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1991 Legacy LSi auto tranny advice


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20 replies to this topic

#1 SUBARU3

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 04:12 AM

I've got a 91 LSi 2WD, automatic that has decided to give me a headache.

The car is right at 100K and has been well taken care of, maintained and not run hard at all. It's in near mint condition! The car has been with me for 15 years.

It has delayed engagement when shifting into gear from park. (Both forward and reverse). At redlights, or stops, it even delays just a bit from a dead stop, even in gear. Now it's not bad, but noticable. I increased the idle speed and it helped some, but it did not eliminate.

It seems like a pressure problen, as the tranny shifts find, does not slip and works well, as long as the rpms are up....such as when moving.

I have drained and refilled 2X and added TRANS-X. It really did no good. Same deal.

Am I missing something? This is a low milage tranny, has a cooler that was added, been babied and now it's failing? I guess it can happen, but geeze! 100K?

Should I just be shopping for a used tranny? Or should I flush and fill this some more , add more TRANS-X? Is this 4EAT worth pulling and taking to a shop for a rebuild, or repair?

Opinions oh mighty Subaru gurus!

Todd

#2 grossgary

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 09:14 AM

The internal screen filter has an o-ring at the top outlet side. I've never seen it happen but I would expect if this oring was bleeding off pressure you might have some low RPM issues? might be worth a check or looking into what the symptoms are when that oring fails.

I can't imagine this being the case for you, but make sure the pan isn't dented, the clearance internally being the fluid uptake and pan is very small so if it's dented it will cause issues.

Have you looked into the FSM - and see if it lists the symtpoms you're talking about in a troubleshooting section? Nearly any 4EAT troubleshooting section would be almost identical to yours.

Ideally you'd find someone that knows or a way to test the pressures in the system and maybe isolate it down to a solenoid issue - maybe a solenoid isn't operating properly and affecting fluid flow/pressure. Replacing a solenoid isn't a big deal and can be done in the car without removing the trans. I'm just not familiar with that. There are tests in the FSM involving pressure and such that delineate what it all means...not sure how feasible that is.

No transmission light blinking?

I'm not a trans expert but they do say that running too cool isn't desirable. If this is a low use daily driver maybe the ATF is too cool? I wouldn't expect issues but if you wanted to discuss why it's having issues to begin with...don't know?

But at this point it's obviously seeing some kind of issue.

I would be replacing the trans with a used one over a rebuild unless you can find a great deal on one that's already rebuilt, which sometimes you can with older transmissions. i know I've seen some good deals on ebay and craigslist for rebuilt EA/ER trans from the 80's.

Shouldn't be hard to find a known good condition used trans, even if you want to pay top dollar for it, it would be less than a rebuild.

Edited by grossgary, 07 December 2012 - 09:17 AM.


#3 mikaleda

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 10:31 AM

I am having a similar problem with a first gen Lego. I was told if it has an auxiliary filter (inline of tranny cooler) that it could be plugged and they said to try changing the filter first.

#4 grossgary

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:10 AM

I am having a similar problem with a first gen Lego. I was told if it has an auxiliary filter (inline of tranny cooler) that it could be plugged and they said to try changing the filter first.

Subaru's don't have an "inline" filter, though there are some early add on in-line filters for this era...it's around those 91-93 era legacy's. it was part of a recall or TSB or for turbo's or something...google would reveal details in about 15 seconds of searching.

1998 and up transmissions have a screw on filter on the side of the trans, not sure if that's considered "inline" or not.

i've never heard of a filter causing 4EAT issues, but obviously it's just a part so it could fail or clog. i would suspect some kind of bypass feature to the system, the filter, or both that prevents the filter from hosing the transmission though.

#5 mikaleda

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:29 AM

This post is regarding a 91 4eat same trans as the car I mentioned and I ment to say aftermarket inline filter. I have seen several cars with this on it and it would be a reason for the low pressure if it is clogged. Most people don't even know they have an extra filter so they do not change them so they have a tendency to get clogged. They are inline filters similar to a fuel filter and the style on most cars that i have seen them on have no bypass. I just thought I would mention it because it is a simple thing to check for.

