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1995 Impreza L 5spd - sticking in gear @ highway speed.. HELP!!


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15 replies to this topic

#1 wombatsauce

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Posted 04 January 2005 - 04:47 PM

This is really weird.. The car is a 1995 Impreza L AWD Coupe w/ a 5spd. I drove it last night, and I was on the freeway for about 10 minutes. I went to downshift from 5th to change freeways, and it wouldn't come out of 5th - felt as if I didn't press the clutch. I pressed the clutch again, and the tranny IS disconnecting from the engine, but it till won't come out of gear. So I yank it out, and after that - it was fine for a little while. Went down to 2nd on the onramp, 3rd, 4th, 5th and back to 4th again - just fine. Get off the freeway, and drive around city streets to drop off a friend and it's still fine - I spent more time around between 1st to 3rd than I did on the freeway, and it was fine the whole time. I went back out on the freeway home, and it did the same thing again. It seems like once I reach 60mph or so, the tranny won't come out of gear.

Seems like maybe an AWD diffy issue but then again I have no idea. Maybe the gear oil I used is too thick? I was thinking it might be the WRX alloys I put on recently (maybe the air pressure wasn't even) but my G/F said it did this before I put the rims on (it's her car). The only other thing I have done is I changed the trans fluid a while ago (maybe 2500 miles). I used Valvoline 85w-90 gear oil. It was a little over-filled, but I didn't think that would hurt anything (maybe 1/8" over F on the stick).

Anyone have any ideas? I really can't afford a tranny but oh well.. Hopefully it's something simple like the fluid or something. I will check tire pressures tonight, but I am pretty sure that's not it. My first thought was a failed slave cylinder till I realized it's a cable clutch... DOH.

Thanks in advance for anyone with any ideas. My dad said something like he thinks it could be the oil since he remembers older Subys using thinner oil. I am really hoping that's all it is.

-Jacob

#2 Gnuman

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Posted 05 January 2005 - 01:04 AM

That really sounds like something floating around in your tranny (something not quite right with 5th gear). You may not need a new tranny, but you do need this one rebuilt. You are right near several of us in the Bay Area that are going to meet on the 15th in El Cerrito, CA. Come on up and meet with us, and perhaps we can work out a solution if you do not have one already.

#3 Subaron

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Posted 05 January 2005 - 02:43 AM

wombatsauce,

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I think you're gonna need to get a new tranny, dude. I started having exactly the same symptoms with the tranny on my Legacy at 207k miles. It would stick in 5th almost every time with no other apparent problems. A few times, I had to yank on the gearshift so hard I thought the linkage would break before it came out of 5th. I changed the gear oil in the tranny but it didn't help. By the way, 85w-90 sounds right for a manual tranny in your climate. Both my Legacy owner's manual and my Haynes manual specify 80w-90 for my area (it's a bit colder up here). So, I pulled the tranny and took it to a local tranny shop and asked the guy to take a look and give me an estimate. He called the next morning and said that he hadn't looked at the tranny yet but he had made some calls to check on availability of replacement parts to rebuild it. Turns out that the only place he could find replacement parts is thru SOA and they are so expensive that it would be cost prohibitive to rebuild my tranny. He recommended that I buy a low-mile used tranny from one of the Japanese engine/tranny direct import places that advertise in the nickel ads. I contacted one of these outfits (Foreign Engines, Inc.) in Seattle and bought a used tranny for $715, including freight from Seattle to Vancouver. The guy at FEI said these trannies have an average of around 40k miles on them and they gave me a 1-year exchange warranty. Well, I put the used FEI tranny in, along with a new clutch and it works great. My old Legacy hasn't shifted this well in years and I'm very pleased with the results. I was able to do all the work myself, so I saved a bunch of money on labor (12.5 hours according to the shop labor guide) but even so, $1,000 just for parts is pretty hard to swallow... By the way, I did call around to several yards in the local Portland/Vancouver area and the prices ranged from $450 to $650 for a used tranny and the lowest mileage I could find was 185k! Also, they would only give me a 30-day exchange warranty. I figured it was well worth a couple hundred bucks more to get one with low mileage and a 1-year warranty.

I sincerely hope you are able to come up with an easier and cheaper solution in your case. Just wanted to share my experience so you'd have an idea what to expect in a worst-case scenario.

