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question about Torch Bind


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24 replies to this topic

#1 WalterDeat

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 11:11 PM

Ok, so I just bought my first Subaru a few days ago. It's a 1997 legacy 2.5 gt. I love the car, but after 2 days of driving it I noticed a slight shudder/shake when doing a very low speed turn (out of the driveway, parking lot, that kind of thing). After searching on google, and finding these forums, it seems likely that I may have torque bind issues. Whenever I start the car the AT temperature light comes on, is that related?

I'm not the most technically skilled, and I don't have very much knowledge on the mechanics of cars besides the basics. My question is this: If untreated, will this issue develop into something much worse later on, or is it just an inconvenience? After reading some posts on here I'm a bit confused also on what exactly needs to be fixed. I saw some things about an inexpensive fix for the issues, and then I saw some posts about replacing some parts, and it costing anywhere from 500-1000 dollars, which is scary considering I just got the car. I know you guys have probably gotten a similar question in the past. Rest assured that I did search around to see what I could find, but figured I'd give the details of my specific situation and see what I could find out. Thanks for any help, it's much appreciated.

Edited by WalterDeat, 01 March 2010 - 11:16 PM.
spelling


#2 WalterDeat

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 11:23 PM

And I don't know why I spelled "torque" as torch...must be tired. I'm not THAT much of an idiot, I promise! :)

#3 Olnick

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 11:34 PM

Welcome to USMB, Walter. Just for the record, it's "Torque Bind," not torch. Yes, it will get worse over time if not fixed.

I'm no AT expert but others will chime in.

First thing to do is check your transmission fluid. If it's old, brown, dirty and maybe smells burnt you should change it. Flush the tranny--or drain and fill at least 3 times. You can search on this forum for technique. That might help reduce the wear at least for now.

#4 WalterDeat

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 11:52 PM

Some extra information: It has 102k miles on it.

#5 Bad Brian

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 12:15 AM

It certainly sounds like torque bind and I know because I had it with those same symptoms. My thread about this problem was started in April '09.
If the problem is that the Duty C solenoid is bad then , yes, it will require replacement, labor and maybe other parts. But first you need to see if the Duty C can be forced into operating. Under your hood, on my Impreza it in above the left front wheel well, will be a plastic box. In it is a place to insert a fuse and it should be labeled "FWD". A spare fuse may already be inside the box for you to use. If your Duty C is good, inserting the fuse will force the Duty C to to put the car in 2wd, driving the car this way will reveal if the rear wheels are still engaged or not. If the shuttering is gone, that is a good thing. Your Duty C works. Remember to take the fuse out, you will never have AWD again until you do!
If the Duty C works the fluid changes may fix the issue. My car took about 3.9 qts. to change. Of course draining it does not get the fluid out of the torque converter but you do dilute the dirty stuff more each time you change it. I ran it on the new fluid for 2 days then did another fluid change. During those first 2 days I had noticed the car's improvement but it was really noticeable during the 2 weeks that I drove it with the second change. After 2 weeks I changed it again, the fluid coming out looked almost as good as what went in. PROBLEM SOLVED!
So for less than $35 and with a little elbow grease and some mess I saved a bundle in parts, diagnosis and labor costs because no garage will try the fluid changes before giving you a line of bull************ and selling you parts and services you may not need.
Of course if the putting the fuse in does not alleviate the torque bind problem then you do have more serious issues. Good luck.

#6 Bad Brian

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 12:18 AM

Some extra information: It has 102k miles on it.


mine had a bit over 50K when the problem showed up without ever having had the ATF changed. You probably do not know if/when yours was done.

#7 WalterDeat

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 12:34 AM

Thanks BadBrian, that was really helpful. I'm going to try the fuse thing in the morning and see if that disengages the AWD. I'm really hoping that I don't have to get expensive work done, because the dealership sold it to me AS IS and I doubt they'd be willing to fix it for free. I should have done more research before buying the car, but oh well.

And when you say ATF, does that mean the transmission fluid?

#8 Bad Brian

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 12:49 AM

ATF= Auto. Tran. Fluid

Use Dexron III or IV, they may have V now. Actually if it appears that it is working add Trans X ( I think that is the product they rave about here) at the last change THEN top it off with with 3+ qts. of ATF.

