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2009 forester turbo auto
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Discussion Starter #1
Thank to you folks, I've used this forum to keep my baby on the road for years.. Thanks!! Now I need some opinions.

I have a 2009 Subaru Forester Turbo that has met an early death, seemingly at the hands of a local mechanic. I am wondering if you all can help me determine that likelihood that it has died naturally or due to oversight from the mechanic.

1) Brought the car in as there was a bit of steam and terrible gas mileage….even asked if the head gasket could be the problem. It was inspected and found no head gasket issue.

2) Two weeks and 1,000 miles later, the car overheated and had to be towed to the mechanic...yep head gaskets (and over $3,000 to fix)! Shortly after getting it home, smelled STRONG gasoline and got it back in….told me not gas, but oil smell and corrected with no explanation...insulting and suspicious! I might be a girl, but I know the difference.

3) Less than 4 months later, another failure and limped it to the mechanic…..TURBO failure!….another $2,000.

4) Got the car back...mechanic bragged about how good it ran….drove the car 6 MILES and the gas mileage started to drop rapidly and the engine got weak. This time was told the engine was failing….JUST LIKE THAT!! CAR IS DEAD!

OK my mechanic geek friends, PLEASE lend your two cents on what you think may have occurred….PREMATURE DEATH OR DEATH BY MECHANIC? THANKS!!!

~ Heather
 

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@berbes How many miles on your car?

Did you take the car to another mechanic for a second opinion on the steam/terrible gas mileage or any other issue?
 
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1999 "L" - 231,000 mi. AT
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You're not going to like me, but get a different car - probably best non-turbo. With this replacement car start having your local dealer, of whatever brand it is, do all your services more complicated than routine engine oil changes.
 

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2018 Forester XT Limited CVT
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With this replacement car start having your local dealer, of whatever brand it is, do all your services more complicated than routine engine oil changes.
The worst screwups I've ever had when someone worked on the car were caused by the dealership. All of Honda, Audi, and Subaru dealerships. If you have a friend who's a mechanic things work out way better. If you don't have a friend who's a mechanic, get one.
 

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2019 Sport CVT
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The worst screwups I've ever had when someone worked on the car were caused by the dealership. All of Honda, Audi, and Subaru dealerships. If you have a friend who's a mechanic things work out way better. If you don't have a friend who's a mechanic, get one.
I guess I’m lucky here in Seattle. The guys at All Wheel Drive Auto in Kirkland, a great Indy Subaru shop, get all the service on my 3
 

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2009 Forester 2.0 XS
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That freaking sucks... Where are you located? Which country?
I see you got like 9 posts. Maybe you should have written all the details here right from the start? Now its a little too late maybe.
 

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2009 forester turbo auto
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Discussion Starter #7
yes, it's too late. i was forced to buy another car and this one is about to go on ebay for some lucky person who knows how to swap engines, or fix the one in it.

my real question is, the guy insists he did everything by the book and we're going to small claims. is there anything i can do to help my side of the case? i mean, for $5k worth of repairs, THEN telling me it's the engine. he could've told me that BEFORE, instead of after spending that $$$.

THANKS AGAIN, GENTS!
 

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2009 forester turbo auto
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Discussion Starter #8
@berbes How many miles on your car?

Did you take the car to another mechanic for a second opinion on the steam/terrible gas mileage or any other issue?
No, we did not take to another mechanic and upon the first head gasket failure was the first repair he ever made to my car. I chose him based on his credentials and numerous positive reviews, so I dismissed as a fluke and perhaps should not have. However, I am taking him to court and prior to that, thinking about one of those services where they make a house call to be sure the diagnosis matches, then will file on him. The car can't be driven and don't want to deal with towing back and forth as the insurance is now dropped. The car only had 153,000 miles and we had already spent $5000. The mechanic said initially the only way he would "give us a break" when the engine did fail was to utilize him yet again to put in the new engine. I wasn't buying it. Thanks.
 

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2012 Forester X Auto
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@berbes -
How may miles on the car? Did you buy it new? Do you know the service history?

#1 - Overheating - There can be lots of causes. If you didn't have a bad head gasket, should he have replaced it anyway? Nope. What was done to the car? You didn't say what was done. What was repaired/replaced?

#2 - You then drove it a thousand miles in two weeks..
Was it okay during that time?
Did you ever check your fluids? You might have had a leak that caused the car to overheat, and when that happens,
that's a near certain way to need a head gasket.
You never said what caused the original overheating problem, but since that happened when you first brought it in, you may have started out with a compromised engine, or caused damage that showed up later.
It sounds like the fuel/oil smell issue was addressed although you didn't like the explanation.
If you don't like the service why keep going back?

