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Old 09-17-2006, 09:08 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Changing Automatic Transmission Fluid (is easy)

Changing the Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) in the Subaru Outback 4EAT is no harder than changing the standard engine oil. No joke.

Items required:

AT Filter (I got mine at the dealer, While you are there, pick up some of the drain plug washers if you dont already have some from changing the oil.)

A socket wrench with a 17mm head.

A drain pan to catch the oil.

The Transmission Fluid. Five quarts should be enough. I use Mobil 1 ATF and can't say if its worth it or not. The transmission uses Dexron III/Mercon fluid. Available at any auto parts store, or even Walmart.



Step 1: Toss a pan under the transmission pan. (located about a foot behind your engine oil pan, if you cant change your own oil you might want to leave this to someone else)

Step 2: Unscrew the 17mm bolt on the drain of the transmission pan.
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Old 09-17-2006, 09:11 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Step 3: While its draining, you should notice a small oil filter just above and ahead of the drain plug, unscrew it and drain some extra fluid.

The bolt uses the exact same washer the engine oil drain bolt uses, I also picked up a bunch of these at the dealer, its not necessary to change it every time, but if you're gonna go, go all out. Right?
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Old 09-17-2006, 09:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Step 4: Once the oil is drained (You'll never get every drip out, so don't sweat it.)

Close it up, dab your finger in the Transmission Fluid and rub it around the rubber gasket on the filter, and put it back on the transmission (The bit of fluid on the rubber helps to make a seal) It's an identical process to changing the engine oil.

I've also heard of people filling the oil filter, which I would agree with, except the oil filter is sideways and all it ever accomplishes with me is making a big mess. The oil will make its way into the filter. Some of the other years cars have their filter mounted in the fender vertical. This wouldn't be nearly a mess.

Its very important that you don't start the car during this time. Right now the transmission should have a little over half the recommended amount of fluid, so if you've got the car on ramps, wait a minute until you've got some fluid back in.

Also, I said that right, this method only drains about half of the fluid total out of the transmission. The rest stays in the torque converter, but doing this same method two or three times over the period of a few days (or a few hours if you're in a driving mood) should get most of the old fluid out.

Anyways, Open the hood now and look at the washer fluid reservoir. (its easy to spot)

A little bit above it is the fuel filter, and a little inwards and way down underneath some lines is the Transmission Dipstick. Its very hard to find if you don't know what you're looking for, so here is a picture. Its the out of focus yellow circle in the background. See what I mean when I said hard to spot?
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Old 09-17-2006, 09:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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This is actually the hardest part, if you dont have a specialty funnel, now would be a good time to get creative with paper. (Origami classes might work) I used the funnel in the picture.
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Old 09-17-2006, 09:20 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The hard part, like I said, is filling it.

Put the funnel in the dip stick and pour in 4 quarts of transmission fluid. (It took 4 and 1/4th for me to get it just right) You should be good to go now, although in a few hours it would be a good idea to recheck the fluid level (cold or warm, either way its hard to get a good reading on it because of the dipstick, but since you just poured the fluid DOWN the dipstick to fill the transmission, its almost impossible to get a good reading immediately.)

I've also decided at least for me, its better to get a cold reading because I have an oversized transmission cooler installed, which should effect temps and also should effect the warm dip stick reading.

Oh, I used Mobil 1 ATF, I'll report back on how it does with the Subaru 4EAT.
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Old 09-17-2006, 09:27 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Also, heres a picture of it all finished up, complete with me spilling/splashing transmission fluid everywhere.

This is also a decent picture of the Oil Filter on the automatic transmission.
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Old 09-17-2006, 09:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Good write up Brucey. The only thing I have to add is that not all 4EAT trannys have the filter. I forget when they added it, but the older models don't have it. I think it was a late 90's addition.
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Old 09-17-2006, 10:35 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I believe it was halfway through the 99 year when they added it.
It later got moved somewhere in the car, but not directly attached to the transmission.

All of them also have an internal screen.
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Old 09-19-2006, 01:25 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I just want to add that from a cold reading, it took exactly 4.25 (4 and 1/4th) quarts of atf to have the dip stick perfectly between the high and the low notches. I've edited the above stuff a bit.

Also, the mobil 1 ATF definately makes shifting smooth, and only half the fluid in at this time is Mobil 1, the other half being generic junk.
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Old 09-19-2006, 07:16 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default 9.8qts

Subaru 4eat trans requires 9.8qts ATF.
That is with the torq. conv. drained....

Brucey's method is what I do...only about half , but better than none at all.

Jiffy lube or the dealer can do the full flush with a machine that cycles with a cleaner. Last I checked it was over $200...with synthetic redline ATF.
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