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differential/clutch advice


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12 replies to this topic

#1 wholtcamp@comcast.net

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 03:33 PM

I have a standard 2001 Forester with ~150k miles. The other morning, when I'd put it into any gear (1st or Reverse) to move, it would just sputter and die. I had it towed to a transmission place, who (after taking the transmission out/apart) told me the stickshift was stuck in gear, and it needed the front differential fixed and also a new clutch. It was $1946. This seemed high but what could I do? I agreed.

I picked it up today and not 2 miles out of the shop, it started acting up. It shook a bit when shifting from 4th to 5th, and it sputtered (the feeling where it's not getting gas). The shop was closed so I can't do anything until Monday. But looking at the bill, they claim to have ordered all these parts that don't seem to have anything to do with the "differential" and they charged me for a lot of labor that they couldn't have done (because they told me that they had to overnight the differential from the dealer & it wouldn't be there until noon Sat, but then when I called at 11am Sat, the car was ready). How done one get 12 hours of labor out of this?! I feel like I've been scammed, but don't want to take it back to get it fixed there if they are dishonest and do shoddy work.

List of parts they charged me for: snap ring, ring gear & pinion (oddly says L,S, Automatic Trans - 4.44 Ratio - but I have a manual not automatic...), clutch disc assembly, clutch pressure plate, clutch release bearing, seal & gasket kit, gear & hub assembly. The labor is 10.3 hrs for "transaxle assembly - remove, install & overheaul) plus ~1.6 hrs for the clutch.

Has anyone ever had the stickshift STUCK in gear? Why would it do that?! Does it really sound like a differential problem? I think they said the clutch issue wasn't related but it was needed "also".

Any feedback or advice is greatly appreciated! Feel free to email me at wholtcamp @ comcast.net (remove spaces)

#2 grossgary

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 04:36 PM

i think you got hosed, but i have limited experience with this. the failed diffs i've seen do not do what you just said...they make LOTS of noise prior to failure and get worse with time. never seen (or heard of it happening) of a diff just working fine then "locking up" without any previous signs or noises.

the main reason i think you got hosed on the diff as well is that the "stuck in gear" subaru's i have seen were not related to the front diff at all - but to the clutch itself. it was before i did this kind of in depth work that mine failed like this. i don't recall what the fix was but it wasn't expensive and was not the front diff.

#3 Manarius

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 05:05 PM

All the cars that I've been in that have been stuck in gear have been clutch or linkage related issues as well. Never heard of a differential getting stuck.

#4 wholtcamp@comcast.net

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 05:36 PM

i think you got hosed, but i have limited experience with this. the failed diffs i've seen do not do what you just said...they make LOTS of noise prior to failure and get worse with time. never seen (or heard of it happening) of a diff just working fine then "locking up" without any previous signs or noises.

the main reason i think you got hosed on the diff as well is that the "stuck in gear" subaru's i have seen were not related to the front diff at all - but to the clutch itself. it was before i did this kind of in depth work that mine failed like this. i don't recall what the fix was but it wasn't expensive and was not the front diff.


So do you mean that you've had this problem yourself? With a Subaru? Do the have to get inside the transmission to replace the clutch? Can I take it to another place and have them look at the work, or will they have to open up the transmission again to do that?

#5 woundedbrat

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 05:45 PM

Clutch is located between the engine and trans. I had a 4spd out of my brat that got stuck in 3rd the problem was probably a bent shift fork or bad syncro but was not clutch related. If I have to go to a mechanic ( never had to for my sub ) I would request to keep any parts that were replaced.

#6 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 06:39 PM

Well - here's my analysis (I'm a mechanic):

1. They removed the transmission from the vehicle. That's probably 2 hours of labor right there.

2. Transmission was stuck in gear, so they dissasembled it and found the front diff was chewed out of spec, and (I'm assuming) the "gear and hub assembly" was causing the stuck shifter. The worn R&P might have nothing at all to do with the stuck shifter - it may just be that it was out of spec and needed replacement anyway. Dissasembly, inspection, and quote for parts/labor = another 3 or 4 hours.

3. Parts come in Sat morning. Probably started at 6 or 7 AM on the job. Cleaning, installation of R&P and reassembly of transmission is a good 2 or 3 hours of work. Installation in the car is another couple hours.

4. 11 AM they test drive, and call you to pick it up.

That's easily 12 hours of labor. Frankly I'm surprised that's all they charged you for. That's no small job. Splitting the transaxle is a MESS and a half.

