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Old 10-02-2006, 12:24 PM   #1
barracuda426
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Default Help! Transmission dead. Dealers fault?

Here's the scoop:

In April of 2005(at 59XXX miles) I took my 2003 Legacy Outback Sedan(VDC) to Jim Reed Subaru in Nashville,TN complaining the transmission was slamming itself into gear under stress. By stress I mean either with the car loaded with people/gear or at interstate speeds(with just me) and you hit the throttle to shift it down, the vehicle would shift itself out of gear, the tach would almost hit redline, then it slammed into gear. The dealership said they checked out the car but found no problems. In the mean time I found if I manually downshifted the car it would shift normally.

April of 2006(at 96XXX miles) in Atlanta I hit the gas to shift down to pass someone on I-75 and the vehicle stutters. I pull the shifter back and it still won't shift down. If I pushed the gas to speed up it would try shifting and would slow down more. It was too late that day so I took the car to Royal Subaru of Decatur,GA the next morning who also couldn't find anything wrong. I even had them flush the transmission(for $140) to just to make sure. I also complained of a loud whining/whirring(like gears make when they're not being lubricated properly) and they told me it was a pinion gear making the noise and it was going to cost $1500-1800 to pull the transmission and replace it. I declined. In the mean time the transmission started shifting semi-normally again.

September of 2006 I pull out of my driveway and the car is barely moving. The tach is rising but it's not gaining any speed. It barely makes it back to my garage and the CEL comes on. I tell some coworkers about what happened and they suggest climbing under the vehicle to check for leaks. I also planned on changing the AT Filter to see if that was the problem and had obtained the Subaru Technical Manual, but when I looked for where the filter should be I just found a metal cap. Also the "whine" I mentioned earlier was actually a blown CV joint. Where the left front axel goes into the case there's grease everywhere. The other side is clean. I immediately called SOA to report the issue.

Here's my problem:

A) I took it to two dealerships complaining of transmission troubles. Neither found a problem and I didn't happen to notice at the time but the in/out mileage at the top of the invoice is the same(which means it never was test driven) at both dealerships. It says clearly on the invoice from Jim Reed that I was reporting the vehicle not shifting properly out of passing gear.

B) There is a cap where the AT filter is supposed to be. From what I can find in the technical manual the transmission only has an external spin on filter.

The technician at Subaru of Cool Springs in Franklin, TN(where I had it flatbedded to) says the AT doesn't need that filter. SOA disagrees but doesn't seem very willing to help with the issue. They said there was nothing they could do and I'd have to take legal action against the dealership I thought was at fault as it was "workman error". Since then I offered to fax them the invoices from the dealerships and pictures I took and they said they'd see what they could do. The only time the transmission was opened up was when I had the parking pawl recall performed on March 2003(at Jim Reed) which SOA admitted they would have had to put the metal cap on the transmission at that point to work on it. However they are saying the transmission would have had to of been serviced sometime between then and the first complaint as there's no way the transmission would have worked that long with the cap over the AT filter spot.

I could really use some advice. Am I going to have to get a lawyer? Will SOA help? Is fighting either going to help or should I just suck it up and pay the $2800(quote from Subaru of Cool Springs) to have a reman'd transmission put in? I personally feel this is gross negligence by either or both dealerships for not noticing the AT filter cap, CV joint, and not test driving the vehicle to see if they could recreate the problem. I love the car but this has seriously killed my faith in Subaru.

-Daniel
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Old 10-02-2006, 12:30 PM   #2
littlewhitewagon
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Have you spoken to the dealerships that performed the services yet?
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Old 10-02-2006, 12:40 PM   #3
barracuda426
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlewhitewagon View Post
Have you spoken to the dealerships that performed the services yet?
Not yet. I just faxed the info to SOA Friday so I was going to wait to hear from them first. Though I do have a good idea that neither are going to admit fault or offer any help. Also I can't take it back to Royal Subaru as it's too far away and I just flat out don't trust Jim Reed since the vehicle was having problems after taking it to them and prior to taking it to Royal. I don't want to come away with a damaged engine too. Subaru of Cool Springs is going to do the work, just who is going to pay is the question.

-Daniel
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Old 10-02-2006, 02:04 PM   #4
littlewhitewagon
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This is why I am not a fan of dealerships. Many people will say that dealerships do the best work, I disagree with this. The dealership employs people just like anyone else to do the work and they make just as many mistakes as anyone else. The lube rack guys are usually a joke, right out of school and responsible for the some of the most important things on your car... making sure the wheels are tight and the right amount of oil is in the engine...and even that is usually too much to ask.
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Old 10-02-2006, 06:07 PM   #5
armand1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barracuda426 View Post
...
April of 2006(at 96XXX miles) in Atlanta ... I took the car to Royal Subaru of Decatur,GA the next morning who also couldn't find anything wrong. I even had them flush the transmission(for $140) to just to make sure. ...

B) There is a cap where the AT filter is supposed to be. From what I can find in the technical manual the transmission only has an external spin on filter.
...
Maybe the cap was put on at Royal Subaru of Decatur? Alternatively, could it have been put on by an oil change place that got confused between oil filter and AT filter?

