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Subaru Crew Problems & Solutions



  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    Just thought I'd give an update on where I am with getting the "1st gear popping out under load" problem I experience with my Forester.

    Patti (who Rocks ;-) ) got me in touch with a senior rep at SOA who then set up an appointment with the district technical manager at Santa Cruz Subaru two weeks from now. They even are arranging for a loaner/rental since Santa Cruz is a bit of a drive from work. The entire process since Patti stepped in has been fantastic.

    I've been checking and double checking on nearby hills to make sure I can have all the conditions nailed down as to when the problem occurs. Contrary to my original assumption, the problem seems to happen intermittently regardless of the number of passengers in the vehicle. The other day, I tried coasting in first down a steep hill and 1st gear popped out several times with just me in the car. Yesterday, I had two other people in the car so I tried the same hill again. This time, it happened just once and I couldn't get it to occur again despite numerous attempts.

    I'm wondering if there are other conditions that might influence the outcome. The last thing I want to happen is not being able to replicate the problem at this big meeting.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Ken: just suggestions, but I'd jot down each of the following conditions when it does happen: weight in car, engine temp, tranny temp, and slope of hill.

    There's obviously no guage for the tranny temp, but you can try to remember how many shifts were done at that point since it was started.

  • tlimatlima Posts: 124

    I too have been considering synthetics, mostly to lengthen the change intervals. The fiber filters allow you to do this, as they can trap more dirt than standard oil filters.

    As far as expense goes, I think the fiber filters cost at least $10, but if the intervals increase, the cost differences for the synthetics vs standard diminish.

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    It's strange since it's always happened with the engine and tranny fully warmed up. I've also had a range of passengers (0-4) and a variety of slopes. The only thing consistent is it's inconsistency. There's gotta be some other variable(s) I'm overlooking.

  • I've had my 2001 Forester S for about a month now and it has about 2k miles on it. I love it, but....

    The whole car seems to vibrate (high frequency) a lot when it reaches highway speeds, >60 mph. I realize the Forester is not exactly a car but I expected the ride to be a little smoother than what I'm experiencing. The vibration seems to affect the whole vehicle (as opposed to shaking the steering wheel noticeably more) which leads me to believe that it is just the way it's engineered. It's like having one of those massaging chairs built right into the car.

    I don't want to be paranoid and take the vehicle to the dealer for everything that I'm not used to in a car :)

    Is this just the way the Forester drives? It certainly seemed a lot soother when I test drove it.....

    Thanks for any info,

    - Jan
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Maybe, Ken. I was trying to think of what those could be.

    Tony: even if you go synthetic, I'd do an oil/filter change at least every 7.5k miles. It's a relatively long interval already.

    Jan: check the tire pressure. Some people prefer firm handling, others a softer ride. Subaru recommends 29 psi up front and 26-29 psi out back (pardon the pun).

    If actually found those too soft for my liking, so they may be perfect for you.

  • locke2clocke2c Posts: 5,038
    Jan, the two things you can have checked are wheel balance and alignment. If they are both OK then it is a combination of the suspension, tires and road surface-- two of which can be changed, at some cost to you.

    Good luck!

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    The Forester should be as smooth as any passenger car on the freeways. Check the small things first -- tire pressure or abnormalities to the tire tread/sidewalls.

    If those are okay, then have your wheels balanced. It's possible that you may have thrown a weight. Sometimes swapping the position of tires can also get rid of vibrations.

  • natescapenatescape Posts: 176
    My 2001 S+ is smooth as silk on the highway. I drive at 83MPH when there isn't traffic. In fact, I came to work late today and took advantage of an empty stretch of highway to push the car. Got it to 110MPH and it was still really smooth (and still had a lot left, but I was running out of room). :)
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    my 115mph is too much :)

  • hondafriekhondafriek Ottawa CanadaPosts: 2,970
    Michael, there are special sockets available to remove the locknuts when the key is lost or misplaced the dealer is likely to have these sockets.

    Ken, the jumping out of gear is more likely to happen when the transmission fluid is warm there are less clearances involved when the fluid is cold. Using a cold engine as an example bearing rattle in a worn engine is not apparent until the oil gets warm and thins out hense all the shady dealer dodges with oil thickeners.

