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'04 Forester XT Tranny Problems (already!)


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18 replies to this topic

#1 BuffaloSubaru

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Posted 23 February 2004 - 10:53 PM

Hi all - I purchased an '04 Forester XT in January (my 2nd Forester). From the beginning, the tranmission shifted very roughly and my gas mileage was horrible (14.5 mpg city). My biggest problem - the first time the auto transmission downshifts each morning, the whole car shakes like I hit a bump. I was able to reproduce the problem with a service tech riding along. He seemed surprised and ordered me a new Transmission Control Unit. He said it was the second 04 he knew of which needed a new TCU due to rough shifting. Problem solved, right? Wrong! Subaru called my dealer a couple days later and cancelled the TCU order. They decided that this shake was "normal" on all '04 Forester, Legacy and Baja turbos!

Is anyone else experiencing this problem? I'd love this car if they'd only fix it. My local dealer and SOA are no help at all.

Suggestions?

If anyone else is in the market for an '04 Subaru turbo, be sure to test drive it without warmup on a relatively cold morning (<40 degrees F).

#2 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 12:06 AM

Time to use one of the 2 phrases I wore out when taking my Windstar back to ford;

1. If they all do it then (looks around-then points) give me the keys to THAT one and I'll see for myself!

or

2. If they all do THIS then they are all broken and they all need to be fixed and you can start with MINE!

#3 DerFahrer

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 12:53 AM

One of the reasons I prefer a manual ;)

I would pursue this a bit more. I, for one, would want some fair treatment for the fact that I just bought a $25,000 car from them. If it gets worse, I would definitely start making some noise...

#4 BuffaloSubaru

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 10:55 AM

I just test drove another '04 XT with the General Manager of my local dealership. I experienced the exact same problem. The Manager said that they've tried replacing TCU's and entire transmissions in other XT's to no avail. Subaru does not know how to fix the problem so they're in damage control mode.

Its a shame. My father has an '01 Forester. I had an '00 Forester and now an '04 Forester. I love the cars, but the service I'm getting from Subaru of America is a 1 out of 10.

#5 calebz

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 11:12 AM

You, and everyone else experiencing that problem need to let SOA that their response to it is most unacceptable. SOA customer service really seems to suck when it comes to dealing with known problems.( for a prime example, do a search for 'clutch judder')

I love my soobs, but unless money starts falling from the sky, I doubt I will ever buy a new one.

#6 BuffaloSubaru

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 11:34 AM

It's funny you mention the clutch shudder. I had that problem with my 2000 Forester. When the clutch finally went, I put the $1100 it would have cost to fix it down on a new Forester, automatic this time. I guess I should have learned!

#7 RallyKeith

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 11:51 AM

Originally posted by BuffaloSubaru
my gas mileage was horrible (14.5 mpg city).



I'm not so sure this isn't normal. My STi is lucky to break 18 these days. Since it's really the same motor just tuned differently and mated to an automatic I'm not surprised to see lower gas milage numbers. Infact, the subaur website list the STi as 18/24 and the Forester XT as 18/23, and that doesn't say if its with the 5spd or the automatic.

As for the hard shifting I wouldn't be surprised if that was really and honestly supposed to be that way. With all the torque those motors produce you need it to shift hard in order to keep it from slipping excessively and wearing things out. Same thing goes about the downshifting. Depending on the RPM change during a downshift it will throw you front in the seat. I don't drive automatics other than big vans and Trucks so I'm no expert, but with out driving your car and seeing what RPM changes occour and just how hard the shifting is I can't say you really have a problem. If you're used to driving a cadilac and then drive a ford F-350 with the towing shifing in the trans you'd probably think something was wrong when in fact it wasn't.

No matter what, Keep on the service department until they can defiinitively prove to you that this is or is not a problem. ALSO, make sure they are putting notes in the computer with dates and milages so you can prove that you've thought it was an issue long before there was any question of warrenty.

