Subaru Forester Transmission Problems

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The Subaru Forester is a popular compact SUV in production since 1997. It is widely known for its reliability, practicality, and safety features.

As you can imagine, the transmission, like any car component, is very sensitive and can easily cause many issues.

This is taken to the next level in the case of the Subaru Forester. You need to be aware of plenty of Subaru Forester transmission problems.

  1. Transmission Slippage
  2. Transmission Failure
  3. Shifting Delay
  4. Issues When Shifting From Park
  5. Transmission Whine
  6. Grinding Sounds
  7. Surging And Jumping Car
  8. Transmission Getting Stuck
  9. Transmission Slow To Engage
  10. Issues At Idle

There are plenty of models of the Subaru Forester that you are better off avoiding as well. I will look at those as well, so make sure you read the article till the end.

10 Signs Of Transmission Problems In A Subaru Forester

Do Subaru Foresters have transmission problems? Let's discover

In this section of the article, I will talk about all the major issues you can find in the Subaru Forester and the signs that tell you are dealing with them.

1. Transmission Slippage

This issue occurs when the transmission shifts gears unexpectedly.

This can involve slipping out of gear or abrupt gear changes.

Transmission Slippage can cause the car to lose power and acceleration and can result in potential accidents.

2. Transmission Failure

Difficulty in shifting gears, stalling, vehicle not starting, and slipping gears are common signs of transmission failure.

This issue renders the transmission completely nonfunctional. This will cause you to completely replace the transmission, which is a very expensive solution.

3. Shifting Delay

Delay or lag before the gear engages is easily felt and can be very jarring for drivers. Sometimes, the transmission may shift gears abruptly or jerk while driving.

4. Issues When Shifting From Park

The Subaru Forester would often not shift properly from its parked state. You can see this if the park is not engaged properly or does not go out of the park.

5. Transmission Whine

A high-pitched noise can be heard when changing the speed of the Subaru Forester. It may be accompanied by difficulty shifting gears and a burning smell you can easily detect.

6. Grinding Sounds

Loud metallic noise can be heard when the transmission shifts gears and when the clutch is engaged. It may be a sign of worn-out gears or low transmission fluid levels.

7. Surging And Jumping Car

Often accompanied by difficulty maintaining a constant speed, surging causes the car to jump forward. A faulty torque converter or other transmission components may cause this.

8. Transmission Getting Stuck

Gearshift getting stuck or being difficult to move can easily cause difficulty in shifting gears. A malfunctioning gear linkage or solenoid may cause this issue.

9. Transmission Slow To Engage

You will find it takes longer to engage the car when shifting gears or moving from the park. This may result from low transmission fluid levels or worn-out transmission components.

10. Issues At Idle

The engine may idle roughly, stall, or surge when at a stop. A faulty transmission torque converter or other transmission components may cause this.

Why You Should Avoid The Automatic Transmission Of The Subaru Forester

Automatic transmissions, in general, are very sensitive and require a lot of care. These components are generally prone to overheating, mechanical failures, and other issues.

This can have a cascading effect that causes many other problems, such as slippage and shuddering.

As I will talk about later in the article, many issues are commonly found in the automatic version of the transmission.

Subaru Forester CVT – Some Important Things To Note

The fourth generation of the Subaru Forester introduced the Lineartronic CVT transmission.

This transmission used two pulleys with cone-faced plates that adjust the gear diameter and ratio.

This version of the transmission was supposed to be more efficient overall. However, the system has had issues during development.

This combined with real-world usage, led to many issues people had to deal with.

Which Year Did Subaru Forester Have Transmission Issues?

The Subaru Forester started its run in 1998 and is still going strong.

This does not mean that it has been smooth sailing as there have been a ton of issues that people had to deal with.

This section of the article will go over all of the models of the Subaru Forester that caused people a lot of issues, at least when it comes to transmission.

1. 2015 Subaru Forester

The 2015 Subaru Forester has been reported to have significant transmission issues. This is on top of it being the most complained car of the entire series.

Transmission hesitation and shuddering when shifting gears, is extremely common and occurs at lower speeds.

It would cause a jerking motion that made the car difficult to control. The issue was most common in models with a continuously variable transmission.

Another major transmission was complete transmission failure. In some cases, the transmission had to be completely replaced, which is undoubtedly an expensive repair.

The car could not maintain a consistent speed and would often surge from a stop. On top of this, there would be a huge delay when shifting from reverse to drive.

2. 2014 Subaru Forester

Just a year earlier, the Subaru Forester was also struggling with the transmission. It is safe to say that the 2014 Subaru Forester was also a very annoying model.

The most commonly reported issue was hesitation and shuddering, which I also mentioned above.

Like the 2015 model, the car suffered from this at lower speeds. The transmission had a habit of whining, and there would be major clutch damage when rebuilding the transmission.