Now that's assuming they actually are being honest. Ask for the old parts - ALWAYS. And make sure they know you want them back UP FRONT before they ever start work. Get it in writing that they will save all the parts. At my shop (we do commercial and industrial machinery) we save all our "job boxes" with all the old parts for a minimum of 30 days.

It's really difficult to tell what went on - you need to speak with the tech that actually performed the work. Don't argue with the supervisor or the service counter people - ask to speak directly with the tech - ask for the old parts, and ask for an exact explanation of the procedures performed, and the analysis of what happened and his thoughts on the causes of the problems. Don't be rude, don't act like you think they are ripping you off - be curious, take notes, and come back here with the results of your query.

Get the old parts if you can - take detailed pictures of them and post here for us to see.

GD

#7 wholtcamp@comcast.net

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 08:59 PM

OK I'll do that. I need to take it down anyway because they need to fix the scraping sound... what would cause that?! And I want them to go over the bill with me. Hopefully they kept the parts. They had told me the parts would not be there from Subaru until noon, but the car was ready by 1130. I'm assuming it got there early, but 6-7 am is impossible because no courier delivers before 8am! Thanks for your feedback!

#8 grossgary

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 11:59 AM

So do you mean that you've had this problem yourself? With a Subaru?

yes and yes

Do the have to get inside the transmission to replace the clutch?

no

GD makes some excellent points - don't act like they ripped you off...i tend to be cynical since i get all the "i got hosed" problems from friends/family, and there's a lot of them. anyway, if they did indeed do this then like GD said splitting the transmission is a beast of a job. sort of a catch 22 so walk carefully. at this point the work is done and paid for not much you can do about it unless you want to dispute with your credit card and you probably don't have enough to go on to do that...ethically at least.

#9 wholtcamp@comcast.net

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 03:04 PM

I called this morn and said first my car is making a scraping noise and 2nd I did some research & want to talk to you again about the bill. He didn't want to, and was extremely rude, said no I couldn't talk to a technician (when I asked which one worked on it he said "lots of them"), no he wouldn't give me the owner's name ("If you did so much research why don't you use some of that research to find out for yourself") etc. I mentioned small claims court and that I reserved the right to cancel my credit card fee until the work was done right. He said I'm not going over the bill but bring it down and he'd drive it with me.

So I did and the tech who worked on my car drove it with me and sure enough there's a problem. I actually remember now that the scraping started immediately AFTER the "weird feeling" when I shifted between 4th and 5th on the way home, and then it's been constant since. They determined they had to take it apart again so gave me a rental car which they're paying for. They were also calm when I got there and (there is a manager in training as well) and did show me the parts (I will take them home and take pics & post here). I have no idea of knowing whether the parts were actually bad and needed replacing or what. He said that only rear differentials make noise when they're about to go out, the front differential is inside the transmission and also called the "drive train". When I asked if the gear ring & pinion just dropped in, to the tech - he said yes, then said no, and I said do you have special Subaru tools and he said no, we use the same tools on every car. I said that I've been told Subarus require some special tuning afetr it goes back together but I didn't really get a clear story. The tech was not a native English speaker so I'm not sure he could fully comunicate back to me what he was trying to explain with the engine though. That was the impression I had. I asked the manager the same thing about it slipping in, and he didn't give me a clear cut answer either but I certainly didn't get any sense of confidence like "oh yea, Subarus require special this that or the other, and we've dealt with hundreds of them..." or something to that effect.

can you use non-Subaru tools on them?! I'll post again when I get word on what's wrong this time...The scraping sound happens in all gears, and definitely heightens in intensity while pushing the gas pedal. It seems to be related to driving, not idling. It doesn't sound when sitting at a light.

#10 wholtcamp@comcast.net

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 07:05 PM

I called this morn and said first my car is making a scraping noise and 2nd I did some research & want to talk to you again about the bill. He didn't want to, and was extremely rude, said no I couldn't talk to a technician (when I asked which one worked on it he said "lots of them"), no he wouldn't give me the owner's name ("If you did so much research why don't you use some of that research to find out for yourself") etc. I mentioned small claims court and that I reserved the right to cancel my credit card fee until the work was done right. He said I'm not going over the bill but bring it down and he'd drive it with me.

