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2016 Forester 6-speed
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8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hi folks:
i have found lots of MOTORCYCLE gear indicators, but can't find one for cars, can i buy the one for the motorcycle (see pic) and then get it installed in the left side of the top dash display? this part shows the temp and a/c settings in some Forester models, but in mine i don't have that, mine only has one light for passenger seat belts, shows red light when someone sitting in passenger seat and is not buckled in. i want to take that out and install a approx. 2x2 little box thingy that has a red LED gear number display, with N and 6 gears. can this be done?
or, does anyone know where i can get one for a CAR that will work in my Forester?
thx!
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2014 2.5i Limited CVT
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Much of this would depend on if the transmission has the output to power and provide that data to a sensor. I'm mostly sure that the CVT for the SJ generations (at least for the XT with "manual" mode) has some type of output as it shows in the center of the dash panel. But not sure if it's something in the base model or Premium with the manual transmission.

I'm sure there is something that does output that data (what gear it's in) as it's going to be useful to the engine control module and other systems.
 

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2021 Forester Sport Ice Silver
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14 Posts
Being it's a CVT, why do you care? Seems like a lot of trouble and $$. I just keep reminding myself how much I don't like CVT's at all much less what gear it's trying to replicate. Good luck.
 

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2016 Forester 6-speed
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8 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
oh, it's a 6-speed manual transmission, and i need something to tell me which gear i'm in, the car is so quiet it's hard to tell because i can't hear the engine whine;
plus i have two daughters and a son who i need to teach, the indicator would really help
 

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2018 Forester XT Limited CVT
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1,281 Posts
oh, it's a 6-speed manual transmission, and i need something to tell me which gear i'm in, the car is so quiet it's hard to tell because i can't hear the engine whine;
plus i have two daughters and a son who i need to teach, the indicator would really help
As they get used to what gear they should be using in certain conditions (speed, incline, load, desired acceleration or deceleration, keeping the engine in the desired RPM range), they shouldn't need a number on the dashboard. If needed, they should be able to tell what gear they're in by checking the stick, either with their hand or eyes. You also get an acceleration response when you press the throttle, and you can use that to see whether you're in an appropriate gear. Sometimes you want to stay in a gear where you get a good acceleration response. But, if they are driving and for example see an upcoming hill, they can judge how fast they're going and know from experience that they will need to be in a certain gear. Your car has a standard H shifter, not a sequential shifter, right? So you can pick any gear any time.

I would think that an indicator like you're talking about is kind of rare and most mainstream cars don't have something like that. If it were my kid, I'd just teach them without the indicator. Actually a friend of mine sometimes rebuilds old cars and he used a tractor to make a "road" track on a soft dirt field (he lives on a farm) and we got my son, who was 13 or 14 at the time, and we put him in the driver's seat and he drove a 5 spd around on this track, and after a couple minutes, he didn't stall any more when changing gears. This was the first time he had ever driven a car at all. He had never even driven an automatic.

Alternately, if you have other cars, the kids can learn on a CVT/discrete auto first. If they are mechanically inclined, after they know how to drive, give them a 10 minute lesson in the manual, explaining all the parts. This is the clutch, it does this. This is the shifter, it does this. After that it's all just practice.

If you REALLY wanted to have an indicator on the dash, I guess you could put mechanical/optical sensors right at the stick, and feed those into whatever kind of display you want. But that's more of a DIY approach. Honestly, I'd teach them without the indicator.
 

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2014 2.5i Limited CVT
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OK thanks for this information, should I call the dealer service department and ask if they know
It could be useful, but it may be more appropriate to talk to somebody really familiar with the manual transmission and the interaction to the ECU/ECM. The service writers in the driveway may not know - you'd want to ask a service tech - somebody that works on them. If you have a local Subaru specific mechanic in your area (some areas are loaded with independent shops that specialize in Subaru), that may be a better source. There are some current or former Subaru mechanics and techs here that might be able to answer that question better.
 

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2018 Forester XT Limited CVT
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1,281 Posts
I'd be interested to know how much, or if, the engine control cares what gear a manual transmission is in. You might not find anyone that knows unless you find someone that gets into the programming, like a tuner.
 

