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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The background to this work.

I purchased this Outback in August 2018 from a friend who had purchased it new in 2011. It had travelled 194,000 Km’s (120,500 miles) when I purchased it. As always I did the routine fluid changes including engine oil, transmission oil and front and rear diff oil. The previous owner had the Outback serviced at Subaru for the first three years and then at a local workshop since. I could find no record that the transmission oil had ever been changed and the oil drained from the transmission was quite discoloured which typically means it was due to be changed. The previous owner did tow a campervan occasionally and therefore the transmission fluid may have needed to be changed on a “severe service schedule”.

After driving for a while I noticed some minor torque converter shudder and tried the normal fixes such as “Instant Shudder Fix” but these did not work. The shudder was not too bad and as I typically drive gently I was not too worried. Over the last six months or so I have noticed a bit more shudder at differing speeds and even an occasional “flaring” of engine revs within the first five to ten minutes of driving each day. This all lead to the project of replacing the torque converter.

In Australia Subaru sells the torque converter (part number 31100AB143) for AU$2,200. I checked the US suppliers and they have the same part number for around US$600 and with shipping to Australia it would cost me around AU$1,100. I happened to find a local torque converter rebuilder and when speaking with them they advised they could rebuild my torque converter for around $500 and provide a one day turn around (drop it off one morning and pick up sometime the next day). As this was the cheapest option and was also potentially the best outcome (using latest technology) I decided to have my torque converter rebuilt and I scheduled the work to be done the last week of July 2021.

I looked over the relevant “engine removal” pages in the FSM (Factory Service Manual) and was prepared to start the job the next morning. Having removed EJ25 engines from several vehicles in the past to replace clutches or head gaskets I was not too concerned about the job or the process. Typically I could remove an EJ25 engine, replace the clutch and have the engine back in by the end of the day. I was clearly not prepared for my first encounter with the EZ36 engine!

I spent virtually all day working on the engine removal following the procedure in the FSM and eventually had to resort to using ST, SIL (Special Tool, Son In Law) as I simply could not get the bottom four engine to transmission fasteners loose (two bolts and two nuts). I was using my Milwaukee M18 Fuel ½” impact wrench’s which have 330Nm of torque BUT they just would not move. I have come up against this before when removing EJ25 engines and the solution is to use a breaker bar to “crack” the tension on the bolts/nuts. Unfortunately the EZ36 does not give the clearance to access the lower bolts and nuts using a breaker bar from the engine bay. The FSM says to lower the exhaust, which I did and it was lying on my chest while I was lying on the floor. This allows better access to the bottom four fasteners from below the vehicle. If the Outback was on a hoist it would be a much simpler task as there would be more clearance to move the exhaust out of the way.

Once son in law arrived the next day it still took a good 45 minutes to remove those four fasteners which should have allowed us to remove the engine. I restrained the torque converter with a homemade retaining clip (ST 498277200 Stopper) so that the torque converter would not be removed with the engine, connected the engine lift and tried to remove the engine to no avail, it simply would not separate from the transmission. We tried for some time and both of us commented that there appeared to be a bolt still connecting the engine and transmission. We double and triple checked the FSM and we were convinced that all the bolts and nuts had been removed (four lower and three upper including the starter motor bolt). After some frustration and even more time I checked around the starter motor area with my fingers and found a recessed bolt which was still holding the engine and transmission firmly together. There were indeed seven fasteners PLUS the nut and bolt for the starter motor! Once this bolt was removed the engine came out without too much fuss but it was a little fiddly due to the size of the H6.

Once the engine was out I marked the torque converter and bell housing with some centre punch marks so that I knew what orientation was needed to re-join the torque converter and transmission. I was very conscious of the problem many other forum members have posted about where they had trouble re-joining the torque converter and transmission OR not joining them properly and ending up with a damaged transmission oil pump when re-installing the engine. Once the centre punch marks were made I removed the ST stopper and removed the torque converter.

The next day the torque converter went off to the rebuilder. As promised the following day I received a phone call advising the torque converter was ready to be picked up. On arriving at the workshop I asked what they found wrong with the torque converter. I was advised that the “lock up plate” was burnt from slipping and the lock up friction medium was in need of replacement. A new lock up plate was fitted and the lock up friction material was replaced with the latest friction material being used which is Kevlar based. An upgraded “lock up pin” was also installed and the torque converter even had a nice fresh coat of hammer tone finish paint. When I was handed the invoice I was surprised to find that the cost of the repair was less than $400.

