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Old 10-03-2009, 06:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Front diff dipstick question

I just got around to starting a total fluids change on my vehicle, H6 OBW with auto-tranny.

In checking the dipstick for the front diff, I found it pretty much held in by gravity alone. It doesn't move much at all side-to-side, but there is nothing but its own weight holding it in up/down.

I mean it jiggles up/down like it is just hanging there with absolutely no resistance to it spinning or bouncing.

Is this normal? Am I missing some part that goes on the outside of the dipstick tube that locks the dipstick in place?

There is a black o-ring on the dipstick's upper plastic, but I doubt it makes any contact with the inside of the tube. If that's the issue, is there a part # for that (or can I just go to a hardware store)?
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Old 10-03-2009, 08:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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On my 4 speed auto tranny, the differential dipstick O-ring tends to grab only when the dipstick is almost fully in, perhaps in the last 1/2 - 3/4 inch. At that point it's not terribly snug, but enough that it won't bounce around, or up.

I don't know if any O-ring will do -- there might be issues related to temperature and resistance to oil. The original O-ring appears to be available as a separate part:

http://opposedforces.com/parts/legac...llustration_1/

or

http://opposedforces.com/parts/legac...llustration_1/
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Old 10-04-2009, 06:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Mine was loose as a goose, I have a nitrile o-ring set that happened to have one that fit the stick and stopped it from jiggling. I know there are different compounds of nitrile ,the one i have seems to be fine with gear oil.

Previous to that I had taken my car over pretty tough terrain for quite a lot of miles and it never popped out on me.

Conveniently placed too huh ? almost as fun as the auto dipstick ;]
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Old 10-04-2009, 08:58 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by ETC
Mine was loose as a goose, I have a nitrile o-ring set that happened to have one that fit the stick and stopped it from jiggling. I know there are different compounds of nitrile ,the one i have seems to be fine with gear oil.

Previous to that I had taken my car over pretty tough terrain for quite a lot of miles and it never popped out on me.

Conveniently placed too huh ? almost as fun as the auto dipstick ;]
I too noticed the lack of snugness (for want of a better word) the first time I checked the differential fluid on my 08 MT 2.5i OBW. While I don't take my Subie off road, it does concern me. I think I will look into a slightly beefier O-ring just for peace of mind.
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Old 08-03-2013, 08:17 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I just saw this thread. I just checked the front diff oil level-- it was fine, but the O-ring on the dipstick is hard as a rock, and there is gear oil wetting all the area around the dipstick. The dipstick freely turns and is being held in by gravity.

2003 Outback wagon (regular) 2.5 L engine -- did you guys ever figure out which O-ring worked? I can get a rough measure and look for a set. Thanks!
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Old 08-03-2013, 08:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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that would be nice to find a solution, this is nearly normal it's so common.

pretty normal for these things to be loose. not a big deal, nothing is going to happen.
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Old 08-03-2013, 09:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The car occasionally smells like burning oil-- can't find a source anywhere else, and the area around the dipstick is definitely wet with oil.

A while back, Subaru had the car on the rack for a fluids change. I asked about the occasional burning smell, and they suggested there probably was a slow leak in the gasket for the differential, and estimated $1600.00 to fix. So, I'd like to check all possibilities first.

When the car was fairly new, I once failed to push the dipstick in all the way. The dipstick popped out partly as I was driving down the highway, and almost immediately there was a similar smell as gear oil splashed past the disptick and onto the hot engine. I pushed the stick back in, but it took about a week for the smell to go away.
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Old 08-03-2013, 09:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
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gotcha. weird. have you checked the level to see if it's over or under filled?

simply check fluids and whichever is loosing fluid is what is leaking. check engine, trans, front diff oil and see which one is low.

if it's blowing diff oil out the top - it may be leaking down and caused the dealer to misdiagnose the leaking diff below.

it usually only blows diff oil out the top if it's over filled and/or running hot (ambient temps/highway speeds)

from what you said i'd be skeptical of the dealer. the only differential seal you can replace for external differential oil leaks is a one hour job and the seal and oring costs $20 (there are two, one on each side). $1,600 is shocking.

it's easily visible, right where the axle connects to the differential/transmission. the seal is right behind there - it's either wet underneath the axle or it is not. takes about 1 minute to diagnose properly.

you could even simply take pictures. here is what it looks like with the axle removed, look for that ring - it's very close to the front diff oil drain plug - take a picture of drivers and passengers side by that toothed ring. but you should be able to tell if it's leaking or not.

http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulle...-side-diff.jpg

if you're uncertain clean off all the old diff oil up top and below, check levels, and check it again later.

be sure to ask first before forking out that $1,600.
for $800 i'll come do it for you.

you can see in the picture above the 1 bolt required to replace the seal once the axle is off: remove that bolt, turn that side diff retaining ring and the seal is right there. that ring does set the backlash for the front diff and your trans is hosed if you dont' do it right - but that simply means you need to be able to count to do it right - mark it, count turns to remove, reinstall to the exact same number or turns and mark.

if you frequently use that dealer i'd be cautious about their quotes and diagnosis.
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Old 08-03-2013, 10:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for the info. Level is good, diff gear oil is clean. I used to check it often, but the last few years, I've depended on the dealer to check when I'm in for their lube specials. I've got a few skid plates down there, so I'll have to check tomorrow, and hope I can see well enough. Taking off the plate protecting the transmission is quite a pain. Again, thanks.
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Old 08-04-2013, 12:59 AM   #10 (permalink)
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a good friend has a heavy metal plate underneath too, it's not easy to remove at all!

though technically i don't know that you have to remove that plate to get access to that area for inspection, the axles are just behind it i think. the plate bolts to the engine crossmember and the front diff is just behind that.
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