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What is the deal with Subaru dealer parts dept.?

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It's not just the dealers, I've gone into parts stores and got the same lack of knowledge. One of my project cars about 10 years ago was putting a V8 into a Corvair. So I go to the part store and ask for a part for the V8. The first thing that ask is, "What car is it in?" To which my reply usually is, "It doesn't matter which car it is in, the engine was in many cars." So they tell me that they can't find the part I'm looking for because the computer need to know which car. So I tell them that it is in a 67 Corvair, so they look it up and tell me that the Corvair never had a V8, to which I reply, "Oh really, do you want to come out and look at one?" So I walk them out to the car, open the engine compartment (by the way, the guy is standing in front of the car waiting to look under the hood) and show them the V8 sitting there. They scratch their heads and can't figure out why the computer is wrong.


Another thing that I can't figure out is why a dealer will have a web site, but will not give you web site prices when you stop in at the dealer.

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Get This: So I walks in to the local Subaru Dealer Service Dept. in search of an intelligent estimate for a valve job/head gaskets.

There's a desk guy and two mechanics present. I told them about

the cheap jap bolt that holds the timingbelt tensioner on broke.

Bent valves. They looked at each other, shrugged ,smurked and

said "Oh, man you're looking at over 3 grand". I then told them about the guy I work with who had a new shortblock swapped in his '97 OB for $3300. Why so much? To which they replied "Well,

there's a lot of labor and the valves can be expensive, there's

THIRTY-TWO of them you know"! Last time I checked there were

only 16. I couldn't believe my ears,and he was serious! Walked right out of there! I'll do it myself (and save "half" on the cost of the valves).


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I am not unwilling to pay for parts. I spent a grand this month alone at Summit Racing on parts for the BRAT. I am about to spend another $300 on two more RSX shocks and another fan.



I know this reply is a year late , but what the hey? I really do feel your pain, as a former Subaru parts manager from the '80s I have watched the prices of parts and labor go though the roof. I used to cut all my die-hard customers a break as long as I didn't get cought too many times. Finally I had to get out, I just couldn't look people in the eye anymore and hand them such bs. Even with all my 'connections' today I use aftermarket and re-cycle yards as much as possible. 'The Mix'

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Naturally no parts store had one.

And Subaru know's it.... :(


I've had to deal with the local Subaru stealership parts dorks. As soon as I tell them what year and model they instanly go into 'why are you wasting my time' mode. They really do look for any excuse to get you out the door with out 'wasting' any more of their time. One guy sighed loudly and looked at me like he was ill when he had to go look in a book.... SORRY I made him DO HIS JOB :rolleyes:

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Sorry to be the voice on the other side of the fence, but I work at a Subaru dealership, and I have to say, if the parts departments at the dealerships had to depend on the 80's subaru nuts (myself included) to make their livings, they'd be screwed. I mean, get the big picture - read some of the other threads here. We certainly *only* look to the dealership once we've exhausted other, cheaper options like junkyards or USMB.


Subaru dealers sell parts from Subaru. Believe it or not, Subaru has scaled waaay back on the EA82, etc. parts they manufacture. Just a fact of life. And that fact of life makes those parts more expensive. I know there are some greedy parts managers out there, but let's face it -- you're not gonna get the tensioner bolt by itself.


The service and parts departments at the dealership have their hands full supporting their new car and warranty customers, and I can count on one hand the number of cars we've worked on since I've been there that are older than 1992. So the parts we have in stock are for newer cars, naturally. Add to that the number of orders we place for older parts that never get picked up, because someone found a 'better' deal at a junkyard, and you'll see why we just don't spend too much energy on the old stuff.


A final thought: I'll bet a dollar and a half that the employees at the parts and service departments that get under your skin are paid commission only. Think about it.


Not trying to be mean, just trying to give a balanced viewpoint from the other side. Thanks for your time.





PS - Is it possible to be a Subaru fanatic and use the racist phrase 'cheap Jap steel' at the same time?

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Kelly Subauru/Suzuki in Tallahassee is my local dealer. I've been able to stay away from them for the most part.. but when I've had to go with them for parts I get to deal with some of the dumbest individuals the good Lord has ever created.


"You're lying to me. Subaru didnt import cars to the US before the 90 Loyale." I had to bring the guy outside to look under the hood. No matter what I said, he didnt believe I had a 79 GL Wagon.


I drove up in Bushbrat the other day to order a ragjoint that none of the parts stores carry..


"Wow.. whats that? Thats a Subaru right?" Naaahh.. its a Buick. I just drove up to the parts desk to borrow a cup of sugar for the cake I'm baking. :rolleyes:


Least the ragjoint was only $32.. a little pricey, but not extreme.


My dealer is pretty much worthless.. it makes me feel good to know I'm not missing out on much. heh

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I tried to buy simple tune-up parts for my 78 Brat from 2 different dealerships local to me. One said, "I may have some old microfiche"... then he told me to he couldn't help me. The second one told me without hesitation, "I can't help you, maybe you should buy a new Subaru."


When I called the service department at the first dealership for a clutch/tranny swap, he asked me, "How's things at Toyota?" he thought I was joking... when I explained that it was for real, he gave me a me a fairly reasonable price and was actually pleasant too. Made me wonder if something went wrong with the job... would the parts department get parts for him?! <giggle>


I found an awesome guy a block from here... if it's out there, he'll find it... get it fast and always gives me shop rates. Lithia Subaru in Oregon is great... got my parts right out and the price wasn't highway robbery.

