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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone!

This is my first post having just bought a 2000 Outback Limted wagon A/T a few weeks ago. I'm a WRX driver/modder who needed a "normal" car for a daily driver so I boned up and bought a high mileage (152k) outback limited.

I have a question about the transmission but first, what I've done so far.

Cosmetically and drivetrain-wise the car is in good shape but there's a few bits that needed some TLC right off the bat.

The 02 sensor was on the fritz giving an intermittent CEL so I replaced that and cleaned up the exhaust a bit as it has a bit of rust on it. I fixed some rattles with pipe clamps and heat wrapping and cleaned up the header flanges that were uneven with rust and replaced the header gaskets with new ones.

The throttle position sensor seems to bee on the fritz too (more on that in a moment)

The front passenger side axle oil seal (the one inside the trans where the axle attaches) was leaky so I replaced that having done it to my WRX recently. Easy job. I also replaced the fluid with new. Now the front diff gear oil plug is leaking, I forgot to buy a new crush washer so the thing still drips right on the cross-pipe like before.

The front right ball joint's boot was shredded so I replaced that last night, tried to replace the left side that has a slight tear but the knuckle socket bolt head sheered right off so I'll have to get that removed at a machine shop soon.

I seafoamed the engine which helped a good bit. Cleaned up the IAC valve which was pretty dirty, cleaned up the MAP sensor with MAF cleaner, replaced the vaccum hose to the fuel pressure regulator and replaced the cracked PCV hose on the crankcase vent along with replacing the PCV valve itself. I also went ahead and replaced the fuel filter.

Enough with the recent service history, here's my question.

This morning I got really scared because the transmission decided to not shift right. 1st through 3rd were hard shifts but it would do it at the normal time, then it would stick in 3rd and wouldn't change unless the engine got up to 4k rpm and then I let off the gas. That was a hard shift too.

The ATF fluid is full, clean and clear and the filter looks relatively new.

I get back in the car at lunch, it works fine. Heading back from lunch it works fine again, like new.

I talked to a subaru mechanic during lunch and he said if it's not making mechanical noise it's probably just the fluid needing to be changed. However, it appears to be in perfect condition and the problem was only on this one morning trip to work.

There's no CEL either. Some folks have said that a TPS sensor fault can cause the TCU to hold gears and increase the shift engagement pressure causing hard shifts.

Anyone hear of this?
 

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Did it happen to be a little chillier this morning?

The early 4EAT has a different shift pattern during warmup when the temp is lower. Harder shifts and what seem like "lingering" in a gear too long.

OTOH, that's not to say that you're not seeing abnormal behavior or that a fluid change wouldn't help. I've had really good luck using the new Subaru ATF HP in my 2002 OBW, 2000 Forester, and 2000 OBW. Some folks will say it's not made for the older trannies - but it is the only fluid I've ever used that made a noticeable difference in shifting.

Warm it up, drain it via drain plug, and add approx. 3 quarts. Sometimes takes a little more. Just need to shift it through all gears and then check/add/check until it is right. You can repeat this up to 3 times and change most of the fluid, or stop after 1 or 2 if it clears things up.

No need to change the filter: it is there to catch big chunks in the event of a failure. And never, ever, ever take it to have it "flushed". That just blows crap loose throughout the tranny and God only knows what they have for ATF in their machine at any given time...

Good luck,
Wally
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It was actually 72 degrees this morning, it has need quite cool here until the last 3 days and I haven't noticed any difference in shifting.

I'll certainly change the fluid and I already heard about avoiding flushing the trans, good to hear thats common knowledge.

It drove great on the way home too. I need to check the fuses real quick, perhaps the vdc fuse got popped, even though it seems to be shifting smoothly again, it could be my imagination but it's liking to shift at higher rpm's now...it seems.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
So it's been a few days without issues but this AM after about 10 min of smooth driving, the car SLAMS into 3rd pulling out of a stoplight, the A/T Fluid Temp lights starts flashing and it continues to act the same way as on my original post.

So, I pull over into a parking lot, turn the car off an let it sit for all of 2 min, start it up and it drove PERFECTLY fine the rest of the way to work.

I still need to change the fluid, the HD fluid I ordered hasn't arrived yet. Any other ideas in the mean time?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I've been doing more research and found a few threads about the AT light. Sorry for not searching more, I'm more familiar with NASIOC and have been a bit limited on time.

The AT light starts flashing ~ 4 times a second while driving without a check engine light. That means there's probably just an electrical connection fault as it's not indicating any specific TCU trouble code while driving. Hopefully a good sign.

I'm going to see if there is a code by doing the TCU trouble code 'handshake' sequence at lunch and I'll report back to the 0-1 people who are following this thread other than myself.

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/99-do-yourself-illustrated-guides/44383-199-2004-how-read-diagnostic-trouble-codes-dtcs.html

My pet peeve is dead-end trouble threads floating around these forums (nasioc anyone?). Yeah, my issue might be identical to someone else's which already has a thread. BUT every resolved and documented scenario on these automotive forums will be useful to someone and every dead-end thread or undocumented experience won't. So I'm going to keep posting until I have the answer and perhaps someone else will benefit.
 

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i have never heard or read the meaning of a flashing AT Temp light while driving. only about it will flash at start up to indicate an electrical fault during the last drive cycle.

interested.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
i have never heard or read the meaning of a flashing AT Temp light while driving. only about it will flash at start up to indicate an electrical fault during the last drive cycle.

interested.
Humm, there's quite a few threads scattered around various subaru forums and in one of them someone said that then the AT oil temp starts to flash during driving, the oil temp is too high or there's an electrical issue with the AT system that has pulled a code.

I can't find that thread at the moment but I will post back if I come across it. It may or may not be true what that one post said.

HOWEVER, I went through the AT code reading "handshake" sequence and found a code of 31 which is "throttle sensor signal fault or short" which seems to confirm that a quick, steady blinking AT Oil Temp light on during driving means there is an electrical issue with a code...

I already suspected the TPS was going out, this confirms it!

SO, I'm getting a new TPS as soon as I can, I'll install it and get it dialed in and hopefully that will stop the random AT freakout problem I'm having!

Fingers crossed...more later
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well, my TPS sensor that I ordered still hasn't arrived but I think I got my old one cleaned enough to make due. It was pouring down rain last Thursday and the TPS pretty much completely crapped out on me. The drive home was so rough through traffic I was worried the hard shifting and random surging would have gotten me in a wreck.

So, I got home and popped the multi meter on it and the tps was reading random voltages, mostly just a full 5v across the board. It seemed like it was toast so I took it off the car with the hopes I could crack it open or clean it somehow.

There's a tiny hole in the plug for the TPS so I took some contact cleaner and sprayed it in there and swished it around as much as I could to get it to go down that little hole in the plug while I had the sensor off the car. Then I moved the TPS sensor actuator (the little spring loaded wheel that the throttle moves) back and fourth for a while, shaking it, spraying more cleaner in there then I let it drain and dry.

When I re-installed it and tested the voltage, it had a nice normal swing from about .5volts to 5 volts as I turned the wheel.

I re-installed it. Set it to where idle was about .5v and WOT was 5 volts. After 2 drives the check engine went off and I haven't had a problem since.

My new TPS should arrive this week.

Now on to the interior water leaks when it rains. First stop, cleaning the sunroof drain hoses.
 
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BrandonDrums
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