WTF? Got a letter from Subaru saying the CVT transmission may fail

Subaru is extending the warranty on our '16 Outback CVT transmission to 100,000 miles. Obviously they’re failing at a rapid rate and the factory wants to do something about it. The problem is, if our transmission fails at 101,000 miles we get to pay thousands of dollars for their screw-up. What is with this company? First their head gaskets, then the oil consumption, and now this? How does a company keep a cult following when their products have consistent serious drivetrain problems which they won’t take responsibility for? The CVT turned up with a design problem over time. Fine. Things happen. They didn’t fully test it before putting in production. But why screw around with their customers like they did with the oil consumption problem?

If it was mine, I would sell it or trade it at 100,000 miles. Shortly after I bought it, Toyota extended the warranty on the 6 speed automatic to 10 years or 150,000 miles and I have no idea why.

This is the new way car makers are getting around calling of a recall.
I’m surprised you were notified of the extended warranty on your Subaru.
Nissan did the same thing with a 2007 to 2010 vehicles with CVT’s. Extending them to a 120,000 mile warranty.
Nissan never notified the car owners though, so if no one told you’d think yours expired at 60.000.
Of course transmission shops will take care of it with a replacement ( Used or new only. No rebuilds). Cost is 4K to 5K.
Anyone that took their car the dealership though the Nissan dealer would just replace it no charge, then tell you about the extension.
These extended warranties are all over the Internet for different cars for different reasons. Nissan and Subaru have been the guinea pigs for the CVT transmissions. JATCO makes them for both companies.
The transmission is far from being perfected and they’re already trying to dial and performance for it. Some vehicles are equipped with paddle shifters and everything.

Take your car in right away and get yourself the new transmission. Then, try to take it back again just before you hit the hundred thousand mile Mark and get another one if you can.
The only way they willwl replace your tranny, after this 1st change out, is if they smell burnt fluid. Also remember that you have to use their fluid and not another brand. Theirs has special color to it. The techs know right away and will blame you. ( search your engine compartment for the fluid warning, check your owner’s manual and talk to Subaru to verify). That how Nissan screws many people over. Plus, they put a sticker on the dipstick or near the transmission.
Even if the other brand says it’s an equivalent. They will not honor the warranty.
I started using Redline Cvt racing fluid in my Nissan, after the warranty expired. I added a cooler and it runs better than stock with more power and mpg. I did this at 122,000.
The only thing is the redline fluid has to be changed about every 30K miles.
It’s worth it though, plus it’s only $14 a quart. The dealer wants $25 for their junk.
If you want your tranny to last even longer? Do not ever do any hard launches with the Cvt tranny from a standstill, and follow all the best practices for an automatic transmission.

Almost every Factory is coming out with their own version of a CVT tranny so I guess you should consider yourself lucky that you’re brand is at least advising you.



Extended warranties after determining there’s a design problem are a pretty common thing now, not just w/Subaru, but with most manufactures. The manufacturers are rolling out the technology pretty rapidly, and sometimes a problem gets missed during the design or verification phase. It’s quite likely you’ll have no problems at all, so just file the paperwork and continue to drive your Subie normally as always. That’s my advice. They have those funny dog commercials, so if your mind wanders to the CVT, think about those dogs driving the car instead … lol …


Hey Mike easier said than done. The dealer is not going to give us a new transmission because we ask for it they’re going to do it if ours is shot. Maybe you’re suggesting we pull the drain plug and drive until it stops.

I’m having an anxiety attack and what you’re saying isn’t making it one bit better. They rolled out the new technology rapidly, they missed a problem, and it’s quite likely we’ll have no problems?

Yes, you’ll likely have no problems with the CVT, at least no more than any other automatic transmission. If you want a vehicle with a bullet proof transmission, choose a manual stick shift. Automatic trans failures before 100 k are not an completely uncommon thing here.

