How reliable are the Subaru CVTs?

Posted by: 7055

How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 11:39 AM

I'm thinking about buying a '14 or '15 Subaru Forester with the 2.5i but I'm unsure about the reliability of the CVTs. I don't want to get a manual. I could get a different Crossover but I like the Subaru far better than any of the other competition. Can anyone provide input on if this is a car that could last for 10 or 20 years? Are there any high mileage CVTs on this board?
Posted by: ARCOgraphite

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 11:55 AM

Had 7 or more Subies, I would say the EJ engine and 4spd drivetrain is good for 200K easy - though the FB25 is a new engine architecture with a wet timing system which could be toast at 150K or so - look to the 3.6 for more predictors of engine reliability. I would say , frankly, that suspension and exhaust RUST through would be your biggest enemy to attain 10-20 years (at 5-7K or so a year).
Posted by: KCJeep

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 11:58 AM

I believe a lot of CVT's are outsourced from an Asian company I can't recall the name of. Nissan uses them, as did Jeep for a while. I believe those are quite good, CVT's are their specialty. I don't know if Subie's CVT's are theirs or not though.
Posted by: Rand

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 12:01 PM

Originally Posted By: KCJeep
I believe a lot of CVT's are outsourced from an Asian company I can't recall the name of. Nissan uses them, as did Jeep for a while. I believe those are quite good, CVT's are their specialty. I don't know if Subie's CVT's are theirs or not though.


subaru makes their own CVT's they do not buy them from JATCO etc.

They are also much better than the cvt in nissan, dodge IMO.

obviously a subaru marketing piece but info on their cvt

http://www.subaru.com/engineering/transmission.html
Posted by: dparm

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 12:06 PM

The Subaru CVT programming is excellent. I've had some of their cars as rentals through Hertz, and it doesn't have that weird rubberband feeling you get in a Nissan CVT.
Posted by: 7055

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 12:13 PM

Originally Posted By: dparm
The Subaru CVT programming is excellent. I've had some of their cars as rentals through Hertz, and it doesn't have that weird rubberband feeling you get in a Nissan CVT.


Is it good for offroading?
Posted by: rockydee

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 12:25 PM

Originally Posted By: 7055
Originally Posted By: dparm
The Subaru CVT programming is excellent. I've had some of their cars as rentals through Hertz, and it doesn't have that weird rubberband feeling you get in a Nissan CVT.


Is it good for offroading?


Define off-roading.
Posted by: 7055

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 12:26 PM

You must be talking about the optional x-mode
Posted by: Miller88

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 12:47 PM

Originally Posted By: dparm
The Subaru CVT programming is excellent. I've had some of their cars as rentals through Hertz, and it doesn't have that weird rubberband feeling you get in a Nissan CVT.


Having done some research on the Subaru CVT they build (learn something new every day, I thought they were sourced from Aisin), they tend to be relatively problem free. Unlike the Nissan (JATCO) CVTs that can barely make 100K miles without significant failure.
Posted by: JTK

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 01:10 PM

7055, you will love it. I had a leased 2012 Legacy 2.5i CVT for ~3yrs/42Kmi. Currently have a purchased 2014 XV Crosstrek w/ 5spd manual (to keep costs lower). I do love the 5spd, but kind of regret not going with the CVT again.

Yep, I thought it was an Aisin sourced unit as well. It's not. It's a Fuji Heavy/Subaru unit with some German parts in it.

There's 2010+ Legacy owners with ~100Kmi or so on their CVT equipped cars. I've never read of a failure with them.

Drain/fills are relatively easy on them and they have a separate gear oil reservoir on them for their internal differentials.
Posted by: ColdCanuk

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 01:18 PM

Forget about the CVT, worry about the oil eating FB25 engine.

Take 5 minutes and ask to look at the owners manual before you buy it:
1 quart per 1000 mile consumption is normal.

They actually come with a 'low oil light'.

As long as your good with that buy away!

It's like buying a 2 stroke car
Posted by: Mykl

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 01:22 PM

Originally Posted By: ColdCanuk
Forget about the CVT, worry about the oil eating FB25 engine.

Take 5 minutes and ask to look at the owners manual before you buy it:
1 quart per 1000 mile consumption is normal.

They actually come with a 'low oil light'.

As long as your good with that buy away!