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2017 Foz 2.5i CVT
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Keep the radio off and have the kids watch the tachometer. Teach them principles and feel. First experiences should be in an automatic if at all possible.

You will know in one day if each individual kid gets it or doesn't. The time you spend on this project would be better spent on educating the kids if that is really your goal. They don't need another digital distraction. Sit in the passenger seat and TELL them what gear they are in if they need to know.

My son did driving sims for years, and in about 20 minutes he had driving a stick down perfectly except for the hill-holding and stuff in my prize possession BMW. In fact, after my son's experience with flight sims, he was TWICE able to take off and land a real airplane, with my wife and me in the plane one of those two times. Before he was 12 years old.
 

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99 L 5MT
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276 Posts
Sheesh at all these answers that trying to get you to do something else rather than help with the actual question, it doesn't matter why he wants what he wants. I would come here too if I wanted to know more about the mechanics of how to get something like this together.

That being said all I have is vague advice but I don't think this will be anything like plug in play or just splicing a few wires together. As far as I know the ECU doesn't exactly know what gear you're in but can maybe approximate it based on speed/rpm. I think to tap into that though you would need something that's communicating with the ECU (like a computer) and some probably custom programming to take that information and use it to control a display. It would be easier to use a display that works well with the computer vs that one which looks like it's made for use with sensors.

Alternatively it would probably be easiest to install a set of sensors on the gear selector itself which I think would work well with a display like that and would definitely be the simplest/least bulky of these two options. As to what that actually entails or the best kind of sensor I have no idea, but if you want to take this project on that's what I would start entertaining.
 

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2021 Forester Limited
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1,357 Posts
Not sure about 2016, but all my 2010 5MT had was the reverse light switch, and I believe another one that indicated if it was in a gear or neutral. It used them mostly to determine if it should engage Hill Climb assist, and possibly if it was in the higher or lower ranges. I seem to recall it would not engage Cruise Control if it was in a gear lower than 3 or 4. But I couldn't say if it could detect each gear specifically. I know when the reverse switch failed, It would not let the Hill Climb assist function work. I don't recall on Cruise Control.

But six model years newer, maybe there is some glimmer of hope?

Kids as well as adults can get absent minded at times, and forget to shift into overdrive. I have done it before. Light cruising, it is easy to do, especially with a whisper quiet exhaust. Maybe a digital number would help.

And sometimes a little challenge like this just keeps the cogs going in your head, even if it doesn't make sense to anyone else.

Best of luck!
 

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2018 Forester XT Limited CVT
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1,281 Posts
OP wants a display to show what gear is selected. I don't think you need to talk the ECU. I don't think the ECU cares what gear the manual transmission is in, wouldn't guess which gear it's in (no need to), and doesn't have any control over the manual transmission. The MT is still a mechanical linkage, unlike the others, isn't it?
 

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Super Moderator
2001 Forester S, 4EAT
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4,586 Posts
OP wants a display to show what gear is selected. Why is anyone talking about the ECU? Why talk to it, even if it for some reason would use speedo+tach to guess? And why would it guess, why would it care? The MT is still a mechanical linkage, unlike the others, right? The car has no control over the transmission if it's a manual, right?
I disagree with that for the reason my BMW R1200RT is a mechanical linkage 6 speed transmission. Yes it is a sequential shifter so that may simplify things for the "Display", in that it just counts how many times I have flicked up or flicked down the shift lever. But it also can detect that I did not flick hard enough between 1 and 2 and indicates I dropped into neutral.

However, I doubt there is any easy for the OP to find or install anything without extensive modifications to his vehicle to actually detect and display what gear the MT is in.
 

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2018 Forester XT Limited CVT
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Is the 2016 Forester MT a sequential? Or is it an H, so you could approach a stop and go from 4 or 5 into 2 or neutral, so the ECU has no way (or reason) to know what gear is selected?

I just looked at the 2016 manual. Page 7-22 shows the H config.

