After finding Facebook photos of the BRZ on a track, the dealer completed what the owner thought was a warranty repair then refused to release the car without payment.
Anyone with a new performance car is aware of the Catch-22 when it comes to using it as intended. Manufacturers love to brag about quarter-mile acceleration, cornering bite, and overall lap times, but the moment you actually try to do that yourself in a controlled environment, it’s often considered abuse. To be fair, manufacturers do have a right to protect themselves from idiots who legitimately abuse their vehicles, but owners also need to protect themselves from opportunistic dealerships who love to bend the rules. That’s what happened to Natalie in Vancouver and her 2015 Subaru BRZ, though it’s a bit more complicated than that.
The story first appeared on Reddit, then Jalopnik got involved to do some additional digging. Natalie’s fuel pump failed on her Subie back in February, which she took to Wolfe Subaru in Vancouver for replacement under warranty. The dealer reportedly damaged a ring nut that added some time to the repair, but the car was fixed and returned without fanfare. That is, except for the fixed part – allegedly the dealer didn’t get everything quite right which led to check engine lights and several return visits to address problems with the fuel system.
Flash forward to June, and according to Natalie the dealership made a concerted effort to find her Facebook page, which contained public images of her BRZ on a track. She says it wasn’t a timed competition but simply an open track event, which can certainly raise questions on future warranty work. Meanwhile, the dealership was still trying to fix the fuel system issues – in this case a faulty fuel level sensor – it supposedly caused during the ongoing saga of return visits. But here’s where it gets downright ridiculous.
Coincidently, the dealership suddenly claimed there were signs of abuse from running at a track and that the vehicle’s warranty no longer applied. Furthermore, the dealership went ahead and fixed the sensor without Natalie’s approval to do so outside of the warranty, then refused to release her car unless she paid $1,200 in parts and labor for the work. Way to stay classy, Wolfe Subaru.
Fortunately, there’s good news for Natalie. She stood up to the dealer and now has her car back, and the $1,200 claim was dropped. That's good, because apparently the fuel level sensor still doesn’t function properly. That means one of two things – either the dealership staff was too incompetent to actually repair the problem they were charging $1,200 for, or the repair was never even done in the first place. Either way, it doesn’t look good for Wolfe Subaru.
Yes, it’s shady for a dealership to go stalking customers online, and in this instance it seems pretty obvious the goal was to find any excuse to pin the dealership’s mistakes back on the customer. But social media profiles are public domain and manufacturers as well as dealers have every right to investigate potential cases of vehicle abuse, so be careful what you post.
As for basically trying to extort a Subaru customer out of $1,200, never mind the repeated failures to fix a fuel system problem that almost certainly had nothing to do with track use, let’s just say the social media advice applies to dealers just as much as it implies to customers.