Edmunds Answers



  • MrShift@Edmunds 06/28/09 4:31 pm PST

    Modern automatics are electronically controlled and quite complex. It's not something you can fix yourself, and even guessing could have 20 answers.

    This is a quick run-down of the various components that could be involved in your problem:

    The electronic-hydraulic control system consists of various sensors and switches, a Transmission Control Module (TCM) and the hydraulic controller including solenoid valves. The system controls the transmission proper including shift control, lock-up control, timing control, reverse inhibit control, engine control, line pressure control, auto pattern select control and shift timing control. It also controls the AWD transfer clutch. In other words, the system detects various operating conditions from various input signals and sends output signals to shift solenoids 1 and 2, low clutch timing solenoid, 2-4 brake timing solenoid, line pressure, lock-up, transfer and 2-4 brake duty solenoids (a total of eight solenoids).

  • dsuds 07/19/09 10:33 am PST

    I've been having the same problem and there are a couple different causes. One is a worn seal that Subaru has had problems with (but will never admit it). The other is a bad solenoid on the valve body.

    After searching the Subaru forums I found a possible low-dollar fix for the seal issue. Here's what I did:

    Change the transmission fluid and the screw-on filter on the side of the transmission. I used Valvoline Max-Life transmission fluid. Add a product called Trans-X the is made by K&W or CRC Industries. This product claims to rejuvenate the seals and apparently works because I no longer have the long delay between Reverse and Drive.

    Hope this helps.

  • karjunkie 07/19/09 11:00 am PST

    As Mr. Shiftright correctly notes, modern transmissions have a host of solenoids that electronically control the operation of the transmission. If it were me, my first step would be to go to my local auto parts store and have them hook up an OBDII scanner to the car and check for any fault codes. Many auto parts stores will do this for free. This will tell you if any specific parts, sensors or modules are malfunctioning and need repair or replacement. In addition, any reputable transmission shop can do an in depth diagnostic of the transmission for a nominal charge to help identify the problem. It will save you hundreds of $$$ if you know what is wrong before replacing a lot of expensive parts. If you need help with the codes and what they mean, just come back here and we will try our best to help. Good luck and let us know if you have any follow up questions!

  • dsuds 07/19/09 11:33 am PST

    On this issue I feel pretty confident, try the Trans-X and save yourself a lot of money. I was very skeptic as well but it fixed mine. If you do a search for "subaru delayed forward engagement" you'll find where others have had the same issue.

    Also the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association listed the 2 possible causes listed above. I'll list the URL below

    Source: http://www.porcupine73.com/subaru/docum

  • MrShift@Edmunds 07/19/09 11:46 am PST

    Thanks for that suggestion. Personally I have never witnessed an additive PERMANENTLY fixing a problem, since the swelling of an old seal can only do so much for so long, and may lead to problems of its own. I think I would do that myself, as you suggested, as a *last* resort but reading the codes might indicate a fixable problem that doesn't require "doping" the transmission. There are so many variables here that it's difficult to know sometimes with modern transmissions what the best course might be. Me, I'm the cautious and deliberate type.

  • dsuds 07/19/09 12:32 pm PST

    If it's the same problem I had (and it sounds EXACTLY the same), the car drives fine. It's just the initial engagement from park to drive. This could take as long as 10 seconds unless you blip the throttle. My 2000 Impreza RS did not show any indication of a code being set but I did not use a code reader on mine.

    I do agree with you on an additive fixing a problem sounds like a temporary fix at best and "snake oil" at worst. But I did check around and there are several different posters on http://www.ultimatesubaru.org that have experienced the problem. The poster that originally suggested that Trans-X fixed the issue did so over a year ago and it's still fixed.

    Funny thing is it only affects 1999 & 2000 models with the 4EAT transmission. Subaru denies any problem which I know from personal experience is their standard operating procedure. (Loyale sedans were notorious for breaking cam belts between 40-45k miles, replacement interval was 60k. I owned one, both my brothers owned Loyales and all of them did this).

    Trans-X did fix my problem as well but I just did this yesterday. Time will tell if it stays fixed.

  • anitanyc 04/11/15 11:37 am PST

    I have the exact same problem and a mechanic used the Trans-X fix sugggested above. It worked BUT although it lasted a whopping 6+ months, the problem has now returned. Yesterday it took 4-5 minutes to get in into 1,2,3 gears and I suspect that the only reason it finally engaged was because I let it role a bit downhill after shifting from reverse. Also while driving it does not feel like it is shifting as I step on the gas significantly increasing the speed.

    Questions: Is this latter condition dangerous to drive in? Should I continue to try/use this temporary Trans-X fix? Or do what to procure a permanent fix?


Top Subaru Outback Experts View More

Rank Leader Points
1. MrShift@Edmunds 655
2. Stever@Edmunds 430
3. karjunkie 410
4. morin2 185
5. zaken1 140
6. canddmeyer 130
7. texases 105