Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Drivetrain binds up

I have a 1991 Legacy AWD (auto) wagon with about 155k miles. Just recently it has done this a few times. When I’m going slowly and in a turn – not a hard turn, just turning into my driveway or away from my driveway so that I can back in – the car seems to “bind up” and just stop by itself. It’s on a hill so it should just roll, but it stops of its own accord. If I “force” it through the turn or stop and back up, it “releases,” and then its fine. I realize this explanation is a little vague, but that’s about as well as I can describe it. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks in advance!

The torque divider between the front and rear axles is binding. Has this problem developed as the temperature has dropped?

Well, I would say “yes” because it just started happening within the last week or so. But I can’t honestly say that it’s been cold at the times it has happened. And it doesn’t do it all the time; it’s happened only 3 times that I noticed.

My opinion is based on interpolating the “locking up” that is common to 4 wheel drives when driven on high traction surfaces and the wet plate clutches used on the torque divider used on Subarus and several other imports. It would be advisable to get that in to a Subaru mechanic soon to avoid damaging the differentials and/or drive shafts. It is my understanding that a very specific, heavy fluid is used in the torque divider and no substitution is advised and although I have never seen one fail I can only imagine that if the fluid leaks out the wet clutches could begin to seize. And it occurred to me that if you were in a region where the temperature has taken a plunge that could cause the clutches to drag. Hopefully a Sube tech will drop in soon.

AWD vehicles have maintenance plateaus and you may have just reached one…