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Anybody know of a good Subaru repair shop in Tucson, besides the one and only Subaru dealer?
 

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not tucson, but i know a great guy in mesa who primarily rebuilds porsche's and did work on my old Legacy. i've already sent another forester owner to him to, he does a great job and is reputable.
 

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Subaru repair work in Tucson

Anybody know of a good Subaru repair shop in Tucson, besides the one and only Subaru dealer?
I'm wondering the same thing, too. My car's got 60k miles on it and I just went in for an oil change today (first time since the dealership was sold by Emich) and they charged $40. Doesn't bode well for the cost of any other repairs I might need. Tried looking on CarTalk.com, but no mention there of any Subaru specific shops and the few import shops I saw seem to be limited to Hondas and Toyotas.

Anyone out there have any other suggestions?

***Note Added 3/21***

I found a shop that works on Subarus (in addition to other Japanese autos). I'll post an update after I go there with info on it and whether or not I think they're worth checking out. I don't have much that needs to be done with my car, though, so not sure the initial visit will be enough to say either way.
 

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Possible shop

Well, I stopped by the shop this morning for a quick inspection (the car is approaching 60k miles and there was a nasty sound coming out of the engine area when I shifted that the dealership kept claiming it couldn't hear -- in over 20k miles of reporting it to them at every oil change).

I can't speak to their actual work (only did an inspection this morning), but the owner went out with me on a test drive to hear the noise (the dealership never offered -- even when I waited for the work to be done at the shop) and he did hear it. The owner believed it to be a loose heat shield on my exhaust based on the sound (he heard it right when I did -- less than a mile down the road). They checked and it was hard to identify the exact location, but they were pretty sure of the culprit. Nothing to do with the transmission or the clutch -- just shows up when shifting when the RPMs are just right to trigger it (also explains why it doesn't do it at every gear change). So, one way they could have fleeced me was gone (sound is a little annoying, but harmless) since I might have been open to a more in-depth inspection of the clutch had they suggested it (since I had no idea what it was and because it only happened when shifting).

They did the rest of their standard inspection (part of an oil change special that I didn't have them do since I just had the oil changed at the dealership) and deemed my car to be in really good shape. They didn't suggest anything other than standard maintenance (tune-up, fluid change and a fuel injection cleaning -- in that order based on what I could afford and what should get done first). The cost was less than the dealership, but not tons (about $200 less, but didn't include the cabin air filter the dealer does and typically charges $120 for). They told me they use Subaru parts for the plugs and filters, but use different fluids that they recommend (and not as pricey as Subaru fluids). Oh, and they mentioned my rear brakes seemed to have more wear than the front (which they thought was weird, too, since the car's never had any brake work) and that I might need new ones in 10-30k miles.

For the aesthetics (if that matters -- I know the service is more important)... The place was small and clean (a cappuccino/coffee machine and they offered water and coffee repeatedly), lots of magazines (racing mags, Nat Geo, AZ Highways, etc.) and the morning paper.

So... planning to take it there for the 60k service in a few thousand miles (when I'm due for the next oil change) and will report back then.

If you're interested in checking the place out yourself: MicroImportService.com -- Micro Import Service. Found them at CarTalk.com (cartalk.com/ct/mechx/shop.jsp?id=11094) and checked with the BBB before heading in there. Also, they have an oil change/inspection coupon on their site -- $25 (what I used for the inspection this morning). I did ask them why they didn't list that they work on Subarus (at the CarTalk site or on their own website) and think it's just something they overlooked. They told me they've worked on quite a few and once had a customer spot one of their license plate tags on another Subaru and that's how that person found them. :)

Again, will post here after I have the service done to see if I'm happy with the work.

Pam
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Pam,

Let us Tucson folks know how the servie goes. Thanks,

Bill
 

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Sure. Heading back in a couple thousand miles (in time for the next oil change). A quick note, though -- a few days after I went in for the inspection, I got a thank you card from them and a $10 off coupon for the next service.

Will post again after they do the work.

