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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2006 2.5i Outback with an automatic transmission.. The previous owner is my daughter and I have verified that she never had the transmission serviced. I have been trying to figure out what to do, as the mileage is now 164,000. In going back through her records of service, I have found the following: 1) at 84,000mi., when the car was at Subaru dealer to have a dog guard installed, the receipt showed that the dealer found dirty transmission fluid that "appears to be original," 2) at 126,600 mi., when car was at a different Subaru dealer for something else, receipt had a recommendation for "BG transmission flush.) Then at 161,500 mi., I had the car at a third Subaru dealer for an airbag light problem, and they said the following: "found transmission fluid contaminated/burnt." I asked my daughter to take it to an auto repair shop for a safety inspection to see what they said, and the report came back saying nothing about the transmission fluid being a problem. By now I was frustrated and confused, since different garages said different things, so I took it to another shop for a safety inspection and they also did not mention the transmission fluid needing anything. At this point, I am starting to get obsessed with this issue. I am just learning about my car. My husband always took care of our cars and he was good at it, but he is not well so I am on my own now. But he says, fluids are important. Now the car is at 164,000 miles. I have been looking online and calling multiple auto repair shops and am now totally confused, as everybody says something different. The main difference of opinion is whether it is better to do a flush or a simple drain and fill. Other differences are, some say to drop the pan and look at it as a diagnostic tool (while others say they just remove the plug to drain); some say to change the filter while others say they don't unless it is leaking or damaged, and my son-in-law says he would replace it if he did the job himself, because he assumes it would be clogged, just like you always replace the filter with an engine oil change. One shop said if you do it yourself, be sure to get a genuine Subaru filter, while another shop said, when I asked about it, that they don't think Subaru has their own filters. I did look online and found a genuine Subaru filter that you would get from a Subaru dealer. So now I don't really trust the shop that said there is none, even though I got a strong recommendation from another Outback owner for that shop because she says they are honest. Honest maybe but I wonder if they know what they are doing. As far as flush vs. drain and fill, some shops say if the fluid is really dirty they do a flush vs. drain and fill, other shops say the opposite, that if it is really dirty a flush would be a bad thing. Yikes, how do I know what to do. I am obsessing about it this time and am paralyzed to do anything. Then, apparently there are different kinds of flush machines and one is safer than the other. I would be tempted to take it to the Subaru dealer but they charge $350 which is way more than any of the other shops that do flushes. Also, when I was in there for a repair, the sales staff were very aggressively trying to sell the people waiting for their cars to be done another Subaru. It was annoying. I feel like it might be better to go to a garage where they are not trying to sell you something. I guess I am saying I don't trust the Subaru dealer. I thought it was weird that three different Subaru dealers have said the fluid needs replacing, at 84,000, 126,000 and 161,000, and then at around 164,000, two independent repair shops did not even mention it. I talked to the manager of one of those independent shops and asked him why, and he said "the kid" probably didn't even check the fluid, assuming that the 150,000 mi. service had been done and it was not due for the next service. I had asked for an inspection and was prepared to pay for it, assuming they would check all the fluids. Unfortunately someone was not paying attention to what my car was there for and changed the oil, which didn't need to be changed. But, as part of the oil change, they supposedly check things over, but I don't think "the kid" did a very good job of checking. So now I don't really trust that place as being competent. So, to make a long, long story short: Help!!!
 

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You can pull the transmission dip stick yourself and look at/smell the condition of the fluid. Good fluid will be a red/ translucent maroon color. Burnt fluid will be brown, and smell awful. the dip stick is a bit of a pain to get at - on the drivers side of the engine, at the back of the engine ( near the firewall) and under a bunch of hoses that ate in the way of making it easy to get at. Once you find it (yellowish handle), it is easy to get out - putting it back in is a bit trickier. It helps to have a good flashlight to see things.

Been reading a lot about power flushing vs traditional changing of auto trans fluids. Most recommend against power flushing because it can dislodge junk that has packed into corners that you do not want to have get back into the fluid where it can ruin parts.