It's like buying a 2 stroke car


Yeah, but what manufacturer is that not true of? What are the odds that you'll get one that burns a quart even every 1500 miles? (I honestly don't know, I have no experience with new Subarus)
Posted by: doitmyself

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 01:33 PM

Sad, Cold Canuck. If I remember correct, just about a year ago you were here all excited about your new Forester.

Here is a link to the ongoing 203 page thread regarding the oil use issue: http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/...2/index203.html

It's difficult to judge the current status of the problem: how many engines, the upgrade effectiveness, and how well SOA is assisting owners.


I bash all brands equally, but I find it amusing that Consumer Reports ranks certain vehicles at the very top, and they fail to even mention these serious issues: i.e. - Forester oil consumption and Honda Variable Cylinder Management: http://www.autoblog.com/2013/10/23/honda-settles-class-action-lawsuit-engines/
Posted by: Mykl

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 01:42 PM

Originally Posted By: doitmyself
Sad, Cold Canuck. If I remember correct, just about a year ago you were here all excited about your new Forester.

Here is a link to the ongoing 203 page thread regarding the oil use issue: http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/...2/index203.html

It's difficult to judge the current status of the problem: how many engines, the upgrade effectiveness, and how well SOA is assisting owners.


I bash all brands equally, but I find it amusing that Consumer Reports ranks certain vehicles at the very top, and they fail to even mention these serious issues: i.e. - Forester oil consumption and Honda Variable Cylinder Management: http://www.autoblog.com/2013/10/23/honda-settles-class-action-lawsuit-engines/


I wonder how much this has to do with the weight of oil being put in it. The first post I read stated with Mobil 1 0w-20 it used a quart in 3770 miles. I wonder what effect a good 0w-30 would have.

I also had an odd experience with Mobil 1 5w-30 in my 2004 STi. I changed the oil then went on a road trip. 500 miles later at my destination I checked the oil and it wasn't even touching the dipstick. I poured in another quart and for the rest of the oil change it didn't use a drop. The easy explanation is that I didn't put enough oil in it during the change, but my oil change ritual is fairly meticulous; I line up each quart and as I pull them off the table I line them up with the open cap sitting in front of them, so this is unlikely.

The next change I used GC, and it settled into an acceptable one quart per 3000 mile consumption.
Posted by: gofast182

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 02:13 PM

Most current iterations of CVT designs are so new there's not really an accurate way to answer your question. Just because someone has one with high miles on it would more likely mean they were easy highway/commuting miles. I'd imagine Subaru's unit is pretty good or they wouldn't have brought it to market.

Someone said the units Jeep used were good? IIRC they were a train wreck (unless they got a new supplier) and is part of the reason they are transitioning to conventional ZF boxes.
Posted by: TTK

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 02:22 PM

Originally Posted By: ColdCanuk
Forget about the CVT, worry about the oil eating FB25 engine.

Take 5 minutes and ask to look at the owners manual before you buy it:
1 quart per 1000 mile consumption is normal.


They actually come with a 'low oil light'.

As long as your good with that buy away!

It's like buying a 2 stroke car


And if you read a Toyota manual(600 miles/quart=normal) you won't buy one of those either. grin
5000 miles on mine first oil change and no oil usage measurable by dipstick. It is a great vehicle. The heater is a little slow to warm up is about the only flaw I can find, and as a bonus,33 mpg lifetime average so far.
Posted by: Trav

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 02:30 PM

Nothing i want in my garage.
Subaru went down this road long before Nissan did with the Justy and that was almost 25 years ago and people are still complaining about CVT's.
IMO if people are not beating the door down for the technology as an real alternative after 25 years then something is really wrong with it.

They (not just Subaru) are not offering this as an option they are foisting it on the consumer like it or not.
IMHO they can shove it.
I think the Legacy 6cy are still available with the tried and true automatics, maybe another model that uses the 6 cyl also.

Posted by: wag123

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 02:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Rand
Originally Posted By: KCJeep
I believe a lot of CVT's are outsourced from an Asian company I can't recall the name of. Nissan uses them, as did Jeep for a while. I believe those are quite good, CVT's are their specialty. I don't know if Subie's CVT's are theirs or not though.


subaru makes their own CVT's they do not buy them from JATCO etc.

