San Marcos, California
Not resolved
2 comments

Dear Sir and/or Madam:

During the past few weeks (August 2019) I have attempted to make contact with Subaru Customer Relations Hotline via telephone {(800) 782-2783} and every time the pre-recorded message indicates that the office is currently closed. Thus, I am issuing my complaint / concerns via email.

In 2011 my wife and I purchased a new Subaru Outback from Rancho Grande Motors in San Luis Obispo California.

We specifically purchased the Subaru because of: (1) the advertising claims that it is the car to buy if you plan on keeping it over a decade, (2) the advertised low maintenance and reliability of the car. In fact, the sales representative also promoted how 90% plus of all Subaru’s sold are still on the road a decade plus later and the low maintenance and reliability of the car.

SUMMARY

We believe based upon research that the information provided demonstrates that the 2011 Subaru Outback Head Gasket and Coolant System were inherently designed and constructed with a defect. These issues were further complicated or exasperated by poor service work as noted herein.

ISSUE

Based upon internet research, including subaruoutback.org both the Subaru Outback 2011 Head Gasket and Coolant System suffer from manufacturing defects that were not intended. These systems both suffer from a manufacturing defect (i.e.

a mistake in the manufacturing process). Under products liability, even if the manufacturer was extremely careful in manufacturing the product, it will still be held responsible for any manufacturing defect in the product. It does not matter, for purposes of product liability, that all possible care was taken in the preparation and marketing of the product. Thus, product liability is sometimes referred to as “liability without fault”.

The liability without fault concept is simply a way the courts encourage greater investment in product safety than would a fault-based system of liability. Simply, this position is a matter of social policy so that consumers avoid the burden of avoidable costs that result from manufacturing defects. The fact Subaru, based upon internet research, redesigned the Head Gasket in 2012 because of product failings indicate an acknowledgement by Subaru Corporate of a product design and/or manufacturing defect. We believe that this defect falls under the strict liability concept.

Thus, the manufacturer has ample knowledge of the defect and the product does not meet a minimum standard of care. Recalls, as everyone know are completely voluntary and Subaru has elected to not address the issue on a large scale platform, but to address the matter on an individual basis (i.e. per claim).

Virtually all vehicles and vehicle parts either come with an express or implied warranty. The implied warranty in this case the products (i.e.

head gasket and coolant system) were designed to meet their intended use. However, the redesign of the gasket head by Subaru after over a decade of issues indicates the product does not meet a minimum standard of care.

OVERVIEW OF CLAIM

All required scheduled maintenance and services have been performed on time and at an authorized Subaru Service Provider (i.e. Rancho Grande Motors in San Luis Obispo California or John Hine Subaru in Temecula California). Services performed on this vehicle include

•2011 – Present - Various miles - Routine general services.

•1/17/19 - 110,525 miles – Full service (i.e.

oil, filter), replacement of the Timing Belt, Water Pump and Thermostat. Coolant added, “bled air from cooling system” and multi-point system check.

•4/27/19 – 113,620 miles – Vehicle towed in after temperature light came on and radiator / etcetera blew.

o4/27/19 – 113,620 miles – Radiator, associated hoses replaced, full service (oil, filter), and multi-point system check. A quick search of the internet reflects that Subaru vehicles manufactured during the same time period routinely have coolant system issues, thus a product defect.

o4/27/19 – 113,620 miles – Block chemical test done – passed, no leaks detected. “Bled air from cooling system”.

However, a common cause of an engine over heating is air in the coolant system following system work (i.e. lack of adequately bleeding the lines) which could have been a contributing or sole cause of the issue on or about 8/12-16/19. In addition, as noted below (8/15/19) rubber particles were found in the coolant reservoir which indicates that the system was not adequately flushed following the radiator and various hose replacements. As a consumer, customers such as ourselves are at the mercy of trained professionals doing a thorough and complete job and if this has not happened we have no way of knowing until a major issue occurs.

•7/29/19 – 116,407 miles – Full service (oil, filter), transmission serviced, CVT service, front and rear differential service and air filter replaced.

Advised at pickup that brakes should be replaced soon.

•8/7/19 – 116,685 miles – Multi-point system check and full brake service done.

•8/12/19 – 117,… miles – Temperature light came on after long drive in 72 degree weather. Pulled off, engine cooled and drove a short distance to destination.

oChecked engine, coolant reservoir nearly empty, added more coolant and engine did not over heat during any short drives in cool temperature. Prior to starting the car we waited for the hoses and engine to cool down to the touch.

•8/15/19 – 117,… miles – Temperature light came on after long drive in heat. Pulled off, engine cooled and drove short distance to destination.

oChecked engine, coolant reservoir nearly empty, added more coolant.

