2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STi Hatch – “theNoise” (Broken welds[?] = Squeak) *RESOLVED*

Update 2011.09.16: At this point I’m quite comfortable with saying that this issue was definitely related to the passenger side hatch damper.  The issue persisted after spot welds were reinforced, and ceased after the dampers were replaced.

This began as a thread entitled 2008 STi – Broken welds on rear roof support (metal on metal squeak)…” on a Subaru WRX STI enthusiast site, IWSTI.com.  I had some free time so I decided to port it over here for safe keeping as well.  I’ll continue to keep both the thread and this post updated as things progress.  Any post by an IWSTI.com member that I reply to I will include here.  There are other replies from interested members in the thread that I didn’t reply to, and aren’t listed here.  Please follow the link if you’d like those details as well.

Car: 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STi (Hatch)

Problem: Broken welds on roof support near hatch opening causing metal on metal squeaking over bumps or in turns.
Update 2011.08.27; Could this have been misdiagnosed??? <- Click for more information.

Reason denied: Originally Subaru denied claim and voided warranty stating that installation of stiffer springs caused the weld to break.
Update 2011.07.21; SOA called, they’re fixing under waranty, but <- Click for more information.

Summary: I installed springs on my car (320lb rates, front & rear) on 2010.09.18. I have proof of invoice and tracking information via FedEx that shows I didn’t have these springs in my possession until 2011.09.16. According to the dealer’s service records, I first reported this problem to them on 2010.09.08. This means that it had already been occurring and I called them to set up an appointment for them to look at it. Those notes don’t go into the system until the dealer takes possession of the car, at least for my dealer.

I went to the dealer today and had them print my service records. There is a ‘customer complaint’ on there dated 2010.09.08 that states the following;

Complaint: Customer states that the hatch back or something will creak in the rear when driving over a rough road please check and advise…

Cause: Tech traced and found there was a rattle coming from the latch on the rear hatch back door.

Correction: Tech greased the latch and test drove to verify proper operation.

On 2010.10.08 I brought it in because the brakes were squealing, at which time the service manager noticed the hatch squeak. I told him how I’ve already brought it in for that and they claim they fixed it by re-greasing the latch. He said to have it looked at again at the next service.

On 2011.02.03 I brought it in for service and this is what they have noted regarding the squeak;

Complaint: Customer states that the rear hatch is squeaking please check and advise…

Cause: Tech test drove the vehicle and found the rear mat rubbing on the cargo cover and tech also found the latch in need of lubrication.

Correction: Tech completed the lubrication on the rear hatch latch and also moved the rear cargo mat from the cargo shade and test drove to verify no squeaking from the rear at this time.

On 2011.02.07 I brought it in for the squeak again, and here are the notes;

Complaint: Customer states that there is a squeaking noise coming fromt he rear hatch when driving over bumps please check and advise…

Cause: Tech test drove the vehicle and was not able to duplicate the customer’s concern at this time.

Correction: No repairs made at this time.

On 2011.05.13 I brought it in for maintenance and the following was noted regarding the squeak;

Complaint: Customer states there is a metal on metal noise coming from the right rear please check and advise.

Cause: Tech found the noise coming from the drivers rear quarter panel area more time is needed to complete diag.

Correction: Customer is advised and will return at a later date.

I brought it back on 2011.05.18 and here are the notes;

Complaint: Customer states there is a squeak coming from the rear top of the vehicle when going over bumps advise…

Cause: Tech found the creek coming from the rear roof supports. Possible weld broken.

Correction: Subaru has been contacted and factory engineer will come out to inspect vehicle at customer convenience. Customer will be contacted when this is possible.

I did go back again near the end of may, so I’ll need to go back and get that service record for the details… but in short the rep didn’t even come look at the vehicle, he just told the service manager to deny the claim and void the warranty stating that my stiffened springs caused the issue, which is clearly not the case.

I just gathered the documents I think I’ll need, and I’m stopping by the dealer tomorrow to talk to the service manager. I’ll try to keep this updated.

On 2011.07.12, I replied to a few posts from IWSTI.com members;

“very interested in this. Keep it coming. Damn stealerships”

Deek: The dealership has actually been quite helpful with this situation, and actually wasn’t very enthused about having to tell me they wouldn’t cover it, and why. They couldn’t really share their view point on the situation once the regional rep provided his input though, their hands are kind of tied.

“Call Subaru of America – Also they cannot void your warranty, only deny a claim based on modification.”

Deek: My warranty expired 2011.05.31 anyways, so that’s not a huge deal anyways. However this is an issue that they’ve been unable to fix for months now, and the service manager showed me in the warranty agreement where any items brought to their attention before the warranty expires would still have to be honored under warranty… if they persist past the expiration date.

I’m calling SOA tomorrow to updated them with details on the situation, I already have the case open with them that I can reference.

“By the way even though your bumper to bumper is up, which this would fall under, you do realize you still have a 5 year powertrain?”

Deek: Valid point, I’ll be sure to ask about this tomorrow. I need to make sure this rep didn’t void that… and if he did, work on getting that reversed.

I’m going to the dealer with the following information regarding the springs; invoice from the manufacturer, the email that contained the tracking number, and the tracking information that shows delivery on the date 2009.09.16.

On 2011.07.13, I posted the following;

Deek: I called the customer support number listed on subaru.com and updated my case with them, including dates and a summary of the situation all the way up to where the regional rep denied my claim, etc.