They are also much better than the cvt in nissan, dodge IMO.

obviously a subaru marketing piece but info on their cvt

http://www.subaru.com/engineering/transmission.html

Subaru only manufactures their own manual transmissions.
The manufacture of Subaru's automatic transmissions has always been outsourced, and always from JATCO, from what I understand. JATCO is a spin-off subsidiary of Nissan (with Mitsubishi owning a minority interest). This relationship is understandable as Nissan once owned controlling interest in Subaru. The CVT is a Subaru engineered JATCO manufactured transmission and is a design that is unique to Subaru.
You guys had better get used to CVTs. In 10 years ALL the "automatics" will either be CVTs or automated manuals. Personally, I would rather have a CVT than an automated manual.
Posted by: Mykl

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 02:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Trav
Nothing i want in my garage.
Subaru went down this road long before Nissan did with the Justy and that was almost 25 years ago and people are still complaining about CVT's.
IMO if people are not beating the door down for the technology as an real alternative after 25 years then something is really wrong with it.

They (not just Subaru) are not offering this as an option they are foisting it on the consumer like it or not.
IMHO they can shove it.
I think the Legacy 6cy are still available with the tried and true automatics, maybe another model that uses the 6 cyl also.



I used to feel this way about CVTs as my past experience with them in older vehicles left me hating them. But in the last round of car shopping we test drove a '14 Nissan Altima and I was floored at how good it was. Extremely smooth, and very quick to choose the appropriate engine speed to match the desired acceleration. It's better to drive than the traditional hydraulic 6at box in my Camry by a fairly wide margin...... and I'm told that the ones that Nissan puts in their cars aren't as good as what Subaru and Honda are offering.
Posted by: ronbo

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 03:05 PM

Note: cut/paste

"Just wondering, how do you check the transmission fluid level if there isn't a dipstick?

CVT transmission oil- Forester, Impreza, Crosstrek
Replace only under severe driving or towing conditions. #4
Use Subaru CVT oil only. There's no dipstick to check the CVT fluid.
Forester 2.0XT's high torque CVT uses special CVT fluid, orange colored."

CVT fluid is dealer only, a special mix and they use scan tool to replace fluid.


I too am interested in the vehicle and worry about the CVT , warranty is 5 yr/60,000 mile, hear not able to rebuild CVT and thousands of dollars to replace, $4000 or more?
Posted by: CHARLIEBRONSON21

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 03:13 PM

Over 120k on my CVT in my fusion. Drives the same from day of purchase at 2 miles. Just my experience with it though, but it's done great to this point. As for subaru, I would hope they were reliable since pretty much everything is going to CVT now.
Posted by: Bandito440

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 03:17 PM

Originally Posted By: ColdCanuk
Forget about the CVT, worry about the oil eating FB25 engine.

Take 5 minutes and ask to look at the owners manual before you buy it:
1 quart per 1000 mile consumption is normal.

They actually come with a 'low oil light'.

As long as your good with that buy away!

It's like buying a 2 stroke car


My 2013 burned a half-quart before 7,500 miles. It's since stabilized and I'm not seeing any consumption. I'm at 15,800 now.
Posted by: askani79705

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 03:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Bandito440
Originally Posted By: ColdCanuk
Forget about the CVT, worry about the oil eating FB25 engine.

Take 5 minutes and ask to look at the owners manual before you buy it:
1 quart per 1000 mile consumption is normal.

They actually come with a 'low oil light'.

As long as your good with that buy away!

It's like buying a 2 stroke car

My experience mirrors yours.My wife who's in real estate has gone 24k on her Forester is not having an issue either.

My 2013 burned a half-quart before 7,500 miles. It's since stabilized and I'm not seeing any consumption. I'm at 15,800 now.
Posted by: ColdCanuk

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 03:44 PM

Originally Posted By: doitmyself
Sad, Cold Canuck. If I remember correct, just about a year ago you were here all excited about your new Forester.

Here is a link to the ongoing 203 page thread regarding the oil use issue: http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/...2/index203.html

It's difficult to judge the current status of the problem: how many engines, the upgrade effectiveness, and how well SOA is assisting owners.


I bash all brands equally, but I find it amusing that Consumer Reports ranks certain vehicles at the very top, and they fail to even mention these serious issues: i.e. - Forester oil consumption and Honda Variable Cylinder Management: http://www.autoblog.com/2013/10/23/honda-settles-class-action-lawsuit-engines/


Yeah I guess I've had it a year, my mistake for buying the oil eating thing, no one else's. I don't think I'd describe myself as 'all excited'. I don't think I've ever posted 'all excited', I like that you think that though, makes me 'very excited'........