Good luck!

#4 wombatsauce

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Posted 05 January 2005 - 12:21 PM

Yikes.. This was supposed to be an interim car for my girlfriend as hers was totalled in a San Fran sewage flood. So far I have spent more than I paid for the car on it, and a tranny will prolly break the bank. It's a nice little car but yikes.

Anyway, I have been thinking about it, and we have had this car since last June. It has never done this before until two months ago when I changed the tranny oil (Valvoline 85-90w IIRC). My g/f says it has only happened very rarely and it hasn't happened in a while, yet it happens right away when I drove it. Well, I was going about 85 or so and then slowed to about 60 when I went to downshift. She doesn't usually drive that fast, and she doesn't usually go to downshift till she has slowed way down (normal driving I believe). A few people have told me to change the fluid as this points to the higher RPMs 'collecting' the gear oil and causing a problem. Sounds pretty far fetched to me, but I can't ignore that this never happened before I changed the oil (and I overfilled it).

BTW when we bought this car last June, the girl that sold it said that the transmission went out and was replaced with a used one, and it was really expensive becuase it was hard to find... I was hoping that meant the car would make it the year that we needed it. But, whoever buys this car from us will be getting a pretty nice car. Just had the timing belt, water pump, and every seal, gasket, tensioner, everything changed.

I will change the gear oil and go from there I guess.

Thanks for the suggestions, hope it's not dead..

-Jacob

#5 Gnuman

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Posted 05 January 2005 - 12:25 PM

There is also a guy in the area that parts out totaled Subarus. He takes the engines to put into Volkswagons (mostly vans), and sells the trannies to someone else. I can probably find out who from him and point you in that direction. If you need, I'm willing to help you put it in, if we cannot fix yours. I also agree that the tranny oil is not the problem, as I'm using 80W oil myself and have no issues with my tranny.

#6 cookie

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Posted 05 January 2005 - 12:33 PM

in 5th gear. Yes it should probably be rebuilt. What will eventually happen is that it will stick in 5th and not come out. I also don't think changing the oil is likely to do much good as we are probably talking about actual wear on some small devices.
If it were mine I would just block out 5th gear until I could afford to fix it. As long as you don't do much for trips with this car you could limp by for a long time.
If you have a bit more money there are several used JDM importers in the Bay area.
You could get Gnu to help you change out the tranny for a reasonable rate as he loves working on Subies.

#7 Nug

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Posted 05 January 2005 - 12:49 PM

Just don't use 5th until you can afford to do something with it.

#8 coloradosubarules

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Posted 05 January 2005 - 01:00 PM

Everyone knows that roos are awesome when it comes to redlining..just use 4th on the highway. Will consume more gas and may make your engine run a little hotter but as long as you have the 2.2 you should be fine.

I know I am going to get yelled at for this one so take my advice at your own risk.

#9 wombatsauce

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Posted 06 January 2005 - 12:47 PM

Thank you all for the replies. I know it doesn't make too much sense to think so heavily about the oil, it's just that I drove this car quite a bit and the trans never gave me cause for concern once - till I changed the gear oil. I found the bottle of oil I used - it's Shell "SPIRAX" HD heavy duty 80-90w. Says for heavy duty trucks and such, though it is still GL-5 rated gear lube. I got it because the shop that did my timing belt and such said to use the 'cheapest gear lube I could find" and this was it. I used Valvoline 80-90 in my '03 WRX and it was fine.

I think I am also going on about the oil because I really can't afford (time, money, you name it) any more $@#$ car issues. I would really like to go a month or so without having to babysit a mechanical contrivance. But at the same time, I cannot find any logical explanation as to why - suddenly - I would have a hard time pulling it out of 5th when the trans has been spinning @ greater than 3k rpm for a period of more than 5-10 minutes. My g/f also mentioned last night that this has only happened when she has tried to downshift before slowing down. Seems like the oil is 'wicking' or something after the tranny internals have been spinning higher rpm for a period of time. I am not joking, you can run through the gears all day long around town with no issues. So odd.

If I had a hard time pulling it out of any other gears (say 3rd when 5th is difficult) or if it would grind, anything - I would just acknowledge that the trans is gone. It does none of this. I need to spend more time with it, but can't during the week..

