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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings All. I'm new on the Forum. I'm on my 5th Subaru. I had a 2011 Outback which was shifting into 1st on its own, with no driver input. I am 1000% certain I was not accidently touching the paddle shifters. It always happened at a particular stop sign near my home. The stop is on a medium grade hill, as you continue you bear left. At first I didn't realize what was happening, then I noticed that the "D" on the dashboard was changing to a "1". I took it to the dealer and they couldn't replicate the problem. They believe I am hitting the paddle shifter but I know I am not. I traded the car in for a 2013...had the mechanic come out and assure me that the CVT was completely different on the new model. Well, guess what. At the same stop sign, with less than 1000 miles on the car, it happended again at the exact same spot. I called the dealer and they still believe I am hitting the paddle shifter. This is very frustrating. I never use the paddle shifters and I drive with my hands towards the top of the steering wheel.
Has anyone else had this problem? I'm not sure what to do now. I am thinking of getting a helmet cam and fastening it to the headrest pointing at the dash so the next time it happens they will see where my hands are on the wheel and see the "D" turn to a "1"! Can anyone shed some light on this? Again...I am 1000% certain I am not touching the paddle shifters.
 

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I certainly don't read every post, but I don't recall anyone reporting this same symptom.

If it happened on one car, I could think of some possible problems. For example, the paddles probably make use of the "clockspring" connector to connect the rotating paddle switches (on the steering wheel) to the fixed wiring of the car. A defect in the connector could possibly simulate the use of a paddle just as the steering wheel is being turned. But it would be very unlikely that the exact same issue would appear on two cars, two years apart.

Another possibility is that the gear shift lever "M" position switch is malfunctioning. If the transmission control module thinks the gear lever is in the "M" position, then it would turn on the gear position indicator, and with the car stopped, this would have the transmission in the "1" gear position. But again, it's not likely to happen on two different cars, and always at the same stop sign.

Is there any possibility that the gear lever is accidentally being bumped to the "M" position? Do you have a coffee cup in the cup holder that you might be reaching for at the same time? Or, is there anything hanging on the lever that could cause it to move?

Also, is there any possibility that while operating the brake and turning at the same time (sort of unique to that particular hilly corner), one of the paddles, which are on the back of the steering wheel, is being contacted by the top of your leg? (I don't have paddle shifters and don't know if this is even possible, but thought I should ask just in case.)
 

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This sounds too specific to be a glitch and the fact that it happened with both cars at the same spot with some regularity adds weight to that.

Could it have had something to do with electronic stability control or the vehicle dynamics control systems? Detail on the weather and road conditions would help with that also maybe the CVT finds 1st gear to be the most efficient gear although that doesn't seem right that it can shift on its own more detail on the speed RPMs and amount of throttle used would help there.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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It always happened at a particular stop sign near my home.
Take the mechanic or service writer for a test drive and let them experience this same intersection.
 

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Sounds like something is causing the tranny to unexpectedly shift into manual mode. Dealer might need to check the TCM for codes and reflash with the learning control procedure.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks!

Thanks everyone for your replies. When I had the 2011 I took it back to the dealer and they checked for codes. Everything was normal. I know they think I'm crazy, and it seems like I'm the common denominator here, but I am absolutely certain I am not touching the paddle shifters or the shift lever. I don't drink coffee so there's nothing in the drink holder when this happens. I'm not a big person and my legs are nowhere near the steering wheel so I'm sure my leg isn't bumping the paddle shifter...and it's a very mild turn, not a sharp turn. It happens at the same place but it doesn't happen every time...it's very random. It's only happened once in the new car. With the 2011 when it happened it was mostly at that stop sign, but a few times it happened just after the stop sign (a slight uphill, gradual climb that evens out very quickly). It stays in first for about 5 to 10 seconds then shifts itself back to drive.
When it happened in the new car...weather was cold, maybe about 30 degrees, road was dry. From what I remember I wasn't giving the car very much gas starting out from the stop sign...just light pressure on the gas pedal. Don't know if it matters, but the radio and heater were both on. As I started to give it gas it immediately shifted to 1st, just for a few seconds then shifted back to drive. I couldn't believe it was happening...so disappointing. I love my Subaru's but this has me worried about the transmission on these cars.
I just purchased a small helmet camera and I'm going to figure out a way to mount it in the car directed at the steering wheel and the dashboard so I can record when the "D" turns to a "1" and I can take it to the dealer so they can see that my hands are nowhere near the paddle shifters. I'll keep everyone posted! But again, it's so random I don't know when it will happen again. I'd say with the 2011 it happend about 7 or 8 times over the last year.
 