I wouldn’t swap it out for a new one btw. I mean without any symptoms. When I bought my Corolla it had some minor paint problems , a few pin-head sized blotches on the hood. The dealership said they’d repaint it for me under warranty, no problem. When I asked how they planned to do that, I decided I was better to just accept the minor blemishes, b/c the repainting job was never going to be as robust as the job they do at the factory. Same with your transmission, installing a new one at a garage isn’t going to be the same robustness as the job they did when it was built new at the factory.


Most Subarus do not suffer head gasket failures.
Most Subarus do not suffer oil consumption problems.
Most CVTs will not fail IF regular fluid changes with the proper fluid are performed.

I know someone who bought a brand new car with a CVT some years ago. I skimmed the owners manual which stated to change the CVT fluid at 30k miles intervals. I suggested they do this or suffer the risk.
They did not change the fluid and at 80k miles the CVT was failing. They blamed the CVT. Whose fault is that…


It doesn’t work that way. They will only replace it if it fails.

Car manufacturers do not engineer their own transmissions, for the most part. Most CVTs on the road were made by JATCO.

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I’ve bookmarked my calendar and started budgeting to turn in my 16 Forester just prior to its 5th birthday so that it is never out of the drivetrain warranty. Not planning to buy another Subaru ever again. One engine failure (Legacy), three chronic rattling heat shields (Outbacks and Legacy), and the looming oil consumption and CVT failures are just too much. Plus the “buy 4 tires if one is destroyed” situation. Of all the car brands I’ve owned, the least reliable by far. Also the most satisfying when they work. Shame.

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I have to say here: having to buy/replace all 4 tires at once is due to having an AWD system. Many vehicles besides Subaru have AWD systems.

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The transmission issue is a solenoid located in the valve body. The labor to replace just the solenoid far outweighs the cost of a new valve body so if the transmission fails, only the valve body needs replacement.

BTW, the only way you will know of the failure is when your check engine light comes on. When the CEL comes on, the brake and ABS lights will also flash and the cruise control will not work, so it is hard to ignore. I don’t know what that solenoid controls but it does not immobilize the vehicle nor does it put it in a limp home mode.

Nobody said anything about pulling a drain plug. Just be aware.
I was trying to say take advantage of what they’re offering you/ warning you about.

Take your car in several times and complain before that warranty expires. Yes, get a new transmission. Insist on it. Subaru is letting owners know. I have to give them props for that.
Listen for the sounds, watch your RPM gauge jump around. You can feel and hear when the CVT is failing. Take it to the dealership right away.

If not the same as the old school automatics at all.

If you want to see how one works, go on YouTube. There are several videos about it. There’s also, several videos of mechanics showing you how to change your own fluid using Valvoline and other name brand products. A big no, no.

CVT’S have no gears. It will howl in the computer simulated lower gears. Car makers have been messing with the CVT transmission’s, to give you the feeling like it’s shifting. (They’re just computer-controlled stopping points on the pulley system.) They did this, because car buyers were bringing the cars in on a regular basis complaining about the transmission slipping and howling. Specially on hill climbing roads. The buyer doesn’t really understand the CVT.

People pass me all the time with their CVT transmissions howling and they have no clue. They think it’s normal.

What Subaru is doing is the same thing that Nissan did.

It’s the same transmission from JATCO.

Honestly, these car makers are avoiding a recall by extending warranties. All to protect their image and keep people buying cars. If you were to look up recalls on your car, nothing comes up. I think it’s BS.

Everyone should keep up on recalls. Now, you have to check regularly for extended warranties too.

This extending warranties crap, is going to become more prevalent with all car makers , and motorcycle brands too. It’s a way around many should be recalls.

They can’t use extended warranties for everything though.

They have to recall safety items, such as airbags, Computer related problems that could cause your vehicle to catch fire and other safety equipment that might cause an accident.

