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Subaru Outback Transmissions: Overview, Problems, Fluids

The Subaru Outback is a car that we’ve covered extensively on this blog. Today, we will discuss the transmissions that The Subaru Outback has incorporated throughout its rich journey. Along these lines, let us dive straight into it. 

The Subaru Outback has used a wide range of transmissions throughout its six generations. When it comes to the automatic transmission, it has used 4-and 5-speed automatic transmissions. In addition, it has used 5- and 6-speed manual transmissions, along with CVT.

With the introductory description above to make the context, we will see in detail to understand different transmissions well enough. We see several models of transmissions that went inside Subaru Outback throughout its journey. To dig out further, we will discuss how long they last and how much they cost. Besides, we take a look at the problems that emerge during the lifetime of those transmissions. Moreover, we will see some differences between those transmission models. So, let us get started.

Also read: Types Of Gas A Subaru Outback Takes (All Generations)

What Transmissions Has The Subaru Outback Used?

First Generation (1994–1999)

  • 4-speed automatic
  • 5-speed manual

Second Generation (1998–2004)

  • 4-speed automatic
  • 5-speed manual
  • 6-speed manual

Third Generation (2003–2009)

  • 4-speed automatic
  • 5-speed automatic
  • 5-speed manual
  • 6-speed manual

Fourth Generation (2009–2014)

  • TR690 Lineartronic CVT
  • 5-speed 5EAT automatic
  • 6-speed TY856 manual

Fifth Generation (2014–2019)

  • 8-speed Lineartronic CVT
  • 6-speed manual

Sixth Generation (2019–Present)

  • Simulated 8-speed Lineartronic CVT

How Long Does A Subaru Outback Transmission Last?

On average, you can expect its transmission to last between 250,000 and 300,000 miles. But then, it is fundamental to note that the eventual duration depends on the transmission that goes inside it. Interestingly, the last three generations of the Subaru Outback also incorporated continuously variable transmissions. In comparison, the first three ones had used automatic and manual transmissions.

How Much Does A Subaru Outback Transmission Cost?

Are you looking for a transmission to install inside your Subaru Outback? In that case, you must be interested in finding the cost of several transmissions. Thus, we have provided you below with the prices to help you make up your mind accordingly.

  • TR690 Lineartronic CVT: $375.99 (eBay)
  • 5-speed 5EAT automatic: $4,313.46 (GoPowertrain)
  • 6-speed TY856 manual: $3,200.00 (Guesstimate)

Common Subaru Outback Transmission Problems

Although transmissions reveal several kinds of problems, we discuss some common issues of different transmissions of Subaru Outback.


  • The TR690 transmission can bring the car to a jarring stop or stall during driving. It also deprives the ability to restart the vehicle.
  • It may create the sensation of shivering or shaking when the CVT belt or pulley starts malfunctioning.
  • There is also anecdotal evidence of transmission getting broken at 43,000 miles.
  • This CVT may be malfunctioning, given a vehicle hesitates or pauses when a driver presses the gas.
  • There is also another common problem with this CVT transmission. It is that a car intermittently fails to respond when a driver depresses the accelerator. In some way, it is also a safety issue. When a driver tries to merge into traffic, it can create a situation of hitting.
  • There are also complaints of this CVT transmission consuming excessive oil after every 3,000 miles.
  • The rear-wheel bearing may require repeated replacement. According to one personal account, a driver had changed it three times in 1 and a half years. The problem began with a whining sound. Slowly, it got worse. The noise got louder when it hit 45-60 mph, although things remained fine at a slower speed.


  • There are complaints of rough shifting, especially from second gear into third gear.
  • When the transmission makes the switch, it may trigger a sensation of the car getting lurched forward for a second. A similar phenomenon does not happen at any other shift point.
  • In addition, it may begin shaking, slipping, and shuddering when accelerating from a halt.
  • The transmission is also susceptible to overheating. A driver can often notice the problem by glancing at a warning light. The issue can emerge when a car starts or even while driving. To prevent overheating, always make sure you tow within the towing capacity of the Subaru Outback.


  • The common problem with the TY856 transmission is gear crunching or gear selection when upshifting. It often occurs because of worn components, such as dog teeth wear and gear slider. Consequently, it precipitates the wearing out of shifting fork pads.
  • Another issue is the gear selecting spinning out of gear. Generally, it occurs by component wear. In some instances, it is often linked to gear set alignment when it happens after overhaul. Remember that setting up gear selector alignment in a proper way requires specialized tools.
  • Gear breakage is rare since the given transmission is overall robust.
  • The DCCD (Driver’s Control Centre Differential) units and viscous coupling center differentials encounter center differential binding as the components wear out.

Also read: The Exact Bolt Pattern Of A Subaru Outback

Differences Between Transmissions

The TR690 is a continuously variable transmission, and it is a pulley-based and metal chain CVT. It is one of the reliable ones used by Subaru because it contains a durable metal chain and a simple pulley system. Compared to other CVT designs, its pulley system is quieter. For the record, it is available with the 2.5i engine in the Outback. For connecting the engine to the transmission, it leverages a modified torque converter. Although it remains locked except when coasting or traveling at a low speed, it can slip like a conventional torque converter. 

The 5EAT is a 5-speed automatic transmission. To be precise, it is an electronically controlled automatic transmission. It contains the torque converter and an external spin-on filter. Subaru made a great choice by including these filters. It is the case since they grab clutch material shredding before making their way to plug up the cooler. This way, it prevents overheating.

The TY856 is a 6-speed manual transmission. Its design is considered one of the robust made by Subaru. Among car enthusiasts, it is a popular upgrade.

Transmission Fluids And The Subaru Outback

As far as transmission fluids are concerned, car manufacturers suggest changing it every 45,000 miles. Nonetheless, it is essential to note that different transmissions require different types of transmission fluids. For your ease, we give you a source of transmission fluids that work well with several transmissions.