Subaru Transmission Questions You Need to Know! (2023)

Are you familiar with Subaru transmission problems?

Subaru is one of the most famous car manufacturers in the world. With numerous accolades and consistently high ratings for expected reliability, Subaru has been recognized as a reliable brand. For many buyers, reliability and safety are key considerations when purchasing a vehicle.

In 2014, Subaru replaced nearly all of its vehicles with continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), which use pulleys instead of gears to control engine speed[1].

The Subaru WRX uses a manual transmission, while the Subaru Crosstrek, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Impreza, and Subaru Outback all use a CVT. A standard four-speed automatic transmission is standard on most Subaru vehicles from 2013 and earlier.

Undoubtedly, all car makes and models have some negative side effects. For Subaru, the CVT transmission is one of those negatives. Many buyers wonder why Subaru seems so determined to continue with the CVT transmission.

Although Subaru customers have experienced issues related to CVT transmissions, such issues have only affected some vehicles for a limited time. CVTs have many advantages. Listed below are the most frequently reported Subaru CVT Transmission problems, regardless of model or year.

Common Subaru Transmission Questions

Subaru Transmission Questions You Need to Know! (1)

  1. stagnation

Some Subaru owners with defective CVTs have reported that their vehicles would completely stall while driving. There are also cases where the car will not exceed a certain speed.

Alternatively, the car accelerates slowly or takes a while to register any throttle input. Otherwise, the Subarus will automatically enter a mode called "limp home" that severely limits speed[2].

Without enough fluid, your transmission may stall.

In this case, the transfer line may be leaking and may need to be replaced. Even if the vehicle needs to be restarted, it is imperative to take your car to a garage for repairs.

Installing a new transfer line, while still not an easy fix, ensures that the transfer receives the fluid it needs to run. This solution is less expensive than buying a new transmission or rebuilding it if it breaks.[3]

  1. chills and vibrations

Sudden and occasionally violent vibrations in your Subaru CVT transmission is another telltale sign that something is wrong with it. Some car owners say it happens when braking hard or even when driving uphill.

These vibrations have many causes. On Subarus, the CVT belt or pulley may break. Otherwise, the transmission mounts and bearings may have worn out and caused all the chatter.

In short, shivering is a sign that debris is clogging the transmission fluid delivery line. Old transmission fluid floating in the fluid and metal shavings can both be sources of this debris[4].

If you want your car to last a long time, you need to change the transmission oil frequently. Change it accordingly to keep your vehicle safe on the road.

  1. transmission fluid leak

CVT transmissions require their own unique transmission fluid to help lubricate, just like conventional transmissions. Many Subaru owners report that their CVT leaks transmission fluid from time to time. The problem was traced to worn seals and gaskets on the Subaru CVT.

If you notice a pink or reddish pool of water under your Subaru, your CVT may be leaking. You should think about fixing a problem as soon as you discover it. Otherwise, overheating can damage some components.

NHTSA issued two service bulletins for this issue with Subaru's CVT clamps and CVT seals. According to research, the input shaft oil seal and CVT oil pump chain cover are the cause of the leak[6].

You have to deal with a serious problem with transmission fluid leaks. While small leaks won't cause immediate problems, leaving them alone can seriously damage the transmission. It will be very expensive to fix.

  1. strange sound

Vehicles with a CVT will naturally be louder than vehicles with a standard automatic transmission. This is said to be because the engine tends to run at higher rpm and because of the way the CVT is programmed[7].

However, be aware of any strange or unpleasant noises, as they may indicate that your CVT is about to fail. If you have a problem with your Subaru CVT, you may hear a loud whining or rattling while driving.

The type of problem you have can greatly affect how much whine it makes under acceleration. Some can be quickly repaired by a qualified mechanic. Others will take more effort and probably cost you more money.

Have your car serviced regularly by yourself or a qualified mechanic to prevent noise.

  1. overheat

An overheated transmission usually indicates an internal malfunction or fluid problem. Such problems include leaks, low fluid levels, or simply old/dirty fluid flowing through the system. The transmission can also be overstressed due to excess transmission fluid.

It is wise to stop driving when this problem occurs to avoid further damage to your car. This can cause bigger transmission problems and possibly serious internal damage.

As soon as you notice any symptoms of transmission trouble, including overheating, you should take your car to a nearby transmission specialist for a full inspection.

  1. slide

A malfunctioning CVT transmission will often slip through gears. This is a common Subaru problem caused by structural problems or insufficient transmission fluid. Increased risk of losing gear while driving[10].

Sufficient force must be exerted on the metal chain or multi-slat belt to prevent the pulleys that control the transmission ratio from slipping. Even though a certain amount of slippage is acceptable and expected by the manufacturer, excessive slippage is a sign of serious damage to the transmission.

There are many reasons for a slipping transmission, so it's best to have your vehicle checked by a mechanic before things get worse.

Also read: Nissan CVT gearbox problem

Subaru Transmission Repair

Whether the transmission is a CVT or not, repairs can be very expensive. Transmission is a complex system, so the cost of solving a particular problem will vary from problem to problem. Depending on the make, model, and severity of the damage, repair costs can vary widely.

If you think you are experiencing a transmission problem, it is recommended that you have your Subaru inspected by an authorized Subaru mechanic immediately. If your Subaru is less than 10 years old and the model and year are specified in the extension, your Subaru may be covered by a Subaru Extended Warranty.

Subaru notified owners of affected vehicles in July 2017 of the extended warranty. Unfortunately, if something goes wrong with your Subaru CVT outside of the warranty period, you will be responsible for the repair costs.

CVTs can require more time and money to repair than conventional automatic transmissions. One of the reasons for this is poorly trained mechanics and a lack of parts. You may also need to consider additional labor costs.

To use a CVT, it may be necessary to remove the entire engine from some Subaru models. If your Subaru CVT is still not working properly, a few simple fixes may be all it takes to get it up and running again. Repairs and replacements for certain parts typically range from $1,000 to $2,500.

However, if it's not fully repaired, you'll be forced to replace the Subaru's entire CVT. On average, a new transmission can cost anywhere from $7,000 to $8,000. But refurbished or used CVTs can be had for less than half that price.

Also read:ford territory problem

in conclusion

Subaru pioneered the use of CVT transmissions. Its Lineartronic CVT is found in many familiar vehicles. Forester, Crosstrek, Outback, Legacy, Impreza and Ascent are among them. More powerful Subaru vehicles like the WRX are powered by a CVT.

However, there are a few things you should know about Subaru CVTs. The most common indicator of early failure with various Subaru CVTs is laggy or sluggish acceleration. Investigate any chattering, vibrations, strange noises or transmission fluid leaks. In this case, it's a good thing that Subaru extended the warranty on these CVTs.

By design, a CVT transmission is less complex than a traditional automatic transmission in terms of the number of moving parts. In theory, this should mean that problems with the CVT are less likely. However, to ensure the highest level of reliability, you need to maintain your CVT with care, such as regular transmission fluid changes.

Read next: Are hybrid cars more expensive to maintain?


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