Edited by mikaleda, 07 December 2012 - 11:50 AM.


#6 mikaleda

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:39 AM


a cooler that was added, been babied and now it's failing? I guess it can happen, but geeze! 100K?

Todd


If they added a cooler it is possible they added a filter also

#7 grossgary

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 03:17 PM

This post is regarding a 91 4eat same trans as the car I mentioned and I ment to say aftermarket inline filter.

right on, glad you did...actually I looked it up and it *this issue i was referring to is for 1991 4EAT Legacy's. It's like a one year thing.

This filter was added to keep the ATF cooler from clogging I believe...so - if that's true - this might just be a clogged cooler....of course you say it was already replaced - so the damage may have already been done if you bought this car used with the aftermarket cooler installed. It had previously clogged, been repaired, aftermarket cooler added - but the prior issue caused premature wear/heat which is now causing issues for you.

Either way, it needs looked into immediately.

Personally I'd do a really simple test, pull the lines to the transmission cooler and just run a straight hose - right from the outlet at the trans and right back to the inlet. If the line, filter (if it exists), or cooler are clogged - then this will solve it immediately. Obviously I wouldn't drive it like this much as it bypasses the cooler in the radiator...but since that's not much of a cooler anyway (it even heats the fluid) it's not a big deal as a test. And I've seen daily drivers like this before...due to leaking ATF coolers or whatever, no big deal.

Or you could pull the lines and try to blow through them with compressed air or your mouth if you're so inclined.

Then you'll know.

At the very least - given this 1991 specific issue you'll want to address this even if the trans is bad and you're replacing the transmission because this might be why the transmission is borked to begin with.

i think final drive ratios changed somewhere between 90 and 94 for 4EATs, check if needed and this is an AWD.
as always www.car-parts.com

Edited by grossgary, 07 December 2012 - 03:22 PM.


#8 Rooster2

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 04:10 PM

I am the guy, who promoted Trans-X as a product to fix Subaru "tranny delayed forward engagement," and wrote the original thread about 3 years ago. Unfortunately, this is a fix for a problem unique to '99 and '00 Leggies with automatic transmissions. So, sorry, but I don't think that any amount of Trans-X will fix your problem.

There is a considerable amount written about ATs on this website. From what I have read, and only from what I have read, the recommendations that I have seen is to replace a bad transmission with a good used one, and not spend a lot of time or money trying to fix an ailing tranny. Subaru automatic trannys usually last a good long time so I have read, and as a result, buying a good used one from a wrecking yard is pretty inexpensive, like maybe $200.

#9 SUBARU3

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 04:48 PM

Thanks for all the information.

Yes, this car had a "factory recall" and an installation of an inline filter near the radiator. This filter was replaced once since, about 10K ago with another exact SUBARU assembly for this year.

I will check the pan for dents, but I'm 99 percent sure that it's OK. I'm wondering if it's worth it to pull the pan and replace the filter screen and o-ring?

Someone mentioned that a power flush might clean out some sediment that may be blocking something internally. I'm hesitant on that, but it's worth a try.

This tranny is so clean you could eat off it. (and so is the fluid....)Goes to show, regular maintance gives no guarantees!

I think I will do the synthetic fluid trial....thoughts?

I think in light of the low mileage and super care, this trans is worth some attempts at fixing. Heck all the used ones are sitting at WAY over 100K! Yikes! This car is operational and runs OK.....it's just the engagement piece.


Todd

Edited by SUBARU3, 07 December 2012 - 04:50 PM.


#10 grossgary

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 05:39 PM

Indeed worth trying some simple fixes. Like Rooster said, not surprised the trans X didn't help, I wouldn't add it if you change the fluid again...except as a last ditch effort maybe.

Focus is on replacing the filter oring. The internal filter itself is useless to replace but you'll do it while you're in there.

Not sure on the synthetic fluid but sounds worth a shot if someone recommends it.

