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Torque binding/tire size issue. Possible negligence issue against Subaru and its deal


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46 replies to this topic

#1 edoutback

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 10:34 AM

I have a 1999 Outback manual transmission with 100K miles that developed torque binding problems probably due to a tire with low pressure. Thanks to this forum, I was able to quickly diagnose this problem and found disturbing news that, in order to prevent the expensive replacement of the viscous coupling (VC) unit, the tires' circumference must be kept within 1/4":
http://www.ultimates...61&d=1181855424 (when was this link placed?) and http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=18.

I do not know the date of these links or their origins. This very important information is not mentioned in the owner's manual and I think it is Subaru's fault that so many persons were completely unaware of this "time bomb" issue. Had I known of this critical information, I would have more careful in checking the tire pressure regularly. The manual does have a warning message about keeping all tires the same size, construction and brand in order to prevent 'severe mechanical damage to the drivetrain'. Well, although I followed these instructions, all my tires are Michelins with the same size I still had to replace the VC unit.

I am not a lawyer but I think we may have a class action legal case here against Subaru of America. Most likely they did not even know about their VC unit's limits and performance. As proven in at least one message in the forum where the author went to the dealer with torque binding problems and they replaced the CV axles; of course this did not solve the problem. During my search of messages concerning this problem in this forum, I found as early as 2000 a message of a member trying to collect information about the number of persons experiencing this problem.

The key is to find out if this torque binding issue was well known to the automotive manufacturers' community prior to Subaru's use of the VC unit. Once we can reasonably document that this potentiall expensive problem was well documented, it should be reasonable to assert that Subaru is negligent for not warning all it's customers of that problem. Further, the Subaru dealerships should have employees working in their repair bays with sufficient training to handle this issue, therefore all the dealerships might also be held negligent.

Do I have a point here?

I would like to begin a poll as to how many persons have experienced this torque binding problem with their manual AWD vehicle.

#2 grossgary

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 12:29 PM

you have a point. but as far as liability i wouldn't go for it. the vehicle made it past it's warranty in mileage and years. dealers mis-diagnose problems, parts, repairs every single day...it's very common. vehicles also fail beyond their warranty periods, very common as well. don't get me wrong, i think it sucks and i understand your point. this has been an issue back to the 80's transmissions as well, your VC center diff unit is nothing special in those terms. i hate to say it since i don't like the system, but for making money, you probably could find a good lawyer and reach a settlement in the distant future.

#3 bulwnkl

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 04:49 PM

Though I understand your point, Subaru's owner's manuals also tell you to check tire pressures very frequently (does yours say every week, every fuel stop, or something else?). So, you really have no legitimate (not saying legal, saying legitimate IMO) cause to claim they didn't tell you to check your tire pressures and thereby avoid what you believe is the cause of this failure. You didn't, and it cost you. It cost you MUCH less than it could have (blowout from low-pressure-induced tire failure resulting in your death and the death of the small children riding in the other car you ran head-on into after losing control).

Forgive me if I appear to come across a little harshly. I do understand your point and your frustration. If I had a reasonable way to help you I would. I do NOT think it is even remotely appropriate for a person to grasp for a payoff in consequence of not reading or not heeding the owner's manual.

#4 porcupine73

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 05:37 PM

Haven't yet had any serious torque bind issues. I saw some web site that was trying to get a class action suit going for HG issues. I don't know...I don't mean to wax nostalgic but for me suing Subaru would be like suing a good friend. Ok maybe I am little out of touch at the moment.....

#5 edoutback

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 06:33 PM

What year Subaru do you have? My 1999 Owner's manual devotes about 1 page worth to the issue of tire pressure and while it does say to make sure to use the same size, etc. it is in the context of replacing tires and does not even mention the 1/4 inch circumference issue between all tires as I feel they should have if that is such an important issue. Nor does it tell you at what frequency to check tire pressure it just says, "The tires should be checked frequently for proper tire pressure, wear and cuts." (1999 Subaru Owner's Manual page 10-46.)

