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-   -   Irregular ATF level readings, pls help! (

OzzyOutback 08-21-2007 08:28 PM

Irregular ATF level readings, pls help!
I have a question about my 4eat phaseII tranny (MY01 Outback)

I have been having lots of trouble with the readings on my dipstick, if I adjust the level so that it is correct when cold it will be about 1-2 inches above hot-full when it warms up and vice-versa, if I make it correct for the hot reading it will be so low when cold it only just touches the bottom of the stick.,

I also belive its having a short/sharp 2-3 shifting issue but the tranny specialist thinks Im jst being fussy.

What do you guys think is going on and if I have it reading ok for hot like it is now, will I be doing any damage driving it until it warms up?


porcupine73 08-22-2007 07:22 AM

Are you checking with the engine running, vehicle in park, on a level surface? I find the dipstick hard to read, so I always check it cold. Once it's warm I just can't get a reading, the fluid just seems to be everywhere on both sides of the stick. Though right, Subaru wants the warm reading to be correct moreso than the cold reading.

Does your 2-3 shifts seem like either of these:?

4. 2nd to 3rd shift flare after vehicle is parked.

Symptom After a vehicle is parked and it sits typically overnight, when it is started and the transmission upshifts into 3rd gear for the first time, the RPMs may flare slightly. This can be an intermittent condition depending on how the vehicle is positioned when parked, temperature of the transmission when parked, and ambient temperature.

Mechanism The shift flare occurs because the hydraulic circuit for high clutch in the transmission occasionally drains. When the transmission upshifts for the first time into 3rd gear, the hydraulic circuit must fill before it will apply the high clutch. The time needed to fill the circuit slightly delays the applying of the clutch causing the RPMs to rise slightly. The transmission will function normally for the rest of the driving cycle.

Recommendation Explain to the customer how and why they are experiencing this symptom. Also, make sure they understand it is not causing any damage or excessive wear to their transmission or vehicle.

3. Click noise when transmission shifts from 2nd to 3rd.

Symptom When the transmission upshifts from 2nd to 3rd gear under light acceleration, a click can be heard from under the vehicle. Most customers will only notice this noise when they have the driver's window opened and are driving close to some structure that will reflect the noise back into the vehicle.

Mechanism The noise is created when the 2-4 brake is released during the 2nd to 3rd gear upshift. At this time, the clutch steel plates that are located into groves on the internal wall of transmission case shift creating the metallic click noise.

porcupine73 08-22-2007 07:29 AM


What do you guys think is going on and if I have it reading ok for hot like it is now,
will I be doing any damage driving it until it warms up?
I think the 'hot' level is being over estimated. The fluid sloshes around in there,
so before checking it 'hot', I would pull the dipstick and leave it out and leave it
idling for a few minutes. Then insert, remove, wipe off, and reinsert the dipstick a few times before even trying to read it.

For damage, too high can cause excessive aeration of the fluid. Too low a level and the clutches can slip which will wear them down fast.

ron917 08-22-2007 09:27 AM

I gave up trying to get a good ATF reading when hot on the '99. Haven't checked the '07 yet, but I suspect it has the same issue. The smooth dipstick, curved diptsick tube, and very thin ATF when hot all contribute to trouble reading the level.

I drive the car a short distance (2 miles or so), then check it. If it's near the cold full mark, I'm happy. When cold, the ATF is thicker and clings to the dipstick better.

BTW, "cold" does not mean stone cold for ATF readings. It means not fully warmed up. I forget the temperature spec, but it should be in the owner's manual or FSM.

Also, look at both sides of the dipstick. The side with the lower reading is the one to go by.

OzzyOutback 08-22-2007 07:19 PM

Thanks for the replies.

Porcupine, no the hard shifts arent like that, they happen inconsistently, usually showing up when the accelerator is slowly increased rather than a steady level. like when trying to keep up with the traffic taking off from lights.

So, I guess my real questions are,

Is this difference between hot and cold readings acceptable?

if not what is causing it?

lastly would there be any damage to my tranny in the time it takes to get it up to the hot reading?

On a side note, I was washing my car lastnight with the radio on and as the battery started to get close to being drained (only an hour or so) I heard a buzzing coming from the tranny pan (solenoid).

It sounded different to the normal 4eat buzz so I slipped it into gear and it started another buzz, so there were 2 solenoids buzzing..

I have heard this other solenoid buzzing sometimes when I pull into park against the garage wall.

Im thinking its a dodgy solenoid or something?

OzzyOutback 08-30-2007 11:31 PM


Just wondering if anyone had any ideas on what could be causing this issue?

Currently I have it so that its correct when hot but Im thinking something must be causing this to happen... and the shift is much harder and the whining louder before it warms up, so Im worried that its causing damage.

Im just hoping its the same thing thats causing my dodgy shift so that I can correct it.

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