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Frustrating Issues with 1999 Subaru Legacy Wagon

mscrimgemscrimge Posts: 1
edited July 2014 in Subaru
Hi all. I have some issues with my 1999 Legacy Wagon (see below). I have taken this car to several dealers and other mechanics, with no solution as to the cause of these issues. I would really appreciate it if anyone could forward suggestions as to their theories for the problems.

By the way, I have had the head gaskets replaced, and have also recently replaced the transmission fluid (including a cocktail of synthetic ATF plus one container of Trans-X AT Slip&Stop Leak Fix. The engine is 2.2L, and I have about 60,000 miles on the car. Thanks for your help!

1. When car is started cold, and switched into “Drive” (D) gear, car is slow to switch gears when going up a hill or attempting hard acceleration (e.g., to get into moving traffic from stopped position). I have to press the gas pedal to the floor to get the car to switch gears in these cases. If trying to go up a steep hill when car is cold, car will slow down to a near stop until I switch gears manually or press the gas pedal to the floor. When pressing the gas pedal to the floor to switch gears in D gear, it sometimes takes a few seconds before gear will shift.

2. When car is started cold, and attempting hard acceleration (i.e., accelerator fully depressed) shortly thereafter, car accelerates very slowly at first. After a few seconds of this slow acceleration, acceleration begins to increase somewhat.

3. When car is still cold, and stopped while in D gear, car vibrates excessively. If car is switched into “Park” (P) or “neutral” (N) gear, vibrating stops.

4. Car decelerates more quickly than expected on level stretch of smooth pavement if gas pedal is released (no brakes applied), as though something internal is resisting movement. This is particularly noticeable if car is cold. I also feel as though the car is not running smoothly, feeling some slight grinding and that there is some kind of load on the engine (other than normal load expected when car is in D gear).

5. When accelerator is depressed hard, the engine becomes very loud (low-frequency “roar”) before switching gears (i.e., noise is not due to high rpm). Noise goes away when transmission switches to lower gear/higher rpms.

6. Rpms increase a fair amount between light acceleration and heavy acceleration before switching gears, as though transmission is slipping- but it only slips “so much” (about 500 rpm). Essentially, it is acting almost like another gear (no overdrive on car).

7. Actual fuel economy is very low. Actual fuel economy is around 17 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. Fuel economy should be around 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. While I understand this may be due to many factors, it may also indicate an issue with vibration, fuel waste and resistance (see 3, 4 and 5 above).

8. Idle appears to be set too low, or there is something wrong with the alternator (battery is brand new). Headlights dim and cabin fan speed decreases noticeably when car is not moving (e.g., stopped in P or D gears), and also when brakes are applied while moving.

9. When moving car just across the street to comply with parking regulations, car leaves strong smell of uncombusted gasoline (not oil) in its wake. This smell is probably also noticeable when starting car and initially moving it anytime, but I only have a chance to notice it when moving car this short distance.


  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,149
    Wow; a whole host of problems! The first thing I would do is address the alternator. It sounds like the brushes are getting worn and the output on that unit is weak. You can pull the alternator in just a few minutes and take it into an auto parts store (such as NAPA, Pep Boys, etc) for testing.

    It is tough to say what is really going on with that transmission. Without observing it, I would surmise it is likely to be a torque converter failing. Have you noticed a progressive increase in the severity of the symptoms? In the meantime, I strongly recommend that you shift manually rather than opt for the pedal-to-the-floor technique. You may even see improved fuel economy, but if the torque converter is creating excessive power loss, the engine is still going to have to work harder to get the remaining power to the wheels.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
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