Subaru Outback Forums banner

1 - 5 of 5 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Greetings all.

I am new here and have read extensively through these threads in an attempt to diagnose the problem I'm having with my car.

I just bought a 1998 Legacy Outback with the 2.5L motor and automatic transmission.

From the beginning, I noticed a little bit of a whine, primarily when driving at freeway speed. It was very quiet and I presumed that it was "normal" for this car. Fast forward a couple of weeks and the sound is horrendous! It sounds like a jet plane, and at slower speeds (25-30mph), you can hear metallic grinding and so forth.

The sound is directly associated with road speed, not engine speed. Further, the sound diminished to almost inaudible when the car is placed in neutral.

Based on all of this, and from what I've read here, I have concluded that the front differential is shot. I've also read that I'd be better off replacing the entire transmission (with a used one) than trying to only repair or replace the differential. I have located a transmission at a salvage yard locally for $350. It reportedly has only 122K miles.

Here are my questions:

*Am I correct that it's the differential?

*Will the transmission that I've located come with the differential attached?

*Is there any way to confirm the mileage on the tranny?

*How do I confirm that the transmission is, indeed, from a 1998? I understand that the gear ratios are different on various model years. I'd hate to put in a transmission that will do damage to the center or rear differentials.

*How do I determine the number of hours that it should take for a shop to swap the transmission? In other words, when I ask for quotes, I'd like to have a general idea of what's reasonable based on the amount of time it should take to complete the job.

I realize that I'm asking a lot here. I'm just trying to get it all out at once rather than ask questions piecemeal.

There are a lot of very knowledgeable people on here and I thank you in advance for your assistance.

-Dan
 

·
Registered
OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
Joined
·
12,391 Posts
*Am I correct that it's the differential?
*** have you checked the front differential fluid level? ***

drain the fluid and look at the fluid carefully. into a clean pan, look for metallic pieces silvery in the fluid. or if it's really bad chunks may come out. any mechanic can do this, it's really easy, like changing engine oil but there's much less of it.

*Am I correct that it's the differential?
sounds like it could be. may want to rule out wheel bearings or cv axle. the fact that you just bought suggests it's something really bad that motivated the previous owner to sell it. so that is suggestive of something significant rather than minor.

*Will the transmission that I've located come with the differential attached?
yes - it's integrated into the transmission, they aren't generally separated or considered separate units.

*Is there any way to confirm the mileage on the tranny?
what does the seller say? buy from a seller who knows. read the odometer of the vehicle or check car fax for last recorded mileage. that sometimes helps if last mileage was really recent.

*How do I confirm that the transmission is, indeed, from a 1998?
yours is a 4.44 trans - all 96-99 automatic outbacks have that gear ratio. if the seller doesn't know, buy from someone that does. basically any 1996-1999 EJ25 transmission has 4.44 gear ratios - so Outback Wagons, Legacy SUS, Legacy GT, Legacy LSi (with EJ25), will have 4.44 ratio like your outback wagon.

*How do I determine the number of hours that it should take for a shop to swap the transmission? In other words, when I ask for quotes, I'd like to have a general idea of what's reasonable based on the amount of time it should take to complete the job.
varies wildly if you're supplying the transmission. i know a transmission shop that would only charge $150 to swap in your transmission - they were set up for that and it didn't take long at all to drop a trans and install another. but it won't be that simple for shop that doesn't install or drop numerous trans every day. $250 - $500 to install your transmission should be a rough estimate.

then again - you don't always want the cheapest...they may also be the least experienced, willing to cut the most corners, etc.

while the trans is out you should have an updated metal rear separator plate installed on the back of the engine. with the trans out it's right in front of your face and they are prone to leak. lots of information about that on the web.

i'd also install a new ATF filter (if you use a 98/99 trans - earlier trans don't have them) and new ATF hose and clamps if they're rusty.

you can use a 1996 or 1997 auto trans (as long as it's 4.44 gear ratio). it won't have the spin on filter on the side and the bellhousing bolt pattern differs from 1998 models (4 bolt and 8 bolt) - but they are completely interchangeable as the necessary holes will line up.
 

·
Premium Member
I has car.
Joined
·
4,621 Posts
I'm pretty sure 99 is when they started the 8 bolt trans.

I have several first Gen known good transmissons, one sitting in the donor car still that has 120k on it. Asking $150 picked up. Shipped is a different story.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
This is exactly the kind of information I was hoping for - except the part where you tell me I got ripped off ;) - but I kinda' had a sneaking suspicion. The thing that really bums me out, besides having to shell out a buncha' cash to replace the transmission, is that now I don't know whether to believe that he really replaced the head gasket.

The good thing is that it's in very nice condition and has clearly been well cared for. It also runs very nicely. Smooth, no noises, doesn't burn any oil, no check engine lights, seems pretty solid. I want to give the guy the benefit of the doubt and believe that he didn't know the differential was bad. Doubtful - especially considering he's a mechanic at a speedshop that specializes in Subarus. Yeah...I know. But why on earth would he bring me to his shop to sell me the car? If you're gonna' rip someone off, I would think that you'd do it in a neutral place - like a KFC parking lot or something :gasp:

To answer the question about the differential fluid. I have not drained or flushed it. I did check it and it was (is) full.

I do have one more question that I meant to ask earlier. This is my only vehicle, so I need to get it fixed ASAP. However, I don't want to rush into things and end up getting ripped off....AGAIN! So, how much time do I have to sort things out before the thing blows up? I commute about 80 miles per day. Do I run the risk of damaging the motor or anything else by continuing to drive it?

I'm in southern Ohio, so a trip to Knoxville is only about 5.5 hours each way. I like the idea of getting a transmission that is known to be good from someone with an excellent reputation. Shipping would probably be a headache though, wouldn't it?

I'm not necessarily looking for the cheapest...I'm just struggling to find reputable. I also get the impression that there are some nuances that are specific to Subarus that someone who is not experienced in working on them could end up botching the job. I read about the nightmare of an improperly seated torque converter and that's got me pretty nervous about going to just anybody.
 

·
Registered
'05 2.5i H4 4-Speed Auto w/Sportshift
Joined
·
514 Posts
Be aware, when buying ""used"" parts that the trans and diff that you are purchasing could be worse off than yours if someone beat the he** out of it!

When I had a new Ford F250 4WD and the transfer case went, I was going to get one from another truck that had (LOW MILES), but then got to thinking, if the guy that had the used transfer case was plowing a lot of snow, mine might be better with highway miles than his with him out dogging it all day and night to move heavy snow!

I opted to purchase the new case which was nearly twice the price, however we found that the part that had broken in mine was now re-engineered in the newer case! I never looked back!:eek:
 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Top