Learn from my mistake, don't buy a new Subaru Forester unless you're ok with an oil eating engine. Maybe for some it's no big deal, I don't judge.

I do like some things about Forester, but oil eating, tough for me to forget no matter how many times I hear 'It's normal', 'They all do it now', blah blah. It's the first vehicle I've ever owned that noticeably drinks oil.
Posted by: doitmyself

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 03:54 PM

Originally Posted By: gofast182
Someone said the units Jeep used were good? IIRC they were a train wreck (unless they got a new supplier) and is part of the reason they are transitioning to conventional ZF boxes.


I frequent the Jeep Patriot/Compass forums and I think the JATCO CVT failure rate is overstated. Plus, the media hates these vehicles and the CVT inherits this hate also.

However, it's my opinion that Jeep botched the application of the CVT to these vehicles. The vehicles are not highly refined to start out with. The GEMA engine has a stellar reliability history, but it too is unrefined and a bit "buzzy". Add to this maybe initial bad programming of the mated units and it spells disaster. IMO, the new automatic in these vehicles turns them into a tolerable vehicle (less noise, etc.). Some people need to relearn how to drive a CVT.

Chrysler has an agreement with JATCO not to rebuild. So, every tranny failure turns into a huge expense, double or more than a rebuild. A fluid change will run close to $300 at a dealer due to the need for temperature sensors, etc..

Ironic that Chrysler is abandoning the CVT while other mfg. are coming on board. And, the media loathed the Chrysler CVT's but adore all the new ones.

I personally don't like CVT's, but I am old school about some things. It will be an interesting next ten years.
Posted by: Mykl

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 03:56 PM

Originally Posted By: ColdCanuk
Yeah I guess I've had it a year, my mistake for buying the oil eating thing, no one else's. I don't think I'd describe myself as 'all excited'. I don't think I've ever posted 'all excited', I like that you think that though, makes me 'very excited'........

Learn from my mistakes, don't buy a new Subaru Forester unless you're ok with an oil eating engine. Maybe for some it's no big deal, I don't judge.


I think you'll find that most vehicles come with potential weaknesses that could bite you. The best you can do prior to purchase is try to find out how often the issue actually happens.
Posted by: buster

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 04:22 PM

The Subaru CVT is one of the best on the market right now. It's really good. Surprisingly good in some instances, such as the Forester XT and even the new WRX. Reliability has been rock solid so far.
Posted by: 440Magnum

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 04:22 PM

Originally Posted By: KCJeep
I believe a lot of CVT's are outsourced from an Asian company I can't recall the name of. Nissan uses them, as did Jeep for a while. I believe those are quite good, CVT's are their specialty. I don't know if Subie's CVT's are theirs or not though.


Chrysler, Nissan, and a bunch of others use JATCO (Japan Automatic Transmission Co.) CVTs. They had some early glitches, but most of the "problems" are that people just DO NOT adapt to the way a CVT works and satisfaction is generally pretty low. The people that do adapt seem to like them a lot.
Posted by: Mykl

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 05:11 PM

Originally Posted By: buster
The Subaru CVT is one of the best on the market right now. It's really good. Surprisingly good in some instances, such as the Forester XT and even the new WRX. Reliability has been rock solid so far.


I'm really looking forward to test driving a WRX with a CVT. I still wouldn't buy it, but after being warmed up to the idea the CVTs don't have to be awful I'm curious to see how it feels in a performance focused vehicle.
Posted by: kmcavin

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 06:39 PM

The CVT is something to get used to, but I'm liking it. The Outback does have a transmission dipstick, so it's strange that the other models don't.

I haven't had a problem with mine burning oil. I only have 8,500 miles on it, but I went 7,500 on the FF and the dipstick didn't show any use. I have QSUD in it now and I'm not seeing consumption so far.

