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Subaru fluid only and it needs to be the correct one for your specific CVT. Specific measurements/temps need to be monitored to make sure you get it correct. This service isn't like dealing with the PITA plugs you can figure out if you go slow and have basic abilities. This is such a touchy operation Subaru service writers look for every reason not to do it.

I had a drain fill done on my 3.6 at 75k. I used the dealer and asked for a legitimate tech with experience and was told that they only have 2 techs that deal with CVT's and both are specially trained. Worth the $225 to have them do this service.
 

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Contemplating possibly trying Amsoil in my 3.6CVT. Still has the extended warranty until 160,000km. My closest dealer tells me that the car needs to be hooked to a computer to reset the TCM to run at optimum performance. This is the first i have heard of this. Any insight ? Also i have seen a few different techniques from dropping twice and filling and also pumping from the top of CVT. How many liters and what's the best technique ? Thanks
There is no good reason to waste your time and money on this. You will not see any improved performance, but placebo effect is powerful, and if you do it, you will tell yourself it is better. If the car had 100,000 to 120,000 mi on it, And it needs changing anyway, or if you’re doing a lot of towing, fine, make the switch, but you’re fooling yourself. You’re more likely to change it for the worse. If you’re going to do it anyway, do it twice, but drive it 5-10 miles before doing it the 2nd time. If the transmission is working fine, don’t bother. If it isn’t, this probably won’t fix it. The auto engineers who design the transmission know best, and they’re going to recommend the best fluid. More expensive aftermarket stuff not necessarily better. Remember, it ain’t what you don’t know that causes problems, it’s what you do know that ain‘t so.
 

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I may have missed it but I haven't seen anyone mentioning using Amsoil will likely void the extended warranty. Further, if you can't get all the factory fluid out, even with 2 changes, you're also much better off using the correct factory Subaru fluid as there's going to be some left in there regardless and at least you know they're compatible. You also only need a single drain and fill with the Subaru OEM fluid. Subaru has also been known to extend factory warranty coverage of certain components including the entire CVT at one point with the Outback. So using non-standard fluid would potentially ruin that future option.

I get the appeal of "high-end" lubricants but they're best saved for more conventional applications where they carry the correct certifications such as motor oil. But, as many others have pointed out, CVTs are not a conventional application. And, to be blunt, Amsoil spends a fortune on marketing to try and convince everyone their snake oil is the best. In genuinely independent tests Amsoil products have scored well below the top overall. If you're in love with Amsoil it's still best reserved for already modified vehicles or those with otherwise zero chance of warranty coverage. And even then you might do more harm than good to your CVT as CVT fluid really isn't one type suits all as Amsoil would like you to believe. It's very carefully formulated to provide the right lubrication while keeping the chain from slipping for a given CVT which are mutually exclusive goals.
 

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I may have missed it but I haven't seen anyone mentioning using Amsoil will likely void the extended warranty. Further, if you can't get all the factory fluid out, even with 2 changes, you're also much better off using the correct factory Subaru fluid as there's going to be some left in there
<SNIP>

try and convince everyone their snake oil is the best. In genuinely independent tests Amsoil products have scored well below the top overall.
<SNIP>
.
Not to make this an "best lubricant" thread, but as far as Amsoil oil is concerned from my extensive personal experience and studies vs. your "In genuinely independent tests Amsoil products have scored well below the top overall" - I call major league BS on your comment.
 

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First, I see no one answered the inquiry, which sucks really. So I'll get to that in a bit.

Second, from Subaru spec sheets for the high torque TR690,

"Specified fluid: Subaru High Torque CVT Fluid
Caution:
Always use specified CVTF. Using other fluid will cause malfunction.".

Mixing fluid brands results in mixing fluid types. The amsoil is a "universal CVT fluid" and I believe the additives in the amsoil will not coincide with what will remain in the CVT doing a drain and fill. You never get all the fluid out even when you use a flush machine and have the engine running. The only way to do a 100% fluid change is a teardown, clean and reassemble.

Third, you can use GL-5 75W90 in the diffs. Don't forget the diffs.

