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hello all, new user. just purchased a '13 impreza sport and my wife has a '12 outback 2.5 cvt (i also have a 05.5 audi a4 2.0t). On my wife's car I noticed a few months back some strange behaviour regarding the CVT, while accelerating on the highway (not full throttle) the rpms would dip slightly. I disregarded this at first as a quirk of the CVT until things got more severe, sometimes the car would shudder and shake under acceleration and it got progressively worse and more often. We brought the car to the dealer and they couldn't replicate the issue and sent us home. a week later we brought it back and they were able to replicate it and hook it up to the computer to grab logs. after sending the logs to subaru they approved a brand new tranny. we waited 3 weeks to get the car back and everything seemed fine (though we did baby it for the first 1000 miles). fast foward to now, and the problem is still there. my wife brought it straight to the dealer and they told us "there's nothing wrong with the car" and furthermore blamed it on her aggressive driving (the day before she brought it she was trying to get it to happen a few times on her way home just to confirm the problem was there, so there was some rapid accel/decel when they viewed the logs).

So first off i'm pretty pissed...they found the problem once, replaced the entire transmission, and now they are saying that it's her driving. I'm very likely going to go to Subaru of America with this and see what they can do as far as handling the situation, fixing the car, flying out an engineer, whatever. Secondly, has anyone else had a similar experience? I can try and upload a video of the rpms, under around half throttle when the car is accelerating and gets to 4500rpm or so the rpms will dip almost like if it was a manual and the clutch was slipping, sometimes the car will shudder violently.

Any replies/feedback is appreciated.
 

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hello all, new user. just purchased a '13 impreza sport and my wife has a '12 outback 2.5 cvt (i also have a 05.5 audi a4 2.0t). On my wife's car I noticed a few months back some strange behaviour regarding the CVT, while accelerating on the highway (not full throttle) the rpms would dip slightly. I disregarded this at first as a quirk of the CVT until things got more severe, sometimes the car would shudder and shake under acceleration and it got progressively worse and more often. We brought the car to the dealer and they couldn't replicate the issue and sent us home. a week later we brought it back and they were able to replicate it and hook it up to the computer to grab logs. after sending the logs to subaru they approved a brand new tranny. we waited 3 weeks to get the car back and everything seemed fine (though we did baby it for the first 1000 miles). fast foward to now, and the problem is still there. my wife brought it straight to the dealer and they told us "there's nothing wrong with the car" and furthermore blamed it on her aggressive driving (the day before she brought it she was trying to get it to happen a few times on her way home just to confirm the problem was there, so there was some rapid accel/decel when they viewed the logs).

So first off i'm pretty pissed...they found the problem once, replaced the entire transmission, and now they are saying that it's her driving. I'm very likely going to go to Subaru of America with this and see what they can do as far as handling the situation, fixing the car, flying out an engineer, whatever. Secondly, has anyone else had a similar experience? I can try and upload a video of the rpms, under around half throttle when the car is accelerating and gets to 4500rpm or so the rpms will dip almost like if it was a manual and the clutch was slipping, sometimes the car will shudder violently.

Any replies/feedback is appreciated.
48,000 miles on ours no issues no shudder issues. This is the wifes first ever AT. It's been great. Even tows well.
 

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If they actually replaced the transmission, it almost has to be an ECU issue. Ask them for a reflash. But I wonder if the real issue is that the dealer did not actually replace the transmission. I do not know how you confirm what was actually done, rather than what they charged SOA for.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
If they actually replaced the transmission, it almost has to be an ECU issue. Ask them for a reflash. But I wonder if the real issue is that the dealer did not actually replace the transmission. I do not know how you confirm what was actually done, rather than what they charged SOA for.
before they replaced the transmission, they flashed the TCU (which was part of a recall) and said "ok problem gone". the problem persisted, and it took 2 more trips for them to throw in the towel and replace the tranny. the fact that they had it for 3 weeks makes me hope that they actually DID replace the tranny.

anyway here's a video i managed to grab kinda showing the rpm drop.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWrdFvUccko

around 8 seconds in you can see the rpms jump from 4500 to around 5000, then suddenly dip down, then back up again. this was around half throttle getting on to the highway.
 

