Subaru Transmission Repair and Replacement Cost

A Subaru transmission replacement can cost upwards of $3,400, so regular maintenance is key to avoiding a hefty bill!
Written by Andrea Barrett
Reviewed by Brittni Brinn
While there are plenty of cheap fixes on a vehicle, your Subaru transmission isn’t one of them. While minor repairs might cost you only $100 or $200, a complete replacement or rebuild of your Subaru transmission can cost between $1,800 and $3,400, depending on your Subaru model. Unfortunately, transmission issues are the most common problems in Subarus.
A Subaru might hit the list of top contenders if you’re looking for a reliable off-road vehicle with excellent practicality and durability. From the sporty WRX to the family-friendly Forester, they’re some of the most reputable and affordable vehicles on the market—but they don’t come without issues. Depending on the model and age of your car, transmission issues are a big thing—and fixing them doesn’t come cheap. 
If you’re a loud and proud Subaru owner dealing with transmission issues,
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How much does a Subaru transmission repair cost?

Subaru transmission repair costs vary dramatically based on what type of repairs you need, where it’s done, and the model and model year of your Subaru. Generally speaking, transmission repair costs between $50 and $3,400—but the bill usually falls on the higher end of the scale. 
A Subaru transmission replacement following complete transmission failure is the most expensive and will typically cost between $1,800 and $3,400. According to
Kelley Blue Book
, a new transmission can cost even more, averaging between $2,900 and $7,300. But it’s not the only transmission repair your Subaru may need. 
Some other common Subaru transmission repair services include: 
The bottom line? More minor repairs on your Subaru’s transmission will cost less than a full transmission replacement, which is one of the most expensive fixes on a vehicle. 
That said, the average lifetime for a Subaru transmission is over 100,000 miles, but the CVT in newer Subarus tends to experience problems within the first five years of ownership. And because Subarus can be on the road for more than 300,000 miles, your Subaru transmission will likely need fixing at some point

What does a transmission do?

While you may know that a transmission replacement is expensive, what exactly are you paying for? The transmission is part of the powertrain responsible for moving power from your engine to your wheels. It helps ensure that your vehicle’s engine performs at the right speed to power your car.
As of 2014, the entire Subaru lineup of all-wheel drive vehicles is outfitted with a continuously variable transmission or CVT, but there are two exceptions. The 2022
Subaru WRX
and the 2023
Subaru BRZ
are the only models that don’t offer a CVT on any trim levels.

Is it cheaper to repair or replace a transmission?

A full transmission replacement is the most expensive service performed on a vehicle and will cost you between $1,800 and $3,400 on average. But the total cost of a transmission replacement depends on the vehicle and the type of transmission installed in place of the old one. 
The most expensive type of transmission replacement is an OEM replacement, which uses original Subaru parts to replace the transmission. If you have your transmission replaced at a Subaru dealership with a
genuine OEM transmission
, you’ll likely pay much more—and you’ll have to tack on labor changes, which may vary based on location. 
If you’re looking for a way to reduce costs, the other option is a remanufactured or rebuilt transmission or even a used transmission from a salvage vehicle. A salvage transmission will be your cheapest option, ranging from $800 to $1,400, depending on the make and model of your vehicle. However, salvage transmissions may be less reliable than a new or rebuilt transmission, meaning you may be left dealing with the same problem down the road.
A Subaru remanufactured transmission is rebuilt by Subaru specialists and will cost less than a rebuilt transmission. Subaru claims that a remanufactured transmission will “perform as new in each and every specification and operating characteristic at lower prices than new-from-the-factory automatic transmission assemblies.” A remanufactured transmission may cost anywhere from $750 to $2,000. 

Does it cost more to repair a manual transmission or an automatic?

Manual transmission repair costs are generally less than automatic or continuously variable transmissions. Manual transmissions have fewer moving parts and a simpler construction, making repairs and replacements cheaper.
If you have a manual Subaru, a transmission replacement will cost around $3,600. In contrast, an automatic transmission replacement can cost up to $4,000, with CVT replacement being the most expensive. 

Common Subaru transmission problems

While Subarus may be good at many things, transmission problems are common—and models built between 2012 and 2017 seem to experience the most issues. Subaru offered an extended warranty on the CVT for affected vehicles:
  • 2010–2015 Legacy and Outback
  • 2014–2015 Forester with turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • 2012–2015 Impreza
  • 2014–2015 Crosstrek Hybrid
  • 2014–2015 Forester with 2.5-liter four-cylinder
  • 2013–2015 Crosstrek
  • 2015 Legacy and Outback with 3.6-liter V-6
  • 2015 WRX 2.0
Although general transmission failure is a common problem on Subarus, you may also experience some other issues related to the transmission, including: 
  • Filter replacement
  • Pan gasket replacement
  • Transmission fluid leak
While not always the case, low transmission fluid or a
transmission fluid leak
is the most common transmission problem in a Subaru. Just as an oil change helps to keep your Subaru engine lubricated and functioning optimally, transmission fluid changes every 30,000 to 60,000 miles help to lubricate the moving parts of your transmission and prevent a Subaru transmission failure. 

What year Subarus have the most transmission problems?

Transmission problems are some of the most common issues in Subarus, but some models and model years experience more problems than others.  Below are the most common problem years for the most popular models: 
Generally speaking, most Subaru models produced between 2012 and 2017 encountered some transmission issues, although many were minor. 

