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2018 Outback 2.5i Limited with Eyesight, Nav, SRH.
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My location is California.

I bought a brand new 2018 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited (with Eyesight, Nav, Starlink, SRH, push-button-start etc.) around three weeks back. When I was buying the car, the welcome lights were blinking when the engine was started, but we (both me and dealer) thought that it was a minor setting that he will let me know by evening.

Now, this is the story -

1. The blinking lights turned out to be some serious issue. They had to replace the BIU and the car was in the dealer's service center for 4 days in the very first week! I was happy when this was fixed.

2. But in the second week, the car did not start one morning. It had to be towed to the nearest service center. This service center one is not the same one where I bought the car at. Apparently, there was a problem in 'brake light switch' and they had to wait for the part to arrive and it took another 5 days before they could hand me the vehicle. I thought the problem was fixed.

3. This week again the EXACT same problem. The vehicle didn't start. It had to be towed again. The service advisor said 'This does not look good, your car may have a major electronic issue. It may take a while to debug'. They gave me a loaner Impreza and my Outback is back there getting repaired.

The good thing is the guys at Subaru Service center have been very patient with me and are doing their best to resolve the issue. But my concern is - What if my car has some major problem which is beyond repair? What if my car breaks down in some place where getting help may not be easy. Is the car dependable enough? What if its one of those 'Lemon cars'?

I'm confused as I've never dealt with a bad car before. In fact, this is my first car. I have proper paperwork for all services done to my vehicle. Can someone please advise how should I go about dealing with this issue. Should I involve SOA or not? If in the worst case I have to go down the 'lemon' route, what can I do now to make my case stronger?
 

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'16 STi, '17 Outback
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112 Posts
First, don't stress.

1) Do some research online about California lemon law, again, read, read and read some more, educate yourself.

2) Record (not actually record the conversation), but write down when you had a conversation with advisor, when the car has issues, time, etc, compile a report.

3) Yes, do contact SOA customer service and let them know your problem, but do remember that they are humans, being kind is the most important thing when dealing with frustrating issues like this, unfortunately cars now days are rather complex, so some do suffer hiccups along the way, share your concerns with the customer service rep.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 

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2018 Outback 2.5i Limited with Eyesight, Nav, SRH.
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4 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the info chigga!

The service engineers are still confused as to what the issue is. They are struggling because the issue is not always reproducible. The car automatically recovers after 3-4 hours and starts normally before giving up again.

As of now I've notified SoA and am waiting to know if this is a known issue already.
 

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'18 Outback Touring Dark Blue Pearl 3.6r
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1,655 Posts
For the life of me I didn't know what the BIU is so I had to Google it. The BIU
 

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2016 Outback 3.6R Limited in Wilderness Green
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The first thing SoA will tell you is go to a dealer. The next thing they'll tell you is go to a different dealer. If the 2nd dealer can't address the issues, they may escalate. I've had several issues with my 2016 Outback 3.6R. Many of them came down to the ridiculous stock battery. I finally replaced it with an Optima Red Top. No more dead battery issues. But the most egregious problems have to do with the body panels. I had the roof rack caps replaced as they warped so badly that there were 1/8-1/4" gaps between them and the roof of the car. The plastic panel below the hatchback glass also warps on hot days. It leaves a 1/8-1/4" gap between the rubber liner and the glass of the window. It's been replaced twice by two different dealers (went to the second dealer at SoA's request). Same problem... and they've scuffed my tail lights in the process. I've decided to leave it alone. It's too much hassle and was taking up too much of my time.

But in your case, electrical issues can't be ignored. SoA should help you out eventually but they may push back for a while before giving in. As has been mentioned, start reading up on California's Lemon Law in case Subaru drags this out. The dealers are generally nice people but they often are just doing what they're told and they'll eventually reach a point where they just do the same things over and over and nothing helps the core issue. And SoA will try to work through the dealers... And it can be a very long process to get a "mystery" issue resolved. Stay diligent, research your options... and best of luck.
 