So I did and the tech who worked on my car drove it with me and sure enough there's a problem. I actually remember now that the scraping started immediately AFTER the "weird feeling" when I shifted between 4th and 5th on the way home, and then it's been constant since. They determined they had to take it apart again so gave me a rental car which they're paying for. They were also calm when I got there and (there is a manager in training as well) and did show me the parts (I will take them home and take pics & post here). I have no idea of knowing whether the parts were actually bad and needed replacing or what. He said that only rear differentials make noise when they're about to go out, the front differential is inside the transmission and also called the "drive train". When I asked if the gear ring & pinion just dropped in, to the tech - he said yes, then said no, and I said do you have special Subaru tools and he said no, we use the same tools on every car. I said that I've been told Subarus require some special tuning afetr it goes back together but I didn't really get a clear story. The tech was not a native English speaker so I'm not sure he could fully comunicate back to me what he was trying to explain with the engine though. That was the impression I had. I asked the manager the same thing about it slipping in, and he didn't give me a clear cut answer either but I certainly didn't get any sense of confidence like "oh yea, Subarus require special this that or the other, and we've dealt with hundreds of them..." or something to that effect.

can you use non-Subaru tools on them?! I'll post again when I get word on what's wrong this time...The scraping sound happens in all gears, and definitely heightens in intensity while pushing the gas pedal. It seems to be related to driving, not idling. It doesn't sound when sitting at a light.


FYI the shop called and they said they "forgot a bearing" - what does that mean? Doesn't give me a lot of confidence in their work!!

#11 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:32 PM

I called this morn and said first my car is making a scraping noise and 2nd I did some research & want to talk to you again about the bill. He didn't want to, and was extremely rude, said no I couldn't talk to a technician (when I asked which one worked on it he said "lots of them"), no he wouldn't give me the owner's name ("If you did so much research why don't you use some of that research to find out for yourself") etc. I mentioned small claims court and that I reserved the right to cancel my credit card fee until the work was done right. He said I'm not going over the bill but bring it down and he'd drive it with me.


Hhhmmmm - that sounds bad...ish. If they had nothing to hide then they should have no problem going over a bill. That's the service manager's job after all....

So I did and the tech who worked on my car drove it with me and sure enough there's a problem. I actually remember now that the scraping started immediately AFTER the "weird feeling" when I shifted between 4th and 5th on the way home, and then it's been constant since. They determined they had to take it apart again so gave me a rental car which they're paying for. They were also calm when I got there and (there is a manager in training as well) and did show me the parts (I will take them home and take pics & post here).


That sounds much better. I find it's always best to confront situations like this in person. I should have mentioned that. Never call with a complaint about business that was originally conducted in person if you can help it. The phone is very "interrupting" as it MUST be answered - this can easily set people off if they are busy with another customer, project, etc. Be there in person - smile - ask politely for a "moment of their time". This is not demanding of their attention, and will be received much better. If they like you, you are much more likely to walk away with some skin left.

I have no idea of knowing whether the parts were actually bad and needed replacing or what. He said that only rear differentials make noise when they're about to go out, the front differential is inside the transmission and also called the "drive train". When I asked if the gear ring & pinion just dropped in, to the tech - he said yes, then said no, and I said do you have special Subaru tools and he said no, we use the same tools on every car. I said that I've been told Subarus require some special tuning afetr it goes back together but I didn't really get a clear story. The tech was not a native English speaker so I'm not sure he could fully comunicate back to me what he was trying to explain with the engine though. That was the impression I had. I asked the manager the same thing about it slipping in, and he didn't give me a clear cut answer either but I certainly didn't get any sense of confidence like "oh yea, Subarus require special this that or the other, and we've dealt with hundreds of them..." or something to that effect.


"Special" tools are almost never used unless you ARE the dealer or the manufacturer. They are cost prohibitive, and often uneccesary. At work I will often make my own tools. Any good shop will have access to a welder and basic fabrication tools. His comment was probably along those lines. I don't know of any special tools that are required to work on a Subaru transaxle, but I know of a few that are useful. All of them could be made easily though with basic mild steel stock and some skills with a welder.

GD

#12 GeneralDisorder

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:36 PM

FYI the shop called and they said they "forgot a bearing" - what does that mean? Doesn't give me a lot of confidence in their work!!


They forgot to install it, or forgot to replace it. It happens. My co-worker just put bearings in a $45,000 vaccuum pump wrong. Of course it showed up in testing and he fixed it. But he's been doing this for 8 years and this isn't exactly something he's never seen before. There's a LOT of parts in those transaxles, and mixing them up or forgetting one is not only possible, but actually pretty likely if you are in a hurry.

If they fix it right, and make it good, then I wouldn't worry about it.

GD

#13 WoodsWagon

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Posted 15 January 2008 - 02:47 PM

I hate to point this out, but you could have gotten a used transmission from a junkyard for a lot less. Forester tranny's rarely fail, it's usually the WRX ones that somehow loose gears.




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