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Old 04-27-2011, 12:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 1996 Auto Transmission Problems, Torque Bind, and More

When I bought the car, it was low on oil and coolant, and had way too much transmission fluid in it. When I pulled the pan drain plug, it filled a 8-quart pan 1 inch from the top.

I put in 4 quarts, and checked it running in park after shifting through all gears. I hadn't driven it, so I expected it to be in the cold range, but was barely on the very bottom tip of the dipstick. I added another quart, and that seemed to overfill it.

I drove it yesterday, and it had torque bind. I could barely get it to turn into the driveway last night, but then I drove it around the block today and it wasn't as bad, but still there. The Oil Temp light does flash 16 times, and the FWD fuse does nothing.

I checked the transmission fluid level again today, and it's barely on the bottom of the dipstick again (I checked it the same way). So either I'm checking the fluid wrong, or it's disappearing somewhere. I also checked the front differential, which was over full.

Another intermittent problem is smoke coming from under the hood at idle in drive. All the way home from getting the car it was a problem, but I figured it was just the excess transmission fluid venting out onto the exhaust, (near passenger CV/front diff dipstick) since that's where it seemed to be burning off. It still happened yesterday though while at a red light, and then hasn't happened since. Is that where my transmission fluid is going?

It's also worth noting that I just saw this morning that the rear tires are the same size and brand, but each front is a different brand, although the same size. I know there is supposed to be almost no tire circumference difference, so I wonder if that is/was part of the problem.

The other odd thing, is that after installing new headlights yesterday, my Check Engine light (which has been on since I got the car) is now sometimes the right turn signal. I don't understand that at all, the left one is fine, and the turn signals work.

So if you could tell me what I did wrong, and/or what the previous owners did wrong, how many things are now broken and need to be replaced, and stuff like that, I'd appreciate it.
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Old 04-29-2011, 04:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Well ...

The tire's being different diameter [if they are or were for any length of time] cause essentially damage the clutches and or viscous coupling in the trans. There is a thread on here with pictures of replacing the rear section which has those parts in it, you may be able to source one at a junkyard.

I would try getting all the tires the same first and see if the problem goes away since any variation is interpreted by the car as a wheel slipping and will engage the lockup.

Can't say if the smoke is continued trans leakage or remnants of the initial overfill. There are a couple vent tubes on top of the trans where it would puke out fluid and there is a chance that the pump housing is cracked and forcing fluid out that vent.

Shouldn't be any connection between the CEL and the turn signal. Check the turn signal bulb housing for corrosion [especially the rear] to see if there is a ground/hot loop being created.
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Old 04-29-2011, 07:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I've never seen any major issues with tires of different manufacturers provided they are the same time and good tread left in them. My garage puts thousands of used tires on cars every year and the customers don't report anything out of the sorts.

Check to see if you're leaking trans fluid. I doubt it, tho, but check the pan gasket and extension housing gasket for any leaking or loose bolts.

Torque Bind is annoying and the fix is many hours. Took me all night doing it, but it works and now I no longer have torque bind. Have you done the procedure for pulling AT codes? It's located here: Ultimate Subaru Message Board - View Single Post - How To: Read transmission codes
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Old 04-30-2011, 12:37 AM   #4 (permalink)
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It's not so much the manufacturer but the diameter which varies between manufacturers.

I've had over half an inch difference on different brands, brand new, with the same number stamped on the tire.

Mixing and matching tires is not nearly as important on non fulltime AWD vehicles as far a handling. The only issue on a 2wd would be ABS and possible differential if it were LSD and the tires were different side to side.
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Old 04-30-2011, 08:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Based on what I read since my original post I decided to order a new Duty C solenoid, which will get here Tuesday. When I replace that, I'll check on the other stuff that can be messed up, and do whatever I have to do then... Hopefully nothing.

If that fixes the problem, the next step will be getting all 4 tires replaced, just in case.

I'm also going to drain the transmission pan again and see how much comes out vs. the 5 quarts I put in, to see how much, if any, is actually puking out.

Also, is this the thread you were taking about, ETC?
4eat tail section rebuild without removing transmission

Even if not, it's nice to see pictures of what I need to take apart to get to the solenoid.

Thanks for the responses so far, I'll keep this updated as I go.
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Old 04-30-2011, 11:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would diagnose your fluid problems first before anything else. If your fluids are mixing (front diff and ATF?) or leaking that needs addressed first and if it means transmission replacement, then changing the Duty C is kind of pointless.

Based on your description you've made an accurate diagnosis that the Duty C has failed. Whether the clutches are good, who knows?

If you have torque bind, you can remove the rear half of the driveshaft rather easily and just drive it in FWD until you figure out the fluid issues.
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Old 05-01-2011, 03:30 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Yeah, That's the thread I was talking about.

I'd agree that you need to figure out exactly what's going on with the trans before deciding to throw money at it, might be better off with a salvaged replacement if it's too far gone.

Like gross gary suggested, there may be a blown seal between the trans and diff. That would explain trans fluid loss with little or no external leakage.

Check the diff fluid level, if it's high, drain some in to a white pan and see if it's a reddish color. If so, might want to think full replacement.
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Old 05-01-2011, 09:14 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Crap, I was reading my manual wrong, and thought it was saying the front diff DID use ATF... It seemed odd, but that's what it looked like it was saying. Now I'm looking again, and it's definitely not supposed to have ATF in it... But it does... And I didn't put it in there...

So I need a whole new transmission then? I can drain the fluid to make sure, but it was definitely red on the dipstick... Awesome.

If there is another way, like just replacing the seal, whatever is less unaffordable, let me know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grossgary View Post
If you have torque bind, you can remove the rear half of the driveshaft rather easily and just drive it in FWD until you figure out the fluid issues.
I also missed this at first, it'll probably be my solution for now.
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Old 05-01-2011, 12:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
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okay, return or sell that Duty C, you need another transmission. the task of replacing that seal is rather intense and requires dissassembling the front/diff trans and resetting the backlash upon reassembly. not something for the faint of heart. i mean it's not all that hard actually to retain the backlash appropriately but unless you're hard core a transmission tear down probably isn't most folks cup of tea. the front diff and trans are an assembly, it's not like they're completely separate.

it would be good to double check and make sure that the previous owner or something didn't dump ATF into the front diff (i've actually heard of that happening before), but i just say that as a CYA, sounds like you need another trans.

at least it's still driving!?

yes, remove that rear half of the driveshaft so you're not straining other components, like the axles and ujoints.

used transmissions usually aren't that hard to find and since they don't fail very often the prices aren't all that bad. i bought one that would fit your car (granted it was a FWD), but $150 with a warranty and only 80k or 100k miles on it.
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Old 05-01-2011, 09:12 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Ok, thanks. That's what I figured, that the seal was really hard to get to. I will check if they put ATF in the diff, because when I got home from buying the car, I found that it had no air filter... So who knows what kind of stupid things they did.

If I could find a whole transmission that actually works for under $400, I'd be happy. The cheaper the better of course, I'm pretty much broke.

What part number(s) am I looking for on the transmission that would be correct? I'd hate to buy the wrong one, or the right one for a different year and have problems like I did with my Toronado.

There is a JDM 4EAT for sale in Ohio, with code TZ1A4ZSAAA-WA. I searched for that number, but couldn't find anything. Would it work?
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