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97 Legacy Outback AWD 2.5L automatic ~ 166k miles
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4 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My 97 outback AWD has been shifting hard between first and second. Lags downshifting from 2nd to 1st somewhat, too.

Weird thing is only happens when I am accelerating lightly. If I accelerate hard, it seems to shift pretty smoothly.

ATF level is fine. Fluid does not seem burned.

I'm a pretty competent shadetree mechanic, but this is my first AWD car, so I don't know much about chasing down problems with AWDs. I've heard about varying front and rear tire treads affecting the trans, but I have no idea what the tolerances are.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

Automatic transmission, 2/5L
 

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2017 OutBack Premier, 2019 Forester Ltd, 2016 370z Rdstr
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724 Posts
The tread difference is one quarter of an inch in diameter. All the tires need to be within this measurement of each other, or damage is done.

As for the tranny hard shifts, maybe its time for a tranny fluid change and possibly an additive designed to clean up the seals and valves?
 

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2014 OBW 3.6R Limited, 1997 OBW 2.5L Auto (sold, but not forgotten), and 1991 Ford F150
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1,525 Posts

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2005 Outback 2.5i - Auto
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98 Posts
My 98 acts the same way, Flushing of the fluid made no differance in my case.

I believe I read somewhere that this can be caused by a failed dropping resistor.

Honestly it doesnt bother me so I havent tried to fix it besides the fluid change (which I would have done anyways).
 

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98 obw 2.5dohc..auto & 99 obw 2.5dohc...auto
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147 Posts
I've got the same issue. I changed the fluid and it helped for awhile, but I think I'm gonna try an additive. Either Lucas or the Trans-x(I think?). Anyways, let you know how it goes.
 

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01 Outback H6 VDC, 97 GT wgn w/ ej22, 98 OBW w/ej22
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1,401 Posts
The tread difference is one quarter of an inch in diameter.
NO NO NO

this is a typo.

it is 1/4 inch in CIRCUMFERENCE. big difference!

the hard 1 - 2 shift is very common. especially in older trans. but even when new, these auto trans have a 1 - 2 shift that is harder than most. i hear it is one of the things that make them more hardy, but i don't really know. they give up some comfort for durability. but i don't know anyone who has owned one since new to ask.

i have also read, only one time though, that a fluid ''flush'' caused a harder shift. and this is one reason why a drain and fill 3 times is recommended. the conclusion there was dirt in the valve body messing with a shift solenoid. i toyed with the idea of replacing the valve body, but when i tried harvesting one i realized the task was more than i could do.

so i just live with my son calling my 97 GT a jerky turkey .
 

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01 Outback H6 VDC, 97 GT wgn w/ ej22, 98 OBW w/ej22
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1,401 Posts
trans-x has been found to correct a very specific problem in the 99 - 00/1 auto trans, slow to engage. and it does it well. but i do not know of it doing any good in any other years for any other problems. it will not hurt your trans but do not expect any improvement.

a bad dropping resistor will cause a harder shift. but it will also cause a flashing AT Temp light.
 

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Premium Member
01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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15,487 Posts
Subaru trans fluid change is recommended every 30k with the spin on filter replacement. Drain and fill then change the filter on the last fill. The hard shift is high main pressure when the shift solenoid opens. 2nd gets high pressure for 2nd gear starts, but a good flush out with filter may help ease the kick.
 

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2001 subaru legacy limited gt awd 2.5l
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3 Posts
My subaru legacy shifts hard from 1-2 as well i did a diagnostics on it and both the a and b shift solenoids are reading bad. I have gotten alot of help from this website and all you guys. I am planning to do it myself soon. I am currently in the process of changing many parts because the guy i bought the car from apparently hasnt changed anytjing. I went to change my spark pluggs and the entire inside of one spark plug boot was RUSTED to the spark plug...after the solenoids im doing new gaskets with the spark plugs and changing valves.
 
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