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Having a bad day

I’m having a terrible day! Our 2001 Outback with 150,000 miles, has been making a grinding sound when we shift into 1st or from 1st into 2nd. We thought probably a gear/transmission thing…we are definately not car people…that is why we listen this show :slight_smile: mechanics can tell us anything.

We’ve recently moved here and don’t know anyone to refer us to a good mechanic. Anyway, we took it to AAMCO in Manassas, Va. this morning.

They just called and said it was probably the transmission synchronizer and that to fix it the labor would be $1017.00. They couldn’t say what the parts cost would be until they opened it up.

We just had a new clutch installed last month–at a different shop. When we had it in, the other shop said the transmission probably need to be flushed.

AAMCO told us that the flywheel should have been retooled when the clutch was done, but wasn’t. AAMCO said they could do it for us while they had the car.

Does their diagnosis of the grinding sound reasonable, and is the $1017 for labor sound reasonable. Could it be something else? We just had a new baby last week and this expense is the last thing we needed! We’re going to have to borrow the money from my parents.

Thank you–Lori

I think AAMCO is being honest with you, and their diagnosis is in line with your symptoms. They are being cautious on parts costs, and not leaving you with any false expectations. I would let them go ahead and do all the work. Theoretically you will be good for another 50-100 miles, on the tranny with these fixes. The cost is certainly cheaper than getting a newer car at this point.

Once they get the work done, double-check, but the work should also include new trans fluid, so you get a fluid change anyway.

AAMCO is not noted for … Well lets just say I would not recommend them. Also for a transmission flush, there are some different opinions. In general I believe you would be far ahead by draining the fluid, cleaning the pan and filter and refilling. Flushing has some down sides. The bad part of that is that most people wait until like you appear to have done, until there is a problem to change that transmission fluid. A lot of transmissions fail shortly after a fluid change, but it happens because they waited too long to change it.

Good Luck.

Before having someone tear apart the transaxle needlessly you should consider a careful inspection of the clutch operation as a dragging clutch can cause a gear crunch like this. Do the following first and post back.

Lightly depress the clutch pedal. You should only feel a slight amount of free movement before feeling the clutch pedal stiffen up. Do you have a slight amount or an inch or so?

Now start the car and shift into 1st gear with the pedal depressed. Now slowly release the pedal and note at what point you feel the car start to creep forward.
Does the car start to creep fairly quickly or does the pedal come up and inch or so before the creep starts?

I question the previous shop who wanted to “flush” a manual transaxle and the part about the flywheel being resurfaced is legitimate, BUT has nothing to do with a 1/2 gear crunch. Speaking as someone who has been into more Subaru manual transaxles than I can remember the labor charge sounds a bit high to me; unless you live in San Francisco, etc. where labor rates are extremely high.

As a footnote here, if someone goes into a 150k miles transaxle then the complete unit should be overhauled. Why in the world would someone go to all of this trouble to replace possibly a couple of synchronizer rings when it is quite likely there a number of other worn items that should also be replaced? (shift forks, mainshaft bearings, etc.)
When one gets into overhauling a Subaru transaxle I will say that this is very technical and requires some special tools, the factory manual, and some expertise in the area and I doubt AAMCO has all of those things.

Another addendum here. If one assumes for the sake of argument there is a problem with the 1/2 synchronizer assembly then the new synchronizers should not simply be installed and call it good.
Subaru synchronizers are not terribly good anyway and there’s a trick used when replacing them that I would gladly bet that no AAMCO and probably near zero Subaru dealers know about.

I would be a bit suspect of the clutch replacement and this new problem so soon afterwards. How many miles since you had the clutch work done? Any adjustment available on the Subie clutch, any of you Subie folks know? Rocketman