Just so you know. They don’t repair CVT’s. Reprogramming, inspect, and fluid change is all the dealer will do aside from replacing it.

The writer said Subaru is extending the warranty on his vehicle. Their doing this instead of recalling the vehicle for transmission issues. Subaru owners are lucky that their carmaker is even notifying them of the extended warranty. They don’t have to.

Nissan did not.

If you’re a mild driver and you’re not doing any hard launches or running through canyons, hills. The transmission will last a long time.

Just so you know. The CVT has a heat protection programmed into it as well, to protect it.

When the transmission reaches a certain temperature, your cars Power will drop off. It kind of feels like your charging system is going out. You start losing power gradually. Until you actually have to pull over to the side of the road.

It happens usually on a road with a long grade upward. Or after a lot of driving.

It happened to me several times.

If you let the transmission cool down, you can drive away and get to where you’re going. It will burn the fluid though. ( you can smell it). Many people get towed in from this point to transmission shops and also to dealerships, because they were never told of the transmissions fail safe or anything about the problems with CVT’S. It’s discussions like this, that people can find on the internet to learn more about other people having similar problems, and fixes too.

Both companies also Swear by there manufacturer transmission fluid. The REDLINE CVT racing fluid I mentioned is by far the best. It’s made from a purer synthetic base.Unfortunately, My vehicle was not one of the vehicles named to receive an extended warranty. It should have though. I have the same damn transmission. My transmission had the same problems as all of the previous years.

I went on the internet and found tens of thousands of people having similar CVT problems on dozens and dozens of forums. (SERIOUSLY!)

All these people kept saying in their complaint online was, first their problem and then, " I’ll never buy another car from this company ever again".

Sorry folks, but the future is these Transmissions. You might as well learn about them.

Almost all of the car makers have already started installing them into different vehicles . When I was doing my research on forums, there was only a few guys talking about solutions.

I took the only two solutions I found, then used them to mod my car. The car woke up. No more tranny issues, no howling, more power, and mpg.

I hated my transmission before. Now that I learned more about it and added a few mods, I love it.

Sorry for repeating myself.

I’ve been working all night and I have to get some sleep.

Best wishes.


The maintenance schedule for a '16 Outback 4 cyl. specifies no trans fluid change at all.

It seems odd to blame owners for negligent maintenance when the owners are following the factory recommendation.

Nor do almost all other maintenance schedules nowadays. All of the mfrs are apparently gambling that their supposedly “maintenance-free” transmissions will fail after the Powertrain Warranty expires, and they probably win that wager most of the time.

I have always changed my trans fluid every 30k miles, and I have never had a trans failure.
By contrast, I know a few people who ignored my advice, did not do a fluid change, and wound-up with trans failure somewhere around 100k-120k miles–after their warranties had expired.

When the valve body was replaced in my Subaru’s CVT at almost 60k miles, the ATF looked just like new ATF.

I believe it was brought here before that Subaru specifies CVT change interval of 25K miles or so for “severe schedule”, while having no fluid changes requirement for the “normal” one

then, the definition of the “severe” one was made such that most of drivers actually qualify for that schedule

obviously, it allows manufacturers (and one of them Subaru) to get away with low maintenance expense estimates published, while in reality owners have to do what they always had to do: stick to shorter engine oil and transmission fluid change intervals than the ones published in overly optimistic “normal” maintenance schedule

as for the owners notifications and caring for the owners, I had a case when Subaru was taking care of my complaint (giving 50% discount on repairs) even after warranty lapsed, I only needed to bring it up to corporate and make the story reasonable convincing that the car should reasonably not do something that early (had one headlight plastic to crack in multiple spots), you only need to ask nicely :slight_smile:


So, if your underwear doesn’t look dirty, you just keep wearing it until it has skid marks?


I think the point is that if Subaru says the fluid doesn’t need to be changed and then you look at the fluid and it looks like new then I don’t think you can blame owners who assume the fluid is good.