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Good morning, all,

I am one of the unlucky few who received a replacement transmission back in March. I was initially thrilled with the performance, but as time has marched on, I am beginning to suspect that there might be an issue. Please help me understand if my car is performing normally or not.

First of all, and most unsettling, I find that my car is prone to "hill surge." When driving up a long, somewhat steep hill, my car will increase RPM's and speed WITHOUT my foot depressing the accelerator any further, and even backing off. This is weird and frightening. Does anyone have a suggestion for what this might be? I really don't like it.

Secondly, I find that I have creaky brakes or struts and a chirp when moving from park to drive. Without changing where my foot is on the brake, when I shift into drive and before accelerating, my car makes a horrible creaking noise and chirps. Normal?

Thirdly, I have an occasional stutter or hesitation. This can happen at any speed. It's like the car is tripping over itself and can't find the right gear. Sometimes it will be at steady highway speeds (no reason to change gears) and I just feel a "bump" through the whole car, but it is not the road. Or when accelerating around a corner it hesitates until it finds the right gear to move.

I am approaching my 6,000 mile oil change and I am not a huge car person. I would like to to know if these issues are normal, or how to ask for them to be fixed. I want desperately to love this car. I preordered my Ascent back in June of last year and received it the end of September, picked out everything just so, and now I'm just kind of annoyed whenever I drive it and deal with these things. If I knew they were normal, I think I would be able to live with them. If they are not normal, what should I do?

Thank you very much for your help!
 

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I don’t have a lot to add, but I will give you some. I, by the way, got my new transmission last December after 10,000 miles. I now am approaching 20,000. I have also noticed that sometimes while ascending hills the transmission ratio will change and the engine speed picks up at a noticeable rate. This appears normal to me as the continuously variable transmission is supposed to adjust to speed and load. Funny thing is, it is most noticeable on a 45 mph road near my home where there are just moderate up and down sections. It follows the same pattern every time. I figure it is just more noticeable at light to moderate loads than it is at a greater speed and similar load. Nothing to worry about. As for the chirp, I haven’t had that with either of my transmissions, but others here have had it. Look for commentary from Damian.
I just adore my Ascent and consider it the best car I’ve ever had.
 

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As for the shudder, I think it may be just an idiosyncrasy of cvt’s. If it feels significant, have your dealership check it out. Remember, you have the number 1 rated mid sized suv on the market from the number 1 rated auto company. It is a great vehicle!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I appreciate this response! It does make me feel better, and I am glad to know that others are experiencing similar things. I agree--it is a great car. I drove the Pilot and Highlander and felt that the Ascent was just a higher quality vehicle. I will look into the chirp from Damian. Thank you!
 

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The chirp is something that some folks have when shifting from park and Robert made a post with a video showing it -->here<--. As for the other issues you may want to take it into the dealership and have them take a look. If they don't detect anything you may want to ask to take them roads where you consistently experience the issue to replicate it for them.
 

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First of all, and most unsettling, I find that my car is prone to "hill surge." When driving up a long, somewhat steep hill, my car will increase RPM's and speed WITHOUT my foot depressing the accelerator any further, and even backing off. This is weird and frightening. Does anyone have a suggestion for what this might be? I really don't like it.
That is normal. The CVT is switching ratios ("gears") to get more power to deal with the grade. It does that to me as well in the mountains north of Phoenix.

Secondly, I find that I have creaky brakes or struts and a chirp when moving from park to drive. Without changing where my foot is on the brake, when I shift into drive and before accelerating, my car makes a horrible creaking noise and chirps. Normal?
The CVT chirp is normal with our transmission.

Thirdly, I have an occasional stutter or hesitation. This can happen at any speed. It's like the car is tripping over itself and can't find the right gear. Sometimes it will be at steady highway speeds (no reason to change gears) and I just feel a "bump" through the whole car, but it is not the road. Or when accelerating around a corner it hesitates until it finds the right gear to move.
This seems to be related to the software change to add the fake shifts. Some people see it, some don't. It seems normal, if a bit annoying!

Seems your car is back to normal and I hope it performs well for you now.
 

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Unfortunately, I think the surge uphill is just the way the CVT is in certain instances. I believe I mentioned before one way out of my house entails a moderate hill, and the CVT pulls to about 3-3500 consistently going up it at 25 mph.- I don't like this because the engine hasn't hand time to warm up and it is running faster than I prefer, but a tap of the shift paddle usually takes care of it ( the car can manage the hill at 2200 or so RPM's as well as it does at 3500 rpm's).



I also get some hesitation going on or off throttle at more aggressive inputs ( sometimes a full second or more delay going from steady speeds to full throttle, and frequent rubber banding going off throttle to steady speed), and occasionally have the 'bump' feeling randomly at steady travel, like the feeling of the torque converter on a traditional CVT locking and unlocking.


I think it's just the way it is. But most of the time I don't notice the difference in the CVT vs cogged gearbox. But I will avoid purchasing a car with a CVT next time around.
 