It is not my intention to make money or "strike it rich" by suing them, but to try to make sure this sort of thing isn't repeated, if a manufacturer knows of such a potential problem, the buyer should be warned adequately and not so vaguely. Moreover, when Subaru owners started expxeriencing this issue with the VC unit, Subaru should have issued some sort of letter to the known owners that bought vehicles previous to the problem experienced by so many Subaru owners.

Don't get me wrong, we also love our Subaru. Aside from this problem, we really have no complaints about the car. It has performed quite well and actually better than other vehicles that we have had at such an age (8 years).

I just think Subaru should have been more diligent in warning owners of this issue and the damages that could be caused from not maintaining same or similar tire pressure/circumference. BTW, according to some messages within this forum, some say this can develop rather quickly.

********************

Though I understand your point, Subaru's owner's manuals also tell you to check tire pressures very frequently (does yours say every week, every fuel stop, or something else?). So, you really have no legitimate (not saying legal, saying legitimate IMO) cause to claim they didn't tell you to check your tire pressures and thereby avoid what you believe is the cause of this failure. You didn't, and it cost you. It cost you MUCH less than it could have (blowout from low-pressure-induced tire failure resulting in your death and the death of the small children riding in the other car you ran head-on into after losing control).

Forgive me if I appear to come across a little harshly. I do understand your point and your frustration. If I had a reasonable way to help you I would. I do NOT think it is even remotely appropriate for a person to grasp for a payoff in consequence of not reading or not heeding the owner's manual.



#6 grossgary

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 07:05 PM

do i own?? 1987.5 XT Turbo, 89 XT6, 97 OBS, 97 Legacy GT, 98 Legacy GT......and plenty more in the past
have you followed every possible maintenance recommendation to the tee, to the exact mileage for your vehicle prior to 100,000 miles?

your situation sucks, you bought a car that typically lasts twice that long without major issues...but let's try this analogy for giggles...you've got alot more things to add to your list then.....because subaru engines do have serious internal engine damage due to other things as well that aren't mentioned in the service manual....actually this is true to every vehicle ever made......so you can now, based on your rational, sue every manufacturer for every vehicle ever made.

no service manual mentions when to replace timing belt pulleys. they do need replacing, they do fail and they can cause premature timing belt failure. when they do, on any interference engine, major engine damage results when pistons and valve collide...often at the expense of engine replacement depending on the mechanic. i personally know this and regrease, install new bearings or install new pullies. many mechanics don't do this extra step...best to have a good mechanic or know something yourself rather than rely on the owners manual. no manufacturer that i've ever seen has any recommendations for the timing pulleys. they are designed as sealed units and should never need replacing...but they do...because the vehicles last so long. they will easily surpass the warranty periods, but after that it's on you to understand vehicles and mechanics.

how about tire valve stems, i don't think subaru mentions when to replace those either, but they are very good items to replace.

i could make a list really long but i think you get the point. the owners manual will not cover in detail every, single possible failure scenario and how to prevent it. we try to at NASA on satellites but even then it's never possible, something is always missed or not planned for. BUT the rigors of the process at least design a very good vehicle either way...for space or Subaru...it lasts past it's warranty period and 100,000 miles. generally they last much longer and i'd be irritated too, but unfortunately in ANYTHING this is no gaurantee. it's past it's warranty period, i don't know how much they can be liable for after that in my oppinion. better warranty options might be something to consider in the future...unfortunately i don' tknow of many or any that go past 100k. but you can buy additional private automobile insurance, might want to look into that?

i guess you've already researched, but this can be fixed. a recent board member had it done at a dealer for around $500.

#7 WoodsWagon

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 08:27 PM

Sue happy people like you have helped turn this country into a bunch of liability fearing pusses that can't let anyone have any fun anymore. I'm sure you'd be the first to sue if you cut you finger while pulling parts off a car in a U-pull it junkyard, which is exacly why most junkyards won't let anyone in back anymore.

Tire pressure is a well known thing to check on your car. Low tire pressure (on any car) will impair handling, reduce gas millage, increase wear on the front differential, cause pulls while driving and braking, and increase the chance of rollovers (think corvair). As a car owner, it is your responsibility to keep the tires properly inflated.

Frivolous Lawsuit!

