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2001 Forester S 5 spd
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Ok I just got home but barely in my 2001 forester s with 184k miles on it. The previous owner definitely neglected this car. I replaced the engine a month ago and have put 3500 miles on it especially from this trip from El Paso, Texas to Leavenworth, Kansas. I have this vibration/hesitation feeling/clicking/popping sound coming from the front end. Over my 500 mile drive back, it got worse. How to tell the difference from a center diff issue and a driver front axle issue? Both look in good condition and not torn or leaking. It now makes this noise when I turn backing up in any direction, accelerating forward, and its worse going up hill and turning. It feels like it hesitates but the RPM's don't change. Its definitely a drivetrain not engine issue and it does it all the time now, cold or hot, fast or slow. It gets better when there is no load on the drivetrain and when the clutch is pressed in and turning then it doesn't pop. Any help where to start or advice from experience is much appreciated. If you would like a video I can make one later today. Thanks.
 

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2001 Forester S 5 spd
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
How could I check the axle visually? The boots are not torn or leaking and they seem like they have the same amount of play in each which is very little
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ok so I took apart the front axles and they look fine, re-greased and reassembled. Now I think it's a center diff or front diff issue
 

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2002 Forester manual
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Looks exactly like mine did. Spring clip came off diff and chewed up the teeth on the gears. You will need another diff and the gears. I was lucky enough to find a used trams that had a good center diff and gears. I know the diff was $595 new from my local dealer. Not sure on the other parts. Hopefully it didn't do any damage to the rest of the trans. Mine seemed fine after changing all the stuff in the transfer case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The rest if the transmission looks fine so it looks like I just need a center diff and a good transmission cleaning
 

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2002 Forester manual
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79 Posts
And don't forget to replace the gears that the teeth got chewed off on. They may still work but I wouldn't take the chance.
 

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I lucked out and got a used trans for $50. And everything in the transfer case was good so used it all. I have a garage that all they work on is Subarus near me and got lucky. As far as I know any phase 2 5mt transfer case and associated parts are interchangeable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
ok so she's finally back up and running! I wanted to go the cheapest route so I had to pull the parts myself. The only pick and pull near me only had two phase 1 5 speed transmissions so I researched and decided to go with it. I switched the entire center diff section and now I have a phase 2 transmission with a phase 1 center diff. If anyone wants to go that route like I chose, your going to need the entire back center diff portion. The brackets are all in the same location, the only difference is the internals and the access plate on the top. It runs better then it did before it broke and its a little quieter (I think the diff was going out when I first bought it. It was making a loud buzzing noise when transferring power before it broke).
 

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2001 Forester S 5 spd
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
total for me was 130 for the transmission, 20 for o'reilly's 80w-90 (going to change it in a week to flush out the rest of the metal flakes that I couldn't get out), and 7 for high temp RTV. Not too bad for a major issue like this.
 

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Arrrgh. I think I have the same problem. Swapped everything that rotates on the front suspension, then did all the joints and CV Axles. Mine still has the hesitation feeling up front and whining that only changes depending on the speed. Feels like I am in a 4 wheel drive chevy with a messed up diff or a bent frame, like the car is working against itself. I paid the right price for the car to fix this myself and make it worthwhile thank goodness.

wengermi, one question regarding the pics. You had a couple of gears chipped there pretty good. Are these gears in the diff section or actually in the transmission? I have the option of buying a whole transmission locally (overpriced and used but guaranteed 90 days) but I will only buy a diff if I can. My plan is to fix it where it lasts another 100k.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Those are the center diff gears that are chipped, the transmission gears are still good. If your trying to salvage what's left of your transmission then your should disassemble it first before buying parts and assess the damage. Mine felt like it was slipping trying to transfer power and the grinding noise was the gears inside the center diff was loosened up. I took it off roading and it was loud transfer power, sounding like a buzzing sound and it got worse to a grinding sound when turning. While driving it hesitated when I gave it more gas but the rpms were constant so I knew it wasn't a engine problem.
 

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Thanks for the extra info. I will definitely check everything out while I have it apart. I am going to go ahead and do all the work I can in that part of the car, so trans is coming out, I am fixing whatever is wrong there and in the diff, and also changing the rear main seal and clutch kit. I just learned that the trans split in two on this vehicle. Seems a lot easier to mess with than having to pull everything out at once.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Just a heads up, be prepared to get a lot of gear oil everywhere and when splitting the trans to remove the right side because the left has all the shifter stuff. Also use a light coat of high temp rtv of your choice, and if you get a phase 1 center diff make sure you get everything to include the housing with all the internals and the shifter centering spring. The phase 2 has internal springs and the phase 1 has external springs. Make sure it shifts through the gears before reinstalling the transmission back in the car. If you can't shift it then the shifter isn't aligned correctly.
 

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ok so she's finally back up and running! I wanted to go the cheapest route so I had to pull the parts myself. The only pick and pull near me only had two phase 1 5 speed transmissions so I researched and decided to go with it. I switched the entire center diff section and now I have a phase 2 transmission with a phase 1 center diff. If anyone wants to go that route like I chose, your going to need the entire back center diff portion. The brackets are all in the same location, the only difference is the internals and the access plate on the top. It runs better then it did before it broke and its a little quieter (I think the diff was going out when I first bought it. It was making a loud buzzing noise when transferring power before it broke).
I hope that parts donor trans had the 1:1 transfer gears you need for your trans.


Thanks for the extra info. I will definitely check everything out while I have it apart. I am going to go ahead and do all the work I can in that part of the car, so trans is coming out, I am fixing whatever is wrong there and in the diff, and also changing the rear main seal and clutch kit. I just learned that the trans split in two on this vehicle. Seems a lot easier to mess with than having to pull everything out at once.
It is easier to opt for the phase2 center diff and replacement transfer gears. If you stick to phase2 just pull the tail section off, remove the busted parts, clean out the transfer housing, and replace with the repair parts. There is usually no need to remove the transfer housing. There are measurements ans shims but most I have done work out fine if you reuse the shims that were in there already. Also if the repair center diff is a cir-clip version, have someone who knows how to weld tack the cir-clip to avoid an identical repair. The cir-clip is known for that failure mode, newer center diffs went back to the c-clip design due to this. Best of luck!

My 2002 was also a casualty.
 

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Thanks for the extra info. I have actually pulled my trans altogether since during the process of diagnosing this issue I have found I also need a throwout bearing. I have pulled the trans and my whole clutch is already swapped, along with a new flywheel and rear main seal.

I was lucky to find that no pieces have come loose in my center diff. The rear output shaft bearing in the center diff housing seems to be the source of my issues. I found that someone had recently replaced the driveshaft altogether, and also swapped the rear main seal of the transmision/center diff. I imagine a shortage of fluid or a torn sealhere was the instigator of the damamge. I am starting a new thread to detail my issues for any new posts. Seems my center diff is in great shape. I will tack the circlip in place as suggested as long people thnk my diff looks good.
 
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