March 28

2013 Subaru Crosstrek – B Service – Wiper Motor Replacement



Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 24 time winners. Best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. We're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing well. 

Mark: So today's victim is a 2013 Subaru Crosstek, Crosstrek pardon me. And there was some issues kind of plethora of issues. You were doing an inspection. What was going on with this Subaru? 

Bernie: Yeah. The car was brought in originally due for a B service. So a full inspection, an oil change and the client's main concern was that the wipers weren't working properly. Either too slow or they were only working on one speed. I can't remember the exact issue, but there was something going on with the wipers. That was the main concern. 

Mark: And when you did the inspection, you found some other things? 

Bernie: We did. So basically we like to start off everything with a good inspection, like for an A service it's a basic inspection, B service we get thorough. We look at the steering suspension, long road test, pull the wheels off, look at the brakes, rotate the tires, if needed. And and a number of other items that we look at in greater detail. So we did find a few things with this vehicle that were recommended, not severe, but certainly recommended to do.

And I'll just go right into a screen-share. We'll look at a picture of the inspection right now. I've got my glasses on because it's getting harder to see as I get older, all the details on the screen here. So here you can see a picture, this is the sort of main screen of the inspection that we send off to our client and I've hidden the name and client's details, but you can see that the mileage of the vehicle on the left side and then a list of items.

2013 Subaru Crosstrek - B Service - Wiper Motor Replacement

Reds, oranges and greens. And of course the colours are significant in terms of the red indicate problems that are fairly severe; orange items are recommended items. Not desperately needed, but should be done pretty soon or at least kept an eye on. And then the green items are items that are okay.

I haven't expanded those, but in this case, we can see the license plate light bulbs needed to be replaced, but all the other lights are okay. So they're in the good list and there's obviously a number of other items, but the items of concern, of course, the the wiper linkage concern.

And this little paper clip here indicates there's some notes or pictures about it. Windshield's cracked. The road test there's a suspension clunk. Few other items that we noted and getting into our next picture, so when you received this inspection, you can actually click on it. The client can click on it and look at details where the technician has made some notes of items. Things like spark plugs, you know, check records and maintenance. So between our service team will look and see, have the spark plugs been done, talk to the client, see if it's due at that mileage. And 145 K's it's about the right mileage to do spark plugs. And we did actually in fact, do them on the service. Other pictures let's get into the details.

2013 Subaru Crosstrek - B Service - Wiper Motor Replacement

So as I mentioned, if you click on these paper clips, you can get into details. So this was all at the ball joints, noticeable play in driver's side, lower ball joint. Here's a the control arm bushing had a crack in it. You can see a picture of the crack with the arrow points to the crack and the bushing. So that's worn. Clients made a note, noise on road test. 

So front struts, may just have been the lower ball joint. So that was sort of the first recommended repair. And then there's a very slight oil weep coming from the timing chain cover, but something we just suggested to keep an eye on for the time being. So we over the details with the client. And then from there we can recommend what repairs are needed. So that's kind of where everything starts. Starts with the inspection. 

Mark: So basically it's a checklist that you follow when you're inspecting everything. You take pictures once it's all done, you send this to the client, it's mobile optimized as well. So it's actually really easy to look at on your phone as well as on a desktop. All the pictures expand, you can see in detail what you guys might be recommending or suggesting that could wait. Is that fair enough to summarize? 

Bernie: Yeah. Works really nice on your smartphone, shows up well on a computer screen. We can also attach an estimate to it. And in this case depending on how we do it, we did actually attach an estimate for all the work that we thought was most important. And then you can actually click on it and approve it. You don't even have to call us if you're the kind of person who doesn't really want to do a lot of phone calls, you just look and go, yeah that sounds right. Do it. Click. Or you can approve the items you want. You can choose the items you want to, Say, you know what, I don't want to do the spark plugs today, but let's just do the ball joints in the control arm bushings. And you can just click on that kind of thing. So you can approve what you want without even calling us. If you're so inclined. Everyone's different. A lot of people like to talk. Other people, just look at it and go okay, it's all good. 

So that's where it kind of began. And as we noted, the red concerns were a crack in the windshield and the wipers weren't working. And we had to do a separate diagnostic on that. What we ended up finding was the wiper motor itself was not functioning properly. It was weak, so that needed to be replaced. 

Mark: So how did that motor replacement go? 

Bernie: So that was an interesting job. Let me just get into a picture here. There's the wiper linkage. There's the motor. You know, part of the diagnostic, of course the wipers were actually working very slowly. They wouldn't move properly. So our technician Ed, figured it could be the linkage with seized up.

2013 Subaru Crosstrek - B Service - Wiper Motor Replacement

So he ended up taking the linkage out, taking it apart and, and testing it. And you know, just seeing how everything moved and linkage moved fine. So, the motor seem to be the issue. We ordered an aftermarket wiper motor because the actual wiper from Subaru came complete linkage and motor. It was very expensive.

Put an aftermarket motor in. The first one we got didn't work very well. I can't remember exact detail, but that didn't work properly. So we ordered another one from another supplier. Get another aftermarket motor, reasonable price, put it all in worked fine except the motor was very noisy and not satisfactory.

