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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Our first Subaru, a 2017 3.6r Outback, made us realize why people speak so highly of the brand. The car never gave us any issues, tore thru mountain passes, snow banks, and would perform like a champ off road. So when the time came to replace a second vehicle we wasted no time shopping other brands and purchased a 2021 Ascent Touring back in December of 2020. Once we took ownership of the vehicle we installed a 1.5" lift kit from Anderson Design Fabrication, changed wheels and tires, added primitive skid plates underneath the vehicle, as well as a rally light bar along with rally lights.

Our first indication our Ascent was experiencing transmission issues was back in May. We live in Los Angeles and own a small teardrop trailer that we had been pulling with the ascent. On several occasions, all of which occurred when climbing mountain passes, the cvt fluid overheating light had come on requiring us to pull off to the side of the highway in order for the fluid to cool prior to resuming our travels. Upon returning to town I brought the vehicle in for service and advised the Subaru service department of the issue and asked that they look in to the cause. Service department informed me that everything checked out and they did not see an issue with the vehicle.

Wednesday a week ago, myself, wife and five year old had the ascent packed with camping gear and headed north for a weekend up in Big Sur. It was mid afternoon on a relatively cool day as we started climbing the grapevine, a notoriously steep climb out of Los Angeles that takes you up central California. As the vehicle was climbing the pass I felt the transmission slip as it aggressively shifted gears (another complaint I have of the vehicle due to its small engine). Within two minutes of that slip all three of us hear a loud boom, my eyes immediately look thru rear view mirror to see a cloud of smoke and debris bouncing across the freeway that clearly came from our vehicle. We lost complete control over the vehicle and coasted while making our way to the shoulder.

Subaru road side assistance was unable to get us a tow truck in a reasonable time frame so I used my AAA membership to have us towed back to our house so I could transfer our gear to the outback and get us out of town for the weekend. Once we returned home I had the Ascent towed in to our Subaru dealer who now has the vehicle and awaiting an engineer from NA Subaru to inspect the, as the service manager classified it as a, catastrophic transmission failure. From what they informed me after inspecting the vehicle was the CVT chain broke off and literally blew a hole thru the transmission casing (photos attached). He also stated that after all his years in service he has never seen anything like this occur.

The first thing my wife asked was, did you tell him we want a new car?

Now I know the service manager is not the person to make that decision, but wondering if there have been any other cases where this has occurred in a vehicle less than a year old with less than 12k miles. Do I really want to have our vehicle repaired? We no longer want the vehicle and plan to sell it regardless once the repairs are made.

UPDATE 11/3: Dealer was instructed to wait on repairs for an engineer from SOA to visit and inspect vehicle. This afternoon SOA authorized the replacement of entire Transmission, and the Transmission Control Module.
 

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2019 Ascent Touring (CWP)
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I don't think I've ever heard of a Subaru CVT literally breaking a chain. It's probably truly a one in a million failure.
^^ This. And the TR690 employed in the Ascent has been in use for twelve years. Sad you had this happen, but I'm sure you'll get taken care of. I doubt that will include a new vehicle, however, but you can certainly ask!
 

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^^ This. And the TR690 employed in the Ascent has been in use for twelve years. Sad you had this happen, but I'm sure you'll get taken care of. I doubt that will include a new vehicle, however, but you can certainly ask!
Thete is no reason for a new vehicle. They will replace the cvt and other parts that broke. Assuming the problem was not caused by towing innapropriately, SOA will 100% take care of it. Any manufacturer will have some units with defective parts. As stated above, the cvt has performed well for years.
 

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I agree with the others, Subaru will make it right provided there's nothing else at play besides a defect with the transmission. What trailer were you towing?
 

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Holy cow,now that's incredible.I've blown transmissions before back in the day but this.Subaru will definitely make this right for you and your family,don't give up on it.
Sorry you had to go through this,good luck.
 

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I can definitely understand the impetus to sell, after such an experience.

We're a leasing family. I love working on my car(s), but with our current lifestyle, an enjoyable afternoon for me is a back-to-back set of pit-stops for fluids changes and tire/wheel changes on our vehicles: I just don't have the time to really wrench.