Pam
 

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Update - Micro Import Service

I had them do the 60k mile service yesterday (the car has 63,5k miles now). They also sold me on doing the fuel injection service (it wasn't a huge push on their part -- I'd never had it done to the car and didn't mention it to them, but had noticed decreased acceleration and increased pinging and hoped it might help). So, a tune-up, flush and fill of all fluids, general inspection and the fuel service. Not cheap -- $700 ($260 parts and $400 for labor -- the rest was tax and fees). But Subaru wanted $800+ and that was with no fuel injection service in that quote.

As for the actual service, I've only driven about 30 miles since the service, but the car accelerates more smoothly, feels more peppy and haven't noticed any pinging (though, 30 miles is a short test and the AC was on). No weird smells (no oil all over the engine giving that lovely burning smell that I used to get at times after going to the dealership). They even cleaned the battery contacts (can see some sort of cleaner they used on it). The antifreeze is bright green (it was muddy before -- so I know they didn't skip that). They found no other issues/concerns (my brakes have about 30% of their life left -- not bad for over 60k miles on them) and didn't recommend anything else.

They drove me to work and picked me up (and were there at the time I requested). And when I picked up the car, Nathan even went over some info about the timing belt on my car and my husband's car -- for future reference (my car has a "freewheeling" engine and my husband's does not).

Anyway, I'm not a mechanic and didn't watch them actually drain, flush and refill everything or do the fuel injector service, but the car feels better and I didn't really expect I'd notice a difference (don't remember noticing anything after the 30k service at the dealership). So, we'll see as time goes on (plus, they've got a 24k mile/24 month warranty on the work), but so far, so good. And it looks like their $25 oil change/inspection special (coupon found on their website and they seem to be advertising a bit -- I've seen a coupon in the newspaper and just got one in the mail, too) will be sticking around, so the basic maintenance won't be pricey.

Hope the info helps...

Pam
 

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Micro Import Service - another update

Well, I've been back for another oil change and things went smoothly, but I was again told I'd need to do the brakes (told I had 20% remaining life on both front and rear) and they suggested the accessory belts as well (some cracking starting). The cost was going to be roughly $600 for front a rear brakes -- $350 for front, $250 for the rear (think that did NOT include resurfacing the rotors, but I'd have to check -- the estimate just gives total prices and not a breakdown of what's done or the type/brand of parts used). About $140 for the belts.

They offered to do both services that day. I had to decline to do any service now as my husband's in between jobs.

In the meantime, I thought I'd get a second opinion on the brakes as the initial inspection at roughly 50k miles (my car now has 67k miles) at Micro had mentioned that the front brakes looked like they had a lot of life left. It's been nagging at me that that estimate changed at the 2nd and subsequent inspections and not adequately explained to me how/why that changed -- even when I asked outright. I think I was told something about maybe only one front brake was looked at and the other front probably had more wear (and discovered at subsequent inspections).

So, I went to a local/SW retail brake chain. Not a fan of chains, in general, but I checked with the BBB for this one and they had a good report (and the chain is a member). Plus, they do free inspections and with my husband out of work, that was a requirement. I've changed jobs and my commute is longer, so the more miles I put on, the more concerned I was about the brakes, safety and it getting so low I'd damage the rotors and cost myself more money in repairs.

I went in and they put the car on the lift and removed all the tires and disconnected the calipers and removed the pads for the front and rear tires (they didn't just do a quick visual). They measured the pads and the rotors (and put the measurements on the estimate). The rotors are fine -- probably don't need to be resurfaced -- just proper bedding in when the new pads are installed. The rear pads are low -- roughly the same estimate of 20% of their life remaining. But the front pads are "fine" -- with 40-50% wear left on them. I saw this myself (and took pics -- the visual difference is obvious).