#8 Bserk

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 09:11 PM

Dropped in tonight to praise you all for the help with my Legacy OB. (Now trouble free, and check engine light off, all thanks to this board!) I HAD to comment on this thread, and thankyou, 91 Loyale, for saying it perfectly. Edoutback, quit looking for something for nothing, accept that your car broke, and get over it. What a freakin looser. I am soooo sick of this 'blame everyone but me' attitude with everything. Lawsuit happy idiots like you should all ride horses. Or maybe you would have to sue mother nature, because your horse broke a leg after 30 years of service. Get a freakin life. A-hole.

#9 grossgary

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 09:18 PM

woah, settle down folks. no point in offending, lets at least be constructive if we disagree? you can disagree in a constructive way, then all benefit in some way...even if it's a little tiny, tiny, miniscule bit.

#10 Manarius

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 09:37 PM

The car is out of its warranty period. End of discussion. Subaru guaranteed your car for 3 years or 36,000 miles, which was passed a long time ago. I sympathize with your problem, but you have no case.

#11 heartless

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 08:51 AM

Grossgary is right - we dont need to flame here.

that being said, it is common sense to check your tire pressure regularly - generally at least once a month to maintain proper wear, get decent fuel mileage, etc.
BUT - if you have a KNOWN leaky tire - then you should be checking it much more often! as often as that tire requires to keep it inflated properly - be it every 3 days, or once a week, or whatever.
Sorry, but i dont believe that there is a "lawsuit" here of any kind. You got lax in your care and maintenance, pure and simple....

Had I known......I would have been more careful in checking the tire pressure regularly...


Keeping up with things like leaky tires is YOUR responsibility - not the manufacturer's. The line "...severe mechanical damage to the drivetrain..." would be enough to keep me checking on things...cant afford to replace drivetrain components!

#12 OB99W

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Posted 24 June 2007 - 10:21 AM

I have a 1999 Outback manual transmission with 100K miles that developed torque binding problems probably due to a tire with low pressure. Thanks to this forum, I was able to quickly diagnose this problem and found disturbing news that, in order to prevent the expensive replacement of the viscous coupling (VC) unit, the tires' circumference must be kept within 1/4":
[...]
I am not a lawyer but I think we may have a class action legal case here against Subaru of America. Most likely they did not even know about their VC unit's limits and performance. [...]

The key is to find out if this torque binding issue was well known to the automotive manufacturers' community prior to Subaru's use of the VC unit.[...]

Do I have a point here?
[...]

I'll respond to your last question first. I do believe you have a point; Subaru doesn't step up to the plate on some issues; just ask people who've had to pay out-of-pocket for head gasket repairs.

As to whether you have a winable case (and no, I'm not a lawyer either), I suspect that you may have some difficulties. You have yourself admitted that "Most likely they did not even know about their VC unit's limits and performance."; that in itself could eliminate any claim that not informing you would be considered willfully negligent.

Having said the above, some things in the 1999 Owner's Manual certainly could have lead you to assume that tire circumference differences don't matter. On pages 10-46 and 10-47, I found the following:

-------------------------
When rotating tires, replace any unevenly worn or damaged tire. After
rotating the tires, adjust tire pressure and be sure to check wheel nut
tightness.

A tire should be replaced when the tread wear indicator appears as a
solid band across the tread. The indicators appear when the remaining
tread has been worn to 0.063 in (1.6 mm) or less.
-------------------------

Note that it says to replace "any ... tire" and "a tire", not all tires at the same time. You could easily wind up with one new tire and three worn ones by following the manual's advice, obviously exceeding the "requirement" of having less than 1/4" difference in circumference between the most- and least-worn tire.

If Subaru didn't know of the importance of minimizing the tire size difference when the '99 manual was printed (which is questionable), they certainly have known it since then. Given the importance of the issue, one could argue that an informative letter should have gone out to all owner's of the AWD vehicles.

It all comes down to whether this is worth pursuing. I tried a legal remedy for a particular matter; it took years to resolve, with the outcome being only the lawyers were the winners. :mad:

My read of your situation: I sympathize, but it's small potatoes; perhaps try to get SoA to compromise on repair costs, but otherwise let it go and move on.