Thanks again for the help. Just to clarify - This is a 1995 Impreza L "Brighton" coupe - 1.8L, AWD, 5spd "aegean blue" w/ 140k miles. We had planned to drive it until June, and then sell it. I have added a RH mirror, tach, WRX alloys and a stereo.

-Jacob

#10 cookie

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Posted 06 January 2005 - 12:55 PM

It might be worth draining the oil and trying ATF. If the thicker oil is causeing the worn parts of the syncros to lock together this approach might buy time and be very cheap.
People have been useing automatic transmission fluid for years for racing, and my BMW came stock with it, so it is unlikely to hurt.
This would not be a real cure but it has been known to help folks get by.

#11 Nug

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Posted 06 January 2005 - 01:28 PM

It might be worth draining the oil and trying ATF. If the thicker oil is causeing the worn parts of the syncros to lock together this approach might buy time and be very cheap.
People have been useing automatic transmission fluid for years for racing, and my BMW came stock with it, so it is unlikely to hurt.
This would not be a real cure but it has been known to help folks get by.


With a ring and pinion up front, I don't know if this is a good idea.

Has anyone tried it?

#12 wombatsauce

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Posted 06 January 2005 - 02:44 PM

With a ring and pinion up front, I don't know if this is a good idea.

Has anyone tried it?


I know my father ran (IIRC) half ATF half either 10-40 or possibly higher motor oil in the older Subys with good results. Those all have the same style tranny w/ diff. A friend has some extra Redline MTL so I will try that first and see what happens. I see just as many people saying to not do it as have said they have done it and it works great. Just have to try. I have read up on this SPIRAX HD oil and it seems it has some heavy duty EP and shock resistant agents since it's designed for heavier duty uses and big rigs (certified for MACK truck requirements). I also see a lot of Alfa people using this same oil in the newer trannies. I dunno.

-Jacob

#13 wombatsauce

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Posted 10 January 2005 - 03:10 PM

I pumped out oil from the tranny to bring it down to the F on the dipstick. I drove the car around for 2 hours running errands. Used 4-5th a few times, and never drove over 60 for more than 2 minutes. Tranny was fine and didn't show symptoms at all even once. My g/f told me the car stuck in 4th once last week tho.. Still waiting for my oil to get here. SO weird..

-Jacob

#14 wombatsauce

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Posted 31 January 2005 - 03:03 PM

Well after waiting forever, my oil still hasn't gotten here. So, I went to a local store and got 4 qt's of Redline MTL. I came home and made a foil wrap to keep oil off the exhaust... Love that design! I drained the oil, and this time jacked up the rear of the car too, more oil came out. I had another unmarked qt of Redline - the label fell off while ago. I poured this through to flush the tranny. I think it was 10/40 I used to use in my Z. Anyway, then I put the plug back in, and poured in 3 qt's of MT-90. I lowered the car to the ground and let it idle in neutral for a while, shut it off, and checked the level. It was just about right. Took I'd say another .3 qt to fill up. This is odd, the book says 4.2qt. I will check it again after a few days.


Anyway, I spilled some of the oil that came out - the Shell Spirax HD gear oil. On my slanted driveway, it didn't even run. This stuff is THICK. I drove the car on the freeway for a while - the same way I went when it first stuck in gear after the oil change. It was shifting slicker than it ever has, and never stuck in gear or even hinted at it. I drove @ 90 the whole way back for 10min straight, and it was still slicker than ever. My g/f drove it to the store and commented that it was WAY smoother.

Nice.

Don't use Shell Spirax HD oil I guess...

-Jacob

#15 cookie

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Posted 31 January 2005 - 10:28 PM

Glad it seems to work.

#16 wombatsauce

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Posted 06 October 2009 - 09:22 AM

Here's something funny... I sold this car around May of 2005 when we moved to Hawaii.. We have since moved back and I have owned a few Imprezas, but my wife (then gf) always talks about this car and how nice it was etc. Well, I saw it on Craigslist and bought it back. On the way home it seemed to stick in 4th gear, but not 5th. Made me laugh..

Hoping to swap it over to 2003 WRX running gear as soon as possible. Nothing crazy, just, a WRX in an Impreza suit.

Thanks again for the help!!!

How it looked when I got it home yesterday:

Posted Image




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