A-Rod

Struggling to find a garage!

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Hello all, I'm back (not that anyone knows me). I've previously had a gen 4 Legacy 2.0i and I was extremely impressed by its reliability and economy. Yesterday I bought an 09 Legacy 3.0R Spec B and oh my, what a car! Feels a lot quicker than my MK7 GTI Performance by a margin.

 

Long story short, I'm struggling to find a Subaru specialist around the Cambridgeshire area. There is a Subaru main dealer but their quotes are as high as VW main dealer themselves!

 

I'm looking to have a full service, gearbox and diff oil changed (cab someone please tell me the rough quotes you paid?). So far, every non-specialist garage I called have told me that either they've never dealt with a Subaru or that they can't perform gearbox / diff oil change. I don't want to go around 3 garages to perform different things.

 

I'll admit I'm a little bit paranoid when it comes to garages because I have been lied to and ripped off in the past by some independent specialists.

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Main dealer quotes:

£299 for a full service (£312 in Nottingham)

£231 for spark plugs (this is a 10 year service so not required now - so they tell me (£520 in nottingham which is included in the 10 year service)

Front diff - £63
Rear diff - £54
Tyres (2x P7s) - £175
Diagnostic - £97 per hour.

So yeah, really want to find a Subaru specialist that can do all of this for half the cost.

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not many dealers around now adays, tbh you may be better going to a specialist.

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not many dealers around now adays, tbh you may be better going to a specialist.
That's exactly my aim. I've given Zen Performance a call as they're around the corner from me. Anyone have any experience with them? The guy told me they don't see many Legacies at all as most of them are donor cars and was surprised to hear my model is an auto and a 3.0 Spec B. Waiting to hear back from him now.

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Well I can recommend a good mechanic in Milton Keynes area - if you're happy to drive for an hour. Honest guy, a lot of experience - 1 man garage for maany years, does an amazing job at a fraction of a price compared to the dealerships. I would stay away from the dealerships to be honest, they use crap oil and know feck all about the cars, they're not mechanics but fitters. All the want is to rip you off.

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Front diff - £15 oil + 20 min job
Rear diff - £15 oil + 15 min job
Tyres (2x P7s) - £depending on the brand and size of your rims - about £70 for a decent tyre 16 inch + £15 to fit/balance, each
Diagnostic -  About £35 with my mechanic

 

Full service - oil + all the filters + gearbox oil - £30 oil, £40 gearbox oil - 5L, £15 air filter, £10 - fuel filter, £10 Subaru Oil filter - labour well I can do it on my drive way in about 2 hours (I've been doing it for my Forester for the last 5 years) I'm not mechanic by no means, so probably 1 hour with a ramp in a garage, MAX.

 

Spark plugs - 30 min job (UNDER THE CAR) if  you have the tools for the job, the cost of the actual plugs -  about £9 per plug - top of the range Iridium plugs. I wouldn't worry about the plugs though, the default plugs for these cars are PLATINUM and they're good for 150K miles...

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I agree with Paul the stuff you want doing can be done easily in the street, why pay someone to rip you off. Stay away from main dealers in Northampton they are clueless. Last time I paid for oil change was while car was in body shop. £100 wow, last time that is goner happen.

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Front diff - £15 oil + 20 min job
Rear diff - £15 oil + 15 min job
Tyres (2x P7s) - £depending on the brand and size of your rims - about £70 for a decent tyre 16 inch + £15 to fit/balance, each
Diagnostic -  About £35 with my mechanic
 
Full service - oil + all the filters + gearbox oil - £30 oil, £40 gearbox oil - 5L, £15 air filter, £10 - fuel filter, £10 Subaru Oil filter - labour well I can do it on my drive way in about 2 hours (I've been doing it for my Forester for the last 5 years) I'm not mechanic by no means, so probably 1 hour with a ramp in a garage, MAX.
 
Spark plugs - 30 min job (UNDER THE CAR) if  you have the tools for the job, the cost of the actual plugs -  about £9 per plug - top of the range Iridium plugs. I wouldn't worry about the plugs though, the default plugs for these cars are PLATINUM and they're good for 150K miles...
Thanks for the response. I've phoned a few garages up today (indies) and they told me they'd struggle with servicing a Subaru as they've never touched this kind of a car... oh dear. So the only thing most garages could do is a full service.

A few garages were even more expensive than the main dealer (perks of living in a village).

Damn... I didn't know it was so hard to find someone to look after a Scooby. I wouldn't want to travel 2 hours in order to service a car, but it looks like there is nobody out there that can help me with the gearbox / diff oil change other than the stealers.

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I know a couple of people that have used zen performance, they always seem happy with the service .Another option in your area would be tim farmer , think his company is called "subarus".

Hes a cambridge  based subaru mobile mechanic, that can come to you .

 

Thought I'd add I've never personally used either , as I do my own mechanical work but most seem happy with both of above 😉

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I know a couple of people that have used zen performance, they always seem happy with the service .Another option in your area would be tim farmer , think his company is called "subarus".
Hes a cambridge  based subaru mobile mechanic, that can come to you 
Thanks, I've seen tons of posts about Tim Farmer but wasn't aware he was based around Cambridge. Will give him a call.