#13 grossgary

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 08:13 AM

something else to consider....has your vehicle ever been towed? if it has and was towed improperly (front wheels off the ground), then the tow company is to blame. it happens.

#14 Bserk

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 05:24 PM

Perhaps my first reply was a bit harsh, for that I apologize. But my point remains. At 8 years and 100,000 miles, trying to sue the manufacturer for something that broke, for whatever reason, is insane. Ive been in the car repair end of the business for 30 years. Things break, no matter what you drive. The warranties on every car runs out eventually. The car companies try to figure in the cost of potential failures that may need to be covered in the price of the car. Can you imagine how much a new car would cost if every part was covered for the life of the vehicle? The idea of suing SOA in this case reminded me of the woman who spilled hot coffee in her lap and sued McDonalds. I think the whole trend of 'Its someone else's fault' and the sue-happy lawyers that thrive off of frivilous lawsuits just drives up the cost of living for all the rest of us. Its wrong and it hits a sore spot with me big time.

#15 Virrdog

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 10:37 PM

The idea of suing SOA in this case reminded me of the woman who spilled hot coffee in her lap and sued McDonalds.

Completely off-topic, but what's funny about this story is the lady actually had a case and the story got spun against her after she won. She did not sue McDonalds because she spilled hot coffee in her lap. She sued because that coffee caused massive damage and third degree burns through clothing. Is that typical for a hot cup of coffe to do that? No. The problem was McDonalds wanted to be known for coffee that was still hot when you got to work and/or to the last drop. To accomplish that they kept their coffee steaming some 70-80 degrees hotter than any other national chain (or normal non-industrial coffee pot). I've seen lots of people spill coffee on themselves... none of them needed skin grafts though like that poor lady did.

So the issue was their product was unusally harmful and they didn't warn anybody ("oh, by the way the contents in this styrofoam cup could boil your skin off...") In fact, McDonalds had been settling out of court and paying people off for quite a while for this very issue until this lady took them all the way and got a judgement against them. The "massive" penalty was less than one days worth of coffee sales for the McDonalds corporation (and its unknown if she was actually paid). So in the media it looked like a duh coffee is hot case, but it was in reality a step beyond that. Picture a company that made a light bulb with such excessive pressure inside that when it broke it took your child's hand off... you'd have an issue with that. Whereas the rest of the country could say duh, light bulbs break, but that's really not the issue. By the way, I thought the same thing about the McDonalds lady until I read something that had the actual facts and court proceedings from the case.

[/on topic] Sorry to the original poster, you really don't have a case. Are you going to make this your life long mission to make Subaru somehow fix this issue for everyone? Lets say you did actual make a ripple in the water and SOA noticed you... They would pay you for the labor you incurred for the incident and maybe throw you a couple hundred dollars worth of free stuff/services. At that point you would go home happy because you were compensated. The only way you wouldn't is if you had the life long mission in mind like I mentioned. And if you do win... your crowning glory moment will be.... when SOA sends a little "ammendment to owner's manual" flyer to all registered owners saying all tires should be within 1/4"?? Think about where you are going with this.

#16 nipper

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 11:25 PM

i've been keeping out of this one and will so for the most part.

But if it WAS possible, it would be a class action suite against all mfgs of AWD vehicals with viscous couplings.


From subarus web site

http://www.subaru.co...vid=TIRED_TIRES

this may also be in the tire care guide you get with a new car.

nipper

#17 (goldfish)

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 11:25 PM

.25" :confused: No way, I change it more than that by getting in the car. No way I can, or will adjust tire pressure every time someone gets in or out of my car.

#18 nipper

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 11:27 PM

.25" :confused: No way, I change it more than that by getting in the car. No way I can, or will adjust tire pressure every time someone gets in or out of my car.


passenger or even loading on a properly inflated tire wont have an effect toi upset the AWD all that much.

And if you read it its 1/4 inch of WEAR.

Big differnce.

nipper

#19 newsance

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 11:54 PM

So uh, you realize that Ford FWD transmissions tend to last about 80k? Just go Taurus shopping, and you will see virtually every damn one with a rebuild transmission.