As far as Toyota saying 1 qt every 600 miles is normal, my '09 Corolla has 119K miles on it and it'll use 1/2 qt during a 7,500 mile OCI. So I guess I just get lucky and don't end up with all these oil burners I keep hearing about.
Posted by: 7055

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 06:42 PM

Why are new cars even having issues with burning oil? The gasoline engine has been around for 100 years and it's always been the same deal, a piston goes in a cylinder with piston rings around it. Why there is so much variation in the amount of oil they burn is beyond me.
Posted by: rockydee

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 07:55 PM

I'm no CVT fan boy either. The new ZF transmissions are pretty cool though.
Posted by: TTK

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 07:56 PM

Originally Posted By: wag123
Originally Posted By: Rand
Originally Posted By: KCJeep
I believe a lot of CVT's are outsourced from an Asian company I can't recall the name of. Nissan uses them, as did Jeep for a while. I believe those are quite good, CVT's are their specialty. I don't know if Subie's CVT's are theirs or not though.


subaru makes their own CVT's they do not buy them from JATCO etc.

They are also much better than the cvt in nissan, dodge IMO.

obviously a subaru marketing piece but info on their cvt

http://www.subaru.com/engineering/transmission.html

Subaru only manufactures their own manual transmissions.
The manufacture of Subaru's automatic transmissions has always been outsourced, and always from JATCO, from what I understand. JATCO is a spin-off subsidiary of Nissan (with Mitsubishi owning a minority interest). This relationship is understandable as Nissan once owned controlling interest in Subaru. The CVT is a Subaru engineered JATCO manufactured transmission and is a design that is unique to Subaru.
You guys had better get used to CVTs. In 10 years ALL the "automatics" will either be CVTs or automated manuals. Personally, I would rather have a CVT than an automated manual.


That is what you believe. I don't and believe that Subaru produces their own CVT. I am willing to be convinced other wise, though. Any links to back up your assertion that the Subaru designed it and JATCO produces it?
Posted by: stephen9666

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/13/14 08:23 PM

I'm not claiming this is the definitive answer, but this recent Car and Driver article seems to claim that Subaru makes their own CVT.
http://www.caranddriver.com/features/how-cvt-transmissions-are-getting-their-groove-back-feature
Quote:
Audi, Honda, Hyundai, Subaru, and Toyota all make their own CVTs. Nissan owns a controlling interest in JATCO, the firm that supplies 49 percent of the world’s gear-free transmissions to Chrysler, GM, Mi­tsu­bishi, and Suzuki. In addition, nearly half of Nissan’s current U.S. models offer a JATCO-supplied CVT.
Posted by: threeputtpar

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/14/14 09:18 AM

Originally Posted By: 7055
Why are new cars even having issues with burning oil? The gasoline engine has been around for 100 years and it's always been the same deal, a piston goes in a cylinder with piston rings around it. Why there is so much variation in the amount of oil they burn is beyond me.


Low tension piston rings that were designed and implemented to reduce parasitic drag and increase fuel economy.

Oil burning is just the unintended consequence of this improvement.
Posted by: 440Magnum

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/14/14 10:41 AM

Originally Posted By: 7055
Why are new cars even having issues with burning oil? The gasoline engine has been around for 100 years and it's always been the same deal, a piston goes in a cylinder with piston rings around it. Why there is so much variation in the amount of oil they burn is beyond me.


Because even if the piston engine is around for 500 years, it will ALWAYS burn some quantity of oil (unless we find a way to make oil-less lubrication practical for engines). The variation comes from variations in engine design, ring design, piston design, sufrace finish, the way the engine was broken in by the individual owner, and (often forgotten) PCV system design- which can account for way more oil consumption than the rings. Then there's consumption past the valve guides, too.
Posted by: wag123

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/14/14 11:18 AM

Originally Posted By: TTK

That is what you believe. I don't and believe that Subaru produces their own CVT. I am willing to be convinced other wise, though. Any links to back up your assertion that the Subaru designed it and JATCO produces it?

I don't have a link, but notice in everything you read that Subaru does not claim that they actually manufacture the transmission.
I have a long time friend that is a powertrain technician at one of the local Subaru dealers. He regularly attends service schools to get hands-on training. He told me that, like ALL other Subaru automatic transmissions, the CVT IS manufactured by JATCO. He also told me that Subaru's engineering of the transmission has made it VERY different than JATCO's other CVTs. This could be either a good or bad thing regarding it's reliability and long term durability as compared to JATCO's other CVTs. Only time will tell.
Posted by: JTK

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/14/14 01:30 PM

Originally Posted By: wag123
Subaru only manufactures their own manual transmissions.
The manufacture of Subaru's automatic transmissions has always been outsourced, and always from JATCO, from what I understand. JATCO is a spin-off subsidiary of Nissan (with Mitsubishi owning a minority interest). This relationship is understandable as Nissan once owned controlling interest in Subaru. The CVT is a Subaru engineered JATCO manufactured transmission and is a design that is unique to Subaru.
You guys had better get used to CVTs. In 10 years ALL the "automatics" will either be CVTs or automated manuals. Personally, I would rather have a CVT than an automated manual.


