My 2003 Subaru Forester with A/T has a wet-clutch center differential. If that clutch pack starts to slip excessively, will both axles lose power, or just the front or rear? In other words, is either driven by a gear or chain drive, or does full engine power go through the clutch pack.

This answer has several diagrams and explanations of AWD systems, but doesn't break down the details or identify what make/model/year(s) they apply to.

  • IIRC it'll default to FWD. There is some way to disable the transfer clutch solenoid, it involves a fuse.
    – Ben
    Oct 30, 2018 at 20:53

2 Answers 2


It is always slipping, as none of the four wheels travels an identical linear distance around a bend.

The only time there is zero slip is when the vehicle is moving in a straight line on a flat surface with no wheel spin or it is stationary...

  • Thanks, but I guess i wasn't clear enough. I'm trying to determine if both the front and rear diff get power through the clutch pack in the center diff
    – Mobius
    Oct 30, 2018 at 18:49

I have taken apart a normal center differential in a subaru that has no clutch packs. This was on a manual transmission forester transmission. The center differntial takes power from the output shaft and distributes it either to the driveshaft or front differntial. With clutches it maaaay be possible that if a certain one is slipping the center diff receives no power at all, but I cannot be sure as I have never opened an AWD automatic subaru transmission. What symptoms does your car have ? The cheapest way to fix it may be to just get a whole automatic tranmission from the jukyard. they are like $300 in california, and you can pay people like $100 to pull it for you

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