Also, you didn't mention any past normal AT service dates/mileage/service done.
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Old 10-02-2006, 06:41 PM   #6
racingfish
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlewhitewagon View Post
This is why I am not a fan of dealerships. Many people will say that dealerships do the best work, I disagree with this. The dealership employs people just like anyone else to do the work and they make just as many mistakes as anyone else. The lube rack guys are usually a joke, right out of school and responsible for the some of the most important things on your car... making sure the wheels are tight and the right amount of oil is in the engine...and even that is usually too much to ask.
You make a good point to some extent. Most lube techs are fresh outta some automotive school and do make some mistakes. Hopefully they have someone teaching/watching/doublechecking their work. I know we do at my dealership. When it comes down to engine work and tranny work we have our master techs and line techs that do all of that. I dont know about you or your experiances with mom and pop shops, but we send our techs to SOA schooling every times theres a class (which seems like everyother month). As a matter of fact my master tech just got back from CA where he was for a week learning Electronics. Not too many, if any, Corner repair shops have those Continuing Education Classes available to them. Yeah you do pay a little more for labor and maybe a few bucks more for parts, but hey, peace of mind.... priceless (unless they didnt do the repair correctly).
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Old 10-02-2006, 07:52 PM   #7
barracuda426
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Quote:
Originally Posted by armand1 View Post
Maybe the cap was put on at Royal Subaru of Decatur? Alternatively, could it have been put on by an oil change place that got confused between oil filter and AT filter?

Also, you didn't mention any past normal AT service dates/mileage/service done.
I've been doing the maintenance myself seeing as I don't trust dealerships. Outside of the parking pawl recall(9k miles on March 2003) the only time the fluid was actually flushed was by Royal Subaru at 96K on April of 2005. The manual just says (I)nspect every 30k, and the fluid never smelled burnt or looked discolored. From what I understand the AT Filter cap is a dealer only part and isn't going to be readily available to just anyone. I only took it to two or three oil change places when I didn't have time to do it myself. I could understand if the wrong type of filter had been put on the AT case but why would an oil change place cap the filter hole? In case you're wondering why I didn't notice the filter was gone.. honestly the manual said it was a service free part so I didn't bother looking for it.
According to SOA the only time the cap is used is when the transmission is being worked on and the only intrusive transmission maintenance was performed by Jim Reed. Not to mention the vehicle was already in bad shape by the time it made it to Royal Subaru.

-Daniel
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Old 10-02-2006, 08:19 PM   #8
racingfish
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JIFFY LUBE has been known to drain tranny fluid instead of oil.
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Old 10-02-2006, 08:28 PM   #9
littlewhitewagon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by racingfish View Post
You make a good point to some extent. Most lube techs are fresh outta some automotive school and do make some mistakes. Hopefully they have someone teaching/watching/doublechecking their work. I know we do at my dealership. When it comes down to engine work and tranny work we have our master techs and line techs that do all of that. I dont know about you or your experiances with mom and pop shops, but we send our techs to SOA schooling every times theres a class (which seems like everyother month). As a matter of fact my master tech just got back from CA where he was for a week learning Electronics. Not too many, if any, Corner repair shops have those Continuing Education Classes available to them. Yeah you do pay a little more for labor and maybe a few bucks more for parts, but hey, peace of mind.... priceless (unless they didnt do the repair correctly).
Unfortunately, your dealership's mentality and work ethic are few and far in between. I used to work at a Honda/Acura specialty shop and the owner was a Honda tech that wrenched at a dealer for a long time before opening up his place and still went to the factory training sessions. Of course, he passed his knowledge and notes down to us so we could do the job right too. My gripe is with dealerships that don't monitor the lube rack, or have techs that don't care about the cars they work on, and those that don't use the right tools. I hate seeing techs use an airgun to "torque" lug nuts. Your average shop runs about 90psi in the lines (at least), and their 1/2" gun is capable of doing 160ft lbs of torque...last time i checked, our cars only require about 70... there are just too many people who don't like what they do and don't care about their quality of work. And for that reason, my cars never see dealerships except for warranty work. I would LOVE to find a place that really cared about your car, I would willingly hand over my money because everyone has to make money doing something...just do what you are paid to do and not be half @#$ about it.
Sorry to the OP for babbling on your thread.
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Old 10-02-2006, 08:57 PM   #10
racingfish
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i think were the only subie dealership where everyone in service owns subies...
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Old 10-04-2006, 12:23 PM   #11
MKTOPSIDE
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So, you put on almost 40k a year, and you have never changed the fluid? I don't care what your manual says, no fluid lasts forever. You say you regularly inspect it, and it was always fine? What are you basing your conclusions on? Do you have a lot of transmission repair experiance?
Im not trying to be a dick, but when you take it upon yourself (at best a "shade tree mechanic") to do all of your maintenance, then you can only blame yourself.
In short, you have no leanghty service history at any dealership, and your almost 40k outside of your powertrain warranty. Why in the world would the dealership, or SOA go out of their way to help you out.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
This should be a lesson to you in reasons to go to a dealership. Your "Tinfoil hat" reasons for not servicing it with a dealer, will never negate the fact that in situations like this, your dealer may be your only friend, and the only one willing to help you out.
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Old 10-04-2006, 01:20 PM   #12
racingfish
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yeah most people neglect all of the "other" fluids. they tend to only change the motor oil. part of our 30k is a tranny flush. so at 90k u shoulda had 3 of them already. some might think that it is overkill, but those arent the people that are have problems... so ive noticed. See me now or see me later... its all the same to me, Its just going to be a lot more expensive later.


go A's
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Old 10-04-2006, 07:34 PM   #13
SubeTek
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your trans filter is in the left front fender panel due to the fact your vehicle is a 6 cylinder. The cap is supposed to be there.
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