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2017 Forester Premium 2.5i CVT
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Discussion Starter #1
So eventually down the line I'm looking to swap my CVT to a manual. While this is a way away I do like everything about my 2017 premium the price difference between an out of warranty CVT and a manual to be a big factor in my thought process. My question is: How difficult would it be? Being that the 2.5 had an option for the manual transmission what all would need to be changed?
 

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2019 Crosstrek 2018 XT
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14,577 Posts
The CVT has a 100K warranty.
 

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2017 Forester Premium 2.5i CVT
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Discussion Starter #3
@adc I drive my cars 15k+ miles annually and tend to keep cars for as long as I possibly can. I'm the type to replace engines when they go. So once the CVT is out after 100k I'm looking to do an MT swap.
 

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2019 Forester Touring
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1,029 Posts
Given enough time, access to parts and mechanical expertise... and, of course $$$$.... anything is possible.

Those are the questions only the person wanting to indulge in such an undertaking can answer...

Speaking generally (and, I might add, economically), for the vast majority of folks, it’s always less expensive (and more reliable) to find a model that shipped from the factory with a manual transmission.

The fact you’re asking this question inducates you do not possess the necessary knowledge to perform the desired change (and theres no shame in that, by the way), so you’ll need to factor in paying for access to that knowledge in making your decision...
 

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2016 XT Premium
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291 Posts
Its as easy as finding one for sale, and then buying it. There is no point in performing a CVT-to-6MT swap on a 2.5 since you can just go buy a used one.

Why not just buy one now while you could still find a low mile example?
 

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2016 and 2020 Foresters
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If you happen to have Eyesight, then it's not possible without disabling that system entirely and that is likely rather involved.

Otherwise, generally things like the driveshaft, diff, axles, ECU, wiring harness, are all involved to varying extents depending on the vehicle.
 

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2019 Forester Touring
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This topic seems to be somewhat popular across many make/model forums on occasion. There’s far more interest in making the swap than there is in actually making the swap.

Few people actually attempt to make these types of modifications, and even less complete them successfully.

As @asphaltaddict33 suggested, the most economical way to do this successfully is to buy a vehicle already configured with a manual transmission.
 

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2017 Forester Premium 2.5i CVT
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Discussion Starter #8
The fact you’re asking this question inducates you do not possess the necessary knowledge to perform the desired change (and theres no shame in that, by the way), so you’ll need to factor in paying for access to that knowledge in making your decision...
Partially true but I take no offense because no one knows me here. The last time I was part of an auto to manual swap the car didn't need to be flashed for it to matter. My issues aren't with installing the clutch or flywheels. Those issues can be overcome with enough effort and caution. My concern is how the car itself will react once the transmission has been pulled and a manual transmission, driveshaft, CV axles, and everything in-between have been swapped. I don't mind the CVT for a daily driver use. I feel like it's a very imperfect system on a good day but that's not really a deal breaker. So I'm in no real rush to push this along so I can take my time and do it right. So, if you have anything along those lines that can assist me I'd be very grateful. Happy New Years.
 

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Typically people will replace the ECU altogether with one designed for the trans. Expect to do that rather than flashing.
 

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2019 Forester Touring
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If you do elect to undertake this modification, please keep track of the components you change out, along with the expenses, and come back and post them, along with the results and your observations ... and pix, too.... I’m quite sure there are many others beside me that would find the project interesting and informative.

I wish you good luck!
 

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2017 Forester Premium 2.5i CVT
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Discussion Starter #12
@sneefy you mentioned that the eyesight would prevent a swap from being possible. Would a Subaru tech be able to fix that issue or what about that specifically would block it? I've got an eyesight system but not the brake assist unless I'm on cruise and I'm totally fine with losing that side of the cruise control if it came down to it.
 