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I would be concerned about the stutter and hesitation and have your dealer check it out since it is a replacement CVT
 

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First - normal behavior for the CVT.
Second - normal behavior for the CVT.
Third - normal behavior for the CVT.

I tell you three times - there are no gears in your transmission. The 'surge' you're feeling is the car continually varying the width of the pulleys to get the best performance, economy, and at the same time, still do what you want it to do. I have had customers, in the early days of CVT's, get nauseated while riding as passengers, as they felt like the car was rocking like a boat. Which it sort of was, with the Continually Variable Transmission.

Good morning, all,

I am one of the unlucky few who received a replacement transmission back in March. I was initially thrilled with the performance, but as time has marched on, I am beginning to suspect that there might be an issue. Please help me understand if my car is performing normally or not.

First of all, and most unsettling, I find that my car is prone to "hill surge." When driving up a long, somewhat steep hill, my car will increase RPM's and speed WITHOUT my foot depressing the accelerator any further, and even backing off. This is weird and frightening. Does anyone have a suggestion for what this might be? I really don't like it.

Secondly, I find that I have creaky brakes or struts and a chirp when moving from park to drive. Without changing where my foot is on the brake, when I shift into drive and before accelerating, my car makes a horrible creaking noise and chirps. Normal?

Thirdly, I have an occasional stutter or hesitation. This can happen at any speed. It's like the car is tripping over itself and can't find the right gear. Sometimes it will be at steady highway speeds (no reason to change gears) and I just feel a "bump" through the whole car, but it is not the road. Or when accelerating around a corner it hesitates until it finds the right gear to move.

I am approaching my 6,000 mile oil change and I am not a huge car person. I would like to to know if these issues are normal, or how to ask for them to be fixed. I want desperately to love this car. I preordered my Ascent back in June of last year and received it the end of September, picked out everything just so, and now I'm just kind of annoyed whenever I drive it and deal with these things. If I knew they were normal, I think I would be able to live with them. If they are not normal, what should I do?

Thank you very much for your help!
 

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Good morning, all,

First of all, and most unsettling, I find that my car is prone to "hill surge." When driving up a long, somewhat steep hill, my car will increase RPM's and speed WITHOUT my foot depressing the accelerator any further, and even backing off. This is weird and frightening. Does anyone have a suggestion for what this might be? I really don't like it.

Thank you very much for your help!
I have experienced this same thing on hills at low speeds in our Touring where the RPM's increase even though the throttle is being reduced. Characteristic or not I don't like it. Oddly though the Premium loaner we are driving doesn't do this or at least to a much less degree and is not as objectionable.
 

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I find the higher RPMs while going uphill happens more when the vehicle is cold. I have started watching the oil temp on the center screen and noticed once it gets up around 200 degrees it doesn't rev quite as much.

Granted I also use the paddles behind the wheel quite often to get the gearing I prefer for short periods of time such as going downhill or getting ready to pass.

As far as the Chirp noise I have not had that at all in mine over the 13,000 Miles I've had it.
 

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Why 'not normal?'

I am on a flat road, with my foot at a certain accelerator level to maintain speed. Maintaining speed on flat road doesn't require much torque. Ascent decides that it takes 1300 rpm and a certain CVT pulley ratio to keep me going on the flat.

Then the flat turns uphill. I keep my foot in the same position, like the OP's example. But more torque is needed to maintain speed, and the car quickly figures that out and applies more torque via higher rpm while maintaining mph with a lower CVT pulley ratio. Engines revs up to 2100, maybe 2300 rpm. I haven't moved my foot, but the rpms jump up.

Seems normal to me.

On some hills, the hill steepens at the top, or maybe turns on the hill, steepening just for a moment and needing a smidge more torque. In either case, the car senses that a little more torque is needed. I haven't asked for a higher speed, so the car lowers the CVT pulley ratio while increasing rpm a coupla hundred revs.

I'd be appalled if the car DIDN'T increase rpms in those circumstances. Just because an automatic tranny might choose to stay in a gear because it's too discrete to jump a full gear, doesn't mean a CVT won't optimize for needed torque (and only what's needed, and doesn't have to follow a set of gear ratios).

OP, do you think this is what you're seeing (which is normal), or something above and beyond what's needed (which could be a problem)?

F.S.
 

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Normal
 

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Everything you describe is normal. I complained to my dealer about how the hill surges and low speed turns are a bit rough sometimes. They had a bulletin for this and they flashed the ECU to fix this to some degree. The surges have been a bit less noticeable.

The chirp is normal. The extent of the chirp seems to be related to the position of the car. I notice it more when parked on an incline. Getting the car out of park on an incline requires more force on the shifter. This has to do with the amount of load on the parking brake pawl. I've found that turning on the parking brake first and then throwing into park reduces the load on the pawl and reduces the chirp.
 

