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Old 01-27-2006, 07:38 PM   #1
Subadud
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Question 2002 Subaru Transmission problems

Just found this site. I have a 2002 Subaru Outback with 72000 miles. 2 weeks ago I had a head gasket leak which I had fixed for $1700. 5 days later I am faced with a transmission problem. As I stop at a traffic light or stop sign and start to move, the car won't move and it feels like the tranny disengages from the engine and the car just sits there. Then the tranny engages and the car starts to move sluggishly until it builds speed. I have a burning smell so after a day having this problem, I took it to a dealer. The service manager called me and said that the differential fluid and the tranny fluid were mixing together so the seals are bad internally. They found that the tranny fluid was low and the diff fluid was overfilled. Well the technician corrected the levels and took the car out for a test drive then checked the fluid levels again and found the issue. They need to take the transmission out and reseal which will cost roughly $2200 and if they need to put in a remanufactured tranny depending on the condition of the internal components, it would cost $4500
I am very upset to say the least. I mean a car that was driven by my wife and which has never been abused is having these problems all at once at 72000 miles?
SOA's attitude is not helping as well. They are not willing to stand behind their product. If it is a defect, they should try to find out the nature of the defect so it does not happen again. I mean isn't that part of customer service and validation? Don't the engineers at Subaru have any pride in the product that is promoted as reliable in such glossy ads?

I had a tranny flush done at 40000 miles at the dealership. But instead of trying to find the problem and helping, they rub it right back saying that I have not spent money for servicing at their dealerships hence I cannot expect any help back. When I bought the car, I was under the impression that Subarus were reliable and they would run forever so I figured buying an extended warranty was not worth it. I mean you buy an extended warranty for a defective product
Does anyone know a reliable and cheaper subaru experienced transmission shop in the Detroit, Michigan area. Please help. Any suggestions would be very appreciated.
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Last edited by Subadud; 01-27-2006 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 01-27-2006, 07:53 PM   #2
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Service manager is full of it! If your viscous fluid leaked all the way out of the center diff it just wouldn't work correctly.

I would put money on them screwing something up with the clutch when they reinstalled your motor after they fixed the head gasket.

Show him this thread! The center diff works just like any open diff, but with viscous plates to try and combat wheel slip. What I am saying is that there is a solid link between the front and rear by the spider gears in the center diff.

I hate to dog the dealers, but most of them don't totally understand how the subaru trans works.

Check to see if these guys can point you to someone local that can check out your transmission.

http://www.pandlmotorsports.com/

I just sold an 04' trans for $700 that had 20K on it. You can find a used one for $800-$1K if that is what it is. I bet they screwed something up for it to just puke on ya' after 5 days of them having it apart.

Good luck,
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Old 01-27-2006, 08:09 PM   #3
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Read the post again Kev, he is referring to an automatic although he does not explicitly state that. In the auto trans the front differential runs in gear oil and is separate from the trans itself which runs in ATF.
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Old 01-27-2006, 08:17 PM   #4
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Ah, didn't catch that! Sorry

I don't know anything about the autos. I'm sure someone else does here though.

Thanks Mulder! I just started going off because I hate to see someone get ripped off.
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Old 01-27-2006, 08:30 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies. I had the Head Gasket work done at Tuning Factory (formerly Godspeed) and not at the dealership. I was referred to Tuning Factory since they work on Subarus and other imported cars.
Yes my Subaru Outback is Automatic not Stick shift. I never had any problems until the Head Gasket leak and then the dealerships were quoting me everywhere from $2000 to $2200 for the Head Gasket job hence when Tuning Factory gave me a lower quote to not only do the Head Gaskets but replace the water pump, timing belt, spark plugs and head bolts, I went with them. Prior to taking it to the dealership, I took it back to Tuning Factory since I spent $1700 there. Dan took the car out with a code reader and said the engine was fine but the problem was definitely tranny related and not something that happened when they worked on the car. He then proceeded to tell me that they mainly work on stick shifts but he would call his buddy at the dealership and explain the problem. According to his buddy, the Subarus had a history of the seals in the automatic transmission failing. He said the cost would be around $1800. Well I wanted a second opinion since Dan had stated that they did not work on Autos and ended up towing it to the dealership.
When the mechanics at Tuning Factory installed the Head Gaskets, could they have messed up the transmission? I don't know the complexities of the Subaru Transmission so I cannot argue intelligently. But it seemed like too much of a coincidence for the tranny problems right after I had it at Tuning Factory for Head Gasket leaks. Dan said that they could do the head gaskets without dropping the engine so the labor would be lower than at a dealership. I have had a wonderful experience with Tuning Factory so I am not ripping on them. This is for my knowledge so I can understand the circumstances leading to the tranny issues and any assistance that you can provide is well appreciated. Thanks again for the replies.