I also called the dealer and am waiting for a call back from the service manager to set up a time to come see him, today preferably.

Deek: I took a late lunch and visited the dealer to provide the service manager with the following documents regarding the spring purchase/installation…

-Invoice showing purchase & ship date, associated tracking number listed.
-Dated copy of email from manufacturer that had the invoice attached.
-FedEx shipping notification email, dated.
-FedEx package progress showing delivery date (2010.09.16)

I also brought the service records he printed out for me yesterday, with the original complaint highlighted on 2010.09.08. Reminding him that was the date I left the car with him, after I had already called reporting the issue to make an appointment. Therefore had already been experiencing the issue before the drop off date.

The service manager made copies of them, faxed them to the regional rep, and told me to expect a call tomorrow (2011.07.14).

While there, I inquired about the comment that was made previously about my warranty being voided. He specified that only the warranty pertaining to this part/claim was affected, so my power train warranty is still intact. However, hopefully with this documentation, that voided warranty item can be reversed and this can be handled.

However, even if they do reverse the voided warranty and say they’ll repair it, there are some interesting details about the repair I’m not enthused with. Those details I’ll enclose at a later time if we get to that point.

On 2011.07.14, I posted the following;

Deek: Service manager informed me that he left the regional rep a message today. I asked that he keep me updated as often as possible, even if its to tell me that he hasn’t heard back yet.

Patience is wearing quite thin with this issue. I ordered a brake pads, rotors, and braided lines to put on this weekend, but that’s all on hold until more develops with this situation.

On 2011.07.15, I posted the following;

Deek: I called with service manager about a 30 minutes ago… he spoke with the regional rep today and was informed that it’s going to take a couple days to look into this. The service manager said he’d call me immediately after getting getting an update from the regional rep.

I’m not quite sure what needs to be looked into, but I suppose I understand there are policies and procedures that need to be followed in a situation like this. I let him know I’d check in with him on Wednesday if I haven’t heard anything.

On 2011.07.16, I replied to a post from an IWSTI.com member;

“If you can take a pic of it that would be great. I have some creaking and ive got about 20k+ on a suspension.”

Deek: I’d have to remove the headliner to do so, not sure I’ll have time this weekend with work and other activities. The service manager pointed to where the plastics surrounding the hatch met up with the fabric and said “its near where the hatch hinges bolt onto the body.”

On 2011.07.20, I posted the following;

Deek: The service manager just called to inform me that the regional rep sent the documentation ‘up the chain’ and is awaiting information in return. He said that he would call me back by the end of the week whether or not he has an update.

On 2011.07.21, I posted the following;

Deek: I received a call from Subaru of America today informing me that they are going to repair my vehicle under warranty.

Thumbs up? Not just yet… I suppose I can discuss what “interesting details” I previously mentioned.

Once they finally found the cause of the issue, the repair was initially approved and the dealer ordered a new cross-member for the roof. The body shop had all of this in their possession, but once they looked into actually doing the repair, they found that they would have to cut the roof to gain access to the welds or piece that they need to replace. They notified the dealer, who notified the regional rep. This is when the service manager informed me that the regional rep had to come see the car (see OP for 2011.05.18).

I went on the road the next week for work which gave them a week to contact me. I didn’t hear anything so when I returned I called them and asked for an update as to when I should expect the regional rep to make an appointment. The service manager said he would call the regional rep to find out, and then get back to me. When the service manager called me back he informed me that the regional rep is no longer going to repair this under warranty and the warranty for this ‘line item’ was now void.

Anyways, while on the phone with Subaru, I requested details regarding the repair of the defect but the woman I spoke with didn’t have the specifics. She said that she would contact the service manager at the dealer to discuss it with him and have him call me with that information. I expressed my concerns regarding what I already knew and how uneasy I felt about it all. Considering resale value and safety structure, I think these concerns are valid.

Deek: Not long after I posted last, the service manager called me saying that they wanted to get a second opinion regarding the repairs necessary. I’m going in there tomorrow to meet up with him and go to a shop to get it looked at.

Deek: They brought the car to their 3rd party shop and they’re the ones that said the they’d have to cut the roof to get to the welds to replace the piece. Sorry I can’t provide details regarding what specific weld or piece needs repair or replacement right now, I’ll hopefully get much more information tomorrow from my visit to the dealer and another 3rd party shop.

On 2011.07.22, I posted the following;

Deek: Not that I want others to be experiencing this issue, but if anyone is… please get it checked out and let me know what is found via PM. If there is a similar issue with multiple cars, there might be something here to bite onto. Not really trying to sound malicious, but this is more than an annoyance, welds breaking could potentially turn into a pretty serious safety hazard.

Deek: Just returned from my trip to the dealer and 3rd party body shop. I’m a bit more optimistic and a little less concerned about the extent of the repairs, not quite out of the water yet though.

Click images for larger views.

This first picture shows the different layers of the roof and cross-member that is welded to it, this is what’s rubbing together and squeaking;

This picture here shows the spot welds that could potentially be the culprit;

The manager of the body shop is someone who I’ve worked with before, and said this was an issue they’d have to “kind of throw things at the wall and see what stuck.” I let him and the service manager (more-so the service manager) know that I understand they’re caught in the middle of this whole ordeal, but if this turns into a situation where I’m without the car for extended periods of time, numerous times, that this issue would become a lot more complex. I think we’re all on the same page.

The body shop owner is going to write up an estimate and get it to the service manager, who told me I should expect to hear from him mid next week because the documents and information have to be put through their appropriate processes.

