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Old 01-10-2005, 09:28 PM   #1
Scooby Newbie
Member#: 65337
Join Date: Jun 2004
Chapter/Region: Tri-State
Location: Carlisle, PA
2004 Outback Sport

Default Few questions stemming from service I had

Hey guys and girls, I was curious about a few things that have been on my mind since visiting my dealer the other day. I had my car in to the dealer for the "Winter Maintenance Special", which was a fair deal - oil change, tire rotation, top off all fluids, inspection of brakes, exhaust, suspension, and lubrication of doors & tailgate hinges, all for $35. But anyway, I came out of there with 2 questions, so here they are:

1. OK, so I've got 3,000 miles to go until it's time for 30k mile maintenance. I've read posts to see what everyone here likes to do, and coupled with the owner's manual, I've decided that I'm going to do the following: oil change, air filter, fuel filter, pcv valve, gear oil (it's a 5MT), rear diff oil, brake fluid, engine coolant, plugs, and wires (I know wires aren't necessary, but I figure, hey, why not, I'm gonna do the plugs!) If I've missed anything please let me know. Anyway, here's my question regarding this. Unfortunately, I don't have the time/tools/resources to do it myself, though I wish I could. As it works out, the parts themselves only amount to approximately $125 to $150. My dealer charges $469 for the 30k maintenance! I asked the guy, and he said it's very labor intensive and takes about 6 hours to do, so there's over $300 of labor charge in that deal. If you ask me, that seems like quite a stretch, I can't see all that taking 6 hours to do. Luckily, I've found an independent mechanic who specializes in Subarus about 45 minutes away, so I'm going to call and ask him what his labor charge would be if I supplied all the materials. My question then, is this: What does seem like a fair price to do that amount of work? What if he says like $250? Sure, I'd save money over going to the dealer, but should I continue to look for a better labor rate? What's a reasonable amount for that much work?

2. Final question: The service rep gave me the sales pitch for their $89 "Engine Sludge Suck Out" special treatment whereby they drain your oil, and hook up a machine (I believe it was through the oil filter and the drain hole) that uses a special solution to clean all the sludge, junk, and crud out of your engine, from the bottom of the oil pan to wherever oil travels through your engine. Quite skeptical, I told him it sounded like a bunch of crap, but he told me everyone's very happy when they have that service done, and some do it as frequently as every 15k. Still skeptical, I started asking other customers in the waiting room if they've had that super suck out performed, and two guys told me that they had, one immediately after break in on his WRX, the other at 45k on his Forester. Both seemed impressed, particularly the Forester guy who said his engine seemed smoother and for about 10k miles after the service, he was averaging 2-3 more mpg than before. So this has really got me thinking that maybe the engine suck out isn't so bad. The final thing is this. I don't wish to create a debate about engine oils, but I believe about 75% of my oil changes have been with Quaker State (which is what the dealer uses). Now, correct me if I'm mistaken, but I believe that I've read somewhere that Quaker State is abnormally high in parraffin, and over time leaves a waxy build up in your oil pan. So it seems to me that this engine suck out would be a good way to clean that all out. What are your thoughts/feelings on this?

OK, that's it, no more questions. If you had the patience and time to read to this point, thank you, you deserve a gold star and a pint of beer! Thanks for all your time and feedback!!!
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Old 01-10-2005, 09:50 PM   #2
Trust no one
Member#: 11170
Join Date: Oct 2001
Chapter/Region: Tri-State
Location: NYC
02 WRX
15 WRX/05 GTO


Yes the dealer is overcharging you and overestimating the labor needed for the 30K. Either have the independent shop do it, or do it yourself. It isn't that hard. You can hook up with some locals in your area forum for assistance.
The engine cleaning is just the dealer fishing for more of your money. It is absolutely unnecessary. At 30K as long as you have been doing regular oil changes and don't do exclusively short-trip driving, there will be no sludge in your engine to suck out, the only thing being sucked will be the money from your wallet. Don't fall for this one.
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Old 01-10-2005, 10:06 PM   #3
Scooby Guru
Member#: 10309
Join Date: Sep 2001
Chapter/Region: NWIC
Location: Seattle, WA
'02 OBS 2-tone!
'95 Montego Miata


1. I'd replace the clutch fluid along with the brake fluid. Both absorb moisture, which is bad for them and any metal they come in contact with.
I think the independent Subaru mechanic is an excellent idea. I'd expect his labor rate to be maybe 25% less than the dealer's. However, you need to remember that just like the dealer, he makes some of his profit on parts, so if you supply the parts, he may charge an extra fee or higher labor rate, and be justified in doing so.
I would just call up the independent mechanic, tell him that you were a bit shocked at the dealer's estimate for 30k work, and ask him to list what he would recommend, and what his price would be. You can also ask if he uses Subaru brand parts, or aftermarket parts, and, if the latter, how much more it would be for Subaru parts.

2. I've heard that about Quaker State, too, and I wouldn't use it. The gadget sounds like 99% profit center. This is a good excuse to spend $25 on a pair of Rhino Ramps at Walmart, and start changing your own oil.
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