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1999 Subaru Legacy 2.5L AT 4WD
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Discussion Starter #1
Just found out I need a new transmission for my car. :-( -99 Outback Legacy 2.5 with only 158k miles!

I am located in Asheville, NC and luckily there are lot of Subarus around. I am looking for a reliable source around here for a used transmission that comes with warranty of some sort. I don't wanna end up pouring tons of money into a new tranny only to find out few months later it has issues.

Any expert tips for a gal who needs a transmission please?

Thanks in advance.
 

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plenty of rust buckets from elsewhere land in Asheville area, or ones with terminal EJ25D head gaskets to be had.

just round one up from a "legacy outback" of 1996-99 just like yours,...one that you can walk up to (so you don't have to take someones word that it is a "legacy outback" (these had mechanical odometers in them too, so you can just look in and see what its got).

or buy a whole parts car with one running. (like round up the whole thing for $500, then you got a parts car for all the little things).


what you don't want: any legacy gt, or any plain 2.2 legacy. or impreza outback sport, or forester.
(all may and do have different gear ratios).
 

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1999 Subaru Legacy 2.5L AT 4WD
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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Eagleye!

This may be a silly question but here goes anywways: are the headgaskets part of the transmission? I am asking because mine were redone recently and would be nice to retain those instead of gambling on a tranny that may need headgasket work soon. My timing belt was also done fairly recently, 30k miles ago.
 

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'03 outback limited, '01 Outback Limited, '01 Legacy L wagon, '96 Legacy Brighton wagon
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Just found out I need a new transmission for my car. :-( -99 Outback Legacy 2.5 with only 158k miles!
What exactly has gone wrong with your transmission? I ask only because i just bought an '03 OB dirt cheap because the owner thought that the transmission was shot, when all it needed was to be refilled with the right amount of fluid.

And no, the head gaskets are not part of the transmission - they are part of the engine.
 

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1999 Subaru Legacy 2.5L AT 4WD
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Discussion Starter #5
Great, that's good to know about the gaskets!

My car was driven with the wrong sized tires (too small) by the previous owner for too long which caused damage to the transmission/transaxle front differential system. I had 3 different mechanics look at it to confirm.

It makes a loud whining noise on acceleration coming from the transmission. Unless there is another way to fix this it will need a new transmission. I could just keep driving it until it lasts with the noise I guess.. but it would not be worth much if the transmission dies completely. Plus I need a reliable working car.
 

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Great, that's good to know about the gaskets!

My car was driven with the wrong sized tires (too small) by the previous owner for too long which caused damage to the transmission/transaxle front differential system. I had 3 different mechanics look at it to confirm.

It makes a loud whining noise on acceleration coming from the transmission. Unless there is another way to fix this it will need a new transmission. I could just keep driving it until it lasts with the noise I guess.. but it would not be worth much if the transmission dies completely. Plus I need a reliable working car.
my guess is they mean that there was more then one size tire on the car, or you will ruin the trans.

and everyone knows "subarus need all the same"

when you make slow figure 8 turns in a open parking lot or yard, do you get or hear any odd grabbing/ grinding?
(this is "torque bind",...caused by tires of different sizes). with that: some fix and replace the part inside it as the rest of the trans may still be OK.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks, I will look into this. It would be fantastic if I didn't need a new transmission after all, considering I just bought this car 2 weeks ago.
 

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Try also inserting a fuse to turn off the drive to the rear. Someone who knows the cars better than I can correct me if I am wrong, but it is most likely the center differential that has gone bad. Where that fuse is supposed to go is in your owners manual, and if you don't still have that, someone else here can tell you where to locate it and what size fuse to insert.

I ran my '96 for 60,000 miles with that fuse in place.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
What exactly has gone wrong with your transmission? I ask only because i just bought an '03 OB dirt cheap because the owner thought that the transmission was shot, when all it needed was to be refilled with the right amount of fluid.

And no, the head gaskets are not part of the transmission - they are part of the engine.
Don't the oil change places usually check your transmission fluid and differential level too when you get a regular oil change? :nerd:
 

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They will usually check the transmission fluid on a car with the dipstick automatics. A mechanical gearbox type or the differential would require that they take out bolt plugs. Also they will not have a manufacturer specific fluid.
 

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Don't the oil change places usually check your transmission fluid and differential level too when you get a regular oil change? :nerd:

I've never seen them do that along with an engine oil change, unless requested by the car owner and then specified in the work order - and 90% of the usual quickie oil change place jockeys wouldn't have a clue what to look for.

