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1998 Subaru Legacy Outback Transmission woes/questions


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17 replies to this topic

#1 GPrime2

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 05:25 PM

Long time lurker, first time poster, wanted to say thanks up front for all the advice I've gotten from this site. I've come to what I think is a solid conclusion on this issue but I want to make sure I've got it right, so please if you all could confirm/deny my conclusion, it'd be a great help.

Anywho, on to the issue. I picked up this 98 legacy outback from a buddy with a bad front diff. Figured it'd be easier to replace the whole transaxle than just the front diff, which was great because I got a used trans for pretty cheap. Tore the car apart and got the old trans out, put the new trans in (this was my first auto trans swap so it took a while to get it right). Started the engine for the first time when it was all back together, got a terrible noise from the back of the engine/front of the trans (the torque converter area) and some smoke, and it wouldn't move in any gear. Immediately took it apart and realized that I hadn't seated the torque converter all the way. I made it to the second click and thought it was in, apparently it wasn't and it had another 1/2 inch or so to go. My question is this: I've read that I've probably destroyed the transmission oil pump, which is to my knowledge somewhere inside that magical box run by gnomes that makes gears change. Is it a 100% conclusion that I've destroyed the oil pump? I've got a u-pull-it yard pretty close and I can now tear a trans out of a subaru in a few hours and for another $100 or so I can have a new trans, but if I can save money and this one works, that'd be great.

With the torque converter fully seated in the transmission, it doesn't want to rotate more than the gap between the splines in either direction (about 3-4 degrees of movement or so), is it safe to mate it up to the engine and give it a go? Or should I just bite the bullet and get another trans, learn from my mistake, mate it properly and be done? Can I hurt the engine by giving it a shot as it sits? Any help would be greatly appreciated, and the sooner the better, I'm going to go pull the transmission tomorrow morning if it isn't worth my while to try this one out.

Thanks in advance.

#2 lmdew

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 06:23 PM

The trans is most likely toast.

A properly seated torque converter will rub up against the starter gear when you push it back and rotate it. When you install the trans, it will bolt up to the engine and the trans will still be about an 1/8" back, away from the flex plate.

Install the bolts and pull the TQ forward to the flex plate.

You won't hurt the engine by trying it, but you will contaminate the radiator cooling tank. Make sure you flush it out.

#3 grossgary

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 07:19 PM

the oil pump is hosed, get another transmission.

you could attempt a rebuild by swapping oil pump parts from the old trans to the new...depending why the old one is hosed? i know folks have done that before....memory tells me they've posted about it here. just the rotor ended up cracked or something fairly simple...like one part. but it's a fairly involved job and mostly comes down to making sure you take note of the front diff - the backlash is crucial to get right...or retain since you're just reinstalling the same front diff.

you can save the old trans, pilfer the rear 4WD bits and duty c which sometimes fail or even retain the best parts between all the transmissions you have. keep the best clutches/hub that have the least amount of notching/grooves.

#4 GPrime2

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 01:34 PM

Update: I went to the junkyard in search of transmissions, the best I could find was a 1995 Legacy Outback auto, the transmissions look 100% identical but after getting it home and comparing it the torque converters are slightly different. (It looks like it will fit and bolt up, but the physical shape is slightly different). Questions: Can I use this transmission on my '98? and if so, should I/can I just swap the torque converters so that it's the right one, or does it not really matter? Thanks for the advice, I can still return this one if I have to and possibly order one online.

#5 johnceggleston

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 02:25 PM

Update: I went to the junkyard in search of transmissions, the best I could find was a 1995 Legacy Outback auto, the transmissions look 100% identical but after getting it home and comparing it the torque converters are slightly different. (It looks like it will fit and bolt up, but the physical shape is slightly different). Questions: Can I use this transmission on my '98? and if so, should I/can I just swap the torque converters so that it's the right one, or does it not really matter? Thanks for the advice, I can still return this one if I have to and possibly order one online.


the torque converter matches rthe flex plate so if you swap one you have to swap the other. but more to the point, the 98 outback has a different final drive ratio, 4.44 than the 95 outback, 4.11. so if you use the 95 trans you will also need the rear diff. you can use the original torque converter and the 4.11 rear diff w/ the 95 trans and you will be good to go. you will have better fuel economy and a little less "power" due to the different final drive. all in all, it would easier to get the right trans, but compare the price.

you want an auto trans from any 2.5L car 96 - 98, outback is your first choice but GT or LSi or even a forester will work.

