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Sand in my tranny?


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19 replies to this topic

#1 SubDave

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 06:59 PM

Hi All,
I'm new here - first post. I wanted to see if anyone has any ideas as to what happened to my 97 Outback wagon yesterday. Here's the story:

I was bringing some firewood to a beach bonfire, and (despite the "No vehicles" sign) I decided to drive the hundred yards on the sand to unload the wood. Just as I pulled up to the firepit, the car stalled (5 speed). Starting it up and trying to move it, just caused it to stall again.

The wheels were not turning. It's not like they were spinning and kicking up sand - they just wouldn't budge. It was like I had put the parking brake on. Forward, reverse, nothing.

We managed to push it a few feet in neutral, then I tried first gear again, and the wheels locked right back up. After that, they wouldn't come unglued, in any gear, or even neutral.

Eventually, I called AAA and the tow truck driver hooked up a winch and pulled my car to the road. At which point, everything worked fine - no problems. Drove it home and everything.

Some (drunk) people there theorized that the AWD computer got confused by being on sand and didn't know where to route power, and just locked up.

Another theory was that sand got in the transfer case or other part of the drive train, causing the wheels to lock up.

Anyone here ever hear of this happening? I know the wagons aren't the most beachworthy cars, but I didn't expect it to just lock up.

Thanks,
DAve

#2 gbrand

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 11:06 PM

Long shot-is there any possibility that once you stopped and sank into the sand there was simply not enough power to get going, hence the wheels not spinning. But then were just fine when got winched up onto the pavement.


My Nissan truck will bog out in deep sand, esp if I stop and then try to get going again. Once I put the Transfer Case in Low it then crawls right out, know the subes are only single range.

I never had my 80 4wd in deep sand but on a sh..load of ice and snow

#3 grossgary

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 11:48 PM

i don't think the "confused computer" theory has much chance of being right. i know a couple people that drive soobs on sand with no problems. i've driven in all sorts of mud, snow, ice, burried, stuck, crazy hills and corn stalks...etc in manual and auto AWD with no problems.

don't know where to begin on this one.

#4 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 09:29 AM

Was your clutch slipping? Did the car feel like it was 'pulling' at all?

very strange

Carl

#5 Dickensheets

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 10:03 AM

I've had my 97 OBW on the beach a few different times. Never had a problem, even stopping and starting.

I don't do any hot doggin' cause I don't want sand everywhere. I use a slow and steady approach and when parking I find a small hill or dune and face downhill to assist in the restart.

Ryan

#6 SubDave

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 01:25 PM

Long shot-is there any possibility that once you stopped and sank into the sand there was simply not enough power to get going, hence the wheels not spinning. But then were just fine when got winched up onto the pavement.


Well, maybe, but the thing is, the car stalled out due to the wheels locking up before I stopped - that's what stopped me.

DAve

#7 SubDave

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 01:26 PM

Was your clutch slipping? Did the car feel like it was 'pulling' at all?

very strange

Carl


I don't think the clutch was slipping. The power seemed to be getting to the wheels, they just didn't want to turn, which caused the engine to stall out again, if I let the clutch out all the way.

DAve

#8 SubDave

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 01:39 PM

Here's a shot of the car. As you can see, the sand didn't get that high up the wheels.

DAve

Posted Image

#9 frag

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 01:40 PM

One thing seems sure: AWD worked. If you had had FWD, one wheel would have probably spun like crazy and dug you a hole. In your case, since all four wheel got exactly the same traction, power sent was equal to each wheel and it overwhelmed the Hp the engine was able to put out at what was relatively low revs.
You probably would have had to rev higher and slip the clutch more to get out of that situation. A little burnt smell would probably have been inevitable.
My speculations as I sit confortably behind my desk:)

#10 nipper

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 04:46 PM

Here's a shot of the car. As you can see, the sand didn't get that high up the wheels.

DAve

Posted Image



If the car requires more power to move then the engine can put out, it will stall. If it happens next time try clearing out the sand from the tires then go.
Looks like all 4 tires are equally dug in. What you may want to try, is place a brick in front of each wheel. then try to drive over them. I think it will stall then too. My feeling is there is nothing wrong with the car, it was just dug in. If you had a 4Low maybe you would have gotten out.
Go to a army/navy store and toss a folding shovel in the back of the car.

#11 SubDave

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 05:30 PM

What you may want to try, is place a brick in front of each wheel. then try to drive over them. I think it will stall then too. My feeling is there is nothing wrong with the car, it was just dug in.


You might have something there. We did put 2x4s in front of each tire, and eventually I was able to get traction on them, but it died again once it got back on sand.

Do you think I should have it looked at? I probably will anyway, it's just about time for it's 6 month service.

Go to a army/navy store and toss a folding shovel in the back of the car.


That's another good idea. Although, I don't think I'll be driving on sand again any time soon. :)


Thanks!
DAve

#12 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 10 September 2005 - 07:12 PM

This is a little disappointing to read as I think, from what I've read - no personal experience, soobs ahve a good reputation for swimming through sand - I guess because they are lighter than some other 4-bys. was your car loaded with heavy stuff?

I dunno - just ignore me! lol!

Carl

#13 Setright

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Posted 11 September 2005 - 02:26 AM

I doubt sand has gotten into the transmission.

I agree with the others that the engine was probably overwhelmed.


By the way, a manual has NO AWD COMPUTER! What were people drinking, absynthe?

#14 Setright

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Posted 11 September 2005 - 02:31 AM

And next time maybe you should try letting air out of the tyres, lowering to maybe 18-20 psi to get a bigger footprint...

Does your car not have dual-range AWD? All stationwagons are DR in Europe.


Oh, and one final idea, was the car in first gear? Trying to pull away in 3rd would give the same kind of symptoms - even on solid ground.

#15 nipper

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Posted 11 September 2005 - 09:58 AM

Look on the bright side, at least it means you have a strong clutch.


OOOooooo all the wagons in erupe are DR .... hrmmmm maybe i know where to get myslef a tranny :)

#16 SubDave

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Posted 12 September 2005 - 12:30 AM

I doubt sand has gotten into the transmission.

I agree with the others that the engine was probably overwhelmed.


By the way, a manual has NO AWD COMPUTER! What were people drinking, absynthe?


Heh heh. No, just beer and wine. But they also were not Subie experts, or knowledgeable about AWD at all. Some of them owned, or had owned, Subies, but were not gearheads with them.

Kinda like me. I still don't know the ins and outs of my AWD system. Which is why I'm asking you folks.

DAve

#17 SubDave

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Posted 12 September 2005 - 12:32 AM

Does your car not have dual-range AWD? All stationwagons are DR in Europe.


Oh, and one final idea, was the car in first gear? Trying to pull away in 3rd would give the same kind of symptoms - even on solid ground.


No, we don't have Dual Range here. At least, not that I know of.

And yes, it was in first gear. I tried it in second, thinking that might help - kind of like pop-staring a motorcycle - but it didn't work.

DAve

#18 cookie

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Posted 12 September 2005 - 01:03 AM

exactly why the dual range is offered in parts of the world where Subau deems the roads require it.

#19 Setright

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Posted 12 September 2005 - 12:28 PM

Yeah, DR would've done the trick I think.

Looking at the photo again, even though the belly is free, those tyres are dug deep into that soft sand. The resistance was too great. Your clutch is the only thing that might have suffered, but not massively.

#20 MountainBiker

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Posted 13 September 2005 - 05:55 PM

As people have stated, you needed more power. This could've been achieved by clutch slipppage and higher revs. An automatic transmission would also do the trick.




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