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'99 Impreza 5spd w/severe torque bind


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11 replies to this topic

#1 rcs914

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 12:13 PM

Ok, I know that "torque bind" threads have been done to death around here, at least regarding the automatic transmissions, but from what I can figure I'm one of the "lucky" ones to own a 1999 5spd Impreza Sport Wagon (95,000 miles) that suffers from rather severe torque bind once the car is warmed up. It currently isn't my primary car, and in fact I want to sell it, as I simply don't need it anymore.

I bought it around 80,000 miles, and though I don't remember it having the issue at the time, it did manifest itself shortly thereafter. Primarily this shows up in the hotter months, or after the car has been driven for at least 20-30 minutes, and will get progressively worse the longer it is driven. Either a right or left hand turn will result in the binding "clunk clunks" that sound to me like they are coming from the front end. For a while I thought it was the axles, because it was exactly the same sensation as the bad axles I had in my '88 civic, but unfortunately my mechanic introduced me to the much less appealing concept of torque bind.

So what I gather is that it is likely either the center differential or the viscous coupling unit, from what I've picked up from here and other sites. The mechanic had mentioned the clutch packs as being a likely candidate as well.

So I guess I'm curious as to what would be my best option: either sell it as-is, stating that this is a common subaru problem, and knock the price down some, or to try and get it fixed before I sell it. I'm sort of thinking that the former is the better option, as I don't really want to front cash into a car I'm not currently using. KBB states that the "fair condition" trade in value is $3500 and fair private party is over $5100. Fair does account for some mechanical defects, but I'm wondering if the transmission is a pretty big one. Do people think that it would be fair of me to ask $4000 in current condition? I don't really have much of an idea as to what it would cost to do the repair, as people have usually said "not inexpensive".

Anyway, I thank you all for your help.

Chris

#2 Andyjo

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 12:19 PM

If it's a 5sp... then you don't have a clutch pack in there, you have a viscous coupling... that could be fried i guess....
generally people can't have torque bind w/ a manual tranny.. just the way it works...

#3 SuBrat84

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 12:34 PM

Hey, I noticed you're in Tucson. If you would like a second opinion about what is wrong with it, I would be happy to look at it for you. I am fairly familiar with the torque bind issue as I had it in my 98 GT (auto) and am now getting in my 94 svx. Typically 5spd doesn't get a torque bind.. and sometimes is fixed as easily as putting new differential fluid (gear oil) in. However, if it is too severe it would require something along the lines of a new rear differential, or coupling unit, or insert part here, etc. If it needs a new transmission or a transmission rebuild you could be looking at anywhere from 800-3000 dollars.

#4 ShawnW

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 12:38 PM

The coupler can be changed in the car if necessary and would only cost the part plus a gasket (RTV WORKS) and some fluid (and your time).

#5 rcs914

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Posted 11 June 2006 - 11:06 PM

Thanks for the replies :-)

SuBrat, that would be awesome if you're willing to take a look. I've probably seen you around town at times, as I always keep a lookout for SVX's. I love the look of them. I'll PM you later, and hopefully we can find a time to get together to check it out.

I know that my car ran for a while on different size tires. I didn't know/didn't RTFM that they had to all be changed at the same time, and had only replaced two of them at one point. The subaru mechanic who had looked at the car measured the tires and said that was likely the cause of the issue. There was also a period before I got the tires that I had been on the donut, and probably had driven 350 miles or possibly even more, I don't really remember. As I've never driven another subaru that was suffering from the problem, I can't say that it's the exact same sensation, but it sure sounds like it is from others descriptions. It just feels exactly like what "bad axels" felt like in my previous car, a "clunk-shudder" in the tight turns.

If it's a case of replacing the coupler, my brother-in-law used to be a mechanic, so he can likely help me (I hope).

Thanks again,

Chris

#6 SuBrat84

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 07:35 PM

Yeah.. driving around on different size tires for a while will probably mess some things up. If we could get a couple more opinions on what specifically, we'll go from there. So everybody, what part of the AWD system gets damaged when you drive around on wrong sized tires?

#7 Andyjo

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 07:37 PM

Yeah.. driving around on different size tires for a while will probably mess some things up. If we could get a couple more opinions on what specifically, we'll go from there. So everybody, what part of the AWD system gets damaged when you drive around on wrong sized tires?

The flux capacitator... duh!.. that's how AWD works :D

umm.... the viscous coupler.... or the center clutch pack on the autos... i think. ;)

#8 Smarty

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 07:45 PM

I had a 95 wagon 5 speed with the exact same thing. It is without doubt the viscous coupler. It cost me $775 to have it replaced at the dealer. The tranny worked like a champ after the repair and as long as you keep the tires the same size and the tire pressure even I think it should last the life of the car. One more thing, always have it towed on a flatbed, and if you are towing it frequently you might want to consider getting rid of it...

