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Subaru Legacy/Outback Transmission Problems



  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,149
    A white smoke? That sounds like coolant. But, you don't smell any coolant? Something must be hitting the exhaust system and burning off, which means you should be able to see something under the car where there is a drip. If you're not getting any puddles under the car while stopped, then perhaps it is a slight leak that is only present during operation, where it drips back onto the exhaust and burns off when the exterior of the exhaust components are hot enough to combust it.

    The good news is that it wasn't "jumping" that time! Keep hunting for that leak and monitor your tranny's fluid level. If the fluid gets low, it can cause issues with engagement.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Went to pick it up after work, called service center from lot and they told mr it was being worked on.....unfortunately I was parked next to my car....they then told me that they were busy and that they would work on it tomorrow. Next day at 5 they said the car was ready. Mi drove for about 400 yards and almost all dash lights came on.....took it back immediately. The next day they called and said a sensor was broken while raising the trans. I went back to pick it up. Within the first 1 mile I noticed a whining sound when accelerating hard. Took it back immediately. They took a test drive with me and heard the sound. They said it was the gasket between turbo and cat. Picked it up today and got all the way home with having to go back. The shudder is gone and it seems to shift better (between 1st and 2nd I always felt it would shift a bit late.... That seems better too.).

    In any event it seems good now....
  • Is the car still running well? Did they give you a price on at any point on what it would cost to replace the torque converter? My car is still having the issues and it's burning something too. It smells like a moldy dish rag or something. One weird observation is tht the car seems to run better in sport mode. I feel like the torque converter is sticking more now.
  • bigddvbigddv Posts: 1
    sounds more like the front brake calipers are sticking....feel the wheels when you see the smoke and see if the front wheels are very hot to the touch near the center.
  • mattnzmattnz Posts: 1
    I have recently bought a 2006 2.5i Outback approx 90k miles. drives really well but notice that going around a tight corner then accelerating out of it, the transmission seems to slip and then engage with a jolt. The same applies turning both left or right. Almost as if the oil has sloshed to one side and is leaving the trans short of oil for a bit perhaps? I checked the fluid level yesterday and it looks more like a bit over full if anything.
  • legacy463legacy463 Posts: 1
    Going to work one morning, when I slowed at stop light, car stalled and ATF light started blinking. Later that day took it to Subaru dealer, said it was reading code 45 on tranny. Drove it for about a week, no problems then it started jerking and light blinking again. Pulled over, stopped car for min. then got it home. Changed the transmission fluid and filter, drove it over 400 miles, no problems. I do have a check engine light on also, but it always read 420 until a couple weeks ago. Said code 107, which I'm assuming MAP sensor, yet when it was put on diagnostic machine for tranny it read NO code. (took it to another shop for second opinion) My CEL comes on few days, goes off few days. Last Saturday, took it to airport to pick up boyfriends rental car, which is about 2 miles from my house. Got almost there and it started jerking, ATF light blinking, yet my CEL was off. Pulled over, restarted, got about 500 yards, slowed to turn into airport, car stalled, light blinking. Ended up leaving it sit there a couple days til he got back. He drove it back home with no problems. What the heck is going on?
  • About a week ago while i was driving, I noticed when placing my foot on the gas pedal that RPM's shot up. Since then even in 1st gear the RPM's shoot up. I notice this smell but cannot put my mind to know what it is. Is this a clutch problem or a transmission problem. I am just leaving it sitting cause I can barely get up to 30 MPH on the highway due to the RPM's shooting into the red.
  • typesixtypesix Posts: 320
    If it's a standard transmission, sounds like clutch.
  • pdeolpdeol Posts: 1
    "My wife and I bought a fully loaded Subaru Outback 3.6 (2012) and I must's a beautiful car! However, we have been having significant transmission problems ever since (pretty much since the first week). When coming to a rolling stop and re-accelerating (even mildly) there is a significant "clunk" in the transmission. Ouch! Our hearts sank immediately as we'd just parted with a significant amount of money for this purchase. We've taken the vehicle back to the dealership in an attempt to deal with the problem. They tried to reset the computer code somehow, but have failed to fix the problem. They are now telling us this is normal for the car and have left it at that...If you're going to spend about $40 grand on a new vehicle you hope the company would ensure that your concerns were addressed. We've owned new Honda's and Toyota's in the past and have never experienced a transmission clunk like this....ever! Until this issues is addressed...I wouldn't touch this car with a ten foot pole...even if it were a 2013.

