Things they don't tell you about your AWD Subaru

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by S, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. S

    S Guest

    Hi All!

    Two words: Torque Bind

    Inside of your AWD transmission is a clutch pack which allows the rear
    drive to "slip" a bit during tight turns and such, thus eliminating
    the klunk-klunk-klunk noise/sensation (torque bind) you would get

    Fine and dandy, but what do you do when this clutch begins to wear

    Sadly, as far as I can determine, you buy a new transmission; $3,500
    for a manual box, and (gasp) $5,500 for the automatic version.

    I replaced the manual transmission in my wife's '02 Forry (140K miles)
    last weekend for this very reason. Fortunately, I was able to locate a
    reasonably low milage specimen at a local salvage yard, but what
    happens a year or two down the road when _all_ of these cars have
    accumulated enough milage for the AWD clutch to be questionable? Gonna
    be real tough to find a good used one, I can guarantee that!

    The next time I have a spare "round-tuit", I plan to pull the bad
    tranny apart to see how difficult it is to extract the AWD clutch, and
    also to see if there are repair/refurbish options available thru a
    machine shop. I will post my findings when I do, but meanwhile, I must
    say that this makes it unlikely that I will purchase another AWD
    Subaru. (And this from a looooong time Subaru advocate.)

    My old 4X4 GL wagon looks better by the day :)

    Any comments on this more than welcome!

    ByeBye! S.

    Steve Jernigan KG0MB
    Laboratory Manager
    Microelectronics Research
    University of Colorado
    (719) 262-3101
    S, Jun 9, 2009
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  2. S

    S.Hansen Guest

    Wow, you replaced a transmission because of torque bind? The clutch pack is
    located at the tail shaft of the transmission and fully accessible with the
    transmission in the car.
    The engine drive all the magic stuff to the tail shaft and the cultch pack
    sends the torque to the rear and sends the other part back forward to the
    front diff.
    Mind you, replacing the clutch pack requires measuring and shimming the
    assy, so the average person (and many shops) will not have the proper shims
    to do that part at home. Generally speaking, the clutch pack is a sealed
    unit and not serviceable short of replacing it. it has it's own oil in it.
    There are other things that happen to cause torque bind type problem, and
    working in a Subaru shop I see more subies die for engine problems than
    transmissions. And as for torque bind clutch pack issues Maybe 1 or 2 a
    S.Hansen, Jun 10, 2009
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  3. S

    johninky Guest

    Been lurking on half a dozen Subaru forums the last 10 years and this
    is the first time that I can recall anyone has posted a torque-bind
    problem with a manual transmission. Not that it makes you feel any
    better but what you experienced is a very rare failure. I know the
    clutch pack for the automatic transmission is located on the rear of
    the transmission but I think for the manual transmission it is located
    internally. Never had a manual Subaru so not sure about that.
    johninky, Jun 10, 2009
  4. S

    .._.. Guest

    I really hope you looked at tire radius before assuming the clutch pack was
    .._.., Jun 10, 2009
  5. Yeah. Unless there was an unreported problem with those particular
    tranny models and they're all gonna fail. I've owned a string of AWD
    Subarus that I've driven to well over 150K miles each with no such
    problem and no need to replace the transmission. I haven't heard of or
    found reports of others running into that problem either. But then, I
    drive automatics.
    Catherine Jefferson, Jun 10, 2009
  6. S

    StephenH Guest

    all clutch packs are at the tail shaft, manual or auto's
    StephenH, Jun 10, 2009
  7. S

    Guest Guest

    Torque bind is quite rare if the tires are all kept reasonably close
    in diameter.

    A bit of research before replacing the trans would probably have saved
    you some money.

    Guest, Jun 10, 2009
  8. S

    S Guest

    Hi All!

    C'mon spamTHIS, the car has nearly new tires, and I replaced _both_
    front axles before swapping the tranny. Been there, done that. In
    fact, I had a hard time believing that the tranny could be at fault,
    but the (~90K miles on it) replacement transmission fixed the problem.
    For now.

