2013 Subaru Outback CVT problems?


Asked by Jul 06, 2017 at 09:08 PM about the 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

Just got a warranty extension by mail for my
Outback's transmission. I've always thought it had
problems as there is a 5-6 second delay shifting
from reverse into drive. Dealer said this was "normal
for CVT"  I also noticed that going down hill at
freeway speeds seems slow.....turns out if I hit the
Up paddle shifters it kicks into 6th gear and the
RPMs drop. Wondering if these are signs...seems
like it should go into Overdrive if I'm doing 65 and
am heading downhill and there should be little if any
delay in shifting from Reverse into Drive

13 Answers


Normal for a CVT can be a lot of bad things. Subaru has a service bulletin out for a stalling issue at low speeds but there are other problems, A 6 second delay to shift to drive is absurd.


Just so you know there are no gears or Overdrive.


Was this a warranty extension straight from Subaru? What does it cover and did they give you a reason for sending it to you?


So I tested it again and to be fair, it is not 6 seconds. More like 3 seconds. Still, my Prius has a CVT and there is no noticeable delay. The warranty extension covers just the tranny and was mailed to me and automatically enabled. I suspect they are seeing issues and may be trying to avoid a class action suit As for the "gears" , you're right, no separate gears, but the behavior is weird: why would it essentially downshift and use the engine to slow you down with RPMs running high rather than just go into a higher "gear"?

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Grasshopper, again you twist and contort others' perspectives shamelessly...and in my case bordering on slander. Watch it, dick- head! I temporarily bought a 2014 OB last week that turned out to have a bad CVT...and drove another with similar CVT noise today. ALL my shares on this forum have been about that Subaru's CVT failures are WAY BEHOND the tiny fraction expected, and tolerated, within a less then 1% long-term defect rate modern manufacture. Hence the warranty extension. We who have dealt with SOA for decades know well that they've been EXTREMELY stingy, ducking bad CVs, early trannies, head gaskets, and now CVT issues. Several of my peers are finally parting with Subaru because they can't stand the 2010-2012 motors' building internal failures, as well the mounting CVT fiasco. Given that the failure rate may settle at only a few percent, it can make sense to continue to trade in selected best years production, knowing that if due diligence is applied, AND that used CVT's can be had and installed for about $2k, makes the landscape just a bit worrisome. For you to state that operating within this risk system is "hypocritical" is naive and insulting of you...and frankly shameful. We mechanics on this site are really sick of your ridiculous "fanboy" jingoism. PLEASE, just go bother the Prius folks...maybe your pedantic fluff is better tolerated there.


Fdwall, your time-lapse correction is helpful, but the normal shift- lag is in the 1-2 second range. This is more about establishing fluid pressure across the whole AWD tranny, as there's a lot of fluid in there sloshing around. SOA used to call 3 sec delay the max "normal" for the old 4EAT and 5EAT trannies as their internal seals would harden and leak with age. Let's hope this isn't a second wave of similar tech insufficiently robust for longterm use. Phew!


Grasshopper, I just read your post again...and again, shame on you. You simply don't understand how one can intelligently operate in a technically imperfect industrial environment. That an auto manufacturer has a several percent failure rate with a $6k component is NOT trivial...especially to those who have to navigate these waters. It's clear that mathematics, engineering, statistics, and logical thinking are all fields in which you lack even a remotely minimal level of understanding. PLEASE STOP this awful habit as a dim-witted poseur.


I think Grasshopper is unraveling now that his idyllic image of Subaru is falling apart. Subaru had their corporate ass kicked with the oil consumption law suit. They are apparently trying to get ahead of the game with their tacit admission that their CVT's are also below par.


Thanks for the info on acceptable lag on shifting. Never heard of that and having driven AT equipped cars in the past never noticed it. I'm just concerned with the fact that again as I was driving some back roads yesterday, headed down a really steep hill and could feel the tranny "downshift" and watched the rpms head toward 3k. I hit the paddle shifter up and the tach dropped back down to ~1800 rpms. Ok so assuming the lag in shifting from reverse to drive is normal, is THIS behavior normal? And I know I might be looking for trouble where there is none but am a bit wary after the oil issue (waiting in my new short block from the dealer)


Does your CVT "downshift" when you take your foot off the gas on down slopes? If so this is normal. The engine braking helps keep your car from running away.


Yes that's the behavior. Ok if that's normal I will just need to be aware. Seems it would lower fuel economy


If the throttle is at zero, no fuel is being used.


Nicely put to bed....

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