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I'm confused as I've never dealt with a bad car before. In fact, this is my first car. I have proper paperwork for all services done to my vehicle. Can someone please advise how should I go about dealing with this issue. Should I involve SOA or not? If in the worst case I have to go down the 'lemon' route, what can I do now to make my case stronger?
I had similar issues back when I bought my '03 Explorer. Would randomly not start after sitting for a few hours. After a few hours more would magically start. Had local Ford techs stumped as well as the travelling super tech. He actually kept the vehicle for a week with a monitoring tool attached.

They replaced multiple parts to no avail. Eventually it started throwing non-existent OBDII codes. Finally they replaced the ECU. Drove the vehicle for the next 8 years, 150k miles without another failure.

Unfortunately electrical glitches can be extremely difficult to track down. Only takes a temperature sensitive hairline crack in a solder joint to drive a tech crazy.

Give your dealer a chance but make sure to maintain good documentation.
 

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1999 30th Anniversary Legacy Outback DOHC 2.5L 4EAT, 2008 Impreza WRX 2.5L 5MT, 2008 Impreza Wagon 2.5L 4EAT
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1,224 Posts
Also ask the dealer if they have put Subaru Techline in the loop. That helps with documenting what happens to you car (but does not replace your own record keeping). Again these electrical gremlins are a pain to diagnose, especially when it is not reproducible at the shop.
 

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2016 WRX, 2017 BRZ, 2017 Legacy
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366 Posts
What if my car has some major problem which is beyond repair? What if my car breaks down in some place where getting help may not be easy. Is the car dependable enough? What if its one of those 'Lemon cars'?
You're lucky if it's undriveable and spends lots of time in the shop - that will help make your case. Also, if it spends a lot of time in the shop it wouldn't be out of order to ask for an equivalent loaner (if that's important to you).

In our case, we were told to "live with it" by our local (45 minutes away) dealer. The issue is our 2005 OBXTMT was surging slightly. It had 30k on it so it was within warranty, and they looked at three times, acknowledged the problem, tried things, and was unable to figure it out. 120k miles later I figure it out: burnt valves.
 

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2007 2.5 L Obsidian Black Outback XTL
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603 Posts
You're lucky if it's undriveable and spends lots of time in the shop - that will help make your case. Also, if it spends a lot of time in the shop it wouldn't be out of order to ask for an equivalent loaner (if that's important to you).
Unfortunately there is not a team of roving super-mechanics who work for Subaru, traveling the countryside from dealer to dealer to work on the really hard intermittent issues. The dealership quickly resorts to repeating the same repair over and over again or "easter egging" the problem (replacing random components until the problem goes away).

The company I work for (not automotive industry) uses our field service engineers as roving specialists to deal with really challenging problems that our distributors or channel partners cannot fix. If a problem makes it to an FE and they have to go out there then they stay until the problem is fixed, also what is found comes right back in to engineering where we take those lessons learned and immediately refine the product or the software and then issue firmware releases or hardware upgrades back to our customers. It is funny when one of our FE's calls back in and says "it was great! There were all sorts of problems and I fixed them all!". When that happens we know that our work is cut out for us to keep it from happening again.

Sometimes those types of fixes end up costing us a few hundred K but it is part of doing business if you want to remain the best.
 

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'17 3.6R Touring Brillant Brown Pearl
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Unfortunately there is not a team of roving super-mechanics who work for Subaru, traveling the countryside from dealer to dealer to work on the really hard intermittent issues. The dealership quickly resorts to repeating the same repair over and over again or "easter egging" the problem (replacing random components until the problem goes away).

The company I work for (not automotive industry) uses our field service engineers as roving specialists to deal with really challenging problems that our distributors or channel partners cannot fix. If a problem makes it to an FE and they have to go out there then they stay until the problem is fixed, also what is found comes right back in to engineering where we take those lessons learned and immediately refine the product or the software and then issue firmware releases or hardware upgrades back to our customers. It is funny when one of our FE's calls back in and says "it was great! There were all sorts of problems and I fixed them all!". When that happens we know that our work is cut out for us to keep it from happening again.