Traditional drain and fill is a lot safer, but will take more time and use a LOT more fluid to get out all of the old fluid. The problem is that when the transmission drain plug is removed, you will get out only a fraction ( 60% or so, if I remember correctly) of the old fluid. So what you do is refill the trans, run it for a couple minutes to circulate the new oil, then drain it again, repeat the running and then drain and fill at least once more ( 4 drain and fills total if I remember correctly), to decrease the amount of old oil still in there to about 5% or so ( I did a chart on this in an old thread last year when I had to do the same to a car I bought).

You should also have the front a rear differential fluids changed as well - they are also well past their due date.
 

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oh yes - and where are you located? There may be a reputable independent Subaru specialist near you that someone can recommend - or someone near you that would volunteer to help you with everything.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
oh yes - and where are you located? There may be a reputable independent Subaru specialist near you that someone can recommend - or someone near you that would volunteer to help you with everything.
Thanks Richard. I am in Pullman, WA. I did check the transmission fluid, it was brown, my son-in-law and I both thought it smelled burnt, but not awful in my opinion, which maybe means it should be serviced but maybe not too late to salvage the transmission? I had read online that if it is really bad it smells so awful it almost makes you gag, but my fluid didn't smell bad enough to make me or my son-in-law gag (and he has a strong gag reflex, at least to vomit!)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I’d do a drain and fill and be done with it. Flushing poses a risk if it has never been done.

If funds are unlimited, I’d do a drain and fill, drive a thousand miles, drain and fill along with a detergent/cleaner, drive a thousand miles, then do a flush.
Thanks dryvby. Funds are not unlimited (I wish!) We are retired, hoping to save our limited money for our old(er) age. But I want to save this car for our old age if possible, so willing to spend the money to help toward that end. Really don't want to have to buy a new transmission. Also can't afford a new car and buying another used car and not knowing what I'm getting...yuk...at least this car is a mostly known entity.
 

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When a subaru dealer does the trans fluid change. It's not a pressure machine, they unhook the return line from the cooler and let the transmission pump the fresh fluid through by the transmission its self. Your son in law can do this with a measured bucket and shut the car off after 3-4 qts come out. Then add the same amount back. Repeat till you get I believe all 12 qts. This is what i did, I ordered 12qts of atf type hp by idemitsu, subarus supplier. I think it was $60 off ebay with free shipping. Bought the bucket at home depot for $10. The whole dont do fluid flushes come from back in the day with American cars, since American vehicles werent known for quality machining and manufacturing. Basically just crummy build quality. Now a days it's fine, since atf already has detergents in it. That was also another big deal was detergents cleaning the gunk buildup and lodging it somewhere else.
 

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I recently had to do this with my 2011 transmission that had travelled 120,000 without a change (previous owner had not had it done)

I did the job myself and simply drained the transmission and refilled, drove for about 1,000 miles and did the same again. The transmission now shifts so much smoother it was well worth doing.

If I were you, I would order a transmission filter from Subaru and go to a recommended/trusted garage/workshop with the filter and ask them to do a drain and fill twice while running the transmission through the gears between drain and fills (same as what I did but without waiting for 1,000 miles for the second drain and fill) and get them to install the new filter.

Typically Subaru dealers commonly only do a single drain and fill.

Seagrass
 

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Discussion Starter #9
When a subaru dealer does the trans fluid change. It's not a pressure machine, they unhook the return line from the cooler and let the transmission pump the fresh fluid through by the transmission its self. Your son in law can do this with a measured bucket and shut the car off after 3-4 qts come out. Then add the same amount back. Repeat till you get I believe all 12 qts. This is what i did, I ordered 12qts of atf type hp by idemitsu, subarus supplier. I think it was $60 off ebay with free shipping. Bought the bucket at home depot for $10. The whole dont do fluid flushes come from back in the day with American cars, since American vehicles werent known for quality machining and manufacturing. Basically just crummy build quality. Now a days it's fine, since atf already has detergents in it. That was also another big deal was detergents cleaning the gunk buildup and lodging it somewhere else.
[/QUO
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I recently had to do this with my 2011 transmission that had travelled 120,000 without a change (previous owner had not had it done)

I did the job myself and simply drained the transmission and refilled, drove for about 1,000 miles and did the same again. The transmission now shifts so much smoother it was well worth doing.

