Consumer warning for Subaru WRX STI owners!

(Edited: Just thought I would share my notice of order issued by the tribunal and I will reply to all responses tonight, see dropbox link)

Hi Everyone,

I have a story about my 2015 Subaru WRX STI that I purchased new in November 2015 from Crossroads Subaru @ Glendale NSW

The car had an existing defect that required the transmission to be removed in order to replace a faulty component in the clutch. This defect was brought to their attention only 3 days after taking delivery. I objected to the repair and requested a vehicle replacement. I was denied and told that repair was the only available course. Also during the repair, Crossroads Subaru dented my car and did not inform me of this.

After the repair, I always had a concern about the operation on the transmission, it was had to select gears then the car was cold and even worse during winter. I was always told that no fault was found and that everything was within specification but they changed the oil several times as a possible fix. This has been going on for years and they changed the oil six times.

About 6 months ago, it came to my attention that the all the oils used were not the recommended grade as specified by the Subaru.

Crossroads Subaru and Subaru Australia denied any wrong doing and said that the oil was acceptable to use.

I took the vehicle to an independent repairer who identified my issue that I was experiencing, they replaced the oil with the recommended grade and reported a significant improvement throughout the operation of the transmission.

I took the matter up with Fair Trading NSW and NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The tribunal member confirmed that the information that I was given by Crossroads Subaru and Subaru Australia about repair being the only option was incorrect and I should have been entitled to reject the vehicle, but unfortunately the repair occurred over three years ago so the tribunal did not have jurisdiction to determine the claim for the repair.

The tribunal was also satisfied that there has been a breach to the ACL and a major failure to comply with the consumer guarantee in regards to the services provided by the Crossroads Subaru due to their representations that they would use Subaru approved products and consumables.

It was said that a reasonable consumer would not acquired the services from Crossroads Subaru if they had known that non recommended oils would be used.

Crossroads Subaru conceded at the hearing that the oil was not recommended by the Subaru. The tribunal member said that in the balance of probability, the reason for the issues I was experiencing was caused by the non recommended oils. But because I did not have any supporting evidence that the non recommended oil actually did any damage to the vehicle or reduced it value, the application to the tribunal was dismissed.

I have asked Subaru Australia to address this after the tribunal confirmed breaches to the ACL, but there response is that the case has been fully investigated and is now closed. They will not answer any of my calls to discuss.

The thing I don’t get is that it is a condition of the manufactures warranty that you must service your vehicle in strict accordance with the manufactures recommendations and specifications. So doesn’t this mean that the authorised Subaru service centre voided my warranty. Shouldn’t Subaru Australia take this serious? Especially when there would be a lot of vehicles that would also have non recommended oil installed.

Subaru Australia also represent to consumers that any authorised Subaru service centre will only use genuine Subaru parts and fluids. All of the oils used have been manufactured by Castrol

I would have thought that they would recall the vehicles that need the recommended oil installed.

Now, I am left with a car that could have hidden underlying problems cause by the transmission never having the correct oil since the original repair due to a defect that was brought to their attention only 3 days of having the car. Just doesn’t seem fair to me.

This has been my worst experience ever!


Have you given the dealer and Subura some free feedback on Product Review?


Thanks for documenting your issues here on the forum.

This is a tricky one in my opinion, as the problem occurred (I am guessing) in 2015/early 2016, and while your car is not actually faulty at present, I appreciate your concern about its diminished value and reliability.

I do not understand how the NSW CAT arrived at the decision it was a major failure, but if you have that in writing pass that on to the ACCC. You can use their online Report a Consumer Issue Form, and attach the decision by that CAT that shows the major failure of the ACL by the dealer & Subaru Aust. They won’t help, but if enough people report problems, then they may take action.

Also, do you belong to NRMA? I would contact them and pass on this information as well. Perhaps they may contact the other parties on your behalf as well.

Further action you could take is on social media, if you use them. Companies tend to take notice when negative feedback is placed on their Facebook and Twitter. Make sure you just stick to the facts as you have here.

Good luck.


If at some point in the future, there is a fault with the manual transmission as a direct result of the wrong oil being used, you may have grounds for making a claim against the service agent (dealer). Any claim jay be pro-rata based on the expected life of the transmission.

If the transmiision had a failure, one would need to determine if the failure would otherwise have been expected at that time…namely failure is due to long term use, fatigue, through normal wear and tear or as a result of incorrect oil being used. If the failure could have been expected (fatigue/w&t), then opportunity for a future claim may be limited.