    Juice, you took the words out of my mouth regarding oil changes 7500 miles between changes is a very long interval and if you consult the owners manual 7500 is the interval in ideal conditions, however in severe operating conditions the interval can be half of that and if you interpret all the exclusions we all operate our vehicles in severe conditions it is false economy to try and stretch oil changes it is a case of pay me now or pay me later I do not think I have ever heard of an engine dying from too many oil changes.
    Cheers Pat.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    115mph is ridiculous, irresponsible.

    112mph is fine though. ;-)

    Pat: fair enough, but do you know of any engines that died despite religious 7.5k mile oil changes as well as 30k and 60k services?

    Let's face it, it's not the engine that dies, it's the accessories that it pulls. You're much more likely to lose your A/C, water pump, or starter than a blown top end.

    I change the oil myself so I watch it coming out. I even put it in a transparent container to take it to recycling. That way I closely examine the condition it's in, and can adjust accordingly if I see anything that looks odd (very dirty oil or grit, for example).

    I also chart my mileage at every tank, so I can tell when it's not running 100%.

  • hondafriekhondafriek Ottawa CanadaPosts: 2,970
    Juice I am sure we all know of at least one engine that has blown up in spite of good maintenance.
    I worked as a commercial Refrigeration & air conditioning mechanic and used to go as far as having my oil analysed.
    I too change my own oil and I use castrol syntec synthetic it gets up around the top end quickly in the extreme cold we get up here. I change every 3500 miles costs about $25 oil and filter and I consider the cost very cheap insurance.
    Cheers pat.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I've seen blown engines in race conditions, I guess.

    Still, I keep receipts and don't race, so I'm covered under warranty for 60k miles. Plus I'm following Subaru's own maintenance schedule.

    Some automakers have gone to 10k mile service intervals, even longer. Consumers complained about service costs.

    Cheap insurance? Maybe. But I have 3 cars and do them all at once, so it's $75 in my case. I change all 3 whether it's early or not, just because I'm already greasy!

    The Soob does the bulk of our work so it gets the highest mileage, so I tend to follow its interval and do the other two in our fleet a bit early. If I went to a 3k mile service interval I'd be doing about 15 oil changes per year!

  • hondafriekhondafriek Ottawa CanadaPosts: 2,970
    Juice, see your point I am going down to one car, mind you my summer vehicle only got two changes a year as it was only out for 6 months a year and even then I only put about 6000 kilometers on it a year.
    It was a toy and my baby, Incidently I did a rear disc conversion on this vehicle made a hell of a difference.

    I still think I will stick to my 3500 mile changes even when I get a Sube.

    Cheers Pat.
  • tlimatlima Posts: 124

    I too had the "rough ride" >60mph you mentioned. Went to the dealer after having the car 3 days. They did a balance, which seemed to improve it a bit, but it was still there. I thought that I would have to live with it, but after about 2k miles, it slowly worked it's way out - today, with about 6k, it is silky smooth. The only thing I can think of is (1) Suspension needed to break-in a bit (2) Tires had flat spots that worked their way out.


    I agree, 7500mi on standard oil+filter seems like a bit much as it is. Switching to synthetics w/fiber filter should allow 7500mi intervals with good protection. I've always changed dino between 3-3.5k. When the car hits 10k (and well broken in), I may switch to synthetics and lenghthen to 7.5k, otherwise, stick to dino, but consider a 5k interval...we'll see.

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    Tony raises a good point about the tires. I believe new tires often need several hundred miles before they are "broken in". During this time, you should drive with added caution as the tires will not provide as much grip and stopping performance as intended.

    I didn't experience this with my Yokohamas, but the ride on the Goodyear LS on our VW Jetta smoothed out considerably during the first 1000 miles.

  • cdb420cdb420 Posts: 3
    Thanks much for the thoughts, folks. Any other ideas or experiences you've had would be appreciated.

    The tire size (235/60-16 on mine) may make about a 1 mpg difference, given odometer error caused by the slightly larger circumference. That's still only 19.2 mpg combined and 21.2 highway, which still isn't in the ballpark.

    (I used the calculations at, which gives the circumference and revs per mile for any tire sizes you input, which allows calculation of what my mileage would be with the standard 215/60-16 tires that come on the Forester S , which are nearly the same circumference as the 205/70-15s that come with the L model.).

    I'm going to reset the ECU as soon as it stops raining, and I'll let the list know how it turned out after a few tanks of regular.

    I do like everything else about the vehicle, but the mileage ... whew!

