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Discussion Starter #1
Car has 118,000 miles, runs great. We've put almost 30K on it. I changed* ATF and filter a few months ago.* (yes, i used the right ATF)*

Tonight the trans did a bunch of bad weird things.* Driving on the highway it begins surging, RPMS go to 4000 rpm.**

Slow the car down to about 45 and it stabilizes somewhat.* Forced to stop at a light and it can barely move,* at this point my wife pulled over and waited for me.

When i got there the ATF was normal level,* we fired the car up and drove off.* She was able to maintain 45-50 for the drive home.* ATF light came on but i could not retrieve a code.*

When i put it in park it made a grinding noise and park did not hold the car.*

Also clunks going into reverse.

Obviously we are not driving it but there are no Subaru shops around here so it's gonna sit until i have an idea how catastrophic this is.*
 

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If you can pull the code - that's the best. You will need FreeSSM. Search subaruoutback.org for that term.

Otherwise, it sounds like something is mechanically wrong since the parking pawl didn't engage.

Path of least resistance will be putting a used transmission in. This is a rare failure, and a low mileage transmission would be great. I think this is a common transmission with the H6 outbacks. but you should check to be sure.
 

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It's not hard, but you have to either pull the engine or drop the transmission from below. Depends on what equipment you have.

A number of people have done this, but I don't have a link to send you to...

Most common problem with the swap is making sure the engine and the transmission are lined up when putting together. People sometimes push the spine shaft in to the transmission and crack the transmission pump.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Could it be the differential ?

Without any expertise I am trying to work through the symptoms. We limped it home (about 20 miles) and sometimes it would slip badly and sometimes it would engage pretty well and behave almost normally.
If the front differential was bad would that account for these symptoms?
 

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If you do replace the front axles, it not too bad of a DIY job. I bought aftermarket axles from Rockauto for under $100/each. They fit perfectly and so-far-so-good after 10k+ miles.
This helped me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2o0Ln9P17w
I didn't experience the problems you described though mine were just wore out...the car would roll a little after putting in park.
 

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Front diff is integrated with the transmission, and most people replace them together.

It could be a number of things.

It sounds like the transmission is slipping (worn clutch packs) but it's worth a detailed diagnosis.

Tom
 

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Could it be the differential ?

Without any expertise I am trying to work through the symptoms. We limped it home (about 20 miles) and sometimes it would slip badly and sometimes it would engage pretty well and behave almost normally.
If the front differential was bad would that account for these symptoms?
It also could be the transmission valve system. I'm at work right now, but when I'm home I try to take a picture of our old one and look up the part number. It is basically the lower end of the transmission and it is s separate part.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
More info- I've lost front wheel drive

I attempted to roll the car into my garage to have a look. There's mud, it got stuck, no traction to the front wheels. I had to back out of the mud.

Then i took it to the dirt driveway and attempted to spin the tires - only the rears would spin.
 

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More info- I've lost front wheel drive

I attempted to roll the car into my garage to have a look. There's mud, it got stuck, no traction to the front wheels. I had to back out of the mud.

Then i took it to the dirt driveway and attempted to spin the tires - only the rears would spin.
If you are having will spin, that maybe a failure in the system that transfers power between the wheels. Did you ever get the transmission codes pulled? Those are vital to getting the facts right in your situation. Doesn't mean that the answer will be cut and dry, but it is better than guessing.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I do not believe there are any codes. The TRANS light was on for a while (driving home) but it no longer lights up when i start the car. and my OBD gizmo picks up no stored codes.

That makes sense to me. I'm thinking the front diff is purely mechanical does not have any sensors?

The mechanical symptoms seem pretty clear. The trans seems to slip sometimes and not others, there is no traction to the front wheels.

Also, a while back wen i changed the front gear oil it was 50% low. I don't recall the numbers but very little came out and it was black and smelly. I put in the required amount and the car was a lot quieter.

I won't be able to get under it until after christmas but I'm researching options.

It looks like the front diff is hard to find as a stand alone part. New or used it is included with the trans. But it is a separate gearbox, it should come off right?
 

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It is a challenging assembly that needs precision shimming. A few people have replaced just the front diff, but it's rare, usually they just replace the whole assembly. I believe someone did it over on subaruoutback.org

I would just replace the whole transmission once I was 100% sure that it wasn't something else.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I know my limitations. I suppose I'll put in the whole thing in and keep my old transmission.

I suspect my wife will get 80,000 more miles from this car and then i'll beat it to death for the last 100K.
 

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Does the car roll with shift lever in "P"? The parking pawl holds the front wheels only, because rear wheels are not connected to the transmission, at least when engine is off.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Yes, parking brake holds the car. But placing it in park does not.

It's very flat here, most people never use their parking brake
 

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Talking about parking brake (before editing) was a mistake, I really meant what happens when you set the transmission in "P". If the wheels aren't blocked, it might mean broken input shaft to the front differential.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Yup, that's what it does. Placing it in park does not hold it.

But somehow it gets power to the rear wheels.
 
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