Trouble making hard turn- reverse and forward

When I make a hard turn in reverse and forward my car hangs up, and I have to give it extra gas to get it moving. I thought it was a tire issue. I went to a tire shop and I did need new tires, so I got them change, but it didn’t fix the problem. The tire people thought I might be the transmission. I brought the car to subaru service and left it there for the day. They could not determine the cause of the problem. They want to charge me $800 to take apart my car, I assume the transmission. I think that price is excessive

Anybody know what the problem might be?

Should I stick with the subaru dealership? Or go to another mechanic?

I don’t see why it would be a transmission problem, if it happens only when the steering wheel is turned hard. Sounds more likely that something in the drive train is hanging up, like a frozen CV joint or a stuck brake caliper. Have they tried putting it up on a lift, turning the steering wheel hard, and trying to rotate the wheels by hand in order to find one that might be binding up?

While it is possible that this problem is due to a bad CV joint or a stuck brake caliper, I believe it is much more likely to be the center viscous coupler that is the source of the problem.

Vehicles with full time AWD–like Subarus–are notoriously intolerant of continued use of mis-matched tires, and when mis-matched tires are used, damage to the center viscous coupler is a sure thing. The symptoms that you describe are consistent with a center viscous coupler that is on its way to automotive heaven.

What does “mis-matched” tires mean? It means:

Tires that have not been rotated on a consistent basis (every 5k or every 7.5k–without fail), thus leading to varying amounts of wear from tire to tire.
The use of a temporary spare for more than a short distance (more than, let’s say, 150 miles)
Replacing just one tire, or two tires, or even three tires when punctures take place. If you have a punctured tire that cannot be fixed it is necessary to either buy 4 replacement tires, or to have the one new tire “shaved” to match the tread depth of the 3 old tires.
The use of tires that are of different sizes, or different brands, or of different tread types–all of which can mean tires of different circumferences.

Do any of those scenarios describe your car?

You did not tell us the model year of the car, but I am going to guess that it is not a fairly new car.
If it was purchased as a used car, it is possible that the previous owner(s) subjected the car to one or more of the above situations, even if you were diligent regarding the use of “matched” tires.

If the problem is, indeed, the center viscous coupler, you can probably expect to spend about $600-700 to replace it. If there are any independent Subaru specialists in your area, I would suggest taking the car to them.

Year and mileage of your Outback? Automatic or manual transmission?

As VDCdriver said, the viscous coupling could be the problem, but that only applies to manual transmission Subarus. If your car has a manual transmission, have the transmission/front differential lubricant replaced and cross your fingers. It might help. The lube change, not the fingers.

Change the rear differential lube, too, just because.

If your car is automatic, it has an AWD transfer valve and clutch pack in the rear of the transmission. When the valve wears, which it does, the AWD does not disengage, which it should, when you turn the steering wheel past a few degrees in either direction.

When this happens the two ends of the car “bind up” and it makes tight turns difficult and annoying. It can also cause internal transmission damage if ignored.

As VDCdriver said, mismatched tires will exacerbate wear on the clutch pack and the transfer valve. You really have to keep four matching tires on a Subaru at all times.

If the transfer valve and clutch pack are worn the only option is to replace them. I paid about $750 a few years ago when mine went bad. Cheaper than a transmission.

You can temporarily disengage the AWD on an automatic Subaru by inserting a fuse in the FWD receptacle under the hood (see owner’s manual). This will result in a FWD Subaru, but it will prevent the transmission from suffering internal damage until you can get the transfer valve/clutch pack replaced.

It’s REALLY SCARY that the Subaru dealer doesn’t know this, or won’t explain it to you.

If you choose an independent mechanic, as I do, make sure he or she has Subaru experience. This is not a job for someone who doesn’t understand the Subaru AWD system.

Andrew is correct.
What I stated is true for a manual trans Subaru, but as Andrew pointed out, the automatic models utilize a clutch pack for torque transfer.

In any event, it really does sound like torque bind is taking place, and this almost always results from mis-matched tires.

The “fuse solution” does indeed work in the short-term on the automatic models, but in the long term this car will need repair work for the transfer mechanism (either viscous coupler or clutch pack). And, it will also need regular and consistent rotation of those new tires if the OP wants to avoid having to do this repair twice.

Thank you so much everybody. Each of these explanations are 100 times more helpful than the dealership. (Yes, Scary!) My Outback is a 2005, AWD, with about 64,000 miles. I just went over my 60K 5 year warranty, which makes me even more bitter.

I think the issue does involve the tires. When I went to the tire shop they did say the back tires were more worn than my front. I had them all changed, but the problem persists. The tire guys mentioned that I might need a new ‘clutch pack’. I thought I’d get Subaru involved to see if they can offer some ‘good will’ to split the costs, but the experience has been frustrating and leading no where. I’m thinking of going to an outside Subaru specialist with some of your suggestions. It sounds like it might be cheaper and more effective.

Again, I’m thankful for your help, expertise, and taking the time to help. I’m gonna continue checking the post for any more suggestion appear. Cheers!

Who the heck is Andrew?

Unless you’ve ignored basic maintenance, like not rotating your tires, your Subaru should not be experiencing these problems at only five years and 64K miles.

I was assuming your car was older with a lot more miles.

Don’t give up with the dealer. This problem should not be happening this soon, and Subaru should take care of it, assuming it’s not something else.

You still haven’t told us the transmission type. I’m assuming automatic, but it would be nice to know for sure.

AWD is standard on all late-model Subarus, but some have manual transmissions and some have automatics. Which does your car have?

Other possibilities are worn tie rod ends and I had a Ford van that could be turned so sharply that you couldn’t back up. It’s nowhere near the same kind of vehicle though, so try to forget I posted that one.

Sorry, McParadise!

For some reason that I can’t explain, I thought that AndrewJ had provided that answer.
You, Andrew, and I are usually the ones who provide the most detailed Subaru advice, so I guess that explains my evening brain fart.

Again–my apologies.

I’m going to disagree with you on this one, mcparadise (see, I got the name correct this time!).

The tire problem that the OP admitted to (“When I went to the tire shop they did say the back tires were more worn than my front”) is an admission of owner negligence, and the warranty should not cover owner negligence.

It is possible that this might slip underneath the radar with the dealership, in light of a new set of tires, but unless the OP can document the required tire rotation every 5k or every 7.5k, his attempt at warranty coverage would probably be denied–and rightfully so.