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If You Need Your Subaru Fixed Fast, Don’t Be Surprised If Longer Waits Are Ahead

Subaru has a shortage of techs that could lead to longer waits for service. See what is ahead for Subaru customers.

If you are frustrated with long waits to get service on your new Subaru Forester, Outback, or Crosstrek, you aren’t the only one. Because Subaru has experienced record sales for the last ten years, now there is a shortage of qualified techs to work on your new all-wheel-drive vehicle. According to a report from Automotive News, Subaru is busy trying to fix the problem.

Customers waiting for long periods just to get their car in for regular service is an issue, and Subaru has had multiple recalls adding to the long waits. Subaru of America is trying to do something by actively recruiting entry-level techs and has training for the new recruits. "We have 6,677 techs" at Subaru's 631 U.S. dealerships, says Mike Campbell, vice president of service and quality for Subaru of America. "We need to double that in the next three to four years,” he told AN.

And the problem is only going to get worse. Subaru’s growth in the U.S. has traditionally been in the Northeast, Rocky Mountain states and Pacific Northwest, but they have experienced more growth in the past decade in regions outside the snow-belt where they are opening new dealerships. The report says there are 3.5 million Subaru vehicles on the road now, and the Camden, N.J. automaker expects to have more than 5 million vehicles in operation by 2024.

What should Subaru customers expect?

With heavy volume in their service departments, customers will likely experience longer waiting times for the foreseeable future. Tom Doll, COO of Subaru of America said recently, “For the next few years, (Subaru dealerships) are going to see increasing repair order accounts and so forth. Because the vehicles that are in warranty or customers that are coming back for repair or maintenance work are now going to be coming back for those types of services that the retailer would be providing.”

2019 Subaru Forester suv servicedFrustrated customers

Torque News heard of a Colorado man who drives a 2012 Subaru Outback, who was recently notified of the Takata airbag recall on his all-wheel-drive vehicle. He is frustrated because the potentially deadly airbag problem will take months to get fixed. The service department told him they couldn't work on the car for five months because of a nationwide backlog on parts.

Help is a few years away

Subaru of America has a goal to increase its dealership workforce to more than 13,000 technicians by 2024. So help is a few years away before those long waits for customers trying to get in for service or recalls is eliminated. "We've got our work cut out for us, but we are confident," Ken Benson, training field operations manager for Subaru of America, told Automotive News.

So if you need to get your new 2019 Subaru Forester, Outback or Crosstrek vehicle in for service or recall done quickly, don’t be surprised if longer waits for service is ahead.

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Photo credit: Patrick Subaru, Jarvis Subaru


Susan March (not verified)    June 10, 2019 - 10:28AM

In reply to by Denis Flierl

I responded to a recall for a brake light issue in my 2015 Forester. In Syracuse, NY, I could not get an appt for 2+ months, and scheduled for July. This is for a "quick" repair. Dealer did not want me to wait, I need to due to transportation distance, was told it would take up to 2 hours. Meanwhile, Aug 2018, I had dashboard lights go on while on a trip. I called the dealer in Gaithersburg, MD and they were wonderful! Told me it was safe to drive it there (1/2 hour), knew what the problem was immediately, fixed it quickly, and it was no charge. Fast, friendly, efficient. Now THAT is the service I like-and I did write to the dealership and comment them.

crankypaul (not verified)    June 9, 2019 - 3:47PM

Subaru is suffering from its own success. Not a bad place to be. I love my '11 Outback and would replace it with another one if I needed a vehicle. However, with 101K on the clock and almost nothing spent beyond routine maintenance, this OB is hanging around for at least another 101K. I'm giving all the new owners a break!

Greg Jones (not verified)    June 9, 2019 - 4:15PM

Another reason there's a shortage of tech is that techs are leaving the business. I am a 37 year master certified tech and left the business in April of this year. In part I left because Subaru's goodwill warranty policy was killing my paycheck. Goodwill Warranty is good for the customer but it means a pay cut of 1/3-1/2 to a tech. Techs in the United States are paid by the job not the hour. Until manufactures start to pay techs what they are worth, tech will continue to leave the business.

Rich (not verified)    June 9, 2019 - 4:25PM

No kidding. I have a recall that needs to be performed. And the issue is causing me problems. 6 weeks to get an appointment. Not good.

mike S (not verified)    June 9, 2019 - 5:47PM

Out of warranty repairs for Subarus are quite costly but if you can do things yourself, they are cheap and easy to maintain. A dealer will get you for almost $500 for a wheel bearing can buy the part for less than $50 and it takes about an hour to do...which is less time than it takes to bring your car in and go home to wait. Similarly, CV boot repairs are in the same category and what puzzles me is that they have not made improvements to these common failure points in over 20 years.

Chris Montanez (not verified)    June 9, 2019 - 9:05PM

Easy fix, purchase the service manual and YouTube whenever there's a problem. I've learned to change the transmission fluid, change my own oil, flush my brakes, change differential fluid, replace suspension struts and shocks, replace wheel bearing, replace rotors and brakes on my 2010 subaru outback. I started off slow gaining confidence and started doing bigger jobs. Subarus are extremely easy to work on you can take it to any other mechanic. The only time you ever need to take it to a dealership if you have electrical or computer problems that can only be diagnosed by a Subaru certified service tech.

