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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings everyone! I have 32,000 miles on my 2019 Ascent Limited (manufacture date of March 2019). About 5,000 miles back, I took it in to the dealer to find out why my engine would suddenly lose power/stutter at highway speeds and why I was getting a loud pulsing/groaning sound from the rear right and high levels of resistance when turning hard (U-turns, pulling into my driveway, parking spots, etc.). The technician couldn't duplicate the issues. Fast forward to two weeks ago when I took it back in. This time they were able to identify the groaning sound. Long story short, I got it back after two weeks because they had to replace the "transmission gears" and the "transfer clutch set". They also identified leakage from the transmission oil pump cover. They wouldn't tell me definitively what the transmission oil level was, only that it had been leaking and that they "performed an oil pump cover reseal". I also went through the other recalls for the transmission/CVT chain slip issue and harness inspection. They still can't duplicate the weird loss of power at highway speeds.

Given the above, what is the likelihood my transmission has been damaged or is otherwise hosed? Has anyone else had these issues? I only saw one other reference to a bad transfer clutch on these forums and they were talking about a Forester. I had a transfer case go bad on my CX9 - which was covered by a recall - only to have the second transfer case also go bad which completely trashed my transmission at 104,000 miles (just out of extended warranty). I don't want a repeat of that experience.

Time to trade in or sell? Or should I be good? Other than constant radio/head unit issues that apparently can't be fixed, it's been a great family vehicle.
 

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I can't speak to the leaks, etc., but know this: the transmission in your Ascent is not dealer serviceable internally. If there's something physically wrong with the transmission, they have to replace it in full. They can't and don't open it up. Also, the process to refill the transmission fluid is very involved...they can't just dump some more in...so that can account for some of the time they had it. It would be helpful to knowledgeable folks if you could post the actual descriptions on your service invoice, honestly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
@Jim_in_PA

I've attached the relevant portion of the service invoice. As you can see, there is no meaningful narrative - all I know is what my service advisor told me and what is documented on the invoice (which isn't much). When I took notes of what my advisor told me in one of our phone calls and at the dealer, she said they were replacing the "transfer clutch" and "transmission gears" which exactly matches up to what was on my service invoice below. When I asked about the transmission fluid, she said there was leaking but couldn't tell me what the fluid levels were.

(the only information on the invoice directly above this is my phone and other contact information)
Font Material property Parallel Paper Document
 

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As I recall the fluid filling technique involves no real fluid dipstick or level indicator other than "full", as fluid pours from the fill port, much like the rear differential. I wouldn't be too concerned about a repeat of the transfer clutch as those aren't usually problematic on subarus, I would bet the gears they replaced were the gears on the output shaft in the same area as the transfer clutch.
 

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So looking at the invoice there is no gears billed out, just friction plates and steel plates (transfer clutch set up) . The line about the gears is there by the looks of it , to let the warranty booker know that the tech had to remove a gear set to get to the replacement of the transfer clutch. This wording is so the tech gets paid the entirety of the repair. Flat rate is kinda like dealing with insurance , exp. Oh you didnt mention that in the story and there is no separate time punch for that so you do not get paid for it . Believe me when I say that they probably would have fixed your car earlier if the tech wasn't worried about getting paid so they could feed there family. If any of you ever wants to know the craziest way to pay someone , look up about "flat rate " technicians and how they get paid (or sometimes don't get paid). If it disturbs you write to your state rep.
 

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The wording is a bit confusing to me because there's what I know to be a "transfer gear" or "transfer gearset" which routes the power from near the rear of the transmission back to the front differential for the front wheels. It does NOT seem like they replaced this. Instead, it seems like they replaced the AWD unit at the back of the transmission (in Job # 5) -- this does include multiple wet plate clutches, and failure of this unit would be consistent with groaning while turning (presumably due to it binding up or having been burnt up, etc.). I'm not sure where the oil pump is referenced in Job # 6. Oil pumps are typically at the front of the transmission behind the torque converter. It's possible that they removed the transmission, slid the torque converter off the front, and R&R'd the oil pump. I don't think that'd be considered "internal" work to the transmission, but I could be wrong.
 

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NOTE:
Your dealership may or may not have reminded you of this. You need to follow the 1,000 mile break in procedures in your manual to ensure proper break-in of your new AWD transfer clutch.

Hi, first, it's very rare for an AWD transfer clutch to need replacement.

