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Subaru Outback transmission/electronics

I have a 2003 Subaru Outback Limited with a 5-speed manual transmission and 127k.

I left the key in the ignition overnight and the battery died. The next morning, I used a charger to flash charge the battery for about 10 minutes.

The car started, so I placed it in neutral to idle for a few minutes and charge up the battery.

After about a minute of idling the car inexplicably stalled. Upon attempting to restart the car, I depress the clutch, turn the ignition key, and then when I let off the clutch (while in neutral) the car stalls. I am also unable to shift to a different gear. The transmission appears to be locked up.

I had no previous symptoms of trouble with the transmission. Could the flash charge explain my transmission problem? If so, how do I fix it?



Since the transmission is a manual one, a discharged and recharged battery shouldn’t “lock it up”. With the motor off, can you move the shift lever to other gears? Does it feel normal, or tight and/or bound up?

The battery discharge and recharge is likely going to mean you car PCM computer module needs to reset the idle speed. I’d try recharging the battery fully with a normal charger or overnight with a trickle type charger. Then stert the car and drive it for a few miles then back home or at a service garage put it in neutral and let it idle for a few minutes. Hondas reset the idle by running in neutral for about 5 mins, perhaps Subaru is similar.

If your transmission is locked up something has happened to the shift cables in the shift linkage and may need a visit to a service facility to repair.

When I shift the car to reverse to back out of my driveway, the car stalls when I let off the clutch. After moving the gear shifter from neutral to reverse, I am no longer able to get the gear shifter out of reverse. It’s stuck.

I can rock the car to get the shifter out of reverse and back into neutral, but the process then starts all over again.

Could this have anything to do with the battery charge? If not, is this more likely a clutch or transmission problem? Thanks…

Hard to tell via long distance computer. If you can get the car out of reverse and back to neutral I think your transmission is OK. It is probably just binding up a bit, perhaps you are on an incline and the push takes some internal pressure off the trans and allows it to slip out of gear and into neutral.

The car is stalling because the computer isn’t working properly after the dead battery. Lots of computer functions need to be relearned in many cars. Your battery might be dead, or nearly dead, and you aren’t getting the proper voltage for the car to run properly. How old is the battery?

Was the key in the ignition and the ignition was in the “on” position all night? Was the ignition turned “off” or left “on” when the battery was flash charged? You might have a damage PCM or other electrical component due to an electrical power surge or low voltage condition.

You can try to fully charge the battery. If the battery is more than 3 years old perhaps a new battery (buy one at Walmart, or an auto parts store) installed will do the trick. If you continue to have problems you might need to call for a tow and have a mechanic check it out.

Leaving the key in the ignition shouldn’t cause the battery to discharge unless you left the switch in the wrong position, something other than OFF. If the ignition was off there may be something wrong with the charging system. Like a weak battery, bad connection between the alternator and the battery, or bad alternator. You may want have a load test done on the charging system to check the condition of it.

The engine may be having trouble because of memory loss in the ECU due to the discharged battery. There are settings for the engine idle that the ECU retains in memory to allow it to control the engine correctly and those settings may need to be relearned after the battery discharge.

As for the gear shifter lock up in reverse it sounds like the kind of trouble that happens when the tires are not size matched correctly. I don’t know why that would be a problem after the battery died. Have a shop check that problem out.

There are absolutely no electronic controls on your manual transmission or AWD except for a neutral connection and speed sensor.

The battery issue is a red herring IMHO.

The ignition key was left in the on position overnight.

The battery is about one year old.

The car is parked nose down on a rather steep driveway.

If there is not an electronics issue, how was I able to idle the car for a few minutes after charging? After a couple of minutes idling in neutral, the engine simply stalled out. I was then encountered with the current situation.

Also, I have had no symptoms of any transmission trouble prior to this. Could it be a coincidence with the charger?

Hey guys. I just wanna say thanks! I charged the battery for about 8 hours, moved the car to a level surface, and let the engine run with the clutch depressed for about 10 minutes. As I was idling, I began to move the stick shift through the gears. At first, I couldn’t get into 3rd and 4th. I put in in reverse and let out the clutch slowly. The transmission slipped for a second, but then it caught - and everything was perfect! I drove around the block to make sure, and it looks like we’re in business! Phew, I wasn’t looking forward to dealing with a transmission problem. You guys saved my bottom. thanks… -michael