Good Luck,
Keith

#8 calebz

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 11:54 AM

Kieth has a point on the Gas mileage thing.. Turbo+AWD+Auto Tranny = crappy gas mileage..No way around that.. will be substantially worse than EPA rating if you use the turbo the way it should be:D

#9 blitz

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 01:05 PM

Possible problem related to the TPS signal. Yet no code... interesting.

The line pressure (shift hardness) of the 4EAT is controlled by throttle position, the idea being that the shift quality gets firmer as you get further into the throttle.

You're getting WOT (full line pressure) shift quality and WOT (open loop) fuel mileage numbers. It's possible that the TPS is defective.

Check for excess carbon at the tailpipe exit, then... if you know how to use a digital voltmeter, check the output voltage from the TPS as you move the throttle (key on, engine off). It should vary from .5 VDC to about 4.5 VDC as the throttle is increased.

#10 BuffaloSubaru

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 01:17 PM

Thanks, blizt. Using the volt meter is no problem. Locating the TPS may be. When I open the hood of this thing, I have no idea what's going on. Any tips on locating the TPS?

As per the other comments. The gas mileage and rough shifting are minor concerns to me compared to the dredded morning "shake." I only bring them up because they may be related.

#11 blitz

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 03:00 PM

Originally posted by BuffaloSubaru
Thanks, blizt. Using the volt meter is no problem. Locating the TPS may be. When I open the hood of this thing, I have no idea what's going on. Any tips on locating the TPS?


WOT = wide open throttle.

TPS = throttle position sensor. If you're looking into the engine compartment, it's located on the left side of the throttle body. It's black plastic about the size of a half-dollar, and is essentially a wire-wound 5k potentiometer that's attached to the throttle shaft. It has three leads: +5 VDC supplied to the top lead, 0 VDC (ground) supplied to the bottom lead, and then variable 0-5 VDC output (depending on throttle position) taken from the center lead and sent to the ECU and TCU. Measure the voltage at all three leads. You can also shut the ignition off, unplug the connector from the TPS, and measure it's resistance value.

As per the other comments. The gas mileage and rough shifting are minor concerns to me compared to the dredded morning "shake." I only bring them up because they may be related.


I'm only guessing at what the problem could be, but I did notice that common trait between the symptoms, and it's easy enough to check it with a meter.

#12 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 25 February 2004 - 12:44 AM

Originally posted by calebz
You, and everyone else experiencing that problem need to let SOA that their response to it is most unacceptable. SOA customer service really seems to suck when it comes to dealing with known problems.( for a prime example, do a search for 'clutch judder')

I love my soobs, but unless money starts falling from the sky, I doubt I will ever buy a new one.



w3rd

(hey look at me with the alpha-numeric, hip-hop, young whipper-snapper slang!)


It doesn't matter how many replies there are in the forums to broken sway bars, spewing gasoline, noisy brakes, etc. All the car makers play by the same rules in a given market and the rule in the US comes down (in the case of recalls and probably most TSBs) from a NHTSA directive or the threat of one. If there seems to be a trend - especially regarding safety - you must start complaining to NHTSA so they can track it.

#13 RallyKeith

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 04:22 PM

Just talked to a good friend who bought one of these ('04 Forester XT) and he said that yes they shift hard when cold. That included down shifting. He said the one they test drove did it and also the one they bought. They haven't taken the car back for it.

Let us know if you get anywhere with it. I'd like to pass it along to my friend.

Keith

#14 kahequ

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 12:15 AM

Hi all - I purchased an '04 Forester XT in January (my 2nd Forester). From the beginning, the tranmission shifted very roughly and my gas mileage was horrible (14.5 mpg city). My biggest problem - the first time the auto transmission downshifts each morning, the whole car shakes like I hit a bump. I was able to reproduce the problem with a service tech riding along. He seemed surprised and ordered me a new Transmission Control Unit. He said it was the second 04 he knew of which needed a new TCU due to rough shifting. Problem solved, right? Wrong! Subaru called my dealer a couple days later and cancelled the TCU order. They decided that this shake was "normal" on all '04 Forester, Legacy and Baja turbos!

