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2019 Subaru Outback Limited 3.6R; 2016 VW Jetta SEL 1.8T; 2002 VW Passat GLX V6 4Motion
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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys and gals -

I need both some advice and good vibes sent my way.

I took my 2003 OBW with 75k miles to a Subaru specialty shop in Fort Collins for some routine maintenance. I requested the timing belt be changed, the transmission fluid drained/refilled, and the differential gear oil drained/refilled. They found that at some point recently the timing belt and all the related goodies had been replaced. I purchased the car about 5k miles ago, so I was really happy to hear that (and happy to know they were kind enough to not charge me for anything other than the labor for cracking the engine open).

I paid the bill, grabbed the car, and went on about my weekend. From the moment I left I heard a slight whine from the transmission. Not owning a Subaru before this one, I figured it was just from the fresh gear oil and trans fluid. I made a few trips back and forth to Denver this weekend, but kept noticing the noise getting louder and louder. Today at my sisters house I decided to check things out. I pulled the trans dipstick and everything looked fine. I pulled the front diff dipstick and it was BONE DRY :gasp: I nearly shat myself. I had driven the OBW for about 350 miles without gear oil in the differential! WTF???

I had it towed back from Denver and back to the shop where the work was done on Friday. But I have a few questions and don't know if I'm entirely comfortable with them doing the work. First, should I insist the transmission be replaced along with the differential? Second, what is the likelihood of transmission damage or excessive wear after 350 miles with no diff oil? Third, if it were you, would you push for them to pay for a Subaru dealership to do the work instead?

Another thing complicating matters: I'm moving to Seattle from northern Colorado on Friday morning and I HAVE to be there by Sunday. I don't have time to be jerked around or wait forever to get the car fixed.

HELP!!!

And TIA,

- Jeremy.
 

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Premium Member
2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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14,289 Posts
So much for "specialist".

It would be slim that the transmission itself was damaged. They can pull the pan and look for debris, metal chunks, etc., but I doubt they will find any. At minimal, the front differential needs rebuilt or replaced. Replaced is faster, but the mileage and wear on a used one is always iffy unless you open it up and look at the hard parts.

Where it is repaired depends on the statutes of CO.. It should be your choice, but there are a few things to consider:

1. How busy is the "specialist" shop and how fast can they have someone rebuild it in house or contracted to a real Subaru transmission shop?
2. How busy is the Subaru dealer and what is their turn around on replacement?
3. Would you get the same lack service at another facility? A beginner tech doing on the job training? (yes, even at the dealership)
4. Would this issue get drug out in civil suit? Or, is the owner of the "specialist" shop reasonable?

Sucks, really. Especially in the middle of a move. Maybe if its going to take a while, they can put you in a rental until yours is repaired?
 

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'05 2.5i H4 4-Speed Auto w/Sportshift
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514 Posts
Perhaps they should pay to have the car moved to a dealership close to where you are moving to. That should eliminate a lot of headaches on your part. They are responsible for this problem. You wanted the work done right so you could comfortably drive to where you are moving to~!:mad::17:

Or, could you add the fluid and drive it as is, without causing further damage, so you can then take it to the shop of your choice in Seattle?
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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Or, could you add the fluid and drive it as is, without causing further damage, so you can then take it to the shop of your choice in Seattle?
BAD IDEA. That would really cause issue if the front diff bearings lock up. And that would also kill his chances at getting it repaired no cost since he would be driving it knowing its damaged.
 