On 2011.07.28, I posted the following;

Deek: I called the service manager today since I hadn’t heard anything, he said that they should be ready for my car at the body shop next Tuesday (2011.08.02).

Based on a conversation I had within the past week with a fellow STi owner with fabrication experience, I’m going to make a call to the body shop to talk to the manager and potentially one of their fabricators to have them explain their approach to this repair step by step.

On 2011.08.03, I posted the following;

Deek: Well I missed the drop-off yesterday, I wasn’t sure that it was a solid date. I rescheduled to drop the car off at the dealer next Monday (2011.08.08).

On 2011.08.04, I replied to a post from an IWSTI.com member;

“I suggested possibly riveting the rear seam instead of cutting, welding, and painting…not to mention the possible damage, loose interior panels, creating a NEW noise, or overspray.”

Deek: I definitely agree with the suggestion and would probably prefer that at this point. However, one of my concerns is that there is more going on back there than just those few spot welds. So I’m inclined to let Subaru fix this using their methods. This way if more surfaces either during the repair or later-on down the road, they’re still ‘on the hook’ to either remedy it or take other measures to rectify the situation.

On 2011.08.11, I posted the following;

Deek: I dropped the car off early in the morning on Monday (2011.08.08) and they brought it to the body shop shortly after. I was told I’d have it before the weekend, but checked in today and it wasn’t ready. I’ll check in again tomorrow.

On 2011.08.12, I replied to a post from an IWSTI.com member and posted the following;

“After reading the sticky about warranty, it violates federal law for a warranty to be denied without first proving the modification was the cause of the failure. So any dealer who’s tries to deny your warranty after seeing an aftermarket part is violating that law unless they can prove the modification was the problem.

MRT Performance of Australia can guarantee the factory warranty even with the installation of their power up kits. I don’t see how it could be much different here in the states.”

Deek: Yeah, somewhat of a bummer that I had to prove otherwise by providing documentation showing when the issue was first brought to their attention and comparing it to when I received the springs. Thankfully that was enough and they are handling it now.

My fingers are crossed, hoping that this doesn’t become a recurring issue. I really don’t want have to travel down the ‘legal’ road.

Deek: I called the service manager on lunch, asking for an update. “Not good” he says. Apparently the body shop is a little more than apprehensive about performing the repair for a couple reasons;

1) They didn’t want to remove the roof liner.
2) Since they’re going to have to ‘re-spot weld’ things, it’ll require some paint work. They’re concerned about doing the paint work because the last time they did some for me, I brought it back for cleanups (ie. Drip-match daub of paint left on rear passenger door, couple small bits/chunks of paint on hood had to be removed, clearcoat overspray on wing and rear window, etc).

I’m pretty frustrated that my car has been there all week and absolutely nothing has been done. And the service manager is pretty much in the same boat, since they’re fronting me a rental and it’s costing them money. Well that and they know they have to deal with a less-than-pleased customer.

I’m waiting for a return call from the service manager to see if he can contact another dealer outside of the desert that may have an in-house body shop, or a more competent third party shop that isn’t seemingly ‘scared of taking the job.’

Deek: I had a conversation with the SOA rep that has been tracking my situation. I let her know what has transpired since our last conversation. I was calm, but let her know how frustrated I was given where we’re at right now. I suggested that maybe contacting another dealer with either an in-house body shop, or another dealer that has a nearby body shop who might be more comfortable with the repair would be a better option. She understood and said that she would speak with the service manager at the dealership and find out where we’re going from here.

Shortly after, the service manager called me up to give me the game plan. He’s going to talk to the owner of another body shop,someone he knows, about the scope of the repair. He’ll also be speaking to another shop that one of his the techs suggested. He said that he will call me early next week and make arrangements with me after the details were sorted out.

To note… I calmly vented a little on the phone, to both the service manager and the SOA rep, about some things I was less-than-happy about from this week’s occurrences.How Enterprise (rental company they sent me to for a car) had me sitting in their lobby for 25 minutes, waiting for a car, thus making me late for a corporate meeting.

  • The obvious frustrations with how arrangements were made to bring the car in for the repair, nothing actually happening for an entire work week, and then finding out that was due to apprehensiveness from the 3rd party body shop. Why set up a time to do the work, if the shop wasn’t comfortable with it in the first place?
  • The lack of service initiated communication with their client (me).

I let them both know that the longer this gets dragged out with hiccups along the road, the nastier the taste in my mouth becomes, and the more difficult it will be for them to deal with the situation. I also informed them of my thread on here. I made it clear that I wasn’t really trying to be aggressive and I definitely wasn’t doing this in a threatening manner, but I needed to document it and it ended up here because it started as a ‘denied warranty claim.’

I’m going to pick my car up after work so I can have it for the weekend and get some work done (Group N motor & trans mounts, Kartboy shifter bushing combo, Whiteline steering rack bushings, Grimmspeed air-oil separator, and install my rear Goodridge braided lines). I’ll have another update early next week as to where we’re going with this.

On 2011.08.14, I posted the following;

Deek: Sarcasm meter is beyond maxed out as I say this… AWESOME NEWS!

A couple fun little dings surfaced above the small third window on the driver side of the car while it was not in my possession last week. I really don’t know how this would have happened. Maybe someone was trying to get the weld to squeak by smacking the roof near the problem area… not quite sure.