    I too have owned numerous AWD Soobies, some with serious mileage:

    A '91 Legacy Turbo sedan that had 170K or so with no issues while I
    owned it.
    An '02 WRX. that I didn't really like (crummy mileage, sluggish turbo,
    incurable understeer ), and so sold it at about 25K.
    A '96 Legacy sedan (my wife's) with an AT. A bit over 160K with no
    serious issues.
    A '90 Legacy wagon with close to 300K when I sold it, but I replaced
    the tranny on it at about 230K for a different reason; it wouldn't
    stay in 4th gear. Should've kept that car, tho; it was a good'un.
    A fairly low mileage '95 Impreza Wagon that I bought with a bad AT
    (hydraulic pump failure), fixed and sold.
    My current DD, a '99 Forester with 115K. I love the car, and am
    driving it today, but seriously considering craigs-listing it before
    it, too has problems.
    And my wife's 140Kmile '02 Forry . . . But this is beside the point.

    I have no particular issues with the AWD clutch wearing out, these
    things do happen. But when I go to the dealership looking for info and
    parts to repair it, and am told that it "Is not considered a
    serviceable part", and I will "have to replace the entire
    transmission." . . . Well then.

    Blatantly planned obsolescence from where I sit; who is gonna spend
    $3,500+ to fix a $6,000 car? Not this boy in any event.

    And maybe the problem is limited to certain model years production
    runs; I couldn't say, but I _have_ heard of several instances of the
    clutch pack in automatic transmissions failing, and at least one other
    instance of it failing in an MT car, specifically another older

    Steve, you're the subaru shop guy? Have you actually purchased a
    replacement clutch pack from Subaru? I don't suppose you recall any
    details, year, model, and particularly, a part number? I don't really
    have a whole lot of confidence in the local dealership, but they are
    the only game in town. and none of the on-line stores had anything
    like that listed. I'd sure be happier if I knew I could get repair
    parts if/when the time comes.

    ByeBye! S.

    Steve Jernigan KG0MB
    Laboratory Manager
    Microelectronics Research
    University of Colorado
    (719) 262-3101
    S, Jun 10, 2009
  9. S

    Chico Guest

    My 2003 OBS 5spd had torque bind at about 150k kms. Replaced clutch
    pack for something like $1600. All is well since, now at close to
    200k kms.

    I was told that driving it with torque bind could ruin the
    transmission, so I did not delay.
    Chico, Jun 11, 2009
  10. S

    nobody > Guest

    Steve, from discussions with other Soobie owners (and from personal
    experience with my wife's '97 Outback Sport (Imprezza)), it appears that
    replacing the automatic transmission (with a "factory reconditioned"
    unit) is a standard Subaru USA tactic. The service manager at the dealer
    said to try some independent transmission shops but couldn't recommend
    one by policy.

    Dealer quote was $5300 on the 97.
    I already knew of a good shop, the quote was $2400 or less unless the
    case was "grenaded". The bill was $2100, new clutches and bands etc.

    The local Soobie specialty shop, Smart Subaru, doesn't do auto
    transmissions, but they said that was about going rate when they farmed
    out AT jobs to other shops.
    nobody >, Jun 11, 2009
  11. S

    S.Hansen Guest

    I went to several transmissions schools where we disassembled the 4 speed
    auto, 5 speed auto, and 2 manual's I think. Now mind you, going to this
    school doesn't make me qualified to repair a transmission. ;) I just saw how
    they were put together.
    How a shop addresses a transmission issue depends on the level of competence
    of the shop. If you have no one in the shop who can accurately diag and
    repair a transmission, you don't want to sell that service, so you sell
    transmissions ;). We rebuild most manual's and repair some auto's. this is
    done by the techs that have a lot more time on Subies than I.
    The class I went to had a tech from a Seattle shop that did auto's all the
    time. 3/4 of the problem with auto's is knowing how to diag them. This guy
    was awesome. the pieces were flying out of the transmission so fast it
    scared me. He does all transmissions problems at his shop and he knows what
    he is doing. I learned more from him. IE if a transmission had a certain
    shift problem, he would know that the clutch pack here has a bad seal and
    only repair that problem.
    I have no problem with someone going to a transmission shop- what is inside
    a subie transmission isn't classified. 2100 is a great price to fix any
    S.Hansen, Jun 11, 2009
  12. S

    S.Hansen Guest

    I've replaced one clutch pack, and it was on a manual transmission. (don't
    remember the specifics) the part is available.
    I think the real issue with the shop and not the Subaru
    S.Hansen, Jun 11, 2009
  13. S

    johninky Guest

    Found this on another Subaru forum this morning. Another owner has
    the same failure.