Second, there is a transfer gear and parking pawl gear on the AWD clutch assembly, and technically a "gear" (of sorts) attached to the AWD transfer clutch assembly, so, they "replaced gears" (pulled out and put back in, to be more accurate) as a process of replacing the AWD transfer clutch - technically. If you yank the whole assembled thing at once (which you kinda have to), you're pulling out the AWD transfer clutch and parking gear and transfer drive gear (see the pic below).

The TR690 is a four piece unit. Only two pieces are actually the transmission (Section 2 and Section 3 below). I'll do a quick breakdown of the pieces, so you can gain an understanding of what they were doing. They worked from Section 1 (for pump seal) and in Section 4 (to replace the AWD transfer clutch).

Section 01 (bell housing):
Torque Converter and input shaft inside the bell housing.

Access to the oil pump is gained from here.

Section 02:
This is the core of your CVT. Almost everything is in this unit.
This is your oil pump, oil pump cover. While it may look like it's in the bell housing, it's technically a bulge that sticks into it, but is actually part of Section 02, and is a part of the CVT itself. It is thus flooded with CVT fluid). The cover is accessible through the bell housing, meaning you don't have to open the CVT at all to work on the oil pump. Think of it kinda like how some of most engine's most important parts stick up into the valve covers (camshafts, lifters, valves, etc).
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CVT assembly, which includes a surface mounted oil pump that's accessible via a cover in the first section. NOT counting the torque converter's lockup clutch, this is where your first clutch pack is, which is your drive clutch. It engages at 400 rpm (and not before) and disengages below 400 rpm. 400 rpm is the magic number for how fast the input needs to be going in order to create enough hydraulic pressure to clamp the CVT chain. From there, power goes through the primary reduction gear into the drive variator cone. Variator cone spins the chain, which spins the driven variator cone and the secondary reduction gear.

You'll note that this means the variator chain and cones are always engaged, and always spin the same direction (unlike the TR580, which neither applies to).

Section 03:
The TR690 (unlike the TR580) has, after the variators, a forward and reverse clutch (and brake), and a planetary gear to mate them (the clutches change the car's direction, depending on which is engaged). (TR580 has a planetary gear assembly and reverse brake and changeover mechanism before the variators that changes drive direction).

Section 04 (extension housing):
Transfer clutch is in the tailpiece. So are the transfer gears. The parking pawl is in here too.
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In this pic, from left to right, you have the transfer gear, parking pawl gear, transfer clutch with its geared housing and integrated bearing, and finally, your output shaft and spindle that sticks out the rear of your CVT and mates with the driveshaft.


SO...
To remove the AWD transfer clutch requires taking off the tail cone (it's technically called an "extension housing"), and removing the transfer gear. To the left of the clutch housing is geared and mates with the transfer gear. It does not require taking apart the CVT body itself.

In summary, to yank the transfer clutch means you are removing two gears. Some people count the parking pawl gear, some don't.

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The other gear like things are not gears in the conventional sense (eg: on the output shaft) - that "gear" mates with the transfer drum (as does the appropriately toothed clutch plates). Note that the clutch plates either have an inner tooth or an outer tooth. The one with no teeth is not a clutch plate, but a spacer.

This guy shows the process right here (2m15s mark). The transfer clutch and output shaft literally just slides right out.

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you all for the information! Much appreciated. I didn't get any guidance or instruction to follow the break-in procedures for the new transfer clutch, so that's good to know. It's also extremely irritating that no one mentioned that to me at the dealership. I've been trying to drive very conservatively just because I still have a good deal of vibration coming from the vehicle above 65mph, and my gas mileage has been horrible for the past few months, so I think I've kept it mostly below 4k RPMs.

Anyway, thanks for everyone's input - sounds like it's nothing to be too freaked out about. I still hate the loss in confidence I had in its long-term (150K/10yr) prospects.
 

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I've been trying to drive very conservatively just because I still have a good deal of vibration coming from the vehicle above 65mph, and my gas mileage has been horrible for the past few months, so I think I've kept it mostly below 4k RPMs.
Perhaps just a humorous tangent, but your defintion and my definition of "driving conservatively" differs a bit. ;)

Even with a heavy throttle, our Ascent is pretty much up to speed and/or traffic flow before the computer figures things out and sends the engine up north of 4,000 RPM. Yes, I can floorboard it and hold it there and it'll get up there, but even at half throttle (which is still usually more than enough for conditions), the transmission will keep the engine below about 2,500 RPM. Does your car regularly see upwards of 3,000-3,500 RPM in "normal" driving? And/or you feel like you really have to hold back to keep it from going up above 4,000 RPM?

