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3at subaru gl transmission says no.

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Hey super new. And there is probably a good forum you can point me to. But here is the issue I am having with my 1989 FWD GL. 

I just bought the car it has 100,000 miles and looks to be in ok condition. While driving it I noticed it was slow going in and out of gears and had a lot of trouble in reverse. When in reverse It would rev and slowly back up like a boat then it would get more traction and be fine. NBD I thought, it was old and cost me a couple of hundred bucks and when it goes bad I’ll put some hair on my chest and learn a bit more about cars. Lol.

The next day while driving the transmission decides that going into gears isn’t cool. Press down on the gas and it revs like it’s in neutral. 

I check the fluids. (Which I promise I was going to do that that day.) Everything looks good except the ATF is empty. That can’t be good. So I fill it to proper levels at proper temps. Shift through the gears. Drain, clean the atf filter and pan. Refill. 

The car still doesn’t move. It’s not leaking any atf. Not a drop.

So after some research I have a few ideas.

Governor  gear getting apple cored.

Vacuum Modulator sucking atf into the engine and burning it.


A host of issues that all at up to transmission says no.




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Looks like you’ve got the most common issues covered. 

I’d start with the vacuum modulator, but really my gut feeling is that the auto might be toast - with that said I have very little experience with autos so cover all bases if you can before calling it quits on it. 

Someone in the know will tell you more though. And this is the forum to be on for this sort of help! 



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When an automatic slips, immediately check and add fluid if its low.  It's really bad to keep going.
After you refilled it, is it still full?

I am pretty sure that the governor gear core problem won't stop it from moving, it would just mess up the shift points.   I have not had a governor gear problem.


I have had vacuum modulators leak fluid into the intake more than once.

I had one of the tubes on the control system fall out, that made it loose reverse and 3rd, or something like that.

I had the pump shaft spline strip out, and that leaves you powerless, no gears at all.

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I agree with GD, I only seem to be able to only get about 180k (it hasn't failed yet) out of mine but it's being used behind a 2.2 engine. You might also check to see if you stripped a hub. Not as likely as a dead Trans but possible. If it's not the hub either learn to rebuild it (parts are getting hard to find), search for a replacement, find a 5 speed to swap in or sell the car to someone for parts.

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