With the fact that we lease, in-mind, here's the tale of my wife's '09 Forester XT, which has a picture of our service invoice for authentication. :)


After her heart transplant, she performed as-new, and she was a faithful companion for our family on several long road-trips. She never spent another day in the shop, after that, and finished-out her 3-year stint until we replaced her with a '13 FXT Touring.

I don't believe that it's my place to encourage you to give your current vehicle another chance - but at the same time, I also don't think it inappropriate for me to discourage you from not doing so. More than likely, this is just one of those freak occurrences.

I'm willing to bet that unless your dealership is an awful one, that both they as well as SoA will make-right by you. Our dealership certainly rolled out the red carpet for us, with our '09 FXT.
 

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Our first Subaru, a 2017 3.6r Outback, made us realize why people speak so highly of the brand. The car never gave us any issues, tore thru mountain passes, snow banks, and would perform like a champ off road. So when the time came to replace a second vehicle we wasted no time shopping other brands and purchased a 2021 Ascent Touring back in December of 2020. Once we took ownership of the vehicle we installed a 1.5" lift kit from Anderson Design Fabrication, changed wheels and tires, added primitive skid plates underneath the vehicle, as well as a rally light bar along with rally lights.

Our first indication our Ascent was experiencing transmission issues was back in May. We live in Los Angeles and own a small teardrop trailer that we had been pulling with the ascent. On several occasions, all of which occurred when climbing mountain passes, the cvt fluid overheating light had come on requiring us to pull off to the side of the highway in order for the fluid to cool prior to resuming our travels. Upon returning to town I brought the vehicle in for service and advised the Subaru service department of the issue and asked that they look in to the cause. Service department informed me that everything checked out and they did not see an issue with the vehicle.

Wednesday a week ago, myself, wife and five year old had the ascent packed with camping gear and headed north for a weekend up in Big Sur. It was mid afternoon on a relatively cool day as we started climbing the grapevine, a notoriously steep climb out of Los Angeles that takes you up central California. As the vehicle was climbing the pass I felt the transmission slip as it aggressively shifted gears (another complaint I have of the vehicle due to its small engine). Within two minutes of that slip all three of us hear a loud boom, my eyes immediately look thru rear view mirror to see a cloud of smoke and debris bouncing across the freeway that clearly came from our vehicle. We lost complete control over the vehicle and coasted while making our way to the shoulder.

Subaru road side assistance was unable to get us a tow truck in a reasonable time frame so I used my AAA membership to have us towed back to our house so I could transfer our gear to the outback and get us out of town for the weekend. Once we returned home I had the Ascent towed in to our Subaru dealer who now has the vehicle and awaiting an engineer from NA Subaru to inspect the, as the service manager classified it as a, catastrophic transmission failure. From what they informed me after inspecting the vehicle was the CVT chain broke off and literally blew a hole thru the transmission casing (photos attached). He also stated that after all his years in service he has never seen anything like this occur.

The first thing my wife asked was, did you tell him we want a new car?

Now I know the service manager is not the person to make that decision, but wondering if there have been any other cases where this has occurred in a vehicle less than a year old with less than 12k miles. Do I really want to have our vehicle repaired? We no longer want the vehicle and plan to sell it regardless once the repairs are made.
I know this doesn't answer the question, but I was told that Subaru has a 100,000 mile guarantee on the CVT .... IF it has not been tampered with by anyone including a Subaru dealer. I don't know about that last part, but they want to get the entire transmission intact for inspection. If you take it to a transmission place after, say, 50K to have it serviced & they open the case, then it voids the warranty. That is what I've been told anyhow.

I know you haven't had anything done to the CVT so they will replace it with a completely new unit - not a rebuild or a repair.
 

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I know this doesn't answer the question, but I was told that Subaru has a 100,000 mile guarantee on the CVT .... IF it has not been tampered with by anyone including a Subaru dealer. I don't know about that last part, but they want to get the entire transmission intact for inspection. If you take it to a transmission place after, say, 50K to have it serviced & they open the case, then it voids the warranty. That is what I've been told anyhow.

