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Re: 91 subaru 3spd auto no upshift
Course the simple fixes first: FLUID LVL, CHK undercar at linkage for loose, worn fittings, if car is equipped with transmission modulator and the diaphram is split then you will smoke alot too! My bet is the linkage needs attention.
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The transmission is failing.
Check fluid for level and quality. If level is low, add transmission one pint (16 ounces) at a time until the level on the dipstick is correct. If the level is good but the transmission fluid is dark in color, tan in color, watery, or obviously burnt, start by having the transmission fluid and filter replaced.
sadly the early version of the 4 speed is prone to this type of failure. I have owed 4 that had this exact problem. the rear end of the main transmission case wears down at the transfer case and this causes an internal leak. The loss of fluid pressure causes the loss of function. I'm confident that a good transmission shop can fix this by using a case and parts from a newer version of the 4 speed auto
After a good deal of research and several shops suggesting a rebuild of the transmission, I decided to have the trans fluid and filters changed before doing anything. It was a tough call because it could have been a waste of $125. As soon as the spin off filter was removed you could see it was blocked. So the hydraulic pressure in the system was way down, still enough to engage reverse and enough to work all the shifts, but not enough to engage forward without a slight tap on the accelerator.
My Subaru has 240 000 km on it and I suppose the clutch pack rebuild wouldn't hurt, but as it is now it engages quickly and shifts up are noticeably smoother.
May not be the solution for every case, but it solved my situation.
Check your trans fluid - if low add dextron mercon fluid, if it still acts up you may need to change your fluid and filter - then if it still acts up you could have done damge by driving it on low fluid
check fluid level with engine running and in reverse with handbrake on and a chock under both drive wheels.is the gear shift slow or lazy??changing if so sounds like fluid if sharp change then problem could be with teh shift control switch or the control unit which is mounted under the passenger foot well.not a good position as often water get in and this is the sort of problem now that you get