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Subaru Legacy/Outback Transmission Problems



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Not to dismiss your experience, but I haven't heard of many other complaints about the 5EAT. Hope they can figure it out for you...
  • dsc888dsc888 Posts: 6
    edited March 2011
    This issue is very real. I took delivery of my 2011 3.6R on 3/1 and it's clunked 3 times and it feels like someone almost hits you from behind and it's loud. And yes, it occurs when you are slowing down and then accelerating moderately say to get onto an onramp.

    In fact, Autoweek documented the exact issue on their 2010 Outback Wrap Up at

    I have not contacted my dealer yet since it seems like it's more of a design issue. Otherwise the car is great. I've worked around it by accelerating more gently when I slow down. But that's only a temporary fix.
  • molderbmolderb Posts: 7
    You made my day!!! Thank you very much for posting the article. It is the issue we are having except I do not have to thunk on the gas pedal to make it happen. I'm just surprised our dealer and corporate make us feel like we have to prove ourselves. I now feel backed up with that article! Now, waiting for the next phone call.
  • dsc888dsc888 Posts: 6
    No problem! Just trying to help out fellow members who share a common concern. If Autoweek had this issue with their sample, then you can be sure someone at Subaru is aware and may be trying to find a way to fix this. I wonder if it is software or hardware or a combination of both that is causing the harsh transmission engagement.

    There has been a few people who has had some success fixing this issue by having their dealer replace the valve bodies in the tranny over at which I frequent. Apparently it's a known issue. Check out the threads on p. 2 and 3 for more detail. hifting-question.html
  • Thank you so much. I also have a 2011 Limited 3.6. I thought at first that it was my driving, then the type of gas I was using. I couldn't believe that my "new " car was having problems already; especially since I had spent a year researching and never saw anything about this problem. All I know, is that it is potentially dangerous. I tried to merge into some traffic on the highway, when it hesitated and jerked really bad and I was almost run into. I also took it back to the dealer, who kind of passed it off. Now that I know that other owners are having similar experiences, I will be more proactive.
  • tlawlertlawler Posts: 5
    The Subaru 2nd level Service rep never did get back to us. In the meantime, the vehicle has trained us to barely touch the gas pedal when going around corners or approaching traffic lights that are about to turn... a situation that needs a remedy
  • nornetnornet Posts: 24
    Subaru and the dealer(s) will insist that this is normal until you drop the matter. Be persistent.
  • cpatcpat Posts: 1
    I am relieved to see that I am not the only one having this issue with my 2011 Subaru Outback 3.6. The car currently has about 6,000 miles on it but has had the "clunk" in the transmission from the very beginning. The problem has only gotten worse. Just like others have said, the clunk occurs when I slow down, but don't stop completely, and then give it gas. My husband and I have taken it back to the dealership once already only to be told that we are just unfamiliar with how an all-wheel drive car operates. (This is our third all-wheel drive Subaru our unfamiliarity is NOT the problem.) We are now preparing to take it in again and are hoping for some results from the dealership's service department. We purchased this car because we were extremely pleased with our previous two Outbacks. Other than this problem, we love the car. If anyone has any further info. on how to solve this issue we would love to hear it.
  • Just purchased a new Outback. We only have 150 miles on it and started to notice a "clunk" and definite "jerk" when accelerating after slowing down to turn a corner. Has anyone had any luck with getting this repaired or even acknowledged from your dealer, that this is a problem?
  • gwynniegwynnie Posts: 1
    I paid $36,077 dollars in cash for my new Outback 2011 Limited 3.6 R a month ago. I have exactly the same problems you discuss along with the others. They brought the car from another dealer to my dealer and I told them I didn't like the transmission shifting, after I had given up $2000 deposit. They said they checked it out and there's nothing wrong. I drove it again and thought okay, so I bought it. Now I isolate it to when I slow down, if I accelerate - a violent thunk. They had said I just neeeded to break it in. And the way it downshifts when slowing down, it's a wonder the gas mileage is even as good as it is. What to do? Have you learned of anything yet?
  • dlanningdlanning Posts: 8
    wow no kidding i think subaru just screwed up the name subaru with the bigest snap descision of all time called the CVT junk trans i will not buy it at all i was in eugune oregon and the dealer thier says the complaints are very high so subaru i will not buy the CVT AT ALL buy i want a 6th speed manual it will always work and needs only to be checked every 100,000 thousand miles or so i have a 1993 legecy wagon witch i bought new and wow i have 300,000 + now on it its an manual trans and it stills works i was going to by a new subaru outback last satadary but when the dealer said oh it belt driven in the trans i said what the BLEEP are you kidding that the most spupid thing subaru has ever done , the i asked him can i order it with a manual he said no i said well they just lost a life long customer now and it breaks my heart that subaru is now going to ruin the great name subaru , well i am vary woried for all subaru owners with a cvt trans that will never work worth a crap . well subaru you just lost me just think i almost singed my name on the loan for 36k not now good thing to i would have not been happy with the CVT trans .DUMB SUBARU .....
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,920
    That was an impressively confusing and poorly written post.

    However, you can get the Outback with a manual transmission, and a six speed at that! Of course, you have to be willing to "settle" for the standard or premium trims, but the premium does offer good features even if not quite as many creature comforts as the Limited.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • jcoe814jcoe814 Posts: 1
    is right, do you even know how to spell or use punctuation correctly? why would anyone on earth listen to your opinion when you can't use periods correctly or misspell words that a 4th grader knows....
  • kurtamaxxxguykurtamaxxxguy Posts: 1,798
    Every Outback R I've driven (with the 3.0 or 3.6 H6) exhibited clunking drive lines or "growling" felt through the steering wheel. An guessing it's additional slop/noise from the center differential. Amazing that Subaru has been unable or unwilling to fix this.
    I chose the Forester instead, which uses center clutch pack instead of differential and has very little drive line clunking.

