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subaru transmission problems



  • denn1denn1 Posts: 1
    I have a '91 legacy wagon with the same problem. Did you ever figure out the
    problem? I read about a control module for the center diff., but I'm not sure what
    models have it. The module locks and unlocks the center diff. I am now wondering
    if maybe it is locking when it should not be-eg. front wheels are not spinning.
    Please let me know. Thank You
  • shebayshebay Posts: 1
    I just wanted to check in to see if you were able to get to the bottom of your problem. I have an automatic 98 Outback with the same issue, have been driving it in FWD for about 5 months with no problems but now that winter is coming I need to deal with it. I have gotten 2 opinions; transmission vs. rear diff, I really cannot afford trial and error.
  • Thought you'd be interested in knowing my 2002 forester is in the shop now for a replacement transmission(automatic) at only 46,200 miles. I do not have enough technical knowledge to tell you much but they did say multiple bearings were bad.
  • I took the forester to the dealer and the work order was to do a "transfer clutch assembly overhaul." The cost of the parts and labor was roughly 1,000. I negotiated with the service manager to have Subaru pay 40%, on the basis that this is not a repair that a decent car at 60,000 should have to have.
    What was most disappointing in the whole thing was when I pressed the service manager about what MAKES this happen, he shook his head and said there really wasn't an answer to that, other than it was a design flaw that Subaru (let's hope) has corrected. I asked for the parts they replaced and took them to my local mechanic and asked him if he could see something that would suggest what caused it, and he said nothing looked suspicious.
    So if these are your symptoms, my guess would be it's the transfer clutch/transmission.
    hope this helps.
  • I did have my car fixed by Subaru dealer--it was transfer case/transmission. Cost was roughly 1,000, but Subaru agreed to pay 40% of that, so you might try and complain loudly that something like this should not have to be repaired at such low mileage. When I expressed my disappointment, one mechanic said, "hey, I've seen this happen at 35,000 miles."

    So my question to anyone who really knows about Subaru AT design: do you know whether this problem has indeed be fixed in later models of Subaru??? Overall, I've been satisfied with my forester, but this has given me major pause about whether I will buy one again.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Generally speaking, the auto is pretty robust and is not one of the problems that is mentioned routinely (read: head gaskets, wheel bearings).

    I think you just had some bad luck.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,858
    Yeah, not sure either. In my experience, the automatic transmission is robust. I heard many issues about 1999 Outback transmission failures, but few before and after that year. I had a 1996 Outback with the 4EAT, and never a lick of problems with the transmission, even after 220,000 miles.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • I too have been satisfied with my Forester, but needing transmission or differential work at such low mileages also has me wondering if I should trust buying another one if Subaru considers this normal wear(?). The Subaru Dealer is replacing my deteriorated transmission with a remanufactured one. Subaru headquarters negotiated to covering 1/2; while truly appreciated, means my cost is over $1870.
    How is it that a Forester properly maintained per their specs at one of their dealerships can need a automatic transmission replaced at 46,000 miles?
    Is it really just several of us with "bad luck"?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,858
    Subaru vehicles have a 60,000 mile drivetrain warranty. Has it been more than five years since its in-service date?

    The only typical reason I can think of for early transmission failure is prolonged towing. Even if the trailer is within manufacturer specifications, I have seen them fail. I had a friend who moved his Subaru (with a trailer that was about 1500#) from Maryland to Alaska, and his transmission failed a couple months after arriving here. Subaru replaced it, no questions asked. His vehicle was somewhere between 35 and 40 thousand miles, and was about three years old at that time.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Purchase date was Oct 01 so that five year (aka end of warranty regardless of mileage) was Oct 06. For the record, never towed anything, never climbed anything, just standard basic driving on paved roads... but the transmission still reached the brink of failure.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,858
    Ah, okay, I had not caught the vehicle's year or age.

    Well, heck, that is a tough one. Yes, the transmission probably failed from some crazy manufacturing-related malady but, as it is outside of the warranty period, the company has no obligation to the car any longer. It is good that they are willing to offer some assistance in the case, which is indicative that they feel they are possibly not blameless in the failure. I doubt anyone would ever see Nissan, Chrysler, or many other companies ever make a good faith gesture like that.

    Wow. 46,000 miles and it is seven years old! Get out and drive that thing more! :P

    Of course I am joking there, but I cannot imagine putting that few miles on a car. I recently purchased a 1998 vehicle and it only had 108,000 miles on it. I thought, "Wohoo! A baby!" :D
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    "... 46,000 miles and it is seven years old! Get out and drive that thing more! Of course I am joking there, but I cannot imagine putting that few miles on a car..."

    My Forester will be a year old next month and has 7,100 miles. Easy if you don't commute to a school or job.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I bought my 05 LGT in July 07 with 30k miles. I now have 70k on it. :)

    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,277
    My wife's business partner bought one of the first Mercedes CLS500's back in 2004 and just sold it with 190,000 miles on it. Even crazier is that the first 120,000 came in the first two years of owning it! Then he bought a second car to keep the miles off the Benz.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    All bad luck, no. This is a problems thread and those with bad luck seek it out, and complain here.

