Subaru Outback Impreza transmission problem

I have a 1999 Subaru Outback Impreza with an automatic transmission. Regardless of outdoor temperature, winter or summer, when I put the car in drive, I have to pump the accelerator several times before the transmission will engage and the car will move forward. I have to be careful how long I hold my foot on the accelerator or it will bang into drive, and I’m sure that’s not good for the transmission.

After that it runs fine, automatically shifting through all the drive gears fine.

But if for any reason I manually shift out of drive into reverse or park, etc.; I have to go through that procedure again to engage the transmission when I shift back into drive. You can imagine how hard it is to double park. I’m always worried I’ll ram the car in front of me if I’m not careful.

By the way, when I shift into reverse it engages fine. It will not engage right away if I try to start in 2nd or 3rd gear.

My mechanic wants $400 just to look at the transmission, so any knowledge beforehand would be appreciated.


Do you realize that every time you drive the car like this, you are doing further damage to the transmission, thus driving up the potential repair costs?

Assuming that you have already verified that the trans has sufficient fluid, all I can suggest is that you take it to an independent trans shop for an accurate diagnosis.

While they are examining the car, begin to analyze your budget for repairs or for the purchase of another car.
If–as I strongly suspect–the transmission needs to be overhauled at this point, you have to ask yourself if it is worthwhile to invest $2k or more in 11-12 year old car. If the rest of the car is in good shape, and if you have replaced the timing belt on schedule, perhaps it might be worth that expenditure, but only you know the overall condition of the car. We can only guess, and my guess is that it may be time for a new(er) car.