    For those other owners of the 2012 outback 3.6....I hope you've come to a better resolution that we"

    I have same problem with my 2012 Subaru 3.6

    I hope someone find the answer
  • pj43pj43 Posts: 9
    Ok, first of all what did the engine light indicate? If the tranny was giving you problems the ATT light would start to flash, what you smell at high speeds could be brk pads. As posted previously, check your calipers!
  • ****Year and a half follow-up to my previous post!!! ****

    We took the car in shortly after my last post and had service bulletin computer updates done to the vehicle..(Service Bulletin # 11-104-11)

    IT DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! a weak Band-Aid at best...

    Subaru should be absolutely embarrassed with the way they have handled this...

    DO NOT BUY A SUBARU...Nice car on the outside...pretty sketchy underneath IMO. This was a brand new purchase...our first and OUR LAST vehicle from Subaru.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,149
    So, what have you done with it in the last 18 months, then? Did you attempt any further follow up, did you dump it, are you living with it....?
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • We live close to where my wife works and have a second vehicle, so haven't driven it often enough for my wife to complain...I've booked another appointment to get it checked for next week (car has less than 15,000 miles)...I noticed it when I drove the vehicle again for the first time in months...(It's my wife's primary vehicle) If nothing improves, we'll likely hang on to "the dog" for another year then dump it before the drivetrain warranty expires...
    Lesson learned...I'll stick with the Honda's and Toyota's (and other divisions of those companies) I've had in the past and will avoid Subaru like the plague...

    I've got no issue with a company admitting there is a problem and making the effort to solve it, but Subaru seems more apt to want to brush this under the rug in spite of the fact that this is more common than you like to think with others posting on the chat boards...
  • Hi y'all. I have a 95 automatic AWD subaru legacy wagon and I'm having problems with what I think might be my transmission. We recently had a little snow storm up here in Portland, OR, so while driving I often had to shift into 1st, 2nd or 3rd gear just to get going and to slow down. No problems and no unusual noises at that point or even before. After doing this for a couple of days, I got into my car to drive it to work. Started it up, put it in drive and nothing but engine revving, no movement but a slight rock when I initially put it in drive. I checked all gears and no movement. I checked in again over the course of a few days and still the same thing with some whistling noise (like release air from a balloon while pinching the top) when I release my foot from the gas. Well now, I get into it yesterday and it's driving fine. I did hear a slight knocking noise when I put it in reverse and drive, but this stopped after the car warmed up for a bit. Today, I drove it around the neighborhood and it seems to be fine. I have checked the trans oil and that is low, so I will top that off today. But any thoughts on what the problem might be before I take it to a mechanic? I like to be educated so any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,149

    How low is "a bit low?" Nothing you describe really stands out with an obvious cause aside from the possibility that your transmission may not be building pressure due to fluid level or... ? When is the last time your transmission fluid/filter were changed? How many miles on the car?