Noticed rubber particles in coolant reservoir. This would suggest that the system was not adequately flushed when the radiator and associated hoses were replaced on / or about 4/27/19. We believe that the rubber fragments contained in the reservoir reflects that John Hine Subaru in Temecula failed to thoroughly flush the system after the radiator failed thus potentially adding to the issue at hand. As a consumer, customers such as ourselves are at the mercy of trained professionals doing a thorough and complete job and if this has not happened we have no way of knowing until a major issue occurs.

oNo exhaust smoke, no leaks, no coolant in oil, no signs of issues other than engine over heating after prolonged drive.

In fact the car sounded fine. Prior to starting the car we waited for the hoses and engine to cool down to the touch.

•8/16/19 – 117,626 miles – Took the car to AutoNation in Roseville California.

oDiagnosis - The master serviceman determined based upon a block test the Head Gasket either needed to be resurfaced and/or replaced. Based upon a quick search of the internet this is a common issue of Subaru, Toyota and Honda worldwide. Based upon discussions with the service tech, mechanic and the former general manager of Placerville Toyota the industry is well aware of this potential need for a manufacturer voluntary recall issue.

In addition, the same individuals noted indicated that failing to adequately bleed air out of the coolant system can lead to head gasket warping and/or cracks. Also, the rubber particulates in the coolant reservoir could also clog the system resulting in engine damage, thus back to the concept that rubber fragments contained in the reservoir reflects that John Hine Subaru in Temecula failed to thoroughly flush the system after the radiator failed thus potentially adding to the issue at hand. As a consumer, customers such as ourselves are at the mercy of trained professionals doing a thorough and complete job and if this has not happened we have no way of knowing until a major issue occurs.

oThe issue also resulted in the CAT Block cracking which was replaced under warranty.

•8/17/19 - Since the replacement of the Head Gaskets and CAT the vehicle appears to be in fine operating condition.

As noted previously we have been diligent in meeting and ensuring that all service / maintenance needs of the vehicle were being met to ensure the long-term life of the vehicle. As noted previously we specifically purchased the Subaru because of the advertising claims that it is the car to buy if you plan on keeping it over a decade and because of the claims of reliability and low maintenance cost.

We believe based upon the information provided that the gasket head is an industry product defect that poses a safety-related defect.

In fact, research indicates the cause is the composite nature of the metal used resulting in premature failure within or about 100,000 miles. The problems with the Subaru Head Gasket are well documented on the internet for all models from approximately 1990 to 2011. Most websites reference that the issue stems from an executive management decision to utilize a composite for the construction of the head gasket to save money; however, anyone with the slightest understanding of the long term effects of heat on composite metal products would surmise that long-term this would lead to warping, cracking or other related product failures. Obviously the design and construction of the Subaru Head Gasket was inept at best.

The device features a multi-layer steel shim coated with a graphite layer. It was not up-to-the-mark and allowed coolant to leak into the exhaust pressure and/or combustion chamber. There was no Subaru head gasket recall but the company redesigned the cylinder heads and configurations of the camshaft. However, it only led to the coolant and oil leak at the external head gasket.

This system defect adds to the coolant system failure noted previously.

A safety-related defect is defined under the United States Code for Motor Vehicle Safety (Title 49, Chapter 301) defines motor vehicle safety as “the performance of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in a way that protects the public against unreasonable risk of accidents occurring because of the design, construction, or performance of a motor vehicle, and against unreasonable risks of death or injury in an accident, and includes nonoperational safety of a motor vehicle.” A defect includes “any defect in performance, construction, a component, or material of a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment.” Generally, a safety defect is defined as a problem that exists in a motor vehicle or item of motor vehicle equipment that:

•Poses a risk to motor vehicle safety, and

•May exist in a group of vehicles of the same design or manufacture, or items of equipment of the same type and manufacture.

We believe the issue with the Subaru Coolant System (i.e.

radiator) and Head Gasket meets both of these safety defect criteria.

Subaru simply ignores any inquiry, question and never responds to the above. They know they manufacture a car with inherent defects.

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Anonymous
#1764902

Yep, our extended family owns 6 Subarus ( there will not be 7). 2010 hit 85K last spring - head gasket fails, 2010#2 hits 85K this fall - head gasket fails.

2011 will hit 85K in a few months - just can't wait! The sick joke is that Subaru customer service claims there is NO HEAD GASKET PROBLEM. What kind of cool aid are they drinking?????

I did get $1000 toward the repair in both cases but still out over $1000 for each repair. Bad enough that the head gaskets are failing but unacceptable that Subaru STILL denies there is a design issue

PrettyNorfolkTerrier763
#1761487

Great letter! Call this # & keep calling....856-438-2821...

or probably any last 2 digits around there.

That a direct # for Subaru Customer Service Rep who is working w/me going on two months to resolve an issue. Continue to be persistent.