#3 - After 4 months you had a turbo failure... What did the guy do to cause that?
Considering you put on 500 miles in a week, at that rate you would have added 8,000 miles to the clock in 4 months. A 10 year old car can have problems, and turbos don't last forever.

#4 - I have no idea what the "engine is failing" means because it doesn't mean anything..
An engine can have problems, but these would be specific issues. Engines don't die from natural causes.

Get a second (or third) opinion about what is happening.

As far as asking whether the mechanic did something wrong, with the information you provided, there is no way to make that determination that would be any more accurate than flipping a coin.

The fact that you had problems doesn't mean the mechanic did anything wrong.
 

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2009 forester turbo auto
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Discussion Starter #10
You're not going to like me, but get a different car - probably best non-turbo. With this replacement car start having your local dealer, of whatever brand it is, do all your services more complicated than routine engine oil changes.
Already done since this car doesn't run and so I handled that and yes, NON-TURBO. Now I need to get a quick second opinion before taking this man to court. It was extremely well-maintained and we had already spent $5,000 with him and the only way he would "give us a break" was to get a new engine from him? Given the year, etc. just not worth all of that, so had no choice. Just really wondering what the likelihood of having all of these issues within a 4 month timeframe to end with engine failure....somehow this just popped up...just like that? Therefore, my question...premature death or death by mechanic? Thanks for the tip :)
 

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2009 forester turbo auto
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Discussion Starter #11
That freaking sucks... Where are you located? Which country?
I see you got like 9 posts. Maybe you should have written all the details here right from the start? Now its a little too late maybe.
In the US and forgot to add the mileage, which is just 153,000. It's awful to first have the head gaskets repaired, then shortly thereafter the turbo, then just 6 miles later, the car dies told now the engine is failing....only way he will give me a break is to put in another engine himself? Not even worth it when added to the other $5,000 we had already spent. A new engine would have brought it to about 11,000, so the car is now gone and I had no choice but to purchase another. I am going to court with this as I believe he misdiagnosed and handled my car to begin with, so looking for input from others, too. Thanks.
 

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Just saw your post - I doubt you have a case, but then again you haven't provided enough information to make a meaningful comment. Based on what you have provided, I doubt you have a chance to win.
About the only thing would be the turbo replacement, but you drove it a few miles before the car had a problem.
Since you don't say what the problem is (engine is failing is meaningless) this could (or not) be something that failed right after you drove away.
As a plaintiff, you have to PROVE that the guy did something wrong, and specifically what that was he did wrong. If the failure didn't happen until after you drove away, it's not his fault. You will need a lot more facts on your side that so far you haven't made a case.
"
I believe he misdiagnosed and handled my car to begin with" does not mean a thing in court. You need evidence, and if I were trying the case, so far, you would be losing.
 

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1) when you say a bit of steam, steam from the engine bay? If engine bay you likely had a coolant leak and was not head gaskets. If coolant leak was not addressed...

2) overheat due to lack of coolant, if not caught very quickly - warped blocks/head and head gasket failure. May be as a result of mechanic not identifying the root cause of 1..but it's very hard to make the case that a mechanic failing to find a problem then having the vehicle have a later issue being their fault. They didn't CAUSE the issue...they just didn't prevent it.

3) Very likely not related.

4) Very likely failed due to #3. These engines almost always fail shortly after a turbo failure if proper mitigation wasn't done following the turbo failure. Again, the mechanic didn't CAUSE this...just didn't prevent it.

I apologize for the situation, but I don't think you have a very good case against the mechanic.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Just saw your post - I doubt you have a case, but then again you haven't provided enough information to make a meaningful comment. Based on what you have provided, I doubt you have a chance to win.
About the only thing would be the turbo replacement, but you drove it a few miles before the car had a problem.
Since you don't say what the problem is (engine is failing is meaningless) this could (or not) be something that failed right after you drove away.
As a plaintiff, you have to PROVE that the guy did something wrong, and specifically what that was he did wrong. If the failure didn't happen until after you drove away, it's not his fault. You will need a lot more facts on your side that so far you haven't made a case.
"
I believe he misdiagnosed and handled my car to begin with" does not mean a thing in court. You need evidence, and if I were trying the case, so far, you would be losing.
Thank you. This is actually what I am going after is the turbo replacement cost reimbursement. We were told by him that "the engine is failing", so this is all we have to go on. He was a new mechanic for me. When we had the steam and engine "hot" issues 4 months ago, he originally said that it was not the head gasket, but two weeks later, it is? Shortly thereafter and after having my engine flooded with gasoline (then told by them it was oil). No way. They did get it back to me with the problem fixed, but can this cause damage in of itself? Fast forward to the 4 months later, turbo failure and repair. Who drives 6 miles and has the car now fail? It just doesn't sit right. I'm out an entire car that had a lot of good life left. I had to buy another car immediately. He also said that he was replacing the turbo, not rebuilding as when I got it back, said "reman" on my receipt. I absolutely feel lied to and ripped off. All he says is that they "did everything right". Thanks for your feedback and honesty very much! If it were your car, what would you think? Oh, and after the engine failure, he said the only way he would "work with me" is to allow him to put in a new engine. So, in addition to the $5,000 I had already paid him for the head gaskets and turbo job, another $5,000 - $6,000 for a total of upwards of $11,000? Not even worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
1) when you say a bit of steam, steam from the engine bay? If engine bay you likely had a coolant leak and was not head gaskets. If coolant leak was not addressed...

