1998 Subaru Forester gear issue

So I recently purchased a 1998 Subaru Forester S Manual transmission. Got it cause I wanted a manual transmission car what most caught my eye about the car was the cars mileage 128,000 original miles 1 owner. Before purchasing the car I test drove it clutch felt fine for a 98 I did notice first gear felt little more hard to shift to then the others. Bought it drove it back home 34 Miles it drove like a champ smooth ride. 2 days later during the week was driving back home Was stopped at a red light when it was my turn to go I put it in first was gonna take off and 1st gear jump back to neutral. Now it’s done it again has only done it twice since I purchased it 1st time it happened right away I did its maintenance and I’ve had the car for about 4 months got an oil change spark plugs drained it’s transmission gear oil front a rear differential. Anyone have any ideas what causing that read online could be a worn out pilot bearing or worn out gear teeth?

Check all motor and transmission mounts.

And seeing that it’s only done it twice in 4 months, it could be that you’re not putting it fully into gear.

If the mounts check OK (and they probably are not), I’d guess 1st gear is worn out or the trans bearing on the 1st gear end of the trans is worn out, or both.

Let’s think for a second… 128K on a 21 year old vehicle. Driven 5 work days a year and 40 miles on the weekend for 21 years. That calculates to a 15 mile commute each workday. A 7.5 mile one-way commute sounds like city-suburban combined traffic which is a LOAD of work for first gear thru 4th and the clutch. You would have been better off with a car with 228,000 highway miles.

I’d suggest when the trans comes out for the clutch replacement, you should rebuild it at the same time.

+1 to all of Mustangman’s comments!

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I’ll make sure to check those out this week. I’m pretty sure Ive put it fully in gear but who knows maybe those both times I didn’t shift it in right. Mustangman’s you got a good point. It’s just first gear that is hard to shift to the rest feel fine. How much am I looking at to rebuild the transmission any idea?

Jumping out of gear usually means excessive mainshaft end play or more commonly; a worn shift fork.
If the car has been predominantly used for stop and go city driving it can be quite common for someone to rest their hand on the gearshift. while motoring along in slow traffic.

This creates wear on the shift fork and the synchronizer sleeve. The only way to determine this is by disassembly of the transmission.
Subaru makes an assortment of 1/2 and 3/4 shift forks that are numbered. Each one has a different offset one way or the other. This has to be determined while the trans is apart.

A rebuild will be expensive. However, odds are the transmission will not need to be fully rebuilt. Just replace the fork and/or sleeve parts as needed.

However (there’s always a however…) the process is touchy and the job should be done preferably by someone with Subaru manual expereience. There’s also another issue which can make it prohibitively expensive and that is disassembly of the mainshaft to take care of the synchronizer ring/gear taper fit. This is not something mentioned in service manuals and many Subaru techs are probably not even aware of it.

Pardon the length of this post. Hope it helps in some small way.

Ok4450 I appreciate the information. I am definitely gonna get someone to come check it out before this issue gets worse then I’ll be looking at an expensive fix

In the mean time, is it wise to keep your hand on the gearshift, pushing it into position, to eliminate more wear caused by it popping out?

That will just exacerbate the problem although no harm no foul at this point I guess. If it were me I’d try to shift into second as soon as possible.

Usually the problem is in the 3/4 fork as 3 and 4 are where most city driving is done; short of full stops that is. 1/2 is seldom the problem unless someone has been creeping in very slow traffic.

The weight of the hand is what causes the problem so it’s best on a manual transmission to keep the weight off of the shifter as much as possible. The hand causes the shift shaft to ride off of the detent ball which in turn forces the shift fork to rub against the synchronizer sleeve. Eventually the rubbing causes wear which in turn causes it to jump out of gear. Hope that helps and good luck.

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