I didn't see any troubleshooting section in a couple Legacy FSM's but I only gave them a cursory glance and typed in "trouble" to search.

Maybe a google search with your symptoms?

How many miles on it when you got it?
This factory recall was done by you - or already done when you got it?

#11 SUBARU3

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 09:12 PM

Car had in the 30K range when I got it. The Subaru recall was in the first few months by the original owner.

Gosh, pulling that pan is a PITA! (I have a new filter and gasket from my 95. I believe it's the same.

Todd

#12 grossgary

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 12:33 AM

Yep, not fun, gotta work from underneath the whole time. Cleaning up fluid and surfaces is my least favorite, but it's not that bad otherwise nothing hard about it at least.

Good luck, keep us updated.

#13 SUBARU3

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 06:44 PM

  OK...trans filter/screen was OK and the oring was fine. TransX....no results.

 

 Interesting though...when this transmission is COLD, it engages and shifts OK. Hmm. So that means something I would think. When it warms up delayed engagement at every stop.

 

 Question.... what transmissions will easily swap into this car besides the 90-91?

 

(91 Legacy 2.2  FWD  LSi)

 

   Thanks!



#14 NorthWet

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 07:21 PM

A couple anecdotals regarding the early 4EATs and the TSB for inline filters.  To the best of my knowledge, this was widespread across the early 4EATs: My 90 Loyale Turbo has a TSB on it and the filter, as does my wife's 90 Legacy.  IIRC, the problem was the lock-up clutch sheds friction material, and this material  passes out into the in-radiator cooler and can obstruct flow.

 

Also, according to the Subaru rep I spoke with several years ago, the filters are just screens, and are meant to be last "for the life of the vehicle".

 

Edit: lazy fingers kept typing TSM instead of TSB.  Edit is to correct that. :endEdit


Edited by NorthWet, 22 February 2013 - 10:14 PM.


#15 johnceggleston

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 08:58 PM

because yours is FWD there are almosrt no limits to what will fit.

 

you can use any FWD trans 90 - 94 for sure.

probably 95 - 97.

 

all the 4eat that have the trans ID# TA102Axxxx are the same.  (AWD trans would be TZ102Zxxxx)

they will all plug in work with you TCU. (even the AWD units)

 

and although there is no need to match the final drive ratio to the rear, there MAY be different ratios in different years.

this could affect you MPG.

 

check josh's site for ratios :http://bbs.legacycen...pic.php?t=32148

 

and www.car-part.com for parts.

 

good luck


Edited by johnceggleston, 21 February 2013 - 09:06 PM.


#16 eulogious

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 04:33 PM

Just drive it man.  I have the EXACT same issues with my 1990 leggy with the original trans cold start and all.  Mine started doing it at about 145K, and I am now at 175K and it hasn't gotten any better or any worse.  I had to change my driving style to get used to the lag, but after 2 years and close to 30K later and it's not a big deal at all to me anymore it just the way my car is, lol.  Granted, I have a spare trans sittiing in a wharehouse waiting for me to install it and I have been sitting on it for over a year because i just really don't care since it's not really a bother to me anymore.  I do really need to swap out my trans, its just hard justifing all the work.

 

I have also dropped the pan, cleaned the "filter" and screen and did a drain and fill (3x) twice now, and it has done zero good.  Still have the delay issue.  I have also added transx and it did nothing.  So I think I am in the same boat as you.  I even tried uping my idle, and all it did was make my idle higher, didn't really do anything to help the delay.

