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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there! Been reading this forum for years, but never needed to post until now.

I have a 2013 2.5i 6MT Outback, purchased in July. Was fooling around on some forest roads over by the Sauk River (Darrington, WA), and tried to drive through one of the gigantic puddles that forms after a good rain.

Anyway, got a little stuck and took a few minutes of back & forth to get out. In the meantime, I noticed about 2-3 inches of muddy puddle water on the passenger side. I finally get the car out of the hole/puddle and scoop out the water with a soft drink cup. Doors on both sides appear dry around the gaskets.

I get the car washed at a car wash with an underwash that night, and take it to the dealer the day after (Monday). First dealer says blah blah blah, these cars are not designed to go thru water like that and it was probably some one-way air valve, just get a detail shop to clean the carpet. Carpet is now soaked on passenger side, both front and back, and wet on driver's side.

Second dealer, where I purchased the car, again denies that warranty could cover it (despite acting surprised that this happened), does an inspection, and says that we cannot find any missing or loose plugs; it is probably the door drains. They are pulling the carpet and jute, drying and cleaning everything and doing ozone treatment, and want $500 for this. I don't want to go thru insurance for this, have enough claims already.

So my question is, is this a reasonable response from the dealer? The water was maybe a foot deep and apparently never got over the Outback logo on the running boards at any time, and was probably below that. I've owned two new subarus before, both have been used to ford the Fremont River in Utah with no problems at all, where the water is just as muddy, and deeper too. It seems odd to me that a new car wouldn't have some measure of water resistance that would allow you to cross a foot or so of water.

Any suggestions from you guys? Contact Subaru of America? I've never needed significant warranty service before, so I'm a little lost here. Btw, the car has under 10,000 miles and is still under the bumper to bumper warranty.
 

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You try contacting SOA, what do you have to lose. As far as warranty repair work goes, I've had my share of dubious claims get repaired... my 08 STI is legendary in the area... and the Subaru regional rep knows me by reputation if not by name.

But, I don't think they are being completely unreasonable on this one. Seems pricey, but dealer work usually is. I've drowned a vehicle in mud water before (a Toyota Tacoma) and the mess can be pretty substantial.

I get what you're saying, especially being a previous owner and having done it before, but while our outbacks are versatile, there are limits to what can be reasonably expected of them. And any time you go off a road (I mean off a dirt road) you run the risk of damaging the vehicle. They are made to be able to, but they aren't made to, if you know what I mean.

In your case, something does sound a bit off. I've had my '11 in over a foot of water (actually a flooded road, I wasn't doing something dumb in the mud this time) and it stayed bone dry inside. Granted, mine has a small (2 inch) lift, but it was pushing water with the bumper, and although I kept it moving, I was still swimming along in it for a good minute and a half.

Hey, keep us posted, curious to see how you make out. Good luck!
 

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Wait you more or less parked the car in a foot of water or maybe more and flooded the floor pan and you think Subaru should be doing something about it? WOW - these threads are just getting more and more whacky

Its one thing to cross a large puddle ie keep moving - its another thing to stop in the middle of it and marinate your car in it for a little bit. When I go boating I use my boat given my OB is not water tight nor is it designed to be water tight.

Just be glad you didn't mess up anything major - shampooing carpets is easy.
 

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Wait you more or less parked the car in a foot of water or maybe more and flooded the floor pan and you think Subaru should be doing something about it? WOW - these threads are just getting more and more whacky
It's part of that entitlement mentality we hear so much about lately.
Somewhere in the warranty book are the words, "not covered from misuse".
 

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This does not sound like a defect to me and I doubt Subaru will do anything. The car has 8.7" of ground clearance. Its not advertised as 8.7" plus submersion depths. This is the OP's fault and he needs to live up to it.
 

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Vehicles designed to cross deep water have very different wiring harnesses and gaskets among other things that are designed to be water tight - not just water resistant. Everything I've seen with the OB ie Legacy Wagon suggests Water resistant not water tight.

If you ever get a chance to look under the hood of a Land Cruiser take a peek at the battery box that starts to give you an general idea about the difference between a car built to be fairly water resistant and one that is built to be water tight.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well guys it's not like it was 2 feet of water. It was about a foot, and I was in it for around 2 minutes. I wasn't disputing the price the dealer wanted, I am planning on paying out of pocket at this time, but based on previous experience, it didn't sound like something that should happen. I wasn't off-road either, I was on a forest road.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Bear in mind that Subaru themselves have floated those commercials and ads with a Subaru fording a stream, so it's not like Subaru is saying, don't take it thru water!
 

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Well guys it's not like it was 2 feet of water. It was about a foot, and I was in it for around 2 minutes. I wasn't disputing the price the dealer wanted, I am planning on paying out of pocket at this time, but based on previous experience, it didn't sound like something that should happen. I wasn't off-road either, I was on a forest road.
Any car that stops with the floor pan in water will leak- if you keep moving chances are you will not get water on the inside of the pan. Forest roads are considered off pavement ie off road by the way

Those little rubber grommets in the rear frame that you remove when you install the hitch are probably identical to various little rubber stoppers in the floor pan under the seats - they are not sealed tight they are simply water resistant.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well I used to drive a 94 Geo Tracker soft-top, great 4WD, pretty bad noise from the top. Anyway, I took this thing thru water that was a couple inches over the door bottoms. Took about a minute to cross, not a drop got inside. We all know those older cars weren't the best at sealing and gaskets, yet it did just fine. So did my 2008 Outback and 2010 Forester, albeit in lower water.