For "modifications" you could use mechanical limit switches or optical sensors to see where the shifter is. And then just a display. You could rig something to display a number or R, but I'd just display the H, and have a red light in each position, and a green light in the middle that comes on if none of the others are on, and maybe a yellow or something for R. But, if you already have your hand on the shifter, you know where is, or looking at your speed and other outside conditions, you can guess.

BTW what do you disagree with? :)
 

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oh, it's a 6-speed manual transmission, and i need something to tell me which gear i'm in, the car is so quiet it's hard to tell because i can't hear the engine whine;
plus i have two daughters and a son who i need to teach, the indicator would really help
Don't cripple them by teaching to depend on an indicator. I know this sounds harsh, but if someone needs a gear indicator then shouldn't be driving a manual.
Taught my wife, son and now daughter is learning.
 

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99 L 5MT
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276 Posts
OP wants a display to show what gear is selected. I don't think you need to talk the ECU. I don't think the ECU cares what gear the manual transmission is in, wouldn't guess which gear it's in (no need to), and doesn't have any control over the manual transmission. The MT is still a mechanical linkage, unlike the others, isn't it?
Of course you don't need to talk to the ECU, you don't need to do anything. It's just a method that would work compared to ops suggestion (which wouldn't) and everybody else's previous suggestion of "just don't do it". Like I said it would be easier to install your own set of sensors on the shifter itself.

Totally disagree with everyone arguing that an indicator makes it too easy (?) or something, since when is having more info a bad thing? Actual professional race car drivers use them all the time. Would love to know how you tackle it if you end up taking this on, I think it'd be really nice to have and a good way to prevent mis shifts especially with someone just starting out.
 

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2018 Forester 6MT
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80 Posts
I'll just chime in with additional data points. I'm not sure the SJ Forester manual transmissions pass that information. My 2011 Outback had it on a small display in the speedometer cluster for the gear indicator (6MT). Both my 2016 and my 2018 had/have no such indicator, and even after swapping out the speedometer cluster to an electroluminescent version, the "gear indicator" doesn't work.

It doesn't necessarily mean it isn't being sent somewhere, but I'd expect the CAN message or some type of "indicator" to at least use a common format between the MT and AT/CVT varieties. Since it didn't do anything with the speedometer cluster swap, it makes me believe it is something they just didn't fit on the 6MT.
 

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2018 Forester XT Limited CVT
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Of course you don't need to talk to the ECU, you don't need to do anything. It's just a method that would work
It would work only if the ECU somehow knows what gear is selected. My guess (guess) is that the ECU doesn't need to know, and since it doesn't need to know, the manual transmission doesn't have any sensors to tell anything what gear is selected. There's a switch to turn the reverse lights on, but that's not really a sensor. Well maybe there's a sensor if you have RAB or something but I don't know if the MT cars have that.

Why would the ECU need to know what gear is selected on a manual transmission? It has all the mapping, and sensors for RPM, throttle position, air intake, temperature, etc. it doesn't need to know what gear is selected any more than it needs to know how many people are in the car or how much the trailer weighs, or whether all the windows are open (aero drag), etc. For the CVT/discrete auto, maybe the trans needs to know the engine state so it knows whether or not to shift, but does the info need to go in the other direction?
 

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2017 Forester 2.5i
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60 Posts
Short answer: No, there is no easy way to do it.

My longer answer with my 2 cents: You're going to go through more work to cobble an "indicator" into the dash than it will require to teach anyone to know when to shift.

The ECU and the transmission have no simple "output" to tell you your gear selection. Short of doing a boatload of unreliable switches, soldering, and programming something like a Raspberry Pi to output a digital signal to that indicator, you're going to have to home-brew something that will otherwise crutch someone from learning what they need to be taught.

If they need to know what gear they're in... Look at the shifter. It's an H-pattern, and the throws in any 6-speed Forester are so long that it's next to impossible to misjudge the selector placement. That's why the pattern is on the top of the shifter.

Every vehicle I own has a stick. My two kids have both learned the essentials of listening to the engine, watching the tach, and "reading" engine load. They're 4 and 6.
 
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