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subaru transmission problems

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  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited March 2010
    "... for a new Forester XT 2010… I am undecided between the manual and the automatic. I have heard the manual does not take good advantage of the torque available while the automatic does. But also heard the 4 speed automatic it’s an outdated transmission and does not offer good power ratios specially downhill.
    Any recommendations?"


    For very slow speed off-road, the manual does not have a low range like some 4WDs do. The automatic works better in these situations as it avoids abuse of the clutch. Serious off-road drivers prefer the automatic.

    The automatic with only 4-speeds is poorly matched to the torque of the engine for performance driving. The automatic downshifts at the least demand for power, and would do much better if it's ratios were spread over 5 gears. However the automatic is a very good match for the higher-torque turbo engine, as it does not need to downshift except when floored.
  • pfrommerpfrommer Posts: 1
    I've been having the same problem with my 99 Subaru Forester transmission for the past two summers . It only happens in the summer after the car has warmed up for a while. When I take it out of Drive (parking, etc.) and then want to resume going forward I have to sit there and rev the engine until the transmission catches. This leaves a smell of burning rubber.

    At my mechanic's suggestion I had him flush it too. That didn't work and he said I'd have to get a new transmission or get rid of the car. He said a fix or a new transmission was not practical because the replacement would eventually have the same problem..

    Has anyone found a solution? I was thinking about putting some thicker fluid in the transmission. What do you think about that? I don't have much to loose. Tnx, Karl
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    "... with my 99 Subaru Forester transmission... When I take it out of Drive (parking, etc.) and then want to resume going forward I have to sit there and rev the engine until the transmission catches. This leaves a smell of burning rubber. At my mechanic's suggestion I had him flush it too. That didn't work and he said I'd have to get a new transmission or get rid of the car. He said a fix or a new transmission was not practical because the replacement would eventually have the same problem..."

    While it is true that a rebuilt or remanufactured transmission will indeed fail eventually, that failure is many years and hundreds of thousands of miles down the road. If the rest of your Forester is good and you want to keep it, then it is practical and cost effective to repair or replace the transmission. The best transmission with the longest warranty is a remanufactured one from Subaru.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sounds like it could use a rebuild.

    It'll probably cost you what 6 car payments would cost, though, and you'll probably keep it a lot longer than 6 months!
  • quincy3quincy3 Posts: 1
    I have a 2003 Forester 2.5x with 151,000 miles. Yesterday my car started slipping into neutral while driving until it would not go into gear at all. It seemed to be leaking fluid as well. Today the mechanic said that the transmission pump inside the transmission went out. He recommends putting in a replacement transmissions rather than replacing the pump due to the mileage and not knowing if there was damage. Does this sound like a reasonable diagnosis and method of repair?
    Thanks for any help or suggestions.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    edited June 2010
    Unless the transmission shop is very good, and you are willing to pay for them to find and repair all the damage that high miles and low fluid might have caused, an exchange for a remanufactured transmission is best.
  • First off,I get in my friends forester and back out of driveway(facing up hill) and come to a complete stop and pull it into drive and release the brake pedal and apply no throttle and the unit starts rolling backwards.So I apply throttle and it seems to engage and slip momentarily before it grabs a hold and in a lunging fashion lurch forward(as you would expect when you engage drive @ 2800rpm's)it acts as if it could not engage or it slipped momentarily...So I start a new procedure unique to this vehicle of two footing it when I back out and am ready to go forward: back out pull down into drive left foot on brake,right on gas and gently make sure it is pulling forward before disengaging the brake...I can live with that,so can she...

    So we are heading to ride K-1 electric go carts from hell and I hop on the 210 with the unit in "D" and apply a little more throttle to merge w traffic and next thing it acts as if I went WOT spins up to 5K plus RPM and does not find a gear until I take foot off gas and re apply....

    I am very hesitant to recreat this scenario as it just plain does not seem healthy and or long term...

    Help...Any thoughts,suggestions,links,people with similar issues?

    Thanks for any replies!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Have you checked the fluid level or condition? It sounds like the system does not have adequate hydraulic pressure, but the cause is difficult to guess without further investigation.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    "... I get in my friends forester... and it seems to engage and slip momentarily before it grabs a hold and in a lunging fashion lurch forward... I hop on the 210 with the unit in "D" and apply a little more throttle to merge w traffic and next thing it acts as if I went WOT spins up to 5K plus RPM and does not find a gear until I take foot off gas and re apply...."
    Sounds like the transmission has lost a lot of fluid. Not good to drive it like that.
  • Just started problem. Subaru Outback 97 140,000 miles. Gearbox seems to change up but not down. If I go up the driveway in First it pulls OK but when I select 2nd gear it seems to go right to Top gear and engine rpm drops, will not pull. If I try to go up in D it seems to go right to top gear, same result. Engine runs great, accelerates and runs smoothly but cannot pull the car when in gear; it chugs and almost dies.
    On the flat it does not accelerate well, even if I try to change manually. It seems to go right to top gear. Can hold it in first, but cannot hold it in 2nd or 3rd gear.
    I have checked the fluid but it is hard to do; it does not show a positive level, but seems to be reading only the fluid in the filler pipe that is draining down, not a solid red fluid level like engine oil. I have put 3 quarts in already and it still does not show a solid color, although there is oil showing way above the top mark, with gaps in the oil as shown on the stick. I don't want to overfill it. No signs of any fluid leak externally and not long since I had it checked, but am not too confident in the shop that checked it, they screwed up a few things during the oil change and lube and could have missed this part.
    Do I check it when the engine is running?
    The car was bought used a month or two ago.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Yes, you should check it with the engine running, after engaging reverse and drive a couple times each. It will not be a perfectly clean dip, but it should show solid below the point where top of the fluid pool rests. What is the color of the fluid? Is it a bright red or a dull red / brown color?

