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2011 Outback 2.5L
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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.
I agree entirely with this response. My 2011 OB has 160K miles on it now, but at 120K I started having intermittent "gear ratio" problems. The engine RPM would run up as though I had manually shifted to a lower ratio in the CVT. The dealer thought valve body, but the problem came back. After several tries at a fix, they found an intermittent wire connection; replaced it and all good since then. And the dealer did not charge me full price for the valve body because that wasn't the problem.
A humming noise is gear whine or bearing noise. I'd look at differentials or CV joints.
 

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4th & 5th 2.5L Outbacks: new '19 & '14 with 75k. Traded '[email protected] yr 112k, '[email protected] 155k, '[email protected] 155k
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84 Posts
Get a SECOND opinion. I've had a dealer service dept tell me I wouldn't pass inspection that an independent mechanic who did not DO inspections told me there was no problem and where i took it for inspection it passed for that year and two more years!!! I think this could be just a dealer ripping you off with unnecessary work! Have an independent mechanic check it out ASAP! There are mechanics who can REPAIR transmissions for a lot less than a new tranny IF there is a problem.
 

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2021 MGM Outback 2.5i Premium with Tungsten Grey seats
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@jalbertin you're a bit late, read further on in the thread than the first post and you'll find that the OP has already agreed to the repair at the dealer...
 

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2013 Outback 2.5i Ltd CVT, 06 Legacy GT because #racecar :)
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75 Posts
I will add my two cents. My gf has a 2013 too. 68k. I have asked the dealer to change the fluid twice now. They said no that her cvt has a life time warranty and they wont change the fluid. They just inspect the amout of fluid. So I am thinking of trading or selling hers while it still runs like new if Subaru has this issue still going on.
omg, that is so wrong, you need a better dealer, the cvt fluid DOES need to be replaced once in a while, I know a couple of really trustworthy techs and they have totally done it and it's not hard just temperature sensitive. The lifetime fluid/ 100k warranty does not mean what you/they think it means. smh
 

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66 Posts
let me add my 2 cents about dealerships: I always had manual Hondas until I decided I was too old for shifting my old and bought a 1996 Honda Accord. At 88k, it started shifting rough (that car was babied, never abused, all fluids changed on schedule) after a week, it went into limp mode, I think I only had 1st gear and 2nd gear, which made pulling over from the highway a nice butt clenching experience. Had it towed to the dealer, was told torque converter exploded and whole transmission will need to be replaced with a Honda reman one. I said ok and my extended insurance paid the 3 or 4K needed at the time, waited 2 weeks and had to drive a 90s Dodge Neon as that's all the extended warranty would cover. Drove one more year with no issues,then bam, same thing happened, limp mode and not shifting. ATF was nice and bright. I decided to drive home and found out that they reused the shift solenoids on the new reman transmission. How did I know? they were grimey compared to the rest of the transmission casing. Did some painful web search (remember that was late 90s) but finally decided it was the shift solenoids. Bought 2 news for 60 bucks each, pop them in place. Drove the car until 180k miles when it broke a piston rod. You would think the dealership would know better about their transmission but they did not.
 

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2020 Onyx
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10,336 Posts
The missing element that @maywoo hasn't been told (or so I missed it) is that dealerships are not owned and operated by Subaru. They are completely separate organizations who are seeking to maximize profit from both sales and service of Subaru vehicles.

The service advisors are on commission. Think about that. They are sales guys, not mechanics. They make the sale, and then a mechanic has to do whatever. The ideal situation is an independent shop that specializes in Subarus, or at least has extensive experience with Subarus, once they are out of warranty.

Dealerships are often owned and operated by "dealership groups" it's a large financial group that tries to use profit maximizing strategies across numerous dealerships in an area that they own. Management gets bonuses for financial performance - it's a machine. I don't begrudge anyone from making legitimate profit on their goods and services, but large dealership groups are well known to use deceptive tactics to squeeze customers to have unnecessary things performed because it will maximize profits.

The one benefit of the dealership is that Subaru is covering part of the repair as a good-will gesture. Subaru of America has no real control over whether or not the dealership made a correct diagnosis or not, nor do they have control over how well the repair is performed.

It's just an unfortunate fact that the dealership structure puts a layer between the customer and the brand, and some dealers are great and some not so great. There are laws that prevent car brands from directly owning and operating dealerships. Sounds insane but that's reality.
 

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The missing element that @maywoo hasn't been told (or so I missed it) is that dealerships are not owned and operated by Subaru. They are completely separate organizations who are seeking to maximize profit from both sales and service of Subaru vehicles.

