Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Carrboro, North Carolina, USA
Car Year: 2005
Car Model: XS
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Performance Subaru and Botched Trailer Hitch
After recently purchasing my MY05 Forester XS with 4EAT, I decided to get acquainted with the local Subi dealer. This is the only Subi I've ever owned and, not being familiar with the dealership, I thought about giving them something "easy" to do: Install a trailer hitch.
I left the car at the dealer in the very early morning, "oh dark thirty" as we say, and filled out the "early bird" envelope, stating:
1. Install hitch (the dealer would provide the OEM hitch and install it.)
2. Remove old knob from my old drawbar, and bolt it to the new drawbar.
3. Before doing any work, call me if the cost will exceed US$250.
That afternoon, around 15:00 hrs, I called them since they hadn't called me. Yes, the car was ready and the cost was going to be US$430.30! HOLY MOLY! The dealer never called to say the cost would be over $250, they just stuck it on and "stuck" it to me.
I picked up the car that evening, having paid via credit card over the phone. By the time I got there, the shop was closed. The hitch was installed, but they didn't swap the knob to the new drawbar. I don't have a wrench that size, so that's why I wanted them to do it.
Next day, I called a local and reputable hitch shop that has installed three hitches for me over the years. They said their price for the same would be about US$330, or $100 less than the Subi dealer.
I called the Service Manager at the Subi dealer and complained. I complained about not being called when the cost exceeded $250. I complained about the expense. I complained about the knob not getting swapped. Heck, their work order even stated "swap knob."
The Service Manager was quite willing to make things right. He said he had also called around to get quotes on hitch installations and found out they were high and he wanted to be competitive. He offered a refund of US$130 and I thought that was quite fair. My impression of them went up a notch with that generous and fair offer. I thought, maybe I will go back to them for service. He apologized for not calling me when the cost would exceed $250. He also apologized for not getting the knob swapped. He even offered to come to my car and swap the knob, thus saving me a trip to the dealer. Since I typically ride a bus to work, my car was at a "park and ride" and I was 40 miles away. They wouldn't be able to get into the locked car to get to the drawbar and knob. So, I had to come in one morning for the knob switchout.
Keep count: That's two trips to the dealer for a hitch.
But wait, there's more.
I made a "test tow" with my new tow vehicle and my trailer one weekend, getting up easily to 70 mph on I-95 for a couple of miles and was satisfied the vehicle will work. After returning from the short test tow, I unhooked the trailer and crawled under the car to see the work of the Subaru dealer mechanics. What I found was disturbing. One of the bolts holding on the hitch was not bottomed out on the hitch, but hanging out "proud" by, maybe a 1/4". The washer was loose around the bolt. To me, this meant one of three things:
a. The bolt was not tight. We put a wrench on it and found the bolt tight.
b. The bolt was too long and was bottoming out on something.
c. The bolt was cross-threaded.
I called the Service Manager the next day and he told me to bring in the car.
This was the third trip to the dealer.
I was told that for this third trip to the shop, the shop foreman worked on the car.
The bolt had stripped the threads!
Oh yea, they didn't even install all the required bolts the first time around.
So, it took three trips to the dealer.
It initially cost a lot more than the competition would have done it for.
They didn't swap the knob out at first.
The did work as poorly as I could have done it. Heck, one reason for taking it to the dealer is because I have a pretty good knack at breaking things and cross threading bolts and just generally screwing up. I don't need to pay someone to do what I'm pretty adapt at doing.
Therefore, I have no intentions on returning to Performance Subaru of Chapel Hill, North Carolina