2011 Subaru Outback Hard / Mealy Shift 1st & 2nd

aodhanlokiaodhanloki Member Posts: 1
I purchased a 2011 Subaru Outback two months ago without seeing the specific vehicle (I had test driven the exact same model for ~45 minutes in all different driving conditions) and I've been experiencing some very hard / mealy shifting into first and second (and sometimes third) gear while downshifting. It was very frequent/evident for the first couple hundred miles (I picked it up when it had ~ 230 miles on it) and now at 2200 miles it's feeling a bit smoother but still very noticable and very unlike my previous MT vehicle. My first inclination was that this was a problem with the synchros, since it feels just like I'm trying to shift into reverse (where there are no synchros).

The only other MT vehicle I've owned was a FWD 2003 Honda Civic EX Coupe. Dispite the lead service tech saying it feels very strange, the dealer has all but stated that it's a non-issue. They chalk it up to it being an AWD and there being more components that need to be synchro'd than I had previously experienced in my Civic. Whether this makes sense or not, I don't know and haven't looked into.

I've driven two other 2011 Outbacks with MT's. The first one was a 2.5 Premium, exactly like mine except in a different color. This was the vehicle that I did my primary test driving on, and I don't remember noting this issue in my ~45 minute test drive. My memory, admittedly, isn't the greatest sometimes- but I'd like to believe that this is something I would have noted. The second one is a base 2.5 model that I drove earlier today as a comparison and I'm noting the exact same issue as I'm experiencing with my 2011 Outback.

"A case has been opened with the Subaru engineers" as the service department put it and they came back with "no issue" and have claimed that no one else has reported this problem to them. Is anyone else having or has anyone else experienced this issue? Is it not an issue?

Thanks for your anticipated input/information.


  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    A cheap "upgrade" is to switch to synthetic gear oil for the gear box. It should take about 4 quarts or so, an easy drain-and-fill job. Probably worth the $28 or so it costs to try that.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaMember Posts: 16,139
    I am not sure what "mealy shifting" means, but while the gear box is not silky smooth, it is certainly no '69 Chevy pickup, which is what I use as a baseline for hard (but normal) shifting. I would expect it to be more stout than your civic, but it should still feel solid and agreeable. If you have to fight it, there's probably something amiss.

    I would be inclined to head to the local dealer to try a couple of the 6-speed Outbacks on their lot, but it is about -20F right now and they don't really like prepping the cars for test drives by casual passersby. :blush:
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • colt11colt11 Member Posts: 1
    edited December 2010
  • todd67todd67 Member Posts: 1
    When I bought my 2010 Outback, it shifted very smoothly. A month later, I started to have the same problem you are reporting (upshifting to 2nd and downshifting to 3rd seem to be the biggest problem). The problem lasted for 3 months, then shifting went back to normal. The dealership told me the same thing they told you, there was nothing wrong with it. They did agree to change the gear oil, but I don't think it helped.
  • trevor21trevor21 Member Posts: 3
    2011 Outback 3.6R: similar problems. after ~50,000 kms i'm now experiencing a hard 'shock' while driving. It's a 5 speed Auto Transmission, but imagine driving an MT a constant speed, gearing down and dropping the clutch. that ensuing jerk is happening with my car. the RPM appear to shoot down when this happens. Generally ~40 km/hr and in snowy weather. Subaru said the fix for this was a reboot of the onboard computer and changed the AT trans. fluid.

    Problem persisists - any thoughts?
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