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has the transmission fluid level(s) been checked?
 

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If the car is in D - then the driver input has been made for the AT to be put in gear and shift gears.

However if your turning and the AT is sent a signal from the paddle shifter wiring harness it will down shift of up shift based on the signal it was sent. If your not hitting the paddle then it would make sense that the wiring harness in the steering column has an issue and when your turning the wheel you have some type of short or malfunctioning electronic switch that is being triggered and sending the AT the signal that you have hit the paddle shifter and requested a lower gear.

#1 make sure your not hitting the paddle's - when it happens check it multiple times make sure your hand / hands are no where near the paddles. Then tell the dealer that when you turn the wheel with the AT in automatic mode it seems to be getting manual paddle requests to down shift that there could be a short or issue with the wiring harness in the steering column.
 

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could your clothing or some large keyring 'decoration/charm' hit the paddle?

(I know, seems 'out there' but, seriously, I've seen some folks with huge items on their keyrings)
 

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I notice that the transmission will apparently go into manual 1 (as indicated on the instrument panel), but stay there only for 5 - 10 seconds (while, I presume, the car is accelerating from the stop) and then revert back to the normal Drive type of operation (continuously variable in the CVT).

I understand that when gear lever is in D, if a paddle shifter is used, the transmission goes into the "manual mode" with the gear as indicated. But is it normal for the transmission to revert back to D after some time? I would have thought that once the paddle shifter is used, the transmission remains in manual mode, although it will override the paddle selection (gear) if the car's speed requires it. (It's that way with my 4EAT with manual "SportShift".) Could the fact that it reverts back to D be a clue? Is there perhaps a reason the transmission would go into manual 1 for a short while?

[EDIT: Found this in the FSM, which answers one of my questions: "When the paddle switch integrated in the steering wheel is operated during a travel at D range, the system enters the manual mode temporarily. This mode is cancelled automatically and the normal D range control is restored if no further paddle switch operation takes place and the accelerator pedal is depressed."]

(Again, I stop myself here because even if there could be something triggering a "paddle activation", why would it be on two separate cars, with the same driver, and to some extent at the same place? But it's brainstorming time . . .)
 

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I notice that the transmission will apparently go into manual 1 (as indicated on the instrument panel), but stay there only for 5 - 10 seconds (while, I presume, the car is accelerating from the stop) and then revert back to the normal Drive type of operation (continuously variable in the CVT).

I understand that when gear lever is in D, if a paddle shifter is used, the transmission goes into the "manual mode" with the gear as indicated. But is it normal for the transmission to revert back to D after some time? I would have thought that once the paddle shifter is used, the transmission remains in manual mode, although it will override the paddle selection (gear) if the car's speed requires it. (It's that way with my 4EAT with manual "SportShift".) Could the fact that it reverts back to D be a clue? Is there perhaps a reason the transmission would go into manual 1 for a short while?

(Again, I stop myself here because even if there could be something triggering a "paddle activation", why would it be on two separate cars, with the same driver, and to some extent at the same place? But it's brainstorming time . . .)

From what I've seen and experienced is that cars with paddle shifters will respond to an input regardless if the gear selector is in D or in the MT position. The idea being if a driver regardless of where the gear selector is positioned uses the paddle shifter the transmission will respond. The logic at least with Subaru is that if your in D - and you have used the paddle. The AT and CVT will up shift or down shift pending your input and hold that gear selection till there is a clear change in the throttle use. So for example you down shift while in D - the gear box holds that down shifted gear till your throttle position changes after the initial gear selection.