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So am I understanding that these cars need new transmissions before/around 10k miles? I’ve had mine ( Touring model) since last August and have not been thrilled with much of anything except the camera rear view mirror! My car hesitates constantly and yes feels like it’s tripping over itself as you put it. My brakes make terrible noises all the time. Sounds like plastic ripping against more plastic. I thought maybe something was rubbing the plastic bumper at first. My gas mileage is as bad as my 8 cylinder X5 which I wasn’t expecting. I’ve had it on 2 road trips from Philly area to Orlando and the best I ever got was 22mpg. Dealer says the brake noise is “ normal” ? I haven’t complained about my other issues because quite frankly, I don’t like this car enough to keep it much longer, already looking for something else.
 

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So am I understanding that these cars need new transmissions before/around 10k miles? I’ve had mine ( Touring model) since last August and have not been thrilled with much of anything except the camera rear view mirror! My car hesitates constantly and yes feels like it’s tripping over itself as you put it. My brakes make terrible noises all the time. Sounds like plastic ripping against more plastic. I thought maybe something was rubbing the plastic bumper at first. My gas mileage is as bad as my 8 cylinder X5 which I wasn’t expecting. I’ve had it on 2 road trips from Philly area to Orlando and the best I ever got was 22mpg. Dealer says the brake noise is “ normal” ? I haven’t complained about my other issues because quite frankly, I don’t like this car enough to keep it much longer, already looking for something else.
Which cars? A very small number of Ascents (whether you talk about all 60,000 made, or just August) have needed new CVTs. I'm about to cross 23,000 miles, and there's someone in the FB group who's beating me (for now) and crossed 23,000 miles last week. I beat on my Ascent in ways almost no one else does.
 

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Getting the car out of park on an incline requires more force on the shifter. This has to do with the amount of load on the parking brake pawl. I've found that turning on the parking brake first and then throwing into park reduces the load on the pawl and reduces the chirp.
I learned this at a young age that you never want your car hanging on the transmission/parking pin. I am amazed by how many folks don't do this or much less use a parking brake at all :tango_face_surprise
 

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So am I understanding that these cars need new transmissions before/around 10k miles? I’ve had mine ( Touring model) since last August and have not been thrilled with much of anything except the camera rear view mirror! My car hesitates constantly and yes feels like it’s tripping over itself as you put it. My brakes make terrible noises all the time. Sounds like plastic ripping against more plastic. I thought maybe something was rubbing the plastic bumper at first. My gas mileage is as bad as my 8 cylinder X5 which I wasn’t expecting. I’ve had it on 2 road trips from Philly area to Orlando and the best I ever got was 22mpg. Dealer says the brake noise is “ normal” ? I haven’t complained about my other issues because quite frankly, I don’t like this car enough to keep it much longer, already looking for something else.

You went from a V8 BMW which sets the standard for refinement of NVH (and many here have/had these cars and get that), to Subaru’s interpretation of a minivan with ground clearance. I think your comparison may not be fair.

Well, I came out of a V8 X5. A 2019 V8 powered X5 runs in the 80s+ optioned up. Respectfully, expectations may not be in line for the change you made. Your BMW gave you seamless thrust with a smoothness unmatched by most cars, and the German programmed ZF trans works shifts so imperceptibly only the visual change on the tach told you a gear change occurred. At a cost.

But that isn’t what we have now. The only way to match that for new Ascent prices, even a new Touring, is a multi-year old X5 at the edge of, or out of, warranty that will not have all the features of a 2019 Ascent. And if you are being honest with yourself, you know the V8 X5 was not exactly a standard of trouble free operation and economical repair and maint.

I drove my X5 to the dealer, hopped in the Ascent for a test drive, and made a choice based the whole big picture. And if you didn’t think I hadn’t optioned up and down a plethora of X5s and X3s along the way, you’d be mistaken. My right brain gave way to my left brain, and it’s just fine. I look forward to hauling both grandkids and miscellany from the Home Depot in plenty of comfort.

Maybe you had some criteria in a different order than that, or figured you’d learn to like it, but you may be better off learning from this and going back to what you really want. Any BMW dealer would take your Ascent in a second, and put it on the front row. Continuing to point out the shortcomings of a 40K model vs a “beginning in the 60s for the base 6 cyl version” of a car made by a company whose main engineering and marketing focus is about the driving experience, isn’t a fair comparison, and really isn’t going to make you satisfied with your purchase. Seems almost like self torture. Sorry, but really.

Oh, and the trans in my BMW failed once, too.
 

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Im a big believer that the transmission control unit TCU needs to see the vehicle operate under many different driving scenarios to get a good "real world map". Some people even thought back in the day that modern vehicles 'learn' your driving style and adjust transmission performance based on that. I drive cars hard and use the paddle shifters for slowing and downshifting before accelerating (however, I think the transmission does it better).

Whether this is true or not, It seems to me that the drive train is very adaptive, even more so than previous Subarus I've owned before.
 
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