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That almost seems to be more of an engine thing than the CVT. Almost looks like a lazy limiter kicking in to limit RPMS.

How often are you hitting 5000 rpm? Even towing our tent trailer we might see 5000rpm on a steep free way ramp for no more than a second or two.

Does it do this at slower speeds and the same RPM? Say manual setting 2nd gear flat ground? Meaning very light load on the CVT but the engine his hitting 5000? That might give you a better idea if its the CVT acting up or some sort of engine sensor tripping up.
 

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That almost seems to be more of an engine thing than the CVT. Almost looks like a lazy limiter kicking in to limit RPMS.

How often are you hitting 5000 rpm? Even towing our tent trailer we might see 5000rpm on a steep free way ramp for no more than a second or two.

Does it do this at slower speeds and the same RPM? Say manual setting 2nd gear flat ground? Meaning very light load on the CVT but the engine his hitting 5000? That might give you a better idea if its the CVT acting up or some sort of engine sensor tripping up.
it feels more like the transmission is slipping than hitting a rev limiter. there's no sudden jerk like you hit a wall like when you bounce off the limiter. it's hard to tell from video but often times when this happens it is accompanied by shuddering where the whole car shakes.

We hit 5000 rpm no problem getting on the highway. The CVT typically revs higher while accelerating to get the car in the powerband. I've tried in the past to put it in manual mode and there's no difference, it feels to me as if the belt on the cvt is skipping. doesn't matter if it's uphill, downhill, flat...accelerating on the highway where the trans goes more into a constant mode (rather than the typical driving where it is simulating fixed gear ratios) will cause it to behave in this fashion.

what's really pissing me off is the fact that the dealer already admitted there was a problem, went through the trouble of replacing the transmission, then when we said it's still there they just tell us that there's nothing wrong and my wife is "driving aggressively". to me that's more an admission that the car is a piece of crap if she's able to break it simply by accelerating quickly onto the highway or to pass someone. on these small 4-cyls to get any kind of power out of them you have to rev high so to me it's a useless vehicle if i have to drive it like grandma in order to not break it.
 

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I typically won't ever get up above 3.5k RPM to get on the freeway, maybe 4k RPM if I really need to accelerate. Perhaps the fact that you are consistently hitting 5k RPM in order to achieve reasonable acceleration is another indicator of the problem you are experiencing rather than being due aggressive driving.
 

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Your right some what. The peak output for the 2.5 is like 4400-4800 rpm after that your really not doing much other than making more noise and some drivers might associate pedal mashed there for car is producing max power.

Having said that I wonder if there could be a rear diff that wasn't assembled correctly and could cause odd loading that would in return make the CVT act funny.

If the belt slipped in the CVT it would be far more than just a smooth sounding change in the RPMS it would sound like you just dumped a bunch of bolts down the intake on the engine.
 

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sorry i'm going to have to disagree about the whole rpm and engine revving thing. the whole point of fitting a CVT onto a car is to get the maximum efficiency for every situation. you can dynamically pick whatever gear ratio you want for the driving condition. if i'm cruising, then it should sit at a low rpm for fuel economy and comfort. if i'm accelerating, i don't want it to have to rev through a set of fixed ratio gears to extract power out of the engine, i want to get the engine in it's powerband and leave it there (and the advantage with a CVT is that it can make a slow, heavy car like the outback feel much more powerful and faster than if it were fitted with a standard auto or manual). there is NOTHING wrong with driving a car and revving the engine 'high'. and if there was with this particular car, then how can i get my money back cause that's f'ing ridiculous.

that being said, its not like we put it in manual mode and constant shift gears up/down putting stress on the trans. she's just driving it normal, in automatic mode, and letting the engine/trans do whatever it wants based on whatever throttle she is giving it. if you're telling me that the car isn't smart enough to not break itself based purely on throttle input then maybe subaru should rethink it's engineering.
 