The service advisors are on commission. Think about that. They are sales guys, not mechanics. They make the sale, and then a mechanic has to do whatever. The ideal situation is an independent shop that specializes in Subarus, or at least has extensive experience with Subarus, once they are out of warranty.

Dealerships are often owned and operated by "dealership groups" it's a large financial group that tries to use profit maximizing strategies across numerous dealerships in an area that they own. Management gets bonuses for financial performance - it's a machine. I don't begrudge anyone from making legitimate profit on their goods and services, but large dealership groups are well known to use deceptive tactics to squeeze customers to have unnecessary things performed because it will maximize profits.

The one benefit of the dealership is that Subaru is covering part of the repair as a good-will gesture. Subaru of America has no real control over whether or not the dealership made a correct diagnosis or not, nor do they have control over how well the repair is performed.

It's just an unfortunate fact that the dealership structure puts a layer between the customer and the brand, and some dealers are great and some not so great. There are laws that prevent car brands from directly owning and operating dealerships. Sounds insane but that's reality.
This is in a nutshell all you need to know about dealerships. If you happen to have a good one that represents the Subaru brand well in your area, you are in luck. My local dealership used to be that way until they were absorbed by a giant conglomerate that sells like 15 different brands of cars. Then it all went downhill. Before I could walk to the service desk and order a part for my old Subaru, but recently when I ask for a part, the barely out of high school kid looks at me like I was speaking alien. Cost reduction drove all the good technicians and service people away.
 

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It is difficult for me to understand why the original poster believes the transmission is bad based on one shop? As others have said, get a second or third opinion. Working in the medical field, I would always recommend multiple opinions before making a decision that is important.
 

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2013 Outback 2.5i Convenience
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I will add my two cents. My gf has a 2013 too. 68k. I have asked the dealer to change the fluid twice now. They said no that her cvt has a life time warranty and they wont change the fluid. They just inspect the amout of fluid. So I am thinking of trading or selling hers while it still runs like new if Subaru has this issue still going on.
Easy, go elsewhere. I had mine done by 55k, no talking out of it and in fact they recommend it done every 60k or so. They say their track record of cvt replacement is good (low) not counting special cases like a diy mistake or a speedylube screwup.
Seems like if they can grenade your cvt under some dumb sentence taken out of context, then they see it as a sale (either new part or car...).
 

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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
There are many high quality car manufactures out there today. You don't need to stick with subaru.
 

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I haven't read all of the replies but hope someone suggested going to a regular repair shop instead of a Subaru dealership. The dealership will always be much higher priced for the same job as an independent. And if this dealership does all your service work but won't work with you on the price of the repair then it's time to find another dealership anyway.
 

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01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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@joeyl Honda's automatic is actually an automatic shift manual transmission and unless a single gear is slipping it's almost ALWAYS the solenoids. Sometimes a cracked wire in the harness or dirty connection is the problem. I've seen bad grounding cause shift issues as well. Honda used the same transmission design in all their "automatics" for a lot of years.

I will add my two cents. My gf has a 2013 too. 68k. I have asked the dealer to change the fluid twice now. They said no that her cvt has a life time warranty and they wont change the fluid. They just inspect the amout of fluid. So I am thinking of trading or selling hers while it still runs like new if Subaru has this issue still going on.
I have found that at about 50k miles the fluid is breaking down and circulating with it the minute metal particulates that are normal from the first few thousand miles of use. Replacing the fluid takes about 30 minutes. Take longer to get the trans up to temp to verify the fluid level than it does to drain it and put in the initial refill amount.
 

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@joeyl Honda's automatic is actually an automatic shift manual transmission and unless a single gear is slipping it's almost ALWAYS the solenoids. Sometimes a cracked wire in the harness or dirty connection is the problem. I've seen bad grounding cause shift issues as well. Honda used the same transmission design in all their "automatics" for a lot of years.
yeah I was young and naive back then, and it was my first automatic. My point was that the dealer got some free warranty money for a job they did not have to perform. Since I had an extended warranty I did not complain much about the bill and they went for it. This broke my confidence in the brand at the time, though that should have been directed to the lack of knowledge or integrity from the Honda dealership, not Honda itself. After that, my wife bought a Nissan and I started buying Subarus
 

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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.
Yup, I'd definitely think about the wheel bearings first. There's not a real minimum for mileage on wheel bearings because my 2012 had 150k miles when they started humming (changed them at 180k when I took over maintenance of the car) and had another 2012 Outback with 70k miles have the same hum, and it's the wheel bearings. The car will drive just fine but you'll hear this hum that gets a little louder around 40 MPH and a little louder also at 60 MPH but you'll hear it throughout. Not as bad when driving interstate speeds but that might be road noise drowning it out. Got my bearings replaced and there's no more hum.
 
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