Anyways, I will be contacting my SOA rep directly on this one first thing tomorrow morning when they’re back in the office. I’m sure they’ll take care of this for me, looks like these can be popped out via paintless dent removal.

Click images for larger views.

On 2011.08.15, I posted the following;

Deek: I spoke with my SOA rep this morning, just to inform her of the dings so they’re documented. I also spoke with the service manager and emailed him the pictures I’ve posted here. He said they’ll take care of them, no problem.

He also informed me that he has already found another shop, that comes highly recommended. They guarantee that if I drop the car off tomorrow morning, it will be ready no later than Friday. I verified with the service manager that he informed the shop that I’m quite ‘particular’ (see; ‘can be a bit of a pain in the ass towards poor work ethic’). He said he did, and they were just fine with that.

So I’m dropping the car off tomorrow morning, and they’re giving me a dealer vehicle until I get my STi back.

On 2011.08.16, I posted the following;

Deek: I dropped the car off at the dealership this morning and they put me in a Legacy loaner vehicle which was ready to go so I wasn’t late for work again.

I’m not sure why, but they didn’t check it in like they have every other time I’ve dropped it off. Usually they check odometer and write up a work-order for me to sign. I documented the odometer reading and reminded them that the brakes are brand new and haven’t been bedded yet so they’d know to take it easy on them.

Update: I just spoke with the service manager and they didn’t check it in and create a new work order because the one from last week is still open.

On 2011.08.17, I posted the following, and replied to a post from an IWSTI.com member;

“I’m not sure why, but they didn’t check it in like they have every other time I’ve dropped it off. Usually they check odometer and write up a work-order for me to sign. I documented the odometer reading and reminded them that the brakes are brand new and haven’t been bedded yet so they’d know to take it easy on them.

Update: I just spoke with the service manager and they didn’t check it in and create a new work order because the one from last week is still open.”

Deek: This concerned me a bit, especially after someone with experience in dealership service departments contacted me after reading this. I just called my SOA rep and let her know that I believe a new repair order should (have been) be created for them taking another possession of the vehicle… Just for sake of proper documentation.

“Do we possibly see a resolution in sight??? Finally? Good luck, keeping our fingers crossed for you!”

Deek: Yes, a resolution seems to be in sight, I hope anyways. I would prefer to have this fixed and enjoy my Subaru than have it continue and deal with litigations.

I forgot to mention, yesterday I stopped by the auto body shop that is taking on the repair. The owner was up front and I chatted with him a bit about their business and the situation I was in. I got a good ‘vibe’ from him and he seemed to be a perfectionist (his wife teased him about it), which put me a little at ease. They’ve been in business in the valley for 30 years, and in his current location for 20 years. The front of the shop was clean and organized and they presented themselves well.

As I was there, the service manager coincidentally pulled up with my car and we all took a look at it. He didn’t seemed concerned about the type of repair and noticed the two dings I mentioned while we were talking without me having to point them out. So he’s got a good eye… it’s the little things that put my mind at ease.

At this point we’re still on schedule for a Friday completion, though when I asked the service manager if he was going to have this new shop handle the dings, he said that he wasn’t sure. I’ll be calling to check in tomorrow, might even stop by the auto body shop on lunch if time permits. I’d be interested to see more than just the front area of their shop.

On 2011.08.18, I posted the following, and replied to a posts from IWSTI.com members;

Deek: I spoke with the service manager today, the shop has performed repairs and he is going to test drive the vehicle to listen for any squeaks. He said he thinks he might have heard something, but the interior roof liner is currently removed. I suggested that he take it to a nearby road that isn’t in the best shape. The few times that I’ve driven this road to visit my fiance for lunch, it caused a symphony of squeaking noises.

He also informed me that they’re going to be handling the dings above the small third driver side window while it’s in their possession.

I’ll probably stop by the shop on lunch to see where we’re at, but the service manager said that he’d call me later with an update.

“Been lurking around this thread but meant to ask you something: Do you have video/soundbite of the squeaking? I’m curious as to how it sounds… Thanks and I hope that your car gets fixed.”

Deek: I don’t, I’m sorry… I have actually thought of doing this but never made the time to do it. It was enough for the service manager to hear it and be able to recreate on his own.

“I’m glad they’re taking care of you. It sounds like you did everything correctly to ensure nothing less.”

Deek: Thanks.

Admittedly, I’m sometimes not the easiest customer to deal with. However it’s never without reason that I can objectively and logically justify.

So I stopped by the shop and saw the rest of it. They have lot’s of space there and are very professional, organized and thorough. They even take full 360 videos of the cars as they pull them in, to protect themselves and the customers from false claims one way or the other.

Small update on the situation is this… The body shop was initially unable to reproduce the squeak, but the service manager took them on a ride and were able to hear it loud and clear. He went over his ‘attack plan’ with me and said we’re likely still good for a Friday (tomorrow) pickup.

I asked about not just performing the repair, but also fortifying the structure. We briefly discussed potential limitations to their repair scope based on Subaru’s spec given that this is a crumple zone, but he agreed that we should probably reinforce it a little.

I’ll check in again tomorrow.

Sorry if some believe I’m providing too much information here. I believe in concise and adequate documentation to cover all aspects of situations like this. It eliminates confusion for all parties involved and provides others with a good idea of transpired events and milestones.

On 2011.08.19, I posted the following, and replied to a post from an IWSTI.com member;

Deek: Called the dealer to speak with service manager at 12:15pm, he was with a customer so I left a voice mail. I went to lunch at 1pm, stopped by the body shop to check in briefly, car won’t be done today. Stopped by dealer, service manager out to lunch, left message for him to call me.

