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6 Annoying Transmission Problems Of A Subaru Crosstrek

6 Annoying Transmission Problems Of A Subaru Crosstrek

The Subaru Crosstrek looks exactly how we would imagine a crossover SUV should look when equipped with a permanent AWD system. In this blog, we are diving deep into Crosstrek’s transmissions and revealing all of its potential problems. Here is a quick recap of our findings.

If you are in the market for a Crosstrek, be aware of the common TR580 Lineartronic CVT concerns. These include erratic shifting, jerking, and premature failures. Second-generation Crosstrek experiences fewer of these issues. Both manual transmissions are considered to be excellent.

We are 100% sure you are not satisfied with quick recaps. As we continue, we analyze all the potential transmission-related NHTSA owners complaints, Subaru’s technical service bulletins, and potential recalls. Stay with us!

Common Subaru Crosstrek Transmission Problems

Even though there are only two generations of the Crosstrek right now, we will divide this section into those two generations, list all the available transmissions and report their issues separately.

Second Generation – GT (2018 – 2023)

With an improved 8.7-inch ground clearance and beefier off-road design elements, the second-generation Crosstrek greatly improved on its “cross” reputation. Transmission-wise, the situation remained fairly similar. These are the transmissions available in the 2nd generation Crosstrek:

  • 6-Speed Manual Transmission
  • Lineartronic CVT
  • Hybrid Lineartronic CVT (Crosstrek Hybrid only)

With the release of the 2nd generation Crosstrek, Subaru added the Hybrid Lineartronic CVT for the hybrid model Crosstreks and an additional gear to the previously 5-speed manual transmission. All Subaru engines require octane 87 gas.

TR580 Lineartronic CVT

After reading the NHTSA owner’s complaints, it was immediately evident that this transmission is not fault free. Owners most commonly report jerky, hesitant and erratic shifting. However, there are no reports of premature failure.

An owner of a 2018 Crosstrek reports:

The CVT transmission in this car is jerky, will often act as if applying the brakes with stopping, will have trouble shifting during stop and go traffic, resulting in jerking of the car. Will occasionally vibrate as if traveling over rough pavement. The vehicle is in motion when this happens.

NHTSA ID Number: 11118186

Subaru soon recognized that these problems cannot go unnoticed. They addressed them in several technical service bulletins (TSBs) and even a CVT warranty extension campaign. 

One of such TSBs is the TSB 16-111-18R. This TSB addressed the contaminated fluid pressure solenoid valves, which affected the shifting behavior. The issue expressed itself by triggering the P0841 trouble code. Subaru provided a reprogramming of the CVT to adjust the operation of the said solenoid in case of contamination.

Moving on, TSB 16-121-19R addressed the tapping-like sound being heard when the engine is warmed up. Owners correctly predicted the sound coming from the engine/CVT coupling area. Seized up drive plate and torque converter were at fault for the annoying sounds. This TSB provides a procedure to resolve the issue.

An important TSB, reference 16-132-20R, provides diagnostic instructions on the alleged chain slip condition of the CVT. With the help of this TSB, service technicians could correctly diagnose the unusual vibration and slipping behavior. Based on this procedure, the owner could be issued a new CVT assembly.

Furthermore, Subaru also provided a TSB explaining and providing service technicians with instructions on how to deal with and translate various CVT solenoid-related diagnostics trouble codes. They also addressed the potential CVT fluid seepage on the CVT’s oil pump chain cover and the input shaft oil seal.

Lastly, because of all the mysterious issues on the 2018 model year, Subaru decided to extend the CVT warranty of the 2018 model year Crosstrek from the original five years or 60,000 miles to 10 years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first).

Based on our research, these issues did not stop after the 2018 model year, so the warranty extension was unfair.

Hybrid Lineartronic CVT (Crosstrek Hybrid only)

No NHTSA owners complain about the CVT transmission on the Hybrid version of the Crosstrek. On the other hand, there are also not a lot of owners of this vehicle. 

The transmission is essentially the same (with the same issues). This also explains why all the TSBs we listed above also include the transmission of the Hybrid Crosstrek. However, the warranty extension we listed above, does not include the 2018 Crosstrek Hybrid, beware!

6-Speed Manual Transmission

We haven’t observed any reports regarding this transmission, however, there was a known shift fork and sleeve issue, both on the WRX and the 2018 – 2020 model year Crosstrek. 

