Craig Murto: Racing important to manufacturers

Motorsports are important to manufacturers, who often rely on motorsports involvement to provide a platform for their marketing.

We see that in NASCAR. Undoubtedly, Toyota will make use of the fact that Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing just gave the manufacturer its first Sprint Cup title. Ford and Chevrolet have made use of their NASCAR involvement for years.
Motorcycle manufacturers do the same thing. Watch any Supercross race on TV and see how many manufacturers use the top riders and their on-track in their advertising campaigns.

Subaru promoted the fact that it is involved in Rally and Rallycross worldwide. In fact, not only does the compant have Bucky Lasek as one of its drivers on the Global Rallycross team, it also has popular Travis Pastrana on its rally team.
But if a motorsports campaign is to be successful, the manufacturer had better offer a topnotch product, as well as superb customer service.

Here’s a tip for my readers: If you have a Subaru, call your dealer and find out if yours is one that has a problem with the fuel latch opening.

On Sunday, I went to fill the tank of my 2015 Legacy, but the fuel latch wouldn’t open. By myself, there was no way to be both inside the car pulling the lever and outside the car prying the hatch open with something that wouldn’t damage the paint. Luckily I had just enough fuel left to get the car to the dealership on Monday.

The thing that bothers me – and makes me feel obliged to alert readers – is that Subaru referred to the issue as a “known problem” Subaru corporate knows that this issue occurs. I was told to bring the car in on Monday for a “temporary” fix, they’d order the part I need and then I can bring the car back in for the permanent fix.

The questions nobody wanted to answer for me is, “Why did you not alert me to this ‘known problem’ when I had the car in for routine service? Why did you not offer to make this repair until the problem occurred?”

If this had happened to me in the middle of nowhere as I drove home from a race in Indiana, I would have been much more than annoyed. Can you imagine being stranded with an empty gas tank in the middle of the mountains of Pennsylvania? Nothing against Pennsylvania, mind you, but I’d rather visit on my terms.

It’s not a cable issue; the release cable in the trunk that hides behind the molding will not help. It’s an actual problem with the latch release, one that doesn’t allow the door to spring open.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my Subarus. We have two of them; they’re very safe cars and get good mileage. Plus the all-wheel drive comes in handy when it snows.
But if you own a newer model Subaru, you’d be best advised to call the dealership and find out if you have one that has a “known problem” with the fuel door latch mechanism. And if the answer is affirmative, arrange to have it fixed; you don’t want to be stuck somewhere with an empty tank of gas. I think if you scratch or dent the car trying to get the latch open, that’ll be your responsibility, so get the latch repaired before you have to improvise.

I’m glad Subaru is involved in motorsports. Its all-wheel-drive cars are wonderful; I have two of them. But just as Subaru would never allow its rally teams to hit the track in cars that have a “known problem” for which there is a fix, it certainly shouldn’t allow paying customers to drive cars that have a problem, either.

Hopefully you won’t have a problem filling your tank if you’re headed to Allentown, Pennsylvania, for Saturday night’s indoor TQ Midgets races. What better way to start the year than to attend a race?

There are expected to be 80 teams or more at the PPL Center in Allentown, where a specially constructed track is prepared to see if 50-year-old USAC star Russ Gamester can repeat following his indoor win at Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The Allentown race is the first of three events in the Indoor Auto Racing Championship Series. Racing in Atlantic City and Trenton, New Jersey, complete the schedule. Past winners include well-known short track racers Ted Christopher, Lou Cicconi Jr., Andy Jankowiak and Joey Payne.

Tickets for the Allentown race are available exclusively through PPL Center (in person or online), or by phone at 610-347-TIXX.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.