Mike (not verified)    June 9, 2019 - 9:36PM

Scheduled an appointment for a squeak/rattle issue on a 2017 Outback. Dropped it off and got a loaner. Over two weeks passed before they were able to get to my car. Only charged 1.5 hours back to Subaru for warranty work.

Sarafina (not verified)    June 9, 2019 - 11:36PM

Hi, I work with Subaru as a Subaru Ambassador. We're currently working a campaign to get folks in for their airbag recalls and at this time I know of no extremely long wait times as you describe in this article. Did you do any other research on that, or are you just arbitrarily saying Subaru is having recall backlog based on a single person's experience?
That's what it appears you are doing.

Mr.Cairo (not verified)    June 9, 2019 - 11:52PM

Phoenix area resident, reasonable wait times, excellent service, dealer has beautiful show room with warm cookies and starbucks coffee... free car wash too. The car is worth the wait.

Kary (not verified)    June 10, 2019 - 8:33AM

One major reason for this is the recall involving valve springs--a rather lengthy procedure and one requiring more skill than your typical recall.

Some of it is normal--waiting for parts on a airbag recall for example.

Tim Palmer (not verified)    June 10, 2019 - 9:23AM

Your comment on the airbag recall sounds a bit vindictive. Tell mr editor, if the parts supplier has a backlog, how is ANY dealership, regardless of brand, going to install something they don't have or can't get?

Sarafina (not verified)    June 10, 2019 - 11:33AM

I think this article needs to be retracted. This is based on one person's one one state. Perhaps if the author had done some extra research, he'd learn that this person's bad experience is NOT normal. Parts ARE available for the Takata recall. The man in the article failed to mention that Subaru probably offered him a loaner because that is their policy if you need to transport people in your passenger seat before the recall work is performed. They will also offer to come and tow the vehicle to the dealer to get the work performed if it is broken down.
Subaru will literally bend over backwards to make sure you are accommodated until this repair is performed.
Really shoddy journalism there, Denis. In fact, I'd go as far as to call it irresponsible. I'm passing the link onto Subaru. I hope they demand you retract the article, for spreading misinformation.

Robert Wagner (not verified)    June 14, 2019 - 3:22PM

In reply to by Sarafina (not verified)

You're not very sharp are you, I called my buddy who is a subaru tech in colorado and he said they're 3 weeks out. Maybe you haven't heard but the very well known technician shortage affects your brand also not just every single repair facility in the US that is flat rate. Why don't you look up flat rate pay and warranty flat rate pay, you'd be able to educate yourself on why dealerships are behind.

Tyler (not verified)    June 10, 2019 - 11:59AM

I needed 6000 mile maintenance on my leased Impreza.Tried to book it on the web.One place could not schedule it(ie over 30 days).The other place was 3 weeks.
BTW it took literally years to get the airbags replaced in my Mustang.
I miss my Baja!

Deanna (not verified)    June 10, 2019 - 1:05PM

For the recall, I was in and out in 15 minutes. Otherwise, I have a local repair shop that does fleet repair for several major companies and state organizations, and Subaru service charges WAY too much. $300 for a "tune-up", meaning replace spark plugs. My hubby and I did it for less than $10 in about 30 minutes.

Cory Carlson (not verified)    June 10, 2019 - 2:40PM

If dealerships would pay the techs right we all would be happier, trust me on that. An average tech with years of experience makes anywhere in the line of 20 to 30 an flat rate hours , not hourly like all of you think. Pay us more or give us an hourly wage and things wont be so hard to do this work . Its all on the dealerships as of right now nothing else , employees are just employees nothing else

J. Travis (not verified)    June 10, 2019 - 3:57PM

The article is quite misleading. There is a huge push to get new technicians trained to take care of all the new cars they're selling (fact). The one customer you quoted anonymously even said the delay is because of a delay for parts, by their manufacturer, not due to the lack of technicians to install it. Completely unrelated to the story!

Diane R (not verified)    June 10, 2019 - 8:32PM

NJ resident scheduled an appointment fot a 2013 Legacy Takata recall while in FL. I didn't encounter any problems at Schumacher Subuaru, Delray Beach FL

G (not verified)    June 10, 2019 - 8:40PM

2 month wait in Madison, WI. Airbag recalls are part of it but that's been going on for what, 2-3 years now? The local dealer converted the Mazda dealer next door into Subaru express. They have really bad turnover with customer facing service workers because most of the ones I talk to are clueless.

Robert Wagner (not verified)    June 14, 2019 - 1:28PM

So wait a minute, people are upset over wait times but not the fact that subaru doesn't pay it's technicians on a regular weekly basis and makes them work for free or pennies an hour under a flat/slave rate system. If you stop buying their cars it solves the problem. It might even force subaru to pay their employees a fair living wage which would attract more employees to take care of the growing number of cars they want to put on the road. Or you could drive around in a couple thousand pound death machine that if you get in an accident could kill you because of a manufacturers defect that they cant correct for you to keep you safe because of the way they pay their employees. Same as all manufacturers take your money for the car and then leave you out to dry because they won't pay a living wage to have people on hand to help you with the product they sold you.

Milford (not verified)    June 28, 2019 - 11:41PM

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