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Subaru Legacy/Outback



  • bbrandlebbrandle Posts: 6
    My wife's '01 Outback LTD has a problem as the clutch engages first gear from a standing start. It seems like the clutch skips and the car shudders as the clutch is let out. This seems to happen mostly in first gear, particularly when the engine is cold. I have noticed it happen in second gear as well (though not as pronounced). When I took the car to the dealer for the 7,500 mile service I noted to the service technician and he said that it could be that the clutch fluid was low and thus causing the problem.

    I drove it again last night and am sure this is a problem that is growing in nature. Is the clutch fried or malfunctioning? Every car I've owned has had a manual and none of them has ever had this type of problem. My 2000 VW Passat (which my wife drove for the first year of its life) has had no problems at all even though I drive it more agressively. Any ideas? Thanks.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You are describing a symptom of the relatively weak pressure plate in Subie clutches.

    Try Colin's suggestion: give it only a little gas, 1200rpm, and release the clutch pedal slowly. Wait until it's creeping forward and the clutch is completely released before giving it more gas.

    You should be able to get a smooth take off. If it gets worse I'd have your dealer look at it.

  • revkarevka Posts: 1,750
    Hi Folks - Interesting Town Hall Subaru chat, this evening (18 April), for both Subaru and non-Subaru owners. Rick Rhoades, Subaru of America Technical Service Instructor, and Pete Eike, Subaru National Fixed Operations Training Manager will discuss all aspects of maintaining your vehicle, including which areas need attention prior to making those long trips.

    If you are around at 6-7 pm Pacific Time or 9-10 ET please join us. And don't forget to fill out the interesting survey in the Chat area as well. Here's the link:


    Hatchbacks & Station Wagons Boards
  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Posts: 464
    There are a few of us that have frequently posted about this (you may try the search of previous posts here) and so far there is no resolution to this problem, aside from altering your driving style. My 01 OB has had a horrible shudder in 1st/2nd gear since the car was new, and I now have 26K miles on the car. The dealer says it's normal due to the "kevlar disc" used in the clutch and that I should not worry. Hogwash, for sure, but that's the line. The car shakes so bad sometimes it sounds like the rear hatch is going to shake open.

    I have really been able to lessen the frequency of the "problem" by using the clutch much more aggresively than I normally would -- that is, launching the car in 1st with at least, **at least** 1200-1500 rpms on the dial (sometimes more if it's a really cold takeoff) and leaving it in 1st when I'm stopped at lights (rather than neutral). It seems to help immensely, compared to my previous style of launching the car with the absolute minimum about of rev's (1000 or less). Try it, see if it helps. Or call 1-800-subaru3 and get a case file going...

    Good luck.
  • bat1161bat1161 Posts: 1,784
    I believe I may have asked this once before, but since I can't seem to recall the answers, I will ask again. I appreciate your indulgence.

    Has anyone put skidplates on their Subaru? I am considering the ones from Primitive Enterprises. I am curious how hard are they to mount, and do they have to be removed each time for service. I know Paul at Primitive wrote and told me they go on relatively easy, but I was looking for some one with real time input. I am considering the skidplates for times such as the Pine Barren runs, or driving on gravelly roads. I don't do it as often as I would like, but I'm wondering if it's worth the investment of $260 (with S/H).

    Thanks again for the help.

  • dreamondreamon Posts: 2
    I just posted a message in another category describing a similar problem. In my case, I have a 1995 Legacy Wagon that needed a new clutch at around 190,000 miles. It was running fine again until recently (it now as 201,000 miles) when a shuddering/shaking began occurring going into 1st and 2nd gear. The problem is less severe after the car has been running a while. I, too, am wondering what could be casuing the problem.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Mark: got a link handy? Someone in the Forester thread was asking for it.

    190k on the original clutch? I'll have one of those!

  • peterson10peterson10 Posts: 116
    RPMs: My 2000 OB (5MT) turns about 3200 rpms at 70 mph. My 2002 Forester (also 5MT) turns at only 2800. The Forester is lighter, but the Outback is (presumably) more aerodynamic. So, although I have no factual basis for this assumption, I assume the Forester and OB have different gear ratios. I would love that 6th gear to drop my cruising revs, but I suspect the engine can take the workout as is.