I fitted a new 50x65x10 oil seal (Subaru part number 806750060) to the transmission and a 23.5 x 1.6mm “O” ring (Subaru part number 806923030) to the torque converter drive shaft. After these were installed I slowly poured around a cup of new transmission oil in the torque converter, fitted the transmission oil pump shaft to the torque converter and then fitted the torque converter to the transmission. It was good to be able to align the centre punch marks I had previously made and this made torque converter installation very simple.

I then re-installed the engine which was again a bit fiddly due to the size of the H6 engine. The studs at the lower rear of the engine make the clearance tight as you try to align them to slip into the holes in the transmission bell housing. Once the studs are aligned you need to raise or lower the engine to have the rear of the engine parallel to the transmission bell housing and then slide the engine back onto the transmission. Once the bolts and nuts were installed to join the transmission and engine, I torqued them to the required torque and then moved on to replace everything that was removed such as torque converter to flex plate bolts, exhaust, power steering pump, alternator, A/C compressor, starter motor, fuel lines, engine harness connector, radiator, battery, cold air intake etc.

The FSM advises that the exhaust headers need to be torqued in a specific sequence so if doing this job please ensure you look up the info in the FSM. I applied some exhaust sealant to the gaskets before re-installing as my exhaust had a very slight leak when cold (ticking sound) and looking at the gaskets I could see where the leak was occurring.

Once everything was back together I added transmission oil, engine oil and coolant and I was then ready to see if the engine would start and the outback would drive. I pushed the starter button and the H6 sprang to life running very smoothly. I put the transmission in drive and moved the outback out of the garage. Job done!

Photos are named in order of work done.

1.jpg Almost ready to remove the engine (so we thought)
2.jpg Engine out. Alignment of torque converter for reference when installing
3.jpg Torque converter out
4.jpg Note the number 142. This is the third revision converter for this vehicle (140,141,142,143)
5.jpg Engine patiently waiting for torque converter return
6.jpg Rebuilt torque converter with fresh coat of paint
7.jpg New torque converter seal installed (“O” ring not yet installed on drive shaft)
8.jpg Torque converter installed
9.jpg Centre punch reference marks on bell housing and torque converter
10.jpg Check proper alignment of torque converter before engine install


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Outback 2011 3.6R Premium
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
11.jpg Engine ready to go in
12.jpg Engine in, now to re-install all the other bits
13.jpg All done!

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2001 Forester EZ30D swapped
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thanks for sharing. I see you opened the A/C system, why not just hang it out of the way? any restrictions in AUS on discharging/recharging freon?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The A/C system has been losing refrigerant for about six months and last time it was recharged with a dye to detect where the leak was. Turns out the compressor has a very fine intermittent leak as the dye was spread all over the engine bay in a very fine pattern.

I removed the compressor and all the lines, replaced the desicate pack in the condenser and installed all new O ring seals. I have purchased a compressor from an auto wrecker and I am awaiting a new TXV (Thermal Expansion Valve) in today’s post. Once it arrives I will install it and get the local mobile A/C mechanic to charge the system before I start the engine with the new to me compressor.

The refrigeration industry here is strictly regulated and all work involving re-gassing must be performed by a licensed operator. As my system had lost the gas, I could pull it apart and get it ready for re-gassing.

Seagrass
 
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Well done. Keep us posted on how your refurbished torque converter functions now that it has been given a second life.
 
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Job well done. Makes you wonder, too, if keeping a 10+ year-old car is cost-prohibitive nowadays without having a well-equipped shop in one's garage. My garage is not quite at the same level, but it wouldn't be practical for me to keep a 2006 car on the road without all the tools accumulated over the years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
@Flood1913 I was hoping someone would pick up on SIL (just a cheeky reference to all the special tools that the Subaru FSM advises need to be used).

The engine was well sealed and there were no signs of leaking at the valve cover gaskets or the front cam cover. There was the normal evidence of the oil cooler leaking (which I fixed recently) and the normal oil on the front of the cam cover under the oil filler neck (still trying to work out where that oil actually comes from)

Seagrass
 
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