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Your right some what. The peak output for the 2.5 is like 4400-4800 rpm after that your really not doing much other than making more noise and some drivers might associate pedal mashed there for car is producing max power.

Having said that I wonder if there could be a rear diff that wasn't assembled correctly and could cause odd loading that would in return make the CVT act funny.

If the belt slipped in the CVT it would be far more than just a smooth sounding change in the RPMS it would sound like you just dumped a bunch of bolts down the intake on the engine.
yeah i don't think it's the belt slipping per say, just saying that's what it feels like, something slipping. analogous to if the clutch on a manual is worn. perhaps they should look more at the torque converter than the trans? i'm really not familiar with the whole cvt system and how it operates/controlled. supposedly they checked all the fluids and everything was normal.
 

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CVT has a torque converter just like a conventional AT. The TQ operates on fluid pressure based on throttle position, speed and gear. The more fluid pressure the harder it locks up. If something interrupts the pressure be it electronic bug or mechanical thing the TQ could act as if it were slipping.

One thing to keep in mind is that dealers can and do make mistakes especially when doing things they rarely if ever do like say install a new CVT. This could easily just be a bad connection or sensor some place and it doesn't need to be on the CVT it could be an engine sensor causing the ECU to think that it needs to reduce TQ pressure in the CVT and bingo you get an odd behaving CVT.

As for running your car hard there's running a car hard and theirs running a car in its power band. Most people don't tow trailers but one thing you learn very quickly when you tow trailers - is how to drive the car in its power band and trust me its never pedal mashed down doing 5000+ rpm. Unless your driving a car built in such a way it doesn't even produce its peak power till your way up there in the RPM's. Subaru doesn't make any vehicle like that. Honda had the S2000 which was like that.
 

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That was some pretty hard driving but I would think it would still give you a linear build. It's possible that it's dropping to a different ratio. When I use the flappy paddles it behaves in a very similar manner.

Try this next chance you get. Put the shifter in M and use the paddles. Punch it like normal and shift at 5000rpm. See if it gives the same sag prior to shifting. If it doesn't then my guess is that the CVT in D is just compensating for being driven hard.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
CVT has a torque converter just like a conventional AT. The TQ operates on fluid pressure based on throttle position, speed and gear. The more fluid pressure the harder it locks up. If something interrupts the pressure be it electronic bug or mechanical thing the TQ could act as if it were slipping.

One thing to keep in mind is that dealers can and do make mistakes especially when doing things they rarely if ever do like say install a new CVT. This could easily just be a bad connection or sensor some place and it doesn't need to be on the CVT it could be an engine sensor causing the ECU to think that it needs to reduce TQ pressure in the CVT and bingo you get an odd behaving CVT.

As for running your car hard there's running a car hard and theirs running a car in its power band. Most people don't tow trailers but one thing you learn very quickly when you tow trailers - is how to drive the car in its power band and trust me its never pedal mashed down doing 5000+ rpm. Unless your driving a car built in such a way it doesn't even produce its peak power till your way up there in the RPM's. Subaru doesn't make any vehicle like that. Honda had the S2000 which was like that.
yeah good point, and i wonder if the dealer just doesn't feel like owning up to it. either way we are going to keep pressing them.

re: running the car hard - make no mistake my wife is not running the car to the ground. she is driving it normally. and the few times i drove it where it behaved this way, i wasn't full throttle either. there's a point in the throttle position when the cvt will ratchet up to increase rpm and get higher in the power band - this is when it occurs. we have never towed anything either.

i just wanted to note that focusing on the higher rpms really seems like barking up the wrong tree. it's not like she's racing from stop light to stop light. i think it's a pretty normal thing to want to get on the highway and get up to speed quickly/safely. even the service manager (talking down to us like i had no idea about cars) mentioned the CVT typically spends more time in the higher rpms than standard auto trans - this would seem like by design to me, i have an impreza that makes similar power and it actually feels slower/less torquey than the outback simply because of the manual transmission and inability to take advantage of variable ratio.
 