Little frustrated right now. I’m OK with things taking longer than expected, but don’t make guarantees if they can’t be upheld. I’ll get over it though, just want this done right. Back to work.

Might edit this later for proper sentence structure, etc… right now I just don’t care.

Deek: The service manager just called me back, he already knew I stopped by the body shop to check in on my car. Without either of us really asking how things were going, we both had the “eh, it is what it is” attitude. He detailed what they’ve done and their results, seems they might have the squeak under control but now there is a “ticking” noise they’re looking into. They’ll pick up on it again Monday morning.

I explained to him that I’m OK with them taking longer than expected to ensure it doesn’t reoccur. Yes, it’s a bummer that I don’t have my STi for the weekend given the plans I have for my fiance’s birthday… but this dealership loaner Legacy 3.0 R will get us around. Problem is I’m growing accustomed to this low end torque from the NA engine.

Again, it is what it is and I’d rather them take more time to prevent revisit(s) for the same problem.

“There are times when too much info is tedious, but this ain’t one of ’em. Your story many end up helping another member in the future, so the more the better. I don’t know how many times I’ve searched for the answer to something and found many, many threads with the beginnings of trouble-shooting actions, but never any conclusion or followup!

I wouldn’t be upset about them taking too long, and I for damned sure wouldn’t be bothering them about it. As per your last update, they found another issue and are doing the right thing by spending additional time making it right. This isn’t a simple chop and swap (or unbolt and swap for that matter,) so cut them a little slack if they don’t get it done by Monday, either. The more you bug them, the more likely they’ll be to decide that they’ve fulfilled the scope of work that the dealer tasked them with, and to hell with that new noise.

I’m glad that it seems to be going so smoothly, and that it’s being paid for by not you! Congrats, brother.”

Deek: I totally agree, I’d be quite alright with this repair taking another week or so if necessary. All I ask is that nobody provides misleading information. I’m a very honest, blunt and thorough person and would prefer those that interact with me sense that and treat me in the same regard. We’ve made a lot of progress. Not just with the issue at hand, but with the communication techniques as well.

My intention of checking in with them isn’t to push them to hurry up and finish this… I’m just a very hands-on person and want to be kept in the loop as to what is transpiring. Even if it’s just a “no real progress today…” I made it a point to say that to all individuals involved so they didn’t feel rushed.

I’ll update again when I have info next week sometime, I’ll be sure to keep this updated through completion. I share your frustration with non-existent or inadequate follow up posts.

On 2011.08.23, I posted the following;

Deek: Service manager called me today saying they found the “tick”. It was bonding material up closer to the driver on the roof. They’re fixing that up and will update me after test driving.

Looks like I might be back in my STi this week, we’ll see.

On 2011.08.25, I posted the following;

Deek: I called the dealer and the service manager is out for today. No update there, so I called the body shop and spoke with the manager to get some info. He said they’re done with the repairs at this point, but they’re waiting for the service manager from the dealer to come by to test drive it before doing whatever paint-work is needed and putting things back together.

I stopped by on lunch to see what was done. They added some spot welds to both sides of the hatch opening (where my previous pictures highlighted), which stopped the squeak but seems to have brought another ‘tick’ out. So they traced it to (what I think is the) B pillar roof support, pictured here.

As you can see, they loaded up the support with pillar foam and used bonding material between the support and the roof. They did this for every support & crease in the roof.

Here are a few pictures of the spot welds. Again, once the service manager from the dealer test drives and approves the repairs, they will do their paintwork and reassemble everything.

Interestingly enough, they say that the squeaking very well could have originated from the front parts of the vehicle and just resonated to the rear. I want to believe them, but I am more inclined to think that once they solidified the rear of the roof, the front showed its weak points. Either way, seems to be all under control. Given the fact that the dealer service manager is out of the office today and the body shop is basically waiting on his approval before buttoning everything up, I’m pretty sure I won’t be getting the car back for the weekend. Again, it is what it is, and I’ll update when I’ve got something.

On 2011.08.26, I posted the following;

Deek: Dealer service manager said I’ll likely get my car today, we’ll see though.

Deek: OK, back in my car finally. Service manager waited around a few extra minutes for me to stop by after work and pick it up. Things sound and look good so far. I will look at it closer tomorrow mid-day when there’s more sunlight and I can see better. Only time will be the judge of how successful we were in fixing the problem. However, I can say that a few road imperfections that usually cause the squeak were uneventful today on my way home.

I need to stop by the dealer next week to get new visor clips, as mine broke somewhere along the line with the removal and reinstallation of the headliner. I’ll update again sometime next week after I’ve had a chance to ‘take a microscope’ to everything and drive more.

On 2011.08.27, I posted the following, and replied to a post from an IWSTI.com member;

Deek: Never mind, it’s still squeaking. No improvement. There’s about a 3/4 in bump I drive over every day on my way to work that makes it squeak without fail… Today was no different. I heard it several times this morning already.

I’ve left a voicemail for the dealer service manager and the SOA rep and will follow up monday.

“Wow, after all that work. Sucks to hear that. Did the welds not hold or do you think it’s somewhere else they haven’t spotted?”

Deek: I’m sure their welds held on, I just don’t think that the issue originated from where they thought. Back to the drawing board, I’ll update again Monday after discussion with the dealer service manager and SOA rep.