2) overheat due to lack of coolant, if not caught very quickly - warped blocks/head and head gasket failure. May be as a result of mechanic not identifying the root cause of 1..but it's very hard to make the case that a mechanic failing to find a problem then having the vehicle have a later issue being their fault. They didn't CAUSE the issue...they just didn't prevent it.

3) Very likely not related.

4) Very likely failed due to #3. These engines almost always fail shortly after a turbo failure if proper mitigation wasn't done following the turbo failure. Again, the mechanic didn't CAUSE this...just didn't prevent it.

I apologize for the situation, but I don't think you have a very good case against the mechanic.
Scooby, thank you very much for your insight! I meant steam coming from the exhaust....that was the "smoking gun", so coupled with the fact it was getting hot seems to me that he missed it (and it wasn't getting hot to the point of overheating, just hotter than usual). I kept checking fluids daily during that time and wasn't losing anything. Also, just BEFORE that "first visit" to him (as it was a new mechanic for me that had good reviews), I did have a new radiator and thermostat put in, so he knew that, too. After he said the head gaskets were fine, it literally overheated 2 weeks later and broke down on a busy tollway and had to have it towed there again. This time he said it WAS the head gaskets. I normally would not blame a mechanic, but he had it in his care pretty extensively during that 4 months and after that final job to rebuild the turbo and $5,000 later (for the HG and Turbo jobs), it literally went 6 miles and croaked. This was after he told me that he had personally inspected and driven it. He said, "You won't believe it....drives like a brand new car". Yeah, it did for a few minutes....literally! Thanks again!!!
 

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2018 X3 M40i / 2014 VW Passat TDI SEL
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I understand the frustration but a mechanic failing to identify an issue that then causes a problem doesn't make them liable for it. They would only be liable if they directly caused the issue. Small claims court doesn't necessarily require PROOF, but they would want to understand how this mechanic contributed to the failures. A remanufactured part failing, or failing to identify an issue that caused a failure afterwards doesn't make them liable, sadly.

With the turbo failing, bearing material would have been distributed throughout the engine which would wear everything.

If all he did was replace the turbo that failed, there was mitigation that would have been neglected. These mitigation steps are something very experienced subaru mechanics would know about, but a general mechanic would not necessarily know. It's also not fair to fault them for that...because again they wouldn't have contributed to the failure...they just didn't accurately predict the ways in which the turbo failure could cause the engine failing (there are lots of ways the engine can fail with all that bearing material in the oil)

I think your best bet at recouping any money is the labor/parts cost of the Turbo replacement.

I think a laymen (judge) in that case would see that making it only 6 miles after the turbo replacement might warrant you getting your money back for the turbo/labor. However anything spent prior is going to be really hard to connect and the judge is likely to take a mechanic's word over yours (no offense).
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Just saw your post - I doubt you have a case, but then again you haven't provided enough information to make a meaningful comment. Based on what you have provided, I doubt you have a chance to win.
About the only thing would be the turbo replacement, but you drove it a few miles before the car had a problem.
Since you don't say what the problem is (engine is failing is meaningless) this could (or not) be something that failed right after you drove away.
As a plaintiff, you have to PROVE that the guy did something wrong, and specifically what that was he did wrong. If the failure didn't happen until after you drove away, it's not his fault. You will need a lot more facts on your side that so far you haven't made a case.
"
I believe he misdiagnosed and handled my car to begin with" does not mean a thing in court. You need evidence, and if I were trying the case, so far, you would be losing.
I should also clarify with you as I did another kind poster that the "steam" I refer to was coming from the EXHAUST initially. I have simply never seen so many failures and one after another in a period of 4 months under expert care, then boom....engine failure. Just like that? Perhaps this is just a coincidence, but I still think someone did something wrong and when they told me what I smelled the day after picking up the car following the head gasket job was oil and not gas, it left a sour taste in my mouth. Everyone knows what gasoline smells like and it practically rendered me unconscious. I took it immediately back to them with all the windows rolled down. Awful. It sticks with me that someone actually lied about that and I can't help but wonder if any damage was caused by this mistake...obviously someone left something undone somewhere and gasoline was flooding the engine.
 