Edited by johnceggleston, 03 July 2010 - 02:29 PM.


#6 GPrime2

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 02:46 PM

the torque converter matches rthe flex plate so if you swap one you have to swap the other. but more to the point, the 98 outback has a different final drive ratio, 4.44 than the 95 outback, 4.11. so if you use the 95 trans you will also need the rear diff. you can use the original torque converter and the 4.11 rear diff w/ the 95 trans and you will be good to go. you will have better fuel economy and a little less "power" due to the different final drive. all in all, it would easier to get the right trans, but compare the price.

you want an auto trans from any 2.5L car 96 - 98, outback is your first choice but GT or LSi or even a forester will work.


Ok so from the looks of things, it's going to be more work than it's worth to make this '95 transmission work in my '98. Another question, are the transmission pumps the same in both transmissions? ie could I swap the pump from the '95 transmission (which works) to the '98 transmission (which also works, minus the pump being shot due to me not seating the torque converter all the way)? If so, how hard is it to swap oil pumps, or should I just look for another transmission?

#7 johnceggleston

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 03:02 PM

Ok so from the looks of things, it's going to be more work than it's worth to make this '95 transmission work in my '98. Another question, are the transmission pumps the same in both transmissions? ie could I swap the pump from the '95 transmission (which works) to the '98 transmission (which also works, minus the pump being shot due to me not seating the torque converter all the way)? If so, how hard is it to swap oil pumps, or should I just look for another transmission?


i've never done it but from what i here, it is harder to swap the oil pump than the front diff. so in theory you could put your front diff on the 95 trans and use your original TC. but if you are buying, why not buy the right one, not one you have to re-work.

did you look here: www.car-part.com ?

sort your search by distance. you will have to do separate searches one for for each , 96, 97-98 and if you look at foresters that will be separate yet again. but you will lots to look for. you might be able to find a wreck near you on craigslist for a few hundred.

#8 GPrime2

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 12:10 PM

Ok one last idea, since I already have the 1995 transmission which I'm gathering has the wrong front differential final drive ratio, can I just take the front diff from the transmission that has a blown oil pump and put it on the transmission that has the wrong front diff? I'm pretty sure that should work (I'm also going to swap the torque converter in the process), but if I'm way off the mark for some reason let me know. Thanks again for the help.

#9 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 12:18 PM

Just swap the diffs or pickup a 4.111 rear diff. Either one is not that hard. While you have stuff apart pull the clutch pack and duty-c solenoid and check them out as well.

GD

#10 GPrime2

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 01:09 PM

I'm posting an image to make absolute sure I'm doing this right (and provided I am, maybe it can be a good pic for someone else to look at who is doing the same thing). Anywho, The goal is to put the '98 front diff on the '95 trans, and life should be swell. Is there anything else I need to do to make this work 100%. Apologies for seemingly asking the same question so many times, I'm out of my element being this deep into a car repair, but I'm trying to measure twice and cut once, so to speak.

Posted Image

Edit: The 1995 and 1998 front differentials look literally identical, is it possible that they're the same? Or are they different in a way I cant see from just looking at them?

Edited by GPrime2, 08 July 2010 - 01:12 PM.


#11 grossgary

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 03:13 PM

the tooth count will be different, but not by much, just count them all the way around.

nearly everything on these jokers is interchangeable. in general, you're proceeding the right way. if you move the axle stub retainers make sure you count the number of turns as that sets the preload/backlash of the front diff.

is there a tooth problem here? when meshing gears you can't always just throw them together because they fit, there's a certain science to the meshing of the gears. not sure if it matters here but just make sure first. i forget how the front diff and trans mesh together...eventhough i just disassembled one a couple months ago. :rolleyes:

and i think it's in 19998 that the bellhousing bolt pattern changed (or was it 99?) so it may differ from the 95. don't let that stop you, the 95 bellhousing will still bolt right up to the engine even if it looks like it doesn't have the same number of bolt holes. it'll still work fine.

