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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2011 Outback with 180k miles that has been a wonderful car for the 4 years I've owned it. This summer the car has developed an intermittent squeal and RPM jump when cruising, usually at 60-65. It's been to two mechanics, three times but since they can't reproduce it and it's not throwing codes, they send me back home and tell me to bring it in when it starts making the noise all the time.

I replaced both O2 sensors earlier this year as well as the serpentine belt and a wheel bearing. The noise started a week later. I made a mark on the crankshaft pulley to see if that was slipping and it isn't. I've also disconnected the battery to reset everything. I called a third mechanic who thought it might be the torque converter but they also said they need to hear the noise or that it is stalling at stop lights.

Has anyone had this kind of issue not be the CVT in the end? I'm at the point where I am going to get rid of this car next week because I don't trust it anymore. I still can't believe it - if you drove this thing, you would think it had 50k miles.
 

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I have a 2011 Outback with 180k miles that has been a wonderful car for the 4 years I've owned it. This summer the car has developed an intermittent squeal and RPM jump when cruising, usually at 60-65. It's been to two mechanics, three times but since they can't reproduce it and it's not throwing codes, they send me back home and tell me to bring it in when it starts making the noise all the time.

I replaced both O2 sensors earlier this year as well as the serpentine belt and a wheel bearing. The noise started a week later. I made a mark on the crankshaft pulley to see if that was slipping and it isn't. I've also disconnected the battery to reset everything. I called a third mechanic who thought it might be the torque converter but they also said they need to hear the noise or that it is stalling at stop lights.

Has anyone had this kind of issue not be the CVT in the end? I'm at the point where I am going to get rid of this car next week because I don't trust it anymore. I still can't believe it - if you drove this thing, you would think it had 50k miles.
I'm a little curious as to how you marked the pulley to determine a slip since the rotation ratio between the crankshaft and other pulleys is such that the belt will not end up at the same spot every time.

Can you record the noise? And how much of an rpm jump?

When was the fluid in the CVT replaced last?

I'm inclined to believe that it's the belt making the noise. I've never heard a torque converter or CVT squeal. Shutter, delay engagement, slipping feel, yes. It may be that the serpentine belt is slipping at times the AC is cycling on which adds torque to the belt and if the belt is a Dayco or off branded belt, it'll slip and make noise sometimes. When the belt slips it may effect the alternator function. It could also be the start of an alternator issue, like the bearings in the alt are worn out. You also have the PS pump which will make noise when the supply hose gets hardened or the input seal allows air to get sucked in.

On checking for codes, unless your mechanic has the proper scan tool he won't be able to see any codes other than engine. If there is a problem with the CVT or other module on the car, it can only be seen with diagnostic software designed to communicate with these modules through the CAN network.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This isn't my video, but it might as well be - same sound and symptoms:

It's typically a 500 RPM jump. It only happens when cruising, typically 60-65, now sometimes at 40 and 50 as well. The smoother the road, the more likely it is I'll hear it. The heat/AC being on or off doesn't seem to have an effect. It's alarming when it happens - the gas pedal depresses under my foot and the car sometimes lurches a bit. I would love it if it were the serpentine belt and specifically asked both mechanics to look at that. They both think it is somehow drive train related but can't figure out what.

The fluid was never replaced. The transmission shop said the fluid looked clean and the fluid levels looked good, fwiw.
 

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A 500 or so rpm change is generally a torque converter clutch releasing and reapplying. Data from a scan tool while driving would help determine this by watching the TCC apply percentage in conjunction with engine speed and input shaft speed correlation. When the TCC is full on the engine rpm and input shaft speeds should be equal. Also, the gear ratio will tell you if it's the CVT pulley. If the gear ratio changes when this occurs it's internal to the CVT pulleys.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you so much for that clear explanation.