Four,the total capacity of the CVT is approximately 13.5 qts. Doing a drain and fill only drops about 6 quarts. You do not remove the pan. Remove the fill plug on the side if the CVT on the left side above the pan about 2.5-3". It's an Allen head plug. Pull the drain plug from the pan and let it run out. Reinsert the drain plug.

Easy way to put the fluid in is with a pump device. You can pick up a hand fluid transfer pump from any part store for less than $15 USD.
image_26864.jpg


Pump the CVT fluid in the fill port until it starts to run out. Usually around the 5th quart. Put the fill plug in finger tight because you will be pulling it out again.

Start the car and put the car in D and R a couple times and hold it a second on each then let the engine idle, or to speed things up, put it in D, hold the brake firmly and idle the engine up to about 1000 RPM so the torque converter heats the fluid. Usually within 3-5 minutes depending on the outside temp and the temp of the fluid you pumped in.


You HAVE TO check the fluid level when the CVT fluid gets to 95-113°F. If you don't have a scan tool that can see the trans temp, you can use a digital laser thermometer and check the pan temp. When you get to 95°F, pull the fill plug and add fluid until it runs out. 2 things here: don't burn yourself on the exhaust and leave the engine running to top it off.

When the fluid runs out, replace the plug, tighten it, and you're good to go.

Anyone that has seen the condition of CVT fluid at 75-80k miles will tell you it's passed time to replace it.

Subaru's service schedule calls for CVT fluid inspection every 30k miles. Change as needed.

My experience has been that keeping the fluid in good condition instead of running it forever as it breaks down from heat and pressure is better for the CVT and electronics in the CVT. The CVT fluid has to put up with pressure, heat and work as a lubricant. Any fluid breaks apart. You lose factors for heat management, lubrication and viscosity over time and use. The fluid in the CVT is under extreme pressures and if you were to compare new CVT fluid from Subaru with fluid out of a CVT at 50k miles, I think more of you would be changing it out.

Finally - the dealership personal are afraid of things they don't understand. The service managers are not technicians and don't know anything until a tech explains it to them so they can tell the owner. Maybe owners should just deal with techs at dealerships and cutout the middle man. So when it comes to the CVT, they shy from it because they don't know. Could also be the techs are afraid of them and think the CVT a boogie man. Scary CVT. 🤕

It's not complicated. Someone can screw up a CVT fluid change just as easy as someone can screw up an oil change. Or, like I had a few years back the owner put coolant in the engine oil fill because the pic on the cap had wavy lines and the low coolant light was on. The car was filled until the owner could see coolant at the filler, just like instructed. Yes, the engine started, although with difficulty, and ran a couple minutes until it died.

If you don't know, ask.
 

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If it ain't broke, don't fix it! That's Subaru's recommendation, too. (i.e. Subaru recommends no fluid change at all unless your Outbnack is used for "repeated trailer towing.")
Contemplating possibly trying Amsoil in my 3.6CVT. Still has the extended warranty until 160,000km. My closest dealer tells me that the car needs to be hooked to a computer to reset the TCM to run at optimum performance. This is the first i have heard of this. Any insight ? Also i have seen a few different techniques from dropping twice and filling and also pumping from the top of CVT. How many liters and what's the best technique ? Thanks
I think if you are still under any extended warranty maybe you should take it to the dealer. I thought I read on mine that all that had to be handled by an authorized dealership or it would void the warranty. I just bought it so may be wrong but I know Toyota stipulated that on my husband's truck.
 

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OK, let’s get a few things straight about Subaru transmissions:

Unlike every other vehicle you’ve worked on until now Subaru exclusively uses constant velocity transmissions.

The reality is is that even the Subaru dealers don’t want to touch the transmissions or change the fluid if they can avoid it. Part of the reason is is that they had them fail before even when they’re positive they’ve done the job right and Subaru gets very pissy about this.

The CVT transmissions are assembled in a clean room and last I heard that was still in Japan.

unless something has very recently changed they also don’t rebuild them in the United States… If anything goes wrong with them they go back to Japan to get disassembled for someone to determine what’s going wrong with them.

using anything but Subaru CVT fluid will very likely cause any warranty that you used to have on the transmission to be gone. Subaru is very specific about this… There is currently no approved aftermarket CVT transmission fluid. And they are serious enough about this that there is a good possibility that they figured out that you used some other transmission fluid they will simply not cover you, or even give you good will help.

they’ve also had enough problems with these transmissions that if they suspected even remotely that the fluid needed to be changed at a specific interval they would tell you that and you would need to do it.

