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2006 Legacy 2.5i SE VIN problems


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13 replies to this topic

#1 Deserter

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 05:04 PM

I wonder if anyone got into the same trouble ... I Bought 2006 Legacy Sedan 2.5i Special Edition (SE) 4EAT. Both my insurance company and DMV resolved my VIN to Limited Edition model which is the fully loaded version and costs $3300 more in MSRP. So, I ended up paying higher insurance premiums, taxes, etc. Ran my VIN in Carfax and a couple of other online VIN lookups and everywhere it comes out as Limited. Upon further investigation it became clear (both local subaru dealership and SOA confirmed this) that the problem is caused by the fact that the first 7 VIN characters which are used to resolve model are the same between Special Edition and Limited. I tried to prove that I own SE at local DMV and they provided me SOA schematics for 2006 Legacy model:

4S3BL61 - 2.5i
4S3BL62 - 2.5i Limited
4S3BL67 - 2.5GT Limited
4S3BL68 - 2.5GT

As you can see, no mentioning of SE here. My VIN starts with 4S3BL62 so they have all the reasons to think my car is a Limited.

I was actually shopping for 2.5i base model, but there was not a single one for sale in New England. As sales managers explained to me in a few dealerships, Subaru is making SE vs base model in 90% to 10% proportion this year. The thinking is that moon roof and power driver's seat for extra $300 is such a bargain that nobody will be buying base model. So, I guess there will be a lot of people in the same situation...

Subaru makes great cars, this is actually my second subaru. This mess with VIN numbers makes me sad. They spend millions of $$ to get an edge over competitors, and then loose customers due to a stupid inconsistency in VIN schematics which increases the cost of ownership comparing to similar priced competitors' vehicles. New Hampshire is cheap as far as taxes and insurance goes, I'll end up paying extra couple hundred bucks a year for as long as I own this car. Not a big deal, I will get over it. I can imagine people paying much more in states with high taxes and fees...

#2 PAezb

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Posted 04 February 2006 - 11:22 PM

I wonder if anyone got into the same trouble ... I Bought 2006 Legacy Sedan 2.5i Special Edition (SE) 4EAT. Both my insurance company and DMV resolved my VIN to Limited Edition model whicHh is the fully loaded version and costs $3300 more in MSRP. So, I ended up paying higher insurance premiums, taxes, etc. Ran my VIN in Carfax and a couple of other online VIN lookups and everywhere it comes out as Limited. Upon further investigation it became clear (both local subaru dealership and SOA confirmed this) that the problem is caused by the fact that the first 7 VIN characters which are used to resolve model are the same between Special Edition and Limited. I tried to prove that I own SE at local DMV and they provided me SOA schematics for 2006 Legacy model:

4S3BL61 - 2.5i
4S3BL62 - 2.5i Limited
4S3BL67 - 2.5GT Limited
4S3BL68 - 2.5GT

As you can see, no mentioning of SE here. My VIN starts with 4S3BL62 so they have all the reasons to think my car is a Limited.

I was actually shopping for 2.5i base model, but there was not a single one for sale in New England. As sales managers explained to me in a few dealerships, Subaru is making SE vs base model in 90% to 10% proportion this year. The thinking is that moon roof and power driver's seat for extra $300 is such a bargain that nobody will be buying base model. So, I guess there will be a lot of people in the same situation...

Subaru makes great cars, this is actually my second subaru. This mess with VIN numbers makes me sad. They spend millions of $$ to get an edge over competitors, and then loose customers due to a stupid inconsistency in VIN schematics which increases the cost of ownership comparing to similar priced competitors' vehicles. New Hampshire is cheap as far as taxes and insurance goes, I'll end up paying extra couple hundred bucks a year for as long as I own this car. Not a big deal, I will get over it. I can imagine people paying much more in states with high taxes and fees...


How is the model described on your purchase invoice, or the window detail sticker? Wouldn't that satisfy insurance and tax issue?

#3 Deserter

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 06:28 AM

How is the model described on your purchase invoice, or the window detail sticker? Wouldn't that satisfy insurance and tax issue?


It's listed as 2.5i Special Edition on the sticker, all purchase documents I got at the dealership and even in the Application for Title which I surrendered to DMV to register my car.

I did try to argue my case at DMV and presented all the paperwork as a proof that I own SE, but was told that they exclusively use VIN numbers to determine make and model of the car and do not care how it's listed on the sticker or anywhere else.

With insurance company everything happens on the phone, they key in your VIN and in comes up on the screen with model name, features and calculated premiums. I told them that my car is SE, they said that I'm mistaken and my car is a Limited.

#4 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 11:21 AM

Yeah, my insurance company couldn't even figure my '06 WRXes VIN. And my Outback sometimes comes up as LL Bean but it is not.

I'd like to know if other makes have these problems - seems like a 'consumer affairs' issue.

#5 PAezb

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 12:22 PM

It's listed as 2.5i Special Edition on the sticker, all purchase documents I got at the dealership and even in the Application for Title which I surrendered to DMV to register my car. I wonder if Subaru is in violation of some federal regulation on how VINs are to be created for the various models.

I did try to argue my case at DMV and presented all the paperwork as a proof that I own SE, but was told that they exclusively use VIN numbers to determine make and model of the car and do not care how it's listed on the sticker or anywhere else.

With insurance company everything happens on the phone, they key in your VIN and in comes up on the screen with model name, features and calculated premiums. I told them that my car is SE, they said that I'm mistaken and my car is a Limited.


