Is this normal for an AT Subaru?
June 17, 2010 4:30 AM   Subscribe

Looking to buy a Subaru Forester XT. I'm concerned with the transmission, however maybe this is normal for the Subaru auto tranny?

I took a 2004 Subaru Forester XT out for a test drive yesterday and I noticed that there was a very hard shift between 2nd and 3rd if I was accelerating with a decent load on the engine. If I was accelerating slower, I didn't notice it. I've read that it might be the way the Subaru 4EAT transmission behaves normally. The car has 67,xxx miles on it, so it's fairly low mileage for the year, and the price isn't too bad either. So, I'm hoping it's just a quirk with the car itself. Anyway, for any of you turbo Subaru owners with an Auto transmission, does your car shift hard between 2nd and 3rd? I know that on other vehicles, that hard shifting is indicative of more serious problems in the transmission. Hoping that I'm not about to walk into a big, expensive, mistake.
posted by ganzhimself to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
My intuition (and experience with Subarus) tells me that you're onto something. I wouldn't buy this one.
posted by Citrus at 5:11 AM on June 17, 2010

Best answer: In my experience, Subarus are very leaky cars. Engine oil and transmission fluid leaks are very common. Before condemning the transmission, check the fluid level and condition.
With the car running and warm, check the transmission fluid. Subaru transmission fluid should be pink or red and clear.
If it's low, add the specified fluid and test drive the vehicle again. Then, have someone check for leaks with the car on a lift.
If the fluid is any color other than red, like if it's dark and stinky, don't buy the car.
Hard shifting is abnormal on any transmission. Sometimes, it's easily fixed by the correct fluid type and level. Other times, it's the result of an internal malfunction.
I always recommend having your trusted mechanic inspect used vehicles before purchasing them. The access to a lift, plus their experience with the car your interested in will save you the stress of, "OMG, is this car OK????" And if the seller objects to an independent prepurchase inspection, then you don't want to buy a car from them anyway.
posted by Jon-o at 5:19 AM on June 17, 2010

Response by poster: I'm thinking that this just isn't going to be the car for me. I do not like the idea of having to worry with expensive transmission issues. Better to keep looking and miss out on this one than to get stuck with something that is going to cost me over $2,000 to get fixed.
posted by ganzhimself at 5:59 AM on June 17, 2010

I tried out the turbo Subarus in 2004 and I (and a number of others writing up their experiences at the time) found the automatic transmissions to be abrupt. FWIW I ended up going with a manual Legacy GT and I've been very happy with the car - haven't had any problems with it.
posted by ChuqD at 10:23 AM on June 17, 2010

I have owned 5 Subarus (one was up to 140k miles before it was totaled in a wreck) and never had a problem with leaking anything. YMMV. They are the most reliable cars I have ever owned and I don't think I will own anything else.

I've never had a turbo, though, so I can't help with the OP.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:34 AM on June 18, 2010

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