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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,
a new-ish owner of a 2013 3.6R outback, on a whim from fellow Subaru owner friends. Overall I really like the vehicle and glad I had it over the last couple days as we got a decent snow where I live.
My question is that it seems at times this vehicle has an acceleration "lag" like it is just not doing what the 3.6 should be capable of, and it feels like sloppy and/or erratic shifting like it's gear hunting &/or the shifts are not where they should be in line with the acceleration, for example accelerating off from a stop it seems like it upshifts to 2nd gear waaayy too early (like just a second or two after taking off) and kills the acceleration making the car sort of fall on its face. If I really plant my foot it will stay in 1st gear longer but it still feels sluggish like there is something holding it back, almost feels like a tranny issue more than an engine issue (although I guess the two are mutually inclusive.) I guess the best way to describe it is that the amount of throttle does not = the response I would expect. Also sometimes it almost feels like the tranny does some weird "double shift" like one shift immediately after the other. Hard to explain without demonstrating it- and there are no codes.
I don't want to be too harsh or anything given that I come from Hondas which by in large accelerate and shift exactly where I expect them to so maybe this could just be the way the shifts are programmed. It doesn't really feel like cylinder misfires or anything although I guess they could be so slight I just don't notice. The car has 120k miles on it and i have no service history so don't know if the plugs have ever been changed.
I had it at the dealer yesterday and asked them to check it on a test drive but of course they say nothing is wrong so maybe it is all in my head. Has anyone here reading this experienced a similar issue with their 3.6 (I think this is a regular automatic transmission not the CVT.) Thank u in advance for any suggestions.
 

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‘03 3.0R LL Bean Outback + ‘14 Forester Premium
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Congrats on your 3.6L with the 5 speed Auto! I’d recommend replacing the spark plugs and all the fluids and air filter to establish a baseline. Running 89 octane gas instead of 87 octane regular may improve performance also due to the timing possibly being retarded to prevent detonation.

We have a Gen II 3.0R with 4-speed auto that we have owned since new. I had been having the trans fluid and diff oil replaced on the severe schedule every 15k miles. Then after 125k got lax and didn’t have them changed for 40k. Just had them changed and the 1-2 shift became noticeably smoother.

If you can do your own oil change and can send in a sample for oil analysis that can be very illuminating on how well the car has been maintained.
 

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Outback 2011 3.6R Premium (sold Jan 22)
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The Gen4 3.6 vehicles have a 5EAT automatic transmission (Non-CVT).

The torque converter in these models can “lock up” at various speeds AND in various gears unlike other torque converters which only lock up in the highest gear at around 50 MPH. This is likely to be the “extra” shifts you are experiencing.

My suggestion is to do a drain and fill of the transmission ensuring that you use Subaru transmission fluid. A drain and fill only replaces around 50% of the fluid BUT you will be surprised how much difference fresh fluid makes to the transmission shifts in the 5EAT transmission.

Be aware that some aftermarket transmission fluids have be known to cause shifting problems which is why the suggestion is to use Subaru fluid.

Seagrass
 

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2011 Outback 3.6R Limited 2013 Crosstrek (traded) 2020 Outback premium pkg11
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Both suggestions above are a great start. Make sure you're maintenance is up to date. unfortunately since you know nothing you kinda gotta do it all. The on thing I would add is that the 5eat automatic transmission DOES have a filter that you can change and I would highly recommend that you do so. It cannot be had from the dealership or a parts store you need to snatch it from Ebay. You will need almost 6 qts of Subaru or idemitsu HP transmission fluid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Thank you all for the above suggestions!
Seagrass that torque converter "lockup" you describe may be the "erratic" shifting I am experiencing, if it's normal I won't worry about it (although why did they program it like that? If it is what I am experiencing then it just seems to kill acceleration!)
I am not much of a DIYer but I have found a few youtube videos on changing the transmission fluid in these and it does not look too difficult. I will give that a shot and see if it makes any difference. BTW the shifts themselves are very smooth- it's just the timing of the shifts that seems off. Will fresh fluid make a difference with that?
I also found a video on changing the plugs in this car and it looks pretty tough- I hate it but I might have to take to the dealer for that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Fasty where is that filter located in the transmission? Is it something I can get to fairly easily (keeping in mind I have only done fairly routine stuff on car maintenance)?
 

