The Joys of Subaru Ownership in The Real Pretend Mulling

  • June 23, 2020, 3:56 p.m.
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  • Public

I took my car, a 2010 Subaru Forester, in for basic maintenance today, and I also asked if they could check my transmission fluid. It’s been shifting a little too roughly for my taste, and since my stepdad’s 2012 Forester was recently diagnosed with an electrical problem with its transmission (which, apparently, can’t be fixed for less than $5000), I needed to know if that was my problem, too. I can still drive my car without too much drama, but I really don’t feel like pushing my luck right now.

The good news: The transmission itself is, on my mechanic’s word, fine. The fluid is dirty (he said it looks like the original transmission fluid, which, probably) and needs flushed.

The bad news: My regular mechanic doesn’t have the equipment needed to flush a Subaru transmission.

The slightly worse news: The only places guaranteed to have the equipment needed to flush the transmission are Subaru dealerships, of which there are three in Indianapolis, and all a pain in the ass for me to get to, first of all.

The worse news than that: The first dealership I called quoted me $400 to flush the transmission. I cannot afford that much.

The extremely irritating part: The other two dealerships weren’t even willing to give me a quote. Oh, the joys of being a woman trying to get her car worked on. (Also, if one more dood asks me, “Honey, are you suuuuuure it’s the transmission fluid?” I’m going to scream in his ear until either his eardrum bursts or he realizes he’s being a misogynistic douchenozzle. Whichever happens first, which will probably be eardrum rupture.)

The definitely better, but not actually good, part: The first aftermarket place I called quoted me a base price of $150, which is much more doable.

The still annoying part that I’ll allow because I totally understand why they’re doing it: They want to drive my car after it’s had a chance to cool off (tomorrow morning, basically), to see if anything else might be causing my transmission to shift noticeably hard. If the transmission fluid is just dirty, that’s easy enough; if it’s an electrical or engineering problem, that could raise the question of whether the transmission needs a serious repair.

The “grrrr” part: I probably need to go in and print stuff off again tomorrow (one of my attorneys, who is usually way more on top of things, missed a deadline and emailed me today to ask if I could print off a notice of default; I explained that I don’t have my car today, but neither of us is sure that our messenger AA can mail it off¹), so I’ll need to borrow my parents’ RAV4 again. That is mildly annoying at the best of times, but with my mother out of town and my stepdad’s car not running reliably, I really hate to ask for the one car that actually works. (My stepdad is on furlough this week and isn’t expecting to need the car, but still. Shit happens.)

The “I brought this on myself” part: God help me, Subarus are great cars, but they can be unfuckingbelievably expensive to keep on the road.


The Thirsty Oriental June 23, 2020

So, at the risk of giving unsolicited advice, (and as someone who is currently doing a transmission service on a 2010 Subaru), I’d recommend against getting a flush. I’d just drain all the old fluid and replace it. I’ve heard a flush does more harm than good.

Pretend Mulling The Thirsty Oriental ⋅ June 24, 2020

They never did flush the transmission; they think the problem is mechanical, and if that’s the case (I’m inclined to agree), the trans will need rebuilt at some point.

Mamie June 23, 2020

Camdengirl June 23, 2020

I used to have a Subaru Impreza Turbo - that car scared the pants off me every time I drove it, but oh it was so much fun!

Pretend Mulling Camdengirl ⋅ June 24, 2020

My very first car was a 95 Impreza! Then when it died, I bought an ‘08 Chevy Cobalt, which I’d probably still be driving if it hadn’t been totaled a week after I paid it off.

DE_mkately June 23, 2020

I had a 2014 with a transmission problem, I think from the beginning. Never could get them to fix it. They always said it came back fine on the tests, but it was never really right. I got the shortblock replaced under warranty at one time (which is like a huuuge part of the engine wtf!) and even then I had to bring it in like 3 times for somebody to finally be like, yeah that's not right. After the last service it had, it started getting loud again and I gave up and traded it in. I got a new Subaru, but this one seems like they got it right from the beginning, haha. The Foz is like my dream car so I didn't give up but I know a lot of people had problems with the 2014's cuz it was the first year of the CVT.

Pretend Mulling DE_mkately ⋅ June 24, 2020

If I can get this car to payoff before the transmission dies (the guy I took it to wouldn’t flush it, since he thinks it’s a problem with the transmission itself), I’ll see what I can get for a trade-in. Probably not for a new-new Foz, but for a 2016 or later.

DE_mkately Pretend Mulling ⋅ June 24, 2020

My first one lasted like 15 years or so? I know they can last!!

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