I know you haven't had anything done to the CVT so they will replace it with a completely new unit - not a rebuild or a repair.
standard maintenance service work would have been allowed by any qualified repair person. There is no legal requirement that service work be completed by a dealer. All warranty work must be done by a dealer.
 

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Boiling this down to the tldr version:

You towed something, the AT Temp light came on. Dealer inspected, showed no issues.

Subsequently, you travelled up the Gravevine, and the transmission had a catastrophic failure.

Your ask: Is asking for a new vehicle reasonable?

My hot take
: No. The entire vehicle didn't fail, the transmission did. The transmission, like many components, can be repaired or replaced. Unless there is some sort of direct integration of the transmission into the unibody chassis that's unique to the Ascent, there's no reason to issue a new vehicle.

Caveat: You may have diminished value in your vehicle because of this replacement when it to selling the vehicle. That is to say, if I am a buyer and I am comparing CARFAX reports, I'm going to pick one that hasn't had a major issue vs. one that has.
 

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This thread made it into my Google daily news feed. Never seen a thread from this site in there before. Wonder what made it significant enough to be highlighted.
It was in mine too.. that's how I ended up here.. they are listening!

OP the exaggerations made the post hard to read, while the trans having a failure is unfortunate, unless it destroyed the underneath of your car, I don't think you could ask for a new car. I had to replace a transmission bearing in my 2017 WRX early on that shouldn't have went bad, sometimes they're just bad parts. Good luck with the ascent.
 

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Yeah, that's gotta be a very odd, very rare failure.

I did 35k miles in my 2019 Ascent, with over 5,000 miles of it towing at/near the limit of 5,000lbs and in the mountains. I also offroaded and basically always drove it hard. No issues.

New tranny and you should be good to go. Also SOA will stand behind the new tranny too.
 

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Caveat: You may have diminished value in your vehicle because of this replacement when it to selling the vehicle. That is to say, if I am a buyer and I am comparing CARFAX reports, I'm going to pick one that hasn't had a major issue vs. one that has.
Possible that a nice email or call to SoA will have a goodwill measure given to the OP. :)
 

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Wondering if your lift kit and wheel / tire upgrade may have affected the geometry and/or function of the Symetrical AWD system? Also, did the skid plate in any way restrict airflow to the trans, which when combined with towing, may have contributed to its overheating? Only mentioning these issues so you can be prepared should the dealer decide to challenge the warranty claim. Don’t have enough facts to really comment other than to raise the questions. For your sake, hoping not an issue!
 

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Wondering if your lift kit and wheel / tire upgrade may have affected the geometry and/or function of the Symetrical AWD system? Also, did the skid plate in any way restrict airflow to the trans, which when combined with towing, may have contributed to its overheating? Only mentioning these issues so you can be prepared should the dealer decide to challenge the warranty claim. Don’t have enough facts to really comment other than to raise the questions. For your sake, hoping not an issue!
doubtful any of the mods will void this tran warranty. Sklid plates are now coming as standard on some Subarus. The lift is small so IMO Subaru would have a difficult time proving that that was the cause of the failure.
 

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doubtful any of the mods will void this tran warranty. Sklid plates are now coming as standard on some Subarus. The lift is small so IMO Subaru would have a difficult time proving that that was the cause of the failure.
Hope you’re right. Have bought 8 or 9 subies of different models from a dealer in suburban Chicago and the service mgr hates aftermarket ads-ons with a passion and looks for reasons to push back on warranty claims. I stopped buying cars there because of it. Again, just sharing a comment, not making a prediction.
 

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My buddy used to work at a Subaru dealer and they would do whole CVT swaps for such minor things any other manufacturer would just repair. Part of that was around Subaru not letting them repair the CVTs. I think if I had a one time major failure that resulted in a CVT swap I'd keep it. Now, if it has reoccurring issues (related or otherwise) then I'd looking at ditching it.

I'm not sure I can agree with wanting a whole new car in this example.
 

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If it was mine I would just have Subaru install the new transmission under warranty and then keep on driving it for another 10 years or so.... Assuming they can source a new transmission in a reasonable amount of time.
 
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