There should be a private Subaru specialist somewhere near you that can check the transmission, front differential, and rear differential fluids for you. Get at least the transmission fluid checked and the fuse inserted first before going all out for another transmission. The fluid should be check for the amount as shown on the dip stick ( hot, with the transmission selector lever put through each gear position, and placed in Park while the dip stick is pulled) and to see if it is still the nice dark reddish color. If it has started to turn brownish red, or very brown, and has a stinky burnt smell to it, the transmission will need to have the oil drained and changed.

Most advice I see on this forum is to NOT let them do a power-flushing of the oil, as it can cause particles that are securely lodged in a safe place to get loose and then get into critical parts. I just went through changing the oil in my '03 ( it was only half-full, and starting to burn) by pulling the plug in the transmission pan, pulling the lines off at the bottom of the cooler ( the lower few inches of your radiator is the transmission cooler) to get out what oil I could there, then put in a new cheapo transmission filter (Duralast from Auto Zone, the refilled the transmission to the correct level, ran it for a few minutes around the shop complex, and am about to drain and refill again a couple more times (you supposedly can only drain out about half the oil by removing the drain plug) to dilute out the old oil as much as possible. i expect to use up maybe 5-6 gallons of oil and another filter before I am satisfied that I got out as much of the bad oil as possible.

I would expect also that since you are in Asheville, there should be plenty of competent private shops that can do it as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for this tip Richard! Maybe the Subaru dealership can do it.. I will check tomorrow. Wonder how much changing the transmission fluid can cost at a mechanic?
 

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As only a guess, probably a 2-3 hundred for a multiple drain & fill operation. The oil alone is running me $100+, the filters about $70, but of course, my labor is "free"! :)
 

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Thanks for this tip Richard! Maybe the Subaru dealership can do it.. I will check tomorrow. Wonder how much changing the transmission fluid can cost at a mechanic?
call around to a couple transmission shops and ask how much for a simple fluid change,...they might use one of their sucking machines and get 100% out in one easy go. NO NEED for them to sell you a full rebuild. (or a replacment).

experienced mechanics do it too. (grabbing off a couple cooler lines and let the car drain and fill itself.) and I say experienced as they have figured out how to do it safely.

the fluid is not expensive its just plain old stuff. (about 2 gallons of it total,...problem is typical drains of the pan only get half the load as the pump holds the rest,...making for simple DIY repeat drain and fills expensive as you got to repeat, repeat, repeat).
 

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Just drained the oil in my front differential (170k miles), and it is burnt as well, so I would advise that if an oil change in the transmission ( and installing the fuse) cures your noise issue, go and immediately have both the front and rear differential oils changed.
 

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And let us know how you make out on this - alway good to have more info for others to look at if they have the same problem,
 

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I don't have a specific source around Asheville, but car-part.com is a good "junkyard search engine". Most yards will offer a 30-day warranty with stuff they pull.

Be careful about the transmission itself. 99 would be a "Phase 2" transmission (versus the Phase 1 of the 96-98 years). Your gear ratio will also need to match the rear differential.

Ideally, you'll want to stick to "direct replacement" transmissions (same/close year, same model) as the Outbacks got a better version compared to the Impreza or Forester.

Last effort would be a JDM importer. IIRC, there's a few good ones around the Roanoke, VA area. You can get some low-mile, clean units for very cheap (as most people don't want the autos that come with the JDM turbo motors).

If all else fails, the front differential is rebuildable. But the cost would be equal or higher than a transmission swap.
 

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I have had lots of 1996-1999 Outbacks. I noticed some 1998 Outbacks have an external filters on the transmission and some don't.
I was replacing a transmission in my buddy's 1998 and his car had external filter and mine didn't. So instead of using the 1998 transmission that didn't have the external filter, I used a transmission out of a 2001 Outback and put it into the 1998 (this one had the filter).
The car is still working great to this day, did this about 6yrs ago.

I just never knew if the 2 transmissions were interchangeable (1998 without filter vs 1998 with filter)
Does anyone know?

P.S. So in 1999 (if it has the filter)you can use a 2000-2002 Outback transmission as well (possibly 2003)
 

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Also I've swapped transmissions from 1999-2002 Foresters, 2000-2003 Legacy GT, and 1998-2002 Outbacks, they have the same ratio 4.44.
All these transmissions are interchangeable. (transmission numbers are all different but never had a problem when interchanging them)
 
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