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Subaru Forester Transmission Questions



  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    "... Typically you'll get slipping in the lower gears first. "

    My experience is that clutch slip is first evidenced in top gear when applying heavy throttle at highway speed, per this quote:

    "... When a clutch starts to slip, the slippage will be most noticeable when the engine is under load... in a high gear, when driving up a hill, when accelerating to pass another vehicle..."

    That is why clutch slip is also tested by using the top gear, per this quote:

    "... Depress the clutch pedal and put the transmission in fourth gear. Slowly let up on the clutch while stepping on the gas pedal. If you are able to completely release the clutch pedal without the engine stalling (or the car moving), your clutch is history..."
  • mortemorte Posts: 1
    I had the same "pause before shifting into drive "problem with my 1999 Subaru Forester (94,000 miles). I took the car to a transmission repair shop (Croteau's in Johnson City, NY) and they said it was "defective low clutch seals" which they replaced for a grand total of $1028.74.

    Here's the cost breakdown if you're considering having this repair done on your car: Labor ($690) + Parts ($262.54) + Tax ($76.20) = $1028.74

    The parts include: Gasket/Seal Kit ($196.55) + Internal Filter ($15.43) + Spin-On Filter ($10) + Transmission Fluid ($40.56) = $262.54

    The shop owner said that except for the seals, the transmission was in great shape. Furthermore, he said he has seen enough 1999 Subaru Foresters come in to his shop with this problem that he knew exactly what was going on as soon as I described the "pause before shifting into drive" problem to him over the phone.

    By the way, before I took my car to Croteau's, I called my local Subaru dealer. The Subaru dealer gave me the following quotes: $6000 to rebuild the transmission, or $4000 to replace the transmission with a new, remanufactured transmission, or $2200 to install a used transmission from a junk yard.

    Before Croteau's did any work on my car, they estimated that the replacement of the seals would cost about $1000. Or, in the worst case scenario, once they opened up the transmission and saw that it had to be rebuilt, they could rebuild it for about $2300. The $1028.74 I spent to replace the seals was a lot of money, but compared to the prices the Subaru dealer quoted, I'm not complaining.

    Based on my limited experience, my advice is: if your Forester goes in reverse with no problem, but hesitates when put in drive, it's probably the seals that need to be replaced. If you want to have the seals replaced, find a reputable transmission repair shop. Avoid the Subaru dealer and their outrageous prices.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I generally drive my cars hard so I will notice the slip in 1st and 2nd on hard starts from traffic lights or accelerating onto the highway. In 4th and 5th I am rarely mashing the pedal or really getting to higher RPMs, whereas I usually wind out 1st and 2nd more than 4th and 5th.

    The letting out the clutch slowly w/o giving it gas is also a proceedure I use as well.

    I have seen where a faulty master or slave cylinder has caused what appeared to be slippage in the non-turbo cars (RS most notably).

  • onoffroadonoffroad Posts: 17
    When I shift gears,the clutch makes a clump you can hear and feel ! Especially going in to 2nd and 3rd ! 08 Forester !
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaPosts: 1,583

    If the vehicle has reasonable wear, it sounds like brake master cylinder on its way out. Not a hugely expensive repair but necessary after about 80,000 miles if clutch has been heavily used.


  • Hi, sporadically the automatic transmission will not down shift while going up a grade or hill. There is also a sporadic issue with the check engine light going on. It seems that the transmission has downshifting issues when the check engine light is on. Sometimes the check engine light comes on at start up and other times it can come on while driving but it is not on all the time. Both issues are sporadic but atleast once a day.

    Can you offer any guidance?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Get a code reader.... It would pay for itself in no-time at all! If you can get the codes, you would have a much better idea of what is happening.
  • Just joining the forum. I see a bunch of people with same issue here and curious how much "time" I have left on my clutch, if that is indeed what's up. Just did the 4th gear start trick: she rolled forward about 1/2 way up the clutch and then started to stall, as one would expect so she's not totally toast yet. I'm having the infamous clutch shudder in 1st when starting out, much worse when going uphill than flat (obviously) AND she really hates to go into reverse (grinds and then drops in - I start the car AFTER she's in reverse now!). The rest of the gears are flawless. Is there a possibility it's something OTHER than a full clutch replacement that's needed????
    I just bought the car private party ($2000 so I'm not bitching- she's leather & loaded + the head gaskets, timing belt, etc done in the last 1000 miles) so I don't know what her history is but she rides GREAT other than the clutch issue. All help and ideas MUCH appreciated!!! :confuse:
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    How many miles on the clutch? Reverse is always an issue especially on the subies, but shouldn't be that bad to get into.

    Clutches go about 60-80k miles on the subies, so you are probably due.

    Subaru Guru and Track Instructor
  • Mileage on clutch - that's the "unknown". The car has 167k on it so sounds like she should be getting ready to get clutch #3. The fact that it passed the "4th gear test" seemed promising though. Any other signs of impending doom we should watch for or could it just give out at any time??? :mad:
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    I recommend, as a start, that you replace the transmission fluid in order to ascertain the condition of the fluid that is currently in there. That can tell you quite a bit about the condition of the gears inside.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    On any new-used car I do a complete 30k or 60k on it. Including replacing all fluids etc. This will give you a good baseline.

    Subaru Guru and Track Instructor
  • Thanks for the advice guys- will let you know how it goes. Discovering it shifts great when cold, only gets really bad after driving alot, especially if using reverse alot. We'll see. -J
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Great advice and I will repeat it...


    I bought an 8 year old Miata, and the seller gave me receipts for a 30k service that was just done.

    Changed the oil anyway - it was clear.

    Change the gear box/front diff oil - it was good.

    Flushed the brake fluid - it was still yellow.

    Then I went to change the rear diff - looked like melted chocolate! Yikes! The stuff was nasty, way WAAAAAY beyond the point where it should have been changed.

    You never know, even with written receipts, you just never know how old those fluids are.

    The clutch was hydraulic (brake fluid) and when I went to bleed that system it was also way past-due (brown). It ended up ruining the clutch slave cylinder, which I had to replace.

    Do not trust the first owner or even shop receipts.
  • fafordfaford Posts: 2
    The dealer tells me that the shudder in my wheel when I turn sharp left or right go forward or back is the result of the transfer clutch. They want to do an overhaul for about $2000. That is a lot of money!! Is that a fair price?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    That transfer clutch is buried in the transaxle housing, so there is a lot of labor involved just to access it, let alone replace it. I am not sure if the price is fair, but transmission rebuilds are usually in that ball park, and that is essentially what is required here.
  • Is this necessary? We have an '06 Subaru Forester with about 32k miles, and every time I take it to the dealer for service they try to convince me to do a transmission fluid flush for about $200. I said, "If the service chart does not call for it, I'm not doing it," and the service manager told me they "strongly recommend" it, even though the manufacturer does not call for it.

    Is this just a way of generating service center profit, or is it legit?

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Unless you burned the fluid (it will have a brownish color and smell "burnt") or are changing to a different fluid, such as changing to synthetic, etc., there is no reason to flush the fluid. Regular changes (drain/fill) are necessary, but your service schedule should specify the recommended intervals.

    It definitely generates profit for the service center....
  • What is the cost to replace a clutch on a 2002 Forester?
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