CVT at low speeds, Subaru

I have a new 2015 Subaru Forester and I noticed the following problem: When driving at a constant low speed, in the 20-30 MPH range, the car bucks/hesitates slightly off and on, while driving. At first I thought the engine was missing, but I noticed the RPM was at about 1000 RPM, very low. And a missing engine would cause a “check engine” warning.

So I think this is a combination of the CVT and the engine lugging. The CVT should move down a notch to a lower “gear” but it doesn’t, so the engine is forced to operate at a problem speed. A normal transmission would downshift, I would think.

Can anyone else with a similar model verify this? Can I do anything to solve this, other than manually shift to the low range?

sounds like a warranty covered problem, have you asked the dealer?

I would take it to the dealer, have them check it out, and test drive another one to see if they all do it.

+1 to the preceding comments.
And, I will add that with automatic transmissions nowadays, it is not unusual for car manufacturers to periodically revise the programming, and it is just possible that the dealership may have a download that they can apply to your TCM.

thanks, I’ll talk to the dealer.


+2 about taking it to the dealer. I have a 2014 Subaru Legacy with the CVT, but I understand the 2015 is a new generation of CVT that is supposed to be “better”. Like all new generations, there are usually bugs to work out.

Since this is at such a low throttle opening, be sure your foot is steady on the gas pedal.

CVTs can have problems and programming is a big part of how the transmission works.

I agree with the suggestion to take it to get checked out AND to test drive another of the same for comparison.

Let us know how you make out. If it turns out to be a characteristic of this powertrain, you’ll be contributing to our knowledge base so we can better help others.

my last car was a Passat V6, which moved along fine at 1000 RPM and 20 MPH, so I have practice at this.


Hey Bill,

This is the old thread, anyway I have to ask: I have the same exactly problem with my Forester 2016, as you describe. Have you figure out what was the problem?


no, dealer said no problem. I learned to live with it. Don’t notice it much now.

1 Like

Thanks for answer! That’s sad, as currently I spend 90% of time in traffic and it’s very annoying I must tell you.

Ask the dealer, you may get some useful info. Let me know if you do.