Lots of words. C/N: Bloomington Subaru has been horrible and still hasn't centered my steering wheel after 2 alignments and many other poor service visits.
This whole ordeal started in October when I had a small accident involving a blind curb. I broke a wheel, bent a control arm, and damaged the hub and steering knuckle. Don't remember what else, but that was the gist of it.
Bloomington Subaru was only about 2 miles from where I had the accident and a half block away from the shop that did the repairs. Well, got the car back and the steering wheel wasn't centered. Not even close. I couldn't ever get them to work out a time to get it in the shop when I wouldn't be like 2 hours late for work.
3/7/06 - 3/9/06
Fast Forward to early March when my cooling fan started running constantly. I waited a few days to confirm that it was definitely the same problem I had read about in this forum. Once I was sadly convinced it was the ECU and relays, I called the same dealership thinking I could finally just kill two birds with one stone. I called and talked to a service advisor about making an appointment for an Oil change, Tire rotation, Centering the Steering wheel to correct the alignment done in their shop previously, and to check the radiator issue. The service advisor asked if I was going to wait for the car or drop it off. I told him that since the ECU needed to be replaced, I didn't know how they wanted to handle it.
It was right then that he immediately took "the tone." He asked right away "What, did you read that on the internet?" I just answered matter-of-factly and noted that they needed to call the Subaru Tech Hotline to get whatever info they needed to confirm the problem and that it was a known issue. He said they needed the car first to replicate the problem before calling the tech line. They said they don't follow up on information from the internet. Annoyed, I agreed anyway knowing that I was already making the appointment for an evening and they wouldn't be able to call SOA at the same time as my appointment.
Once I drop the car off, I try to explain the cooling fan issue again and note that it is much more likely to start if the ACC is on, but then you can turn the ACC off and the fan will still not stop. They do the oil change, do the rotation, do an alignment, and run the car to check the cooling fan issue.
I get the car back and the steering wheel seems straighter but didn't seem entirely straight, but the ACC is still turned off, as is the radio. They assure me that the steering wheel is straight now and that the cooling fans are operating normally. I ask about the ACC being off and whether they ran the car with that on at all and they give me some song and dance about how the fan will run more often if the Air Conditioning pump is running. I then point out to him that the fan is running non-stop at the first stop light after my 20 mile, 60-70 mph expressway commute home in 30 degree weather. He just kind of shrugs and says that it happens. I tell him fine, I'm going to take it home, but if the fan is running still when I get home, I'm bringing the car right back.
I drive home and the wheel seems better, so I'm not sure what to think. It doesn't really bother me now, so I let the wheel go. I get home and stop in the driveway and the fan is running. What a shock. I turn the ACC completely of and sit in the driveway for 11 minutes listening to the fan run the whole time and it never once stopped. I don't want to actually drive back to the dealer so I call immediately and tell them that as I predicted, the fan is running non-stop and even with all ACC functions off. I schedule another appointment for lunch two days later so I can talk to a tech and they agree to those terms.
Two days later, I arrive at my 12:30 appointment and leave the car running to show that the fan will not stop. The service advisor says they'll get a tech and we'll look at it. I go into the lobby and wait. I check once, nothing. After about 30 minutes I'm getting pretty pissed as I need to get back to work. I finally ask what's going on again and they said they're still waiting for a tech. So much for my "appointment." I explain that I need to get back to work and again emphasize they need to let the ACC run first but then can turn it off and that they need to call the tech line so they can be told about this known problem. They say they've never heard about it, so it can't be a "known" problem.
They shuttle me back to work and I leave the car there.
About 2:00 I finally get a call from the dealership and they agree that the fans aren't running properly. They are going to replace the relays as the tech has isolated the problem. Still no indication they called the tech line, but they assure me they've fixed the problem. The dealership agrees to pick me up from work at 5:00 and bring me back to my car. The lot guy calls for directions to work and I tell him it's even cool if he gets there about 10 after too. By 5:20 I figure I've given enough extra time for traffic snarls or whatever to come get me. I handle a phone call for work and call the dealer at 5:25. They tell me that they sent the guy a long time ago and he must be lost. They didn't send a guy with a cell phone. They ask for a number to reach me back. At 5:45 they ask if the guy has showed up! I thought they were sending someone else! Nope, they get another guy on the phone and he gets directions too, they arm him with a cell phone just in case. The first guy finally calls at 5:50 and says he's lost. He's only about 2 miles from the dealership and is actually further EAST by a block rather than the 5 miles west from the intersection he should have gone west on. The new guy is surely closer at this point, so I tell him to go back to work. At 6:10, the second guy FINALLY shows up at my work and brings me back to the dealership.
They say they've checked everything and everything is working normally now. I get in the car and drive home and the fans never come on. I think they might have actually fixed it and I got lucky with not needing a new ECU. But I also never encountered any traffic, so I'd keep an eye on it again.
The next morning I drive my 25 miles to work in a snowstorm and the slow traffic allows the engine to fully warm up. Yup, fan is running again, never turns off. I call the dealership and talk to the service manager. At this point I'm boiling and demand an explanation to why they wouldn't diagnose the problem as I described, why they wouldn't call the service line, and how they're going to fix my car. The service manager again states that they don't follow up on information from the internet. I point out at this point that if they had just done what I asked in the first place it very likely might have saved me two visits to the dealership and a VERY unhappy customer. He remains unapologetic for not calling the Subaru Tech Line on the grounds that it's an "internet" rumor. I tell them that they're going to schedule a new appointment, they're going to get me a loaner and I'm not picking up my car until they call the tech line and it's fixed. He finally agrees.