Post a credible source for this claim and you will be the MAN.

I hear you that it's extremely odd Fuji Heavy is in the CVT making business, but I've never seen info to support it's a JATCO unit, and I've been following this very topic for ~3yrs.

Yes, I know the conventional Subaru automatics like the 4EAT were Jatco sourced. The CVTs is anyone's guess.

**EDIT Oops! Sorry wag! didn't see your above post.
Posted by: wag123

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/14/14 02:50 PM

Actually, this whole CVT transmission thing involves a complicated web of different companies.
Subaru HAS manufactured their own CVTs, but only for mini-micro cars, beginning with the Justy in 1984. In the early 2000's FHI (Subaru) formed a 50/50 partnership in a CVT transmission joint venture with, you guessed it, JATCO. JATCO is jointly owned by Nissan (and Renault, because Renault owns controlling interest in Nissan), Mitsubishi, and Suzuki. So, FHI is actually partnered with ALL of these other companies. This joint venture was specifically set up to share technology, engineer, develop, manufacture, and market CVT automatic transmissions. So, looking at it this way, one can say that Subaru does actually manufacture their own CVTs. But, the jointly owned Japanese manufacturing facility only supplies CVTs for the mini-micro cars sold in that part of the world. The larger CVTs used here are manufactured in a JATCO plant in Mexico, but it is a CVT design that is unique to Subaru. So, in a round about way, I guess one could say that Subaru manufactures their own CVT by virtue of the fact that they are partnered with JATCO.
To top it all off, Toyota owns 19% of Subaru (which, by Japanese standards, gives Toyota controlling interest). Aisin Seiki (Toyotas transmission supplier) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota. And, Toyota is occupying half of Subaru's Indiana assembly plant, building Camrys.
All of these Japanese companies form tangled webs of partnerships, joint ventures, part ownerships, and cooperative agreements that would be considered illegal in the USA. It is all VERY confusing.
Posted by: Miller88

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/14/14 03:11 PM

Interesting read! I wonder if any of this is visible on the car itself? I may make a trip to a Subaru dealer tomorrow to take a look to see if I can see any stamping.

If it is manufactured by JATCO, I can believe that it's a Subaru specific model. The ones that JATCO sells to Chevrolet, Jeep that are the same as in Nissan models are just as unreliable as the ones found in Nissans; if Subaru used the Nissan spec CVT, it would be pretty evident on the Subaru boards. I would be able to find a lot of reports of failed CVTs between 50K and 100K miles.
Posted by: wag123

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/14/14 03:25 PM

Having a component of your own design manufactured by another company is VERY common. In this day and age it is ALL about the COST of manufacturing a component. If a company can have a component produced for less by an outside supplier, they WILL farm it out.
I would highly doubt that you will see JATCO marked on any part of Subaru's transmission.
Posted by: TTK

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/14/14 05:14 PM

Originally Posted By: wag123
Actually, this whole CVT transmission thing involves a complicated web of different companies.
Subaru HAS manufactured their own CVTs, but only for mini-micro cars, beginning with the Justy in 1984. In the early 2000's FHI (Subaru) formed a 50/50 partnership in a CVT transmission joint venture with, you guessed it, JATCO. JATCO is jointly owned by Nissan (and Renault, because Renault owns controlling interest in Nissan), Mitsubishi, and Suzuki. So, FHI is actually partnered with ALL of these other companies. This joint venture was specifically set up to share technology, engineer, develop, manufacture, and market CVT automatic transmissions. So, looking at it this way, one can say that Subaru does actually manufacture their own CVTs. But, the jointly owned Japanese manufacturing facility only supplies CVTs for the mini-micro cars sold in that part of the world. The larger CVTs used here are manufactured in a JATCO plant in Mexico, but it is a CVT design that is unique to Subaru. So, in a round about way, I guess one could say that Subaru manufactures their own CVT by virtue of the fact that they are partnered with JATCO.
To top it all off, Toyota owns 19% of Subaru (which, by Japanese standards, gives Toyota controlling interest). Aisin Seiki (Toyotas transmission supplier) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota. And, Toyota is occupying half of Subaru's Indiana assembly plant, building Camrys.
All of these Japanese companies form tangled webs of partnerships, joint ventures, part ownerships, and cooperative agreements that would be considered illegal in the USA. It is all VERY confusing.