Due to the rising concern about the rattling and vibrations coming from the shift knob, Subaru released the TSB 03-83-20R announcing the availability of new shift forks and the corresponding sleeve and hub assembly. This resolved the issues!

Apart from that, these transmissions should cause no problems.

First Generation – GP (2013 – 2017)

For all of those wanting an Impreza with a higher ground clearance, Subaru made their wishes come true with the 2013 release of the 1st generation Crosstrek. The first iteration of the Crosstrek featured the following transmissions:

  • TR580 Lineartronic CVT
  • 5-Speed Manual

Despite the modest transmission pallet, Subaru put all their hopes in their in-house developed Lineartronic CVT and the proven 5-speed manual transmission. Let’s see how they fared.

TR580 Lineartronic CVT

As you might have noticed, both generations use the same transmission. There is no official report which would suggest that there are differences between these transmissions. Based on the issues, we could conclude that they are essentially the same.

Owners report similar issues as we have mentioned above; jerking, lurching and erratic shifting is common. We also need to point out that between 2013 and 2015, many owners also faced complete CVT failure around the 50,000-mile mark. 

Valve body and shift solenoid failures are common, which explains why so many 3rd party companies offer refurbished valve bodies and shift solenoids.

Owners of the 2016-2018 model year Crosstrek also report that their key tends to get stuck in the ignition. Subaru quickly released the TSB 16-112-18R, announcing a design change to the CVT select lever mechanism. This resolved the issue for good.

Reports of complete failure seem to disperse after the 2015 model year, however, the numerous issues still forced Subaru to launch a CVT warranty extension campaign on the 2012-2017 model year Crosstrek

5-Speed Manual

To say that these transmissions are problematic would be a sin. These are incredibly durable transmissions, but they do come with one fault that is addressed here.

Due to the reports of creaking sounds and flexibility of the brake/clutch pedal bracket pedal assembly, Subaru went in and improved the design of the said bracket. With increased rigidity, an extended flange length, and additional welds, the replacement brake/clutch assembly resolved the annoying creaking.

Other Problems Related To The Powertrain

We have to mention the numerous reports of CV joint and drive axle failures on the first-generation Crosstrek. These are not cheap repairs and can cause everything from minor problems like clicking when you press the gas to major issues like reduced ability to steer. If you are in the market for a 2nd hand Crosstrek, we recommend having all AWD components thoroughly inspected for damage and leaks.

Make sure you take the car on a test drive, observe the behavior of the transmission, AWD system, and be on the lookout for anything that seems out of the ordinary. Avoiding buying a Subaru that has these problems is a good way to ensure your Subaru Crosstrek lasts.

How Long Does A Subaru Crosstrek Transmission Last?

Let’s start with the good news, if you choose any of the two manual transmissions, we can assure you they will last as long as the car (250,000 miles and more).

However, we are not sure, we can say the same for the TR580 Lineartronic CVT transmission. This unit is a point of many debates, with some owners praising it for its reliability and others reporting they have replaced multiple transmissions in their lifetime. You can see one such debate here

Based on this and everything else we have read, we predict that this transmission will last at least 130,000 – 150,000 miles with impeccable maintenance. It’s best to let your dealership know that this is a transmission you want to avoid- this won’t be an issue for any large Subaru dealership.

How Much Does A Subaru Crosstrek Transmission Cost?

  • Complete CVT transmission, pre-owned, low mileage, all generation: $1400 – $2500 (eBay)
  • Refurbished CVT valve bodies, both generations: $200 – $300
  • Refurbished CVT torque converters, both generations: $300
  • 5 and 6-Speed manual transmission, pre-owned: $1000 – $1800

Closing Thoughts

In today’s blog, we took a comprehensive look at the Subaru Crosstrek’s transmissions, focusing on potential issues and their implications for prospective and current owners. We highlighted concerns with the TR580 Lineartronic CVT, including erratic shifting and premature failures, while noting the superior performance of the manual transmissions, especially in the second-generation models.

But we didn’t stop at just a recap; we dived deeper, examining NHTSA owner complaints, technical service bulletins from Subaru, and potential recalls to give you a full picture of what you might encounter.

In conclusion, being knowledgeable about the potential transmission problems can be a massive advantage whether you are buying a new Crosstrek or already own one. Make sure to keep up-to-date on the latest recalls or issues so you can enjoy a smoother ride with your Crosstrek. Thank you for sticking with us through this detailed analysis!

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