I went in to talk to the mechanic who suspected it was the TCC. Today, they were so positive about it that I set up an appointment to get that replaced. Now I want to get one of those VAG OBDII cables and see if I can confirm. I was just reading your post on the 0420 Diagnosis and wonder if that could be playing into. A few months ago, the 0420 code tripped and my mechanic eventually replaced both O2 sensors, but I probably put another 500-1k miles on the car by the time we got to that point. My car was driving smoothly with a lot of power before and after replacing those sensors, it drove even better. I do lately notice an occasional scent of oil and an occasional epoxy kind of smell, but there are no leaks and I'm not burning oil or anything else. Just makes me wonder. I would rather fix this car and keep it a few years but maybe I'm not being realistic.
 

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Take a close look at the bottom of each cylinder head by the header flanges. If you are smelling oil, it may be the HGs and it's running down on the manifold/header pipe.

If the TCC is having issues it effects the engine performance which will in turn effect the catalytic converter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I had my TCC replaced twice and I'm still getting the RPM jump/squeal.

Right after the first TCC replacement, I took the car on a 4 day road trip and noticed it would typically squeal/jump for the first 10-25 miles in the morning and then be okay for the next 100. The shop told me it might take some time for the part to settle in. After 1200 miles with no change in behavior (worse, if anything), they replaced the TCC again, but now I'm 150 miles post repair and it's just as bad as ever. Still no codes. I do think the squeal/RPM jump has increased in frequency but can also go 1-200 miles without it happening at all.

What else could this be?
 

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Did anyone bother to check the battery and cables? If you have a weak battery and poor grounding you'll have issues.

Then there's the issue with the wrong part was replaced, or, not all the bad parts. Did you get a new valve body? The valve body is the source of all issues with the CVT.

Was this "shop" a tranny shop? An independent? Do they have the right tools, i.e. computer diagnostic and software? The system also has to be run through a relearn after a repair and whomever does it needs to have the right scan tool or software to do it.

Oh, and is your AT Temp light flashing or on at all? Just curious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Nope, no temp light flashing. The shop is a well-regarded Subaru specialist, the place I bought the car from four years ago. They aren't a tranny shop but they do have a transmission specialist. They ran through a relearn after the first repair (though not until I brought the car back the first time). Hopefully they did it the second time.

I'll have to double check the receipt for the valve body, it wasn't something they mentioned. The repair was $1400. If it is the valve body causing the issue, will it eventually throw a code, hopefully far in advance of it failing completely?

I do have a weak battery right now as well as a hole in my muffler. I was waiting to see if the latest repair took before replacing those. I've spent close to 3k on the car this year. In addition to the muffler that needs to be replaced ASAP, I will have to replace three ball joints in the next year or two and a timing belt at the end of next year. Maybe it is time to say goodbye? It's so hard for me to accept that this car has already reached the end of it's lifespan.
 

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Nope, no temp light flashing. The shop is a well-regarded Subaru specialist, the place I bought the car from four years ago. They aren't a tranny shop but they do have a transmission specialist. They ran through a relearn after the first repair (though not until I brought the car back the first time). Hopefully they did it the second time.

I'll have to double check the receipt for the valve body, it wasn't something they mentioned. The repair was $1400. If it is the valve body causing the issue, will it eventually throw a code, hopefully far in advance of it failing completely?

I do have a weak battery right now as well as a hole in my muffler. I was waiting to see if the latest repair took before replacing those. I've spent close to 3k on the car this year. In addition to the muffler that needs to be replaced ASAP, I will have to replace three ball joints in the next year or two and a timing belt at the end of next year. Maybe it is time to say goodbye? It's so hard for me to accept that this car has already reached the end of it's lifespan.
When the Control Valve Body goes, it's usually the "Christmas Tree Lights" on the dashboard syndrome (a lot of lights, some solid, some flashing, good times). When mine went, I got codes P0700, P2762, P2763, and P2764 (My 11 OB and my daughter's 11 Legacy). I was only about 10 miles from home, so when the VB solenoids started failing, I had no ACTUAL driving/shifting symptoms (just my dash lights), and I took a chance and was able to drive home taking it easy.
 