As-is or not you just bought it from a dealer and here in CT. there is a minimum of some rights regarding repairs for used vehicles just bought from dealers. I do not remember the details.

#9 WalterDeat

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 01:20 AM

I checked, and I don't think that the same law applies here in Missouri. I think the no lemon law only applies to brand new cars. When I lived in kansas though I know all used vehicles had to be covered for 30 days.

#10 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 04:19 AM

Drain the fluid while hot (as much as will come out with the front on jack-stands), refill. Drive it 10 miles or so. Repeat the procedure.

You'll need about 3 gallons of ATF.

That will likely clear it up.

GD

#11 CNY_Dave

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 08:07 AM

Does the AT light go on and then off like the other idiot lights, or does it flash?

Dave

#12 WalterDeat

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 11:56 AM

I actually checked that this morning, and it appears that the AT TEMP just lights up when starting the car, like all the other lights. I thought it was actually flashing, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Is that a good sign?

#13 CNY_Dave

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 12:22 PM

I actually checked that this morning, and it appears that the AT TEMP just lights up when starting the car, like all the other lights. I thought it was actually flashing, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Is that a good sign?


It means, I think, that whatever the problem is, the computer doesn't notice it- helps rule out what it isn't.

AWD fuse in place will tell the most, I think.

Dave

#14 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 02:18 PM

I did a lot of checking and searching and talking to resident experts about the TB problem while fixing a '91 I recently sold. There are ultimately three routes that it can go. With your level of symtpoms it's a very high probability that a simple drain/refill/drain/refill will fix the problem. Here's the three possilibities:

1. Drain/refill/.... typically solves more minor and intermittant TB.

2. Trans-X (or whatever the additive is that folks are using) - solves the majority of the one's that a simple flush does not.

3. Replacement of the clutch pack/duty-c solenoid. Not that hard and used parts are often availible. If you do the work yourself figure around $200 for parts - maybe less depending on if you go with a new solenoid or not.

On the '91 I just did - the light was flashing and it would bind intermittantly hard enough to sometimes chirp the tires, etc. 3 gallons of ATF later and this has stopped plus it shifts smoother now. My customer is happy - cost us around $35 for the fluid. If it comes back we'll add the additive and if that doesn't work I'll tear it down and replace the clutch pack - it's not a difficult job and no special tools are required.

GD

Edited by GeneralDisorder, 02 March 2010 - 02:20 PM.


#15 WalterDeat

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 05:59 PM

So I'm going to go ahead and change out the ATF, but I'm not sure if I can do this on my own or not. Can this be done without putting the car up on a jack? If anyone has a link to the procedures for this it would be most appreciated. My manual doesn't say anything about how to actually do it, and searching google didn't turn up anything right away. Will continue to look for some instructions though.

#16 Bad Brian

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 06:44 PM

did you do the fuse thing yet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After that we will see if any changes are worth talking about.

#17 WalterDeat

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 08:28 PM

alright, so I did the fuse thing. I put the fuse in the FWD slot, and when I started the car, it switched over to FWD, and it had the FWD light on. So, from what you guys are saying this means that the solenoid is not the issue? Should I proceed to change out the transmission fluid? I'd like to do it on my own if I can, but I only have basic tools, etc. Thanks to everyone who has helped me out on this so far :-D

#18 WoodsWagon

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 08:39 PM

You have to try driving in a tight circle on dry pavement after putting it in FWD mode. If the bind is gone, the solenoid works and flushing will most likely fix it. If the bind is still there in FWD mode you will probably have to pull it apart because either the clutch pack is borked or the solenoid is sticking.

If the car was towed with the front wheels up and the rears rolling, it can burn the clutch pack to the point it's too warped to release. But, if putting in the FWD fuse makes the symptoms dissapear, then that isn't the case.

#19 WalterDeat

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 09:40 PM

Alright, so I put the fuse back in again and drove for about 10 minutes in different places in a tight turn at low speeds. The problem is completely gone when the AWD is disengaged. This is a relief to me. I'm going to go to the dealership tomorrow (picking up the title anyway) and seeing if they are willing to do the ATF change for free. If not, then I'm going to see how hard it's going to be to do it myself.

Here is a question: Should I leave it in FWD mode in the meantime? If I do, will it hurt the car? The torque bind isn't too bad, but I don't want to risk screwing something up.

