Transmission stays in lower gears when ambient temps are very cold

topofftopoff Member Posts: 19
edited December 2014 in Subaru
2015 Outlook 2.5 CVT - Regardless of engine temp/or oil temp, transmission will stay in low gears (relative - its a CVT) such that the car is always doing approx. 2100 RPMs. When it occurs, 35mph is 2100 RPMs; when problem is not present, same speed would be approx 1200 RPMs. Same for higher speed. 45mph would be 2100 verses approx 1400rpm. Gear indicator does indicate a '4' or '5' when it would nornally be '6'.

Outside temps in excess of 30 degress - no evidence of problem. Below 30, may or may not happen.
No check engine light and it does affect MPG significantly.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,482
    It might be working as designed. It won't allow shifts into higher gears until internal oil temperature is about 160 degrees.

    I've read quite a few complaints about CVTs in general misbehaving in extremely cold weather. I suspect Subaru will be addressing the issue soon enough in TSBs.

    But really, it should clear up after 10 or 15 miles of driving---if it doesn't, maybe it isn't "normal" for your CVT.
  • dcm61dcm61 Member Posts: 1,567
    edited December 2014
    topoff said:

    2015 Outlook 2.5 CVT

    Have you contacted Microsoft? :D

    Assuming it does go away after a reasonable time period, I would say it's normal.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Every time I see a reference to the Saturn Outlook, I flash on my '97 Outback. :p

    You may want to crosspost over in Subaru Crew - Meet The Members II too, @topoff‌. Lots of "regulars" just check in there and miss new discussions.
  • topofftopoff Member Posts: 19
    Loaner Car - same eng/transmission did not exhibit problem once. Plus problem may be evident after night in warm garage and not pressent after sitting outside.
  • deerlake7deerlake7 Member Posts: 176
    edited December 2014
    My 2015 Outback is similar, but will only exhibit this behavior if it's below roughly 35F outside and the engine is cold. If it's above that, the CVT keeps the revs in a normal range. Today, I stopped at my Subaru dealer's service department and was told that because the engine is now aluminum, it takes much longer to heat up, so Subaru programmed it run faster during warm-up. Perhaps I'm getting "a line," but that's what I was told. In our case, if it's below 35, it takes until the temp gauge is fully at the halfway point before it becomes "normal."
  • topofftopoff Member Posts: 19
    Yes, you got 'a line' . Aluminum heats/cools quicker than iron.
  • fibber2fibber2 Member Posts: 3,786
    I have pretty much the same situation with my '14 OBW. On cold days the CVT will hold 2000 RPM at 45 MPH, whereas on warmer days or when fully warmed up she'll drop down to around 1400 at that speed.

    I can paddle shift (while in D) to upshift (sometimes she indicates 4, sometimes 5) to 6th, but within seconds it reverts back to the higher RPM. After about 10 minutes of driving (what I consider to be long after being full warm, but I haven't got my laptop connected to be absolutely sure....), it will more naturally go to 6th and low RPM.

    I suspect that the ambient temp sensor in the intake has a roll in this in addition to the coolant temp.
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