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The valve body should have been replaced. It can cause problems without fault codes. A weak battery will also cause problems; not enough current flow to run everything proper.

The valve body runs a few hundred and is fairly easy to replace.
 

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I was only about 10 miles from home, so when the VB solenoids started failing, I had no ACTUAL driving/shifting symptoms (just my dash lights), and I took a chance and was able to drive home taking it easy.
I put about 500 miles on mine before replacing the control valve body from when I first got the codes and everything felt fine. Three different Dealers said that if the car run and drives fine then there is nothing to worry about. I even recorded the phone calls so if it destroyed my transmission it would be on them. ?
 

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Wow, no symptoms at all? How lucky that you were so close to home! Am I reading this right that this part failed on two of your 2011 Subarus?
Yes, both of my 2011 Subaru's experienced failed solenoids on their respective Valve Body. The one on my 11 OB failed at around 178k, the dealer replaced that one ($1600). The one on my 11 Legacy failed at around 158k, I replaced that one on my own ($900). When my Valve Bodies "failed", it was essentially just one or more of the 4 (?) solenoids that went bad (electrical parts). Unfortunately, the Gen4 OB/Legacy's do not have Solenoids on the VB that are easily repairable or replaced, so the most common solution is to just replace the entire VB ($700-$800) + ($120 CVT Fluid) + (Labor if you don't do it yourself). The VB and the Torque Converter, I believe, are in reality the most common problem when a Subaru from this Gen4 has a "failed" CVT. Just my experience, I am not a mechanic. For me, it was just a cost of doing business when buying a high-mileage Subaru (that and valve gaskets, TB, Bearings, etc). Otherwise, they are STILL both great vehicles, and running like scalded dogs :) Will be buying ANOTHER Gen4 OB/Legacy when my 15yo starts driving here pretty soon, maybe I'll splurge and get a 2013 :)
 

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Unfortunately, the Gen4 OB/Legacy's do not have Solenoids on the VB that are easily repairable or replacedQUOTE]
Check my thread, I linked to the Polish site where out transmissions are made and the solenoids are on there! I could have spent 120$ instead of over 700$ X.X

They are seemingly easy to replace too, I saved my old valve body and plan on buying the solenoid to repair and have a backup...I'll make a thread about that DIY When I get some extra money.
 

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Check my thread, I linked to the Polish site where out transmissions are made and the solenoids are on there! I could have spent 120$ instead of over 700$ X.X

They are seemingly easy to replace too, I saved my old valve body and plan on buying the solenoid to repair and have a backup...I'll make a thread about that DIY When I get some extra money.
I saved my old Valve Body TOO !!!! I didn't realize they were made in Poland ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
That's an awesome walk through on your valve body replacement - you really did that in a Walmart parking lot on Black Friday?!

It's a bummer that you found out about the $120 part after the fact, kind of how I feel about finding out I maybe should have replaced the valve body instead of the TCC. The mechanic reflashed the ECU ROM (probably the wrong phrasing) in mid December. I have not had a squeal in the 750 miles I've put on the car since then, so I am somewhat hopeful. It seems like if it was the valve body, it would throw a code, and I haven't had one yet.

Re: mechanics saying it is okay to keep driving, that's the same thing I heard. I talked to someone on another forum who put another 30k miles on their car after they had this symptom, no repair, no diagnosis. They also had the manual shift option my Outback has and found they could prevent the squeal from happening by downshifting just before it happened. I couldn't get the timing right for that in my car but didn't try too hard.
 

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2012 2.5L with 84K had the exact same issue, sound, rpm jump and MPH same as the video. I suspected the CVT belt slipping and Subaru agreed when they were able to replicate the noise. They just replaced the CVT under warranty.
 
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