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Subaru Legacy/Outback Transmission Problems



  • Sorry to hear about your manual transmission problem. I am not a Subaru technician and my Subarus both have autoboxes. But I have had a lifetime of doing all of my own auto repairs, including major rebuilds of engines and manual transmissions. I would be personally wary of paying $1000 to have new synchronizer rings for 2nd gear installed in a trans. that has already covered 150,000 miles. Two main reasons: (1) what else is about to fail or is worn? Is the dealer doing the work going to give you a 12 months unlimited mileage warranty when the repair is completed? I doubt it. (2) Emergent work when the 150,000 mile transmission is stripped for repair eg "The gizmo bearing is worn and needs replacing and if we change that then the cordwangler shaft ought to be changed as well...." Next thing you know there is an invoice for an amount that would have got you another transmission.
    I would search on line for a rebuilt transmission or a low mileage used unit and have it installed by a competent repair shop - does not have to be a franchised dealer. Be very wary of buying on e-bay; while there are reputable sellers who care about buyer feedback there are some real sharks out there as well. Caveat emptor!
    If you find a used/rebuilt trans and are not sure about price etc then come back to this forum. There is a whole lot of real world experience in these pages(which has helped me a lot with head gaskets and 2.5L 4 cam engines...but that is another story) :cry:
  • I have a 2001 6-cyl LL Bean outback and the awd doesn't seem to work. I owned the car since 2002 7 years already. It got 75k miles on it. I started realizing the problems last year, the front wheels would start slipping, but after a second it would engage in 4WD with this jerking. I know this car very well, and i know this is not a typical Subaru operation. We just had a snowfall, and the car doesn't engage in AWD at all, only FWD now. On dry pavement it's not that noticeable, but on wet or slick roads its seems like its a FWD car. Nobody put the fuse to make FWD, and there aren't any lights flashing. I did once jack the front end of my car, and put the car in D and the front wheels were the only ones spinning, and thats when AT TEMP light was flashing, other than that nothing lights up or flashes at all. What could it be? My friend brought a SUBARU scanner, we checked the diagnostic and had no codes, Duty ratio was at 52% and AWD switch was off. Any IDEAS what could it be?
  • Hi, my '98 Legacy Wagon has been occasionally revving after shifting up or while driving in gear I think when I'm trying to accelerate, and no power is getting to the wheels. It fixes itself, downshifting doesn't help. It had been revving more than usual while idling before this started as well. Just trying to see if there is an obvious answer to this so I know what I'm getting myself into :)
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181

    The flashing AT Temp light is an indication of a problem with the AT. There is a special scanner at Subaru dealers that they can read the TCU codes (as opposed to the OBDII scanner with reads the ECU codes). My guess is that it's an intenal issue on the trans. Could be something simple or not so simple.

    Subaru Guru and Track Instructor
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181

    Sounds like your torque converter is slipping. I'm assumint this is an automatic. If it's a manual, it could be your clutch.

    Subaru Guru and Track Instructor
  • Hope someone can tell me how to fix this problem, as I am low on funds for repairs. I bought this 1992 Legacy wagon from a co-worker at the US Postal Service. She used the car to deliver mail and she swears by it in all kinds of weather. She Had two Subaru Legacy Wagons which she used for work and one of my co-workers and I each bought a subaru from her, and his was fine in the snow, but my 1992 only spins the front wheels in the snow and ice. I think the Subaru is supposed to go into all wheel drive automatically or it is in AWD all the time, so there is definitely something wrong with my car. She swears it was her best car in the snow last year, and I beleive her, but now it sucks in the snow. I tried looking around in the engine compartment for anything out of the ordinary and found a fuse holder near the fire-wall that reads FWD and there was no fuse in it. I replaced the fuse and a light in the dash went on that sais "FWD", but the car is still not turning the rear wheels. Also, there is a button on the dash that reads "height" and it is flashing most of the time. PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!!! send any advice you can give to thanks.
  • I had same thing on my 2001 Outback 6 cyl. The AWD didnt' engage properly, at times not at all. On dry pavements it wasn't noticeable, but when snow came around, the car was horrible because it was Fwd instead of all 4. Had no lights on, no Transmission codes on, nothing at all. Well i did the research and made a guess about faulty solenoid, then decided to change Transfer Duty solenoid. My guess was right. Turns out it went bad. Newer subarus have different transmissions from old ones, but very similar. I believe your solenoid is called duty C solenoid. But i might be wrong. Was about half day of work, and 100 bucks worth of stuff. The car now is a beast.
  • mike

