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Systematic overcharging on Subaru Servicing

I’ve just reviewed three years of servicing history from a Subaru dealer for my 2016 Subaru Outback.

I found:

For the first 5 services, engine oil was charged as 6 litres, not the schedule capacity of 4.8 litres. The 6th service charged the correct quantity. The 6 litres would be correct for a 6 cylinder motor…

At the 50000km service diff oil was charged as 2x2litres. The total quantity of both diffs is 2 litres so it is a double charge.

At the 6th service, the invoice stated that they’d lubricated locks and hinges. One door still squarked and groaned so they probably hadn’t even opened it - it only took a minute smear of dry lube to fix.

Was this all just easily explained errors, a local programming error or an error with a program supplied by Subaru Australia? In each case of overcharging, the overcharged lubricants took the service total a few cents up to a couple of dollars over the “capped” price.

If you have a Subaru, please check your old invoices and post your findings to this thread. If you have some other car, it might still be an interesting review to carry out…

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Have you gone back to your local Subaru dealer who did the services to show the discrepancies? I would think that the error occurred from the local dealership rather than Subaru Australia. They could have easily misidentified the model and engine in your vehicle at their first service and only identified the error at a later date. I always check the service record from our independent Subaru mechanic…this mechanic also provides one with the replaced parts if requested (or at least shows why they have been replaced).

The dealerships would follow the service work schedule nominated by Subaru … which a summary is often contained in the vehicles service manual. It is most probable that the wrong service work schedule was assigned to your vehicle (namely a 6cyl instead of a 4cyl). Other examples may be diesel instead of petrol.

It would be worthwhile as one could argue that a refund be given for the product (oil) not used but charged for. It is suggested that you provide copies of the service records and vehicle specifications in writing, and work out a pro-rata refund amount based on the amount used and charged. For example, 4.8L ÷ 6L x amount paid for the oil.

It will be difficult to request a refund for a door hinge not been lubricated after the event, as it would be your word against theirs. It would have been more prudent to return to the dealership once the omission was identified for the dealership to rectify.

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The extra litre or so of oil may has been used as a flush or to pre-fill the filter. Is the 4.8 litres the amount that will be in a full sump and does not take into account the amount for that held in the filter? Might be worth asking if they used some as a flush or a filter fill.

The diffs again may have been a flush and fill, but again this would be worth the query.

As an example for our Honda CVT transmission, we sometimes have to drain, then flush with about a further litre the transmission and then fill again to ensure we don’t get the dreaded judders. While this is the transmission our Mechanic a couple of times has had to flush and fill our engine oil as well when someone else added an incorrect SAE oil to our vehicle when we had it serviced elsewhere and our oil pressure light came on.

This doesn’t mean these are the reasons for your issues with the servicing but it could be and so why I suggest you ask.

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@grahroll

I think you’re being overly generous, but I will be talking to them about it.

It is just TOO coincidental that the volume of oil billed in each case is so readily explainable as a mistake and then the correct quantity charged on the sixth service (which, incidentally, didn’t need extras to get to the capped price).

Still interesting to see other peoples experience

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Oh I know that some Service Depts rip people off in oh so many ways. I was just exploring valid reasons it may have occurred as well. The only way you may (and only may) get an answer is to ask and see if they can explain it properly.

It may be a incentive to ditch them and go somewhere you can have a trustworthy relationship with whomever services your vehicle in future.

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I didn’t know this was the case…thanks for teaching me something new today.

Based on this and doing a little research, Subaru do have a specific engine oil system flush fluid…

image

I wonder if @timetaxi was charged for this specific fluid as this may also assist in finding out about the mystery of the additional volume. If the flush was a consumable on the service, then the pre-fill filter could be the reason. If the flush was not billed, then the additional oil could have been used as a flushing agent.

From this it does appear that Subaru engines oil system do require a flush.