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To add to what Staplecheese said...if a dealer is relatively new, say less than 5 years in the Subaru business, most of them actually don't have any resources to even look up the parts. Not even books. And all the new stuff is exclusively on a proprietary computer program which uses Mac only! We used to get free 2-3 yr old parts books from one of the dealers locally so we could keep up on the new stuff and order intelligently. Not any more :( . I made myself a computer program to keep track of the new stuff we order regularly, so I can get it even from the people who haven't sold Subie parts for 17 years.


And here's my gripe...if one calls a Subaru dealer and asks for something that's for a '90 EJ22 engine, wouldn't you think that the parts person would have some idea what model car that engine came in???? Hell, no!

Me: "I need a set of head gaskets for an EJ22."

Idgit: What's that?

Me: "It's an engine."

Idgit: What model was that in?

Me: "A Legacy."

Idgit: What year exactly?

Me: "It doesn't matter."

Idgit: Well, I need to know the year in order to look it up.

Me: :banghead:


I cultivate relationships with experienced parts people in all the dealers!


Naturally, we have to buy from dealers a lot, because many of the parts we need aren't even available from the original manufacturer yet. I almost cried when I wrote an $1100 check last week for 8 lousy sets of bearings!! :eek:

You'd think I'd be used to it after 10 years, but that really hurt.





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My local dealership seems to discourage buying of parts. Every time that I have gone in I have had to talk to some front-counter person, who takes down info and goes back (30-ish feet) to the parts guy, who has all of his computers (and books? dunno...) back that 30-ish feet from the counter, who then sends back info that he doesn't know what I am talking about, so f-c person has to tell me this...


I REALLY don't want to spend a half-hour ordering (stock? what is "stock"?) a couple dollar part. And when I took in the apple-cored governor driven gear off of my 3AT, they had no idea what it was, had never heard of the problem, and took them over a 30 minutes to find the part number and order it... for $70. (Another dealership in Moscow, ID, only charged $35 for same part. :-\ )


More than anything else, this "distance" from the parts person is what I hate the most. I am used to talking straight to the parts person, being able to look at the books or computer screen to say, "Yep, that''s it!". Datsun/Nissan dealership that I used to frequent was totally opposite from my Subaru dealer: Great place to go to find parts and get info. And, surprisingly, many of the parts were cheaper as OEM than aftermarket. And this was on a car that hadn't been made for 20 years. (Age of car is not an excuse for being rude and unhelpful.)


Yes, parts departments are there as a convenience to the customer, and financially the dealers need to concentrate on the newer, higher profit margin cars. But reputation matters more than making this quarter's profit prediction. You treat customers badly and they are less likely to buy a new car from you. My wife would love a new Subaru (if we could afford it), and I actually like our dealer's salesmen, but I would think twice about getting service or parts from them JUST because how they have ignored me as a parts customer.


And if you treat customers badly they are less likely to come buy your expensive parts, which self-fullfills your prophecy that there is no money to be made from these cheapskates.


To be fair, another board member has told me that he gets excellent service at this same place, has learned how to walk past the "Oracle Priests" (my words) and work directly with the parts person. Maybe I need to tag along sometime and figure this out.


Just my $5.32... (gotta cover overhead ;) )

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I work as a parts counterman at a large dealer in VA, and the best piece of advice I can give anyone is to develop a good relationship with your friendly neighborhood parts guy. The older and more obscure your vehicle is, the more important this becomes. Yes, you should expect good service, but the relationship is a two way street. Here are the sort of things that will usually make your counterman's eyes glaze over and quickly make them lose interest in going out of their way to help you:


"Hell!, I can get that at XXX for half that price"... Fine, why didn't you buy it while you were there?


"I don't want to buy the tensioner, I just need the bolt"(to use the earlier example) .... Some things are only serviced as an assembly. No matter how illogical that may be, we can't change that fact.


"What do you need the VIN for, they're all the same!"...No, they aren't, and it's much less trouble to get the right one the first time.


"I just called and gave someone all that information, why don't you know what I want?"...Who did you speak to?...."Hell, I don't know!".... Might be a useful thing to remember.


"This ain't the right part!"....Sorry, you didn't mention that you swapped the drivetrain from a 78 El Camino into your Subaru.


"Why don't you keep that in stock?"....You are probably the first person in years that has asked for one.


The list could go on endlessly, but this is the sort of thing we hear every day. There are a lot of parts people out there that are a little clueless and even the best make mistakes from time to time. A good one is worth their weight in gold, treat them well and they will treat you well.

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Also another way to get better deals from the dealership is to try to open a account, preferably a wholesale type account if you can. At my work I setup an account for my club and other people to use if they want wholesale deals on stuff... have sold loaded elockers, clutches and other stuff... even sent stuff back east which costed the guy less then if he were to go buy it from his local dealer at regular costs. If anyone ever needs to get Toyota parts be sure to contact my work, Gresham Toyota call 503.665.2927 talk to Pete, he's our wholesale guy and is top notch and tell him your calling for Backwoods4wd... instant discount.

Thank you for this suggestion. I own a 2004 Toyota Matrix XR that I haven't done anything with as of yet. I'll be considering the wholesale prices if I end up ordering anything. Hrrmmm.....TRD Supercharger. *cough*


Oh, I just realized this thread is a year old. :o

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