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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all. New to the forum but i was told that this is the place to ask the question. I have a 1996 Impreza Outback 2.2L with 107K miles showing. I purchased the car 2 years ago from a student who had used it to go to class and back. She was very nice but didn't know anything about cars and didn't seem to have done much more than oil changes.

Recently the trans has begun to shudder with the classic torque bind. Inspection of the trans revealed trans fluid in poor condition. Clearly a fluid change and filter replacement was needed. Well, there's the problem. After changing the fluid and filter the torque bind is gone but the car sometimes hesitates to engage the transmission from neutral, refuses to shift between gears, and wants to roll backward on hills. This problem was never evident before the change but in the <100 miles since it's made the car a lawn ornament.

Here's the question, First did I screw something up or was this going to happen no matter who did the change. Second, is there something i can do to fix this? Finally, is it worth fixing?

Thanks in advance
 

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Here's the question, First did I screw something up or was this going to happen no matter who did the change.
excellent guesses - could be either one.

did you replace the internal screen (the thing that's called a filter but is not really a filter)? if so did you replace the oring on the snorkel of the filter before installing it and are you positive it stayed properly seated and made a good seal? i've seen some that were tricky/ambiguous.

first suspicion is that oring is not sealing and you're sucking up lots of air which is compressible, ATF is not.

you may be able to see signs of this by checking the transmission fluid - does it have lots of bubbles in it or look frothy? a positive suggests some things but i do not know that a negative on that question means anything though.

Second, is there something i can do to fix this?
1. check fluid and oring as mentioned above
2. you could try an additive, though i generally don't recommend those, completely last resort...like it's about to go to the scrap yard anyway move.
3. disconnect the transmission connector and drive it like that. it'll default to 3rd gear and locked 4wd only with no computer control but they run and drive fine like this. if it drives fine then it's an electrical failure. if it's still the same then it's likely a hydraulic/mechanical failure. don't drive it much on pavement like this or lots of sharp turns, the 4WD binding is bad for the drivetrain. i mean 10 or 100 miles is no big deal, just don't daily drive it like that.
4. replace the trans

Finally, is it worth fixing?
financially yes, even if you have to replace the trans. those transmissions are very reliable, this means a few things:
1. there is very little demand for them because they never really fail
2. they're cheap!
i got one (that would have fit your vehicle) for $150 from a yard with only 100,000 miles and a warranty. i've put 60,000 miles on it, drove it this morning and it rides like a dream.

Car-Part.com--Used Auto Parts Market

transmission shops can replace a transmission really fast, it's actually a lot quicker than pulling an engine. if you find a nice transmission shop that's not just trying to hose you they can actually install transmissions quickly and inexpensively. a local shop in Maryland who was around for decades and generally high priced, but well respected, (typically high priced DC inflated area) only charged $150 to install your supplied transmission. (no parts, fluids, or warranty). that was 10 years ago but even then that was an honest deal as it only takes them 2 or 3 hours.

or you can do it yourself.
 

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grossgary,

Very impressive answer! Thanks for having done your homework over the years. Many of us will find this useful. Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks!

Grossgary you hit the nail on the head. I replaced three filters on 3 identical transmissions in one evening and ended up with some spare parts. Having used a Subaru filter and performance gasket I figured the extra O-ring was a double. I just took apart the offending transmission and boom, no O-ring. I've got it buttoned back up and am ready for a test drive. If this fixes the issue I'm back to small repairs like gaskets and spark plugs for this car. If not, it might be time for one of my Subies to park for good.

And before you ask, 1996 Impreza outback (108K), 1997 Legacy outback (172K), 1997 Legacy outback limited (280k). The sad part is that the 280K vehicle has been the best of the three!
 

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good, easy fix!

it's just a screen and an added protection, they can't possibly get clogged. if they did you've got a completely hosed transmission. i suggest never replacing one again.
 
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