  • logger2logger2 Posts: 31
    I was hoping to maybe chat with you about my problems with my forester (see msg #420). Subaru of Canada has not contacted me in a while (3-4 weeks). How do i contact SOA to speak with customer reps? Thanks
  • subaru_teamsubaru_team Posts: 1,676
    Good Morning. The tire size raised my interest a bit also. You may want to take a look at the overall tire condition also. As someone who works for Subaru, I can't recommend disconnecting the ECU ;~} but, I'd suggest you ask the dealer to hook it up to a monitor first to make sure you aren't clearing out any codes that might be relevant to your situation. I must admit that I get lower MPG in my vehicle than some of my peers, but I know that it is caused by my tendency to nail the accelerator often. It doesn't sound like you drive like I do, but I thought I'd share that with you.

    One interesting point about the estimated MPG. We (auto manufacturers) do not "create" those numbers. The government test the vehicle under IDEAL circumstances with brand new vehicles. They grab cars from our inventory (so as not to have one that was manufactured differently to get a better rating). It is rare that folks actually get the exact numbers posted in the brochures and on the sticker.

    One other thing that might help - get a thorough service done. Your dealer can check things out to make sure your operating a vehicle that is in good shape maintenance wise. It can really impact your MPG (include the fuel filter/air filter, etc.)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Pat: what was that summer vehicle?

    Further on Ken's point, try to check the age of tires when you buy them, if that's possible. Older tires harden.

    cdb420: I use that tire size calculator too, but keep in mind there are real-world variations it does not account for.

    Doing the math, my tires should be only 0.2" bigger in radius, but my ground clearance is up a whopping 0.75" minimum.

    I can't explain it (less deflection? manufacturer variations?), but that would mean my diameter is also off by more than that. Not coincidentally, my mileage (as shown, not actual) is down slightly from my average since I swapped tires.

  • hondafriekhondafriek Ottawa CanadaPosts: 2,970
    Hi Juice my summer vehicle is a much modified and much loved 89 Accord LXI. it is going to my Daughter in Tenn. in April and its going to break my heart to see it go.
    Cheers Pat.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Cool. My "toy" is a '93 Miata C package.

  • hondafriekhondafriek Ottawa CanadaPosts: 2,970
    Juice, Of all the cars I have owned over the years this one has a special place in my heart, I am no longer healthy enough to maintain two vehicles.

    I know my daughter will treat this one the way I did I am glad it is going to her and not a stanger. If it would not bore you I can give you a list of all the mods done over the years.
    Cheers pat.
  • I got 17~18 MPG in mixed driving for past 2 months.
    I used to get 26 MPG in 90% highway driving.
    Just did 15K service from dealer last week.
    My forester is more powerful than ever,
    I feel like that I have to take her to the highway
    once a while to stretch up, otherwise she's going to explode.
    She's been perfect so far,
    let's see if she can improve the MPG after 15K service.


  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    Depending on which part of the country you live in, you may be getting oxygenated gas in the winter time. Oxygenates are known to affect performance including gas milage. Try experimenting with several brands of gas.

  • miksmimiksmi Silver Spring, Maryland, USAPosts: 1,246
    Pat, hondafriek Jan 30, 2001 9:24am I'm interested, let it roll. It's fun to learn about others' hobbies, even if they're not Subarus. ;) Thanks for your continued participation.



  • hondafriekhondafriek Ottawa CanadaPosts: 2,970
    Okay Mike,here goes.
    1989 honda accord EXI> in Canada LXI in states,its lowered 1.25 inchs,15 inch pirelli p6000 tires, 15 american eagle alloys, cross drilled brake rotors, stainless steel flex hoses, motul silicon brake fluid, rear disc brake conversion, engine mods. ported and polished head 3 angle valve job,custom ground camshaft,honed and polished intake manifold. dc sports header.pacemaker cat back exhaust,akimoto intake with k&n filter, full leather interior,kenwood cassette with cd changer controller also has remote control,10 disc cd changer 200 watt 4 channel kenwood amp.infinity 6 inch speakers with tweeters and separate crossover in front pioneer 2way speakers in rear,. has a clifford cyber3 alarm system to protect all this, oil pressure and voltmeter gauges mounted on A pillar,it has 60000 miles total, and has all origional paint, never accidented and never winter driven she is quite a package and has given me a lot of joy over the years I have never shown the car although it is in show condition this was all done for my own pleasure.

    Cheers Pat. PS every thing under the hood is either polished or chromed
  • wizkidwizkid Posts: 3
    Just to keep you updated. My case number is 283670.

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