Last edited by Subadud; 01-29-2006 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 01-28-2006, 12:10 AM   #6
Subadud
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Please reply whether it is even worth spending anymore money on this dud
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Old 01-28-2006, 03:10 PM   #7
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My wife's 2003 OBW had exactly the same problem. $4800 billed out under warranty (thank god). Car only had 28000 miles on it.

I can't think of a single thing they could have done to screw up the AT by changing head gaskets. If there was ATF mixing with coolant on the other hand I could see where there might be an issue.

Is the coolant remaining constant in the overflow bottle? Nice and green?

I'm still fighting a losing battle to get the dealer to fix the horrendous (what noise?) piston slap in her car.

I'd love to say my FXT's going to last longer, but when I checked the ATF @ 27000 it was cooked. No idea why.

Subaru & reliability. I'm beginning to think that's an oxymoron.
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Old 01-28-2006, 08:23 PM   #8
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Now the coolant level is constant in the overflow bottle and it is green. I bought the 2002 OBW for its looks and the fact that these had a reputation for lasting long. I have had great experience with the older cars that I had (Datsun 200 SX Turbo, Honda civic, Toyota corolla) and they had satisfied me and made me happy with their performance and reliability.
The Subaru was the first brand new car I picked up shelling a lot of hard earned money so I could own a dependable car that would keep going with little maintenence. I regularly changed the oil and had the transmission flushed at 40,000 miles at a dealer. The car has never been abused or driven like Crocodile Dundee does in their TV ads. We have never off-roaded it. Maybe that was my mistake. I should have abused it during the warranty period and got Subaru to fix everything on it. Since they are pretty much washing their hands off the whole matter. SOA is probably the worst company with the poorest customer service. I regret ever having bought the car now. This was my first Subaru and I was hoping there would be many more in the future but I have learn't my lesson. I will now make sure to let every one know of my experience so they can reconsider buying Subarus.
I mean look at the number of people having HG leaks. SOA just turns a blind eye. Their cost effective fix for certain 2.5Ls is to add the additive in the coolant instead of fixing the HG so they can effectively delay the HG issue until after the 100000 miles. I mean that is a shame for a company that from what I have read in the boards stood behind their product in the past. They have lost a potential future customer.
I met a couple who drive a forester today and they said the same thing about their experience. Their car has been in the shop for HG once before and now it seems to be burning oil. All this on a 2001 Forester with 100K miles on it. It is amazing how the Subaru following has balooned based on a perception of reliability. Granted some Subarus may last long but that might happen with all makes. I seriously doubt that the future is bright for SOA.
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Old 01-28-2006, 08:30 PM   #9
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...kthksby
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Old 01-28-2006, 10:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Scotty
...kthksby
I don't understand the comment.
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Old 01-28-2006, 10:36 PM   #11
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I recommend everyone with these issues to report the problem at the nhtsa Office of Defects website at:
http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/complain/

If you think going down the highway at 75mph and the HG blows or tranny goes is not a safety issue, think again. They do take complaints seriously.
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Old 01-30-2006, 06:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Scotty
...kthksby

Okay, I'll bite. Exactly what does it stand for?

Tell me, I can take it.
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Old 01-30-2006, 06:41 PM   #13
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The headgaskets should have been covered under warranty as long as the vehicle is under 100k miles. We reapir these all the time at no charge to the customer--i'm not sure how your dealer would get out of this.

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Old 01-30-2006, 06:59 PM   #14
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I think he means... OK, Thanks, Goodbye

n/m him, he has been a bit grumpy lately. Yes, SOA sucks the big one as does their pathetic attemps at customer service. I will never purchase another new Subaru.
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Old 02-04-2006, 12:11 PM   #15
Subadud
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When I approached the dealership, I was told that my 2002 Outback's vin did not fall under the Head Gasket coolant campaign hence no warranty. The same story was told by SOA and I was told to take the car to the dealership to have it checked out. Then SOA would make a determination based on the service history whether or not to pay for the Head Gasket replacement. For me to collect all the oil change records (I perform my own maintenance) and service records would have taken too much time. So I decided to bite the bullet and get the work done at Tuning Factory especially since the dealerships were quoting about $2200 to $2500.
Then 5 days later after I paid for the HG replacement at Tuning factory, the tranny failed and I ended up taking the car to the dealership.
With the heat generated due to the HG failure (even though the temp on my gage stayed normal), could that have led to the tranny seals failing? It has been a nightmare since I don't have that kind of income to throw around.