    BTW, the Audi A4 Avant has similar drive line clunkiness. They also use a center differential.
  • outbackinncoutbackinnc Posts: 3
    edited May 2011
    I've got the 2008 Outback, and have felt some weird shifting patterns (not downshifting, shifts funny at slow speeds like when in parking lot) but most of these posts are about 2010/2011 models. How can i tell if i need some service or if it's same problem. One earlier post leads me to believe the trans were different in the 2008 than later models. Any advice?
  • mchappellmchappell Posts: 52
    I've been reading about the transmission issues with the 2011 Outback. My wife and I are going to look at a 2.5i Legacy. Do these issues apply to the 2.5 with the CVT also?


  • newtosubaru2newtosubaru2 Posts: 1
    edited May 2011

    I too am about to buy a new 2011 Subaru with CVT....a 2.5i Outback.
    I understand they now use "chains" instead of belts.

    I also am curious with other owners' exerience with CVT

  • molderbmolderb Posts: 7
    still having the issue with hard shift and still waiting on corporate to call back, has been weeks, we just keep calling. still not coming up with a fix just offering an extended warranty. this is definitely a safety issue being jerked suddenly, especially on the icey roads.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    They gave me a new Outback as a loaner. From dealer to my house (roughly 17 miles) the car is showing 32.6 mpg with the CVT on the mpg gauge. Saw 34 mpg a couple of times on the highway. So far so good. :)

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited May 2011
    Sweet. I hear you can go nearly 80mph at 2000rpm on the highway.

    Just as a comparison, my Miata is only going 42mph at 2000rpm, and that's in SIXTH gear!

    It must hum along quietly.
  • davyb94davyb94 Posts: 1
    I have a 1994 Legacy that most of the time wont shift it is stuck in 3rd gear. I was thinking it was a torque converter issue. any ideas?
  • mal6mal6 Posts: 1
    Throttle Position Sensor would be a good place to look first. Depending on whether it was equipped with it that far back in time, check the solenoid in transmission. Given that the vehicle is nearly 20 years old, it could be numerous things, but those two would be good to check before pulling it apart. When was the the fluid last changed? Was it ever driven dry?
  • subyturtlesubyturtle Posts: 3
    I have a new one for you all, I think. My 2011 3.6R with 2,000 miles on it won't go in reverse. I had to be towed from a parking lot on Saturday! I have experienced the same clunking in reverse and hard shifting when slowing/accelerating that everyone has and have been meaning to get to the dealer, but life has gotten in the way. I guess I can't ignore it any longer!

    My husband wants our money back as he has no confidence in the2011 OB transmission (this is our third OB-no problems with the first 2). What are the chances the dealer will refund our money or do they have the right to try and fix the extremely screwed up transmission? I took the car sight unseen from another dealer as I had driven others but this was the color/configuration I wanted.
  • dlanningdlanning Posts: 8
    all i know is that the CVT transmssion is junk and lost of people are realy pissed off and some retard at subaru decided to put subaru name and at risk and hurt thier customers ,it sounds like an american ceo , but if you take it in and you want your money back i would just ask for an exchange for the same car but with a manual trans . Subaru has never had prolbems with the manual trans at all and don't let the delear BS. you at all on it if they say it doesent come with a manual in that model then they are Liar's! i know because i got on with the 3.6r and i love it and no funney sounds just great running and the traction on the ice is better than in a manual trans and also for towing as well the transmission will handle the load with out harm.
  • My car has just started with this problem.. I have brand new tires, when I go in revers i feel the car shift gears but the car does not move. when I press the gas peddle the car I feel like the tires lock and when I press the gas peddle again then the car will move. But the car hesitates to move. Also when i pull off my front tires they skid. which never happened before. While im driving the car changes gears fine. I don't know what is wrong with my car????
  • htakeuchhtakeuch Posts: 2
    I am looking in to purchasing a new Legacy 2.5i. I went to the dealer and they didn't have a manual transmission one so I test drove a manual Outback. The salesman said that it'll will be the same car just with a different body. I liked how the Outback drove and I liked the interior of the car (I sat on a automatic model of the legacy).

    I really like the car and I am thinking of purchasing one with a manual transmission.. is it worth it? or does the manual legacy give problems with the transmission as well??? I saw a recall on the NHTSA website for the manual transmission for this car as well and I am worried about that too. Just asking because I really liked the car but if its too much of a trouble I will keep on shopping around. Thanks !!!
  • tlawlertlawler Posts: 5
    My problem was with the automatic and the large engine. I've not heard of any issues with the manual trannies.
  • htakeuchhtakeuch Posts: 2
    Thanks for the reply I am hearing many positive reviews from actual owners I might go for the legacy after all. Hope your issue with your car gets resolved.

  • dmbhdbdmbhdb Posts: 1
    Having read this thread and several that were linked from it I wanted to ask a question to people experience issues. I have a new 2011 Legacy that was just picked up June 30, we have put about 1100 miles on it. A few times we have discovered the coasting to a stop and hard downshifting issue. I have started looking into whether it's a big deal or something that has to do with the tramission build, etc. My question: Did this happen to people who had only 1 driver using the car, or more than one? I've read so much about the car "learning" a driving style and my fiance and I rotate who drives and we're wondering if we have a hand in it's problem.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Is yours the H6? Because the 4 bangers have the CVT...
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