Deek: So being incredibly fed up with this while situation, hell bound to find the root cause, Tom (iwsti.com:mnym8kr) and I went for some test drives over some crappy roads earlier to try to get to the bottom of this. I’ll elaborate on that later, probably with videos if they’re viable, but for now the short of it is that there is a chance we’ve found the source…. The hatch damper & support.

… to be continued.

On 2011.08.28, I posted the following;

Deek: Here is a 10 minute video from our one hour diagnostics test drive yesterday. I edited it down to get the squeak’s ‘greatest hits’.

After our drive earlier we went to Tom’s house and started looking at possible causes. We removed all plastics from the hatch door and with it closed, he took an orbital buffer to the exterior and nothing major was audible. So we opened the hatch and he took the buffer to interior surfaces. We noticed an absolutely obnoxious rattle coming from the passenger side of the hatch door. I grabbed a hold of the damper while he applied pressure with the buffer and the rattle stopped.

The passenger side hatch damper had a lot of play in it, and the rubber bushing around the mount on the chassis seems to be worn because when I moved it there was a metal-on-metal clanking. There was also a clanking coming from the joint on the hatch door. I tried the same with the driver side hatch damper and it was much more solid on the chassis, but still had a clanking on the hatch door… however much less noticeable.

We removed both dampers and put them in his garage with the plastics from the hatch door and went for another drive. Hitting the same bump that causes the squeak to occur every day for me, yielded no squeak this time… Hmm, I better do a u-turn and do that again just to be sure… nope, no squeak. Daww, OK once more for funsies… sweet, no squeak! I don’t want to celebrate prematurely but it seems we may have found the cause.

Tomorrow, we’re going to go on another ‘plasticless-damperless-hatch-door’ drive while the car is cool (it’s 110~ right now) to make sure the metals weren’t just more pliable and not squeaking because it was warm. If it doesn’t squeak, I’ll be more optimistic.

I should note that it is likely we’re on to something here, because when the service manager was diagnosing the issue he said that he got the squeak to stop by having one of his techs wedge a screw driver between the layers in the roof near the hatch (see first pic in post #33 for reference). In order for his tech to do this, the hatch would have to be open, furthermore I’m sure they were holding it open if they were driving with someone in the hatch so it didn’t close on him. This would relieve pressure from the damper, thus preventing the squeak. We’ll see though, only time will tell where this goes.

I will say that we’re going to get some adhesive foam & felt from Home Depot, or whatever artsy-fartsy store we have around here, to keep the plastic panels on the hatch door from rattling so much… they sound awful all on their own.

More updates will be posted as I have them.

BTW, thanks again Tom… your help is greatly appreciated, sir.

Deek: Today Tom and I went for another drive after the car had some time to ‘cool off’ in my garage overnight. I drove over “the bump” that was ‘featured’ in the last 30~ seconds of the video clip and didn’t get a squeak.

We drove to Lowes to pick up some of this stuff to put on the rear plastics when we reinstall them.

We hit “the bump” again on the way and we didn’t get a squeak, which is good.

I’m going to leave the panels and dampers off and bring our findings to the dealer service manager on Monday. If this turns out to be the root cause and we were able to properly diagnose it by thinking out of the box, as opposed to blindly throwing parts and invasive repairs at it… I’m going to be a little less than pleased and feel that Subaru should reimburse me (see; do something to restore my customer loyalty and faith) somehow. I don’t know what or how, but… something. Do you guys think that’s unrealistic?

On 2011.08.29, I replied to posts from IWSTI.com members and posted the following;

“I’ll probably get flamed for this but here goes… I don’t really think the dealer owes you anything. Yes the squeak was mis-diagnosed but the whole car is metal which can cause the noise to sound like it was coming from anywhere. For example, ever tried to diagnose a squeak on an aluminum framed mountain bike? It’s pretty much impossible. You were continually pushing the dealer to provide a solution so they were taking their best shot at what they thought the problem was. Most dealerships I know would have just jiggled around some stuff and told you they couldn’t find it and to deal with it. Admittedly it sounds like their techs could use some classes on problem solving but it’s not like they threw some glue on it and said they fixed it. They genuinely gave it a shot at fixing it.

I understand you’re frustrated with having to be without your car for weeks at a time but lets face it… it’s a 15k dollar car with 20k worth of drivetrain in it. It’s never going to be as quiet and rattle-proof as a pricier car like a BMW, MB, etc.

Cliffnotes: I think the dealership took their best shot at repairing it and you should give them credit for footing that huge bill when they could have just told you to shove it. Get them to fix the hatch supports and call it a day.”

Deek: You have valid points, but keep in mind that this isn’t a typical plastic rattle we’re talking about here… this is an issue that they weren’t able to properly diagnose for nearly 7 months, then come to the conclusion that the issue was a broken weld in the hatch support area. Now, a couple months further down the road we find out that it’s potentially something much more simplistic like a damper. I don’t want to recap all of the events that have taken place, as they’re already posted in this thread, but given the progression and variables of the situation thus far I believe I’ve been quite patient through it all

As for continually pushing, please take note of how it all started. There are spans of well over a month where I just figured I’d let them ‘look at it next time its in for service.’ I only began pursuing this adamantly once they identified broken welds and wrongfully denied my warranty claim. I’m not at my wits end with this, I realize things happen and ‘losing my sh*t’ over it won’t accomplish anything at all… but it is a bit frustrating to have potentially located an issue that trained Subaru service technicians couldn’t get a hold of for roughly a year now. Nevermind all of the invasive repairs with welding, the dings, paintwork, etc.

