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2008 STi - Broken welds + hatch damper (metal on metal squeak)... *RESOLVED[?]*

30562 Views 118 Replies 28 Participants Last post by  Deek
Update 2011.09.16: At this point I'm quite comfortable with saying that this issue was definitely related to the passenger side hatch damper. The issue persisted after spot welds were reinforced, and ceased after the dampers were replaced.

I am now also keeping this updated in my blog as well @ 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STi Hatch - "theNoise" (Broken welds = Squeak)

Car: 2008 Impreza WRX STi

Problem: Broken welds on roof support near hatch opening causing metal on metal squeaking over bumps or in turns.
Update 2011.08.27; Could this have been misdiagnosed??? <- Click for more information.

Reason denied: Originally Subaru denied claim and voided warranty stating that installation of stiffer springs caused the weld to break.
Update 2011.07.21; SOA called, they're fixing under waranty, *but*... <- Click for more information.

Summary: I installed springs on my car (320lb rates, front & rear) on 2010.09.18. I have proof of invoice and tracking information via FedEx that shows I didn't have these springs in my possession until 2011.09.16. According to the dealer's service records, I first reported this problem to them on 2010.09.08. This means that it had already been occurring and I called them to set up an appointment for them to look at it. Those notes don't go into the system until the dealer takes possession of the car, at least for my dealer.

I went to the dealer today and had them print my service records. There is a 'customer complaint' on there dated 2010.09.08 that states the following;

Complaint: Customer states that the hatch back or something will creak in the rear when driving over a rough road please check and advise...

Cause: Tech traced and found there was a rattle coming from the latch on the rear hatch back door.

Correction: Tech greased the latch and test drove to verify proper operation.
On 2010.10.08 I brought it in because the brakes were squealing, at which time the service manager noticed the hatch squeak. I told him how I've already brought it in for that and they claim they fixed it by re-greasing the latch. He said to have it looked at again at the next service.

On 2011.02.03 I brought it in for service and this is what they have noted regarding the squeak.

Complaint: Customer states that the rear hatch is squeaking please check and advise...

Cause: Tech test drove the vehicle and found the rear mat rubbing on the cargo cover and tech also found the latch in need of lubrication.

Correction: Tech completed the lubrication on the rear hatch latch and also moved the rear cargo mat from the cargo shade and test drove to verify no squeaking from the rear at this time.
On 2011.02.07 I brought it in for the squeak again, and here are the notes.

Complaint: Customer states that there is a squeaking noise coming fromt he rear hatch when driving over bumps please check and advise...

Cause: Tech test drove the vehicle and was not able to duplicate the customer's concern at this time.

Correction: No repairs made at this time.
On 2011.05.13 I brought it in for maintenance and the following was noted regarding the squeak.

Complaint: Customer states there is a metal on metal noise coming from the right rear please check and advise.

Cause: Tech found the noise coming from the drivers rear quarter panel area more time is needed to complete diag.

Correction: Customer is advised and will return at a later date.
I brought it back on 2011.05.18 and here are the notes.

Complaint: Customer states there is a squeak coming from the rear top of the vehicle when going over bumps advise...

Cause: Tech found the creek coming from the rear roof supports. Possible weld broken.

Correction: Subaru has been contacted and factory engineer will come out to inspect vehicle at customer convenience. Customer will be contacted when this is possible.
I did go back again near the end of may, so I'll need to go back and get that service record for the details... but in short the rep didn't even come look at the vehicle, he just told the service manager to deny the claim and void the warranty stating that my stiffened springs caused the issue, which is clearly not the case.

I just gathered the documents I think I'll need, and I'm stopping by the dealer tomorrow to talk to the service manager. I'll try to keep this updated.
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Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support...

very interested in this. Keep it coming. Damn stealerships
The dealership has actually been quite helpful with this situation, and actually wasn't very enthused about having to tell me they wouldn't cover it, and why. They couldn't really share their view point on the situation once the regional rep provided his input though, their hands are kind of tied.

Call Subaru of America
Also they cannot void your warranty, only deny a claim based on modification.
My warranty expired 2011.05.31 anyways, so that's not a huge deal anyways. However this is an issue that they've been unable to fix for months now, and the service manager showed me in the warranty agreement where any items brought to their attention before the warranty expires would still have to be honored under warranty... if they persist past the expiration date.