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Outback 2011 3.6R Premium (sold Jan 22)
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Here ya go .
The 3.6 is fitted with a 5EAT transmission NOT a 4EAT as shown in that video.

Depending on the actual transmission model the 5EAT transmission has a filter in the transmission that requires the transmission pan to be removed OR a spin on filter in the front guard which is accessed by removing the battery.

Seagrass
 
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I do an ATF drain-and-fill every 30,000 miles on my 2013 3.6R using either the proper Subaru or Idemitsu ATF. A single drain-and-fill replaces 4.5 to 5 quarts of ATF, right at half the fluid in the system. It is an easy 15-minute job and well the worth the time and money in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The youtube video posted by bx77 above is the one I watched but it doesn't cover replacing the filter. I'd like to do both while I'm in there but being a novice I don't want to screw something up. How hard is the extra job of replacing the filter? Does any of this really help with the timing of the shifts, if they act like they are happening at the wrong times?? Seems like that would be more of a programming issue...?
 

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2010 Outback 3.6R 2014 Legacy 2.5i
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1. torque converter will engage in gears 2-5
2. torque converter is pulse width modulated for apply
3. It will not apply under WOT

in my case I find the 3.6L to be very docile at low speeds lumbering through the gears with ease at low to mid acceleration. Yes it is eager to get into top gear as fast as possible for fuel economy reasons


as for changing the fluid, it is not really a filter up there more like a strainer type of deal. to replace it pan has to come off and you will have to break the RTV bond.
 

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The 3.6 is fitted with a 5EAT transmission NOT a 4EAT as shown in that video.

Depending on the actual transmission model the 5EAT transmission has a filter in the transmission that requires the transmission pan to be removed OR a spin on filter in the front guard which is accessed by removing the battery.

Seagrass
Opps yes my mistake , misread the link.

Is this thing still a go ?

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for the link above- guess there is no fixing this issue except getting the thing reprogrammed.

But the "manual" ziptronic mode is great - it holds the gear I want and doesn't do any crazy upshifting nonsense in the middle of a corner.
I noticed this post in that thread- that is EXACTLY the same thing that is happening to me. It upshifts right in the middle of accelerating through a turn, and kills ANY momentum. The only way to not have it do that is tear around the corner. Drives me crazy! What in the world is the reason for programming it like that?? The VERY small increase in fuel economy seems like a ridiculous reason-- I'd gladly take the small hit in fuel economy!
 

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Just flicking through the threads, you can get someone to do the deed for a few hundred. I've never used romraider , lots have. Given its a 2013 with a few miles on it , you'd want something non racer that wont over stress the tranny, more a bit of tweaking really. You'll definitely need to change the fluid then !
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
How do I get started on one of these tunes? Looking at thread I really haven't the faintest idea what I'm looking at.
 

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Outback 2011 3.6R Premium (sold Jan 22)
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Please do the simple things first as they just may solve the problem you are having.

A simple fluid change (forget about the filter) will quickly and cheaply determine whether the fluid is the problem or not. Using Subaru fluid will ensure the transmission is operating “as designed”.

If the transmission has old, thin, gludgy or non Subaru fluid in it currently this could be why you are having problems.

Seagrass
 

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Yep, first things first. Do an ATF drain-and-fill. Quick, easy, and cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
OK bought ATF fluid and drain plug gasket from the dealership at lunch today & did a drain and fill after I got home from work. (Glad I bought an extra quart since I ended up needing some more than what the video says.)
Took it for a 30 minute spin afterward with no change, still doing the way too early upshifting accelerating from stops, around turns etc instead of staying in current gear to keep momentum. I certainly don't mean to sound rude but as I said above the shifts themselves have always been smooth with no problem, it's just the timing is off- that's why I didn't think this would solve the issue.

Any other ideas short of a reprogramming?
 

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Try doing a relearn procedure; or disconnect the battery for 15 minutes and then drive normally, to see if the computer adapts to your driving habits..
 
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