If I were you, I would order a transmission filter from Subaru and go to a recommended/trusted garage/workshop with the filter and ask them to do a drain and fill twice while running the transmission through the gears between drain and fills (same as what I did but without waiting for 1,000 miles for the second drain and fill) and get them to install the new filter.

Typically Subaru dealers commonly only do a single drain and fill.

Seagrass
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I recently had to do this with my 2011 transmission that had travelled 120,000 without a change (previous owner had not had it done)

I did the job myself and simply drained the transmission and refilled, drove for about 1,000 miles and did the same again. The transmission now shifts so much smoother it was well worth doing.

If I were you, I would order a transmission filter from Subaru and go to a recommended/trusted garage/workshop with the filter and ask them to do a drain and fill twice while running the transmission through the gears between drain and fills (same as what I did but without waiting for 1,000 miles for the second drain and fill) and get them to install the new filter.

Typically Subaru dealers commonly only do a single drain and fill.

Seagrass
Thanks seagrass.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So some say to 1) use your transmission pump to pump the old fluid out, and this can be a DIY job, and of course uses more oil. And some say to 2) simply drain and fill, twice better than once. Which is better, the first method or the second?
 

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So some say to 1) use your transmission pump to pump the old fluid out, and this can be a DIY job, and of course uses more oil. And some say to 2) simply drain and fill, twice better than once. Which is better, the first method or the second?
1st method doesnt use more, just gets all the old out. As the capacity of entire trans is around 12 quarts and pretty quick to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Right, if you did the other method 2 or 3 times, it would flush out most of the old fluid and would end up using about the same amount of oil. Thanks.

One other thing I am wondering about, some sources, including a local repair shop, say they would drop the pan and look in it for diagnostics (to see if there are a bunch of particles in there) and then I suppose they would wash any debris out of it. Others would just take the plug out and drain, not dropping the pan. Any ideas on this, anybody?

Thank you to those of you who have so kindly taken your time to respond, and I welcome others' responses as well!
 

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Right, if you did the other method 2 or 3 times, it would flush out most of the old fluid and would end up using about the same amount of oil. Thanks.

One other thing I am wondering about, some sources, including a local repair shop, say they would drop the pan and look in it for diagnostics (to see if there are a bunch of particles in there) and then I suppose they would wash any debris out of it. Others would just take the plug out and drain, not dropping the pan. Any ideas on this, anybody?

Thank you to those of you who have so kindly taken your time to respond, and I welcome others' responses as well!
You cant wash debris out like that. You can pull the pan to check for excessive wear metals on the magnet, but really only necessary if you are experiencing transmission issues.
 

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I agree that there is no reason to remove the pan unless you are experiencing problems.

It is your choice but I would not bother removing the pan at this stage.

Seagrass
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I agree that there is no reason to remove the pan unless you are experiencing problems.

It is your choice but I would not bother removing the pan at this stage.

Seagrass
Thanks. I am not noticing any problems with the transmission, so at this point trying to prevent problems.

I called a mechanic my husband trusted where we used to live, and he said 164,000 is not that high, didn't see a flush as a problem.He said they have a BG machine. They take care of a lot of Volvos. For a Volvo (at least the older ones, before this Subaru we had older Volvos) that is not high mileage, but don't know about a Subaru,this is my first one.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I'm not sure if I am posting correctly because this said "Post Reply" but I am wondering, if I do a drain and refill and then drive 1000 miles and have it done again, would I get a new filter for the second drain and refill?
 
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