    my friend had a Genuine Subaru scanner, the fault code was something with front speed sensor circuit. The reason it had this fault when frond end lifted is because the front had speed on wheels, and the back was still. Thus making the computed confused. Anyways did some research, found some time, and changed the Transfer Duty Solenoid. Was a very simple procedure. The car runs like a beast now.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You do not want to insert a fuse, that puts it in FWD mode specifically. That's for when you get a flat tire and want to turn it off temporarily.

    It should engage automatically when the fuse is removed, though, yes.
  • Hello I have no reverse I have all forwad gears ok reverse not engageing. Ichanged fluid and filter. The owner just realized that the reverse took longer to engage for a while then when I moved it to change fluid the reverse was not there. Please can anyone tell me what could ti be Thanks
  • Hey I've got a 97 legacy that i somehow activated the shift lock in today. I followed the manual and got it out by pressing the release button below the shifter with a screw driver. The problem i got now is everytime i put it in park, I have to press the release button again to put it in drive. Also the brake lights don't come on and the cruise control don't work. Does anyone know how to fix this so i don't have to go pay and get it fixed? thanks
  • I have a 2003 Subaru Outback with 60K miles. Last January I had to replace the clutch and brakes. This last summer I had to replace the catalytic converter. Now as I am driving along in 5th gear or sometimes when I first shift into 3rd or 4th the RPMs suddenly rev from 3K to 5K until I shift down or decelerate. I'm taking it in tomorrow but I don't really trust the dealership. Any ideas on what could be wrong? I'm really disappointed with all the repairs especially since I need to drive it for a long time to come! Thanks.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Sounds like the clutch is slipping to me.
  • Hello this is my first post in hopes to find the issue with my 2000 Outback AWD (Automatic Transmission)
    Starts fine, runs great for a car with 190,000 miles. After about 15 miles I came to a stop light and upon trying to go on green , the engine revved and then the transmission kicked in, jerking the car. Sometimes the car runs fine, once going up an incline the engine just revved and I had to kick it up to around 4-5000 rpm for tranny to kick in. Fluid level is full and looks normal red color. Underpan I see where some fluid may be leaking on the rear of the pan. One thing I found that works is when coming to a stop, I downshift to [ 1 ]st gear, and then after getting adequate cruising speed , I shift up to [ D ]rive . Is this my transmission slipping, solenoid, torque convertor? Any help would be appreciated, Thank you.
  • HI, This too is my first post. I have 99 forester that is sometimes slow to go into gear. It has about 160K miles, has had regular service, never was a tow vehicle. The fluid is a nice red color, level is ok. It seems that this is a common problem with late 90's Subarus. Is there an easy fix or am I at the mercy of the dealers and transmission shops??? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Sam
  • 5099lg5099lg Posts: 2
    I have a manual transmission 1999 AWD Outback with 72,000 miles in the shop right at this moment. The owner says he can't tell if the car has a transmission problem or if the problem is in the gearing (slip?) behind the transmission. The problem started with slight clunking on tight turns. Then one evening the car was incredibly hard to parallel park. The clutch went into reverse fine and the car lurched backward, but didn't actually move. After playing with it for a while I was able to move in reverse. I drove directly to the repair shop. While driving a LOUD (people turned to look!) clicking noise in direct relation to the speed happened whenever I was NOT actively pushing on the gas pedal. Any ideas whether I'm dealing with a transmission problem or not?
    Or anything to look for shy of pulling the transmission or replacing the gearing and praying? Oh...and the clutch was replaced 2 months ago.. appears to work fine.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,148
    I suspect the problem is the center differential, which is a clutch pack located inside the transmission housing.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • 5099lg5099lg Posts: 2
    Thank you much... I'll check that out.
  • cptpltcptplt Posts: 1,075
    >Also, there is a button on the dash that reads "height" and it is flashing most of the time.
    I had a 92 Legacy LS which had a pneumatic air suspension system, you hit a button and the suspension rose about 2 inches or something, it eventually started to leak and was always in the lower than "low " mode, maybe your vehicle has a similar system and thats the warning light.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If you still had it I'd suggest trying to coast in neutral to see if the problem persisted. That takes the trans out of the equation.