#20 Bad Brian

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Posted 02 March 2010 - 11:37 PM

Yes, you can leave the fuse in for now.

I did 2 of my ATF changes without putting the car up in the air, BUT I know how to get at the drain plug from along the drivers door, I have a drain pan that fits under the car and cardboard to catch spillage, I have a socket and breaker bar and a pipe to extend it giving me enough leverage to get the drain plug loose, and I know which of the 3 dipsticks under the hood is for the tranny rather than the oil or front differential and I would guess that you do not have a a ATF funnel to refill the tranny.

So, if your torque bind really is gone, you can ask the dealer to change the ATF or buy your ATF fluid and call a friend to come over and talk you thru your first ATF change and monitor your progress. Physically an 8 year old can do it if he was being shown what to do.

Do not overfill the tranny. If 3.5 qts. come out, 3.5 go back in.

#21 montana105

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 12:27 AM

Walter: don't create anxiety over working on your own car. Assess what you have for tools,basic wrenches and ratches will get the job done.A floor jack and jack stands would be really nice to prop the front of the car up and allow extra space for sliding under at least for your first time.At some point you're gonna have to go under,differentiate between the engine and tranny and loosen the tranny pan drain bolt.If you happen to loosen the wrong one it's not the end of the world,you can replace whatever fluid you happen to drain.
My biggest suggeston at this time would be to get yourself a Haynes or Chiltons :eek: repair manual and identify what's where.

#22 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 02:34 AM

Having the front end up in the air a bit (on an inexpensive set of 2 ton or 3 ton jack-stands or even a set of those drive-on ramps) helps to get more of the ATF to drain out. When I do it I usually have the front wheels about 4" off the floor and I typically get about 5.5 to 6 quarts out. I then drain that into milk jugs and asses how much needs to go back in, etc.

I would do the job myself if I were you - the experience is more valuable than having the dealer do it for you. Changing/checking fluid levels, filters, brakes, etc are simple skills to obtain and require very few tools. If I had my way I would require people to learn these skills to get a license. Would make for safer roads and fewer breakdowns. And in general our society needs more "can do" attitude and less "can call someone that can do" attitude :rolleyes:

GD

#23 johnceggleston

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 07:06 AM

i'd press the dealer for a fix. if fluid does it so much the better. they knew the car had torque bind when they sold it. they took advantage of you. complain, make them fix it. if they refuse, tell them you are calling the better business bureau.

press for a transfer clutch rebuild, if they balk, tell them you'll take a trans flush. buying a car 'as is' from a dealer is different than buying one 'as is' from an individual.

at the local car auction, some cars are "dealers only". the difference, in this state cars sold to dealers do not have to go through any safety inspection or certification process. the car could have absolutely no brakes and there could be no come backs.

dealers price their cars high so if the buyers says i want the car, but i want new front brakes, there is still a profit. if you had asked for a trans flush before you signed the paperwork they would have done it to make the sale.

ask, if he balks ask him if he wants you to be a repeat customer.

the worst thing that can happen is they say NO.

#24 oldgray1

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Posted 03 March 2010 - 10:01 AM

I strongly agree with all the posters' comments on this thread, especially the one about buying a Haynes repair manual for your model. A lot of car repair tasks can seem overwhelming at first if you're not used to servicing your own cars. I could also suggest opening an account at alldatadiy.com to get a more complete service manual for your vehicle. They go much further into detail than Haynes, including dealer "book time" for estimating labor charges and part numbers and prices for repair jobs. Using alldatadiy and the Haynes manual, I was able to do a timing belt and water pump replacement on a '90 Legacy. Never done those in my life, so it can a real good feeling of accomplishment to conquer those jitters about doing a "big" repair job.
Routine maintenance should be a piece of cake--just get in there and get 'er done!! Thanks for reading my 2 cents worth of cheerleading...Good Luck and Welcome to the best bunch of Subaru enthusiasts in the world!!!

#25 WalterDeat

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Posted 04 March 2010 - 11:44 AM

Thanks to everyone for helping me figure this out. I haven't been able to get the transmission fluid flushed yet, but hoping to get it done friday. Everyone has been really helpful and nice, so it looks like this is a really cool community. I hope to stick around and continue to learn more about my subaru, and subaru in general!




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