Downshifting on 2011 Legacy (manual)

tmcgrottytmcgrotty Member Posts: 10
Hi, I have been driving manual / stick shift for 40+ years and purchased a AWD 2011 legacy six months ago. There is currently 6500 miles on the clock.

Every so often I get a faint smell like burning breakpads / clutch. I initially thought it was just the fact it was a 'new car' and some coatings on the underside were being 'burned in' but now I think it could be the clutch. Anyone aware of issues with the clutch on 2011 Legacy?

This is my first AWD so maybe I should not be downshifting on an AWD and just put the wear on the breakpads?

By the way in those 40+ years of driving I never once burned out a clutch even when towing (not towing anything yet on the 2011).

Maybe they arn't making clutches like the used too? Last car was a Mitsubishi 3000 GT manual, sold it at 120k with origional clutch in it.

Thanks in advance for any replies.


  • rshollandrsholland Member Posts: 19,788
    edited January 2012
    What was the traction condition when you noticed the smell?

    I have a '09 WRX (5-speed manual), and when I'm trying to free myself from deep snow, I've noticed that smell. I also noticed it once when gently trying to climb a sidewalk curb.

    What I think is happening is that the traction control may be intruding. The car applies the brake to the wheel with the least traction, or what it thinks has the least traction, and you get that foul smell. If you turn off the traction control (switch on lower left dash), that won't occur. At least it works in deep snow. Not sure about climbing curbs, as I haven't done that in a couple of years. Once you're free from the questionable traction condition, turn the traction control back on.

  • tmcgrottytmcgrotty Member Posts: 10
    Thanks for the quick response.... Good question ... I am in Minnesota, the good news is we have had a very mild winter with little snow, so far, but I have been playing around a bit on what little ice and snow there is so I will take into consideration your idea of turning off the traction control.

    That said the traction control light has only ever come on once, not as frequent as I have noticed the burning smell.
  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,569
    I find that Subaru clutch material burns at the slightest hint of slippage, so yes, you're most likely smelling burning clutch. It doesn't really hurt anything unless you really overwork it, then you can get material transfer (which leads to "judder" as I've heard it called) or other issues.

    I agree with Bob that the car is much more responsive to get moving in low traction situations when the VDC is turned off. Otherwise, you have the car trying to out-smart you, and you end up with both the low traction and car fighting your progress.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • tmcgrottytmcgrotty Member Posts: 10
    this is like a live chat ... with the quick responses.

    I'll pay more attention to my driving and traction conditions over the coming week, maybe try and avoid downshifting as well, but that will be hard as I have been doing it so long it happens subconsciouncisly.
  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,569
    I downshift on mine as well, and don't have an issue with clutch burn as a result. If yours does it while downshifting, it may just need to wear in a little more.

    Your timing is good today - you caught me checking posts! :blush:
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • krzysskrzyss Member Posts: 849
    My 05 Legacy GT smelled awfull when I was slipping the clutch (avoiding killing the engine in AWD requires a little more left foot work) however it reduced greatly when I mastered its quirks.
    In low friction environment center diff fluid (I think Subaru still uses viscous coupling in center diff) starts smelling too, at least in my experience.

  • gm66montrealgm66montreal Member Posts: 1
    hello everyone,
    i am a new member and i would like to share my problem that i am have with my 2011 subaru outback. know i know that the outback and the legacy 2.5 have the same tranny clutch and gear box. and i was wondering if anyone has this same problem. when the car is cold and the weather is below -10 i have a problem from first to second gear and also from third to second. it is every hard and i have to apply lots of force. this getts better when the car is full warm and as been driving for about 45 minutes.
    please let me know if anyone had this problem and how did you or the dealer fix it.
  • tmcgrottytmcgrotty Member Posts: 10
    Thank for the input. I have been watching my downshifting and using the breaks instead of the engin to slow down .. .I like to be in the right gear for a quick takeoff or manuver.

    So far I haven't smelled anything but then again not traction problems either because the weather has been soo nice. Will drop back in a week or so with more update.
  • tmcgrottytmcgrotty Member Posts: 10
    I have noted the same problem when below zero, I am certain its just the grease in the gear shifter that gets more viscus when cold.

    My previous manual car had similar, but not as noticable problem. I am living with it at the moment, I expect it will 'loosen up a bit' with more miles on the clock.
  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,569
    edited January 2012
    Is the shifter difficult to move, or just not want to slip into gear? If it was not winterized at the dealership, it may have 80w-90 in the transmission. Switching to a 75w-90 synthetic would help significantly in that temperature range. And, if the car is sluggish to move at that temperature, I would also swap out the differential oil while you're at it.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • tsizzletsizzle Member Posts: 2
    I have about 55k on a 4 cyl model, no turbo. The spark plugs look very accessible and I am going to change them. Just wanted to checkin to see if there may be an issue before getting into it. I am definetely not a mechanic - just an oil changer! I've had no problems with this car by the way - definately a good car for me.
  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,569
    There shouldn't be any problems. They do sit deep into the heads, so you'll likely need one or more extensions on your socket, but I have found it to not be too difficult, even on previous generations, which were much tighter than current. I found that with my cars, I needed to remove the air box on one side and the battery on the other, and use a universal joint directly out of the socket (between it and the extension) in order to clear the frame for the #3 and #4 cylinders.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
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