The Mystery of the Always-Backward-Funky-Forward Subaru
June 14, 2012 2:24 PM Subscribe
Our wagon has a quirky automatic transmission—the same problem with little change for six years: Sometimes it won’t shift into drive, but it will always always
engage in reverse. The go-to fix? Drive backward to a slope that enables a rolling start forward, shift into drive and tap-tap the gas until, eventually, *clunk* it engages. Diagnosis?
posted by AnOrigamiLife to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This happens perhaps once every dozen times we shift into drive, stranding us over the years for typically a minute or two at a time, on occasion up to 20 minutes—at times in inconvenient, maddening and sometimes unsafe conditions. The reversing-to-roll-down-a-slope trick usually works and requires strategic parking at all times (worst case, we have to give the slope multiple tries and mutter things like, “I guess this is finally it”). But it ultimately always engages, and we feel something shift into place, sometimes with a big jerking clunk, other times much gentler.
Mechanics have told us for years this car will die at any moment without $5,000 of work for any number of things. So we wait. We’ve tried transmission fluid flushes, which seems like it might diminish the frequency of the problem for a little while, but it’s hard to tell. We’ve been told to replace the transmission ($everal thousand) or the duty solenoid (~$600). Nobody is certain.
2000 Subaru Legacy, purchased used (with this problem) in 2006;
180k miles, with original engine and transmission;
No other significant problems;
Never pulls a trailer;
Regular oil changes and fuel filter changes; premium gas; a couple of tune ups and a knock sensor replacement; occasional use of HEET (in winter) and Sea Foam in the fuel.
Would love to unravel the mystery and fix the problem if it turns out to be prudent...and affordable (e.g. not a new transmission).