Is anyone else experiencing this problem? I'd love this car if they'd only fix it. My local dealer and SOA are no help at all.

Suggestions?

If anyone else is in the market for an '04 Subaru turbo, be sure to test drive it without warmup on a relatively cold morning (<40 degrees F).


Hi BuffaloSubaru,

My wife owns the '05 Forest XT and we have the same problem (ususally happens when it is hot) since the beginning. We brought this problem to the dealership's attention and SOA issued a brand new transmission replacement. At first I was hesistant to getting the tranny replaced and rather have a brand new car replacement instead but SOA claims that the tranny alone is not sufficient for a complete buy back. So I went ahead with the tranny replacement and got an extended warranty from SOA (7 yrs/100K) as extra security from SOA that their vehicles are of the best. Now with the new tranny in place, I am having the same problem again, hard down shifting when coming to a stop. I have already emailed SOA and the dealership (today) for some thorough explanation and a reasonable solution. I hope to exchange the Forester for a LGT sedan or something of equilavent value or else I may seek legal action against them for a full refund and monetary damages for my hassle of going back and forth to the dealership. We barely have 3K miles on the Forester, which was purchased in mid May this year. I was told by the dealership that I was the first ever to complain of such problem, so I thought the problem must be a fluke. My brother in law just bought the 2006 Forester XT and he just came back from a Vegas trip to notice that he too has the same hard down shifting jerk.

BTW, how is your tranny doing? Did it improve or you are still getting the same hard down shifting problem. I drive the LGT wagon 5 speed automatic and it is very smooth so I can't see why they can't do the same for the 4 speed automatic on the Forester. And why didn't they warn us about the jerky hard down shifting. I know SOA don't want any public headaches, especially when the Forest was named best small SUV of the year recently. Do I hear class action law suit? I have plenty of acess to great lawyers that will love take on SOA. Thanks.

Kahequ

#15 Commuter

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 09:24 AM

Just wondering...

Has anyone tried a synthetic ATF? Mobil 1, Redline, whatever?

I'd be curious if it made any difference.

Commuter

#16 wkoepp

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 11:46 AM

I have an '04 Forester XS automatic with just 9k on the odo and it shifts very smoothly, so it must be the turbo mods that make the difference or do they put a heavier auto tranny in the XT models? I doubt it.
I just installed a heat shield on the exhaust pipe under the rear CV boot, as that boot rots much faster on the Forester due to the extra heat on it. Hope this helps extend the life of the boot. When are the car makers going to go to a boot with a zipper or some other closure so a replacement won't take so much labor?

#17 mattocs

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 11:59 AM

When are the car makers going to go to a boot with a zipper or some other closure so a replacement won't take so much labor?


The quick boots are like that...some small screws (and I put some silicone glue on it) and all is well..

#18 Soobadooba

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 12:27 PM

Sorry, Buffalosubaru. We heard about problems with the automatic XTs shortly after we bought our Forester. We have nearly 32,000 on our '04 5speed XT and no troubles (knock on wood) so the XT seems to be a pretty sound car other than the auto-tranny issues. I hope you are keeping all this well documented...you may need it later. If nothing else, push for extended warranty coverage. Keep after 'em!

#19 Twitch de la Brat

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 04:01 AM

Hmmm...

Sounds like the infamous subaru automatic. I'm currently fighting off a problem with my AUTOMATIC legacy. For some reason subaru has never been very good at building a decent automatic tranny.
I say, If you know how to drive a stick, trade it for one. Subaru's manuals are almost bullet proof. If you disagree come drive my brat. It has been tortured by many people. For one instance I bent the synchro for first and with a little pushing and grinding with the shifter i bent it back into shape. :grin:

Last words, "Trade it for a manual!"




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