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Subaru Forrester clutch problems

dbrown15dbrown15 Member Posts: 3
edited March 2014 in Subaru
I have a 2000 model year Subaru Forester. Approx.
4 months ago I started to notice a slight burning
smell when pulling up onto a curb or reversing on
hilly San Francisco streets. I took it back to the
local dealer twice who claimed they could not
locate the smell. They added that it was probably
some 'coating' burning off as the car was
relatively new. I finally demonstrated the smell
and then told me not to drive the car in the way I
described. Du!

I took it to another dealer who rebuilt and
replaced the clutch. The problem is now much worse
and the burning smell is very noticeable when
reversing on level ground. The second dealer is now
reluctant to do any more work as their Technical
Manager told them they should not have replaced
the clutch in the first place!

Anyone have any info on this. I am seriously
thinking of invoking the Cal. Lemon Law as this car
is less than 12 months old.


  • pat455pat455 Member Posts: 603
    We have a topic where we are discussing Clutch Questions (Topic #170) that may have some helpful information for you. Or if it doesn't, it is a great place to ask this question.

    If you are interested, you can get a list of the lemon law topics in Town Hall by keying lemon law into the the Topic Search feature on the left side of the page.

    Good luck and welcome to Town Hall.

    Community Leader/Maintenance & Repair Conference
  • tomsrtomsr Member Posts: 325
    I had a 96 Outback and towed a wavewrunner with it. When pulling out of the surf or up a boat ramp
    if I gave it too much throttle I could smell the
    clutch burning.The trick was this engine has a
    very broad torque curve so you don't need to
    rev the engine hard to get it going.Maybe the
    manual shift Soobs have weak clutches?I was thinking of getting a Forester automatic but
    worry about longevity.
  • dbrown15dbrown15 Member Posts: 3
    Thanks for the response.
    It looks like this is a pretty obscure ocurrence since I found no other instances in the clutch questions topic or in the lemon law postings.
    I have driven manual shifts for many years and never experienced such a problem. The burning can also be induced by driving slowly, but not so slow as to stall the engine, over speed bumps. The fact that the dealer claims that this is normal is what really ticks me off. He has till Friday to come up with some resolution - after that I am both writing a letter to Subaru and getting a third opinion from another dealership.
    Pity is I do like the car (had a 96 Impreza before) but, as suggested, Subaru may not have a strong enough clutch to handle the 2.5 L engine.
  • hmuller850hmuller850 Member Posts: 3
    I have been driving a 2000 Forester for 9 months and have 13000 miles on it. I too noticed that you have to let the clutch out differently than you do on other stick cars I have driven. It is a very strong engine compared to the Honda Accord I previously had. If I let the clutch out too slowly like when on a hill, you can smell clutch. I think the solution is to get the clutch out as quick as possible and this is not always possible in a hill situation. Probably the car needs a stronger clutch but I think it will last if you let it out carefully and don't nurse it out.
  • wunderhornwunderhorn Member Posts: 1
    Just purchased a 2001 Forester "L" (2800 miles). We have major league snow this year in Chicago. After being overjoyed at how the Subaru handled in deep snow, I was disturbed at a distinct (I can only describe it as "vegetable waste") smell after I had to go in reverse (on two occasions) for a half-block to a block, sometimes through low piles of snow that offered resistance.
    Does this sound like your problem?
    I'm going to bring this up when I take the car in for its 3750-mile check-up. Good luck.

  • dbrown15dbrown15 Member Posts: 3
    Thanks for the respones. I did take my Forester to yet another Subaru dealer, and they test drove the vehicle reproducing the problem mentioned in the first posting. The tech just said outright 'don't attempt to drive up a curb'. I do have to park on the curb sometimes, as the trafiic congestion is getting so bad in this area. Hence this limits the utility of the vehicle as far as I am concerned. I still have to talk to the factory rep next week. I will reseverve my final judgement until then - however I am starting to look for a more sturdy alternative since I have no idea how much each inadvertent burning of the clutch when it slips, will reduce the life of the vehicle.
    I would be interested to know how many Automatic vs Manual Foresters there are out there.....
  • crashton6crashton6 Member Posts: 245
    I wanted a Forester manual but got the automagic instead. The way traffic is around here it was the right choice for me. This is the first automagic I've owned. I was worried about the reliability, but it seams I made the right choice. After reading all the posts about clutch & manual tranny problems it seems an automagic is the right choice for a Subaru. I've got 23k on it now, so far so good.
This discussion has been closed.