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Hello everyone, I am hoping you can provide me some guidance. I live in the Denver, CO area and purchased my Ascent Touring in July and now have about 4,300 miles on it. About two weeks ago, while I was driving around 40-45 miles per hour on a road with many stop lights I noticed a squealing noise (like a loose belt) coming from somewhere and assumed it was coming from the older car in the next lane. The very next day on my way to work, which entails about 30 miles of highway driving, I was traveling at 70mph using full cruise control. Out of nowhere my RPMs revved from about 2000 to just over 3000 and immediately back down to the 2000 range while simultaneously making a squealing noise, again like a loose belt. No warning lights or other indicators come on. The only symptom is the RPM rev. It is most reliable at the 70mph range but does occur in the 45-50mph range as well.

I contacted the dealer I purchased it from and took it in for service a few days later. They kept it for a day and after doing a test drive could not replicate the issue, but did perform an ECM upgrade which did something to the CVT and said to bring it back if it happened again. On my next drive to work it occurred again. I contacted the dealer and convinced them to go on a test drive with me driving, but due to the time of day and traffic conditions I was not able to get the car up to to the 70-75mph range to attempt to replicate the issue.

Of course the very next day on my way to work It occurred again. I contacted the dealer again and dropped the car off with them so they could attempt to diagnose the problem. The dealer has had my car for a week now. They have driven it every day, amounting to 151 miles and have not been able to replicate the issue. I had them ensure they drove the same speed, time of day, and even the same road I take in an attempt to match as many of the driving conditions as possible. No luck. I feel like the only thing left is me. We are working to line up a time to go out together while they have their OBD2 data recorder connected but this means that I have to take time off of work and I’m worried I won’t be able to get the car to act up and they’ll have my car forever.

I took several videos of these events and even showed the dealer. They said they have to get the issue to happen to them and they can’t use the video to troubleshoot. The dealer also said they contacted Subaru of America given my video evidence, but corporate pushed back and said to record the event with the official Subaru event recorder and then they would look at it. During one of the test drives the shop foreman looked at my video and said he thinks it is the transmission but they need to record the event to be able to work on it.

What should I do? Depending on how my next test drive goes with them, I plan to get my car back and purchase my own OBD2 device to record my driving and then return when I have captured the anamoly and show them the data. Of course, there is no guarantee they’ll accept it but maybe it will tell us something about the problem. I welcome any guidance anyone can provide. Also, do you recommend any specific OBD2 device? I am thinking about this one: https://www.amazon.com/ANCEL-Enhanced-Vehicle-Automotive-Scanner/dp/B071FSNL73/ref=sr_1_8?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1543553860&sr=1-8&keywords=obd2


Videos are located here:

 

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Odd. It doesn’t seem to be transmission related. I would even say that the RPM jump might be just the gauge getting weird due to vibration affecting the its reading. Makes me think belt or maybe bearing on a tensioner.
 

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It sounds like a belt. Does the squealing happen when you accelerate? There is another Ascent owner on the Subaru Facebook page that has reported the same issue.
 

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Well...this is interesting. My car was doing the same thing - it is currently scheduled for a full transmission replacement. I've posted on these forums as well. Videos are posted on the Ascent page on Facebook. Feel free to connect with me direct on Facebook.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well...this is interesting. My car was doing the same thing - it is currently scheduled for a full transmission replacement. I've posted on these forums as well. Videos are posted on the Ascent page on Facebook. Feel free to connect with me direct on Facebook.
That is interesting... Was the dealer able to duplicate it? How did they diagnose? I went for another drive with them today and nothing happened. They told me to take the car home and call them back if it happens again.
 

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Well this just got more interesting. The tow truck is coming in the morning. Earlier, after about 1 1/2 hours of blah blah freeway to highway driving, I heard the squeal. I looked down and saw my tach race up and back about 1000. It gradually became more frequent. The transmission felt like it was hunting and would abruptly “shift” back down. I pulled over to take a look but left it running, thinking I would check the transmission fluid. Dumb me. No dipstick?
I continued driving and was fine for about 10 miles, but it came back, gradually getting worse no matter what I tried. 6 miles later, the at trans oil overheat light starts flashing, the brake light warning comes on and eyesight shutdown. I limped into a restaurant and let it cool. After an hour I drive 6 miles with it acting nirmal, but still no eyesight. Off to the dealership tomorrow. Too bad I’m 150 miles away! 10,000 otherwise happy miles on my Limited. 😔
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well this just got more interesting. The tow truck is coming in the morning. Earlier, after about 1 1/2 hours of blah blah freeway to highway driving, I heard the squeal. I looked down and saw my tach race up and back about 1000. It gradually became more frequent. The transmission felt like it was hunting and would abruptly “shift” back down. I pulled over to take a look but left it running, thinking I would check the transmission fluid. Dumb me. No dipstick?
I continued driving and was fine for about 10 miles, but it came back, gradually getting worse no matter what I tried. 6 miles later, the at trans oil overheat light starts flashing, the brake light warning comes on and eyesight shutdown. I limped into a restaurant and let it cool. After an hour I drive 6 miles with it acting nirmal, but still no eyesight. Off to the dealership tomorrow. Too bad I’m 150 miles away! 10,000 otherwise happy miles on my Limited. 😔
Mine has not gotten that bad, yet. I emailed Subaru last night with links to my videos and reference to other drivers experiencing similar issues. My hope is with the video evidence they will replace my transmission as this is clearly a growing issue.
 