In so far as someone above posting that all you need to do is look at the fluid to know that it needs to be changed... that’s actually hogwash:

The only way to know if the fluid actually needs to be changed is not based on color, but actually sending a sample of the fluid out to a laboratory… Such as Blackstone labs... they will test the stuff tell you how many dissolved solids are in it and also whether or not the additive package is holding up properly. Then, and only then, should you actually consider changing the fluid.

if you still had a five speed conventional transmission in your 3.6… Then I would tell you to go ahead and put Amsoil transmission fluid in the car... But you don’t, and changing the fluid is in fact somewhat more rocket science than it ever used to be with these specific vehicle types.

after the crap we went through with three engine replacements in our Subaru legacy, I’m not a true Subaru fan boy anymore. But even when they took the car apart they never opened the transmission at all... They carefully disconnected the engine from the transmission and left it in place while they did the short block replacement… That’s how much they don’t wanna have anything to do with working on those transmissions.

your absolute best bet is to suck it up and take it to the dealer and let them replace the fluid there provided they have someone who is properly trained to do it.

The reality is that if Subaru had any thought whatsoever that that fluid needed to be changed they would absolutely be telling you to do it… They have had many problems with the CVT transmissions, and they would love an excuse to have you have to pay something in the order of around $250 just for the fluid alone.

there are many threads about replacing that fluid including a few really good ones… But I wouldn’t be replacing that fluid for no reason... your best bet is to get the car up to operating temperature and then siphon a couple ounces out so that you can send it to a laboratory and find out whether it’s really in need of replacement.
 

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Subaru's service schedule calls for CVT fluid inspection every 30k miles.
If you read the FSM carefully, that is only an external inspection for fluid leaks. It does not call for taking a CVT fluid sample and inspecting it for condition.
 
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I prefer this pump for adding CVT oil:
You need to know the temp of the transmission oil, so an OBDII reader and torque is helpful.
Pan needs to be level. I used a level, but found doing the job on a slight slope made it easier to level the car, because I only had to jack the one end of the car.
The trans takes a while to warm up, but once you're in the zone, it doesn't take much to exceed the recommended temp range.
At 105,000 miles, the fluid was still clear, so I can understand Subaru's point, but I'm glad I checked since mine was low. The maintenance records I received from the previous owner indicated a Subaru CVT replacement at 70k miles under warranty, which is why I checked.

I suspect that the reason Subaru doesn't want their mechanics working on the CVT is due to the liability of having to replace the transmission when it fails. Audi doesn't let their mechnics repair their 5 chain engines for similar reasons.
 

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It's not Subaru liability. It's the dealership liability. If a tech at a dealer screws up, the dealer can't go to Subaru and make a claim.

Early CVT failures were a mess. The dealers were replacing the CVTs rather than doing proper diagnosis because the techs didn't take the time to educate themselves on the units. And dealers didn't want to be liable for issues since the units were costly.

Majority of the units sent back for inspection were found to have internal components that exhibited normal wear. The valve body was the problem. Particularly the solenoids that control oil flow. Subaru subsequently updated the valve body and distributed a bulletin that no CVT was to be replaced unless there was evidence of internal mechanical failure. Valve body replacement and torque converter a are at the top of the list for issues. The torque converter fails when owners disregard the reaction from the CVTs when driving and at times ignore the warning lights for prolonged periods.

If you read the FSM carefully, that is only an external inspection for fluid leaks. It does not call for taking a CVT fluid sample and inspecting it for condition.
I'll pull it up when I get to the shop. I believe it's stated "Inspect fluid level and condition".

@GBMaryland

Subaru knows the SLS head gaskets on the EJ25 SOHC engines fail to restrain oil after 70k miles or more due to deterioration. It's considered a normal condition. Replacing the SLS with MLS insures the engine won't leak oil from the HG in the future and also comes with added benefit concerning HG breech during an overheating event. Subaru is not going to update their repair procedures to include the use of MLS gaskets on a SOHC engine. Those of us that know the benefits choose to go with MLS anyway.

