Will make this version pretty short as I'm putting together a website to cover all of the details, including pictures.
I took delivery of a new 08 Subaru WRX STi 6 weeks ago. It's used for both street and track (road courses for High Performance Driving Events).
One thing I must give Subaru credit for is that everyone in the organization I've talked to (this is my 4th one of these) has considered the race track to meet "normal use" definitions and my previous cars have been nearly completely trouble-free despite spending most of their time on tracks.
However, the situation is completely different with the new 08. Again, to keep this posting short, I'll summarize.
The car has 1987 miles on it, about 200-300 miles of which have been on racetracks, though not until the break-in was done and I was very careful to never floor it during break-in or exceed 4k RPM and to frequently vary load and revs since a proper break-in pays major dividends once a car gets older.
This car started running poorly as soon as I put it on its first racetrack, going 20 mph slower in two different areas than the 07 does, and stumbling while doing so. I called the dealership while I was at the track and they suggested I reset the ECU, which I did. Repeatedly. Each time I reset the ECU, the car ran fine for a couple of laps then would start running poorly again.
Last weekend, I was on the track again and this time it was noticed that it would dump out a bit of blue smoke on startup and it was observed puffing black smoke on the track, though nobody was behind it long enough to tell me if this was just on upshifts/downshifts or constant.
Oil is the lifeblood of an engine and especially important on a small engine making a lot of power. These engines have very tight tolerances and are working much nearer their physical limits than, say, a big American V-8. So I've always been very attentive to oil level and condition, and the oil level and condition were both excellent Saturday morning at the track, though the car was surprisingly reluctant to start that morning at the hotel.
I did a 20-minute session during which the car did its stumbling bit so I short-shifted it to keep it out of the poor-running area (5200 rpm and up) as much as possible and all seemed fine.
Prior to the next session, when I started it, it puffed smoke again. Someone asked if I overfill my engines for track use and I said that I do on my Mustang but not on the Subaru because of the boxer configuration. I checked the oil level and it was barely below the full mark and still in good condition (just starting to darken but could still see my fingerprint clearly through it).
Car ran about the same that session.
Next session, I was gridded next to my best track bud (who owns an 05 STi and first turned me on to these cars) so my engine would've been a few feet from his door and he later reported not having heard any noise.
10 minutes into the session, the Check Engine light came on for the first time in the vehicle's life and only a second or two later, it started making a horrible noise. Spun rod bearing. I coasted safely off the track and had the car flat-bedded back to Lees Summit Subaru, which is only about 40 miles from my home.
The dealership claims that I neglected the car and let it run out of oil, as there were only 2 quarts in the sump. They also claimed that I drove it a lot further than several hundred feet of coasting after the noise started because the rod bearing and rod were so destroyed. False.
I went to the dealership myself to inspect the torn-down engine and pointed out several things, some of which would've caused the engine to suddenly develop a ravenous appetite for oil, some of which showed that it had done so, but the service manager described these items as normal. When I get my website about it done, I'll explain these in detail with pictures.
Anyway, warranty denied and they're replacing the engine on my dime. $9k for the engine and I don't know how much for labor.
Though I've got minor problems with the service manager describing as "normal" problems with the engine that obviously were symptomatic of sudden oil consumption, my main beef is with Subaru of America.
I'm not being allowed to talk to the Regional Rep. The service manager at the dealership asked why I wanted to talk to him and I told him it was so I could make sure he got all the info (pre-breakdown conduct of the car) directly from me rather than risking parts being left out because the service manager was relaying it to him and he said he couldn't give me the name or number because he'd "get in trouble".
I called SOA and opened a case file and asked that the Regional Rep contacted me. When I called the next day to ask why he hadn't called yet, the low-tier phone rep who wouldn't let me beyond her said that the Regional Rep *had* contacted me, then later retracted (probably an honest reading mistake) and said that the Regional Rep had noted in my case file that if I had any comments or questions, I was to take them up with the dealership.
I'm getting completely stonewalled by SOA. After having bought 3 STi's, one WRX, and recently an 08 Tribeca. And having steered who knows how many customers their direction because they've seen my previous ones or ridden with me or been instructed by me on road courses. I've always recommended it as "the best bang for the buck" car in existence and still believe that about the previous ones I've had.
But I seriously cannot recommend that anyone who will ever drive their car hard (ie. track usage, which I reiterate is not only fine with SOA, it's mentioned in the owner's manual and not negatively) buy one of these unless they're willing to check the oil about every 30-40 miles or risk have to buy a new engine themselves.
I've started seeking a lawyer because SOA has made their position clear and won't even let me speak to the person who could hear my side of the situation. I have no idea how much of my information he had before determining that the engine wouldn't be covered. This would be a good time to point out again that it has 1987 miles on it.
This lack of access has totally soured me on Subarus and I used to be a major advocate of their products.
As an aside for the benefit of those who know these cars well, no, my VIN is not in the range of VIN's involved in the "stop-sell" (which SOA isn't making it easy for anyone to find info about) involving cars with incorrectly prepared/cleaned crankshafts. I ordered the car very early and its VIN is a little over 2100 units earlier than those units.
And something that's not public knowledge is that a couple of these cars were yanked from a fleet of test cars that were being used before the new ones started hitting show-rooms. They were yanked for (as you might've just guessed) sudden and excessive oil consumption. The Regional Rep could've told me how close to the VIN of those cars mine was, but refused to speak to me. Possibly because the VIN was close enough to cast its freedom from manufacturing defects into doubt? I can only speculate at this point, but should be able to find out at least what those VINs were via subpoena.
For what it's worth, the last 8 of my VIN is 8L823017. If you simply MUST own one of these despite my experience with it, please try to make sure the VIN is tens of thousands away from this one.
Again, I'll submit an update once my website is up that gives the whole timeline, all of the detailed information, and supporting pictures, as I own the old engine and will pick it up when I pick the car back up next week.
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