    Hi, I am wondering just how difficult it would be to change my 2000
    Subaru Outback Limited Wagon 2.5L from an AWD to a front wheel drive?
    I have a small shop (including lift) but I have never taken this
    manual 5 speed transmission out nor do I know much about this
    particular unit. All indications are that the VISCOUS coupler is shot.
    When I bought the car, I had need for the AWD on top of a mountain but
    have since moved to the flat lands and do not really need the AWD. My
    feeling is if I remove the drive line from the back of the
    transmission to the jackpot (Differnatial) or and perhaps take off the
    modual rear of the transmission and remove the guts (VISCOUS coupler)
    and replace the housing, affectively disconnecting the back wheels
    from the drive front wheels. Not sure just how this will work or what
    my approach should be and hoping someone there has gone before me in
    doing this kind of thing?
    johninky, Jun 11, 2009
  14. S

    XR650L_Dave Guest

    It really wouldn't buy you much, if anything.

    Minimal weight removal, almost no increase in gas mileage, and the
    front drivetrain would wear out more quickly.

    XR650L_Dave, Jun 11, 2009
  15. S

    XR650L_Dave Guest

    It indeed sucks the dealer lied to you, but that's what it amounts to.

    XR650L_Dave, Jun 11, 2009
  16. S

    S Guest

    Hi Dave!

    Yea, kinda looks like that, doesn't it. Heuberger Motors in Colorado
    Springs. 'Nuff said.

    I'm gonna chase this around some more, and will post my findings.

    I owned an XR600 for years. Great bike; my buddy still has it, tho I
    don't think he's ridden it lately. Still have my XR200, but, alas it
    hasn't had much recent attention either. They tell me that scooters
    cry at night when they're not being ridden ;-)

    ByeBye! S.

    Steve Jernigan KG0MB
    Laboratory Manager
    Microelectronics Research
    University of Colorado
    (719) 262-3101
    S, Jun 11, 2009
  17. S

    Ben Jammin Guest

    Hi, Steve;

    Living in Boulder, I've purchased four new Sub-burros at Flatirons
    Subaru over 20 years (my wife has purchased one) and I've never been
    disappointed with their sales or service. Having said that, I switch to
    Super Rupair for service after the new-car warranties expire. I
    estimate Super Rupair has provided service for my cars over 500,000
    miles of driving; I've never been dissastified and I believe their
    prices are reasonable. I also recommend Super Rupair's used cars to
    friends looking for a good used Subie.

    I have no affiliation with Super Rupair; I'm simply a satisfied customer.


    Ben Jammin, Jun 12, 2009
  18. I have an 05 Forester auto with exactly these symptoms, and the main
    dealer has told me it needs a new rear diff. Only 21k miles too.

    I even told them where the fault must be, but sadly they are clueless.
    I am tempted to chuck the Sale of Goods Act at them.
    Gilbert Smith, Jun 13, 2009

  19. Sometimes other problems can simulate torque bind. I've read of people
    having 'frozen' u-joints that cause the jerking sensation.
    Carl 1 Lucky Texan, Jun 13, 2009
  20. I've had torque bind problems on my 95 Legacy 5MT. They initially told me
    they'd have to drop the transmission and replace the fluid coupling in the
    centre differential - 900$ part, about 4 hours labour. If I just left it,
    it would eventually melt and I'd still have an AWD vehicle, only with an
    open centre differential. I should also expect to replace the half-shafts
    more often due to added stress.

    Luckily I also needed new tires, so I did that first and lo and behold the
    torque bind went away never to be seen again!!
    Dominic Richens, Jun 16, 2009
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