Here’s an experiment, do I bring the car back to them and let them keep plugging away to see if they ever come up with an effective resolve? My answer is no, I don’t think this would be very productive at all.

However, if the issue was/is related to a weld, as presumed up until this point (again, potentially)… This should raise at least one eyebrow for pretty much anyone. I have been ignoring interior rattles in this car, more so than I did in my Hondas (not that there are more, I’ve just got other more important things to tackle). I expect rattles, it’s “just a car”, and I will eventually get to sorting them out. The problem here is a metal on metal clanking/squeaking that shouldn’t be an issue in even a first generation Kia, especially if it’s presumed to be caused by a broken weld, regardless of where that weld is located. I mean, if someone wanted to really make an ordeal out of this they could take the ‘chicken little’ approach and ask, “How many more potentially faulty welds are back there?” Again, I have better things to do.

Keeping in mind that they’re not even aware of a potential realistic resolution at this point, I just feel that this has taken far too long to sort out. All they have is my voice mail stating the problem persists and that we’ll talk today. Speaking of which, I need to make a phone call…..

“I never meant to imply that you haven’t been patient. And I’ve been following this thread since just about the beginning (while searching for a solution to my own metal squeaking sound) so I realize what steps have been taken. All I’m saying is that I don’t see a valid reason to try and “get” something out of them other than a fully repaired car. Either way I must commend you for your patience through this whole matter and hope they fix it and get you on the road so that you can enjoy your car.”

Deek: I thought I should reply to the underlined sentence specifically to say that your point is very well taken. I just want to make it clear that even though it may have ‘sounded’ that way, my intentions weren’t to ‘try to score’ off of this.

Being that internal and external customer service is a key aspect to any goods & service related industry, I personally would feel I needed to do something for my customer if they had experienced all of this and eventually ended up figuring it out on their own. Again, if we have in fact found the root cause… jury is still out. All I really want is this specific squeak sorted out once and for all.

Thanks again for your input, I’ll let you guys know how this turns out.

“My hatch “squeaked” like this for years. I never cared, and thus never spent a day with it in the shop. I traded it in a while back and look fondly upon my years of ownership.

Turn the radio up, enjoy your damn car! Or, since it’s been such an epic drama, pursue a buy-back?”

Deek: As I stated, I can deal with plastic rattles… but unknown sources of metal squeaking/clanking not so much. Not only because of the audible effects, but if the source is unknown If I were to ‘get on the couch’ about this particular issue, road trips from IL to PA as a young child in a full sized van would probably come out of the wood-work (haha). Our van had the same exact noise resonating from the double side doors that absolutely drove me nuts.  After several trips like this my dad finally fixed it with some rubber injection material of some sort.

BTW, snoring has the same effect on me… my mom was a snorer, any time I hear the hint of a snore my blood boils. I’ve found ways to manage that though, ear plugs. Not so safe for driving though, haha.

Thanks for your input guys, it’s appreciated. I enjoy my STi and look forward to hopefully many more years of doing so, whether it becomes just a project toy or remains my daily driver.

Deek: I stopped by the dealer on lunch and spoke to the service manager. I showed him the video from Saturday’s test drive and what we thought could be the root cause. There was expected speculation, but he seemed receptive and said that he would order replacement dampers for the hatch. His reservation was this; without the dampers holding the weight of the hatch, there is more pressure on the potential problem area, thus stopping the squeak.

Anyways, he also has sun visor clips on order, because in the midst of all of this work mine were broken. I will continue to drive the car without any plastics on the hatch and the dampers removed. I’ll update the service manager when I pick up the visor clips later in the week.

“Keep in mind it’s not unusual that fixing one noise/squeak can lead to 2 more new ones…”

Deek: Well, they’ve yet to fix the first one… so I suppose I can cross the ‘additional-squeak-bridge’ when I get to it.

Sorry, unproductive post… just felt like it needed to be said. Probably because I’m hungry, “ you wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.”

On 2011.09.01, I posted the following;

Deek: The dealer service manager just contacted me, he had a conversation with an engineer at Subaru. The engineer said he’s traced down these squeaks on other hatches, which have required more than one repair. It seems that one repaired squeak could bring another one into the light. I understand this, but assured him that the noise hasn’t changed as of yet. I let him know that it is still resonating from the same location and sounds identical.  Of course this doesn’t solidify any theory, I just wanted him to know those facts.

I also let him know that I understand his skepticism regarding the dampers. So we’re both pretty interested to see if the noise resurfaces once the new dampers are in.

The replacement visor clips and dampers aren’t in yet, he will call me when he gets them. Then we can install them and go on a test drive to see where we’re at.

Edit: I also received a voicemail from the SOA rep while I was in a meeting.  She was just following up with me to let me know that she received my voicemail.

On 2011.09.02, I posted the following;

Deek: The dealer service manager called me this morning saying that my dampers and visor clips came in today. We arranged for me to head to the dealer during lunch to get it all installed.

I stopped in at the arranged time, and he was waiting with the parts. We installed them and went on a test drive up some of the same crappy roads featured in the video, but not for nearly as long. Not a squeak was heard in the 30 minutes we were in the car.

To note: Even the new passenger side damper had more play than the driver side damper… which is consistent with the old dampers.