    I agree with you on the vote of no-confidence in the shop. If they did not get an oil change right, don't trust them with anything else! There should be a good independent shop in the area that can properly diagnose your car.
  • The fluid level was fine...

    So I dropped the fluid and spun a new filter on and did not make a difference.So I went for the "strainer" inside the pan and it was a mess lots of little black debris that I could only describe as looking like abrasive clutch type material...This bebris had to have benn slowing the fluid flow at the least and I would guess even enough to cavitate the pump...Put it back together and still the same performance wise.She is just gonna baby it along... Any other input would be appreciated as I appreciate your previous comments...Good stuff,great resource this site is! Lawrence
  • Its a good color. I did drive it, and left it sit for hours, but the stick still does not give a good indication, there is fluid up to a point above the top mark, but it is not solid. There are gaps in the fluid. There is only a small part of the lower stick that shows a good color and I think that is because the fluid drained down while I was pulling the stick out. As if there was fluid all down the tube from when I filled it.
    I still have the problem, the engine rpm will drop and no amount of throttle will bring it up. As if the engine is losing power or the gear is too high. If I manually select first gear it runs OK, accelerates and the rpm goes up to 6000 or whatever, but when I move the lever to second gear or higher the rpm drops and the car stops accelerating, as if the gear is going to 4th immediately. Once or twice it stalled out going up the drive even with first gear selected so i am not sure of the problem. I hope it is fluid loss or low level of fluid but am afraid it is worse.
    No gear noises, and engine appears to be normal.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    "... Gearbox seems to change up but not down... I have checked the fluid but it is hard to do; it does not show a positive level, but seems to be reading only the fluid in the filler pipe that is draining down, not a solid red fluid level like engine oil. I have put 3 quarts in already and it still does not show a solid color, although there is oil showing way above the top mark, with gaps in the oil as shown on the stick..."

    Check after some driving to warm up the transmission. Park with engine running, shift through all the gears a few times, put in P and check the stick. The stick should show solid fluid.
    The transmission holds about 10 quarts, but a simple drain only removes just under 4 quarts. If your shop drained and forgot to refill the transmission, it could account for the poor shifting, and the fact that your adding 3 quarts did not show any solid fluid on the stick. The two marks on the stick are only about 1 pint apart, so if your transmission was still 1 quart low after you added fluid, solid fluid was still below the bottom of the stick.
  • I am thinking the problem is actually a blocked cat. The symptoms are similar to a problem I had last month with my Kia. They use the same source of gas and might have become contaminated the same way. I tried to get the cat off but could not, the nuts are way too tight for any tools I have. I also see 2 cats?
    I have towed the car to the shop and hope they can diagnose it better than I can.
  • A few people over the years have asked about upshift flare problems with the Forester. Mine occur on a 2001 Forester S when upshifting from 2 to 3 at hard acceleration (on ramp accel).

    Has anyone ever considered that it might be oxidized contacts on the shifter lever switch since it is an electronic not mechanical setup?
  • I like the "upshift flair" term...accurately descriptive imho.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    So, what exactly is upshift flare?
  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 683
    Is that reference to reving very briefly before the next gear engages? If so, the clutches won't like it!
  • Yes there is a spike in engine rpm when shifting from second gear to third gear with hard acceleration both when the gear selector is left in "D" or shifting the gear selector by hand from 2 to 3 during hard acceleration (on ramp getting on highway).

    In a purely mechanical transmission this usually occurs when there is a delay in the third gear band engaging after the second gear band has released.

    But the 2001 Forester Auto Tranny is computer controlled like many automatic transmissions nowadays. So it can be a computer glitch / bad software, oxidized contacts on the gear selector switch, sticky band apply solenoids, clogged / sticky accumulator valves, leaky servo pistons, etc.

    I have always heard a "clack" noise from my Forester transmissions when going from second to third gear. On my higher mileage one the engagement of third gear is rough when the tranny is cool, but smoothes out when it is warm or hot.

    Has anyone had any strange transmission behavior based on which brand of transmission fluid / oil they use ?
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