The estimate I got from the chain was $160 for the rear brakes. They listed the ceramic pads they use (cheapies as I found out later, but not ones that I found anyone saying bad things about -- just not top of the line ones) and the price breakdown for the pads and service. They didn't even bother writing up an estimate for the front because they don't need to be done. I asked, though, and was told that the front brakes should be about the same cost (they claimed $10 cheaper and I'm guessing that's because the fronts are semi-metallic and the rears are ceramic, but I didn't ask, so not 100% sure). I got no pressure to purchase now, just the standard "once it starts squeaking, you're possibly damaging the rotors, so don't let it go that long" warning (and the tech said "yeah" when I asked if I had maybe 1000-2000 miles left before I really needed to get it done).

I know some of the cost difference can be attributed to the mom and pop shop and the labor costs (I assume/hope Micro pays the mechanics better than the chain and figure they pad the parts costs a bit more -- I used to work at a dealership 15 years ago, so I know the markup can be huge) and maybe they use a better pad (need to call up and ask for that info since it was not included with the estimate), but I'm a little concerned that they've been telling me that the front brakes are as bad as the rear brakes and should be done immediately. :(

A huge disclaimer here, I have NOT called up Micro to ask about this to see what they have to say. I just had the second inspection done 2 days ago. I don't have a breakdown of labor/parts cost from Micro and if the brakes they planned to install are one of the gems in the brakes world (I looked online and it looks like the higher-end, non-racing rear brake pads for my car go for just shy of $90 -- Hawk HPS or Performance brake pads -- the brakes being used by the chain only cost about $35 -- front pads go for a little more in all types). That could be some of the cost. But I'm just not sure what they can say about the estimate of front brake pad life remaining and needing to be done now.

I still have confidence in their work. I'm just disappointed that I feel like they were pushing costly service before it needed to be done. In addition to the money, it's just a waste to replace perfectly good pads before they've been fully used. This issue doesn't reflect the experience I had on my first visit (when they ruled out a clutch issue and pointed out that it was just a loose heat shield making noise when I shifted).

So... this is the latest for now. When I have the time, I'll call Micro and see what they have to say (and post it). It'll probably be a few days because I need to make sure I'm in the right frame of mind and have the time (don't want to be rushed and come off as accusing them more than looking for answers, and right now I'm just a bit too disappointed to be confident I won't end up being confrontational). And I thought about waiting to post till I got an answer from them, but knowing all this right now, I feel bad having "only the good" posted on the web (and not knowing if this sort of thing has happened to any other customers).

Pam

PS I hear they've gotten some extra business after I had posted my original experiences -- but I don't see any other mentions in the thread. Anyone else have info they'd like to share (just wondering if my interactions are standard or not)? Thanks!

__________________
Update 12/16:

I spoke to Micro today and I got some more info.

The brake pads they used in the estimate for my car are Akebonos -- better/more expensive (not high end -- but they're OEM) than the ones the other shop included in their estimate (but only $20 difference if I bought them myself). So, that's some of the difference in price, but not all of it. And they used ceramic for the estimate for the front and rears.

As for the estimate of life left on the front brake pads, I was told it's just a visual inspection/estimate (they don't take them apart and/or measure them). There was a mention that maybe the tech saw one pad that was really low and then just gave that as the overall estimate, but that was just speculation (and not corroborated by the other shop). He did remember that the first estimate came back with the tech saying there was lots of life left on the front brakes and then that changed.

The service manager did say that there had been incidences where they'd told a customer that work needed to be done and then they took the vehicle apart and discovered it didn't need to get done (and that they told the customer that). There's no way to say if that would have happened with me if I'd asked them to do the brakes when they told me they needed to get done.

Nathan (service manager) said he'd really like to look at the brakes again, but I'm not sure I can justify the time to pop in there to have them satisfy their curiosity (to see if they can see/explain why they gave the 20% remaining life estimate). And, while I know it's possible the second shop could have missed something (a single thin pad on the front), they don't make money doing free estimates and then telling customers work doesn't need to be done, so I'm guessing they did a decent inspection.

Anyway, I've got a little time left till I need to have the rear brake pads replaced. Going to call the other shop to see if there are any alternatives to the brake pads they've included in the estimate.
 

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Just an update for anyone still checking this thread...