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2019 Subaru Outback Limited 3.6R; 2016 VW Jetta SEL 1.8T; 2002 VW Passat GLX V6 4Motion
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Discussion Starter #5
BAD IDEA. That would really cause issue if the front diff bearings lock up. And that would also kill his chances at getting it repaired no cost since he would be driving it knowing its damaged.
Yeah, I'm not doing a thing to the car until they can look at it. Someone suggested maybe I add diff oil and drive it back from Denver to where I live in Fort Collins. That would totally confuse things though and give the shop the opportunity to say, "But there was and is gear oil in there." :28:

I do want and need this fixed ASAP. I'd love if they agreed to ship the car to Subaru dealer in Seattle and have them do all the work, etc. but I doubt that's even an option. Having the Subaru dealer in Fort Collins do the work would be more likely, and one option I wouldn't mind. BUT, I'm going to first push HARD for a new transmission/differential. Like I said, I don't want there to be even a remote possibility that damage was done to the trans and find out 6 months down the road. A new trans/diff would cure any of those anxieties.

I guess we'll see what happens. I've been reading everywhere that even a few miles without diff oil will kill the diff and transmission both. I did 350 miles.

Thanks for all the responses.

- Jeremy.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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Front diff is definitely hosed. I can't necessarily picture how the transmission was hosed...excess heat was certainly produced but i'm not sure if it really "got" to or could have affected the trans.

I would run that transmission without hesitating...but I wouldn't want to take that risk when they hosed it up so to speak. That's tough.
 

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2019 Subaru Outback Limited 3.6R; 2016 VW Jetta SEL 1.8T; 2002 VW Passat GLX V6 4Motion
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Discussion Starter #7
Front diff is definitely hosed. I can't necessarily picture how the transmission was hosed...excess heat was certainly produced but i'm not sure if it really "got" to or could have affected the trans.

I would run that transmission without hesitating...but I wouldn't want to take that risk when they hosed it up so to speak. That's tough.
Exactly. I can't take the risk of there not being transmission damage especially if this is all their fault, and since I'm moving in a week. Just a chance I can't take.

- Jeremy.
 

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2002 Subaru Outback Limited - 2.5 L Boxer H4 - 5 Speed Manual
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341 Posts
Make sure this gets dealt with. I wish you the best of luck. I have had numerous incidents with companies (not car-related, but with banks, laptop brands, etc) ripping me off and never refunding me my money; rather, making me pay. Don't let this happen to you man.
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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If this is an H6 car, be aware they have a different diff ratio than the other automatic outbacks.

H6 = 4.11
OB auto = 4.44

(may not be the exact ratios)
 

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01 Outback H6 VDC, 97 GT wgn w/ ej22, 98 OBW w/ej22
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i would be concerned about any one except the dealer trying to replace the front diff. it is not an impossible job, but if done poorly i'm pretty sure it could shorten the life of the new diff.

so i would have the dealer do the work, especially if they are only paying for the front diff.

actually i would probably go for a cash settlement and then just buy a replacement trans.
 

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2019 Subaru Outback Limited 3.6R; 2016 VW Jetta SEL 1.8T; 2002 VW Passat GLX V6 4Motion
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47 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for everyone's thoughts and support. Unfortunately, given the time constraints with my move, I've been forced to capitulate somewhat.

We agreed on two things: the shop will order a used, replacement transmission (with 90k miles on it), while simultaneously sending it to a transmission shop to have the bearings replaced in the front differential. If there is more damage to the transmission than just the bearings, they'll hold off and wait for the replacement to arrive. Otherwise, they do the diff work and button her back up.

No matter what, I need to be on the road early Friday morning. While I'm not entirely happy getting a rebuilt differential or a replacement trans with more miles than my car, I didn't have any other real options. Had I had the money, I would have paid a Subaru dealer $4500 for an entirely new trans and then taken the shop to court. But I don't have that kind of free cash flow. I'll have to cross my fingers and hope that whatever happens, my, OBW will continue to live to fight another day.

- Jeremy.
 

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01 Outback H6 VDC, 97 GT wgn w/ ej22, 98 OBW w/ej22
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i would go with the used trans over the rebuilt diff. it may have more miles, but these things last a long time if serviced properly. and chances are VERY VERY high that the used trans is all factory spec. no alterations other than miles. and 90 isn't very many miles for a subaru auto trans.

my .02

i may be misjudging, underestimating the shop, but i have no first hand experience like you.
but if there are ANY odd sounds after the rebuild, speak up.
 

