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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is the 4th Subaru I've owned but unfortunately it will likely be the last. I recently brought my Subaru to my local dealer because I got a letter in the mail about needing to replace the airbags due to a recall. Since it was in the shop, I also asked them to check out a humming noise that the engine was making. While the engine had been making the noise for a while, it hadn't really bothered me because I wasn't driving long distances due to Covid. However, in the last month I'd driven from California to Colorado and back and when you're in the car for 15+ hours, small noises become much more noticeable and bothersome.

Well, long story short, the dealer told me my transmission was done for and needed to be replaced. They also said that Subaru had issued a 100k / 10 year warranty on their transmissions and they thought that Subaru might cover it since I was over 100k by very little AND I did bring the car in for a general checkup / inspection 4 months earlier at 99k miles. When I brought it in then, they only said that I needed to replace the battery, one of the tail lights, air filters, and brake pads which I did. They did not mention nor did they check the transmission and I just didn't think to ask about the humming noise then because I hadn't been driving long distances and we were still in the midst of the pandemic.

Subaru said they would cover $5k of the cost to replace the transmission but of course, it will cost a lot more than $5k! I am incredibly disappointed because I expected the car to last longer than 104k miles! I've been a loyal Subaru customer for several decades but I now feel like I can no longer trust them be dependable
 

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2021 MGM Outback 2.5i Premium with Tungsten Grey seats
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Yup, there are many stories here of people that had similar issues. Then there are also many stories of people who got WAY more than the 104k miles out of theirs.

AND I did bring the car in for a general checkup / inspection 4 months earlier at 99k miles
I don't think this means anything to Subaru corporate. Based on what you went on to explain, this sounds like it was a very lucrative sales opportunity for the service department.
 

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Let me get this straight, you continue to drive a car with a noise it's not supposed to make and it's the manufacturers fault that something failed?
That is no different than never changing the oil and being mad at Subaru the motor failed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@originaltwotone I change the oil regularly and brought it in to be inspected 4 months ago when it had 99k miles (prior to that, it was serviced at all the recommended intervals) - I performed all the recommended maintenance (new battery, brake pads etc) . If the mechanics did not mention that my transmission was about to fail then, why should I have expected it to fail? As I said before, I was not driving very much during the pandemic so I didn't really notice the noise. It wasn't until I took a long road trip that it became noticeable to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
@hallux I am disappointed in Subaru corporate because I don't expect a transmission to last only 104k miles. There were enough issues with this particular transmission that they extended the warranty to 100k miles (and replaced many that failed so I credit them for that). BUT given that I brought my car in to be inspected at 99k while it was still under warranty and that they didn't check the transmission, I don't think it's unreasonable for me to be disappointed and most importantly to feel like I can't trust this car to be safe and dependable in places I previously expected for a Subaru (i.e. in the mountains and on camping trips where cell reception is spotty).
 

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Have you raised an incident with SOA or did the dealer do this?

As this is a known problem If you push SOA a little harder they may come to the party and offer more.

Other members have had work done at no cost outside the 100,000 mile limit and you may also be able to if you negotiate with your dealer and SOA correctly.

Seagrass
 

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Even if it's to no avail as @seagrass has suggested, contact SOA directly if you haven't already and let them know about your history with the brand and the other things you mentioned above, and your disappointment. Your voice should be heard. Subaru might listen.

Subaru of America 1 (800) 782-2783
 

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BUT given that I brought my car in to be inspected at 99k while it was still under warranty and that they didn't check the transmission,
Did you specifically ask for that to be checked?
 

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2013 Outback 2.5i Convenience
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Well, long story short, the dealer told me my transmission was done for and needed to be replaced. They also said that Subaru had issued a 100k / 10 year warranty on their transmissions and they thought that Subaru might cover it since I was over 100k by very little AND I did bring the car in for a general checkup / inspection 4 months earlier at 99k miles. When I brought it in then, they only said that I needed to replace the battery, one of the tail lights, air filters, and brake pads which I did. They did not mention nor did they check the transmission and I just didn't think to ask about the humming noise then because I hadn't been driving long distances and we were still in the midst of the pandemic.
If you didn't ask for the CVT to be looked at, there is little reason for them to look at it. I assume you knew about the warranty coming to an end, and why it went in? It's what I did, to cover my ass/peace of mind. Dealer likely sees easy money, they'll super low-ball your car as a trade-in to flip it and they were likely hoping you'd get another one from the showroom. As Seagrass said, call SOA and I would bet they'll do you good. Failure just over the warranty period is very bad publicity.

Question: Have you had the CVT fluid and differential fluids changed?
 