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@phb

I haven’t been back, yet, but I will. As far as I know, the vehicle details are picked up from the Subaru database against the VIN, rather than again by the dealer.

Taking the car back to the dealer for a cent’s worth of dry lube is hardly worth a 6okm return trip…

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Thanks for the reminder we should all check the service reports and billing when we pick up our vehicles from the service bay. Some businesses are so keen to slip you back into the drivers seat and expedite your departure.

Consider the suggestions,

Alarming and improbable suggestions, that if they were factual would be more than innocent excuses.

Not all car owners are sufficiently aware or capable of readily identifying even such basic errors.

The whole purpose of using registered/licensed mechanical services is they are competent to provide those services.

I’d be asking other far more serious questions of the industry if it’s ok for a business to mistake a 4 cylinder for a 6, or a petrol for a diesel.

If it has occurred it is highly improbable the average vehicle owner would identify the error when picking up and paying for the service. The consequences of the wrong oil type can be serious, although it is likely every other procedure and part used would fail to match.

Added comment.
Also improbable that the service provider would make such an error.

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@phb

Flushing does not appear in any of the service schedules and no flushing oil is listed in the materials. Also, the filter is minute - it would hold less than a quarter of a litre, much less than the extra 1.2 litres charged.

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If this was the case, the VIN would be printed on the service record.

Also I wouldn’t be jumping to conclusions, the VIN on the service record doesn’t necessarily mean that the vehicle’s details were sourced from Subaru Australia. It could be a local dealer updating Subaru’s system with the information (or maybe their own service programs).

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Flushing of oil can be done without someone having it on a service table. Some mechanics just do it as a precautionary step to ensure the oil in the car is the cleanest they can get it. You may just be getting someone who errs on the side of caution. The flush and a possible pre-fill could account for the extra 1.2 litres. I am not saying this is the case, as I said before it is just a possibility. The same may be a possible reason for the diffs.

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Agree, (but likely more than 250ml engine size dependent) if you do discuss with the dealer/service dept, hopefully you can share the responses with us all.

Thanks again for the reminder and asking if there are other examples to share?

I now do all our basic servicing. In the past I have found several service providers rounding up to the nearest litre of lubricants, or the nearest whole container size. There is no direct justification for either, although there is always some variation in volumes and loses they need to cover. Accounting driven more than the guys on the floor cooking the books perhaps.

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My small oil filter in the Honda Jazz requires 200 ml extra on a change than if a simple oil change without filter ie Change without filter replacement 3 litres & with filter 3.2 litres (1.3 litre engine).

For the Kia Cerato it is 4 litres without filter change and 4.3 litres with a filter change (2.0 litre engine).

We always have the mechanic change the filter when changing the oil, others may not do so or perhaps even need to every change of oil.

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Apart from the first service I have NEVER taken my Forester to Suburu for servicing. My local mechanic has done all the servicing for the last 6 years at approx less than 1/2 the Suburu cost each time. Rather have someone that I trust than someone who ‘only works there’. My mechanic has advised me that I only need one service every 10,000 klms rather than the Suburu recommendation which he thinks it is over the top.

No problem with my Suby throughout that time. Oil clean as a whistle

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I have a Subaru Forreter and have often thought how high the service costs are as the car is almost new and needs to be serviced every 6 months. I only do 10 k max a year.

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Having experience with two marques for new cars, Citroen and Renault, plus Volvo for a used one, all those companies have databases with all the vehicle details as well as the dealer provided service histories.

It would defy my imagination if a Subaru dealer service department did not have a similar system. They enter the VIN or rego and everything else should be automated including a standard invoice for the particular service interval. Service departments usually need only enter ‘things to watch for next time’ type entries.

While there could be valid explanations the original post simply recommended everyone watch their invoices for similar discrepancies, which is good advice. Some shops, even those deemed reputable, are not always so. The best advice is to look at and question anything on an invoice at time of payment to avoid being potentially taken advantage of.

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