#9 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 08:28 PM

I had a 95 wagon 5 speed with the exact same thing. It is without doubt the viscous coupler. It cost me $775 to have it replaced at the dealer. The tranny worked like a champ after the repair and as long as you keep the tires the same size and the tire pressure even I think it should last the life of the car. One more thing, always have it towed on a flatbed, and if you are towing it frequently you might want to consider getting rid of it...


hah!

How much of that 775 was the part?


Carl

#10 Smarty

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 09:16 PM

Viscous coupler $451.07
Gasket $ 13.86
Gasket $ 4.95
Gear Lube $ 10.56
Labor (5.5 hrs) $302.50
Total $782.94
Nobody is making viscous couplers except Subaru. It is after all what makes a Subaru a Subaru. You might find the part cheaper from a different Subaru dealer on the net (part # 38434aa021 for 1995) and you can save yourself $300 by doing it yourself. I did a ton of research and I found that they have you on this one. I bit the bullet, dropped the car off at the dealer at 8am picked it up at 5pm and drove it for 3.5 more years until a deer committed suicide on the hood.

#11 nipper

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 10:33 PM

Ok, I know that "torque bind" threads have been done to death around here, at least regarding the automatic transmissions, but from what I can figure I'm one of the "lucky" ones to own a 1999 5spd Impreza Sport Wagon (95,000 miles) that suffers from rather severe torque bind once the car is warmed up. It currently isn't my primary car, and in fact I want to sell it, as I simply don't need it anymore.

I bought it around 80,000 miles, and though I don't remember it having the issue at the time, it did manifest itself shortly thereafter. Primarily this shows up in the hotter months, or after the car has been driven for at least 20-30 minutes, and will get progressively worse the longer it is driven. Either a right or left hand turn will result in the binding "clunk clunks" that sound to me like they are coming from the front end. For a while I thought it was the axles, because it was exactly the same sensation as the bad axles I had in my '88 civic, but unfortunately my mechanic introduced me to the much less appealing concept of torque bind.

So what I gather is that it is likely either the center differential or the viscous coupling unit, from what I've picked up from here and other sites. The mechanic had mentioned the clutch packs as being a likely candidate as well.

So I guess I'm curious as to what would be my best option: either sell it as-is, stating that this is a common subaru problem, and knock the price down some, or to try and get it fixed before I sell it. I'm sort of thinking that the former is the better option, as I don't really want to front cash into a car I'm not currently using. KBB states that the "fair condition" trade in value is $3500 and fair private party is over $5100. Fair does account for some mechanical defects, but I'm wondering if the transmission is a pretty big one. Do people think that it would be fair of me to ask $4000 in current condition? I don't really have much of an idea as to what it would cost to do the repair, as people have usually said "not inexpensive".

Anyway, I thank you all for your help.

Chris



You actually sound like your in the begnining stages of torque bind. IMMEDIATLY check your tires and make sure they are properly inflated and they all match. You have a viscous coupling. The way it works is it has two sets of alternating plates inside it. These plates have holes in them and sheer the the fluid. As the fluid sheers it heats up and you get 50/50 awd. For some reason this is what is happening to you. This is why when the car is cold its not a problem.

nipper

#12 jhelm_waterw

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Posted 16 June 2006 - 07:42 AM

Wrong.
Lots of 5 speed trannys get the VC torque bind problem. I know of 3 friends who have had it. You only need to overheat your center differential once to get it to start behaving poorly. And it cannot be fixed by just putting in new diff fluid. The OIL that you add to your gearbox is NOT the fluid that is INSIDE your VC. The VC is a sealed and pressurized unit with a proprietary fluid (that I could not get even through my man at subuaru headquarters in NJ) Trust me.. it would take you or me about $10k worth of equipment to properly repair a VC. For a shop (like the one in austrailia that monkeys with WRX's transmissions) they already have that equipment and can probably play with 50 different hydraulic fluids and see which one works best and bench test it. You and me should just bite the bullet and buy and new or gently used one.

HOWEVER... having said that... if you DO have a going-bad VC AND your gearbox is low on oil, adding oil to the gearbox MAY help (a little) due to the cooling properties. When the VC is on its' way out, it gets very sensitive to heat (which is why it behaves when the car is cold and gets worse as you drive, especially in arizona). So checking your gearbox oil is ALWAYS a good thing and MAY help extend the VCs imminent failure, but it aint gonna fix it.



Hey, I noticed you're in Tucson. If you would like a second opinion about what is wrong with it, I would be happy to look at it for you. I am fairly familiar with the torque bind issue as I had it in my 98 GT (auto) and am now getting in my 94 svx. Typically 5spd doesn't get a torque bind.. and sometimes is fixed as easily as putting new differential fluid (gear oil) in. However, if it is too severe it would require something along the lines of a new rear differential, or coupling unit, or insert part here, etc. If it needs a new transmission or a transmission rebuild you could be looking at anywhere from 800-3000 dollars.






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