I'm calling SOA tomorrow to updated them with details on the situation, I already have the case open with them that I can reference.

I will keep things updated here.
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Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support...

By the way even though your bumper to bumper is up, which this would fall under, you do realize you still have a 5 year powertrain?
Valid point, I'll be sure to ask about this tomorrow. I need to make sure this rep didn't void that... and if he did, work on getting that reversed.

I'm going to the dealer with the following information regarding the springs; invoice from the manufacturer, the email that contained the tracking number, and the tracking information that shows delivery on the date 2009.09.16.
Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support...

I called the customer support number listed on subaru.com and updated my case with them, including dates and a summary of the situation all the way up to where the regional rep denied my claim, etc.

I also called the dealer and am waiting for a call back from the service manager to set up a time to come see him, today preferably.
Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support...

I took a late lunch and visited the dealer to provide the service manager with the following documents regarding the spring purchase/installation...

-Invoice showing purchase & ship date, associated tracking number listed.
-Dated copy of email from manufacturer that had the invoice attached.
-FedEx shipping notification email, dated.
-FedEx package progress showing delivery date (2010.09.16)

I also brought the service records he printed out for me yesterday, with the original complaint highlighted on 2010.09.08. Reminding him that was the date I left the car with him, after I had already called reporting the issue to make an appointment. Therefore had already been experiencing the issue before the drop off date.

The service manager made copies of them, faxed them to the regional rep, and told me to expect a call tomorrow (2011.07.14).

While there, I inquired about the comment that was made previously about my warranty being voided. He specified that only the warranty pertaining to this part/claim was affected, so my power train warranty is still intact. However, hopefully with this documentation, that voided warranty item can be reversed and this can be handled.

However, even if they do reverse the voided warranty and say they'll repair it, there are some interesting details about the repair I'm not enthused with. Those details I'll enclose at a later time if we get to that point.
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Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support...

Service manager informed me that he left the regional rep a message today. I asked that he keep me updated as often as possible, even if its to tell me that he hasn't heard back yet.

Patience is wearing quite thin with this issue. I ordered a brake pads, rotors, and braided lines to put on this weekend, but that's all on hold until more develops with this situation.
Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support...

I called with service manager about a 30 minutes ago... he spoke with the regional rep today and was informed that it's going to take a couple days to look into this. The service manager said he'd call me immediately after getting getting an update from the regional rep.

I'm not quite sure what needs to be looked into, but I suppose I understand there are policies and procedures that need to be followed in a situation like this. I let him know I'd check in with him on Wednesday if I haven't heard anything.
Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support...

If you can take a pic of it that would be great. I have some creaking and ive got about 20k+ on a suspension.
I'd have to remove the headliner to do so, not sure I'll have time this weekend with work and other activities. The service manager pointed to where the plastics surrounding the hatch met up with the fabric and said "its near where the hatch hinges bolt onto the body."
Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support...

The service manager just called to inform me that the regional rep sent the documentation 'up the chain' and is awaiting information in return. He said that he would call me back by the end of the week whether or not he has an update.
Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support...

I received a call from Subaru of America today informing me that they are going to repair my vehicle under warranty.

Thumbs up? Not just yet... I suppose I can discuss what "interesting details" I previously mentioned.

Once they finally found the cause of the issue, the repair was initially approved and the dealer ordered a new cross-member for the roof. The body shop had all of this in their possession, but once they looked into actually doing the repair, they found that they would have to cut the roof to gain access to the welds or piece that they need to replace. They notified the dealer, who notified the regional rep. This is when the service manager informed me that the regional rep had to come see the car (see OP for 2011.05.18).

I went on the road the next week for work which gave them a week to contact me. I didn't hear anything so when I returned I called them and asked for an update as to when I should expect the regional rep to make an appointment. The service manager said he would call the regional rep to find out, and then get back to me. When the service manager called me back he informed me that the regional rep is no longer going to repair this under warranty and the warranty for this 'line item' was now void.

Anyways, while on the phone with Subaru, I requested details regarding the repair of the defect but the woman I spoke with didn't have the specifics. She said that she would contact the service manager at the dealer to discuss it with him and have him call me with that information. I expressed my concerns regarding what I already knew and how uneasy I felt about it all. Considering resale value and safety structure, I think these concerns are valid.
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Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support...

