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Old 11-21-2009, 11:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Shift Lock Solenoid Clicks

I have a 2009 Outback XT with automatic transmission that I bought in June. It has 7K miles on it and I absolutely love it. A few months ago, I noticed a small clicking sound coming from the gear shifter area. The noise happened when I was slowing down to a complete stop, probably around 1-2 miles per hour.

I took it in to have my dealer look at it. They at first said they didn't hear anything, but after a few calls explaining it, they called back and said that it was the shift lock solenoid and that it was normal for it to click. The tech supervisor even said his 2008 OB does it but "he doesn't really notice it because he has the radio on." I can hear the click even with the radio on - at least at normal volumes.

Now that I know that it's the shift lock solenoid, I started to notice the click when depressing the brake pedal when in "P".

I have many, many friends with Subarus and starting asking around if they have similar issues. No one did - even a person with a 2009 Legacy turbo (same engine, transmission as my OB) said that his was silent.

My question to the forum is this: should I "live with it" as the tech implied or should I push the dealer to make a repair?

My thought is that they said it is operating normally and thus they don't want to replace it. But if it wasn't under warranty, and I said I wanted it fixed, I am sure they'd be happy to take hundreds of my dollars to fix it. I spent the most I ever have on a vehicle and now I have to live with a clicking sound for the next 7-10 years? I have owned many Hondas with automatics and they never clicked.

What do you all think?
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Old 11-21-2009, 01:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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My 1997 will do that to when taking the car out of park, thats normal. It did it from day one, and i never really noticed it as annoying, its just one of the many idiot proof interlocks in the car.

If you were to stop and listen to the car you could hear any number of things whirring and clicking. I think you are overly senstive to this noise.

A car is a machine, and a subaru is not a Bentley, so you will hear things whirring clicking etc, its normal for the most part.

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Old 11-21-2009, 03:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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ditto what nipper said.

Had the same experience with my 07. I still hear it when I listen for it, or have my hand resting on the console (it's more of a feeling than a sound).

Some time ago I did a search here about this and found it's a common question among new Subaru owners, especially the 3rd generation. It's almost as common as the "parking lights always on" postings.

In any event, if the solenoid were replaced, even at your expense, it probably would be the same.

If you feel it is unduly noisy, go to the dealer and try a few of the demonstrators. There's no need to drive -- as you noticed, all that's needed is to press the brake with the ignition ON and the car in Park.

Incidentally, most cars have these gearshift interlocks, but they are located on or in the transmission. Subaru put it in the console.
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Old 11-21-2009, 08:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Mine does it too. 61k miles and no issues with it.

Radio off I can hear it, but i can definately feel it.

Probably not a big deal.
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Old 11-22-2009, 09:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I don't have an auto or an outback that new, but shift interlocks shouldn't function once your are out of park. Reading your post you say that you are already out of park and moving when this is happening. For my model year you have to be in park for the solenoid to get power. Maybe your transmission range/position switch has failed or you have a short.
I say take it back and ensure they understand that this happens when MOVING and out of park.
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:05 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by highest_vision
I don't have an auto or an outback that new, but shift interlocks shouldn't function once your are out of park. Reading your post you say that you are already out of park and moving when this is happening. . . .
The shift lock, at least on the 2005-9, has two purposes -- one is to prevent moving the gear lever from Park unless the brake pedal is pressed, and the other is to prevent moving from Drive to Reverse (or R to D) or into Park when the car is moving. So when starting out, first the brake is pressed to apply power to the solenoid, which "opens" the interlock. This allows the lever to be moved out of Park. Once out of Park, the interlock remains open and the lever can be moved to any position. Then, when the car starts to move forward, somewhere around 5-10 mph, the power to the solenoid is cut and the interlock closes; the lever cannot be moved from Drive (or any of the forward gears) into Reverse. Later, as the car later slows to a stop, the interlock will open again, allowing the lever to move from Drive to Reverse and Park.

One complication that arises is when turning off the engine. If the key is turned from On to Acc when the gear is still in Drive or Reverse, it cannot be moved to Park. The key has to be turned to On and the brake pressed. Moreover, the key cannot be removed if the gear lever is not in Park.
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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From what you describe that sounds like normal (although unfortunate) operation. They must have changed it for 2005. I only have a diagram for 2002, but there is no speed signal for that circuit. Only the brake, key warning and park switches, and shift interlock and key lock solenoids. The trans range switch is connected to the shift lock module, but for the shift interlock to work electrically the transmission must be in park. Evidently older models used purely mechanical means to keep operators from shifting into reverse at too high a speed, whereas newer models eliminate this and use electromechanical. Maybe 2005 was the first year for the 'sport shift' option? Would be interesting to see a schematic for this.
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Old 11-24-2009, 06:40 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The speed-reference is in the Owners Manual, and you might be correct -- it might have been introduced with the 2005 new generation model.

"Selector lever reverse inhibit function

"This function prevents accidental movement of the selector lever to the "R" position while the vehicle is moving.

"The function becomes operational when the vehicle reaches a speed of approximately 6mph (10km/h). Once operational, it prevents the selector lever from being moved from the "N" position to the "R" position. When the vehicle speed drops below 6mph (10km/h), the function is cancelled. The selector lever can then be moved to the "R" and "P" positions."

The solenoid is controlled by the Body Integrated Unit which receives input from a variety of sensor and other sources, and controls a wide range of vehicle functions. So there's no one schematic showing a direct link between a speed sensor and the solenoid.
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Old 11-24-2009, 08:13 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Very interesting. That is a stark contrast from the 2002 manual, ' To shift from the "N" to "R" position, first stop the vehicle completely then move the lever to the "R" position.' It also has a diagram showing the shift lever and pattern, with an arrow from park to reverse stating 'With brake pedal depressed, move the lever along the gate.' The arrow from neutral to reverse states 'Move the lever along the gate.'
It's true what you say about no one schematic showing the VSS and shift interlock. Just last week I went to a class on vehicle network diagnostic strategies and that was a specific example pointed out by the teacher. Nearly every module in a modern vehicle requires a speed signal, and rather than have 20 wires coming off the sensor or 20 different sensors, they are networked and use serial data to communicate necessary info. Evidently that is another change for 2005, the style of network Subaru used. At least in the outback.
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