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Chain slipping

Pressure between or in the pulleys is dropping. That can be caused by a few different things, so, I won't speculate. You've got two massive pulleys and a chain (there's no belt in the Subaru CVTs). The pulleys must be the correct opposing sizes for the system to operate. When the car is shifted into gear with the engine at over 400rpm, the pulleys are engaged and remain synchronized at all times.

If pressure drops in the system, a pulley "shrinks" in size (axial movement of one side of the pulley, away from the other side, without the opposing movement on the other pulley), causing the chain to slip.

Here's an animation that explains how it works (albeit with a belt driven CVT rendering, but the principle is identical).

 

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Thanks Robert! Nice animation by the way. My beautiful Ascent is now at the dealership. I have a 2019 Outback as a loaner. I am wondering how they are going to heat up my Ascent enough to diagnose it but they probably know how. I wasn’t doing anything particularly stressful when it started happening. Hopefully I’ll hear from them soon.
 

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Thanks Robert! Nice animation by the way. My beautiful Ascent is now at the dealership. I have a 2019 Outback as a loaner. I am wondering how they are going to heat up my Ascent enough to diagnose it but they probably know how. I wasn’t doing anything particularly stressful when it started happening. Hopefully I’ll hear from them soon.
Yeah, that channel has some great vids!

Here's another one that goes into more detail:
 

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Well this just got more interesting. The tow truck is coming in the morning. Earlier, after about 1 1/2 hours of blah blah freeway to highway driving, I heard the squeal. I looked down and saw my tach race up and back about 1000. It gradually became more frequent. The transmission felt like it was hunting and would abruptly “shift” back down. I pulled over to take a look but left it running, thinking I would check the transmission fluid. Dumb me. No dipstick?
I continued driving and was fine for about 10 miles, but it came back, gradually getting worse no matter what I tried. 6 miles later, the at trans oil overheat light starts flashing, the brake light warning comes on and eyesight shutdown. I limped into a restaurant and let it cool. After an hour I drive 6 miles with it acting nirmal, but still no eyesight. Off to the dealership tomorrow. Too bad I’m 150 miles away! 10,000 otherwise happy miles on my Limited. 😔
Exactly what happened to my wife while driving our Ascent. Check out my post "Major Transmission Issue." We are getting a new transmission. But the "Subaru Ambassador" will say its a "one-off."
 

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Huh?

Exactly what happened to my wife while driving our Ascent. Check out my post "Major Transmission Issue." We are getting a new transmission. But the "Subaru Ambassador" will say its a "one-off."
Uh, did I say any such thing? I am not sure what your beef is with us, but I would be glad to chat about it. Message me here, on Facebook, create a post about it... whatever you prefer.

And if there's a bad experience you had with another ambassador, first, please don't let that cement your opinion about all of us, and second, you should mention it to Ambassador HQ.

I wrote a lengthy response for you over here:
https://www.ascentforums.com/forum/137-subaru-ascent-complaints-issues-problems/4809-major-transmission-problem-6.html#post72455

I hope you take the time to read it and respond with your thoughts, or engage in a discussion.

Best,
Rob
Subaru Ambassador
 

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Uh, did I say any such thing? I am not sure what your beef is with us, but I would be glad to chat about it. Message me here, on Facebook, create a post about it... whatever you prefer.

And if there's a bad experience you had with another ambassador, first, please don't let that cement your opinion about all of us, and second, you should mention it to Ambassador HQ.

I wrote a lengthy response for you over here:
https://www.ascentforums.com/forum/137-subaru-ascent-complaints-issues-problems/4809-major-transmission-problem-6.html#post72455

I hope you take the time to read it and respond with your thoughts, or engage in a discussion.

Best,
Rob
Subaru Ambassador
Rob, I sent you a private message.
 
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