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01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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I'm not buying it. That CVT is not bad at 104k miles. And it is not common for a CVT to fail. Valve body yes, CVT pulleys and belt/chain, no. The dealers were changing out CVT units as a whole early on when issues first arose and the units sent back to Subaru for "autopsy". Subaru found that the pulleys and belts/chains were in great shape and that the issue was the valve body which allowed for air to get trapped and affect flow and pressure, along with premature failure of solenoids, mainly the TCC solenoid. All this was fixed with a new design valve body and the information was forwarded to the dealers to STOP replacing CVTs and only deal with the valve body or wiring harness.

What model do you have? Is it the TR580 or TR690 CVT?

The 690 was put behind turbo engines and has withstood heavy torque output. Subaru is the only company that has built a CVT to withstand high torque. The 580 is on the non-turbo base systems and has also proved longevity for the pulley system.

The dealer is FOS.

Another thing, I've not heard a CVT ever "hum" or anything near it. If the belt/chain has worn the pulleys, due to shite fluid in the CVT or a leak that was ignored, possibly a valve body issue that was ignored, it would make a loud grinding sound, as in metal to metal, the gear ratios would be all F'd up, and the AT Temp light would be flashing or on along with the other VDC related system lights. It would set ratio codes for the CVT and faults due to management of the VDC system as a whole due to a CVT fault.

Your humming is coming from somewhere else and I suggest you find an indie shop that has some integrity to check it.

Humming noise is wheel bearing, differential if the fluid was never replaced and it got too hot and maybe brakes. And on the brakes, I've not seen an Outback, Legacy, Forester, or Impreza of this gen type that needed brake work prior to 125k miles, and that is when they are down to about 3 mm friction or less left on the pad. If you drive a lot of highway and not stop and go city then the car should have went 150k or so. I think they BS'd you on the brake work as well.

The percentage of failed CVTs, as far as I have seen, is nil. I see a lot of Subies with CVTs, hundreds a year, and all of them that had CVT issues with exception to 2 have been valve body issues. The other two was a harness problem and then a torque converter issue that was due to driving the car with a bad VB and long overdue fluid replacement; it was at about 130k miles. After the latter was repaired with a new VB and torque converter the CVT returned to normal operation without issues. I believe a high majority of the CVT replacements are BS. My shop has never changed one.

I have a 2011 Outback with a TR690 that recently flipped 200k miles. It has the original CVT that has had it's VB changed once. No issues with it at all. I have several customers with Outbacks with both CVT types and are they over 150k and problem free.

Stop blaming Subaru and put it where it's deserved - the dealership service departments that use fear to sell unnecessary repairs.

If you want a car with a bad CVT design buy a Ford or Nissan.
 

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01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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If you didn't ask for the CVT to be looked at, there is little reason for them to look at it. I assume you knew about the warranty coming to an end, and why it went in? It's what I did, to cover my ass/peace of mind. Dealer likely sees easy money, they'll super low-ball your car as a trade-in to flip it and they were likely hoping you'd get another one from the showroom. As Seagrass said, call SOA and I would bet they'll do you good. Failure just over the warranty period is very bad publicity.

Question: Have you had the CVT fluid and differential fluids changed?
The fluid for the CVT is to be "checked" every 30k miles per the "Normal" maintenance schedule. If the fluid is found to be in need of replacement, it's to be replaced. So if the OP has been going to the dealer for services, they were supposed to be following the schedule and checking the fluid. At 99k miles it should have been checked at least 3 times.

Also, in checking things that are on the maintenance schedule, a test drive is needed to feel out the car, listen for noises and check shift patterns. That's if they are doing correctly. Otherwise, they are just checking things off on the list because they don't want to spend the time to do things right.
 

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The fluid for the CVT is to be "checked" every 30k miles per the "Normal" maintenance schedule. If the fluid is found to be in need of replacement, it's to be replaced. So if the OP has been going to the dealer for services, they were supposed to be following the schedule and checking the fluid. At 99k miles it should have been checked at least 3 times.

Also, in checking things that are on the maintenance schedule, a test drive is needed to feel out the car, listen for noises and check shift patterns. That's if they are doing correctly. Otherwise, they are just checking things off on the list because they don't want to spend the time to do things right.
When mine was new and I had a $500 cash card at the dealership, I used it for service. In all the times, the test drive may have been from the parking lot to the hoist. And specifically on checking the trans/diffs, they look for an oil leak and if it is clean, then they assume the factory filled it properly. I did once specified I wanted the level checked and they may have done it, maybe not.

You're bang on: if things are done correctly...
 

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Any warning lights on, or did dealer list any trouble codes? If not, check the list of other potential "hum noise" makers as cardoc suggested. Wheel bearings are known for going out at that mileage. I had to do both rears at 100k , last summer in Cedar City, on way to Colorado. GF loaded the car with around 1500 lbs of vacation stuff and drove 85mph from SoCal on a hot day ( 117F in St George) and burned them up lol! Your long trip may have taken out your bearings as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
@hallux @mjohnson I did not ask them to specifically check the transmission because as I said before, I do not expect transmissions to die at 100k miles. I did not know about the extended warranty. I'm not a mechanic - that's why I bring my car in at the recommended intervals. Given the high number of failures for these transmissions (which is why I assume Subaru extended the warranty), it seems that Subaru should have made it standard procedure for the transmission to be checked if I brought it in before 100k. But it wasn't standard procedure (so I'm not blaming the dealer). I'm just disappointed because this could have ended badly. It's a safety issue. I just did a long road trip from California to Colorado and was frequently on roads that were very remote and where I had no cell reception. If my car had failed then, I would have been stranded with no way to let anyone know where I was and no way to get out.

