Subaru manual-changing tranny fluid + extending life of failing cluth + new cluth price?

subaru
legacy
outback
transmissions
clutches
fluids

#1

My 1998 Subaru Outback Legacy manual says we have to check the manual transmission fluid once per month, but they’ve put the fluid holder(?) undearneath the car, so that it’s a major job to check it. I called 10 places that couldn’t do it, some that wanted $150 to do it. Subaru will check and change it for $90. (It’s so expensive to check it, that I’m going to change it regardless). Do most people really pay $50+ a month to check this? I’m so frustrated. In the meantime, our gears are tougher to shift lately. Nothing major, but we knew the whole transmission needed to be checked. The shop (not Subaru) just told us we need a new clutch and that it would cost $1200. First, I can’t afford to get this fixed for a good month, whatever the price. Second, what IS a good price for a new clutch? I see the parts on sale for $250 online. That may not be the best one of all–it was a quick glance, anyone know a ballpark on a fair parts & labor for this? … Also, any advice on what we can reasonably do to keep the clutch and any other tranny parts from deteriorating further while we wait for the repair? We have to drive it in the meantime.


#2

I wouldn’t worry about checking that unless you notice there is a leak somewhere. I don’t know anyone who does it that often. I would think that 30,000 miles would be more like it.

The repair cost sounds a bit high but it would help to know all the things that would be replaced. I assume that price includes a new pressure plate also.

To help extend the life shift as smooth as you can.


#3

Unless the transmission is leaking there is no reason to check the fluid at all. It’s not a bad idea to change the fluid about every 100k miles although it’s not a bad idea to check it every 30k miles as mentioned.
If the fluid ever becomes low enough to worry about you will hear the ring/pinion gear develop a subtle whining sound.
(I also think it’s a bit ridiculous to charge 100 bucks or whatever just to check it.

As to clutch prices that can vary by shop and especially by locale. The east and west coasts have much higher labor rates than the country’s midsection.
When I worked for Subaru we normally charged about 5 hours labor for a clutch job so if a shop stays in the same area labor-wise as the manual then figure 5 X the shop flat rate charge per hour.

It is normal and acceptable for a shop to mark parts up some so you might break this 1200 dollar figure down and let us know how much labor and how much for the parts.
You might also price this around. It seems to me that the 1200 dollar figure can be beaten.

Something else to consider is the clutch adjustment. Lightly push the clutch pedal. How much free play is there before you actually feel the clutch?
With the clutch pedal on the floor, in gear and running, slowly let the clutch pedal out. How far does the pedal move before the car starts moving?
A clutch in need of adjustment can cause hard shifting.


#4

Thank you very much. I’ll try to test the clutch as you suggest. Sometimes it’s totally fine. I’m surprised to hear that a clutch job will be 5 hours when earlier today I read in a Cartalk article that replacing a clutch was a very easy job. Hard to imagine it being easy if it takes that long. Well, I guess I’ll just hope for the best and shop around. Thank you.


#5

So weird that the manual says that. What I saw online was a “clutch kit” for my Subaru year/model, for $250; doesn’t that sound like the whole shebang? …


#6

The clutch kits I use include clutch plate, pressure plate, throwout bearing, pilot bushing/bearing, and a clutch alignment tool. This is not an easy job, but typically a difficult job, since the transmission must be removed. You may be confused with the hydraulic components, the master and slave cylinders, which may be easy to replace, as long as the slave cylinder is not a hydraulic throwout bearing.

Also, changing the fluid may improve shifting action. Depends on the age and mileage on the existing gear lube. I acquired an 10 year old car with 150,000 miles on it that never had the gear lube changed. Simply changing the lube improved the shifter action greatly.