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2003 Legacy Automatic Transmission Issue


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10 replies to this topic

#1 ReaLiTY

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 12:05 AM

Short Story:
2003 Legacy with 67K miles, Automatic Transmissions shifts hard from lower to higher gears when car is warm and entering free-ways. The ************ Indicator Positions for D, 3, and 2 do not light up anymore. My Reverse lights don't work even though the bulbs are good and no fuses are blown. Any ideas?

Long Story:
Ok, this is kind of a multi part issue, but I believe all of it has to do with the Automatic Transmision in my 2003 Legacy with 67,000 miles. In June I made a trip from Seattle to Oregon and did quite a bit of driving down there. When entering onto freeways and getting up to speed, the car would seem to stay in a low gear such as first or second and then shift hard into the next gear. This seemed to happen everytime we hopped on a freeway and gave it some gas. I ended up making an appointment to get it checked out from down there and got it into the shop with 59,960 miles. They checked it out and could not reproduce the issue, no matter what they tried. So I took it home and although I tried as hard as I could on the way there, I also couldn't reproduce the issue. A few days later I noticed that the Shift Indicator Position in the middle of the instrument cluster do not come on for D, 3 or 2, the rest work fine. I contacted the place that did the work to see if they new what would cause that, they told me to check the bulbs. I pulled the entire dash and cluster apart and there are no replaceable bulbs, nor do they look blown. A few weeks ago my reverse/backup lights stopped working, bulbs and fuses are all good.
Last week I made a road trip to Los Angeles and noticed the shifting issue again, but this time it seemed to only occur when the car was warm and had been driven for awhile.

Can anyone give me any insight on these issues? I think I'm going to have to take it back to the shop for the shifting problem, but would like to have some input before spending another $100 bucks for them not to find anything, especially since I am now out of warranty. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Heath


#2 sea#3

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 12:49 AM

The first thing you should look at is see if there are any stored codes in the TCM
There is a possiblity that the Inhibitor swtich is defective .That it is going open when HOT
The reverse lights go through the same switch
Do the lights on the clusterever light up when the trany behaves normaly?
The bulbs in the cluster should be LED's . So if they are burnt you will have to replace the Cluster assembly .

SEA#3

#3 grossgary

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 04:11 AM

Do the lights on the clusterever light up when the trany behaves normaly?

i'd like to know the answer to this question and if you get any transmission lights or flashes coming on (like at start up - 16 flashes).

#4 nipper

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 09:02 AM

3 years 36000 miles you should change the fluid. Tired fluid can cause hard shifiting. Check the fluid level, and if it has never been changed, change it.

Cold trannies will shift late, been that way since the early 1990's. Subarus are hard shifters at times. Blu just started shifing really hard, and i noticed its been 30,000 miles since his last trany fluid change.

The PRND321 bulb is just the bulb, no biggie here.

The reverse lights from what your saying is most likely the inhibitor (or what we non japanese car people call the neutral saftey switch). This switch not only works the backup lights, but tells the TCU what gear you have selected.

There can be more, but i think those are the solutions to the problems.

nipper

#5 ReaLiTY

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 12:28 PM

Thanks for the replies, I appreciate it!

sea#3
When I had the shop check out the transmission when I first noticed the issue they said there were no codes. Is the inhibitor switch hard to replace? The cluster lights that don't light which are D, 3, and 2 never light no matter how the transmission is behaving. But P, R, N, and 1 light up without a problem. Yes, they were LED's, just seems weird that 3 would go out at the same time.

grossgary
No, the cluster lights act the same regardless of how the tranny is acting. And there are no transmission lights or flashes ever.

nipper
The fluid was changed when I had the 60K done at 58K miles. Do you think I should have the Transmission Flushed? Could the inhibitor/neutral safety switch also cause the cluster problem since the TCU doesn't know what gear it's in? And is it hard to replace?

Thanks again for all the help!

Heath

#6 grossgary

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 02:03 PM

i'm not saying it's your problem but the inhibitor switch is not bad to replace. doesn't require transmission removal. it's on the lower passengers side of the transmission, accessible from underneath. i would suspect something is causing all of these issues, but of course that's just a guess. it's easy enough to get at and see it might at least be worth a look. some of the older 4EAT's have plastic parts on the inhibitor that are easy to crack, i've seen them cracked, but never seen one that doesn't work. it's so easy to check i'd at least have a look and make sure it doesn't look broken or out of sorts.

#7 nipper

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 03:23 PM

Thanks for the replies, I appreciate it!

sea#3
When I had the shop check out the transmission when I first noticed the issue they said there were no codes. Is the inhibitor switch hard to replace? The cluster lights that don't light which are D, 3, and 2 never light no matter how the transmission is behaving. But P, R, N, and 1 light up without a problem. Yes, they were LED's, just seems weird that 3 would go out at the same time.

grossgary
No, the cluster lights act the same regardless of how the tranny is acting. And there are no transmission lights or flashes ever.

nipper
The fluid was changed when I had the 60K done at 58K miles. Do you think I should have the Transmission Flushed? Could the inhibitor/neutral safety switch also cause the cluster problem since the TCU doesn't know what gear it's in? And is it hard to replace?

Thanks again for all the help!

Heath


Its easy to replace. I bet you have a bustedicated inhibitor switch, and it is quite possible the car isnt sure what gear it is in.

If they changed all the fluid (over 9 qts, I forget how much) then they did a flush.

nipper

#8 sea#3

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 10:50 PM

[quote name='ReaLiTY']Thanks for the replies, I appreciate it!

[sea#3
When I had the shop check out the transmission when I first noticed the issue they said there were no codes. Is the inhibitor switch hard to replace? The cluster lights that don't light which are D, 3, and 2 never light no matter how the transmission is behaving. But P, R, N, and 1 light up without a problem. Yes, they were LED's, just seems weird that 3 would go out at the same time.

You should still get the code checked again, just in case there are some stored after the last time it was checked. While they have the scan tool on the car they can check to see if the TCM is getting a signal from the inhibitor switch and go up and down the selection to see if it goes intermittent ( get them to graph it)
This still might not prove anything, like you said it comes and goes as well it maybe heat sensitive
There are two connector that you should have a look at. The two connectors are on the top of the trany that are part of the circuit for the inhibitor switch and for the shift solenoids

Hope that helps

SEA#3

#9 ReaLiTY

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 12:29 PM

I know that i's been quite awhile, but I just wanted to let everyone know that it ended up being the cord that comes off the Inhibitor Switch that was the problem. After replacing the switch this last weekend I still had the problem. So I tested the old switch which checked out fine (should've done this before I purchased a new one :)). Then I pulled out the cord from the switch since at the end of it, I wasn't getting a signal for the backup lights. Sure enough the cord had 4 completely severed wires and one partially severed. After repairing the wires, I know have all my dash lights for indicator positions and my reverse lights work. It's still too early to know if the hard shifting issue is fixed, but hopefully. Anyway, thanks to everyone who replied for the help!

Heath

#10 grossgary

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 12:41 PM

Woah that's pretty awesome - how far up the "line" from the inhibitor switch was the cord frayed? That's a strange issue, how did you find it?

#11 Olnick

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 01:04 PM

After repairing the wires, I know have all my dash lights for indicator positions and my reverse lights work.


Ain't that a great feeling?!! Hope it helped with your shifting too.

Thanks for posting the resolution.




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