Frankly, I see no reason why the water should have gotten in. the dealer said none of the floor seals failed; the door gaskets were bone dry, and the water came in thru the door drains (!). Doesn't sound like this is appropriate. Does this mean that anytime I drive thru some water, those drains will flood the interior with water? I see that some of you guys are jumping in with judgment and criticism, but don't tell me you've never done stupid things in your car before.

Forest roads are considered off pavement ie off road by the way
Well then I guess the gravel road I used to live on is considered off-road too.
 

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You seem to missing the key point here - driving through a puddle or stream is not the same as sitting in the middle of one. All cars will leak water into the floor pan if you park in a puddle deep enough to reach the floor pan. If you drive through the puddle most cases you'll never see a drop of water on the wrong side of the floor pan
 

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Discussion Starter #13
What difference does it make? Pressure would in fact be higher when moving, then when sitting still. It's not like I was in 3 feet of water, we're talking about the pressure caused by maybe 2 inches of water!
 

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It's not like the car is equipped with a depth gauge. This is bad for you because you can't prove how deep or shallow the water was. Neither you nor the dealer has a lot to go on, and you're both motivated to not spend money on the problem.

I'd probably be a bit disappointed if my car took on water during a 3 minute stop in twelve inches of water. But I don't know that I could be more than just disappointed... there's just too many what-ifs. What if I'd had to get out for some reason? Even if I went through the windows, I'd be coming back in with very muddy feet. Once you have the vehicle out in that sort of environment, some of that environment is going to come inside.

Regarding TV commercials- having worked on some, I can tell you that we always edit out the parts that don't look awesome, like bailing water out of the footwells for example.
 

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What difference does it make? Pressure would in fact be higher when moving, then when sitting still. It's not like I was in 3 feet of water, we're talking about the pressure caused by maybe 2 inches of water!
Frankly the reason I feel no sympathy for you is you were looking for the dealer to wipe your bottom for you. If you owned up to it more it'd be different. You say the water was only a foot but how would you know from the drivers seat inside the car. You also said you got stuck. Rocking back and forth can cause all kinds of swells of water around the car. Ask about some good carpet cleaner and maybe you'll get some friendly advice about how to fix your own screw up.

I slid my Legacy into an ice pile but I didn't ask Subaru for a new bumper either. **** happens; own it.
 

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It's not like the car is equipped with a depth gauge. This is bad for you because you can't prove how deep or shallow the water was. Neither you nor the dealer has a lot to go on, and you're both motivated to not spend money on the problem.

I'd probably be a bit disappointed if my car took on water during a 3 minute stop in twelve inches of water. But I don't know that I could be more than just disappointed... there's just too many what-ifs. What if I'd had to get out for some reason? Even if I went through the windows, I'd be coming back in with very muddy feet. Once you have the vehicle out in that sort of environment, some of that environment is going to come inside.

Regarding TV commercials- having worked on some, I can tell you that we always edit out the parts that don't look awesome, like bailing water out of the footwells for example.
LOL - I did some TV work many years ago - you would be amazed at how far they will go to make something look amazing. Remember those toyota commercials using real owners doing their thing? Family friend one of the top Fly fishing guys in CA would spend almost his whole summer in Yellowstone at his Cabin. The director didn't like his cabin so they built a new one with the right look! Not kidding! The cool thing though he got royalties off that commercial for several years made a pretty nice chunk of money off it.

My sailboat was used in a commercial for a Pontiac mini van the director didn't like the mast hanging over the van - so I had to take the mast off the trailer cradle. Commercial showed the van towing the sailboat missing a mast HA HA.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, the dealer doesn't pay for warranty repairs, Subaru does. So the reason I started this thread is for some guidance on talking to SOA. This whole episode IS quite disappointing to me, it seems that Subaru has followed the trend of removing the off-road abilities of their vehicles (AKA Nissan Pathfinder). Like I said, the dealer said the water came in thru the door drains somehow, NOT anywhere else. So it comes down to a question of whether these drains just freely allow water to come into the car. Unless they're equipped with some sort of one-way valve, it wouldn't make a difference whether I was in the water for 30 seconds or 5 minutes.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
<i> You say the water was only a foot but how would you know from the drivers seat inside the car</i>

Uh, because the water was below the Outback logo on the plastic trim, and it was also below the headlights. I got out and checked. The water was BELOW both the driver's door and passenger door. If we're talking about a couple waves causing this, that's way more ridiculous than submersion.
 

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Well, the dealer doesn't pay for warranty repairs, Subaru does. So the reason I started this thread is for some guidance on talking to SOA. This whole episode IS quite disappointing to me, it seems that Subaru has followed the trend of removing the off-road abilities of their vehicles (AKA Nissan Pathfinder). Like I said, the dealer said the water came in thru the door drains somehow, NOT anywhere else. So it comes down to a question of whether these drains just freely allow water to come into the car. Unless they're equipped with some sort of one-way valve, it wouldn't make a difference whether I was in the water for 30 seconds or 5 minutes.
You do know that the OB is a legacy wagon right? Subaru hasn't removed any off road ability of the Legacy since the day they slapped plastic kick panels to the bottom of the doors on a legacy and tossed some raised letter tires on them.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
You do know that the OB is a legacy wagon right? Subaru hasn't removed any off road ability of the Legacy since the day they slapped plastic kick panels to the bottom of the doors on a legacy and tossed some raised letter tires on them.

Yeah, I know, but adding funky drain mechanisms that make it easier for water to come in the opposite way and infiltrate the cabin doesn't sound like my idea of improving the car's abilities.
 
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