    I'm also guessing it's not the trans, but rather one of the diffs.
  • sergeiisergeii Posts: 2
    Hello! I'm new owner of 2008 subaru legacy SE(4h) I've purchased my car from a fleet auction. it's got 44.000 on it. I have this problem , that drives me crazy..

    Everytime i come to a stop, you can feel a jerk forward when the transmission downshifts from 2nd to 1st gear, especially after the car has warmed up. Sometimes you can play around with the brake and avoid this thump, but it is very annoying. Shift's up with/out any problems really smooth.
    I still have powertrain warranty on it.. may be i should take it to the dealer..
    Does legacy has adaptive transmition? If it does what can i do to reset it..
    Please ANY help.. what can it be?? what can i do about it? thank you.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,148
    It does have an adaptive transmission. You can rule that out by disconnecting the battery for ten or fifteen minutes, then reconnecting. That should reset the memory.

    But, a fleet car with that many miles, there is no telling how it was driven in its short life or by how many drivers.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • kenjckenjc Posts: 8
    i reset my adaptive transmission for a very similar problem after deciding i couldn't stand it anymore. it got much better and that problem is now gone. also, could it possibly be a braking issue instead? i.e. i need to get my brakes done soon because the car is jerking several times to a stop as i apply the brakes instead of braking smoothly. the discs need sanding and smoothing apparently
  • sergeiisergeii Posts: 2
    did you just disconnect the battery and problem was gone?Or you have had to take to the dealer?
  • pgithakapgithaka Posts: 1
    I have a 2002 legacy, 2.0 auto transmission. Sweet vehicle to drive. However, when I load the gear, it gives a whistling sound, which isnt there when the engine runs on P or N. As I increase speed,the whistle becomes louder, till it shifts to the next gear where the whistling reduces but then does the same. On high speeds (around 80kph and above) the whistle is nearly unnoticeable. In addition, on very low speed like 5-10 kph, there seems to be some light knocking sound around the inner driveshaft, and when reversing. However the gears shift okay while in motion. What could be the problem?
  • ken37ken37 Posts: 1
    I want to drain and refill 2001 outback automatic transmission. The dealer said a drain and refill would only result in a 4 quart replacement, since approx. 5 quarts left in the torque converter will not drain out. Subaru dealer wants $9 per quart. The manual calls for Dexron III. I can get this locally (Valvoline) for about $3 per quart. Any one know if mixing two types of ATF would create problems? Thanks.
  • hhmaxhhmax Posts: 44
    New to the forum and subaru. Thinking of buying a 2000-2001 outback H6. Are there any major items/problems (like the 2.5 HG) that I should be watching for? In general what are the cost of ownership compared with the likes of accord/camry? I would expect to be higher but how much? Appreciate your feedback.
  • My Outback Wagon, with almost 126,000 miles, was at the dealer for maintenance. The work summary says "Tech noticed transmission leaking. The transmission harness is leaking by the O-ring." Per the service manager this harness is made of white plastic and when it gets old it easily cracks. He said my leak is spraying back onto the exhaust when I drive. They want over $500 to replace it. The car is running great and I saw no drips on the driveway. How urgent is this, are there options, is this price reasonable in CT? Thanks.
  • ksal17ksal17 Posts: 1
    I have a 99' Subaru Legacy GT Sedan that will randomly stop being able to shift into Drive or any of the lower gears. It will rev like its in Neutral. Very rarely when I touch the gas it will suddenly pop into drive and I'm fine. When I do get it into drive it shifts fluidly and it goes until I park and need to shift into drive again. The Fluid is topped off and it still shifts into reverse. Any Ideas?
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