All transmissions are assembled in a clean room. Dust and small particles that may get in to the trans or CVT can damage the clutch materials or interrupt solenoid function.

What you fail to know is a replacement valve body for the TR580 comes with materials to assist in keeping the work area clean while you replace the valve body, which is on top of the unit, while working in a shop environment and the CVT stays in the car. It's pretty much a sheet a plastic with a section cut out the size of the valve body cover and it's to be taped to the hood and fenders prior to cover removal. That's all nice but in a shop there's dust and air moving around. A sheet of plastic helps, but it's not 100%. So "clean room" is moot.

Shops other than dealerships rebuild these units all the time when it's called for. Parts are available to rebuild them completely. You can find video if the rebuilds on YouTube. A Subaru dealer here ships units out to an independent for rebuild because they don't have tech training for CVT rebuilds. It's not very often, but I know the tech at the shop that does the work for them and sends it back. The dealership techs replace VB and when needed torque converters. Never a teardown.

As for "properly trained", the fsm outlines the basic procedure for fluid replacement. If Subaru didn't want the fluid changed they wouldn't have posted how to do it as maintenance.

I noticed I didn't cover the TCM. There is no reason to reset the TCM after fluid change unless there was an issue prior to the change that would require a relearn. IF a relearn is called for it takes 5 minutes on a lift with a scan tool that can prompt the relearn.

I replace fluid in a lot of CVTs and it's not a complicated chore with rocket science procedures. I don't understand why members of this forum that apparently do not work in the industry, barely perform maintenance on their own cars and have limited knowledge of how a combustion engine, transmission, or CVT functions, get on here and other threads and post what they post in apparent attempts to scare someone in to not doing a basic service. The only thing I disagree with in this whole scenario from the OP is the use of Amsoil. I wouldn't put it in and mix it with the fluid already in place. There's no proof anywhere that a CVT fluid change performed normally using the Amsoil is beneficial and does not harm the unit in the short or long term. Amsoil test are always performed with a clean unit and only the Amsoil installed. They tested a Nissan CVT. Big deal. Those units are trash and fail so regularly that it's the first place I go when looking at a Nissan for possible purchase for the lot. Subaru is not Nissan. Maybe Amsoil is the answer to Nissan's fail. I wouldn't use it in a Subaru.
 

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It's not Subaru liability. It's the dealership liability. If a tech at a dealer screws up, the dealer can't go to Subaru and make a claim.

Early CVT failures were a mess. The dealers were replacing the CVTs rather than doing proper diagnosis because the techs didn't take the time to educate themselves on the units. And dealers didn't want to be liable for issues since the units were costly.

Majority of the units sent back for inspection were found to have internal components that exhibited normal wear. The valve body was the problem. Particularly the solenoids that control oil flow. Subaru subsequently updated the valve body and distributed a bulletin that no CVT was to be replaced unless there was evidence of internal mechanical failure. Valve body replacement and torque converter a are at the top of the list for issues. The torque converter fails when owners disregard the reaction from the CVTs when driving and at times ignore the warning lights for prolonged periods.



I'll pull it up when I get to the shop. I believe it's stated "Inspect fluid level and condition".

@GBMaryland

Subaru knows the SLS head gaskets on the EJ25 SOHC engines fail to restrain oil after 70k miles or more due to deterioration. It's considered a normal condition. Replacing the SLS with MLS insures the engine won't leak oil from the HG in the future and also comes with added benefit concerning HG breech during an overheating event. Subaru is not going to update their repair procedures to include the use of MLS gaskets on a SOHC engine. Those of us that know the benefits choose to go with MLS anyway.

All transmissions are assembled in a clean room. Dust and small particles that may get in to the trans or CVT can damage the clutch materials or interrupt solenoid function.

What you fail to know is a replacement valve body for the TR580 comes with materials to assist in keeping the work area clean while you replace the valve body, which is on top of the unit, while working in a shop environment and the CVT stays in the car. It's pretty much a sheet a plastic with a section cut out the size of the valve body cover and it's to be taped to the hood and fenders prior to cover removal. That's all nice but in a shop there's dust and air moving around. A sheet of plastic helps, but it's not 100%. So "clean room" is moot.