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I understand the frustration but a mechanic failing to identify an issue that then causes a problem doesn't make them liable for it. They would only be liable if they directly caused the issue. Small claims court doesn't necessarily require PROOF, but they would want to understand how this mechanic contributed to the failures. A remanufactured part failing, or failing to identify an issue that caused a failure afterwards doesn't make them liable, sadly.

With the turbo failing, bearing material would have been distributed throughout the engine which would wear everything.

If all he did was replace the turbo that failed, there was mitigation that would have been neglected. These mitigation steps are something very experienced subaru mechanics would know about, but a general mechanic would not necessarily know. It's also not fair to fault them for that...because again they wouldn't have contributed to the failure...they just didn't accurately predict the ways in which the turbo failure could cause the engine failing (there are lots of ways the engine can fail with all that bearing material in the oil)

I think your best bet at recouping any money is the labor/parts cost of the Turbo replacement.

I think a laymen (judge) in that case would see that making it only 6 miles after the turbo replacement might warrant you getting your money back for the turbo/labor. However anything spent prior is going to be really hard to connect and the judge is likely to take a mechanic's word over yours (no offense).
Scooby, great answer and thank you very much! This is why I am specifically going after the cost of the turbo alone. Having said that, I still wonder why he or someone on his staff lied to me the day after getting the car back from the FIRST job he did, which was the head gaskets. I was at stoplights and the gas was literally flooding the car to the point of asphyxiation and I immediately had to get my car back to him, windows rolled down on the the way. The insult was when they gave the car back and told me that I had smelled OIL and not GAS. Come on! That is a lie and it just doesn't sit right with me. I can't help but wonder what kind of damage gasoline can do when flooding the engine quite like that. However, you're right, it takes a lot to prove this. I even asked the local dealership about it to do a "forensics" on the car to prove the point, but without ALL the old parts, etc. nothing they could do. The only thing I did retain is the failed turbo. It's a mess. I do have one other question please. They told me when I was getting the turbo job that they were replacing it. When I got the bill, I saw it was "REMAN". Is that a standard practice to rebuild as opposed to getting a new one? I thought I was getting a new one, so I want to be sure I know what I am talking about. Thank you so much. You have been extremely helpful to me!
 

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You need to re-assess your interpretation of the gas smell. You don't need to remove the fuel lines at all to replace the turbocharger, but you are bound to spill oil onto the exhaust. You keep saying "flooding the engine" which to all mechanical people means gas in the cylinders, which would not translate to odour in the cab. However, oil spilled on the manifolds at the engine would migrate up into the HVAC inlet.

If you are going to have success on claims, you need to be careful with what you present as fact.
 

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2018 X3 M40i / 2014 VW Passat TDI SEL
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Scooby, great answer and thank you very much! This is why I am specifically going after the cost of the turbo alone. Having said that, I still wonder why he or someone on his staff lied to me the day after getting the car back from the FIRST job he did, which was the head gaskets. I was at stoplights and the gas was literally flooding the car to the point of asphyxiation and I immediately had to get my car back to him, windows rolled down on the the way. The insult was when they gave the car back and told me that I had smelled OIL and not GAS. Come on! That is a lie and it just doesn't sit right with me. I can't help but wonder what kind of damage gasoline can do when flooding the engine quite like that. However, you're right, it takes a lot to prove this. I even asked the local dealership about it to do a "forensics" on the car to prove the point, but without ALL the old parts, etc. nothing they could do. The only thing I did retain is the failed turbo. It's a mess. I do have one other question please. They told me when I was getting the turbo job that they were replacing it. When I got the bill, I saw it was "REMAN". Is that a standard practice to rebuild as opposed to getting a new one? I thought I was getting a new one, so I want to be sure I know what I am talking about. Thank you so much. You have been extremely helpful to me!
Yeah reman turbos are not uncommon at all and are quite a bit cheaper than oem (new would be >1k for the turbo alone I believe)

While I'd be skeptical that a reman is as good as a new turbo, I would never expect it to directly cause a failure that shortly after a replacement. Bearing material takes time to do damage...I've seen some failures occur a few thousand miles following a turbo failure, and other times almost immediately after.

I suspect much of that comes down to how the turbo failed and whether or not it failed gently or catastrophically, which could have caused more damage as a result (fin breakage that went through engine, damaging pistons, valves, blocking cats, damaging sensors, etc)
 
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