@seagrass @SilverOnyx Thanks for the suggestion - My dealer made the initial contact. They also suggested that I contact Subaru directly to try again which I did (no luck).
 

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Another issue which Cardoc didn't mention concerning CVT problems was the torque converter. Ours (in our 2011 OB) failed at 98,000 miles and was replaced under the extended warrant program for the CVT. There was no humming sound to be heard prior to the failure, just the symptom of the engine nearly dying when moving the gear selector from reverse to drive, or when slowing to a stop. As was mentioned, a humming noise is not usual for the CVT - - wheel bearings are a more common culprit, and a differential can also produce that noise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
@Lowobsti Thanks for the suggestion. There were no warning lights. I did ask them to check the wheel bearings (even though I have no idea what wheel bearings are) since a friend said that could be the issue (he also found it surprising that the transmission would fail so early). They said it wasn't the wheel bearings :(

@Bassman I didn't ask them to check the torque converter. I'm not sure what that is either! TBH, I expect the mechanics at a dealer to know more than me since they repair subarus all day everyday. They were also surprised that Subaru wouldn't cover the transmission
 

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@maywoo OK. Can you record the noise you hear and post it on here, it may be recognized.
My rear passenger wheel bearing went fairly early, I confirmed it by having my wife drive the car while I was in the hatch/trunk. Put your ear right on the carpet beside the wheel well, compare the noise with the other side. If either one is bad, you will hear a roar noise, might be louder with speed. This is one thing you can easily try.

You said no codes, I also assume the instrument cluster did not light up. So just how did these guys determine the cvt is shot? You didn't mention the car stalling on you as you slow to a stop, so it isn't the torque converter. Sounds like you have power, so oil pressure is good and suggests the valve body is clear. The only other thing is to drain the oil and check for metal fragments. This is a $300 service (the oil drain/fill), so they won't just do it unless it is justified.
 

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Did you specifically ask for that to be checked?
You don't need to. I had this really cool crystal ball on my box.
I just drove the car in and then rubbed the ball, told me everything that was wrong and any failures that were coming in the next 5k.

There was a guy in the bay next to me that had a better one, it could go out 10k miles.
 

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You keep saying it's Subaru. It's not Subaru, it's the dealership.

Here's my thinking based on my experience with the idiots here at the Austin Subaru dealership.

They have a car coming in post 100k miles. No lights, no complaint of issues other than a humming noise. The hunt is on. They will assume the owner is stupid and is not educated in things concerning their car. They tell you the CVT is bad and needs replacement knowing that it's a 50/50 chance SOA will give assistance. Whether they do or not is moot because if you bite, they get the repair and the profits from it, the tech makes a good paycheck. If you don't bite maybe you trade it in for a newer model and they have another sale. It's all about getting the money from you one way or another. The dealership, not Subaru.

And if you have the CVT replaced, the humming noise will still be there and they will then locate it, maybe after you've complained enough, and then sell you on another repair. The one they should have done in the first place.

They also know that in today's social media market that the owner will most likely look up the issue on Google, find their way to various sites like this one where CVT issues have come up which may verify what they told you. You'll see posts about CVT issues and come to a conclusion that the CVT is bad and needs replacement. You looked, found and complained on this forum. The dealer put it in your head that the CVT is bad and you are following through that Subaru made a shite product. Not so. Again, the people at the dealership are running the scene, not Subaru.

Subaru is the original designer of a CVT. They build it, test it, put it in production. Issues come up, they run testing and correct the issue. They inform the dealerships of the corrective action to take. When the dealer does something other than what Subaru tells them, that's not Subaru's problem. That's the idiots at the dealership.

Subaru also set up specific protocol for warranty claims and adjustments. They didn't have to issue a warranty extension, but they did. They did this because if the CVT was going to have an issue, a high percentage of them had it prior to 90k miles.

I will tell you again, the dealership is pulling strings and you are the puppet. They are FOS. CVTs do not make humming noises. The torque converter will make the car jerky. If there was a belt or chain issue with the pulley assembly it will be a loud grinding noise accompanied with a MIL and stored ratio codes. If the valve body has an issue, you will feel a slipping or surging when starting from a stop that is the lead in for a TCC solenoid failure and a lit up AT Temp light with all the others being on also.

FIND AN INDIE SHOP THAT KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING.
 
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