    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • sudz62sudz62 Posts: 2
    Can anybody help? My son has a 1998 AWD Liberty GX Station wagon (50th anniversary edition). The car runs beautifully normally but when he goes up a steep hill on a freeway and the auto transmission kicks down, the car slowly loses power and eventually stalls or (if he reaches the top) slowly regains speed. While doing this, there is a loud noise from the front end (but this could just be the engine working extra hard). We previously had the MAS replaced when the car was losing power and stalling on small hills and cornering and that fixed that problem but the mechanic checked and cleaned the MAS and said it was fine. It only happens on large (freeway) inclines where speed and momentum can't take the car to the top, the rest of the time on flat roads, small hills and normal traffic when kick down isn't required, the car is fine and goes through the gears smoothly with expected performance. The mechanic suspects 'a transmission problem' but don't have anymore $$$ to spend on major repairs. If anybody has a suggestion, it would at least give me some ammunition to keep in reserve for the dealerships who are notorious in Australia for charging an arm and a leg for any repair.
  • sudz62sudz62 Posts: 2
    Sorry, make that the Silver Anniversary edition !
  • manuelsmanuels Posts: 1

    I also have problem with my 2012 legacy 3.6 R
    Aside from the hesitation from reverse to drive, thug/clunking sound, the more serious Is that the car seems to have a mind of its own. After hard acceleration, the car would like to take off like a jet. I have to apply the brakes really hard to slow it down. The last time it happened, I burned my pads - smelly - just like driving with the parking brakes engaged. It is scary. Serious safety issue. I'm bringing it to the dealer on Thursday for them to check. Very disappointed with my purchase. I bought my 3.6 because its fun, but, with the transmission acting like that, it is not safe. Is it too much to ask to have fun and safe at the same time?

  • jrb123jrb123 Posts: 2

    Three months ago, we purchased a 2014 Outback and have an issue with the CVT. At in-town driving speeds of 30-45 mph, you can hear the engine wrap up (2200 rpm) as if it needs to shift and can't. When I move the selector to "M", it is indeed laboring at "3" or "4" with an up arrow indicating that it can that it can be paddled up. When I do that there is an immediate easing of the engine (1200 rpm) and the car seems to "relax", only to rev up again when the selector is moved back to "D." This happens about 50% of the time and has resulted in gas mileage of 16.9 - 19.1 mpg. I have taken it to two dealers and neither could find anything wrong and of course, it did not show the problem when they drove it. My thought is that whatever part of the car's computer that tells it to shift only works intermittently. One of the dealers said that the CVT doesn't shift like regular transmissions (I know this, just traded in a Legacy and it didn't have this issue) and that it is operating at its optimum condition. I told him it can't be operating at "optimum condition" when the engine is laboring like this. I drove a manual transmission for years and this is the sound and rpms that told me I needed to shift to a higher gear. He shrugged and said they can't replace a part that doesn't show up as defective on their scope. I'm worried it will keep getting worse and the problem won't be diagnosed until after the warranty period is over and I'm disgusted at the lousy gas mileage. Any ideas? Thanks.

  • 2011 3.6R Outback, coming off lease in April. Same auto-tranny clunking as described throughout this, and multiple forums. 2 different dealers giving me the old "that's odd..I've never heard of this problem before" said the engine needed to be warmed up before driving. LOL... Uhm, this is Los Angeles, not Michigan, dipstick. No new Subaru for me.

  • saedavesaedave Chicago, ILPosts: 694

    The new 3.6R Outbacks will have the CVT transmission, not the five speed auto with issues. The CVT solves the problems.

  • what about jrb123's CVT tranny issues on his '14 Outback?

  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085
    edited March 2014

    @bcampbell001 said:
    what about jrb123's CVT tranny issues on his '14 Outback?

    Actually, the description by jrb123 sounds like 'normal' cold-temp operation. The CVT will force the engine to stay near 2000 RPM until FULLY warmed up. (purposefully stay in lower gearing) Some folks have reported this CVT behavior continues for some time even after the blue 'cold engine' lite extinguishes.

    I have noticed my subie behaving in this way for many miles of driving after a cold start and am not concerned at all about it. After fully warming up, the CVT shifts to high gear normally.

    Thru experimentation, some Subie CVT drivers have determined that this behavior can be circumvented by moving the lever to 'manual' mode, turning off the blower, or turning the heater down. Some people think the onboard computer is trying to protect the transmission. Other folks think that emission-controls are trying get the engine up-to-temp as fast as possible.

