All Wheel Drive Auto: Independent Seattle Subaru Service


Why Its Not Just an Air Filter To Your Subaru

Pictured below is the air filter installed recently by a well known oil change establishment vs the type we would use here at the shop.

Subaru Air Filter

Subaru Air Filter

You can see the filter on the right has had a major malfunction stemming from a poor design and second from lazy, or non professional installation.  Notice the filter on the left has a cage all around it preventing the filter from becoming collapsed where the one on the right only ha reinforcement on two edges.   Now had the filter been installed properly it would have taken until the filter was restricted for this to happen, but it is something we see all too often.

Its important to understand that with something as simple as an air filter there are very significant differences in the quality of the parts.  The worst thing here was the customer actually paid $7.34 above the MSRP for the Factory Subaru Filter at the lube center, which is exactly how that lube center makes their profit margins, they offer a inexpensive oil change and give you a presentation of all these things your Subaru needs if they can add a few filters and services here and there they are having a good day, as the parts and labor they use are at the very low end of the spectrum in terms of quality of components used and the skill of the individual putting it in.  I know an air filter should be pretty easy, but ask yourself how many high school students can do it the first try without issue. Chances are at a lube center your car may be the first one that individual has ever seen let alone service, as they work on Audi, Volkswagen and all the cars in between. Is that who you deserve to have service your vehicle for approximately the same overall cost as a good repair shop.

One of my favorite scenarios to point out is there are a lot of shops out there charging the same as we do, with no where even close to the level of experience we have with your Subaru in many cases much much more.  If a Good reputable independent shop in your part of town is 5 or 6 dollars higher for an oil change than the “high school lube shop” do not be fooled into thinking the service will be the same.   Most good independents have the same Technician capable of replacing your Head gaskets, or diagnosing a difficult drivability problem also change your oil.

There are plenty of places to clip coupons, and I think saving money is great myself, but deciding where to buy your next pair of shoes based on the price for the exact same pair of Nike’s from store A or B is nothing like saving a little on an oil change as the real cost can be to great and you may end up driving your new Nike’s instead.

What prompted me to post this today is in terms of what happened to this Subaru, the end result was pretty significant and completely avoidable.

Thanks for Reading



6 Responses

  1. I’m not sure my comments are getting to you, is there a better way to contact you? I need to get a new air filter soon and I’d love to know your opinion on buying after market air filters. My previous comment may have been flagged as spam since it linked to a specific product? So I won’t mention any, but there is a very well customer-rated filter on a very popular retailer’s website. Some who have reviewed it actually feel a performance increase over the Subaru part. What’s your advice on the matter?

    1. All comments have to be moderated or else there would be more spam and profanity than anyone would ever care to read. I took a little time off so I am waaaaay behind.

      The AEM filter is suitable to use but I wouldn’t really expect any major changes. the car will be slightly loader and sometimes that’s misinterpreted as a performance increase.


      1. Hmmm… No, I’m actually in the camp that would love more power (I’m used to a V6), but really don’t like the noise that’s already generated by the Forester (I’m used to mid-size cars).

        So, you’ve changed my question… Is there an air filter (or any other repairs) that would help make the vehicle quieter (without losing performance)?

        1. Clark,

          There is nothing you can do to a N/A engine to increase power, its all snake oil..

          Are you referring to engine noise or road noise? Either way you can install sound deadening material to quiet things down.

          There is no air filter that will make up for increased road noise or engine compartment noise either, sorry.


  2. last year i purchased a used 2005 Impreza RS. a wonderful car. the first owner installed a cold air intake and took exceptional care of the car. the second owner did not like the extra noise of the aftermarket intake, and did not properly install the stock intake. instead, he removed the cold air intake by stabbing a hole in the plastic inside the fender in front of the tire, removing the filter there, and removing the tubing through the opening (stock) in the car fender. however, he installed the stock system without the large piece that fits in the fender and the bumper. So, when driven in the rain, water vapor would make its way through the hole in the fender that the guy made, and would get sucked into the air filter on the half installed system. upon my first inspection of the filter, i was horrified. the filter had clearly taken on lots of water vapor. (looked like your picture) i decided to reinstall the aftermarket (injen) intake, however in the ram air set up, that is working much better, and i feel is better protected than the half installed stock system, and the cold air setup. i also sealed the holes in the fender so that no water vapor could work its way near the intake. i have had no problems with the ram intake set up.

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