So down shift and press the throttle down logic would suggest your passing or need the power etc. The AT will hold your manually selected gear till it sees you let off the throttle for fair bit of time which then it reverts back to the D - automatic mode and will shift to a larger cruising gear etc. If your going down hill in D mode and use the paddles to down shift to help engine brake and control speed - the throttle position is noted and it will hold that gear till there is a large enough change in the throttle position to suggest that going back to AT mode and choosing the standard AT gear is more efficient etc.

When you move the selector from D to MT mode the AT is no longer waiting for small indicators that it can go back to its thing after you have made a paddle request. Meaning in MT mode the AT says OK you want me to hold whatever gear it is you chose for as long as mechanically allowed etc. Meaning no amount of changes in throttle position will result in the AT taking control back and choosing a gear it thinks is best.
 

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Great explanation. And, it seems to be consistent with SubaruWoman's experience (notwithstanding who or what caused the shift to temporary Manual).
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I really appreciate everyone taking the time to reply to this thread. I am still 1000% certain I am not hitting the paddle shifters. I never even use them. I don't have a large key ring, just a usual round metal ring with my house key, office key and car key...plus, the keys hang below where the paddle shifters are.
It seems to me there must be something about the combination of the hill, the turn, and the stop sign that is making this happen. And by the way...it also happened once when someone else was driving the car...I was in the passenger seat. Same stop sign. That was in the 2011.
Subaru couldn't find anything wrong with the car.
I did a google search and found a thread on Edmund's at the time and found some other folks who had the same issue. One guy said someone form Subaru of America (I guess he lives near the headquarters) went for a drive with him and told him his theory was that the paddle shifter was hitting his leg when he made a left hand turn. I responded on the Edmunds forum that that explanation didn't work for me, because my legs never touch the steering wheel. In fact, they are at least a good 6 to 8 inches from the steering wheel the way I have it set.
 

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I really appreciate everyone taking the time to reply to this thread. I am still 1000% certain I am not hitting the paddle shifters. I never even use them. I don't have a large key ring, just a usual round metal ring with my house key, office key and car key...plus, the keys hang below where the paddle shifters are.
It seems to me there must be something about the combination of the hill, the turn, and the stop sign that is making this happen. And by the way...it also happened once when someone else was driving the car...I was in the passenger seat. Same stop sign. That was in the 2011.
Subaru couldn't find anything wrong with the car.
I did a google search and found a thread on Edmund's at the time and found some other folks who had the same issue. One guy said someone form Subaru of America (I guess he lives near the headquarters) went for a drive with him and told him his theory was that the paddle shifter was hitting his leg when he made a left hand turn. I responded on the Edmunds forum that that explanation didn't work for me, because my legs never touch the steering wheel. In fact, they are at least a good 6 to 8 inches from the steering wheel the way I have it set.
This can only happen one of two ways - something is hitting the paddle - or there is a issue with the wiring harness in the steering wheel and when you turn the wheel its causing the system to think that your asking it to down shift etc. Which case if its a wiring issue it will happen regardless of where you are as long as your turning the wheel in a manner that is causing the short you've got the same issue happening.

If it only happens the same exact place chances are its behavioral related and not some sort of mechanical thing given mechanical stuff doesn't care where you are or what corner your at it will do whatever its doing anytime the glitch in the wiring etc is triggered. In this case if its no you doing it then its the turning action of the steering wheel or combination of things causing the short to happen that is being viewed as a gear selection request from the paddle shifter. The dealer can easily eliminate this by disabling the paddle shift to see if the behavior still takes place.
 

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By the way my mother has an early 2010 Legacy CVT. A full year after she had it she calls me freaked out that the car was shifting funny some times. Turns out she was hitting the paddle shifter - she had changed her hand positioning slightly and was hitting the paddle and not even realizing it.

