NHTSA — Power Train: Automatic Transmission Problems


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
31,711 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2001 Subaru Forester transmission problems

transmission problem

Find something helpful? Spread the word.
Get notified about new defects, investigations, recalls & lawsuits for the 2001 Subaru Forester:

Unsubscribe any time. We don't sell/share your email.

2001 Subaru Forester Owner Comments

problem #7

Aug 232007

Forester 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 67,000 miles


Bought my 2001 Forester used with approximately 64,000 miles on it. After owning it for about 6 months noticed hesitancy when trying to pull out. Slowly started getting worse. Car would sit for about 10 to 15 seconds after being put into drive before engaging and if foot is not on brake, has a harsh engagement (whiplash type thing where it throws you forward). So, after much research and finding out that there are probably 1000S of other Forester owners with the exact same problem, I contacted Subaru of America who of course told me to take it to my local dealer and if they found anything wrong, Subaru might give me some goodwill assistance. Well as they found that the transmission filter was not a Subaru brand and nor was the fluid, they wanted to change it and then run a diagnostic test, saying that maybe that other filter caused the problem. I tried explaining that the reason we changed it was because of the problem, not what caused the problem. We changed it to see if that would help and of course it didn't. then, of course, Subaru would not do anything as I did not want to have to pay for them to change the filter and fluid only to charge me for that and then tell me that there was nothing wrong with it. I pointed out all the other complaints about the exact same problems, but they insist it is not a defect, when apparently there is a major problem with these transmissions.

- Burnsville , NC, USA

problem #6

Jan 152007

Forester 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 109,980 miles
Purchased used "as is" 02/01/2007 from dealer that listed 2001 Forester at $9800, then when I went to buy they reduced cost to $5200 just to move their used vehicles off lot. They did not disclose any problems and said Forester went thorough vehicle inspection and vehicle was in excellent condition mechanically. (1) failure of emission system ie, oxygen sensors (2) front and rear locations. Second day after purchase. (2) failure of left front cv joints (2) and axle. Third day after purchase. (3) automatic transmission would only go into reverse and not any drive or forward gears while coming home from work on "5th" day of ownership and this being the "third" time to have Forester towed to service center. I contacted the multi-franchised (including Subaru) for help and information. They responded the Forester was sold as is and didn't care even if the vehicle fell in half once it leaves their lot. My next step is I contacted Subaru America of my vehicle and dealer problems by email. I received returns from them with vauge at best reasons but no recall or tsb information. They gave me a case number and waiting for a personal reply via postal mail or telephone call. In total I have been towed 3 times, two different service centers and certified. Mechanics. Paid $300. For front axle, $429 for emmisison repairs, $150 for a transmission flush, filters (2 one internal one external spin-on) and Subaru transmission. Conditoner. Finally after all that I still have the transmission problem and rarely use it because I am affraid to drive it with my two babies I have, I use my fathers car. Can someone help me please.

- Kunkletown, PA, USA

problem #5

May 302006


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
When I shift into drive (any of the drive gears), the car hesitates to engage (move forward) for anywhere between 2-3 seconds and up to 1 minute. This does not happen when shifted into reverse. The wait time is random so I never know how long it will take. The other day, I had to reverse to get out of a parking spot and then the car wouldn't engage into drive for another 45 seconds and I almost got rear ended by a car coming up behind me. This is a safety issue! I've read about hundreds of other complaints by other Subaru Forester (1999 - 2001) owners on-line. This leads me to believe that it is a manufacturer's defect. I spoke with both the dealer and Subaru representative and they won't cover the cost of a new transmission because I am out of warranty. I think this is unacceptable and am looking into the legal implications further.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #4

Dec 312003

Forester 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles


After a snow storm I noticed my 2001 Subaru Forester would not drive on slippery surfaces. I pushed the accelerator, the wheels spun and not much else happened. I took it to the dealership on 12/19/03 and they looked at me like I was nuts to complain that a car didn't drive properly on packed snow and ice. The original thought was that it must be poor tires (bought new all seasons on 10/02) or that I needed to purchase snow tires (for an AWD?). after pushing the issue, the service manager brought it back into the garage, put it on the lift and had someone gun the engine. The front wheels spun fast (as they should) and the back wheels went very slowly. They scratched their heads and called Subaru of America for some help on the issue. Turns out the valve that supplies fluid to the rear wheels malfunctioned/burnt out/no longer worked. There was absolutely no warning that this had happened. The dealership said no such light to indicate a malfunction in the AWD system has ever existed. The service department crossed their fingers that the only repair I would need was the valve ($460 parts and labor) and warned me that if this had been happening for a while I could be in for some more serious repairs. I was allowed to take the car home because I could do no further damage to the car (was told it shut down). Brought it in 12/31/03 for a replacement of the valve and they discovered there was extensive damage and the clutch was completely burnt. The cost is now ($1500). This problem would have been significantly cheaper to fix if there had been a warning that there was a problem. A valve for the AWD system should never malfunction. The dealership said they had never seen it happen before. The car is not old enough (3 years 60K miles) to have a problem like this!

- Brookline, NH, USA

problem #3

Apr 012003

Forester 4WD 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 45,000 miles
When driving with the cruise control engaged for 10+ minutes, the car speed begins to drag and surge (suddenly slows, then resumes set speed). The car seems to be actively pulling back against the throttle if I put my foot on the gas to accelerate past the cruise setting, the dragging back against the throttle still occurs. If the cruise is left engaged, the lurching worsens, and when I exit the freeway the (automatic) transmission doesn't want to down shift. It resists until there's a loud noise, the rear of the car bucks, and then it goes into the next lowest gear. This happens through every gear, and then again upshifting from a stop: The rpms wind up higher than normal, the car resists shifting, and then the transmission slams into the next gear. The problem remains until I stop and take the car out of drive, which apparently resets it. The problem is most likely to occur in weather under 70 degrees. The dealer has reprogrammed an engine control module per recall #wwf89, and has also replaced the alternator and the ignition relay, but the problem persists. I believe this problem is dangerous, particularly when it's winding up to shift into fourth gear at 60 miles an hour, and it violently bucks into gear. Also, the problem is getting worse and more unpredictable. Most recently, I was testing the cruise control to see if the problem would occur in rainy weather. When it began surging, I immediately disengaged it, but the drag-back on the throttle continued anyway (this was the first incident in which the lurching continued after I turned off the cruise control). I am concerned this problem is going to occur without the cruise control being engaged at all, and also that the transmission is going to seize up without warning. (note: The "incident date" on this form is the date the first repair was attempted, but the problem actually started happening in April, 2003. The "number of failures" is an estimate -- it happens as often as I test it.)

- Springfield, OR, USA

problem #2

Dec 012001


  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
While driving in bumper high snow for 5 miles vehicle would not shift from 3 rd to 4 th gear. Consumer had to force it into 4 th gear. Dealer determined snow had accumulated around transmission and caused the problem.

- Cool, CA, USA

problem #1

Oct 072001

Forester 4WD

  • Automatic transmission
  • miles
Was attempting to back into driveway when suddenly the car moved forward. Engaging the brakes failed to stop car and it went over an embankment. In previous years Subaru were recalled for brake problems.also for problems with automatic transmission.

- West Roxbury, MA, USA

Not what you are looking for?