Shops other than dealerships rebuild these units all the time when it's called for. Parts are available to rebuild them completely. You can find video if the rebuilds on YouTube. A Subaru dealer here ships units out to an independent for rebuild because they don't have tech training for CVT rebuilds. It's not very often, but I know the tech at the shop that does the work for them and sends it back. The dealership techs replace VB and when needed torque converters. Never a teardown.

As for "properly trained", the fsm outlines the basic procedure for fluid replacement. If Subaru didn't want the fluid changed they wouldn't have posted how to do it as maintenance.

I noticed I didn't cover the TCM. There is no reason to reset the TCM after fluid change unless there was an issue prior to the change that would require a relearn. IF a relearn is called for it takes 5 minutes on a lift with a scan tool that can prompt the relearn.

I replace fluid in a lot of CVTs and it's not a complicated chore with rocket science procedures. I don't understand why members of this forum that apparently do not work in the industry, barely perform maintenance on their own cars and have limited knowledge of how a combustion engine, transmission, or CVT functions, get on here and other threads and post what they post in apparent attempts to scare someone in to not doing a basic service. The only thing I disagree with in this whole scenario from the OP is the use of Amsoil. I wouldn't put it in and mix it with the fluid already in place. There's no proof anywhere that a CVT fluid change performed normally using the Amsoil is beneficial and does not harm the unit in the short or long term. Amsoil test are always performed with a clean unit and only the Amsoil installed. They tested a Nissan CVT. Big deal. Those units are trash and fail so regularly that it's the first place I go when looking at a Nissan for possible purchase for the lot. Subaru is not Nissan. Maybe Amsoil is the answer to Nissan's fail. I wouldn't use it in a Subaru.
That's a good technical explanation. I guess the presumption is that if someone comes on a forum and asks how to do something, this only means they don't know how to do it and AND they have never done it before. Probably best if they don't attempt it on their primary car. If its a hobby or weekend car, that may be a completely different situation .
 

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From the Service Table:
"36000 miles or 57600 kilometers
Rotate
Tires
Rotate & inspect tires
Replace
Oil Filter, Engine
Engine Oil
Cabin Air Filter / Purifier
Inspect
Brakes and Traction Control
Brake lines, operation of parking & service brake systems
Fluid - A/T - (BRZ & Hybrid)
ATF
Steering and Suspension
Clutch, M/T
Clutch operation
Drive Axles, Bearings and Joints
Front & rear axle boots & joints
Fluid - Differential - (BRZ)
Rear differential gear oil
Disc Brake System
Disc brake pad & disc
Fluid - CVT - (except BRZ & Hybrid)
CVT fluid
(S) = Service Warranty Requirement
(E) = Emission Warranty Requirement
(B) = Both Service and Emission Warranty Requirement"

The only way to inspect a fluid is to open the system. Not check for leaks. A dealer supplement is not a Subaru TSB or FSM addition. When ATF turns brown, it's time to replace. When CVTF turns brackish, it's past time to change it.

For exact details, see attached pdf. Calls for half hour labor. Must be really complicated.


I also attached a Periodic Maintenance sheet. You will note that CVTF is listed to be replaced at 25k miles interval when used under severe conditions. What the definition of "severe" is remains a mystery; just like "lifetime fluid".

Found this (learn something new everyday):
489610


489611

489612

489613


489614

489615
 

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That's a good technical explanation. I guess the presumption is that if someone comes on a forum and asks how to do something, this only means they don't know how to do it and AND they have never done it before. Probably best if they don't attempt it on their primary car. If its a hobby or weekend car, that may be a completely different situation .
Things are not as complicated as some may make it out to be. I get paid to do what I do because I've been doing it for years and have experience in A LOT of areas and brands. Someone wanting to save some money and learn along the way, no problem. I have a whole thread on just that type of thing; people have taken the time to learn how to log data and post it, put their hands on the car and check different systems, learned how to check electrical systems, computers, etc. P0420 Diagnosis

Nothing is hard unless you make it hard.
 