Last edited by Subadud; 02-04-2006 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 02-08-2006, 07:07 AM   #16
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Update: I am getting a remanufactured tranny from SOA. Even though they agreed to fork part of the cost, I am looking at $2000 from my pocket for installation. I have learn't my lesson. Never again a Subaru. I can spend my money elsewhere and get a better product. This has been a nightmare with over $3800 in bills within a span of 2 weeks.
I am afraid to ask but other than Head Gaskets and trannys, what else could go wrong with these clunkers? They do not deserve being called cars/automobiles. I am trying to prepare myself for future shocks so I appreciate your replies.
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Old 02-08-2006, 07:40 AM   #17
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$2000 is a very high price for removal/installation of the transmission.

Duncan
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Old 02-08-2006, 03:39 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Subadud
Update: I am getting a remanufactured tranny from SOA. Even though they agreed to fork part of the cost, I am looking at $2000 from my pocket for installation. I have learn't my lesson. Never again a Subaru. I can spend my money elsewhere and get a better product. This has been a nightmare with over $3800 in bills within a span of 2 weeks.
I am afraid to ask but other than Head Gaskets and trannys, what else could go wrong with these clunkers? They do not deserve being called cars/automobiles. I am trying to prepare myself for future shocks so I appreciate your replies.


....sell it quick.....buy a chevy
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Old 02-08-2006, 03:45 PM   #19
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isn't book on that like 5-6 hours

that's a high shop rate

Quote:
Originally Posted by dunk
$2000 is a very high price for removal/installation of the transmission.

Duncan
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Old 02-08-2006, 04:33 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BVM
I think he means... OK, Thanks, Goodbye

n/m him, he has been a bit grumpy lately. Yes, SOA sucks the big one as does their pathetic attemps at customer service. I will never purchase another new Subaru.
By all means, share your experience as I would love to hear it. Me personally, I owe SOA a debt of eternal gratitude for helping bail me out on a replaced center diff and rebuilt tranny on something that, in the end, was my fault(though I didn't think it was at the time). Susan Hopf at SOA is one of the most professional people I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Had it not been for SOA and Susan's effort, I'd probably still be walking and my pristine 2002 WRX would be collecting dust in a garage somewhere.

I'm gonna take a swing and say you jacked something up with your power mods and threw a tantrum when SOA called you on it. Since you're not gonna ever buy another Subaru anyway and short sighted, BS statements like the above seem to be the order of the day for you, why don't you do us all a favor and keep it to yourself.
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Old 02-08-2006, 05:23 PM   #21
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Is the car modified?
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Old 02-08-2006, 05:28 PM   #22
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Who are you posing that question to?
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Old 02-08-2006, 05:58 PM   #23
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How modified could a 2002 outback be

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Old 02-09-2006, 07:21 PM   #24
Subadud
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Default Stock 2002 Subaru Outback

I am not sure who the question was directed to but there is absolutely NO modification. The freakin thing is totally stock. Not even a modified nut or bolt on the darn thing .
Just wanted to be clear before people start reaching conclusions. Also $2000 was for parts plus labor. $1400 for the reman tranny and $600 for labor. I guess SOA did not foot the whole bill for the part but gave me a break . I just got the car back from the dealership.
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Old 02-10-2006, 01:05 AM   #25
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Hmmm. I am sure some have had great experiences with SOA / Subaru dealerships as well. And some have not, I guess we are at the whim of the individuals feelings of the day I will try your Susan Hopf as I need help with SOA as well. I also have some tranny problems @ 47000 miles, with a 6year/60000 mile powertrain warrenty I am all set, no problems here...No mods, 35year old perffect driving record, comuter car, with the origianl RE90s on the car Not a chance, they are calling it abuse, no pay, you pay 3600.00 bucks. I could have Fonzie himself put in an a STI RA tranny at that price. Good luck everyone with SOA, with their subjectivity on service and warrenties, you are going to need it. This is based soley on my experience.
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