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Old 08-19-2008, 09:58 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Do I have differerential or transmission issue (AWD binding)?

Hello.

I'm a first time poster here, so sorry that the first post is a "PLEASE HELP ME" topic. I have an '06 LL Bean Forester, and it's primarily my wife's car. I rarely drive it, but I'm in charge of service stuff. The car has 32K miles and I just dropped it off at Firestone for its 30K mile service. $579 OTD. Ouch!

I've noticed that the last few times I've driven it, it feels like the AWD is binding when I do a low speed sharp turn. Also, I lifted it in my garage this morning to check out changing the fluids myself (decided against it), and while I had all 4 wheels off the ground and found that there is a lot of "slop" in the front axle... Allow me to clarify. I have a 4wd Jeep Grand Cherokee, and when I spin one of the front tires, the other spins the opposite direction, as it has an open differential. The Subaru does that too, but while on my Jeep, the motion is opposite and IMMEDIATE, I feel like there's a little play on the front axle of the Subaru. I can move the wheel maybe 10 degrees back and forth without spinning the opposite wheel.

That's bad, isn't it... ?

I called the Subaru stealership by my house and they told me they didn't know about the play in the front diff, but they did say that a lot of people complain about the "binding" when low speed turning. He recommended a transmission fluid change (center differential), and to add GM Limited Slip Differential additive to the transmission. Yes, the transmission. He says the LSD additive should allow the LSD to do it's job, and remain open in a turn, where now its as if it's locking.

So, long story shorter, do I have a bad front differential? Have any of you had the low speed turn issue? Maybe the issues are related, but I have a feeling I'm treating two different issues here. Any input or opinion will make me feel better. Or maybe worse. I'd like to figure this out before the 36K warranty is up.

Thanks!

Chris
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:35 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by crwolf79 View Post
Hello.

I'm a first time poster here, so sorry that the first post is a "PLEASE HELP ME" topic. I have an '06 LL Bean Forester, and it's primarily my wife's car. I rarely drive it, but I'm in charge of service stuff. The car has 32K miles and I just dropped it off at Firestone for its 30K mile service. $579 OTD. Ouch!

I've noticed that the last few times I've driven it, it feels like the AWD is binding when I do a low speed sharp turn. Also, I lifted it in my garage this morning to check out changing the fluids myself (decided against it), and while I had all 4 wheels off the ground and found that there is a lot of "slop" in the front axle... Allow me to clarify. I have a 4wd Jeep Grand Cherokee, and when I spin one of the front tires, the other spins the opposite direction, as it has an open differential. The Subaru does that too, but while on my Jeep, the motion is opposite and IMMEDIATE, I feel like there's a little play on the front axle of the Subaru. I can move the wheel maybe 10 degrees back and forth without spinning the opposite wheel.

That's bad, isn't it... ?

I called the Subaru stealership by my house and they told me they didn't know about the play in the front diff, but they did say that a lot of people complain about the "binding" when low speed turning. He recommended a transmission fluid change (center differential), and to add GM Limited Slip Differential additive to the transmission. Yes, the transmission. He says the LSD additive should allow the LSD to do it's job, and remain open in a turn, where now its as if it's locking.

So, long story shorter, do I have a bad front differential? Have any of you had the low speed turn issue? Maybe the issues are related, but I have a feeling I'm treating two different issues here. Any input or opinion will make me feel better. Or maybe worse. I'd like to figure this out before the 36K warranty is up.

Thanks!

Chris
It sounds like the service guy isn't very familiar with these transmissions. There is no LSD in the front. It's an open differential, and LSD additive isn't needed. An LSD will cause different behavior; the opposite spinning action is what happens with an open diff. I don't think that the play is a problem. I'd have to check and see what my car does.

I have noticed a little bit of a groan during very tight low speed turns on pet pavement, but I think it's normal.

Have you checked the tire tread depth? Are all your tires the same? Even small differences can cause a bind. If you have access to a gravel or sand lot, you can try doing some figure 8s and it should unbind if you are experiencing some bind.

Also, I think the powertrain warranty is 60,000 miles.
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Old 08-19-2008, 10:54 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Firestone did the 30k?

Did Firestone touch the differerential or transmission?

I assume it is a 4eat (auto transmission). It possible that the fluid level is low or Firestone used the wrong type of fluid.

For my Forester, I do not trust Firestone or Quick Lube shop.
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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$575? Might as well have it done by the dealer.
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:20 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The dealer doesn't do the tranny or diffs during the 30k either. They want $500 extra for that. You can DIY for $50.
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by crwolf79 View Post
The car has 32K miles and I just dropped it off at Firestone for its 30K mile service. $579 OTD. Ouch!