Not long after I posted last, the service manager called me saying that they wanted to get a second opinion regarding the repairs necessary. I'm going in there tomorrow to meet up with him and go to a shop to get it looked at.
Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support...

They brought the car to their 3rd party shop and they're the ones that said the they'd have to cut the roof to get to the welds to replace the piece. Sorry I can't provide details regarding what specific weld or piece needs repair or replacement right now, I'll hopefully get much more information tomorrow from my visit to the dealer and another 3rd party shop.
Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support...

Not that I want others to be experiencing this issue, but if anyone is... please get it checked out and let me know what is found via PM. If there is a similar issue with multiple cars, there might be something here to bite onto. Not really trying to sound malicious, but this is more than an annoyance, welds breaking could potentially turn into a pretty serious safety hazard.
Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support...

Just returned from my trip to the dealer and 3rd party body shop. I'm a bit more optimistic and a little less concerned about the extent of the repairs, not quite out of the water yet though.

Click images for larger views.

This first picture shows the different layers of the roof and cross-member that is welded to it, this is what's rubbing together and squeaking;

This picture here shows the spot welds that could potentially be the culprit;

The manager of the body shop is someone who I've worked with before, and said this was an issue they'd have to "kind of throw things at the wall and see what stuck." I let him and the service manager (more-so the service manager) know that I understand they're caught in the middle of this whole ordeal, but if this turns into a situation where I'm without the car for extended periods of time, numerous times, that this issue would become a lot more complex. I think we're all on the same page.

The body shop owner is going to write up an estimate and get it to the service manager, who told me I should expect to hear from him mid next week because the documents and information have to be put through their appropriate processes.
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Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support (metal on metal squeak)...

I called the service manager today since I hadn't heard anything, he said that they should be ready for my car at the body shop next Tuesday (2011.08.02).

Based on a conversation I had within the past week with a fellow STi owner with fabrication experience, I'm going to make a call to the body shop to talk to the manager and potentially one of their fabricators to have them explain their approach to this repair step by step.
Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support (metal on metal squeak)...

Well I missed the drop-off yesterday, I wasn't sure that it was a solid date. I rescheduled to drop the car off at the dealer next Monday (2011.08.08).
Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support (metal on metal squeak)...

I suggested possibly riveting the rear seam instead of cutting, welding, and painting...not to mention the possible damage, loose interior panels, creating a NEW noise, or overspray. :eek:
Hey T, you've unmasked yourself! :lol:

I definitely agree with the suggestion and would probably prefer that at this point. However, one of my concerns is that there is more going on back there than just those few spot welds. So I'm inclined to let Subaru fix this using their methods. This way if more surfaces either during the repair or later-on down the road, they're still 'on the hook' to either remedy it or take other measures to rectify the situation.
Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support (metal on metal squeak)...

I dropped the car off early in the morning on Monday (2011.08.08) and they brought it to the body shop shortly after. I was told I'd have it before the weekend, but checked in today and it wasn't ready. I'll check in again tomorrow.
Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support (metal on metal squeak)...

Yeah, somewhat of a bummer that I had to prove otherwise by providing documentation showing when the issue was first brought to their attention and comparing it to when I received the springs. Thankfully that was enough and they are handling it now.

My fingers are crossed, hoping that this doesn't become a recurring issue. I really don't want have to travel down the 'legal' road.
Re: 2008 STi - Broken welds on rear roof support (metal on metal squeak)...

I called the service manager on lunch, asking for an update. "Not good" he says. Apparently the body shop is a little more than apprehensive about performing the repair for a couple reasons;

1) They didn't want to remove the roof liner.
2) Since they're going to have to 're-spot weld' things, it'll require some paint work. They're concerned about doing the paint work because the last time they did some for me, I brought it back for cleanups (ie. Drip-match daub of paint left on rear passenger door, couple small bits/chunks of paint on hood had to be removed, clearcoat overspray on wing and rear window, etc).

I'm pretty frustrated that my car has been there all week and absolutely nothing has been done. And the service manager is pretty much in the same boat, since they're fronting me a rental and it's costing them money. Well that and they know they have to deal with a less-than-pleased customer.

I'm waiting for a return call from the service manager to see if he can contact another dealer outside of the desert that may have an in-house body shop, or a more competent third party shop that isn't seemingly 'scared of taking the job.'
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