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Old 11-25-2012, 12:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default First Gen Manual Tips

This might be a weird thread to post but I was just looking to get some input from anyone driving a 5MT first gen outback. I just bought one and its my first manual transmission car.

I think I'm getting the hang of it pretty quick and hopefully I don't burn out the clutch too much, but I just wanted to see if anyone driving this car had any tips or weird perks they found with it? Or any experiences really?


thanks!
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:48 PM   #2 (permalink)
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even one click forward/back with the seat can make a difference on the use of the clutch.

I find feeding in a little more throttle than might at first seem best, seems to be smoother but, might depend on the car.

I try to get off the clutch within 1 foot (or less) of travel. I don't always, especially backing up an incline. (and I probably stall the car once or twice every year or 2) And, if you are in hilly country, you can hold the car with the handbrake when pulling away from a stop, especially if some idiot is on your rear bumper. Worth practicing anyway.

Try to shift into first in the last few feet of stopping, often easier than getting into first at a standstill for some cars. Depends on how your car behaves. If it shifts easily into first at a stop, just use neutral at lights/railroad crossings to save wear on the throw-out bearing.
Before changing transmission fluid, ask here on the forum for recommendations. many synthetics don't play well with the syncrhonizers. The tranny is weird because it shares fluid with the front diff. GL-5 is speced.

I'm sure you'll do fine
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Old 11-25-2012, 01:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by 1 Lucky Texan View Post
even one click forward/back with the seat can make a difference on the use of the clutch.

I find feeding in a little more throttle than might at first seem best, seems to be smoother but, might depend on the car.

I try to get off the clutch within 1 foot (or less) of travel. I don't always, especially backing up an incline. (and I probably stall the car once or twice every year or 2) And, if you are in hilly country, you can hold the car with the handbrake when pulling away from a stop, especially if some idiot is on your rear bumper. Worth practicing anyway.

Try to shift into first in the last few feet of stopping, often easier than getting into first at a standstill for some cars. Depends on how your car behaves. If it shifts easily into first at a stop, just use neutral at lights/railroad crossings to save wear on the throw-out bearing.
Before changing transmission fluid, ask here on the forum for recommendations. many synthetics don't play well with the syncrhonizers. The tranny is weird because it shares fluid with the front diff. GL-5 is speced.

I'm sure you'll do fine
that's some pretty cool advice, thanks! I did move the seat up a bunch but I still feel like I have to push the clutch down too far so maybe I'll bump it up one more.

I can't really tell if its shifts easily from a stop since at this point its probably just me being new. I can get it pretty smooth but its way to slow a start, it would definitely be dangerous when turning into traffic or something. thats an interesting idea though.

also in reverse, my driveway is a slight incline so when I shift into reverse I can just roll back with the clutch partially engaged - but that really isn't a great idea right? I dont even have to give it any gas I just let the clutch out and if it starts to shudder I push it back in a little. is that kind of like "riding the clutch"?
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Old 11-25-2012, 05:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I have the opposite problem and have to back out UP an incline so, slipping the clutch is almost guranteed. It's worse on cold mornings when the idle is up.

If you CAN engage the clutch fully for just a second, then put your foot back on the floor, to get enough momentum to carry the car through a backup-up/turn maneuver, that would be ideal I guess.

clutches are wear items and, eventually everyone needs one. When I was youger I definitely wore some out before I should have. Nowadays I TRY to be more careful - even if I risk stalling the car on occasion. But, I drive 95% side streets so, I am just resigned to having to buy a clutch sooner than highway commuters.
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Old 11-27-2012, 11:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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And, if you are in hilly country, you can hold the car with the handbrake when pulling away from a stop, especially if some idiot is on your rear bumper. Worth practicing anyway.
Not necessary in a 5MT-equipped 1st-Gen Outback - it has the Hill-Holder Clutch/Brake system. You roll to a stop (facing uphill), brake and depress the clutch - the car holds the brakes on for you. Light goes green, gas, lift clutch, away you go. Very effective.
I drive around the hilliest neighbourhoods of LA on a daily basis and don't ever need to use the handbrake at a stop or intersection.

As for that gearbox, it's never going to feel great. Not sports-car great anyway.
Check the fluid level on yours and look back through the service records if you can to see when it was last changed. Mine came with an overfilled gearbox, and what came out looked pretty tired.
After reading a bunch of threads about it on here, I refilled it with this



The Drain Plug Gasket in the pic is a necessary consumable, so pick one up if you're changing the fluid
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Old 11-27-2012, 11:34 AM   #6 (permalink)
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oh cool, I thought some Foresters had the hill-holder, just never can remember which years/models had it.
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Old 11-27-2012, 09:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Not necessary in a 5MT-equipped 1st-Gen Outback - it has the Hill-Holder Clutch/Brake system. You roll to a stop (facing uphill), brake and depress the clutch - the car holds the brakes on for you. Light goes green, gas, lift clutch, away you go. Very effective.
I drive around the hilliest neighbourhoods of LA on a daily basis and don't ever need to use the handbrake at a stop or intersection.