Also, I lifted it in my garage this morning to check out changing the fluids myself
For that much money they should have changed your tranny and difff. fluids. It only takes a few minutes while it's on the lift. Hell I do mine every 15K because it's so cheap.

What exactly did they do? I hope they did a coolant and brake flush...
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:47 AM   #7 (permalink)
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They do a coolant and brake flush, oil change, air filter and plugs. It really is not much for the cost. It is EXTRA, if you want the power steering, diffs or tranny changed, even though it is recommended.

You can see the list here:
SUBARU.COM : TOOLS : 2009
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:48 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Goto an open parking lot and do a few figure 8's to workout the center clutch pack (4eat?) Otherwise it could be speed sensors thinking that the rear end is losing grip, and constantly locking the center. Also, I would probably never bring my car to firestone for any major work, they can barely do an alignment!
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:51 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by sea-scooby View Post
They do a coolant and brake flush, oil change, air filter and plugs. It really is not much for the cost. It is EXTRA, if you want the power steering, diffs or tranny changed, even though it is recommended.

You can see the list here:
SUBARU.COM : TOOLS : 2009
I was asking about Firestone if you were answering my question.
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Old 08-19-2008, 11:56 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I was asking about Firestone if you were answering my question.
I don't know if I would want Firestone to use a coolant flushing machine on a Subie: http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulle...-coolant-1059/
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Old 08-19-2008, 12:02 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I meant change as opposed to not changing. Besides brake, tranny, and diff. fluids, coolant, sparkplugs, what else could they do for the money?
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Old 08-19-2008, 12:09 PM   #12 (permalink)
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OK... Firestone called me and has the car at the moment. Long story short, I'm going to pick it up shortly.

They have done NOTHING to the car. I have an appointment with the Subaru dealer in the morning. Yes, the car is Automatic (as someone asked). Tire wear is even, so that shouldn't be it. I've rotated religously (though they are getting to the point of needing to be replaced soon). The dealer (and Firestone for that matter) says that the 30K service consists of the following:
  • Replace front differential fluid
  • Replace rear diff fluid
  • Replace AT (transmission/center differential) fluid
  • Replace brake fluid
  • Replace coolant
  • Replace spark plugs

Yes, I thought that was a lot of stuff too, but they both are singing the same tune, and it's what the Subaru maintenance schedule that came with the car also recommends. Dealer is charging $599 plus tax for that.

So Firestone called me and said "this thing needs to go to the dealer. Ain't no way that fluid change is going to fix that problem" After doing some searching around this forum I saw something about a center differential "transfer solenoid" that might need to be replaced? This post describes my issue almost 100%. Anyway, he thinks it's got major differential problems or something, based on his test drive. I noticed it squeeling the inside wheel a bit on normal speed turns too... But after scheduling the appt with Subaru, the service advisor there is still convinced that an AT fluid change with LSD additive will fix the issue. "We've been down that road 100 times" he says... I hope all it needs is the fluid change. All I can say is, she isn't driving right, that's for sure. I'll post here after I'm done getting bent over tomorrow. I don't want to chance it when I've only got 4,000 miles left on the warranty.

Chris
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Old 08-19-2008, 12:20 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by pleiad7 View Post
I don't know if I would want Firestone to use a coolant flushing machine on a Subie: http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulle...-coolant-1059/
Thanks for the heads up on this TIB. Good call.
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Old 08-19-2008, 01:27 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Smart move.
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Old 08-21-2008, 01:20 PM   #15 (permalink)
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As promised, I'm reporting back with the findings.

And the jury says... Nothing is wrong with the diff or the tranny, and the service adviser was right. They changed fluids, added the GM LSD additive to the trans, and drove it around in figure 8's for a while. I picked it up and it's not doing it anymore. So... I guess he wasn't full of it after all. He says the LSD additive by GM helps keep the clutches in the center diff from sticking, and that that is what was causing the "binding" feeling when turning. Essentially, the car was stuck in 4wd.

Also, beware 30k mile services. This dealer tried to get me out the door for $649 WITHOUT doing the plugs. He said that wasn't included in their price! I told him to get bent, and get the service manager, because according to Subaru, I need new plugs on my 2.5 at 30K, and that the price I was quoted was supposed to include EVERYTHING I needed at that mileage. They apologized, kept the car another day, gave me a loaner and put plugs in. At least, they said they did... (I asked for the old ones back). Seriously, 649 for just fluids??? How do they sleep at night.

That said, I did test drive an '09 Forester XT while I was there. Me likey. Much nicer power than ours. I'd be nuts to trade already. Oh well.

Thanks for your help.
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