I mean, the last thing you want is a wiper motor that does grrr, grrr, you know, it's just irritating having noisy wipers. So that wasn't an adequate solution. So at the end of the day, we had to go with the Subaru factory wiper motor, which comes with new linkage. Substantially more money than buying it the other way.

But when we put it all in and worked perfectly. Nice and quiet. We do like to go with the better priced options when we can. But unfortunately, sometimes it ended up being a waste of time for us and took a little longer to get the car back to the client. But, you know, we do try to save money when we can, and sometimes it isn't quite so successful. So that's how the wiper issue went. 

Mark: And so for the suspension repairs, you mentioned the ball joints. What all did you have to change? Did you have to just replace the control arms or was it a thorough job than that or an intensive job?

Bernie: So it's either change control arm or change the actual worn pieces. And often we will just change the control arm and it depends on the vehicle. Certain vehicles, you can only buy a control arm. So I'll say the bushings are worn or the ball joints worn, you have to buy a complete control arm. In the case of Subaru, all the parts are available separate. And we weren't able to source any control arms.

There's been supply chain issues with certain parts and things. And so I'm thinking we were only able to buy the bushings and the ball joint. So we just replaced those separately. So, you know, I like the idea doing control arms. It sometimes cost more, sometimes less because it's more labour to change out individual parts. But with the control arm, you get the complete piece, but either way the worn parts were replaced. 

At the end of the day, the job's the same. A control arm is just a piece of metal anyways, that unless you've bend it, it will normally last a very long time. So we do it either way and we price out and do the best option based on price and what you're getting for value.

Mark: And did you have a picture there of spark plugs?

Bernie: Yeah, there was another couple of items that we'd recommended and we'll just have a quick look at some spark plugs which are right here. So yeah, this is a picture of the old spark plugs we took out. So these would be the original spark plugs on this engine.

2013 Subaru Crosstrek - B Service - Wiper Motor Replacement

I mean, spark plugs last a long time. I've been in the auto repair business for a long time. And I know you and I are about the same age, you know that back in the day, spark plugs would often last only a year and you'd have to change them. But nowadays, they last a very long time and this car is what, 2013. And so it's almost 10 years old now. These spark plugs are still firing away. 

You can tell they're worn, with that sort of, I'll call it rusty colour, but think, you know, this is like a slight bit of combustion gas leakage. It seeps past the porcelain insulator. Not really a problem, but it does indicate the age of the spark plugs. But we did replace the spark plugs based on mileage. We also did a motor vac fuel injection cleaning, which just helps you know, remove carbon deposits from the engine, clean the fuel injectors. And it does make the engine run a whole lot better.

So those were a couple of the other orange items we had on the list that the client wanted to do at the same time. 

Mark: So I imagine the vehicle was running one heck of a lot better once you were all done with all that. 

Bernie: Yeah, it was good. The suspension clunks are gone. The wipers are working fine. The spark plugs worked great. And during the same week, we did this service, we just did this last week. We had another Subaru that came in and this person who had been in a couple of years ago and we'd recommended a bunch of items, they deferred to do the work and then brought it in again, there was a couple of issues going on with the car, did another inspection on it.

And there was so much wrong with it. Not only the deferred work, but a number of other items had come into needing to be replaced. It was about $7,000 worth of work on a twelve-year-old 11, 12 year old Subaru. I mean, it may have been worth doing, but at that point you go, well, I don't know if I want to spend $7,000 on an old car, so it's better to do things in bits and pieces and spend, 2, $3,000 once in a while, get the car back in shape and you you'll get way more life out of it.

So this other car, unfortunately, is probably just going to be sold off. And, you know, if they'd spend a little bit of money over the years, they would have had a car that was still functional. Now they're faced with taking a pretty good car and having to replace it. 

Mark: Well mentioning that, how our Subaru Crosstreks for reliability?

Bernie: Yeah, they're great cars. You know, we work on a lot of them. Not a lot of problems. You know, and they're less maintenance, this is a newer generation where they have timing chains as opposed to timing belts. So you don't have to do that service, which is usually a $1,500 plus service to do it properly. Plus the head gasket leaks that were common on the other 2.5 litre timing belt engines, don't seem to occur in these engines. We've never done a head gasket yet on one, and we've seen some that are well over the mileage that would happen on the older 2.5. So it's definitely a better engine.

We have noted there's an oil leak seep developing from the timing cover. We've repaired a couple of those in the past, but other than that, it's a good car. Good engine. Highly recommend it. 

Mark: If you're looking for service for your Subaru in Vancouver, BC, Canada, you can call Pawlik Automotive or book online at If you want to talk to someone, call (604) 327-7112. I will warn you they're busy, but they will get back to you. If they're too busy to answer the phone, it does happen rarely, but it does happen. As well, of course you can book the easy way online. They will call you back. They will check on what's actually going on and investigate it over the phone with you and kind of get ready for when you come in for your appointment. You have to call or book ahead. They're busy. They're generally booked up into the next week, at least if not more. So Pawlik Automotive. is the website, hundreds, hundreds, and hundreds, close to a thousand videos in all types and makes and models and services. And we've been doing this for 10 years. We got a long history and a great library of repairs.

You can watch stuff that will put you to sleep amazingly well. We really appreciate you listening to the podcast, watching the podcast. We enjoy that a lot. And thanks Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thank you for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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