addressed, thank you for helping me with a question I missed!

And kickturn, I added some more info on SOA and dealer issues, thank you!
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Old 02-10-2015, 10:41 PM   #17
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Awesome write up dude. Going through that problem. Luckily with 81000 miles and no warranty SOA is gonna help me out with most of the cost of the repairs

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Old 02-10-2015, 10:45 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by pandedrigo View Post
Awesome write up dude. Going through that problem. Luckily with 81000 miles and no warranty SOA is gonna help me out with most of the cost of the repairs
Good man! Glad to hear SOA is helping out. Are they covering half?
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Old 02-10-2015, 10:58 PM   #19
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Well they're charging $2800 for fixing the firewall welds, brake pedal replacement and clutch replacement and SOA will reimburse me for $2000... Sounds fair although makes no sense on why they need to replace the brake pedal. Clutch is worn tho. Slips in 5th gear

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Old 02-10-2015, 11:11 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by pandedrigo View Post
Well they're charging $2800 for fixing the firewall welds, brake pedal replacement and clutch replacement and SOA will reimburse me for $2000... Sounds fair although makes no sense on why they need to replace the brake pedal. Clutch is worn tho. Slips in 5th gear
Sounds fair. Hopefully they make the welds strong enough! If I were you, I would ask for pics of the work. Make sure they then repaint the area to avoid rust/corrosion, even if the welds are on the inside.
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Old 02-10-2015, 11:27 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by reide181 View Post
Sounds fair. Hopefully they make the welds strong enough! If I were you, I would ask for pics of the work. Make sure they then repaint the area to avoid rust/corrosion, even if the welds are on the inside.
Sounds good! Thnx for the advice. I'll ask if they can

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Old 02-13-2015, 04:35 PM   #22
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car goes in Tuesday for the "creaking" Great write up man. Hoping they're not broken and I can spend the $ on the brace.
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Old 02-13-2015, 04:38 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Joshfl420 View Post
car goes in Tuesday for the "creaking" Great write up man. Hoping they're not broken and I can spend the $ on the brace.
Is your brake pedal shifting to the side when you press down on the clutch pedal? If it is most likely broken spot welds :-\

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Old 02-15-2015, 09:51 PM   #24
TWlSFM
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Do you really have to take out the dash to do the bolt method?
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Old 02-16-2015, 09:09 AM   #25
reide181
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshfl420 View Post
car goes in Tuesday for the "creaking" Great write up man. Hoping they're not broken and I can spend the $ on the brace.
Goodluck, post some dealer experiences and info after you get the car back!


Quote:
Originally Posted by pandedrigo View Post
Is your brake pedal shifting to the side when you press down on the clutch pedal? If it is most likely broken spot welds :-\
This is true. It's a pretty dramatic displacement

Quote:
Originally Posted by TWlSFM View Post
Do you really have to take out the dash to do the bolt method?
We were able to just barely get 3 bolted without the dash entirely out. Takes a lot of arm bending and twisting under the dash. To get the rest you'll need to remove the rest of the dash. So if you plan to fix it right and as fast as possible, just remove the entire dash to begin with.
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