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2016 XT Premium
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Partially true but I take no offense because no one knows me here.
Fair enough, a good superfluous wrenching project is always fun. Theoretically, the computers will be the biggest issue. Physically swapping an ECU and TCM should be easy enough, but expect some-to-tons of additional wiring work needed and some pins in the connectors needing to be switched. If I was dead-set on doing this, I would put out feelers to junk yards to find a wrecked 2.5i 6MT to buy, or go study at the yard. Having one on hand to be able to inspect and catalogue the differences in wiring and such would be invaluable, as well as the parts it could hopefully contribute.

If your state requires an OBD-II based emissions check to be passed each year for your registration, I suspect it will be very difficult to get an ECU which works with a 6MT to be flashed to match the original VIN plate on your car. Not an issue everywhere but it would be a shame to complete this and not be able to drive it. Good luck!
 

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2017 Forester Premium 2.5i CVT
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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited by Moderator)
That's actually how I redid a lot of stuff on my old chevy pickup when I was a kid. My buddy had one and I just compared how everything was sitting in his to how mine should look. I started to buy a donor truck but in hindsight it's better I didn't. The MT donor isn't a half bad idea. Just depends on how bad the junkyard wants to play ball.

Also, my state doesn't even require inspections. As long as we can provide the illusion it has something close to the legal requirements it should have then cops are fine. I saw a cherokee XJ yesterday with the exhaust hanging down and the muffler detached from the midpipe and the whole thing was swinging. Loud as sin but he drove it like it was nobodies business. So as long as the car runs and doesn't combust I can do whatever. It's nice but also scary.
 

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@sneefy you mentioned that the eyesight would prevent a swap from being possible. Would a Subaru tech be able to fix that issue or what about that specifically would block it? I've got an eyesight system but not the brake assist unless I'm on cruise and I'm totally fine with losing that side of the cruise control if it came down to it.
All eyesight equipped cars have emergency braking assist. Your 2017 Premium also has the following (taken from 2017 Subaru Forester research webpage (cars101.com):

Lane Keep Assist- works over 40 mph. Helps steer the car back into a lane when drifting across lane markers
Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert...is included on the 2.5 Premium with optional Eyesight. it uses 2 rear corner mounted radar units to detect cars alongside and approaching alongside.
Steering Responsive Fog Lights (Premium only)
Pre-Collision Braking
Pre-Collision Brake Assist
Pre-Collision Throttle Management
Lane Departure and Lane Sway Warning
Adaptive Cruise Control
Lead Vehicle Start Alert

You'd likely lose all of that. Blind spot detection wasn't available on Eyesightless cars, so I'm just assuming it can't be saved. Steering responsive fogs might even be lost since they were only included on Eyesight-equipped models. Nobody to my knowledge has done this swap (or at least nobody on the forum...), but from my understanding the Eyesight system is integrated fairly deeply. The typical auto-to-manual swap done in a Subaru means replacing the ECU and getting invasive with the wiring harness, so that'd have pretty profound impact on such a system, I'd imagine.

Eyesight cannot be paired with a manual transmission so you'd need to disable it completely. Not quite sure what that would entail or what bits would be left over that would need to be dealt with. Braking solenoids can possibly be left alone as they should just stay in open mode. Not sure if there are separate controllers for other things like BSD or what cruise control mode will still be available if the cameras are no longer functional.

I'm not Subaru tech, (not even an engineer 😱) so I'm just guessing on all this. It would be a good question for a good technician regarding the repercussions of trying to do this on an eyesight-equipped car. I'd be very curious to know what they say.

I don't know how you choose to value your time, but, as has been said, it would likely be way more cost effective to find a factory manual-equipped Forester.
 

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2015 Forester XT Touring CVT
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I have no experience in this kind of stuff but I think that different AWD system in CVT vs manual may be an issue as well
 

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2017 Forester Premium 2.5i CVT
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Discussion Starter #17
I don't know how you choose to value your time, but, as has been said, it would likely be way more cost effective to find a factory manual-equipped Forester.
I'm a married man with 2 kids living in a suburb. No one needs me until I'm busy. I wouldn't want to dump 6 months in to it because I do intend to use the car. Lane assist I can live without because the lane keep only works if you activate it. My eyesight braking only happens with cruise control. I'll reach out to the local shop that does a lot of subaru work and see if there's ways around things. It's not a do or die. If I can't get a manual in to this one it'll take away the longevity of the car, though. I'm not fond of what I can't make mine and the NA Forester line has to be the most lackluster make and model I've ever seen in that regard. It's disappointing.
 