 

So I would just continue to drive it, and in the mean time pick up a spare trans to have on hand just in case it fails.  So far in my experience, this issue is not a cause for great concern since i have driven my car for about 30K with this issue (it's my DD), and I am not particually nice to my car either.  I don't beat on my rig or anything, but I don't baby it either.  In fact I just lifted it with much bigger tires, and the trans hasn't gotten angary with me yet even with the added stress of the bigger tires.  So I would not rush out and try to fix it just because of the delay issue, FWIW.  Look around for a good deal but don't rush out and buy the first trans you come across, just look for the best/cheapest deal.  Maybe even take the time/money to convert it to AWD since you have to replace the trans anyways :)

 

I think that it might have something to do with the Torque Converter, but I have nothing really to base that off of except that the trans acts totally fine except for the engaement issue.  The torque converter is the only thing that might make sense because it does have to do with delivering power from the motor to the trans.  So of course when I replace my trans, I have a rebuilt torque converter as well, so if it is just the torque converter, I will never know because I am going to replace the trans and torque converter and the same time.  But I am just grasping at straws at this point trying to figure out what the delay issues is all about...


Edited by eulogious, 22 February 2013 - 04:36 PM.


#17 mikaleda

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 04:59 PM

A couple anecdotals regarding the early 4EATs and the TSM for inline filters. To the best of my knowledge, this was widespread across the early 4EATs: My 90 Loyale Turbo has a TSM on it and the filter, as does my wife's 90 Legacy. IIRC, the problem was the lock-up clutch sheds friction material, and this material passes out into the in-radiator cooler and can obstruct flow.

Also, according to the Subaru rep I spoke with several years ago, the filters are just screens, and are meant to be last "for the life of the vehicle".

I just replaced the filter on the 91 I mentioned and it fixed the problem. I asked about them and they said they were a magnetic filter, no bypass

Edited by mikaleda, 22 February 2013 - 05:02 PM.


#18 NorthWet

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 10:17 PM

My local Dealer would install the filter under TSB for free, but if the TSB work had already been performed wanted over $30 for replacement inline filter.  Kind of expensive for a non-filter.



#19 SUBARU3

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 06:40 PM

 In the Factory Service Manual is makes reference to the control valve that may be at issue with delayed engagement. Looking at the manual, (and not being experienced with automatics), this appears to be over my head to remove this and clean it. I know I can manage the replacement of the filter screen, but I would certainly mess up something if I dug further in.

 

Is it even likely that the control valve is at fault?

Is it just better/easier to replace than deal with this?

Do you think a transmission shop is worth it to look at this?

 

  The tranny is at 102K...somehow I feel it's still good and that this issue, (see post #1), is something simple. Maybe not though.

 

 Thanks, Todd



#20 SUBARU3

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Posted 08 March 2013 - 07:59 PM

Bump



#21 torxxx

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Posted 09 March 2013 - 02:38 PM

the solenoids in the trannys can screw up.  Electrical part submerged in oil, they have a life just like a light bulb or a keyboard.  only so many inputs/hours etc can be ran through it before it fails.  

 

As for that filter, when my 3.54 ratio SVX trans lost its high clutches, I cut out that stupid frame filter and put a loop in it.  Automatics generate friction plate grit when they where, There is a screen in the trans pan for a reason.  That frame filter to me, looks like a failed attempted at extra cooling and cleaning.  I've ran the living P!$$ out of my 4.44 in the SVX without that filter and have absolutely no problems with it.  it gets ice tracked almost every weekend and a guarantee that tranny gets worked harder than it ever did on pavement.   Sorry bout the rant, but thats my thoughts on the frame mount trans screen/filter

 

http://www.northursa...ission/4eat.pdf

 

That is the best explanation about your tranny that is out there.  

 

From what they say, the delay "Time Lag Results:

If the time takes longer from “N” to “D” it may indicate one or more of 
the following:
• Low line pressure
• Worn forward clutch
• O.W.C. problem
If the time takes longer from “N” to “R,” it may indicate one or more of 
the following :
• Low line pressure
• Worn reverse clutch
• Worn low/rev brake"
 
I'm rollin with your pump is dying and not applying enough line pressure for "stock" engagement.  I say "stock" because it still isnt really that fast of engagement.  Subarus computer logic and programming was sooooo bad in the 90s.  The fact that I can flip a toggle switch faster than the duty C can shift power is a joke.  
 
Just remember its all nuts and bolts :P

Edited by torxxx, 09 March 2013 - 02:39 PM.





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