Signs your Subaru transmission is going bad

Not sure whether the noises from your car are a sign of a transmission failure? On top of regular transmission fluid checks, it’s essential to know the key signs of transmission problems—especially if your Subaru is past the 100,000-mile mark. Early detection of transmission troubles can save you a lot of money in the long run and prevent damage in the future. 
Pay attention to these signs that your Subaru’s transmission may be struggling:
  1. Refusal to switch gears: If your Subaru struggles to change gears, it’s most likely an issue with the transmission, such as low or improper transmission fluid. 
  2. Burning smells: Strange smells from your car are never a good sign, but an odor can indicate the transmission is overheating or the transmission fluid is old and burnt.
  3. Noises in neutral: If you hear weird noises from your Subaru when you’re in neutral, it can indicate your transmission needs new fluid or damage to your transmission. 
  4. Slipping gears: Gears slipping out of place while driving is not only scary and dangerous, but it’s generally a sign that something is wrong with your transmission. If you hear a revving noise during a gear change, it’s a sign your transmission has slipped. Other symptoms of slipping gears include a delay in acceleration, strange noises, and a generally harsh response when shifting gears.
  5. Leaking fluid: Not sure what kind of
    fluid is leaking from your car
    ? Leaking transmission fluid is one of the easiest problems to identify with your transmission. It appears as a red, sweet-smelling fluid underneath your car.
  6. Check engine light is ON: An
    illuminated check engine light
    can signal several issues, but you’ll want to have a mechanic investigate this further. 
  7. Grinding or shaking: This is more common in automatic cars, but any type of grinding or shaking during gear changes indicates a transmission problem. 
You don’t have to be a car guru to know when something is wrong with your vehicle. If you experience any of these issues and suspect it’s the transmission, you can use an onboard diagnostics (OBD-II) scanner to check engine trouble codes. Look out for the
P0730 engine code
, which indicates an incorrect gear ratio, or the
P0846 engine code
, which detects problems with transmission fluid pressure. 

What to do if your Subaru transmission fails

A failing transmission is never something to look forward to, but if your Subaru transmission fails, get yourself to a certified mechanic or an authorized Subaru dealership as soon as possible. You don’t want to operate a malfunctioning vehicle and cause further damage. 
If you already have a certified mechanic, schedule an appointment to have your vehicle looked at. Although Subaru dealerships will offer reliable service using Subaru-licensed professionals, independent automotive shops usually provide excellent customer service, and you can even access deals to help reduce costs.

How to maintain your Subaru transmission

If you’re looking to keep car expenses low, the best (and easiest) way to maintain the health of your Subaru’s transmission is to check and maintain transmission fluid levels regularly
One of the most common causes of transmission failure is low or contaminated transmission fluid. This fluid is the blood of the transmission that lubricates the moving parts and provides the hydraulic properties that allow the transmission to work properly. If not caught quickly, it can lead to major damage and, eventually, a total transmission failure. 
Here are some tips to keep your Subaru transmission in optimal condition:
  • Check your transmission fluid once a month
  • Ensure you’re using the correct type of transmission fluid as recommended by your Subaru owner’s manual
  • To prevent unnecessary wear and tear on your transmission, avoid changing gears while the vehicle is moving
  • Engage the parking brake whenever your car is in park
  • Don’t overload your Subaru by towing beyond its capacity
  • Let your vehicle warm up for 30–60 seconds before driving to help the transmission fluid and oil flow through all of the gears
  • Have annual transmission checkups 
  • Replace your transmission filter every 30,000 to 50,000 miles 
Following a proper maintenance schedule and performing regular transmission checks is the simplest way to extend the life of your Subaru’s transmission, improve vehicle performance, and reduce unnecessary car expenses. 

How to check transmission fluid

If you’re not a car expert, performing maintenance on your Subaru might be a bit daunting—but it’s simple! Remember that you should always check your transmission fluid levels while the car is running, so allow it to warm up for a few minutes and get to work! After that, here’s what you’ll need to do:
  • Locate the transmission dipstick, which is found under the car’s hood in the engine compartment (ensure it’s the transmission dipstick and not the engine-oil dipstick)—it’s generally marked with a specific color or a transmission symbol and further back in the engine bay.
  • Pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean, and slowly replace and remove it.
  • Check the fluid level against how high the fluid comes up on the dipstick. Ensure the fluid reaches the “warm” line.
  • Slowly add fluid, checking with the dipstick in between additions if necessary. 
  • Replace the dipstick. 
Before you put the dipstick back, you can lay it on a white surface to analyze the fluid color. Dark brown or black fluid indicates that more than just your fluid needs replacing. Dark fluid with a burnt smell spells trouble and likely means damage to your transmission's internal components. 
Healthy transmission fluid is a reddish-pink color, but if it’s getting close to needing replacement, you’ll notice a brownish-red color.
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How to save on Subaru insurance costs

There are times when transmission problems may be inevitable, but in general, following a
regular maintenance schedule
for your Subaru is the best and easiest way to keep your vehicle and transmission performing optimally and
save on car expenses
. Another easy way to reduce your Subaru costs is by looking for car insurance using the
Jerry
app. 
As a
licensed insurance broker,
Jerry partners with over 55 top-rated insurance providers to find you the best rates on
Subaru car insurance
without compromising coverage. Sign up from your smartphone in under a minute and browse real-time customized quotes within seconds. If you find a quote you like, just click on it, and a Jerry agent will help you lock in your rate and get you switched over. 
Although insurance doesn't tend to cover transmission costs (that’s up to your warranty), it can help you save money for future car expenses! On average, Jerry users save over $800 yearly on car insurance
“After signing up with
Jerry
, I went from $199/month to $97/month for my car insurance. My 2019 Subaru Forester now has full coverage for a great price!” —Rhonda H.
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