Changing Front Differential Fluid. Automatic Transmission - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums

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Old 10-27-2008, 03:52 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Changing Front Differential Fluid. Automatic Transmission

This is a super straightforward process that I have no excuse for waiting as long as I did. 90k miles and it still has the original gear oil in it.

Do yours! It's cheap and easy. Here is what you need:

1.3 Quarts of 80-90W gear oil

An oil pan

A long funnel

21mm socket and socket wrench




Get the car up in the air somehow, I'm pretty sure I've told everyone here how to properly lift at this point, so there is no need to explain again.

Crawl under the car, behind the engine oil pan and in front of the transmission oil pan there is the differential. On mine its located right above one of the catalytic converters.





Grab the socket wrench, undo the 21mm bolt. It was a bit stubborn but not too bad. I always just spray PB blaster over everything anyway. Allow to drain, making sure to actually have the oil catch pan in the right place so you don't have to throw sand everywhere again. A piece of tin foil in the splash area works wonders here for keeping oil mess to a minimum.



Pop the hood, remove the air box and on top of the transmission on the passenger side is a dip stick. It's very hard to see and almost impossible to get a picture of. Here is a picture with the funnel going into where you should be looking.



Once the oil is drained, tighten the bolt back up and put in 1.3 quarts of your favorite gear oil. All done! Put everything back together and be happy knowing you finally got around to doing that.
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Old 10-27-2008, 08:47 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Very nice Brucey thanks!

I believe this is the washer for the drain plug in case anyone needs it:
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Old 10-27-2008, 09:13 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Only things I would add, is make sure you know where the dipstick for the center diff is, before you drain it, and it doesn't hurt to pull the dipstick out and leave it sitting in its little hole before you drain, because I think it helps it drain a little better.

Also, when you are adding, make you double check the dipstick measurement after you have added the recommended amount to make sure you are not overfull, or too low. This double checks that you have drained and filled the right part of the tranny to the correct amount, and it is just a good thing to do in general.
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Old 10-27-2008, 01:08 PM   #4 (permalink)
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When I did mine I sufferred through a few days of incredible stench from the gear oil festering on the hot catalytic converter.
I was surprised as I thought I thoroughly cleaned the area with WD40 when I was done. I see yours is covered in gear oil as well.
Next time I intend to simply shroud the drip area in tin foil.
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Old 10-27-2008, 03:14 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Tin foil works like a champ. Just did it this weekend on a friends 99 OBS. Wrap some foil over the headers to avoid the smoking stench.
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Old 10-27-2008, 03:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I didnt see a crush washer on the bolt. It could just be that it was squashed but I didnt replace one either. Its not leaking though, either way.

The good news is there were no metal flakes in the gear oil, which I was half expecting after seeing how scooby blew his up.
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Old 12-03-2008, 02:11 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks brucey for the writeup on this! I did mine yesterday and everything went pretty smoothly. Thanks Mikebike for the tinfoil suggestion, worked great. I was able to use a 13/16" socket (20.6mm) for those that don't have a metric set. The bolt was on there super super tight and had what looked like heavy grease on the inside of the bolt. I guess there is a magnet there and those were metal flakes, sweet. I don't really notice a difference driving around but I don't really know what the differentials do anyway. I used redline 75w90.

I am having a heck of a time getting the rear differential bolts out! Going to grab some PB blaster tomorrow.
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Old 02-20-2009, 02:27 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I've got an 05 2.5i, and I'm trying to change my diff fluid today. So the differential is between the AT and the engine oil pan right? I'm confused because mine has a torq style drain plug. Anyone else have the same thing? I want to make sure I'm not going to drain my AT (and buy a socket I don't need).
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Old 02-20-2009, 03:21 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I think for 04+ they went to a Torx 70 or T70 bit. I know I had to buy that bit for my car to do the front diff.
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Old 02-20-2009, 04:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Yep, turns out it was a T70. All is well...front diff done, but can't get the rear plugs to break loose.
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