Yes, I can see where you are coming from. The chain is not very clear.
Posted by: CBR.worm

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/15/14 10:36 AM

I have to say that CVT's have improved in every way in the last 10 years. The early Murano CVT was no more reliable than an odyssey or caravan tranny. Or an early 4 speed auto. I still know more than a few people who had more than 100k on that first gent CVT doing soccer mom and weekend trailer pulling duty.

I only know 1 person who's murano CVT failed, and Nissan replaced it at 95k miles under warranty. I know another person who has close to 200k on a first gen murano with the OE CVT.

Our first Audi CVT lasted 12k miles, the replacement was fine.

Based on 04-06 CVT's I would never consider one, but...

Today's CVT's are much more reliable, and in some cases are more pleasant to drive than a traditional auto. The latest Nissan and Subaru offerings are great - especially compared to the early ones and the alternatives.

My concern is no longer drivability or reliability under normal use, my remaining concern is the same as my concern for many autos - being able to abuse it daily without it cooking itself. I don't expect to ever be doing amateur road racing in a CVT car, or an 8 or 9 speed auto car.
Posted by: 7055

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/15/14 11:00 AM

It's really too bad that Subaru is having these issues with the engines burning oil. The CVT is iffy. I really think that Subaru has the competition beat minus their questionable long term reliability.
Posted by: Rand

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/15/14 08:44 PM

not all burn oil. Its pretty random some are bad(1qt/1500) some are using nothing, most are in the middle somewhere.
Posted by: cptbarkey

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/15/14 08:52 PM

who cares who made the CVT, by design it will grenade and be far too cost prohibitive to replace. If you dont believe me try your hand at a Saturn Vue or Ford Freestyle.
Posted by: Miller88

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/17/14 07:47 AM

Originally Posted By: cptbarkey
who cares who made the CVT, by design it will grenade and be far too cost prohibitive to replace. If you dont believe me try your hand at a Saturn Vue or Ford Freestyle.


Or the thousands of Rogues, Muranos, Altimas that have experienced CVT failure early on.
Posted by: JTK

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/17/14 08:11 AM

Originally Posted By: cptbarkey
who cares who made the CVT, by design it will grenade and be far too cost prohibitive to replace. If you dont believe me try your hand at a Saturn Vue or Ford Freestyle.


I hear you, but how is that not the same as a present day 6,7,8 speed automatic grenading?

The way they switch things around today and the fact most can't be worked on, only completely replaced means repair costs can exceed the vehicle's value, regardless of what type of automagic trans it has.
Posted by: SteveSRT8

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/17/14 01:51 PM

Originally Posted By: JTK
Originally Posted By: cptbarkey
who cares who made the CVT, by design it will grenade and be far too cost prohibitive to replace. If you dont believe me try your hand at a Saturn Vue or Ford Freestyle.


I hear you, but how is that not the same as a present day 6,7,8 speed automatic grenading?

The way they switch things around today and the fact most can't be worked on, only completely replaced means repair costs can exceed the vehicle's value, regardless of what type of automagic trans it has.


The only problem is that the 8 speeds are too new to get much data on failures.

But with folks like Bentley and Jaguar using the well known ZF 8 speed in 500++ hp vehicles they may prove to be quite reliable in 'ordinary' cars. You will NEVER see a CVT used in a high torque application. So 'many-speed' slushboxes will rule, as it is the only way to get the desired ratio spread.

People said the exact same things about 4 speed OD slushboxes decades ago...
Posted by: Miller88

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/17/14 03:12 PM

Originally Posted By: SteveSRT8
Originally Posted By: JTK
Originally Posted By: cptbarkey
who cares who made the CVT, by design it will grenade and be far too cost prohibitive to replace. If you dont believe me try your hand at a Saturn Vue or Ford Freestyle.


I hear you, but how is that not the same as a present day 6,7,8 speed automatic grenading?