    Clutch: I won't rehash the whole thing here, but with my OB (much more so than with the Forester), I get the best starts with the revs between 1800 and 2000 at the point of pick-up, that is, when the clutch fully engages and starts pulling the car forward. I've owned cars that could start in second gear with only 1000 rpms, but the OB just isn't designed for that. Consider how easily your OB can get moving in reverse; does the clutch chatter when backing up? With mine I need NO gas and the clutch never slips; so I assume its all about gear ratios. If the 1200 rpm soft-start that was mentioned previously doesn't help, try it with around 1900. I try to let the pedal out as quickly as possible, without bucking the clutch, so as to reduce the wear. I see people around town slip their clutches at low rpms for several seconds at a time. They may think they're being easy on the clutch, but I suspect otherwise. Anyway you can get a smooth start up without undue clutch wear is the way to go.
  • bat1161bat1161 Posts: 1,784

    Here's the link to Paul's site.

    He also has a lots of add-ons for different model Subies.


  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Maybe the gear boxes are different. I can't find any other way to explain it.

    Thanks Mark, I'll share it with them.

  • Add me to the clutch shuddering club...
    2000 Outback Limited Wagon, 32,xxx miles

    It's most pronounced in 1st gear when the engine is cold, like most people have said. We've had it back to the dealer 3-4 times for a check, but they always say they can't duplicate the problem.

    Like bbrandle from this morning's post, we've always had manual transmissions and haven't had any trouble, so I doubt it's our driving. Our other car ('98 Passat GLX 5-speed) has no problem either.

  • web3web3 Posts: 10
    Add us to the list of chattering clutch owners. We have an '02 OB Limited with 7700 miles. The clutch chatters intermittently in 1st when cold. We have had Honda sticks for years so I don't think it is bad driving habits. It seems like there are enough owners with this problem to warrant a response from the factory.
  • subaru_teamsubaru_team Posts: 1,676
    Hi all! FYI - if there is a characteristic of the car that you do not like, I'd like to recommend that you follow the steps indicated above:

    Notify your dealer and let them test drive and check out the car to confirm the condition.

    If you are not satisfied with the explanation you receive, please contact us at 1-800-SUBARU3. The Representative will create a case file documenting your displeasure.

    We report all customer commentary to various folks around SOA. FHI will often try to find a countermeasure to improve the characteristic, but it can take a bit for them to gather enough data. It's still worth the effort because we take the comments seriously.


  • lateralglateralg Posts: 929
    The dealer in Ann Arbor, Michigan is offering the base Outback at 5% over invoice. Edmund's TMV indicates 2% over.

    Doeas anyone have a recommended strategy for this deal?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Do you have other dealers near you? Try an e-mail request for quotes, or check the papers for any dealers that have a no-haggle policy.

    5% over is IMO way, way high. Outbacks have a $500 dealer incentive, so you should see prices below the invoice price, not above it. is in MD but check them out for comparison's sake.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    If you get the skid plates from primitive, we can put it on @ a Install-fest at my house. I want to have one soon to put in my PS pump and lines and Bedabi has some stuff to install etc.

  • eric102eric102 Posts: 122
    Go to and get their price, then subtract $300-$500 (their fee) to get a price that you should be able to negotiate. Right now in my region (Seattle area) you can get an Outback for invoice through, so I would be able to get one for about $400 under invoice. CarsDirect notes that there is a manufacture to dealer incentive going on now, they don't say how much, but it must be at least $500.

  • jeijei Posts: 143
    Does the front skidplate have to be removed for oil changes? Does it depend on the model?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    From the photos it looks like there are two sections that are plastic or rubber and pop off. I'm sure they are for accessing the drain plug and the oil filter. At least they seem to be in the vicinity.

  • bat1161bat1161 Posts: 1,784
    Paul does say on his website that you can do the oil change with the skid plate still on. That is one of the things I was hoping to confirm here from anyone who has them.

    Mike- Still not sure, but I will decide by this weekend. If I do go for them, an install-fest sounds good to me.

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