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Old 12-19-2011, 09:29 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Problems shifting into drive- getting stuck in Nuetral

Its been awhile since I have posted...working in retail has been eating my time lately. I am really really hoping somebody can help shed some light on a problem I have been having lately in my 99 Forester.

When I get into the car and shift from Park into Drive about 25-30% of the time it doesn't actually go into drive (even though the shifter is on D) it instead stays in Nuetral. Press the gas and the engine revs & I go nowhere. This so far has been able to be solved by putting it back in Park for 10-15 seconds and then going back into Drive.

I am at a total loss as to what is causing this...it has been happening for awhile but up until recently it happened maybe once every 2-3 months so I never really paid it any mind. I had an issue with my old '92 Impreza where the gearbox was shot and I had to replace that and the symptoms were similar- does that sound likely or does this sound more like a transmission issue?
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Old 12-19-2011, 09:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Any problems going from P to R? Does that work every time or do you have the same issue as P to D?

When was the last time the transmission was serviced... as in the ATF changed?

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Old 12-19-2011, 01:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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No problems going into reverse..only drive. And it doesn't happen all the time or even consistently enough for me as a non-mechanical person to understand.

I honestly have no idea when the transmission was serviced last. I take it for regular maintenance and have good mechanics who take care of me. I had the issue with the gaskets a few months back and they did a safety check on the entire car but especially the engine, transmission, etc and gave it a clean bill of health. I am due for an oil change this week so should I specifically have them look at the transmission?

I also have a slow leak of coolant that nobody can pinpoint where its coming from- the laundry list of issues to keep my eye on is getting longer haha

I am so hoping this isn't a big thing. My Impreza gearbox was a nice easy $90 fix...hoping this isn't catastrophic like the gaskets blowing oil =/
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Old 12-19-2011, 01:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Take a look at this thread to see if you're having the same problem Transmission hesitates in drive.

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Old 12-19-2011, 01:48 PM   #5 (permalink)
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not really because its not hesitation it almost seems as if its stuck....if that makes sense. I have actually sat and waited to see if it is hesitation and it will kick into gear but it doesn't. I can tell when it happens too because when i shift into drive i can feel the gear engage so i can tell when it doesn't.

my poor little green monster :(
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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As the first possible repair I'm leaning towards low ATF level or the ATF needs to be replaced, since you don't know when it was last done.
If that doesn't fix your problem, you can move on to the mechanical transmission repair, which will cost more.

Something to try.
The next time you have this problem, try running the shifter down to the other gears... starting with 3 to see if the transmission engages.

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Old 12-19-2011, 04:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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i just drove to the store and it was fine but i will definitely try shifting into the other gears next time that happens.

I'm really not mechanically inclined...if it is the ATF level is the problem thats an easy fix right?
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Old 12-19-2011, 04:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
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If the ATF level is low, you'd add ATF to get it back to the correct level. If you have the ATF changed, it's not a major repair expense & if you don't know when it was last changed, that might be a good place to start.

Checking the ATF is kind of a pain. Unlike engine oil, the level normally doesn't drop unless you have a leak. If you decide to check the ATP level, there's a section in the Owner's Manual that covers the steps.

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Old 12-20-2011, 02:34 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfaz89 View Post
When I get into the car and shift from Park into Drive about 25-30% of the time it doesn't actually go into drive (even though the shifter is on D) it instead stays in Nuetral. Press the gas and the engine revs & I go nowhere. This so far has been able to be solved by putting it back in Park for 10-15 seconds and then going back into Drive.
CRC Trans-X should do the trick. Works great! My son's 2001 Forester acted just like yours (Reverse was fine, Drive took time). After a 5 mile road test, all was fine.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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long time no talk...thought I would update y'all on my mystery shifting problem.

My mechanic supposedly did a transmission safety check and found nothing- told me it was the weather. I kept having the problem more frequently so i caved and took it to my subaru dealership today and you guys were right! Apparently i was 2 quarts low on transmission fluid AND all the fluid that was in there was dirty. Got that taken care of and roadtested (drives better than it EVER has too) and then they come back and say my DOJ boot is cracked. Soooo time to dig into my wallet again.

I hope this car knows how much i love it haha
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:50 PM   #11 (permalink)
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^ Time to find another mechanic.....2 quarts low should've been found by any mechanic - in the 1st 10mins.

Glad you got it worked out and thanks for the update.

If you take it to 'your mechanic' make sure they don't use an el cheapo CV axle (unless they just replace the boot??) as you'll be doing it again in the next year. You don't have to buy Subaru OEM, but I'd buy the better brands.

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Old 01-18-2012, 08:08 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I'm not happy with my mechanic right now either and already talked to them to ask just how thoroughly they did check the transmission. They had a song and dance of course but i was never actually convinced that they even looked at it. Anyways because of all of that I'm going to have my Subaru Dealership change the DOJ (CV?) boot. I want to get it done and like you said- with good parts that won't break a few months down the line.

The car has been driving good so far...i'm crossing my fingers that it continues to improve. Any tips or signs I should look out for with this transmission? The service guys at Subaru said it is a fairly common issue with the older Foresters...I guess another perk, along with the Head Gaskets haha
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Old 01-18-2012, 08:40 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfaz89 View Post
I'm not happy with my mechanic right now either and already talked to them to ask just how thoroughly they did check the transmission. They had a song and dance of course but i was never actually convinced that they even looked at it. Anyways because of all of that I'm going to have my Subaru Dealership change the DOJ (CV?) boot. I want to get it done and like you said- with good parts that won't break a few months down the line.

The car has been driving good so far...i'm crossing my fingers that it continues to improve. Any tips or signs I should look out for with this transmission? The service guys at Subaru said it is a fairly common issue with the older Foresters...I guess another perk, along with the Head Gaskets haha
Hi,
You should have an ATF cooler installed. Heat is a big detriment to an AT transmission's lifespan.

FYI:
If you're going to the dealer, please ensure they check your car for all Recalls/TSB's applicable to your model. Recalls they fix for free; TSB's - depends on the dealer and age/miles of vehicle....but don't be afraid to say 'Hey, I'd like you to fix this as a 'goodwill' gesture'', or similar - it worked for me.

TSB's are usually 'dealer only knowledge', so you may want to read the thread on here about those.

Also, create an account on My Subaru, put in your VIN and it'll show your car's Recall status.

I had a '98 Forester and there was this Recall:
Axle Shaft Grease Leakage WXN71 Open

This is related to your DOJ boot repair, and if yours needs the Recall done, I'd REALLY push that they fix the boot for free/cheap.

And it's not related to the transmission, but the rear wheel bearings are a known problem on the older Foresters, and not cheap to fix $200-500. There's no preventative measure, but read up on here about it. It's not an easy, 'any mechanic' can fix it, repair, so you'll want to take it to either the dealer or a Subie mechanic.

GL,
Td
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Old 01-19-2012, 11:41 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Thanks for the pointers!

Unfortunately I never made it back to the dealer...my poor little green monster stopped shifting into any gear other than reverse & park about an hour ago...shes currently on a flatbed to the shop :(

I'm hoping beyond hope that its minor (I'm recently unemployed, recent college grad with bills and no income) but its starting to look pretty bad.
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Old 01-19-2012, 12:00 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Bummer....remember you don't have to have it fixed by the dealer and you CAN get a used transmission much cheaper.

Your Forester's tranny is interchangeable w/other years from Subaru - it does not have to be from a '99 Forester - looking online the '99-01 should be compatible.

Sorry for your challenges....GL,
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