Behind the Scenes & Behind the (Steering) Wheels

A recent job in the shop, here’s what we found under the hood & behind the wheel.

We had a Subaru Impreza that is lighting up its check-engine light. Here’s what else happened when the check engine light came on for this vehicle: the engine was losing power and it would automatically decelerate due to power loss . 

Troublesome and dangerous when it’s being driven in any kind of traffic, whether on the local West Seattle roads or freeways. 

Replicating the issue

When we initially got the vehicle in the shop, we couldn’t really verify a problem.

We test drove it about six miles, it didn’t act up. We got consent from the customer for a technician to drive it home and back to see if he could replicate the problem the owner was having.

Fortunately, we were able to replicate the problem. 

Unfortunately, the diagnosis is that this could be an internal engine issue and it’s necessary to replace parts on the timing chain. 

Timing chains are located deep in the engine of a vehicle. And here’s where it gets expensive. In order to fix this Subaru, special tools and expert skills, plus extra time are needed to do it.


  • Skills & expertise-wise: It’s really important to know what and how all of the engine parts and systems are built. There are multiple chains running through tensioners and guides and each needs to be aligned just perfectly. 
  • Expense-wise: There are multiple camshafts, and it takes a skilled and trained technician for this kind of repair service, engine parts are expensive.
  • Time-wise: As mentioned, the timing chains are often deeper inside the vehicles. Once we take the time to get in and determine exactly what is needed, there’s also a need to order specific parts, connect with our customer with options and in order to obtain consent in proceeding with the repair.

    This is all before the actual repair actually happens. Time is still needed in order to order and receive any special parts, make the repair, put the vehicle back together, test system operation and verify repairs.

Is it worth it?

For an intensive and expensive fix like this, we’ll often see customers take a broader look at the circumstance and how this particular vehicle’s repair plays in with other things going on in their lives. 

And this is a powerful and responsible exercise for them to take on because it requires some different thinking, plus some decisions. 

This is also where we can advise and offer information that will help them determine their best next steps.

Customers try to decide whether or not to proceed to make a big fix like this, right now. 

Consider here that the vehicle is 10 years old, with just over 100,000 miles on it. 

They will want to know: 

  • How much is my car worth? 
  • What else is needed now or soon for this vehicle, maintenance or repairs-wise?

They will ask themselves:

Do I want to put $2,000 or $3,000 into it to fix it or do I sell or trade it in and start over? 

This is a great time to have a comprehensive inspection performed so they can feel knowledgeable about the full condition of the vehicle which will help them make the correct decision for themselves.

If the rest of the car is in good shape, then it may be  worth it because if you go buy a new car or even just a slightly used car, you’re talking about perhaps $20,000 to $40,000 … in this case, tax alone could be $2,000 – $3,000, or the cost of the repair.

And everyone is different. A $2,000-$3,000 repair may be exactly what spurs someone else to look at shopping for the next vehicle. People can get tired of sitting behind that same old steering wheel, in that same seat and they want something new and exciting.

It’s all reasonable. 

And the decisions about next steps are always in the hands of our customers. 

Our information and options are part of our service.

Call and schedule your next service with us today.

We’d love to call you our customer and keep your vehicle safe and reliable.