Sometimes those types of fixes end up costing us a few hundred K but it is part of doing business if you want to remain the best.
I don't know what company you work for, but I like the attitude. Not nearly enough of that around these days. I work in the Machining Field. Some of the Repair Techs we see are so unqualified. It's got to be embarrassing to whoever employs them. A lot of the time I could fix the machine myself. IF, I only had the time. I can't take a day or two off of production to spend repairing things.
 

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2017 2.5 Outback Limited no Eyesight
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Unfortunately there is not a team of roving super-mechanics who work for Subaru, traveling the countryside from dealer to dealer to work on the really hard intermittent issues...

Actually, there is, although the team (sometimes consisting of only one or two senior techs) usually works in one district area of the country working on the more difficult problems the dealers may come across.


On my '17 Legacy, which had electrical problems in addition to braking problems (I believe they were related because they replaced the VDC Control Module and Hydraulic Control Unit (VDCCM&H/U) three times) they had the field technicians coming in and looking at the vehicle numerous times.


One time, they even flew engineers from Subaru in to look at the vehicle. Those technicians and engineers didn't even speak English.


Subaru ended up buying back the vehicle because they couldn't resolve the electrical problem. At that time the vehicle more than met the requirements of the Lemon Law.


So take good notes and call SOA to start a file with them. Ask them to consider replacing your brand new Outback you just bought with an equivalent one.
 

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2016 WRX, 2017 BRZ, 2017 Legacy
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Sometimes those types of fixes end up costing us a few hundred K but it is part of doing business if you want to remain the best.
Our company does the same - and it is reflected in the price of the software product, which can be upwards of $50k for a license, and $5k/year for support.

But for a mainstream product like Subaru, there is no way they'd be able to charge enough money on the sale of the car to cover that kind of support. Maybe Maybach and Ferrari etc. can do it, but not Subaru. Unfortunately.
 

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2016 Outback Premium 2.5 CVT w/EyeSight+SRVD
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... it is part of doing business if you want to remain the best.
I owned and managed a small technical hardware/software business for 40 years. One of the guiding principles in our shop was, "Zero defects is barely good enough."

One of the best compliments we ever received was from a guy we hired who had years of prior experience in electronic systems sales, production, and support: "I've never seen anything like it. We're installing these new, complex systems every week, but we never get any trouble calls."
 

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2019 Forester Sport. Love the Orange.
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I would politely tell the service manager that your confidence in the vehicle has been shaken. The unreliability and extended loss of use (already three times) in a vehicle you are making payments on but can't be used is casting doubt on having purchased it. Ask them about a 7yr/100k mile/$0ded Subaru Gold Plan extended Warranty at no charge to give you some peace of mind in the future. In all my dealings with Subaru and their dealers a good attitude and logic has always won the day.
 

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2018 Outback 2.5i Limited with Eyesight, Nav, SRH.
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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for so many suggestions!
As of now, the car is lying in the service center and they have promised to rectify it by Tuesday.
Meanwhile, I'm educating myself about laws in place to help me out and making sure the paperwork is as accurate as possible.

I've got two follow up questions -

1. I took the car to same service center twice for the same issue. Do you suggest me to take it to a different service center if it fails again?

2. When I talk to SoA tomorrow and mention the number days car was in the service center, do I count Sundays as well?
 

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1999 30th Anniversary Legacy Outback DOHC 2.5L 4EAT, 2008 Impreza WRX 2.5L 5MT, 2008 Impreza Wagon 2.5L 4EAT
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Subaru does have Field Service Engineers who's job it is to help dealers fix problem issues. The dealers also have access to Tech Line that also tries to help with issues. I know in some cases Subaru sends engineers from Japan to address some things. Last time was when they needed to access the data module in the car for a legal issue. Only the engineer from Japan with a special software on his laptop could access the data needed.

But like most things these are just people. Some are great some not as great. The most difficult issue to resolve is an intermittent one. Difficult to fix if it's not broken.

Keep records of what/when/who and at some point if they can't fix it and you meet the requirements of the CA lemon law, invoke that right.
 

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2007 2.5 L Obsidian Black Outback XTL
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With as new as your car is and that it barely made it through the first week without conking out, you may have an excellent argument for them replacing the vehicle. As has been said by others, it sounds like a very intermittent electrical problem that may be keeping the computer awake while the car is shut off. This will drain the battery dead.