I went back to Micro on February 21st for an oil change. All went smoothly and no tension from the brakes discussions (we did talk about it more and there are no hard feelings) and the differences with the estimates. I could see the mechanic checking them again this time, during their standard inspection (part of the oil change), and could see that they did just shine a light on them with the wheels still on, so they only see so much. But, for a quick $25 oil change, I don't expect them to rip the car apart during an inspection. Anyway, I can see how it could be tough to get an accurate idea from that limited look and my one wish would be that they would say that when they recommend service. "From a quick look, it appears you need brakes. But we'll have to take the wheels off to be sure and that will cost $x." And yeah, I know you can get an estimate/inspection for free elsewhere (as I did) where they do take the wheels (and pads) off, but I realize small shops have a limit in what they can afford to do for free.

So... the new estimate is about 35% wear left on the front brakes (and they saw that the rear ones had been replaced) and no concern right now. Close to what the other shop said (though, they estimated a bit more wear left -- but they had pulled off the pads to check that).

The bonus of the trip was that they checked the battery (part of the quickie inspection they do for all oil changes) and it came back a little low. I hadn't run into any issues or delays in starting, so I had no indication it might be dying. The battery is a Subaru OEM replacement that I had installed less than 2 years ago (my factory battery lasted 4 years). Nathan said if their shop had installed the battery, he'd replace it under warranty based on the test (even though he didn't think it would die anytime soon -- low numbers, but not horrible ones) and that I should check with Subaru. Thanks to Micro, I checked and sure enough, Subaru has a 30-month full replacement (no cost) battery warranty. Went to Subaru and they replaced it with no questions.

As a side note, at the dealership there's a price board posted outside their sales offices. Not sure if it's a coincidence, but the comparison is dated 3/2010 (right around the time this thread started up) and uses a 2005 Forester XS (my car model) for its supposed comparison. I guess things/prices could have changed in the past year, but I saw the price for rear brakes for Micro on the board -- about $100 more than the estimate Micro gave me (the front brake estimate seemed close, though). And they listed a service and cost for work at Micro that Micro doesn't even do. I attached a pic (taken on 3/4). And, for the fun of it, while I was waiting, I checked the price on a part (thinking about swapping out my rear wiper blade assembly for the 2003 version that takes standard wiper replacements). Their cost was more than double what I'd pay online (and from what I can tell, more than 50% higher than the SRP for the part!). I'm still happy with my overall decision to find Subaru service away from the dealership and to continue to go back to Micro (my husband has an appointment to take his car there this week).

Pam
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Pam,

Thanks for the detailed follow-up.

Bill
 

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Quick note about the local Tucson dealership

So, I'm still going to Micro Imports (still haven't needed any real work on my car -- 87k miles and the most it's needed has been brakes -- though it does have big maintenance service coming up).

Recently, I needed a new clutch pedal pad (small rubber piece that fell off the pedal from basic wear and tear). I check online -- $5-$10 plus shipping for most places (ebay, parts stores, other dealerships around the country that sell online). I call the local dealership -- $13.45. Really? I don't think the cost of living is so high here in Tucson that it warrants being at the higher end of the price scale. So... I was traveling back east and checked other places. Both at a place outside Hartford, CT (where I believe it does cost more to live than here) and at a dealership in Maine, it was just over $10. Identical part (OEM part). At DEALERSHIPS. Needless to say, I bought the pedal pad on my trip and flew that thing back home with me.

Just another (small, but annoying) reason why I won't be going back to the local dealership unless I have ZERO choice. If it's their pattern to charge 30% more just for the smallest of parts (compared to other dealerships -- not even talking about aftermarket parts), then I'd assume it's how they price all their parts and services... So much for thinking that the small things might be "loss leaders" to get people in the door!
 

