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Subaru Legacy/Outback Transmission Problems

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  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 683

    The new 3.6R Outbacks will have the CVT transmission, not the five speed auto with issues. The CVT solves the problems.

  • what about jrb123's CVT tranny issues on his '14 Outback?

  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    edited March 25

    @bcampbell001 said: what about jrb123's CVT tranny issues on his '14 Outback?

    Actually, the description by jrb123 sounds like 'normal' cold-temp operation. The CVT will force the engine to stay near 2000 RPM until FULLY warmed up. (purposefully stay in lower gearing) Some folks have reported this CVT behavior continues for some time even after the blue 'cold engine' lite extinguishes.

    I have noticed my subie behaving in this way for many miles of driving after a cold start and am not concerned at all about it. After fully warming up, the CVT shifts to high gear normally.

    Thru experimentation, some Subie CVT drivers have determined that this behavior can be circumvented by moving the lever to 'manual' mode, turning off the blower, or turning the heater down. Some people think the onboard computer is trying to protect the transmission. Other folks think that emission-controls are trying get the engine up-to-temp as fast as possible.

    I know on my manual transmission vehicles, I never EVER use high-gear until the engine-temp guage is fully up to normal operating point. In my mind, the CVT is emulating a properly-driven manual transmission.

    Of course, jrb123 does not describe the specific conditions under which he encounters this CVT behavior so we cannot make conclusive determination if his is a real problem.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391

    Good point, peebles.

    People need to realize that a CVT is not the same device as a TCT (torque converter transmission). They perform the same task, but they do it differently. Expecting a vehicle to behave exactly the same way with both transmission types is like sitting in a car with a manual transmission without a gear selected, hitting the accelerator, and expecting it will go: You're bound for disappointment!

    A problem is most likely present if, after developing expectations through experience, your vehicle behaves differently than it has in the past.

  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 40,017

    Sounds like learning to drive a CVT is a bit akin to learning how to use ABS brakes.

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  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085

    I am still learning how to drive a CVT. Since the programming leans towards maximizing MPG, I find it tricky to maintain constant roadspeed on undulating roads (virtually every Vermont road). The slightest rise in the road is detected and it downshifts and slows down... then, when the road heads downhill, the speed gets away from me.

    Back in my MANUAL transmission, on the very same roads, (and same engine!), I can maintain roadspeed within 2 MPH without ever looking at the speedometer.

    I think some of it is the SOUND of the engine. Obviously with the manual xmission, it is perfectly linear with roadspeed. With the CVT, the engine-sound has absolutely no correlation to the roadspeed.

  • baldy1232baldy1232 Posts: 1

    I have a 2002 Subaru Legacy GT /w a manual transmission that over the past month has started to show a slight and now more pronounced clicking noise.

    1. The noise itself is best described as a slight ticking sound, kinda of like when we used to put baseball cards in the spokes of our bicycle wheels. The ticking speeds up and slows with the speed of the car.

    2. This noise is coming from the center of the engine bay (not either side) and I have checked the boots on the CV joints, so I am going to rule that out.

    3. The noise only appears when I am accelerating, and is especially noticeable in 1st gear at slow speeds and accelerating out of a stop. I suspect the noise is still there at higher speeds, but is drowned out by engine and road noise.

    4. The noise does NOT appear when simply revving the engine RPM's with the clutch in.

    5. The gear oil was low and has been filled.

    I cannot figure out the problem

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391

    I suspect a bearing. You say that it is not coming from either side, yet it does not appear to be (from your description) something you can replicate when the vehicle is not in motion?

    If it really is mid-vehicle, then your rear drive shaft carrier may be the culprit. Otherwise, it could be a wheel bearing. If it is a bearing in the drive shaft (or even in the transmission housing), they do tend to make more noise when in high-torque situations.

  • jrb123jrb123 Posts: 2

    @bpeebles said: Of course, jrb123 does not describe the specific conditions under which he encounters this CVT behavior so we cannot make conclusive determination if his is a real problem.

    @bpeebles, I appreciate the info. The behavior has mostly disappeared with warmer weather. My commute to work is only 4 miles so perhaps the engine would not be totally warmed up by the time I arrived this winter. But it sometimes performed that way (running at over 22,000 rpms) for as long as 45 minutes on longer trips...or it would be working fine but after a stop light, would start the revving-up process again. The behavior was pretty erratic so I couldn't pin it on a specific circumstance. The Legacy that we traded in for this Outback also had a CVT and it never had this problem. I guess my biggest gripe is the poor gas mileage (which doesn't come close to what is listed on the sticker, city or highway) and I can't help but think that the revving engine business has something to do with it. We like the Subaru brand (this is our 3rd) but probably wouldn't have purchased this one knowing how bad the mpg was going to be--we trusted the sticker and the dealer claims!

  • jfljfl Posts: 1,346

    jrb123 - Re mpg: Your 4 mile commute doesn't give the engine enough time to warm up, so few gas/diesel powered cars would give you good mpg. The engine never gets to the point of being really efficient.

  • jwohlfjwohlf Posts: 1

    @bpeebles said: I am still learning how to drive a CVT. Since the programming leans towards maximizing MPG, I find it tricky to maintain constant roadspeed on undulating roads (virtually every Vermont road). The slightest rise in the road is detected and it downshifts and slows down... then, when the road heads downhill, the speed gets away from me.

    Back in my MANUAL transmission, on the very same roads, (and same engine!), I can maintain roadspeed within 2 MPH without ever looking at the speedometer.

    I think some of it is the SOUND of the engine. Obviously with the manual xmission, it is perfectly linear with roadspeed. With the CVT, the engine-sound has absolutely no correlation to the roadspeed.

    @bpeebles‌ You seem to be quite knowledgeable about CVT. I just bought a 2014 Outback. I have noticed (intermittently) that the car seems to shake/studder around 20mph. I have driven a manual trans in the past and that used to happen with that vehicle if I shifted to quickly (or not smoothly enough) into 2nd. I do notice that this tends to happen first thing in the morning or after the car has been sitting for a while. BUT -- this is summer (Maryland). Do I really need to warm up my car for 5+ minutes every day? Won't that mess with my mileage? I don't have a temp gauge on my dash, just a blue light comes on when I start the car. I warm it up enough for the revving to go down on its own to 1000.... I have an appt with my dealer, but I have little confidence in them right now... Do you think it is as simple as it needing to warm up even in the summer? I figured with a 2014 car, I could drive it as soon as it started - I thought new technology made the idea of warming up a car obsolete. Am I wrong? (I don't know much about cars, obviously!) Thanks for any help!!

  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085

    All you have to do is start the engine and drive it gently until the blue lite goes out. The computer will properly manage engine RPM (keep RPM a tad higher during warmup)

    If you feel that there is something amiss with the way it drives, perhaps there is a something to it and your dealer may find it.

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