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On 7/17/2020 at 3:24 PM, A-Rod said:

Thanks for the response. I've phoned a few garages up today (indies) and they told me they'd struggle with servicing a Subaru as they've never touched this kind of a car... oh dear. So the only thing most garages could do is a full service.

A few garages were even more expensive than the main dealer (perks of living in a village).

Damn... I didn't know it was so hard to find someone to look after a Scooby. I wouldn't want to travel 2 hours in order to service a car, but it looks like there is nobody out there that can help me with the gearbox / diff oil change other than the stealers.

That simply means the mechanics you called are not skilled enough. A skilled mechanic wouldn't care about the make/model, as the principles are the same. I'm the IT professional, running my own business and providing the IT support in the UK, I fix the computers so as a comparison - I can fix any PC, even if it's 30 years old and custom built, not HP/Dell/Lenovo/IBM brands, as the way they work is exactly the same and I don't need to a book either as I've been fixing them for the last 19 years. My point is that it's exactly the same with cars, when I brought my Subaru to my mechanic it was the fist time he worked on a Forester... But he did well and didn't charge me anything extra, in fact I would drive for 2 hours for a good mechanic as the service is not something you do every day. And depending where about in Cambridgeshire you are - driving to Milton Keynes is a pleasure with a nice dual carriageway most of the time. I drive all over the country in my car I was in Blackpool in March and Lowestoft in February, but !Removed! corona ruined all the business for me...

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I found Extreme Scoobies on the net. They're down near Chelmsford and seem to have good reputation. I'll give them a call on Monday as want my brakes checked too.

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Thought I'd post an update. I rang quite a few garages within 60 miles radius and most charge more than the main dealer - shocking! A few local garages charge considerably less at around £119 - £150 for a full service, however when asked what oil they'd be using, they told me it's anything they have in a barrel - I'd rather pay a bit more and have quality stuff in my engine TBH. I asked if I could bring my own oil and they said no because they have to make money on parts sold.

 

Then I rang quite a few Subaru Specialists and they were pretty much on par with Cambridge main dealer so I don't see a point to take my car to them if it'll cost the same money + main dealer can lend me their car whilst mine is being serviced. I rang Subaru Norwich and other areas nearby which all seem to charge £100 more for a service than Cambridge garage.

 

What remains a mystery is that when I owned an Audi and BMW, the specialists were considerably cheaper and better experienced than the main dealer; however with Subaru I'm a bit lost as it beats the purpose of taking your car to a specialist when main dealer works out closer and cheaper.

 

Just an example, Subaru Cambridge wants £299 for a full service; add diff and gearbox oils and it is £520. Extreme Scoobies charge £510 for a full service with the above mentioned oils and are based further away from me. Why are specialists so expensive?

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I wonder if extreme scoobies (never heard of them) are including a spark plug change and a proper strip clean lube up of the brakes plus all other filters in that price (i wonder exactly what the dealer includes in a full service), items which to me are part of a full service and what i used to do many years ago...Japanese cars really need the brakes servicing properly cos otherwise the calipers sliders and pistons can suffer terminally from the annual salt bath and start seizing up, have the same problems on my Landcruiser, having said that they are so reliable generally that i'll forgive the brakes needing more regular proper looking after.

A main dealer's idea of a full service may not be what a decent indy knows actually needs doing, most main dealer's idea of brake servicing is peering at the things (hoping to upsell pads and discs all round) and squirting brake cleaner about, that is not servicing brakes and never will be as long as we each have a rear orifi.

I'm a bit in the same boat as you A-Rod, i'm in Northants with a dearth of indy Subaru techs, or at least i don't know of any yet, and am now very interested in hearing about Paul JJ's mechanic, is he fully conversant with Subarus Paul?  if so i have to make a visit to Woburn Sands soon to get the LPG system serviced so wouldn't mind getting your chap to give the Foz the once over whilst in the area with a view to changing cambelt if needed, i'm getting a bit long in the tooth now for involved jobs like this.

 

 

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4 hours ago, A-Rod said:

Thought I'd post an update. I rang quite a few garages within 60 miles radius and most charge more than the main dealer - shocking! A few local garages charge considerably less at around £119 - £150 for a full service, however when asked what oil they'd be using, they told me it's anything they have in a barrel - I'd rather pay a bit more and have quality stuff in my engine TBH. I asked if I could bring my own oil and they said no because they have to make money on parts sold.

 

Then I rang quite a few Subaru Specialists and they were pretty much on par with Cambridge main dealer so I don't see a point to take my car to them if it'll cost the same money + main dealer can lend me their car whilst mine is being serviced. I rang Subaru Norwich and other areas nearby which all seem to charge £100 more for a service than Cambridge garage.

 

What remains a mystery is that when I owned an Audi and BMW, the specialists were considerably cheaper and better experienced than the main dealer; however with Subaru I'm a bit lost as it beats the purpose of taking your car to a specialist when main dealer works out closer and cheaper.

 

Just an example, Subaru Cambridge wants £299 for a full service; add diff and gearbox oils and it is £520. Extreme Scoobies charge £510 for a full service with the above mentioned oils and are based further away from me. Why are specialists so expensive?

