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Hey everyone. I just purchased a 1999 Outback wagon, and one of the issues to sort out is an issue with reverse (5-speed manual).

 

When you shift into reverse, it takes a little more force than normal to engage it, or it will grind and/or pop out when you let up on the clutch. Once engaged, reverse works fine and it does not pop out of gear. The bigger problem is when you try to shift out of reverse- going from reverse to neutral takes considerable force.

 

The shifter feels great otherwise. All forward gears are fine, the shifter isn't loose/sloppy, no vague gear changes, etc. The clutch also feels good.

 

The previous owner reports it has been this way since the owner before him, and it has made it a year and six or seven thousand miles like this... He just got used to it.

 

Any thoughts on where I might look first to track this one down?

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Read where your shifter isn't loose or sloppy, but wonder still if some linkage adjustment may fix the problem.

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how's the fluid level?

 

suppose a previous owner put the wrong fluid in?

 

make sure it has the proper level of GL-5 non-synthetic.

 

however - it does seem like you'd have more issues than just reverse if there were a bad lube issue.

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Read where your shifter isn't loose or sloppy, but wonder still if some linkage adjustment may fix the problem.

Yeah, that's what I'm hoping for. :)

 

I'll have to find a diagram or service manual, and see what kind of adjustments the linkage has... I would have expected issues with other gears if the linkage was out of adjustment, but I don't have any idea what this linkage actually looks like, so that would probably be a poor assumption. :)

 

Thanks for the reply.

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how's the fluid level?

 

suppose a previous owner put the wrong fluid in?

 

make sure it has the proper level of GL-5 non-synthetic.

 

however - it does seem like you'd have more issues than just reverse if there were a bad lube issue.

Hmm, I'll check that. It might be a few weeks though, the car is in storage in another state while I coordinate how to get it home. :)

 

The previous owner seemed to have been very good about maintenance items, but that doesn't rule out a shop using the wrong fluid.

 

Thanks.

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a 5spd from a junkyard (car-part.com or LKQ ?) could be good option, but, must be the same final drive ratio as the present trans. Might find one with substantially lower miles.

 

also, the drain plug does have a magnet. If there is more than about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of sludge on it - or, even worse, 'chunks' - that might be a sign that a new trans is the best option.

Edited by 1 Lucky Texan

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There is no adjustment to the linkage

Linkage can get sloppy, new bushings.

 

If it's just reverse, I'd make sure the Gear Lube level is correct and drive it home.

Once home, drain the gear lube, check for metal and then service with new GL.

 

See how it goes.

 

Used Trans is a good option. . 

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Check the shift linkage where it attaches to the trans for anything bent or damaged. There's no adjustment but I have seen new linkage parts installed the wrong way causing drag against other parts.

 

 

There could be a problem with the reverse check mechanism which will be difficult to inspect with the trans in the car. The bolts that hold the cover on are tiny and tend to rust and break.

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Thanks everyone, appreciate the replies. :)

 

Fairtax4me - Is the reverse check mechanism internal to the transmission, or is it part of the shifter or linkage?

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It's internal. There's a round cover on the left side of the trans that holds the mechanism. It's basically a spring and a lever that has to be pushed out of the way in order for you to shift into reverse, so you can't go straight from 5th to reverse while rolling.

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Ok, here's some more information. I was wading through the service records, and found these:

 

A customer states the transmission slips out of 5th gear.

Cause: Removed back of transmission and found main shaft nut loose as customer suspected. Did not see any other visible damage.

$560 of work... Assuming most of it was labor, there is a short list of gaskets, nuts/bolts/washers, etc. Looks like it was refilled with 75W90 gear oil at that time.

 

A month and 200 miles later, another service record:

A vehicle was in on 9/25 to be repaired for transmission slipping out of 5th gear. Since then, vehicle is difficult to shift into reverse.

...

Abnormal wear to 5th gear and reverse hub is causing shifting concern. Estimate to replace with salvage transmission $2279.00 - Owner declined.

So....... If it passed the visual inspection the first time, but had abnormal wear 200 miles later.... Hmmm...

 

(By the mileage recorded, It has traveled an additional ~3000 miles since then.)

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It's internal. There's a round cover on the left side of the trans that holds the mechanism. It's basically a spring and a lever that has to be pushed out of the way in order for you to shift into reverse, so you can't go straight from 5th to reverse while rolling.

Thanks for the description. :) Is that above the fluid level, or would I need to drain the fluid before opening the access cover?

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Might depend how you lift the car.  It's towards the back so getting the rear of the car off the ground high enough might push most of the fluid up towards the front diff.

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You can also drain the fluid into a clean dish/oil bottle and add it back into the trans later.

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If the nut on the end of the mainshaft was loose there could certainly be wear on the 5th gear hub because that's the last piece of the mainshaft.

 

I kinda think something didn't get put back together correctly the last time it was apart. Ivan's imports made mention of the reverse idler gear having issues, but I don't remember the fix. He hasn't been on here for quite a while. I'll try to find some info about that later.

 

Either way, it sounds to me like the transmission probably needs to come out to really get an idea of what's going on.

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If the nut on the end of the mainshaft was loose there could certainly be wear on the 5th gear hub because that's the last piece of the mainshaft.

 

I kinda think something didn't get put back together correctly the last time it was apart. Ivan's imports made mention of the reverse idler gear having issues, but I don't remember the fix. He hasn't been on here for quite a while. I'll try to find some info about that later.

 

Either way, it sounds to me like the transmission probably needs to come out to really get an idea of what's going on.

Either way, it sounds to me like the transmission probably needs to come out to really get an idea of what's going on. IMO, since pulling the tranny is recommended, it makes sense to just go ahead and install a good used tranny. I just don't think spending time and money repairing the old tranny is worthwhile.

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I kinda think something didn't get put back together correctly the last time it was apart. Ivan's imports made mention of the reverse idler gear having issues, but I don't remember the fix. He hasn't been on here for quite a while. I'll try to find some info about that later.

Either way, it sounds to me like the transmission probably needs to come out to really get an idea of what's going on.

  

Either way, it sounds to me like the transmission probably needs to come out to really get an idea of what's going on. IMO, since pulling the tranny is recommended, it makes sense to just go ahead and install a good used tranny. I just don't think spending time and money repairing the old tranny is worthwhile.

Yeah, I'm thinking it must be assembly related as well, because reverse worked fine prior to the transmission servicing. I'm tempted to try taking the reverse check mechanism out entirely and see (temporarily) if it shifts OK without it. All of the forward gears work fine, reverse works fine once engaged, no gears pop out, the trans is smooth and not noisy, etc. This hard in/out of reverse issue is really the only thing wrong with it, and there would otherwise be no reason at all to swap out this particular trans....

 

I've looked at the service notes for the reverse check mechanism, and there is a special procedure to get it to the right position before the installation. So perhaps that wasn't followed correctly?

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