#12 GPrime2

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 05:26 PM

Just to be sure, I also swapped the shaft that goes through the transmission from back to front (connects with a gear in the back and the front is kindof an onion shaped spline that meshes with the actual front differential), and everything fit together just fine. What do you mean by moving the axle stub? I'm not familiar with a lot of this stuff and I want to make sure I'm not making another catastrophic mistake like like not seating the TC all the way.

Edit: I believe the bell housings changed in '99, the housing is identical on the 95 as the 98, however it doesn't matter because the bell housing is attached to the front differential case which is being moved onto the 95 trans from the 98, so the bolts will be off a '98 either way.

#13 grossgary

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 07:07 PM

that's awesome, good work! you're jumping right in, i like it!

axle stubs are the splined shafts the axle slides onto up front, but no problem sounds like you're not going to mess with the ring that's right behind the on the side of the trans. i wasn't sure if you were going to disassembled the front diff or just swap the entire thing so i was pointing that out.

how hard was it to remove the shaft going through the trans? did you have the split the case?

if you haven't put it back together inspect the rear transfer clutches and keep the clutch basket or whatever it's called with the least "grooves" in it.

also - keep the entire rear tail section and the duty C solenoid, and hub - they're known to fail but easily replaced in the car, so that's a good part to have on hand just in case.

glad the bellhousings are the same, it's not the bolts that differ, but doesn't matter so no point in explaining.

#14 GPrime2

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Posted 12 July 2010 - 03:47 PM

Alright then, update time. I put the transmission in and I'm in the process of button the car back up and giving it a shot, but I took a few pictures of the TC in the trans as it was about to go into the car just to make SURE that it's seated properly. If someone could be so kind as to just take a quick look at these and say it's seated properly or it isn't, I REALLY don't want to blow up another transmission. I don't think it can go in any more and I spent about 10 minutes spinning it both directions to be sure, but once again, I'm measuring twice cutting once. Thanks.

Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image

The first pic is the underside of the trans, the other two are top down. Thanks again.

#15 GPrime2

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 09:51 AM

Bump.

#16 johnceggleston

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 11:25 AM

probably. (the last time someone posted a pic like this and asked the question i was the only one to say "no") but it is difficult to see from the angle of the pic. can you post another one with the camera lined up with the edge of the trans bell housing. meaning, if the TC were not there the near and far edges of the bell housing would be even.

the tabs on the TC that the bolts go into should be mostly 'inside' the bell housing.

ps, what happened to the first picture from below??

#17 GPrime2

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 03:05 PM

There should be 3 pictures, the first one is under the transmission at the bell housing with the front of the differential and the teeth of the TC showing. The other two are from the top, one of them is the picture you requested showing a side view with the TC in. I'm pretty sure it's seated though because i cant imagine (based on the space between the teeth and the bell housing in the first pic) that it could go into the trans any further, and it seemed like the driveplate still had a bit of space to pull the TC in as I bolted it up.

Last question: With this junkyard transmission and whatnot, how much fluid should I put in this thing before starting it up? Just fill to the cold line? or do I need to put more in to fill the TC and cooling system?

#18 johnceggleston

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 04:03 PM

There should be 3 pictures, the first one is under the transmission at the bell housing with the front of the differential and the teeth of the TC showing. The other two are from the top, one of them is the picture you requested showing a side view with the TC in. I'm pretty sure it's seated though because i cant imagine (based on the space between the teeth and the bell housing in the first pic) that it could go into the trans any further, and it seemed like the driveplate still had a bit of space to pull the TC in as I bolted it up.

Last question: With this junkyard transmission and whatnot, how much fluid should I put in this thing before starting it up? Just fill to the cold line? or do I need to put more in to fill the TC and cooling system?


for what ever reason i couldn't see the first pic yesterday. oh well....

i'd fill it to the cold line and then start the car and let it idle. shift it through all the gears and then recheck it. the TC is probably still full or at least partially full. i don't know how much the oil cooler holds. typically when you drain it while it is in the car you only get about 4 qts. it holds over 10, 10.5 i think. (ej22 A/T holds 9 something i think.)

i wouldn't drive it until you have checked it a couple of times. you will not kill it driving it around the block with low fluid but it will not help it.




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