You got to 100k, and you have an issue due to your own negligence, and you want to sue the manufacturer because of it? Good luck dude.

#20 torxxx

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 03:04 AM

ya I'd give up on the lawsuit thing. you wont have a leg to stand on. Its basically common automobile knowledge to keep up on tire pressure. its one of those things like checking your oil. if you didnt check your oil for 3000 miles and had a conn rod go because of it, subaru isnt going to replace your engine. It's going to fall back on you, due to your own ignorance.

I work at a subaru shop (independently owned) and I run into that binding issue all the time. people running different tread tires on their cars, or putting a spare on thats the wrong size. Not the mechanic or the manufacturers fault, ITS THE OWNERS FAULT!

Now keep in mind I drive my lifted EA82 wagon every day with two different tread tires front and rear, but I you can get away with that on the older ones due to the lack of a VC diff. God I love the olders soobys more and more every day. If my tranny goes, I replace it because its my fault, I dont go chasing subaru with a lawsuit

#21 Bserk

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 04:46 PM

"By the way, I thought the same thing about the McDonalds lady until I read something that had the actual facts and court proceedings from the case."...

I stand corrected, I just Googled 'McDonalds Coffee Lawsuit' and read up on it. I sure used a bad example to prove my point, so now I will bow out of this discussion as humbly as possible.

#22 grossgary

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 08:53 PM

ya I'd give up on the lawsuit thing. you wont have a leg to stand on. Its basically common automobile knowledge to keep up on tire pressure.

it's common knowledge now. his point is that it should have been common knowledge then and there isn't any information to show that Subaru was letting anyone know (again his claim, not mine)...meanwhile he's driving an at risk vehicle without knowing, possibly doing damage that could have been prevented. he never said how long it was low...nor did he mention that he just "ignored it". if the manual doesn't say, then why should he be concerned with low tire pressure? surely the dealer, oil change guys or tire guys can let him know at a rotation or oil change. had he known, maybe he would pay more attention to that. sure people glance and notice flat tires...but noticing a low tire may be trickier to the untrained eye. you and i would see it, but the general public is the consumer, not just you and i. just for giggles - do you check the underside of your rear seat? of course not. why not? there's no reason too....it's not mentioned anywhere and isn't common knowledge...which is what he's saying about the tires. i know that's a goofy analogy, and i'm not saying i agree with the lawsuit part, i think it's pointless and have already stated that, but i dont see any need to want to pick him apart and bash him either. if we were truely interested we could ask questions and find some more details. like how long the tire was low and what makes him suspect that? i don't think that even matters myself, i've already stated my view.

which, if anyone has noticed, he's been long gone and hasn't posted in two days.

i say the mcdonalds chick was in with a lawyer. lawyer got an idea, told her to go spill that raging hot coffee on herself and he already had it planned out. fraud at it's finest - the true american dream.

#23 (goldfish)

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 10:37 PM

passenger or even loading on a properly inflated tire wont have an effect toi upset the AWD all that much.

And if you read it its 1/4 inch of WEAR.

Big differnce.

nipper


The first link he posted does not mention wear at all. It only mentions/talks about circumference, which would be changed by at least that much by puttong a couple of people in.

I agree that that anmount of weight is not upsetting the AWD. therefore I question the measusement of 1/4" as important.

#24 forester2002s

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 11:04 PM

It only mentions/talks about circumference, which would be changed by at least that much by puttong a couple of people in.


Please explain how putting two people in a car changes the circumference of a tire.

BTW: 'Circumference' is the distance measured around the outside surface of the rubber tread on a tire.

#25 nipper

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Posted 26 June 2007 - 11:20 PM

The first link he posted does not mention wear at all. It only mentions/talks about circumference, which would be changed by at least that much by puttong a couple of people in.

I agree that that anmount of weight is not upsetting the AWD. therefore I question the measusement of 1/4" as important.


They make the car. You ask subaru they will tell you thats the spec. If someone wants to ignore it, its their wallet not mine. The subject of matching tires have been beaten to death on this site.

http://www.tirerack....e.jsp?techid=18



Sorry i dont mean to sound short with anyone, but not having a good day :(




nipper




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