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Another Subaru shop in Tucson -- Tokyo Imports

Just wanted to throw out another possibility. While I've been happy with the work done at Micro, the cost has always been a concern (less than the dealership, but more than some other places). With a financial crunch hitting our family recently, it spurred me on to check out some other places for the 90k service and upcoming timing belt service on my car. I did try to get an estimate for both services from Micro, but I never did get a call back (they have a different service writer than from when I started going there -- no clue if that's been influencing my desire to check elsewhere, as well). I gave Micro all my info and that I'm a current customer and then was told I'd get a call back shortly. It's been 2 weeks.

So, in the meantime, I checked out some options and reviews and saw some positive comments about Tokyo Imports (at cartalk.com and yelp.com). Called them and got rough estimates for both services and both quite a bit lower than what I'd gotten elsewhere (again, no idea what Micro charges as they didn't call back). It's totally a "mom and pop" shop without the mom -- it's one guy who does it all (front office and repair work). And I think he charges based on time actually working on things -- not what "the book" quotes as time needed for a job. Based on my conversation with him I set up an appointment for the 90k. He was fine with not doing things I'd already done recently -- filters and tire stuff -- and he knew that when it came time for the timing belt, the water pump needed to get done -- something another shop told me wasn't needed, but all my reading on the forums specifically about Foresters says otherwise.

When I got to the shop he had the 90k service list printed out with notes from our conversation about what had already been done. Asked me to double-check it and said he'd call and let me know if he spotted anything else before doing anything. Within a few hours I had a call from him. All was good with the car. Found some things leaking that would eventually need to be taken care of, but he'd temporarily fixed them (tightened some things down) and said I had another year or two before they needed to be addressed (and that it wasn't cheaper to do it with the timing belt -- so no need to rush to do it at that point, either). The total cost was less than half the original quote because there was less work than he'd originally anticipated (the original quote was before he pulled up the 90k service schedule for the car and before I'd mentioned things I'd already done). And the car, 100+ miles later, seems nice and peppy again. And the bonus -- I forgot to mention to him there was a new, high pitched whine occasionally coming from the engine during acceleration (I'd mentioned it to Micro, but they couldn't hear it during the quick oil change/inspections they had done). That seems to be gone. I think his tightening of the valves/seals (think that's what he mentioned, but would have to check to be sure) to help delay larger repair work actually took care of that sound (he didn't see anything else wrong and just did the basic fluids/spark plug stuff for the 90k). Sweet!

So, looks like I've got my new go-to place for my car. Automotive Repair Tucson, AZ - Tokyo Imports 520-887-3010 And they work on other imports, so we'll probably bring our Highlander Hybrid there, too (he does everything on hybrids except the hybrid system).
 

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Discussion Starter #13
pjbarry21, thanks for the tip on Tokyo Imports. It sounds like they are worth a try, although I would prefer a shop that specializes in Subarus. You'd think with all the Subarus running around Tucson there would be enough business to support a dedicated independent shop.
 

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The dealership in Tucson is not good for repairs. I strongly feel they gouge and look too hard to find problems. My Forester is a 2004 turbo with 60K. I took it in for an oil change on Dec 26 and came staggering out $1,000 poorer.

After they got the car, they called to say the radiator was cracked and "leaking all over the place". Funny how it wasn't leaking in my garage or overheating on the drive down from Flagstaff on the 24th. My husband and I went down to take a look. The radiator was/had been leaking but it was from the seals around the top, thus a slow leak. The radiator was not "cracked" nor was it "leaking all over the place. New radiator.

Next, they determined the hoses to the air conditioner were bad and needed to be replaced.

I asked the question upon dropping off the car about a strong odor of gasoline in the cabin when first started. I recently moved to Flagstaff and began to notice it in the cooler temps. Dealer's solution...all the fuel lines needed to be replaced. That was the last straw. We negotiated a price to fix the radiator and air unit and still drove away $1,000 porer.

The car has only 60K miles! The dealership did some work for me last year (timing belt, etc.) and I strongly believe they gouge. I am back in Flagstaff and am looking for a reliable repair shop to tighten the gas lines. The dealership here won't even return my calls.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Anybody know if we have an independent repair shop in the Tucson area that specializes in Subarus? I'm looking for a Tucson shop like Subiworx in Tempe.
 
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