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sorry i'm going to have to disagree about the whole rpm and engine revving thing. the whole point of fitting a CVT onto a car is to get the maximum efficiency for every situation. you can dynamically pick whatever gear ratio you want for the driving condition. if i'm cruising, then it should sit at a low rpm for fuel economy and comfort. if i'm accelerating, i don't want it to have to rev through a set of fixed ratio gears to extract power out of the engine, i want to get the engine in it's powerband and leave it there (and the advantage with a CVT is that it can make a slow, heavy car like the outback feel much more powerful and faster than if it were fitted with a standard auto or manual). there is NOTHING wrong with driving a car and revving the engine 'high'. and if there was with this particular car, then how can i get my money back cause that's f'ing ridiculous.

that being said, its not like we put it in manual mode and constant shift gears up/down putting stress on the trans. she's just driving it normal, in automatic mode, and letting the engine/trans do whatever it wants based on whatever throttle she is giving it. if you're telling me that the car isn't smart enough to not break itself based purely on throttle input then maybe subaru should rethink it's engineering.
All I was saying is that maybe the fact that you have to get the car up to 5k RPM to get it to accelerate satisfactorily may be indicative of an issue with your vehicle. As a bit of a sideways example to illustrate my point: If you have four flat tires and you go to drive on the freeway, (handling problems aside) it's going to take a lot more (unnecessary) work from your car to get the same acceleration. I'm obviously not saying it is your tires, but possibly something else that is making your car work unnecessarily hard to begin with.

Then again, it could just be how you drive and etc. so I'm not going to hammer that one anymore if you feel it is behaving normally.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
That was some pretty hard driving but I would think it would still give you a linear build. It's possible that it's dropping to a different ratio. When I use the flappy paddles it behaves in a very similar manner.

Try this next chance you get. Put the shifter in M and use the paddles. Punch it like normal and shift at 5000rpm. See if it gives the same sag prior to shifting. If it doesn't then my guess is that the CVT in D is just compensating for being driven hard.
"pretty hard driving" = accelerating up to 65mph? have any of you ever driven in New Jersey?

re: manual vs. auto mode - the problem is the same. i had a similar thought as you but it makes no difference. also, the rpms dropping isn't really what is bothering us, it's the car violently shuddering that has me/my wife concerned. even if i thought that it was just some quirk of the cvt transmission, it shouldn't make the entire car shudder.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
i should also note that the issue started around 17k miles. the car wasnt' driven any differently and always behaved the same re: rpms.
 

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Broken rear diff or axle. There was a poster over a year back who found out his new OB was only Front wheel drive. Rear diff was broken and non functional. Wasn't till he took video of him trying to climb his driveway with a little dusting of snow that all the Subaru owners pointed out within minutes that something was up and his car was not operating with AWD.

In your case it could be a faulty axle CV joint or even something wrong with the diff that could cause this.
 

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Broken rear diff or axle. There was a poster over a year back who found out his new OB was only Front wheel drive. Rear diff was broken and non functional. Wasn't till he took video of him trying to climb his driveway with a little dusting of snow that all the Subaru owners pointed out within minutes that something was up and his car was not operating with AWD.

In your case it could be a faulty axle CV joint or even something wrong with the diff that could cause this.
wow interesting. now how to get the dealer to take a look at that? but it does make sense.

thanks for the input
 

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I recall he showed the video to someone at Subaru and they told the dealer for sure the car was not correct and the dealer got on it. Some of the worst efforts to fix an issue is getting the dealer to look at parts that almost never ever fail which case a brand new car the CV joints and diff's are the last thing a dealer will ever think of as having an issue. Given generally those parts are never an issue except that one random case where the part just wasn't right from the start.
 

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Absolutely HATE Toyota dealers given they all have the attitude their cars do not break. My all time worst experience trying to get a car fixed was with Toyota. Yes some times parts simply aren't made right and stuff happens. Getting a dealer to look at them in some cases is like pulling teeth.
 
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