In some cases, the transmission would simply stop working. Other times it would get stuck in the park or just surge forward, especially when braking.

This, compared with a bad air control valve, leads to a very infuriating model.

3. 2017 Subaru Forester

Transmission problems reported for the 2017 model year of the car include hesitation or shuddering when shifting gears.

This seems to be a trend for the most part when it comes to the Subaru Forester. A complete transmission failure and problems with acceleration and power also plagued the model.

These issues caused difficulty for the vehicle to climb hills or maintain a consistent speed. They also made it challenging to pass other vehicles on the highway.

The transmission felt jerky and difficult to control, easily leading to dangerous driving situations.

Clunking or knocking noises while shifting gears were also major problems that people complained about.

4. 2019 Subaru Forester

The 2019 Subaru Forester marked the end of most of the issues regarding the lineup. That being said, there was still a major issue that the vehicle owners had to deal with.

As you can imagine, the main set of issues were found in the automatic transmission. NHTSA complained mostly about the power train, specifically the gears.

The car would roll backward despite being set to park. This issue was caused by the gears not being set correctly.

Aside from this issue, this model of the Subaru Forester had decent a transmission. The car itself had many other issues, though, which made the car undesirable.

5. 2011 Subaru Forester

Much like the case with the 2019 model, the 2001 Subaru Forester was filled to the brim with issues but luckily, there was only one issue with the transmission.

Most issues were localized in the engine, which makes the transmission relatively safe. When it came to this component, people had to deal with their oil temperature light coming on.

Following the trend set by the previous entries on this list, the defect was mostly found in automatic component versions.

The issue meant that the transmission fluid would reach critically high temperatures.

Eventually, the fluid would break down, forcing owners to buy many transmission fluids or risk ruining the component entirely.

6. 2010 Subaru Forester

The previous year, the Subaru Forester was also not well received. The main thing about the 2010 Subaru Forester was its engine and interior were full of issues.

This translated poorly to the transmission, which had its issues. First of all, the vehicle owners quickly reported how slow the transmission was to engage.

The oil temperature light issue mentioned above was also occurring here, which shows that it was a recurring issue.

This meant that owners had to continuously top-off transmission fluid. This was followed by a general jerky feeling, which would happen either when idling or moving.

7. 2009 Subaru Forester

When you look at the entire lineup, the 2009 Subaru Forester also had a wide range of issues, mostly localized to the engine.

This was not to say that the rest of the car was functioning well. When it came to the transmission, it had its series of issues that made the car hard to purchase.

Many people complained that the gearbox itself was just very faulty and defective. People complained that it constantly needed to be replaced, which cost them a lot of money.

It painted an unreliable picture of the car, which scared people away from the model.

This issue was found in the car’s manual and automatic versions but was most common in the automatic version.

8. 2001 Subaru Forester

Being one of the earlier models of the Subaru Forester, there was not a lot of room for error in the car to make.

Unfortunately, the NHTSA had a lot to complain about the car, especially regarding the engine.

The 2001 Subaru Forester was littered with issues, with the transmission having its fair share of problems.

Most issues were localized in the automatic variant of the component with minimal issues in the manual version.

People could hear grinding noises when driving that would emit from the transmission. Aside from this issue, people also complained about complete transmission failure.

Being a very expensive problem requiring you to get a new transmission, you should typically avoid this older lineup model.

9. 2003 Subaru Forester

Two years after the release of the previously mentioned model, the Subaru Forester struggled to completely eradicate all of its issues.

It still had many issues around the car, which the NHTSA made very visible to the public.

In the 2003 Subaru Forester, the major issue in the transmission was that the clutch would shudder when driving.

The problem was known to happen after extensive car use and could happen as early as 10,000 miles into its lifespan.

Surprisingly, most customer complaints about this issue were mostly on the manual version of the component.

This meant that the issue was even more common in the automatic version, as the NHTSA had marked the problem was more prevalent there.

10. 1999 Subaru Forester

The 1998 model launched with minimal issues and was mostly a success for the lineup. This meant that all eyes were on the 1999 Subaru Forester, which had to expand on its predecessor.

Unfortunately, being the second model in the lineup meant that the car was bound to have issues. Many people complained that the automatic transmission would fail.

The automatic transmission in general was also the most problematic version of the component.

Gear slippage was common and the car also gave out unintended acceleration. Both of these issues are very dangerous.

In some cases, the car would only go in reverse, which is definitely an issue with the gears of the component.

Overall, there were a lot of problems with the automatic transmission, which many people did not like.


There have been many improvements made to the transmission of the Subaru Forester over the years.

Some models have had more issues than others which is why you need to make sure that you take care of which model you buy.

You can easily run into Subaru Forester transmission problems, so make sure that you follow this guide.

This will allow you to know which models to avoid and what potential problems you can run into.