Why Our Subaru Ascent Spent Almost 3 Months at the Dealership
Life with our long-term 2019 Subaru Ascent has become a tale of woe. It has spent months at the dealership with a cascading list of ailments. It has had an electrical makeover, and the ghosts in the machine have manifested themselves in many creative ways.
Our Ascent might be jinxed. In the spring, a New York City garage valet scraped the side, and in May a rock chip cracked the windshield. Replacement was complicated by the fact that aftermarket glass could block or distort the camera used by the EyeSight driver assist safety system. Replacement had to be done at the dealership where it could be inspected and recalibrated.
Things were relatively uneventful through August. Then everything went kerflooey. Automobile‘s Detroit editor Todd Lassa was behind the wheel when the dashboard lit up, indicating that EyeSight and the passenger-side airbag were disabled. The transmission fluid and check engine lights were also on. Then he discovered the sunroof had stopped working. Icing on the cake: He backed into a vehicle in a parking lot, which affected the sensor in the bumper.
The vehicle went to the area dealer in September. Initial diagnosis was that about six different error codes were responsible for setting off the warnings, and a simple reflash would not fix it. Technicians might have to remove parts and panels to install a new wiring harness.
Then radio silence. Calls were infrequently returned. I finally got a notice at the end of October that a part had come in. A regional factory representative would later tell me that, against all Subaru service policy guidelines, the vehicle sat for weeks before anything was ordered and the whole experience was far outside corporate standards. We slid into November with no car and no answers. A scheduled call with the service manager was cancelled, and we were told to work with Subaru at the corporate level to get answers.
I got the car back mid-November. Three separate issues had been resolved.
The body integrated unit (BIU) caused the dash to light up, prevented communication with EyeSight, and affected the sunroof and locks. The lower dash trim was removed to install a new BIU, which restored communication and sunroof function. But EyeSight and the locks were still not functioning.
Issue No.2 turned out to be a problem with the EyeSight connector, which might have been damaged when the windshield was replaced. The headliner and A-pillar were removed to install a new roof harness; dash, instrument panel, and carpets remained intact. Techs also replaced a blown fuse.
The third item of business was to replace the damaged reverse automatic braking sensor and brackets in the bumper from the slow-speed collision.
The rip-ups left their mark. A few weeks later, the car was being scheduled for more service. The driver’s seatbelt was no longer height adjustable, and there was no heat coming from the lower vents. And the trim covering the wiring in the A-pillar fell off and was hanging inside the vehicle.
The Ascent went back to the shop in December for new A-pillar and B-pillar trim and a new seat belt retractor. No issues were found with the HVAC system. Then the car was transferred to the collision shop to fix the scrapes left by the NY valet earlier in the year. Holiday season meant it would be a new year before we would get our SUV back.
We picked up the Ascent in January and attempted to throw the new plates in the back—the old ones had expired. The rear hatch would not open. So the car went right back to the service bay where a tech shut down the battery and rebooted the car, which reset the liftgate height.
On a positive note, the scraped side has been repaired at a cost of $1,542.03, and the valet company has agreed to pay $700 of that. That was in early January. Apparently the check is still in the mail.
We have managed to avoid any further trips to the dealer, but the SUV has not been trouble-free. The door lock acted up once more: The passenger door could not be opened with the key fob. Fortunately, that bug has not resurfaced. And on a trip north, the car would not restart after we stopped for gas. It got hung up in accessory mode and wouldn’t turn on or off. After long anxious minutes of pushing, shifting, and pressing everything imaginable, it turned off and could be restarted. That bug also has not resurfaced.
For the months the car has been on the road, it has logged 19,043 miles and averaged 21.0 mpg, unchanged since our last update.
Fingers crossed we make it to the finish line with no more dealership visits.
Read More About Our Long-Term 2019 Subaru Ascent:
- Update 1: Hot Time in the Cool City
- Update 2: Road Trip
- 7 Cool Things About Our Three-Row Crossover
- Update 3: Ascent Whisperer
- Update 4: Off-Roading
- Update 5: Battle Scars
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