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From the Service Table:
"36000 miles or 57600 kilometers
Rotate
Tires
Rotate & inspect tires
Replace
Oil Filter, Engine
Engine Oil
Cabin Air Filter / Purifier
Inspect
Brakes and Traction Control
Brake lines, operation of parking & service brake systems
Fluid - A/T - (BRZ & Hybrid)
ATF
Steering and Suspension
Clutch, M/T
Clutch operation
Drive Axles, Bearings and Joints
Front & rear axle boots & joints
Fluid - Differential - (BRZ)
Rear differential gear oil
Disc Brake System
Disc brake pad & disc
Fluid - CVT - (except BRZ & Hybrid)
CVT fluid
(S) = Service Warranty Requirement
(E) = Emission Warranty Requirement
(B) = Both Service and Emission Warranty Requirement"

The only way to inspect a fluid is to open the system. Not check for leaks. A dealer supplement is not a Subaru TSB or FSM addition. When ATF turns brown, it's time to replace. When CVTF turns brackish, it's past time to change it.

For exact details, see attached pdf. Calls for half hour labor. Must be really complicated.


I also attached a Periodic Maintenance sheet. You will note that CVTF is listed to be replaced at 25k miles interval when used under severe conditions. What the definition of "severe" is remains a mystery; just like "lifetime fluid".

Found this (learn something new everyday):
View attachment 489610

View attachment 489611
View attachment 489612
View attachment 489613


View attachment 489614
View attachment 489615
in that Alldata maintenance table, if you look at the examples of severe driving conditions, the only one that is applicable to maintenance item #10 is repeated towing (item 10 is the CVT). Each example is applicable to some, but not all maintenance items.

Subaru clarifies the cvt fluid inspection here:

489618


there Were some threads in the Gen5 forum about that leaking cvt seal/TSB. So far I havent run into that one the ones I’ve had (thank goodness)
 

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@walker Point noted

My experience has been that owners that change the fluid on or about 50k miles interval do not experience issues with the valve body. I have a few with the 580 and a few with the 690 and are over 100k, one with 175k, and have not had any CVT issues at all. One of the 690s is in an XT and as of last week is at 135k miles.

Either Subaru needs to look in to this, or, owners can take initiative to replace the fluid at their leisure as a maintenance.
This is an old argument that goes back to ATF production and usage after whale oil usage ceased. People believed, and it was wide spread, that you don't replace ATF. We know now this is erroneous. The fluid breaks down and loses it's friction and lubrication capabilities and wear increases.

Maybe I am ahead of the game along with many others around the world.

Ford publishes that their fluid is not to be replaced. I've seen several Ford CVTs that the differential bearings and races wear out and cut through the baffle plate; a perfect circle sometimes. This allows for fluid to run out and quite quickly when the hole gets big enough. Every one of the Ford CVTs was under 60k miles and the fluid was blackened from the wear within the CVT.
 

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Contemplating possibly trying Amsoil in my 3.6CVT. Still has the extended warranty until 160,000km. My closest dealer tells me that the car needs to be hooked to a computer to reset the TCM to run at optimum performance. This is the first i have heard of this. Any insight ? Also i have seen a few different techniques from dropping twice and filling and also pumping from the top of CVT. How many liters and what's the best technique ? Thanks
I have filled several of my cars with Amsoil. Most of the oil change businesses have equipment to properly change transmission fluids. I used one each time and was pleased with each. If you use one please ask if they can properly flush the old fluid.
 

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A lot of time and effort here to save $150. I brought my 2018 3.6R in to my local dealer for CVT fluid change at 24k due to my trailer towing. Paid my $150.00 and went happily on my way. If the thing craps out on me, it's on them. :)
 

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Consider yourself fortunate, all the pricing I've seen for the 3.6R runs over $300, including my indy shop. The high-torque fluid is a good bit more expensive than the fluid for the 2.5.
 

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Consider yourself fortunate, all the pricing I've seen for the 3.6R runs over $300, including my indy shop. The high-torque fluid is a good bit more expensive than the fluid for the 2.5.
I was actually expecting about $200 which is what the pricing on their "services board" showed previously. When I went to get the keys and pay, my total was only $150. I walked away doubly happy! Even for $300, I'd walk away happy knowing my CVT was in the hands of the dealer techs.
 
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