I suggest you keep all documentation should a failure occur and if/whenbit happens get independent advice (e.g. auto engineer/transmission expert) to why the faulure occurred. This will determine what avenues may be available for any future claims and repair,

No one can determine when a recall may occur. It is unfortunate the timing in your case and would have left a dent in your new car exoerience.

I agree with @meltam about it being classed as a major defect…but we possibly don’t have access to all the information to hand.

Subaru (-inc dealer) possibly couod also have managed the situation better in attempt to keep a new car owner happy.

Hopefully since 2015, you have had no other incidents/faults with the car…as WRX is an enjoyable car to drive.

Some Auto clubs also offer detailed manufacturer pre-warranty finishing inspections to determine if there is anything the ownernis unaware but should be covered by the warranty. Another option may be to contact NRMA to see if they will do an inspection, including trsnsmission testing , to ensure that there are no obvious faults from the wrong oil use. They may be reluctant to do such testing, but may be able to provide contacts of a independent tester who could. Should the testing/inspection reveal any faults because of the wrong oil used, then you could approach Subaru to have the faults repaired at their cost.


A slightly different situation to what our son found himself in after he purchased a brand new piece-of-junk Nissan Pathfinder around 2012 when the grubs at the dealer and Nissan wanted to weasel out of their obligations on the pretext that non-genuine transmission oil had been used after the transmission failed in remote WA.

Ah well. He has now moved on again and is now the GM of a much larger mining company, and he well understands why mining companies rely on Toyota and not Nissan junk.

As the old saying goes, “What goes around, comes around”.


I think one thing you should look at @Sprueno86 Ben is the fact that the dealer told you that the oil used was an "acceptable " one to be used in your gearbox. . That is where the dealer erred in their judgement . The oil used has to be “certified” by Subaru for use in their vehicles not merely "acceptable ".

I reiterate on the point of "acceptable " versus "certified " . This is a high performance vehicle and lubricant choice is critical as your case clearly shows. Subaru Australia , if you dig deep enough , do have oils that are certified for their performance vehicles .

I worked in the" industry " for some time . I’ll leave it at that .


Thanks for the comment, I have now written a review and it is pending waiting for approval


The tribunal member couldn’t definitively say whether the tribunal would have been awarded a replacement vehicle for the original repair had I taken it further at the time, but the member’s opinion was that they thought that it was a substantial repair. They also called it a major repair on the notice of order.

I not with NRMA but I might give them a call anyways for any advice.

I also tried posting something on Crossroads Subaru’s Facebook page but they removed it instantly. I then wrote a google review and they were happy to respond that “The independent tribunal also concluded that there was no wrong doing on our behalf.” (link below)


I’ll definitely contact NRMA for advice.

I did constantly express my concerns of a fault with the transmission after the repair done in 2015. It is documented on all of my receipts.

I do have all my documentation for if anything goes wrong in the future but it just doesn’t seem right that the onus was on me to prove damage or loss when it wasn’t me that did anything wrong.


The funny thing is that Subaru Australia is also saying that it was acceptable. When I first emailed Subaru Australia about one of the other oils that was used, this was their response:

"Thank you for contacting Subaru Australia.

The manufacturer of your vehicle FHI of Japan have built your vehicle and provides the recommendations for fluids for the best performance and longevity of your vehicle.

We have forwarded your enquiry onto our technical team for advise and can confirm that it is
recommended that you only use the recommend grad GL-5 75W-90 oil for your gearbox. Subaru
Australia do not recommend using other grades of oil in your vehicle."

But once I let it known that it was one of their authorised dealers not using 75w90, the responses changed:

“As discussed I contacted out technical team with regards to your below question and can confirm that
80w90 is ok to use in your motor vehicle.”

and in another email:

“We can also confirm that the grade of oil used (80w90) in your vehicle by the
service centre is acceptable to be used and would have no impact on the running of your vehicle.”

Since the hearing that confirmed breaches to the ACL they will not return my calls and this was in their emailed response:

“From our viewpoint this matter is now finalized and there would be no further reason to comment or look into this concern any further.”


You could go to the Courts to try and get some final resolution but for this you would need deep pockets and serious legal advice as to your options. Your District Court is probably the next step and this requires at least a Solicitor and a Barrister and so the deep pockets also considering you may also face costs awarded against you if you fail. Not always do the Courts follow the same reasoning as Civil & Admin Tribunals but they may use some of what has been found by the Tribunal. Try some free legal advice first as to what you could try and then see if spending your money is worthwhile or not.


