Subaru Forester Transmission will not engage in Drive

I bought a 1999 Subaru Forester - 2.5 liter, Engine family - XFJXVO2.5HEG, about 7 months ago from a small town dealer in Brown County, Indiana. It had 70,000 miles on it. The dealer told me that he believed some unscrupulous dealers at the auction had played with the wiring in the car to make it appear that it had some serious problems, to get the price reduced.
The check engine light was flashing, the cruise control would not work, and the transmission was occasionally hesitating to shift into drive. He said when he first looked at the car, none of those items were occurring.
He reduced the price of the car $1,200 since he didn't know exactly what was wrong, and I took the gamble.
I had it checked by a dealer who said the wiring harness had indeed been played with. Diagnostic plugs had been plugged in, etc. They got the check engine light to go out just by unplugging some wiring.
However, they said the cruise control was still out due to a bad fuel sensor they had detected in the check up, and the transmission oil was very brown. (It was).
They said the clutch disks were bad and the transmission needed to be replaced. The brown color was supposed to be the grit from the clutch disks, and that is why the car hesitates to shift into Drive.
I have driven the car regularly since this check up, and my question is this... Could there be another electrical cause to this problem, or did the dealer tell me the truth?
Will the clutch disk failure affect only first gear? Reverse and all the other gears shift fine consistently.
The problem is still intermittent. Sometimes the car shifts completely normal, sometimes I need to rev the engine briefly a few times to get it to engage.
I saw info on your site, and heard from a friend in the repair business, that a "Drive Solenoid" may do this. Any thoughts?
I have been afraid to have the fluid and filter changed, since I was told it supposedly needs the "grit" in order to shift, though I did allow a shop to put a restorative transmission fluid additive in it.
I have had the car 7 months while debating how to proceed, and put 15,000 miles on it, so I feel I cannot take it back to the dealer. Can you offer any advice regarding the cause of the shift problem?
Thank you very much. I am a new member, and enjoyed this site immensely.
Do you
have the same problem?
Sunday, May 6th, 2007 AT 10:31 PM

1 Reply

Subaru recommends the transmission be changed about every 30, ooo miles. If there is a brownish color, I would change the transmission fluid and filter.
The fluid should not have a grit feeling. Bad circulation can cause overheating of the transmission.
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Sunday, May 20th, 2007 AT 11:51 AM

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