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2002 Outback Sedan H6 3.0 VDC
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Once you make it to Seattle, have the guys at All Wheel Drive Auto in Kirkland give it a once over. They know their stuff and are probably the best in the area when it comes to Subarus.

-Tim
 

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2019 Subaru Outback Limited 3.6R; 2016 VW Jetta SEL 1.8T; 2002 VW Passat GLX V6 4Motion
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Discussion Starter #14
Once you make it to Seattle, have the guys at All Wheel Drive Auto in Kirkland give it a once over. They know their stuff and are probably the best in the area when it comes to Subarus.

-Tim
Thanks for the advice!

- Jeremy.
 

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2019 Subaru Outback Limited 3.6R; 2016 VW Jetta SEL 1.8T; 2002 VW Passat GLX V6 4Motion
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Discussion Starter #15
Ended up getting a used transmission. The transmission shop charged with dealing with the blown differential found a whole host of other issues with my original unit. The transmission that's in it now seems to be doing fine. We drove from Fort Collins, CO to Ogden, UT on my move west and the car did well...save for a check engine light due to rich a/f mixture. Cleared the code and it didn't come back.

Thanks again for everyone's help.

- Jeremy.
 

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2019 Subaru Outback Limited 3.6R; 2016 VW Jetta SEL 1.8T; 2002 VW Passat GLX V6 4Motion
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Discussion Starter #17
I'll PM it to you.

- Jeremy.
 

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01 Outback H6 VDC, 97 GT wgn w/ ej22, 98 OBW w/ej22
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i can understand your concern about the shop. i expressed as much when i suggested some one else do the repairs. but the simple fact of the matter is any one can make a mistake. the true test of a shop or a person for that matter is what they do in response to their mistake. it sounds like this shop stepped up and everything right after their mistake.

as long as this was an oddity and not the norm, they may be a good place to have your car serviced.
 

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2019 Subaru Outback Limited 3.6R; 2016 VW Jetta SEL 1.8T; 2002 VW Passat GLX V6 4Motion
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Discussion Starter #19
i can understand your concern about the shop. i expressed as much when i suggested some one else do the repairs. but the simple fact of the matter is any one can make a mistake. the true test of a shop or a person for that matter is what they do in response to their mistake. it sounds like this shop stepped up and everything right after their mistake.

as long as this was an oddity and not the norm, they may be a good place to have your car serviced.
But they didn't do the right thing. The right thing would have been to source a new transmission, which they refused to do. Technically, by providing me with a used transmission with more miles than the original had, they comitted tort conversion - that is, they ruined property of mine, but "converted" (or replaced it) with something of lesser quality. Given my circumstance (moving in a few days), I didn't have much choice but to take what they had offered.

- Jeremy.
 

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2002 Subaru Outback Limited - 2.5 L Boxer H4 - 5 Speed Manual
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But they didn't do the right thing. The right thing would have been to source a new transmission, which they refused to do. Technically, by providing me with a used transmission with more miles than the original had, they comitted tort conversion - that is, they ruined property of mine, but "converted" (or replaced it) with something of lesser quality. Given my circumstance (moving in a few days), I didn't have much choice but to take what they had offered.

- Jeremy.
I'd say to report them or even sue them. I've had similar experiences with different types of companies... my Dell laptop crashed 5 times in 3 months, and they refused to replace it for me even though I had only bought the computer 8 months ago. They made ME pay for an $80/year service plan to have it fixed. The first two times they sent it away, which took a month and a half each time, then they had a person come to my house. After checking the records, they had done the same fix everytime - replacing the motherboard - and instead of realizing it wasn't the fix, they just kept doing it over and over, while I was losing my work everytime. The 5th time somehow worked, because that was 5 months ago and it's still working fine so far... but I will never buy a Dell again.

Rant over. LOL.
 
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