Subaru is love.
Don’t you find this latest Subaru ad campaign just a little off-center? I mean, these are people famous for their WRC prowess.
Well, maybe there is a kind of truth in it, after all, as I shall relate to my dear reader.
I want to tell a tale of Subaru love. This story involves the saga of my son’s STi and the many experiences we have had with this car.
A pretty silver Subaru STi was first sold into use on in May of 2005 by a local Houston dealership. We bought this car from the same selling dealer, used, in 2007, as I recall. It had some minor cosmetic damage, but the dealership insisted that it warranted high retail pricing, but was unwilling to certify the vehicle as satisfactory used car.
That should have been my first warning.
My son was still a relatively new car driver, and the STi represented a move up from his first ride, a 2006 Civic LX, and his second ride, a 2007 Civic Si.
Although we were long-time Honda users, we had found that Honda’s quality had ‘changed’ over the years since we first bought an SE-I in 1985, and not for the better, so I was hoping that the reputation that the STi had for “toughness” was real.
To protect myself from the used-car-blues, I bought a 100k extended warranty from the salesman, to shelter me from the faults that might be present in the car.
In any case, the car drove well until about 56k miles, when it somehow managed to lose a rod bearing. So, knowing that I had warranty coverage, and that we had done our maintenance correctly up to this point, I took the car back to the closest Subaru dealership and made a warranty claim.
I’m sure you can guess: they denied the claim because the previous owner had been found to have abused the car, and so the maintenance record showed that the car had been flagged as a warranty ‘hot-potato’. My bad for not asking for that record; I thought I was covered by my warranty for my use.
Several months of discussions followed with SoA, and much to the credit of the honesty of the customer service gentleman with whom I spent many hours negotiating about this inconsistency, SoA decided to split the cost of the repair with me. It was, in hindsight, a good deal; I could have sued, and who knows what that might have resulted in.
I was in for quite a surprise, though. It turned out that this was the third replacement motor for this car, so my STi had, probably, been ‘abused’, even though none of the previous claims, by the original owner, for repair had been denied for such misuse.
This fourth motor lasted about 1900 miles before it, too, made bad noises in the night, resulting in yet another short block going in, this time under warranty, since not even an oil-change had fallen due yet.
The next motor fared a bit better, lasting about 5100 miles before it, too, started making an altogether familiar clanking noise. With my oil-change receipt in hand, I made yet another warranty claim.
This time, the dealership made a long-block replacement, trying to avoid the errors that had plagued the previous builds.
This motor did much better, and made it about 42k before it ate yet another rod bearing.
Fortunately, the car was only two blocks from my house when it got the ‘rod-bearing fever’ again, so it was but a short limp back to safety.
Well, now I am on my own, no warranty protection anymore, so I spend a big chunk of my own money to install yet another long-block. I even had the ECU replaced, to remove any ghosts from previous attempts to 'flash' new performance into the motor; it is bone stock, save for a great-sounding SPT intake and cat-back exhaust.
The car has a little over 105k on it now.
The great curiosity about all of this is that every Subaru service manager that I talked to about this last motor told me that my oil consumption rate of 1 quart of oil per 1000 miles was typical of STis. I found this to be an incredulous rate. Given their position, though, I could not make a claim for excessive oil consumption.
My only concern is that the pile of parts given back to me from my latest re-building dealer shows some very old, oil-leaking hoses, probably on the car from its original construction. I suspect that had they been replaced during any of the earlier mechanical repairs, this motor might have survived.
In my garage is a nice STi project motor, not yet opened, with all of the assorted parts left over from the latest build. It would probably make a nice basis for a rebuild, but I have no idea what lies inside that case. I’m not sure I have the stamina to try to do that, though. Maybe some enterprising soul on Craig’s List will take a chance on it.
In any case, I still find the 2005 STi to be Subaru’s best car ever, and the best of all STis before and since. It is also my first and last Subaru.
All that being said, I’ve got the Subaru-love religion: I check oil levels of my STi every day, and I make sure that all fluids are up to proper quantities. I am not seeing any oil-consumption problems at all during the break-in period. Nothing; the motor runs nicely and the oil levels remain topped-off.
I would not expect this from a motor whose rings have not even completely seated-in yet…but there it is, anyway.
One of these days, when my shattered bank-account shows signs of life again, I may get the little dear cleaned up at my favorite body-shop.
I do love driving this car!
So, I guess it is true after all; only fools fall in love.