CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

'99 Subaru will reverse but sometimes won't Drive (fwd)

My '99 Forester (134k miles) sometimes will not drive forward. No problem with reverse but when I shift into drive (or 3,2,1st gears) it’s the same as being in neutral…the engine revs but no forward movement. I could swear if I jiggle the wires under my steering wheel it helps but once I wasn’t able to make that work so I can’t rely on it. Mechanic flushed transmission twice worked for 8 months no problem. Now it’s back. Is it possible there could be an electrical reason for this? Please help…I just spent thousands replacing head gasket/timing belt and such. I really love my Subaru–don’t want a new one.

Have you at least checked the fluid?

Your best bet is to find your best local, independent shop that specializes in transmissions. Don’t bother with a regular mechanic. Don’t use national chain transmission shops.

Have it put on a scanner so that a tech can find out why it neutrals. The problems can be mechanical (e.g. poor internal seals) or electronic (e.g. failing/sticking solenoids). But there’s no way to guess from here.

Some shops will do a basic check of a transmission for free. Some will charge an hour or so of labor (and then tell you if they need more time). If repairs are necessary, many shops then discount the repair by whatever was paid for diagnosis.

Its your best bet.