Try Scoobyworld Leicester they did my Cambelt last time. 300 ish if I recall plus some other bits.

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I've noted that Siluro, many thanks.

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I've noted that Siluro, many thanks.
I gave Tim Farmer a call today and have booked him; apparently he used to work for Zen Performance and knows his Subarus in and out (also everyone seem to vouch for him) - Tim sounded like he knows his cars pretty well and I couldn't say the same about half the garages I rang today. I told him about my brakes squeaking and steering wheel shaking when I brake at around 60mph; he said it could just be the sliders as they are prone to seize.

I've read tons of reviews on forums where people used him for years - so will give him a go. Works out cheaper and more convenient than the main dealer.

Will post my experience afterwards.

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Google Turbo Monkeys in Boston, well worth the drive, highly recommended SUBARU specialist, not that far from Cambridgeshire.

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On 7/20/2020 at 3:33 PM, A-Rod said:

What remains a mystery is that when I owned an Audi and BMW, the specialists were considerably cheaper and better experienced than the main dealer; however with Subaru I'm a bit lost as it beats the purpose of taking your car to a specialist when main dealer works out closer and cheaper.

Subaru UK seem to be doing everything they can to go out of business for many years. In less than 10 years they took a large fanatical following (and i dont use fanatical lightly), alienate it and reduce the numbers to a fraction.

The 2.5 engine was a distaster for the brand, but rather than put it right they carried on, burried their heads in the sand and basicly destroy the impreza's reputation and made alot of customers unhappy.

This in turn led to poor sales and it became a culture of plug in to find the fault rather than a mechanic who knows the products inside and out as the mechanics wouldnt stay long as they never knew if there dealer was gonna go under (subaruy franchises dont seem to last long) and they could get paid more elsewhere.

I remember when the hatch first came out, local dealer (of which there were 3 within about 10 miles, (Beeston, mansfield and derby, plus 2 others a bit futher north one in matlock and one in sheffield which is the only one still going) invited the local owners group down and basicly threw us the keys to take it out and see what we all thought (Prob didnt wanna buy that one after we all tried it hahaha). Now they are more bothered about sponsering horse trials and golf tournaments.

The ironic thing is subaru US is growing in strength, they are in the US rally champ and winning it year after year, they have join RallyX and are building a decent rep in that, this has brought more and more fans back to the subaru brand to the point that US is getting things like the S209 or is it R209? what ever its called. Really does show where subaru have gone wrong.

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@Tidgy  totally agree

In US they do all sorts of promotions for their loyal customers and basically nothing here. They did Isle of Man and Goodwood but I suppose they are international level events. They did win the BTCC in the Levorg but I have probably only ever seen one on the road. Bring back the wagon. Also VW gate helped their sales no end in the US.

Any dealers I have come across in the UK are clueless which again as you said Subaru do seem to destroy any market they may have in UK. It seems to me they wanted to get away from the rally thug label for some reason but promote in US. Seems all very strange to me.

 

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@Tidgy  totally agree
In US they do all sorts of promotions for their loyal customers and basically nothing here. They did Isle of Man and Goodwood but I suppose they are international level events. They did win the BTCC in the Levorg but I have probably only ever seen one on the road. Bring back the wagon. Also VW gate helped their sales no end in the US.
Any dealers I have come across in the UK are clueless which again as you said Subaru do seem to destroy any market they may have in UK. It seems to me they wanted to get away from the rally thug label for some reason but promote in US. Seems all very strange to me.
 
Good thing I cancelled my appointment with Subaru as by the looks of it, all they do is take your money without having the slightest knowledge about cars. You'll probably get better experience at Kwik Fit.

Very sad indeed. I've booked my car for a full service (including plugs and all the gearbox / off oil) with Subbus / Tim Farmer. I've researched and it looks like this guy has been looking after a lot of Scoobies across the East Anglia - well known in the community. I'll put my feedback here for everyone to see for future reference.
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Tim (SUBBUS) came exactly at the specified time - I'm OCD about punctuality so this was a great start. Having spoken to him, he put me in confidence as, like everyone else states on forums, he really knows his cars; I can't say the same when I spoke to mechanics at Subaru Cambridge main dealer.

Currently changing the diff oil, gearbox filter, gearbox oil, plugs (full service) and also checking on my brakes as I suspect the pins are seizing. Also managed to tell me exactly what the front left knock was all about, which turned out to be the anti roll bar drop links.

So far he has been amazing! I will provide further info once he has finished the work.2348f35713ca9c41ddc75eee64f6736d.jpg

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Job done! He was on his own today so it took him around 5 hours to complete the job - I did pester him every other hour or so though as I had tons of questions about modifying my car (i.e. adding a turbo in the future - PERRIN Subaru H6 Project Build post on the internet).

I'm extremely happy with the job. Tim knows his cars and was quite professional. He stamped my service book and provided a proper invoice. I can't recommend Tim Farmer enough! Here are his digits in case anyone needs him: 07880661866

Will use him again to change my discs, pads, anti roll bar droplinks and exhaust next month.

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