I had problems with another well known Japanese make of vehicle . Gear box bearings kept failing over the first 12 months of it’'s life . It was a commercial vehicle . I would return it to the dealer and they would take 5 days to fix it .

It was returned 3 times in the first year which meant I lost 15 days of work , I was a courier driver , When the gear box bearings failed a fourth time I complained to the Australian parent company and said I wanted a new gear box and compensation work days lost .

Very negative response from them . I decided to phone the manufacturer in Japan . Once I was connected to an English speaker I explained my plight and dissatisfaction with their vehicle .

In 2 days I received a phone call from the Australian head office and was told to take the vehicle back to the dealer . I did and a new gearbox was fitted that day and I was payed compensation for days lost off work .

The problem was a poorly milled race in which the bearing sat . The dealer must have seen this but chose the easy way out of replacing the bearing rather than a new gearbox housing .

Try getting in touch with Subaru Japan .


The membership is worthwhile. Join up!


You have identified two problems. One big the poorly milled race and the other being our domestic (importer, manufacturer, etc) companies’ attention to customer satisfaction and doing the right thing not the cheapest possible thing. It is often abbreviated as ‘FU’.

I had a problem with some soft close cabinet rails failing in mass and the local distributor was only happy to replace each one as it failed. I eventually contacted the manufacturer in Taiwan by email, explained the history, they replied they had a manufacturing issue when they changed suppliers about that time, and they arranged a 100% replacement, no further hassles. With a near 100% failure rate I am sure the local had no idea there was a problem but they hung their hats on the warranty anyway. The one-offs from the distributor also had failures being from the same batch. The replacements have been good, likely from a different batch mandated after the manufacturer stepped in.


What I don’t understand is why Subaru Australia hasn’t jumped on this dealership from great heights. This is not the sort of publicity they need.


There is ample evidence that vehicle manufacturers (and others) usually get some very short term hits from [trying to] standing firm, but they always have recovered. They might lose a handful of sales but for them it is about precedent; if they help one they may need to help all and that gets costly so they will fight to the end to avoid doing so.

For examples pick a manufacturers sales history to see the effects of dieselgate, Takata airbags, bad transmissions, phantom loses of power, under-engineered ball joints, and so many other things. P/L has been affected but not so much their sales.


In my experience with Subaru Australia (2 vehicles, one in the early 2000’s and a current one) they don’t take well to criticism. While the problem with the current Subaru was pretty minor and to do with updating their GPS maps, there seems to be an attitude of it’s your problem not mine.

I had a much better experience with French vehicle manufacturer a few years ago when they air freighted a heavy and bulky item out from France to get my car going (it took 10 days in the Christmas ‘silly season’) and didn’t change me for the part on a car that was out of warranty by a couple of years.

I’d be trying to talk to Subaru Japan in this case - they might understand customer service.


Thank you for the info. Your experience will help if we have cause in the future


For most people the second biggest purchase they make after their house is a vehicle but look at the differences in regulation between the two. What car new car dealerships here get away with here is unbelievable but perhaps if they were held to account more for their products it’d be untenable for them to sell what they do given some of the under-developed rubbish they’re peddling. Lemon Law anyone?

OP your situation is terrible. In this case the time elapsed certainly wouldn’t have helped, you can’t let them take a breath once you’ve identified that an issue isn’t being dealt with in the way you could reasonably expect. Sadly with vehicles it often means getting an engineer’s report at significant cost, and in this case building a bullet proof case would likely mean disassembly and analysis at even more cost. I’m not sure if these costs are recoverable in a tribunal but I’m a but surprised the tribunal didn’t give you leave to pursue such a report.

I’m also a bit surprised that the tribunal didn’t press Subaru harder. The burden on proof is on the consumer, but I’d have thought the tribunal might have asked Subaru how they could be so sure that the incorrect oil ‘smoking gun’ didn’t create the issue and, if it didn’t, why didn’t the trans perform normally ie what does Subaru put it down to? Particularly given the comments re ‘balance of probability’.

My understanding of ACL is that consumers should have an expectation of reasonable longevity of goods and services beyond the manufacturers warranty, so while the warranty might be 5 years you’d reasonably expect it to last longer than that.

IMHO it’d be best to have it independently repaired - you never know what the repairer might find or be prepared to put down in writing - and move on.


I understand your intention with that comment, but our building industry? I trust you have read this topic. Same quality consumer protection?