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1996 Legacy Differential Problem


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4 replies to this topic

#1 SteveHeinz

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Posted 17 September 2004 - 03:36 PM

Just helped my son buy a 96 Legacy wagon 2.2 automatic. 121K miles, runs great, body in fine shape, no problems with the test drive - paid $3750. Seemed too good to be true.

After driving the car awhile, we realized that the car bucks if you accelerate and turn at the same time. It's an intermittant problem, usually it does fine if you really start off gently even while turning. The problem feels like it's in the rear differential. Found some post here describing this problem as 'viscous binding' whatever that is.

The car dealer who sold us the car said that they all do that, and that he had driven it wih the fuze in that disables the rear differential, but that's a little much to swallow.

Dad's feeling kind of bad about this one after doing the standard transmission ckecks and not seeing the problem. We're on the local Subaru dealer's schedule for next week, but would appreciate any ideas on what we might expect to hear problem and repair cost wise. Any good questions to ask while we're there?

#2 Wayne Boncyk

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Posted 17 September 2004 - 04:12 PM

I suspect that you may have the now infamous Torque Bind. For a wealth of information on the subject, search this forum for "torque bind" and spend about 30 minutes reading up on it. Note especially that it may be caused by something as simple as tires that are not all the same circumference, or old and gummy transmission fluid! Or, it may point to a failing solenoid in the AWD transfer case, bolted onto the rear of your transmission. If it isn't tires and it isn't AT fluid, and it isn't the solenoid, then it is likely caused by scoring of the clutch assembly plates in that transfer case. That can be a relatively expensive repair, but all the other potential causes are relatively cheap and easy to fix. Good luck! It isn't necessarily true that "all of these" Subies with AT drive like that, but many of them do develop the problem -- usually from mis-matched tire diameters that result from not rotating your tires as often as the manufacturer recommends. BTW - The fuse in the FWD socket trick can be used to help diagnose whether you have torque bind, or some other problem. If you put a fuse in the socket and the problem goes away, it is definitely torque bind.

Good Luck!

#3 DerFahrer

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Posted 17 September 2004 - 07:43 PM

As Wayne stated, check stuff like tires first. In your pre-purchase inspection, check the tread depth on the front and rear tires. I believe they have to be equal to within 1/16th of an inch, I could be wrong about that though...

#4 Wayne Boncyk

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Posted 18 September 2004 - 07:03 PM

Oh, and Steve, I forgot to mention that you should try the fuse in the FWD socket as a diagnostic test. After you've checked the tires and are convinced that they are near the same circumference, and after you've changed the AT fluid, see if the torque bind goes away when you put a fuse in the FWD socket. If your FWD light comes on AND the torque bind goes away when the fuse is in, then you likely do have a problem with the clutch plates in the transfer case. If the FWD light does not come on, or if the torque bind does NOT go away when the fuse is put in, then that actually more likely points to a failure in the Duty Solenoid C. You still have to pull the transfer case to get to that solenoid, but it's a much less expensive repair than replacing the entire clutch plate assembly.

#5 SteveHeinz

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 10:58 AM

Just wanted to let Wayne know this one has a happy ending. We scheduled an appointment with the best foreign auto repair folks on town which didn't happen until today. My son had been driving the car on a daily basis for the last 10 days. I drove it about 15 miles to the repair place, and checked the torque binding symptom when I was almost there. No bucking, in fact, no shudder even when turning and accelerating normally into traffic.

Had the repair place check it out, and the technician could get it to shudder with the wheel full over and accelerating. We put it on the lift, and I had him change the transmission fluid. It appeared that this had never been done, as it came out very dark. It had not looked so bad when I had checked it before.

We went for another test drive and you had to have the wheel full over and really get on it to get any kind of shutter at all.

Based on what you told me and what I read on the boards that you referred me to, I think the bucking was caused by a combination of the car being driven infrequently - and then with the breaker in for 2 wheel drive - along with old transmission fluid. He's going to drive it, and at his next oil change have our normal mechanic use his equipment which can take out all the old transmission fluid, and then replace that.

Thanks for giving me a chance to deal with this one intelligently.


Oh, and Steve, I forgot to mention that you should try the fuse in the FWD socket as a diagnostic test. After you've checked the tires and are convinced that they are near the same circumference, and after you've changed the AT fluid, see if the torque bind goes away when you put a fuse in the FWD socket. If your FWD light comes on AND the torque bind goes away when the fuse is in, then you likely do have a problem with the clutch plates in the transfer case. If the FWD light does not come on, or if the torque bind does NOT go away when the fuse is put in, then that actually more likely points to a failure in the Duty Solenoid C. You still have to pull the transfer case to get to that solenoid, but it's a much less expensive repair than replacing the entire clutch plate assembly.






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