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I recently drove a 1998 Outback Limited with a 5-speed manual transmission while shopping for a car for my son who will be commuting to a nearby college in the fall. The clutch is new & felt fine, but the gates for the shifter were horrible. It was especially hard finding 3rd gear and I bumped reverse a couple of times going for 4th gear. In all gears, the shifter could be moved left to right nearly as much as when in neutral while the gears were engaged and driving! Once the gear was engaged, the transmission stayed in that gear, but locating the gears was a guessing game. In the manual transmission cars I've driven before, the shift gate never allowed more than a slight left-right play when in gear - and these were ordinary cars, not anything high performance. When I asked the seller about this concern, he said that the shifter had been like that since he bought the car (used) in 2004 & he got acclimated to it. So, my question is: does this car need a repair to the shift linkage (or something else)? Or is this how Subaru made the shifter? (I find it difficult to believe that Subaru intended the shift gate/linkage to be so inaccurate & difficult to use)

 

I have never owned a Subaru before & the car was otherwise in quite good condition for its age & mileage (about 180K). I think it would be a good car for my son, but he has never driven a manual transmission car (he really wants a car with a manual). At 19, I think the shifter in this car would be distracting & possibly dangerous for him. 

 

Please respond with thoughts, suggestions. Thanks!

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My car was like that when I bought it. Took me all of about a week to get fed up with it and replace the bushings, which were nearly totally gone.

 

On the 98 you need to replace the whole joint at the trans end of the shift rod. Part number is 35047AC030

 

Lists for about $70 from Subaru. Online dealers sell it for about $50, but you have to watch shipping costs. Sometimes you can haggle with a local dealer and get online pricing. (Or close to it)

 

Diagrams here: http://opposedforces.com/parts/legacy/us_b11/type_47/manipulation/manual_gear_shift_system/

Yours should be the one on the right. The joint is part number 4.

 

If yours is like the diagram on the left, you simply unbolt the joint and replace bushings 19 & 21.

They changed the design on the later years and made it so you can't disassemble the joint to replace the bushings in it.

Edited by Fairtax4me
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It's the bushings.  It's not a big deal.  I bought a 95 like that and drove it 100k before I fixed it.  I never had a problem finding gears, it was more the metal on metal rattling that got to me eventually. 

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