One of the design reasons they position the paddles behind the air bag area vs the open space in the wheel is because every day consumers have a bad habit of reaching through the wheel when making left or right turns from a stop. If auto makers were to mount the paddle shifters to the column vs the wheel so the paddles do not move with the wheel - they would have lots of broken or damaged paddles caused by people reaching through and either hitting them or even grabbing them by mistake.

The reason reaching through the wheel vs keeping your hands on the out side is a bad habit is simple. It's been known for a very very long time that people who have a habit usually women who do this more so than men - will in an emergency due to muscle conditioning try to reach through the wheel vs simply shuffling their hands on the out side of the wheel. The result is missing the open area ie striking the cross piece closed area of the wheel breaking a hand and or missing and end up hitting what they were trying to avoid etc. Today especially with power steering and airbags reaching through the wheel to turn is a very Very bad and dangerous driving habit.

The reason I bring this up is because you mention a certain stop sign and turn. Are you reaching so your palm up with your hand on the inside edge of the steering wheel? If so this could be resulting in you hitting the paddle and not even realizing it.
 

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2016 Outback Ltd 2.5 eyesight Nav push button Hole in roof, Lapis Blue
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could be the Ghost..

Same problem with 2 different cars, always at the same spot, sound a lot like some paranormal influence going on here (or there :rolleyes: !! lol)... I'd say if you have a second dealer in the same area take a new car out for a test drive and without saying anything to the sales guy drive through the same spot and say HEY WHAT GIVES :gasp: ?? I had a Honda Odyssey that would always do a unnecessary down shift at the same point, going downhill around a left bend in the road, after a while I just expected it. The dealer said it was designed to do just that. I know yours is a different case. I can confirm what was posted before I can leave mine in "D" and use the paddle shifter to override and change gears after I come to a stop or stop accelerating it returns to drive. What happens if you do nothing or take your foot off the gas does it return to Drive?

Does it happen at any other time or any other place??
 

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This all sounds like a bug in the software controlling the transmission. I realize the CVT transmission in 2013 models is completely different from the 2011 models. However, you can bet that Subaru software engineers didn't start over from scratch when coding the software for the CVT. My own experience with my 2013 with CVT is that engine RPMs fail to be quickly reduced in the following scenario. Quickly accelerate from a standing start but then suddenly remove pressure from the accelerator and apply brake pressure. The engine continues to rotate at about 4,000 RPM and actually fights the braking effort. This only lasts 3 to 5 seconds but happens every time. This reeks of buggy software.
 

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I'm still waiting to see the 'helmet camera' video.
 

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I can definitely say this has happened to me on several occasions. Now that I think about it, my instances have always involved a shift into 2nd gear, and always as I'm accelerating after a left turn.

I've had the car in the shop several times for the cold-start-lurch-forward-when-I-shift-into-drive thing - was finally told that I need to warm up the engine. But I was convinced I was somehow hitting the paddles, even though the last few times, I was most definitely not.

This happened after they 'reset' my software to get rid of the lurch. Should I take it back for another reset?

(2013 Outback, 6 cylinder)
 

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This all sounds like a bug in the software controlling the transmission. I realize the CVT transmission in 2013 models is completely different from the 2011 models. However, you can bet that Subaru software engineers didn't start over from scratch when coding the software for the CVT. My own experience with my 2013 with CVT is that engine RPMs fail to be quickly reduced in the following scenario. Quickly accelerate from a standing start but then suddenly remove pressure from the accelerator and apply brake pressure. The engine continues to rotate at about 4,000 RPM and actually fights the braking effort. This only lasts 3 to 5 seconds but happens every time. This reeks of buggy software.
I've noticed this with a couple of newer cars pretty sure this is emissions related to help reduce spikes in the emissions. Any sudden change in fuel / air mixture results in a spike in emissions given you get unburnt fuel etc. Drive by wire the computer system manages the throttle input to help reduce emissions - protect transmissions etc. Lots going on and pretty sure thats why we see this today.
 
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