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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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Was a 2016 Outback 2.5i Premium, then a 2013 Outback 3.6R Limited, now a 2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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219 Posts
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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Was a 2016 Outback 2.5i Premium, then a 2013 Outback 3.6R Limited, now a 2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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219 Posts
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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Was a 2016 Outback 2.5i Premium, then a 2013 Outback 3.6R Limited, now a 2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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219 Posts
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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Was a 2016 Outback 2.5i Premium, then a 2013 Outback 3.6R Limited, now a 2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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219 Posts
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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Was a 2016 Outback 2.5i Premium, then a 2013 Outback 3.6R Limited, now a 2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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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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Was a 2016 Outback 2.5i Premium, then a 2013 Outback 3.6R Limited, now a 2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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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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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Thanks- I am going to try replacing the spark plugs this weekend which according to the video I watched requires removing the battery anyway. Since I don’t have any history on this car I have no idea whether the plugs have ever been replaced so maybe that will help. Also might as well try a throttle body cleaning and an idle relearn while I’m at it- that same guy posting these videos on YouTube did that on one of his vehicles which helped fix a shifting / stalling issue. I’ll take it for another test drive after doing all this and see if that helps any.
 

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Was a 2016 Outback 2.5i Premium, then a 2013 Outback 3.6R Limited, now a 2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
No joke-- that is actually the only thing I KNOW was changed by the dealership I bought it from, because the glove box was apart and the Fram box was lying there! LOL
 

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Was a 2016 Outback 2.5i Premium, then a 2013 Outback 3.6R Limited, now a 2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Update to this thread- tried replacing the plugs this morning, following the youtube video, quite a bit more difficult than he lets on, especially those last two plugs, really thought I was up the creek until a neighbor more versed in car repair than I came over and helped. Don't let that video fool you into thinking it's easy to replace plugs in these cars- coming from Hondas those were much easier- even the couple of 6 cylinders I had.
Replacing the plugs did not solve the early/erratic shifting issue. Still shifts way too early accelerating from a stop once the engine is warmed up. So that's 0-2 doing a drain and fill and spark plug change. I guess these 5EAT trannies are just going to have a less refined performance than the Hondas I was used to, esp. after doing a little more research & finding out they were manufactured by Jatco which has a horrible reputation for transmissions (like they also made the CVTs for Nissan.) I , well I'll report back if anything changes.
 

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Was a 2016 Outback 2.5i Premium, then a 2013 Outback 3.6R Limited, now a 2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #28 ·
I've done 3 drain and fills total- one a week ago, one this past Saturday, and a 3rd just about an hour ago, hoping that I would notice any difference. You all keep telling me drain and fills "improves the performance" of your transmission but you don't say how, or what the problem you had was to begin with. I'll ask it again- what does ATF fluid have to do with the point at which the transmission shifts, or "gear hunting??" I bring that last one up because I could have been killed getting on the interstate this afternoon trying to merge- got on, traffic in the right hand lane in front of me was slow so I moved over to the next lane with a semi coming speeding up in it, hit the gas, and the transmission went "huh?" and WOULD NOT SELECT A LOWER GEAR FOR 2-3 SECONDS. And when it did, it was too low a gear and just revved the engine, FINALLY selected the next gear up and went, but by then the semi had to change lanes. I have no idea whether that had anything to do with the torque converter locking and then unlocking or whatever and frankly I don't care, that's a horrible way to design a transmission. Up until now, the transmission performance has just been a nuisance, but now I am downright angry. So, stopped by the dealer once again, grabbed some ATF fluid, and just did another change, just took it for a spin and NO CHANGE. It has been a COMPLETE waste of money, but more than I don't understand why everyone keeps insisting on ignoring both my question about how exactly fresh ATF is supposed to help my particular problem, as well as the others on this board with similar symptoms who were only able to solve their issues with a reprogramming?? I was willing tp try to learn to put up with it but what happened today makes me livid.
 

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Was a 2016 Outback 2.5i Premium, then a 2013 Outback 3.6R Limited, now a 2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I will add that when I finally got home and shut the car off and got out, I could smell a faint burning smell that I had never smelled before- if that's ATF fluid then Subaru ought to be completely ashamed and embarrassed that all their transmissions seem to be utter trash.
 

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Was a 2016 Outback 2.5i Premium, then a 2013 Outback 3.6R Limited, now a 2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #32 ·
new fluid makes the e5at shift smoother and will help alleviate jerks on downshifts as you are coming to a stop.... I have 165k on mine, still runs great.
So you're saying it would have absolutely nothing to do with solving MY particular issue- gotcha. I tried to explain this point days ago.
 

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Was a 2016 Outback 2.5i Premium, then a 2013 Outback 3.6R Limited, now a 2013 Outback 2.5i Limited
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219 Posts
Discussion Starter · #34 ·
My issues were lazy shifting, inability to hold gears(early shifting) and a random intermittent rpm drop with a thud feeling. All symptoms remedied through a series of fluid AND filter changes. When fluids break down their shear point causes them to be ineffective here's a link to a good read that explains that and why several people recommended that you change your fluid. Shear Stability and Viscosity Loss
It seems as though your transmission is beyond just having a fluid breakdown problem and you likely have a mechanical failure. Now you'll need to have a qualified technician do advanced diagnostics on your transmission to determine what needs to be replaced through a series of complex procedures.

Nope. Not about to spend upwards of $1000 to MAYBE have this issue "diagnosed" and "fixed" when what it really is is poor design and programming. And when you say a "series" of fluid and FILTER changes, just how many did you have to go through before it was remedied? Removing and rebonding the transmission drain pan several times to change the filter out several times is ridiculous for a car with only 120k on it.
 
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