I wonder if there's a different issue going on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Perhaps just a humorous tangent, but your defintion and my definition of "driving conservatively" differs a bit. ;)

Even with a heavy throttle, our Ascent is pretty much up to speed and/or traffic flow before the computer figures things out and sends the engine up north of 4,000 RPM. Yes, I can floorboard it and hold it there and it'll get up there, but even at half throttle (which is still usually more than enough for conditions), the transmission will keep the engine below about 2,500 RPM. Does your car regularly see upwards of 3,000-3,500 RPM in "normal" driving? And/or you feel like you really have to hold back to keep it from going up above 4,000 RPM?

I wonder if there's a different issue going on.
Ha! Sorry, that probably deserved a better explanation and could have been worded differently. My car usually idles at 1K with pretty noticeable vibrations that are easily felt through the pedals and steering wheel. The engine rarely stays at or near 4K though unless I'm traveling through a specific stretch of highway leading to some of my favorite camping areas (it has a series of steady yet steep climbs where the speed limit is 70). My house is also in a pretty hilly area. Two specific stretches of road nearby keep the engine in pretty high revs, usually close to 5K @ 30mph for at least a few minutes. I think it's just a CVT thing? I'm avoiding that route for now. Traffic is also extremely heavy where I live, and passing maneuvers generally require some pretty aggressive acceleration if you want to take advantage of the occasional window of opportunity to pass lane hogs going 10 under the speed limit. Would that sort of acceleration get close to or over 4K? I think so, but will wait another 800 driving miles to confirm. When I pass I'm certainly not flooring it or anything, and only speed up long enough to pass and get back into my lane. For now I'm sticking to the right few lanes to try to baby my car.
 

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This engine makes such good power and torque that I'm surprised at the sustained revs at 5,000 RPM while driving at 30 mph, but maybe it's just a really steep section of road. Yes, two-lane passing would certainly create an instant demand for power with the engine revving that high.

I vary rarely see north of 2,500 RPM in ours, but we do live in a pretty "easy" area in terms of driving. The roads are rural, the terrain is rolling hills, and the traffic is usually light.
 

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Greetings everyone! I have 32,000 miles on my 2019 Ascent Limited (manufacture date of March 2019). About 5,000 miles back, I took it in to the dealer to find out why my engine would suddenly lose power/stutter at highway speeds and why I was getting a loud pulsing/groaning sound from the rear right and high levels of resistance when turning hard (U-turns, pulling into my driveway, parking spots, etc.). The technician couldn't duplicate the issues. Fast forward to two weeks ago when I took it back in. This time they were able to identify the groaning sound. Long story short, I got it back after two weeks because they had to replace the "transmission gears" and the "transfer clutch set". They also identified leakage from the transmission oil pump cover. They wouldn't tell me definitively what the transmission oil level was, only that it had been leaking and that they "performed an oil pump cover reseal". I also went through the other recalls for the transmission/CVT chain slip issue and harness inspection. They still can't duplicate the weird loss of power at highway speeds.

Given the above, what is the likelihood my transmission has been damaged or is otherwise hosed? Has anyone else had these issues? I only saw one other reference to a bad transfer clutch on these forums and they were talking about a Forester. I had a transfer case go bad on my CX9 - which was covered by a recall - only to have the second transfer case also go bad which completely trashed my transmission at 104,000 miles (just out of extended warranty). I don't want a repeat of that experience.

Time to trade in or sell? Or should I be good? Other than constant radio/head unit issues that apparently can't be fixed, it's been a great family vehicle.
My 2019 Ascent however it has had one issue after another. The transfer clutches were replaced by SOA about a year ago, and I am about to pick it up today after a transmission replacement by SOA. Our local service technicians have been diligent in listening to my concerns and the service advisors helpful. Would I buy another Ascent- maybe a later year model. Am hoping to unload this one soon as I have little confidence it. Maybe I will feel differently after I drive it with the new transmission.
Issues I had while driving- occasional mild loss of acceleration when driving at low and Highway speeds and strange popping noises.
Currently at 37K miles. Good luck.
 
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