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Transfer Clutches and whether we should fix 'em

I have a 10 year old 2003 Subaru Forester in “very good” condition…except that the transfer clutch assembly is starting to make noise and the repair shop (at the dealer) says $1300 to fix it if the housing has to be replaced also. The car has 130K miles and has had all its regular maintenance for 10 years. The only major mechanical problem we’ve had are the @#$(*&% head gaskets (which on this year’s model were NOT part of the recall). Those were fixed 2 years ago. Some of what I see in the online chatter about transfer clutches suggests that this is a slippery slope and the next thing you know there’s the “next thing” that needs to be worked on. We were hoping that the 2014 Forester would get really good mileage (this one got 30 when it was younger) but we hear it will only be 32 mpg so we’re inclined to “keep waiting” if this car can be kept happy.

So: Would you fix this? Is a transfer clutch repair a big deal?

Can’t answer your question but if it was mine, I’d also ask if the transfer clutch could be removed or otherwise deactivated to make your vehicle two wheel drive. Here is some reading material for you.

Any independent Subaru mechanics near you? Check under ‘mechanics files’, above. I’d sure want a second opinion, may also be cheaper at an independent shop.

But if you’d ever hope to sell or trade in this car…shouldn’t it be working right to maximise your value ?

@BarbRedHook no offense, but if 32mpg isn’t good enough, you need to get a Prius, not an AWD Subaru.

Just curious. What exactly is a “transfer clutch”? Is this part of the 4WD transfer case? i.e. it apportions the power to each wheel during turns so that each wheel gets about the same amount of power?

db4690: I understand that AWD vehicles will never compete with a Prius, but a 10 year old Subaru Forester that regularly got 30 MPH being replaced by a brand new 2014 one that gets a trivial 2 additional MPG doesn’t seem like much progress when the new Imprezas saw a much greater increase in mpg. The new Foresters will apparently inherit the improvements the Impreza saw. We’d get one of those but the seats are killers. (No offense taken, btw.)

32mpg for an AWD wagon still seems pretty good to me. After all, it’s not a lightweight.
FYI my 1995 Corolla 1.8 5-speed “only” got 37mpg on its best day! And I’m sure it weighed a lot less than that Forester, and wasn’t well equipped, either.

I’m not a big fan of the Prius either. It makes a lot of compromises.

Keep the current car. I’d say it has some good years left.