I call SOA at lunch to document my horrendous experience and the SOA rep BACKS THE DEALER'S DECISION
to not call the Tech Hotline because he's personally never heard of this cooling fan problem so it's not a known issue!!! He also said they don't follow up on information from the internet!!! I told him I don't care what their stance is, I just want them to fix my car and to follow up with the dealership to ensure they do what needs to be done to get it fixed.
Because I'm frustrated with both the dealer and SOA, I call Brooklyn Park Subaru and ask if they might be of any assistance. The salesperson who sold me the car was working in service for a while, so I talked to her first, but she was back in sales, so I talked to one of their great service advisors. He said he couldn't be of much help but suggested I leave a Voice Mail with the Service Manager. Fair enough, at least it's more compliant than Bloomington has been.
I'm out at lunch and I get a phone call from the service manager at Brooklyn Park Subaru. He says he got my voice mail and asks me what's going on. I briefly explain the situation to him and he asks me where I got the info. He asks me if he can see the same info so I guide him to the Cooling Fan thread here while on the phone and he says he'll check it out and give me a call back. Five minutes later (I was eating at McDonalds, and he interrupted my lunch twice, so five minutes is not an exaggeration of how quick it was), he calls me back and says he talked to the tech line, and yes indeed, this was a known problem and all they needed to do was hook the car up to a scanner to see if the right symptoms were there and they'd order a new ECU and relays! It's interesting and worth noting that they didn't need to see my car or replicate the problem to call the Tech Hotline and did so as nothing more than a "favor."
I call Bloomington back and rub it in a little. I'm only bringing the car back there at this point because they've guaranteed a loaner and for "punishment" at this point.
I drop the car off after work and they tell me they'll check it out in the morning and give me a call.
I don't hear anything before lunch so I call the dealer to see what's up. They don't know. They call me back about 1:30 and say they're checking with SOA to see what's wrong with the car. About 3:00 or 3:30 they finally call me back and say that they had already ordered the ECU. Should be done tomorrow and they'll call me when the part comes in.
It's lunchtime again and no update. I ship stuff via Air all the time, so I know that almost all carriers ensure delivery by 10:00 am so I'm a little suspicious. I call the dealer and ask what's going on. They say the ECU is coming from Peru so it will be here on Monday now, but that it should be done by Monday afternoon. I think at this point they just delayed before looking at it on Thursday morning despite having a weeks warning to check it out and they were too late to order the part to ship it on time for a Friday delivery. This, however, is only speculation on my part. They tell me to just keep the loaner car for the weekend and they'll get me my car back on Monday. After driving the loaner Outback 2.5i for a couple days, I'm thinking my steering wheel might not be centered still, but I can't be sure.
Noon again, and no update. I call at lunch and they call me back around 1:30 or 2:00 and report that they have the part in house finally, but that they won't have the car ready the same day again. It will be done "tomorrow." They assure it will be done in the morning and should be ready to pick up by noon.
You guessed it ... Lunchtime and no update. I call the dealer AGAIN to find out what's up. No answer. They put me on hold and come back to tell me they have a tech "working on it now" and it will be ready later. I call SOA at this point and reference my case number. SOA agrees that there's no way they should have had the car for as long as they have and that there's no way they should have let the job sit once the ECU came in. SOA follows up with the dealer to ensure that it will be DONE that day. The dealer finally calls me back around 3:00 or 4:00 to tell me that the car is ready.
I inspect the car, everything seems good, so I drive home. Once on the freeway, and after having a loaner Outback for 6 days, I notice that if I hold the steering wheel Straight, the car definitely veers to the right. I'm so frustrated that I resign to defeat and figure I'll just live with that issue.
The dealer calls and leaves a voicemail at dinner asking if I was completely satisfied with my latest service experience at their dealership. If I'm not completely satisfied, I should call the dealer and talk to Amy. I leave Amy a voicemail with a brief explanation of my displeasure and explain that any further follow up will be with SOA, but if she truly feels she can fix this situation to give me a call.
Amy calls me and asks for the full explanation. I explain the problems I've had and that after all this, nearly a week in a Subaru Loaner has shown me that my steering wheel still isn't straight. She's the FIRST person who has understood that the alignment is good, but that the steering wheel is centered. She asks if I would be happy if they were to center the wheel for me if she could get service to agree to do that, but made no guarantees. I explained that I wouldn’t be "happy" as there is no possible way the dealership will be able to earn my business back after all that has transpired, but that I would at least feel that they did the right thing if they REALLY centered the steering wheel.
Later in the day I get a call from service and they say "You should have told us while we had the car if the wheel wasn't straight." I pointed out that since it went from "Bad" to "not good" it was hard to compare where it should have been until I had a Loaner for a few days to compare to. After having the loaner Outback, I realized it was MUCH further off center than I originally realized, but the loaner really did feel "right." They said if I wanted to have the wheel centered to call them and set up an appointment and they'll take care of it.
As of now, I don't trust them to do anything right, or to provide good service. They've offered to center the steering wheel, I just need to make an appointment. This will be the fourth appointment in a month. They've managed to screw up on the first three appointments, so I'm not looking forward to having to go back. I'd somewhat like to get this resolved at another dealer, but don't know if another dealer will perform service another dealer did wrong. I'm also wondering if SOA would resolve this through another dealer.
Do you think I should:
A) Let them center the wheel and give them an opportunity to do it right
B) Call SOA again and see if they'll arrange to have the wheel centered at the dealer of my choice (Brooklyn Park, of course)
C) Give up and and live with the crooked steering wheel
D) Play dumb at another dealer and ask for the wheel to be centered under warranty
Bear in mind that option D might still be an inconvenience to me, or they may choose to charge me to do this service.