Depending on how important this is to you, your time, the difference in money involved, etc etc, you could look for help through a local news station that has a consumer investigative team, contact your state's attorney general and the state office for consumer affairs. How far did you take this up the latter with the DMV?

The insurance company I don't think you can do much about, other than maybe shop and compare elsewhere, which is always good to do anyway from time to time.

It Sucks....

#6 DerFahrer

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Posted 05 February 2006 - 03:12 PM

Get a load of this. My Legacy's VIN is 4S4BC6. 4S4 means it's a 4001-5000lb MPV. 4S3 is a <4000lb passenger car, which is what it really is.

Yet, I don't pay any crazy insurance or registration fees on it :confused:

#7 Deserter

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 06:35 AM

How far did you take this up the latter with the DMV?


I talked to them 3 times in person, but could not even get them to look at the papers proving my car is SE. They just keep saying that my car is Limited according to their VIN database. I then mailed all these papers to them. They mailed me back with a printout of VIN schematics showing only 2.5i and 2.5i Limited models and stating that the car I own is Limited. It's like talking to a wall... Thanks for the advice on contacting consumer affairs office etc., I may try that. You are right though - time spent may not be worth the money...

#8 grossgary

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 06:49 AM

I'll end up paying extra couple hundred bucks a year for as long as I own this car. Not a big deal, I will get over it. I can imagine people paying much more in states with high taxes and fees...

every year? most states don't pay taxes after the initial purchase that i'm aware of. or are you speaking of insurance. no matter really...what options does it have, if you can provide specifics that the SE has that your LE doesn't, maybe they have to give? at least the insurance company should be able to make an adjustment if you provide them with proof it doesn't have those options. you're insuring something that isn't present there has to be a process for resolving that. i'd present the dealer and the salesman the scenario and see what they say. and write a letter to SOA. someone from www.xt6.net (subaru XT6 website) just wrote a letter to SOA and received a quick response.

that is crazy, good luck with it.

#9 PAezb

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 10:45 AM

I may be wrong on this, but I thought auto manufacturers that sell in the US have to follow federal standard guidelines for the VINs. So, if this were true, and Subaru is using a VIN pattern on your SE that identifies it as an LE, is Subaru in violation? The MN DMV certainly knew the VIN for mine was a 2.5 XT (versus a 2.5i, LE, or anything else in the model descriptor). Perhaps Subaru has not registered a proper VIN pattern yet for an "SE".

Just reaching here...

#10 cookie

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 11:13 AM

My Insurance company had to be guided through insuring my BMW. According to them and CA DMV the model does not exist. There were only about 9,000 or so made so I can see they are not a priority.
On my GTO CA DMV insists it is a Tempest. They have had since 1965 to get this right so perhaps they need a few more years. On the other hand in this case the car was registered cheaper for years so I can see not many would complain.
Here you can go in person and show your reciept to prove what you paid so that is a plus. It's so time consuming that it has to be a fair amount of bucks to bother.

#11 2X2KOB

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 11:44 AM

every year? most states don't pay taxes after the initial purchase that i'm aware of.


Not to go too far off topic, but Missouri among others charges an annual "personal property" tax on things you own, including cars, trucks, snowmobiles, mobile homes, and livestock. This money goes to the school and the ambulance district and the fire department, so I don't mind.

#12 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 11:44 AM

Does anyone have a good VIN decoder site for soobs that calims to be up to date?


Carl

#13 PAezb

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 12:15 PM

Does anyone have a good VIN decoder site for soobs that calims to be up to date?


Carl


Google come up with a few sites, but who nows how accurate and uptodate these tools are:

http://www.vehicleid...decoding_3.html

#14 ionic

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Posted 06 February 2006 - 01:23 PM

I doubt there is going to be any difference in the amount you pay for insurance between the two models. We have a Legacy L and an Legacy LS, both of which have the same insurance premium. It would also be the same premium if we had an Outback, because the Legacy L is listed as Legacy L/Outback whenever I've decoded the VIN and on the insurance policy itself. The difference between them is fairly analogous to the difference between Legacy 2.5i SE and Legacy 2.5i Ltd.

Also, the differences in the current Legacies are listed as options "packages" rather than truly separate car models, for example, the Legacy 2.5i with SE package, versus the Legacy 2.5GT. The GT is a separate model; the i has the SE package. Subaru has always had funny packages. Most car makers would simply let you select individual options, such as power seat, upgraded sound, etc., along with offering some packages. Subaru doesn't do it this way, which I have always found this leads to confusing model designations and variations.

Think of it like this: The insurance premium on the same model car with a power seat option versus a standard seat is going to be the same. The VIN number for insurance purposes is not going to be that specific. Since the insurance pays for replacement cost of the vehicle with a vehicle of like kind and condition (used), not cost of a like brand new vehicle, the $3300 difference in MSRP doesn't matter. Leather seats and upgraded sound might add a few hundred dollars of value on a used car, but not $3300. That few hundred dollars is essentially meaningless to the insurance company when it comes to your premium. If your car gets wrecked, the way they determine the actual value is so subjective that you can usually negotiate with them if you want to go through the trouble.

The same thing is going to be true for any personal property taxes you pay on the car over the years. A car with the leather seat option is worth essentially the same as a car with cloth seats. Taxes you pay upon purchase of the car should be based on the actual sale price, not the MSRP.




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