    We've had about 7 Subarus in my family and zero transmission problems. I just happen to subscribe to all the Subaru threads. No bad luck here, though.
  • chelleychelley Posts: 2
    My 99 Subaru Forrester is doing the same thing. When I shift it into first I have to rev the engine to get it to slip into gear. I have to come to a stop very carefully, almost let it glide to a stop on it's own (without using much break) or it will slip out of gear. I have been doing some research on line. Most say to try flushing the transmission fluid, but it does not seem to be working for most people. The only other option I have come across is to get a new transmission, which is not an option for most people as it's to expensive to have done. Clearly, this is a problem Subaru has seen and decided to ignore as it seems to happen to way to many of their cars to be a coincidence. If anyone has a less expensive fix than replacing the transmission or buying a new car, I would be interested in hearing it.
  • chelleychelley Posts: 2
    Most of these people went online to find an answer to a problem, not to complain. If we don't state our problem, how are we supposed to get an answer? This is one link of many for this exact problem. Kinda makes me believe there's more to it than just people complaining.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,858
    There was certainly a higher incidence of transmission issues on the '99 Outback, but I am not sure if the '99 Forester's transmission was similarly changed from previous years (or 'year', in the case of the Forester!). I am not sure of the cause of these increased failures, but from my time here over the years, I see most reports of failures on '99 models.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Hard to say but every other year or so we'd hear about enhancements made to the automatics. Usually in the programming, though, I'm not sure if the internals changed much.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,858
    I agree. I do know that they switched to an external transmission filter that year (on Outbacks, again not sure about Forester), but I do not know how long the external filter lasted or if that led to any other internal changes or reduced efficiency of fluid flow, etc. Do you recall the failures I mentioned, juice? Many claims of "transmission won't engage" or "transmission engagement is delayed," etc.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'm sure there were a few, but I never noticed a significant pattern of problems, like we did for head gaskets (2002 and earlier) and wheel bearings (Forester and Impreza before 2003).
  • Our 2004 Forester 2.5x has recently developed a "shift flare" when you first drive it after it's been parked overnight; the car will hit about 2,800 RPMs in second gear and then jump to more than 3,000 RPMs before shifting into third. It only does it for the first two or three minutes and doesn't do it in any of the other gears.

    Our local dealer wasn't able to duplicate the problem, and they gave us a Subaru technical bulletin that says the shift flare is a "unique characteristic" of our automatic transmission. But we've had the car for more than two years and it never did this until a few weeks ago. It started shifting awkwardly in the cold weather--and now it does it pretty much every morning.

    So is this just a harmless quirk in our transmission? Or are we looking at a serious--and expensive--problem? And what, exactly, should I have the dealer look at the next time I bring it into the shop?

    The car has less than 28,000 miles on it, so I'm a little concerned/peeved that I may need a new transmission already. Any input would be greatly appreciated...
  • charitymcharitym Posts: 2
    hey there,
    I'm currently in the process of deciding whether or not I want to purchase a '99 Forester AWD with an automatic transmission from my aunt. She's been letting me use the car over the past 6 weeks, so I can get a feel for it before I decide to buy it.
    Over the past 3 weeks I've been noticing a few problems that I've previously never had with any car. *Please keep in mind I'm not that mechanically inclined so some of my descriptions of what's happening might not make perfect sense.
    So here's whats happening: Occasionally when stopped at a light or stop sign, the idle gets rough, and the rpm's dip- sometimes this corrects itself and idling smooths out at the regular rpm, but sometimes the rpms just keep falling until the car stalls. At this point, I should mention there doesn't seem to be any loss of power like with alternator problems, and there are no problem restarting.
    Another issue that seems like it might be related is that the car seems "jumpy" from time to time, like the rpms spike and then fall off a few times in a row. It's done this when accelerating and decelerating and generally seems to happen around 15-20 kmph.
    These problems don't seem to coincide with a hot or cold engine- it's done it on both. Also no indicator lights come on.
    The car had major engine work 2 months ago, and has since been back in the shop for issues with the fuel injection.
    A friend of mine said it could be something related to fuel injection, torque converter, vacuum issues or something as simple as a dirty fuel filter.
    Any hints as to what might need to be checked?? I'm reluctant to purchase the car as I'm scared it might end up being something expensive.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think it's more likely to be the ignition coil or spark plugs/wires.

    No check-engine light?
  • charitymcharitym Posts: 2
    Nope- no check engine light... no indicator lights at all.
    Thanks for your suggestions!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's odd. Usually a stumbling implies a misfire, then you get oxygen in the exhaust, and the O2 sensor would pick that up.
  • I have some problems with same 'shift flare' too.

    I have 05 Outback XT auto (41,500 miles) and same problem especially cold weather, but not all the time. Mine's hit even more 3500 RPM then I have to get off from pedal and it goes away.

    Also I have 'Click' noise from 2 gear to 1 gearbox. Someone said it's release/lock for gearbox. Maybe it's true.

    One more.. when I stop on D shift, there's pretty low RPm such as less than 700RPM. Dealer said that's normal..

    Anyway I went dealer to check those problems then they changed transmission oil and something for $200, but still have same problem.
    Maybe it is the way it is...

  • reginas2reginas2 Posts: 1
    :confuse: My husband just replaced the transmission fluid in my 07 forester. It will not shift gears. Why?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,858
    What kind of fluid did he put in it? Did he put in enough? Are you able to select gears without trouble, but the car will simply not engage?
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    "My husband just replaced the transmission fluid in my 07 forester. It will not shift gears. Why? "

    It is not likely that he replaced all the fluid. If he drained and then refilled with the amount that came out, then 3.75 quarts was replaced out of the total capacity of 10 quarts. To replace all the fluid at one time requires flushing equipment that only a dealer or transmission shop has.

    To function properly, the transmission requires one of the fluids listed on Page 11-21 of the Owners Manual, which states:
    "Genuine Subaru Automatic Transmission Fluid Type-HP.
    Castrol Transmax J.
    If the recommended automatic transmission
    fluid is unavailable, Dexron III
    may be temporarily used. If the Dexron
    III is used continuously there will be a
    noticeable increase in the vibration and
    noise from the automatic transmission."

    However, putting in 3.75 quarts of the wrong fluid would not prevent shifting of gears. But if for some reason the transmission is very low on fluid, that could affect shifting.
This discussion has been closed.