The way they switch things around today and the fact most can't be worked on, only completely replaced means repair costs can exceed the vehicle's value, regardless of what type of automagic trans it has.


The only problem is that the 8 speeds are too new to get much data on failures.

But with folks like Bentley and Jaguar using the well known ZF 8 speed in 500++ hp vehicles they may prove to be quite reliable in 'ordinary' cars. You will NEVER see a CVT used in a high torque application. So 'many-speed' slushboxes will rule, as it is the only way to get the desired ratio spread.

People said the exact same things about 4 speed OD slushboxes decades ago...


There were a lot of problems with the 4 speed OD boxes, too. Chrysler and Ford had a lot of problems with their 4 speed OD transmissions - both FWD and RWD versions.
Posted by: cb450sc

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/17/14 05:48 PM

The CVT in my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid had to be replaced after 45000 km. The replacent was getting stiff when I sold it at 300000 km.
Posted by: cptbarkey

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/18/14 10:04 AM

Originally Posted By: cb450sc
The CVT in my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid had to be replaced after 45000 km. The replacent was getting stiff when I sold it at 300000 km.


the civic CVT prices seems to be a nice exception to the rule, i've seen the transmissions go for ~$300 on Ebay.
Posted by: thunderfog

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/19/14 09:49 AM

I think the CVT overall gets a bad rap. I've mostly been a MT guy, but moving to the hills 7 years ago forced that change.

As for longevity, I'm only at 8k miles on my '14 Impreza, so I can't speak to that. I think it's interesting to drive, but you have to have some discipline... it doesn't take much to wind up the RPMs.

In my own personal comparisons to other ATs, I think the CVT wins, because the 5 or 6 speed ATs seem like they are constantly hunting for the right gear. Lots of downshifting and upshifting, especially on hills. Can be a touch annoying.
Posted by: Mykl

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/19/14 01:25 PM

Does anybody have any actual failure rates for CVTs sold in the last five or so years? Are they really that prone to failure?
Posted by: 7055

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/19/14 02:31 PM

I am curious to know Mykl
Posted by: PandaBear

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/19/14 03:36 PM

From what I know, a friend's Murano got the CVT replaced at 80k despite doing everything by the book knowing that CVT is unreliable.

Honda's Civic GX before 2006 was also CVT, and for this reason a huge discount in used market because of its failure rate. In 2006 and later they change back to a regular automatic and all is well.
Posted by: 440Magnum

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/21/14 11:43 AM

Originally Posted By: SteveSRT8


People said the exact same things about 4 speed OD slushboxes decades ago...


And the term "700R4" will strike a shudder into many of us for the rest of our lives... :-)

Things do go in cycles. Diesel power is just coming out of an upheaval due to emission controls that was eerily similar to the convulsion gasoline engine designs went through when catcons were mandated in 1975. I can still hear the sound of Chevy trucks hissing down the highway after the pellet catcons disintegrated and the debris plugged the spark arrestor in the tailpipe tip.

So I really have to laugh when people say all CVTs suck and will fail by design. They're actually proving out REALLY reliable in the past few years. And I don't doubt that the high-gear-count automatics will also be reliable. 6-speeds have been common for almost 14 years now (including the ones like the 545RFE that only use 6 of the 6 gears under ordinary conditions) so upping the count to 8 or 9 isn't a big deal.
Posted by: SteveSRT8

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/21/14 12:53 PM

^^^Yessir, and look for the new 10 speed due out from the joint Ford/GM development team... coming soon to a pickup near you!
Posted by: 440Magnum

Re: How reliable are the Subaru CVTs? - 03/21/14 02:48 PM

Originally Posted By: SteveSRT8
^^^Yessir, and look for the new 10 speed due out from the joint Ford/GM development team... coming soon to a pickup near you!


Its the only way they're going to meet efficiency mandates: get more ratios in the gearbox so you can use a much smaller engine and run it closer to max output all the time. The 8-speed ZF is a big part of how the 3.6L Pentastar hauls the Ram 1500 around virtually as well as the 4.7 v8 with the 5-of-6 speed used to (better under some speed/load conditions, a little worse under others so I hear).

Design-wise, its just replicating planetary sets and clutch packs to add more ratios in the "ladder." There's got to be a point of diminishing returns, I would think, and honestly I'm surprised it wasn't at around 6-8 forward gears.