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Automatic Drivetrain Problem?


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11 replies to this topic

#1 Kevinch

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Posted 06 August 2004 - 08:00 AM

Hi folks. I have a problem with my Subaru, & any opinions on what it might be are very much appreciated!



Model:Impreza (AWD)

MY: 1996

Engine: 2.2

Trans: Automatic 4 Speed

Mileage: 150,000



Within the last 25k miles or so, I’ve begun to experience a shudder somewhere in the drivetrain. It only occurs when starting from a stop when the front wheels are cranked over hard to the left or right. Although it seems to be worse when moving forward, it will happen in reverse too.



The only way I can think to describe what it feels like is it is similar to the shudder that occurs when turning in a 4WD vehicle on hard pavement with the hubs locked.



Other than that, the car drives & runs fine. There is no issue with the front end at any speed – it feels rock solid. The transmission shifts fine.



I had my local shop look at it – not a dealer, but where all my maintenance work is done - & they could not find anything wrong as far as they looked. They did tell me that the transmission was a little low on fluid. (I’m the original owner, & the fluid & filter have never been changed since the car was new.) I’ve been told some of the hardware that drives the front wheels is really a part of the transmission on my car, & they advised that their shop is really not well equipped to tear into all of that.



Has anyone else experienced something similar? I asked about draining the tranny & changing the filter but was advised against it due to the fact that it has never been changed in just over 150k miles. This car is in really great shape; the body looks good & the engine runs great – it doesn’t use or loose any oil between changes which I have done at every 5k miles.



Thanks for reading and any advice you can offer!

#2 Legacy777

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Posted 06 August 2004 - 08:04 AM

So you're saying that in 150,000 miles you've never changed the automatic transmission fluid?

I'd say you're pretty lucky to just now getting the problems you're describing. First thing I'd do is change the tranny fluid.

#3 Kevinch

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Posted 06 August 2004 - 08:12 AM

No, I haven't changed the automatic transmission fluid. I know that might sound like poor maintenance, but the owner's manual doesn't recommend it under normal driving conditions - only that fluid be inspected. Mine never looked burnt or dirty, & the transmission has always worked perfectly, so I left it alone.

#4 howards11

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Posted 06 August 2004 - 12:02 PM

No, I haven't changed the automatic transmission fluid. I know that might sound like poor maintenance, but the owner's manual doesn't recommend it under normal driving conditions - only that fluid be inspected. Mine never looked burnt or dirty, & the transmission has always worked perfectly, so I left it alone.

NEVER CHANGE THE ATF ? That's a crock ! Fluids wear out. I'd change the AFT and the filter ASAP.

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#5 Commuter

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Posted 06 August 2004 - 12:08 PM

Change the AFT, but personally, I would NOT do one of those flushes. Just drain what you can, then top it back up. If it helps, do it again to get rid of more of the old fluid. Three times if you really want to. Spring for synthetic if you like.

It sounds like torque bind symptoms. You may get away for quite some time with just a fluid change, or you may not. About $800 or so to change out the clutch pack. My clutch pack is slowly failing on my 97 OB, but I'm at 250k miles.

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#6 Kevinch

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Posted 07 August 2004 - 08:48 PM

NEVER CHANGE THE ATF ? That's a crock ! Fluids wear out.

Well, I dunno. I know of 2 other high mileage Subarus that have never had the transmission fluid changed & they are fine. I bought the 100k warranty for mine & at least up until that time it was fine - but I can't argue that something seems wrong now.

Commuter: would you pull the pan & replace the filter, or pump it out from the top? I'm wondering if it would be wise to go down thru the dip stick tube with a vacuum pump & suck out maybe 2 quarts & then refill with fresh, drive 500 miles & do it again, etc. or if I should just drop the pan & go that route.

Any ideas?

#7 PAezb

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Posted 08 August 2004 - 08:59 AM

In addition to the tranny fluid, check the condition of your tire wear and alignment. The Subie AWD systems can be pretty touchy if tire circumference (all 4 matching) and alignment aren't within specs and can contribute to the torque bind you're describing.

#8 Kevinch

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Posted 08 August 2004 - 09:04 AM

In addition to the tranny fluid, check the condition of your tire wear and alignment.

Thanks for the tip, PAezb. The tires are pretty new & the alignment was done at that time. I did feel this shudder before the new rubber was mounted, but you never know - so I'll have it checked out.

#9 PAezb

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Posted 08 August 2004 - 09:19 AM

Another thing you might try towards diagnosis - I'm assuming you have a FWD fuse holder in the engine bay to put the car into front wheel drive only? Try putting the 15A fuse in and then see if the shudder changes.

Just a thought

#10 chadwick

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Posted 10 August 2004 - 06:58 PM

No, I haven't changed the automatic transmission fluid. I know that might sound like poor maintenance, but the owner's manual doesn't recommend it under normal driving conditions - only that fluid be inspected. Mine never looked burnt or dirty, & the transmission has always worked perfectly, so I left it alone.

sounds like transfer clutches going sometimes is caused by mismatched tires some pepole don't know that. i work at a dealership and always tell pepole that when they want to change only one tire i always say no not good for the awd transfer clutches it is an expensive repair we just did them on a 96 outback they were really bad when you turn the car it vibrates and jitters sounds and feels awful so anyways good luck ithink if you go to a dealership you will find the answer

#11 Kevinch

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 07:44 AM

it is an expensive repair we just did them on a 96 outback

Thanks Chad - if I can ask - how expensive?

#12 mtsmiths

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 11:43 AM

Every time I've experienced torque bind it's been a low tire. Last time (the '95 Legacy auto) I had a front tire at 20 lbs, the rest at 36. A little puff and it all went away.




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