It is doubtful that it is a short in the wiring; those types of problems usually results in "arcs and sparks" and are spectacular displays of electrical badness. It really would not be that hard to figure out if the computer is not going to sleep, even without jacking in to the system. An ammeter inserted in series between the battery and the car will show that it is drawing much more than the 50-80 milliamps or so that will always be present.

Don't try to do that sort of troubleshooting yourself; its on the dealer. It is probably just enough to know that there are techniques available that they could use to point themselves in the right direction.
 
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2018 Outback 3.6 Touring, 2008 Honda Element EX AWD
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I’m in a similar situation but working on my patience. ‘18 Touring. First gremlin was an odd one. All sounds coming out of stereo were faint and very garbled: XM radio, regular radio and applyplay all with and without iPhone being hooked up. I turned stereo on and off stereo to avail. Turned off car, waited, restarted once. Nope. Second time fixed it at least for a while. Two days later, standing on our porch waiting for a hard rain to let up and eye-witnessed the rear hatch opening all by itself. Eerie. A few days later, the hands-free door locks now only work when the mood suits them, (yes, it happens with both keys fobs). Can’t get into dealer in time and we had a road trip scheduled so with 800 miles on a brand new car, we head off on a 10 hour trip. And the nav decides to freeze up. Starts to work, then the screen freezes. (Again with and without phone plugged in). We are in the crowded burbs of Baltimore, not middle of nowhere. All of this happened with the first 1,400 miles of owning the car. Can’t wait to get home Monday and deposit this beauty at the dealer. I’d like to give him the keys and title while I’m at it. I love the car but can never can trust it again. So bummed because I really like the car.
 

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2018 Dark Blue Outback 3.6R Touring arrived 8/31/2017
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Unfortunately there is not a team of roving super-mechanics who work for Subaru, traveling the countryside from dealer to dealer to work on the really hard intermittent issues. The dealership quickly resorts to repeating the same repair over and over again or "easter egging" the problem (replacing random components until the problem goes away).

The company I work for (not automotive industry) uses our field service engineers as roving specialists to deal with really challenging problems that our distributors or channel partners cannot fix. If a problem makes it to an FE and they have to go out there then they stay until the problem is fixed, also what is found comes right back in to engineering where we take those lessons learned and immediately refine the product or the software and then issue firmware releases or hardware upgrades back to our customers. It is funny when one of our FE's calls back in and says "it was great! There were all sorts of problems and I fixed them all!". When that happens we know that our work is cut out for us to keep it from happening again.

Sometimes those types of fixes end up costing us a few hundred K but it is part of doing business if you want to remain the best.
I do developer support, and regardless of whether or not the problem is in our very complex product or their software, figuring out the issue and (hopefully) providing a solution is great, or at least a solid answer as to why something can’t be resolved they can take back to their management and make solid business decisions with. It’s actually a great benefit when it turns out to be a problem in our product and we learn about it and can find a way to fix the product, even though the customer gets their support fees refunded (premier support isn’t cheap, but it’s often cheaper than not having it, when you need it) because we get to improve the product, and serve our customer base better. Our product is used by far more customers than Subaru. Like Subaru, things aren’t 100% perfect, but it’s how you stand behind the product and support the customer in fulfilling their needs that keeps a good profitable partnership with customers.
 

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2018 Dark Blue Outback 3.6R Touring arrived 8/31/2017
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I owned and managed a small technical hardware/software business for 40 years. One of the guiding principles in our shop was, "Zero defects is barely good enough."

One of the best compliments we ever received was from a guy we hired who had years of prior experience in electronic systems sales, production, and support: "I've never seen anything like it. We're installing these new, complex systems every week, but we never get any trouble calls."
Customers are very happy to be bored by a product or service, because they can predict it will fulfill their needs, and they tend to be more than happy to repeatedly pay good money to be bored. It also makes for less support costs when things are boring, and happier support people to not be resolving the same stupid problems every time: problem solvers tend to get bored easily, so it”s the weird problems that need to be solved that get them out of bed in the morning :grin2:
 
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