I will be driving around a bit this weekend, making sure that I cross the ‘sure-to-squeak’ bump that I drive over every day. He wants me to leave him a voicemail over the weekend if the squeak occurs, and we’ll touch base either way on Monday to stay on the same page.

At this point, it seems that one of two things could be true;
1) The damper was the culprit.
2) The new damper has more dampening force (see; not worn) and is preventing the squeak.

I’d be interested to have him keep the original damper around for a week or so (if possible, since it’s a warranty repair). If there are no squeaks after a week of driving with the new damper, we can put the old ones back on and see if it returns. He’s out to lunch now, so I left him a voicemail with this idea asking that he call me back with his thoughts.

On 2011.09.03, I replied to a post from an IWSTI.com member;

“Got any part #’s for the dampers? Would like to try this on mine.”

Deek: This is all I was able to come up with, unfortunately there is no part number listed;

AutoCenter.net – 2008-2010 Subaru Impreza WRX Liftgame Assembly

I have the FSM, but I can’t find anywhere that lists part numbers.

On 2011.09.06, I posted the following;

Deek: The dealer service manager called me this morning to check in, wondering if I heard anything over the past few days. I was happy to report that I didn’t hear anything, but did minimal driving this weekend.

I was in meetings this morning, so I forgot to discuss the potential of reinstalling the old dampers in a week or so to see if the noise resurfaces. I’ll call him later, after I’m caught up here with my tasks here at work. I’m quite alright with being a guinea-pig as long as I know we’re working towards a resolution, especially if there’s potential that this could help others as well.

Just to keep this updated… I put my interior plastics back in this weekend, using the foam I picked up from Lowes to help eliminate ticks & rattles. I might revisit some of the plastics with a different foam material though, at which point I’ll snap some pictures and include them in a post.

On 2011.09.12, I posted the following;

Deek: The SOA rep called me today to check in. She’s been in touch with the dealer service manager and the regional rep, and since I haven’t been in contact this week they’re all assuming that no news is good news.

I’m happy to report that so far I haven’t heard a squeak, but I did apologize for not keeping the communication with them as consistent has I have been. Last week was a very busy one at the office (this week is looking the same) and I’m recovering from a cold/flu thing.

I’m going to call the dealer service manager tomorrow to update him as well. I’ll also see how he feels about putting the old dampers on for a week to see if the squeak resurfaces, if he still has them.

On 2011.09.16, I posted the following;

Deek: Today I called the dealer and spoke to the service manager, just to let him know that things are looking (sounding) good so far… which means no squeaks.

We discussed the idea of putting the old dampers back in to see if the issue resurfaced but both decided we’d pass on that and, essentially leave well enough alone.

Seems this has been resolved, albeit with potentially excessive repairs and time/resources consumption. I’ll update the original post to reflect our final theory

6 thoughts to “2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STi Hatch – “theNoise” (Broken welds[?] = Squeak) *RESOLVED*”

  1. Man, I know I’m late but I started having this problem today. Super annoying especially when the car is only a year old. Very dumb questions but are the struts/damper that help the noise go away those lil suspension looking things that hold the hatch open. Super subby noob, forgive me.

    1. @Meeklo – Yes, those are what you’re looking for. You can just uninstall them, close the hatch and drive to see if your squeak goes away. If so, replace.

  2. I myself have an 08 sti, same sound. Learning from your situation I went straight to opening my hatch while moving. I could hear the sound with it closed while moving in my driveway and down the road, thought it was my foam pieces in the trunk with the spare tire. So I gutted it. Same sound. So I thought it was my strut towers or springs or something. I called Subaru yesterday after dealing with the sound for a few months and finally taking action. They said to bring it in for a test drive. I saw your forum after I called and this morning did some tests of my own. I can hear it when I pull in and out of my drive and any time the car is in motion, not when I jump up and down in my trunk. So I kept the hatch closed while moving and I heard the squeak/creaks. With it open, it’s gone!!! Tested it out a few times to make sure I wasn’t hearing anything. Also my dampers aren’t lifting the gate as easily so that could be another hint of the reason. Thanks deek for your posts, I would have probably been through the same thing. Long story short, it’s something on the hatch door not suspension or frame.

    1. @Alphonse – I’m glad to hear that this post was helpful. 🙂 Removing the hatch dampers is a “two-minute” job and something I’d suggest doing before going to the dealer. If you do this and find that the hatch dampers are the culprit, refrain from going in the dealer stating that you “know the issue” and telling them what they need to do to fix it. Just let them know you read of a similar issue from another owner, did some testing based on that and found that your car seems to be experiencing the same issue. Let them do whatever testing they want, but chances are they’ll be more than willing to replace your hatch struts under warranty (if you’re still covered) than start extensive and intrusive repairs… like welding. >.<

  3. Hey, I read through this entire thing because I’m dealing with a mystery squeak in my 08 sti as well. Just wondering if yours was more audable in or outside of the car? I watched the video but couldn’t really hear the noise. In my case it seems to be much louder outside the car (can hear it more with the windows open). Hoping its not the issue that you had! Thanks for documenting it all though.

    1. Interesting question Craig, I never thought to try to hear the sound outside of the car. Then again I’m not really sure how I’d be able to, it only happened while it was moving and hitting bumps. Go to the 10:30 mark in the video, the sound is most audible there. If you think you might have the same issue, try removing the rear hatch dampers and drive around for a few days to see if it persists. They’re only held on by a couple nuts and bolts. Good luck, and let me know how it all pans out.

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