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Hey there, I've been visiting for a while to read the threads for advice with my car but just signed up to actually join the conversation.  Thanks to all the folks with the experience on here that post on these threads--I cant tell you how many times one of your threads has led me to figure out whats up with my car.

 

Transmission related question for whoever's out there:

 

I drive a 1997 legacy outback with +/-45k miles on a second engine and pushing 250,000 miles on the original transmission.  I have pretty bad torque bind that is very apparent in turns.

 

Transmission shifts fine, minus the occasional late or slightly hard shift and the car drives smooth.

 

Question is this: Do i spend the money to replace the Duty C Solenoid and and the Clutch Pack or do I spend a bit more and replace my 250,000 mile trans with a 30-60k mile JDM trans?  (All work is my own--so only real consideration is the price of parts)

 

I was just going to fix it until i realized that the parts I'm looking for come out to about half the price of a JDM transmission. (Maybe im looking in the wrong places but solenoid=$130 and clutch pack=$120-200, does that sound right?)

 

I'm a bit attached to this car--Its been a project for me--so getting rid of it is not an option.

 

Thanks in advance for your advice.

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Hi and Welcome,

- If you've read up on here, you've likely seen that the 1st potential remedy is to Drain>Refill>Drive  - and repeat 3 times w/the ATF. Done that ? (I'm assuming this an Automatic / 4EAT.)

- Do you have the AT Temp light flashing? If so, check - pull the codes w/the TCU/TCM handshake.

-  Put the FWD fuse in to verify whether it's Mechanical or Electrical. If the fuse does nothing, it's Electrical and you Duty C is dead; if the TB is gone w/the FWD fuse IN it's Mechanical and you need the Clutch Pack (CP).

 - I've not priced a CP, but the Duty C sounds about right. You can fix your CP by filing down the grooves, too.

 

If you still go JDM remember to verify 2-3 times that the FD ratio is the same as yours: 4.44.

Edited by wtdash

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At those miles a JDM does make sense.  Statistically valid data is nearly impossible but I would guess 350,000 mile transmissions aren't the norm or average?  I don't mind trying for it, but I'm not sure I'd call it a sure bet!

 

I'll say this - the times I've opted for a JDM engine/trans over repair - I've definitely never looked back a few years later and regretted it.   That's more likely to happen if I attempt a repair rather than replacement!

 

Another option might be buying the JDM and swapping the rear extension housing, which can be done in the vehicle so might save you some down time/work/effort and you'd have the insurance of having the spare transmission if you do have future issues. 

 

If you wanted to keep the original AT - because sometimes that fun? - maybe look at fluid change history, use (average daily commuter or work/tow/offroad/stuck in mud....?), and even send the ATF to Blackstone or another fluid lab who can do a UOA (Used Oil Analysis) and tell you if the fluid contaminants look normal or high.   If that all looks reasonable, you've probably got a good candidate to carry on with. 

And investigate what the failure is - clutches or Duty C solenoid?  Does the FWD fuse work?  Do one of those suggest improper maintenance/use in the past (tires, towing, fluid)?  If it's just a solenoid wearing out - maybe that's more comforting?

 

You may be able to sell your old trans for $100 and recoupe some costs too if you're in a subaru rich area. 

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I've heard some had luck dpoing the drain/fill thing, maybe adding an additive, then doing a bunch of slow figure-8's. My torque bind is progrtessing, I gotta go look  that up.

Have already donme the drain/fills.

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I've heard some had luck dpoing the drain/fill thing, maybe adding an additive, then doing a bunch of slow figure-8's. My torque bind is progrtessing, I gotta go look  that up.

Have already donme the drain/fills.

 

Good point!  

 

I've done it before - if it's the start of symptoms - they respond well to fluid changes.  I've done multiple drain and refills and torque bind goes away.  

 

Just depends how bad it is and what the root cause is as to whether that will work or not. 

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Another option is to pull the rear section of the driveshaft and keep running your existing trans since it shifts fine. You can drive it that way until something more serious breaks, or until you find the ideal replacement. (As mentioned, make sure it's a matching final drive ratio.)

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Thanks a lot for the replies--a lot of good suggestions.  Sorry to take so long getting back.  Work has been a bit hectic and this project took a back seat  for a few days.

 

Yes it is a 4EAT.  (Should have included that in the first post, sorry)

 

I changed the AT fluid 3 times in 1000 miles a few months ago.  It helped for a while but the bind came back.

 

The FWD fuse does nothing and the AT light flashes on startup--tracking those symptoms down using threads on this site are actually what clued me into the solenoid and clutch pack.

 

 

 

At those miles a JDM does make sense.  Statistically valid data is nearly impossible but I would guess 350,000 mile transmissions aren't the norm or average?  I don't mind trying for it, but I'm not sure I'd call it a sure bet!

 

I'll say this - the times I've opted for a JDM engine/trans over repair - I've definitely never looked back a few years later and regretted it.   That's more likely to happen if I attempt a repair rather than replacement!

 

Another option might be buying the JDM and swapping the rear extension housing, which can be done in the vehicle so might save you some down time/work/effort and you'd have the insurance of having the spare transmission if you do have future issues. 

 

The miles on the transmission are a concern and that's why I was wondering about the new transmission.  I think this is my favorite idea--just get a new JDM and switch out the rear portion--I think i will probably try that.  However as I investigated the possibility of replacing the parts I found a kit that included all the gaskets, the solenoid, and the clutch pack plates for this job but there were 4 different options of clutch plates for a 4EAT.  Does anyone know how to tell which set of clutch plates I would need if I took this route?

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Mine went to 265k.  Had a bit of TB but not terrible.  Then something broke and it was done.  I'd think trans swap would maybe be a better option.

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I had this issue plus the dreaded 16 flashes of the at temp light. At the least you need new plates and the GEAR COMPLETE-REDUCTION DRIVE.

 

See write-up with parts list for my 98 obw

There is an awesome writeup out there on how to swap it all.

 

Http://www.ultimatesubaru.org/forum/topic/121116-at-light-flashes-16-times-what-to-do/?fromsearch=1

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I second the JDM replacement vs repair.  Labor to R&R the transmission is usually going to be charged plus labor to fix your transmission (depending on what the issue is).  I had an AT Fluid Temp sensor go bad (would drop in and out of Torque Converter Lockup while driving).  They fixed it and then about a year later had to R&R the transmission for another issue.  The cost of the repair equaled the used transmission purchase price.  Mine had around 250k when the repair was done.

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Anything in the rear section can be done with trans in place, but looking at mileage plus price of parts vs jdm trans, jdm trans looks pretty good.

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