As for that gearbox, it's never going to feel great. Not sports-car great anyway.
Check the fluid level on yours and look back through the service records if you can to see when it was last changed. Mine came with an overfilled gearbox, and what came out looked pretty tired.
After reading a bunch of threads about it on here, I refilled it with this



The Drain Plug Gasket in the pic is a necessary consumable, so pick one up if you're changing the fluid
cool thanks! I guess I haven't really noticed the hill holder - I've done a few decent hills and I do roll back but I have at first just been giving it some extra gas and it works out. I'll be more conscious that it has the hill holder though.

I have most of the service records and I don't see much about any transmission related work. its just the car fax though which sometimes isn't too specific. the gearbox isn't too bad - first is a little wonky and 5th is kind of weird to shift into but most of that is probably just me being new.

I'll definitely check any fluids though.
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Old 12-07-2012, 08:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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so i figured I would use this thread to ask a few other questions about related issue.

So I'm learning...slowly, its a bit frustrating because I'm very worried about ruining the clutch haha. I had a friend drive the car though and it was smooth as butter so thats a good sign...except that he said the clutch does seem to catch very high. I'm not getting any slipping while I'm in gear or anything so Its not too bad yet - but I can't imagine a car with 158k has much clutch life left.

I'm also getting this strange noise - like clockwork once every time I drive. I drive 35 miles to work and back on mostly highways, but at the end of the drive I'll go to take a turn in first and I hear sort of a low, grinding noise that sounds like its coming from the driver side. once I hit second gear it goes away, but I can't really tell if its clutch or drivetrain related. I also heard it once when my friend was driving it, so this at least doesn't have to do with my driving.

Would it hurt to just take it a transmission shop and see what they can tell me? If its fine otherwise I'd rather not ruin my attitude about the car but I can't help but worry.


I also have a P0420 code - catalytic converter/o2 sensor but I'm not getting any symptoms. The car sat for a few years so I'm hoping driving it will clear it up since one mechanic I took it to said it was the cat. But he also didn't tell me there are ways to clean it, which I found online later.

sorry for the book - does anyone have any recommendations of what I should check out/be wary of?
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Old 12-07-2012, 08:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Experinced MT driver, but still lerning the 5MT

I have a 1999 Outback (when first got) has 206k on it and there were a few things that i noticed and looked up and was given second opinion by my dad who is a 30+ year general car machanic. Well I get a slight jitter when taking off in first but fine in all other gears and come to find out that the old owner changed the clutch but didn't bother with the flywheel so I have hot spots, resulting in the the takeoff jitter. I have messed around and toyed a bit with the gears and found out you can do 30mph in 5th (4.11 ratio tranny) and if you lightly push the gas you wont get that rumbling noise push too hard then you will. If you are trying to pick up speed then you will need to go down to 4th. I have the same problem too when i come to a red light or a stop I did try the usual and put it in 1st but it didn't want to go and when i thought it was just being stuborn I got the grinding gear noise. Out of reaction I tried putting it in 2nd then straight into 1st worked but only when I'm going 25mph or lower. After finding that out I was thinking that it might have a (what i refer to) "shift safety" something like what reverse has but for 1st gear at certain speeds. About the play in the clutch, had the same with me but I think for me it was the rubber seals wearing a bit in the clutch piston and mixing in the clutch fluid (brake fluid) thus loosing it's (can't think of the actual word but) thickness and making it black. Thats an easy fix but takes time is by flushing it every so often.

Sorry if it's a lot to read and my reading gramar is bad, but hope this helps and maybe someone can put some input for some of the things that they see bad for me.
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:48 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I have a 1999 Outback (when first got) has 206k on it and there were a few things that i noticed and looked up and was given second opinion by my dad who is a 30+ year general car machanic. Well I get a slight jitter when taking off in first but fine in all other gears and come to find out that the old owner changed the clutch but didn't bother with the flywheel so I have hot spots, resulting in the the takeoff jitter. I have messed around and toyed a bit with the gears and found out you can do 30mph in 5th (4.11 ratio tranny) and if you lightly push the gas you wont get that rumbling noise push too hard then you will. If you are trying to pick up speed then you will need to go down to 4th. I have the same problem too when i come to a red light or a stop I did try the usual and put it in 1st but it didn't want to go and when i thought it was just being stuborn I got the grinding gear noise. Out of reaction I tried putting it in 2nd then straight into 1st worked but only when I'm going 25mph or lower. After finding that out I was thinking that it might have a (what i refer to) "shift safety" something like what reverse has but for 1st gear at certain speeds. About the play in the clutch, had the same with me but I think for me it was the rubber seals wearing a bit in the clutch piston and mixing in the clutch fluid (brake fluid) thus loosing it's (can't think of the actual word but) thickness and making it black. Thats an easy fix but takes time is by flushing it every so often.

Sorry if it's a lot to read and my reading gramar is bad, but hope this helps and maybe someone can put some input for some of the things that they see bad for me.

hm interesting, thanks. I definitely have a bit of takeoff jitter and the clutch catches high but I've only been driving it for a week and sometimes I can take off without "jitter". and so can my experienced friend hah. All other gears are fine except I sometimes "jerk" into second.

The grinding noise you are describing seems to be different than what I'm feeling as I've noticed it doesnt really have anything to do with the amount of gas I'm giving it. it also doesnt sound like a grinding gear. maybe a cv joint or something?

I think I''ll definitely just bring it to a friend who knows more or mechanic and see if they can take a look at it. After another few weeks of learning so I can isolate what is just me sucking at driving it and what is the cars fault.
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