    I know on my manual transmission vehicles, I never EVER use high-gear until the engine-temp guage is fully up to normal operating point. In my mind, the CVT is emulating a properly-driven manual transmission.

    Of course, jrb123 does not describe the specific conditions under which he encounters this CVT behavior so we cannot make conclusive determination if his is a real problem.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,149

    Good point, peebles.

    People need to realize that a CVT is not the same device as a TCT (torque converter transmission). They perform the same task, but they do it differently. Expecting a vehicle to behave exactly the same way with both transmission types is like sitting in a car with a manual transmission without a gear selected, hitting the accelerator, and expecting it will go: You're bound for disappointment!

    A problem is most likely present if, after developing expectations through experience, your vehicle behaves differently than it has in the past.

    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683

    Sounds like learning to drive a CVT is a bit akin to learning how to use ABS brakes.

  • bpeeblesbpeebles Posts: 4,085

    I am still learning how to drive a CVT. Since the programming leans towards maximizing MPG, I find it tricky to maintain constant roadspeed on undulating roads (virtually every Vermont road). The slightest rise in the road is detected and it downshifts and slows down... then, when the road heads downhill, the speed gets away from me.

    Back in my MANUAL transmission, on the very same roads, (and same engine!), I can maintain roadspeed within 2 MPH without ever looking at the speedometer.

    I think some of it is the SOUND of the engine. Obviously with the manual xmission, it is perfectly linear with roadspeed. With the CVT, the engine-sound has absolutely no correlation to the roadspeed.

  • baldy1232baldy1232 Posts: 1

    I have a 2002 Subaru Legacy GT /w a manual transmission that over the past month has started to show a slight and now more pronounced clicking noise.

    1. The noise itself is best described as a slight ticking sound, kinda of like when we used to put baseball cards in the spokes of our bicycle wheels. The ticking speeds up and slows with the speed of the car.

    2. This noise is coming from the center of the engine bay (not either side) and I have checked the boots on the CV joints, so I am going to rule that out.

    3. The noise only appears when I am accelerating, and is especially noticeable in 1st gear at slow speeds and accelerating out of a stop. I suspect the noise is still there at higher speeds, but is drowned out by engine and road noise.

    4. The noise does NOT appear when simply revving the engine RPM's with the clutch in.

    5. The gear oil was low and has been filled.

    I cannot figure out the problem

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 11,149

    I suspect a bearing. You say that it is not coming from either side, yet it does not appear to be (from your description) something you can replicate when the vehicle is not in motion?

    If it really is mid-vehicle, then your rear drive shaft carrier may be the culprit. Otherwise, it could be a wheel bearing. If it is a bearing in the drive shaft (or even in the transmission housing), they do tend to make more noise when in high-torque situations.

    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • jrb123jrb123 Posts: 2

    @bpeebles said:
    Of course, jrb123 does not describe the specific conditions under which he encounters this CVT behavior so we cannot make conclusive determination if his is a real problem.

    @bpeebles, I appreciate the info. The behavior has mostly disappeared with warmer weather. My commute to work is only 4 miles so perhaps the engine would not be totally warmed up by the time I arrived this winter. But it sometimes performed that way (running at over 22,000 rpms) for as long as 45 minutes on longer trips...or it would be working fine but after a stop light, would start the revving-up process again. The behavior was pretty erratic so I couldn't pin it on a specific circumstance. The Legacy that we traded in for this Outback also had a CVT and it never had this problem. I guess my biggest gripe is the poor gas mileage (which doesn't come close to what is listed on the sticker, city or highway) and I can't help but think that the revving engine business has something to do with it. We like the Subaru brand (this is our 3rd) but probably wouldn't have purchased this one knowing how bad the mpg was going to be--we trusted the sticker and the dealer claims!

  • jfljfl Posts: 1,388

    jrb123 - Re mpg: Your 4 mile commute doesn't give the engine enough time to warm up, so few gas/diesel powered cars would give you good mpg. The engine never gets to the point of being really efficient.

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