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1996 subaru outback no awd

I have a 96 outback which all of a sudden has no awd. The rear differential looks as though it has leaked some. I don’t know if it has a bad axle, or if this loss of fluid is the culprit…anyone have any idea where to start?

Sounds like a bad transfer clutch. They made several tranny combinations though. Basically they used a power “clutch” device between the front and rear axles. Some models used a CVT some a clutch, and some an electronic continuously variable hydraulic transfer clutch. So which model you have makes a difference. You could have a blown fuse for the electronics or much worse.

How did you determine there is no drive to the rear?

Loss of rear differential fluid will not result in loss of drive to the rear wheels, it will just damage the differential. There would have to be horrible noises to really destroy the differential.

Is your car automatic or manual? The automatics have a transfer valve and clutch pack in the rear of the transmission, but when the valve goes bad it usually locks up the clutch, which sends drive to the rear all the time (the default drive mode). Symptoms of a bad transfer valve are binding and shuddering during tight, low-speed turns.

Automatics also have a FWD fuse receptacle under the hood. If a fuse is inserted into the receptacle drive to the rear is disabled. This is the only way I know of to eliminate drive to the rear axle in a Subaru, short of removing the drive shaft. Is there a fuse in the FWD receptacle? If so, the car has been operating in FWD as long as the fuse has been there.

Manual transmission cars have a viscous coupling, which, again, always sends drive to the rear.

it’s hard to not have drive to the rear wheels of a Subaru. You have to work at it, or do some really significant damage.

this subaru is an automatic. I live in vermont and have a long uphill driveway. This car has been a star getting up there this winter, i’ve been very impressed. but last night, I couldn’t make it, and the front tires were just spinning, I backed up and tried several times, no traction, just spinning front tires. Very odd, so I assumed there was a problem with the awd. Someone suggested a possible bad axle? would that result in loss of awd? I checked the FWD fuse, and there isn’t one in there.

I agree. Very odd. I suggest ice, hard-packed snow, or mud, on which the tires could not get traction, as the cause of the problem, not a sudden loss of rear drive. There has to be traction or the car won’t climb.

If there were a bad axle it would have to be completely broken, and it would be flopping around under the rear end, making a heck of a racket. You would not be able to drive the car if there were a broken axle.

Must be a heck of a hill.