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I wouldn't want to dump 6 months in to it because I do intend to use the car.
Well, this wouldn't be a quick swap, for sure. It's more than simply throwing in a transmission.

My eyesight braking only happens with cruise control.
All eyesight-equipped Subarus have emergency braking. If it's not working properly, that's a different story, but it's there.

I'll reach out to the local shop that does a lot of subaru work and see if there's ways around things.
Very curious to hear their response!

If I can't get a manual in to this one it'll take away the longevity of the car, though. I'm not fond of what I can't make mine and the NA Forester line has to be the most lackluster make and model I've ever seen in that regard. It's disappointing.
Accounting for time and expense given how complicated it'll end up being, I'd be curious to know if it's actually cheaper to just replace the CVT if it goes. I'd think paying someone else to perform the swap is a non-starter and would cost much more than just replacing the CVT.

Personally, my time has value and the amount of time needed to dump into such a project is, to me, a massive waste. If I'm going to spend wrench time it would need to be on something interesting. (Unfortunately I have no Miata or BRZ in the stable at the moment...)

Why is longevity dependent on a manual trans? How you define 'make mine' and how is it 'lackluster'?
 

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Don’t forget the “reliability” aspect...it’s one thing to start making major modifications on a vehicle if it isn’t needed as a daily driver, and quite another to depend on the vehicle for needed transportation.

In my opinion (and as one who has done different levels of restorations of multiple vehicles in various conditions from the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, when things were SO much simpler/straightforward to work on), a project such as this undertaking on a modern vehicle will never make economic sense.

Of course, if an individual is doing this as a hobby, or for some type of educational experience, a stronger case may be made in favor of such a project.
 

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2017 Forester Premium 2.5i CVT
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Discussion Starter #20
@sneefy

Because I'm big on making whats yours feel like yours and I feel like Subaru kind of dropped the ball on how they did the SJ forester and how they're treating future models in particular now. Namely with the lack people interested in it and the lacking aftermarket community. You give the sportier engine with 100+ more HP and torque a CVT and no manual option? You also build the 2.5 motor to where it apparently can't handle boost? So you have to choose at that point: sluggish manual or sporty automatic? Despite having the ability to do both and having it requested you don't? The aftermarket community also totally ignored the 2.5 NA motor for the XT option because it has a turbo and that's what you SHOULD do but that makes things like custom turbos or anything or the sort a huge taboo option and a costly one to even attempt. The options are staggeringly limited for what it should.

But wait, there's more!

You also make the struts different and the aftermarket XT struts and lift kits are sometimes harder to find on a world market than what should be acceptable. I've watched people constantly ask for XT struts that aren't lowering struts for their cars and not be able to find it. Now from what I understand this is rarer now than it was when the car was in production. So there's another choice: automatic sporty with fewer suspension options or better handling sluggish manual option? Despite the buyers of your cars constantly requesting the 2.0 FA with a 6MT you ignore it and kill it with a "maybe it will come back" whisper. Then have the audacity to say something about not needing power to be sporty. Yes... Yes you do.

That's also not including that the differential options are OEM, $1200 for a LDS rear and a LDS front for the manuals in the 2.5. New ring and pinion gears on your wish list? Forget it. They've got OEM. The end.

Don't get me wrong the 2.5 is a good motor but I want the option to make it a little better without dumping a small fortune in to it and seeing if it "might" work or blowing the motor. If I can't do that then I won't keep it as long as I want to. I'm obviously not the demographic they have in mind when they built it. For a car company that advertises you can go anywhere you've got very limited very precise options of what you can and can't do to your car and your adventure.
 
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