Subaru Outback Forums banner
  • Hey everyone! Enter your ride HERE to be a part of September's Outback of the Month Challenge!
1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Short story:
2004 Subaru Outback 2.5L 4C
Steady leak started from ATF pan.
Drove car without problems with the leak for a few days adding a little fluid before driving each time.
Replaced ATF pan to fix leak.
(Dumb DIY moment) I thought the Front Differential (FD) dipstick was the ATF dipstick so I put some ATF fluid into FD.
Started and attempted put into drive without ATF in the tranny and diluted the FD with ATF...
...and now there is no forward momentum.
After about 3 minutes of attempting move forward with the shifter in drive, and the engine RPMs revving up as if the tranny was still in neutral, I realized my mistake.
Immediately, I turned off car and filled (correctly* this time) with new ATF fluid...
...but to same issue persist.

*"correctly" meaning using a funnel and adding the ATF through the ATF dipstick hole

Bottom line:
The car will reverse like a champ but drive or any of the other forward shifter positions will not engage to make the car go forward.
Is my tranny gone forever or are there any inexpensive things I can try?

Things tried so far:
Drained the fluid a second time and replaced the ATF filter and put fluid back in.
Started car and went through each shifter position (P-R-N-D-3-2-1-2-3-D-N-R-P) at one minute each.

Should I...:
Try Lucas or comparable oil thickening product? And if so is there a proper method to use for this particular AT?
Just scrap the current AT and get a replacement from a car at a junkyard? Is that something that is DIY doable with proper time and effort?

Side Quest:
I have uploaded a picture and want to know if the large bolt, with the star like socket in the center, is the drain plug for the FD gear box? I still need to drain the gearbox and put in the correct gear oil into the front differential.

Disclosure:
I'm not a mechanic or a transmission expert, but I do enjoy DIY projects of many different kinds.
I am aware that this vehicle does not have much monetary value, but it is a great car that recently was delivering a smooth, comfortable ride with space and decent fuel economy. That adds a lot of value for me.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,254 Posts
Side Quest:
I have uploaded a picture and want to know if the large bolt, with the star like socket in the center, is the drain plug for the FD gear box? I still need to drain the gearbox and put in the correct gear oil into the front differential.
That is the front differential drain plug. It uses a size T70 Torx drive. There's a metal gasket on the plug.

The front differential takes a little over a quart of gear oil to be refilled at the Full level.

Immediately, I turned off car and filled (correctly* this time) with new ATF fluid...
...but to same issue persist.

*"correctly" meaning using a funnel and adding the ATF through the ATF dipstick hole

Bottom line:
The car will reverse like a champ but drive or any of the other forward shifter positions will not engage to make the car go forward. . . .

Things tried so far:
Drained the fluid a second time and replaced the ATF filter and put fluid back in.
Started car and went through each shifter position (P-R-N-D-3-2-1-2-3-D-N-R-P) at one minute each.
Are you sure you refilled it properly? If the pan was drained and removed, there would have been a loss of 3 - 4 quarts, if not more, all of which would have to be replaced.

The transmission is filled, as you know, through the ATF dipstick. The level is checked with the car on a level surface, and the engine running. If the ATF is cold, the level should be at least up to the "Full Cold" mark. If it's warm, it should between the Full Cold and Full Hot marks. If it's hot (60 -80 C), it should be at the Full Hot mark. After adding, move the gear lever through all positions, and recheck the level on the dipstick.

When the pan was removed, was anything touched on the valve body or inside the pan area? Could a solenoid or wiring at the valve body have been damaged?

When the transmission is set to Reverse, hydraulic pressure is applied to two clutches via a manual valve operated through linkage from the gear lever. There's no other solenoids involved with selecting gears. However, in forward gears, hydraulic fluids used to activate clutches to select gears are controlled by two shift solenoids and related control devices. If one of the shift solenoids doesn't work, the transmission won't work in the D1-3 range.
 

·
Premium Member
(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
Joined
·
18,590 Posts
^^^ what he said

..., and the engine running. ...
yes, it's the only fluid you check while idling.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
That is the front differential drain plug. It uses a size T70 Torx drive. There's a metal gasket on the plug.

The front differential takes a little over a quart of gear oil to be refilled at the Full level.



Are you sure you refilled it properly? If the pan was drained and removed, there would have been a loss of 3 - 4 quarts, if not more, all of which would have to be replaced.

The transmission is filled, as you know, through the ATF dipstick. The level is checked with the car on a level surface, and the engine running. If the ATF is cold, the level should be at least up to the "Full Cold" mark. If it's warm, it should between the Full Cold and Full Hot marks. If it's hot (60 -80 C), it should be at the Full Hot mark. After adding, move the gear lever through all positions, and recheck the level on the dipstick.

When the pan was removed, was anything touched on the valve body or inside the pan area? Could a solenoid or wiring at the valve body have been damaged?

When the transmission is set to Reverse, hydraulic pressure is applied to two clutches via a manual valve operated through linkage from the gear lever. There's no other solenoids involved with selecting gears. However, in forward gears, hydraulic fluids used to activate clutches to select gears are controlled by two shift solenoids and related control devices. If one of the shift solenoids doesn't work, the transmission won't work in the D1-3 range.
I'm no good at HTML either so I'll reply in the order of the your post. (I apologize in advance if it's hard to follow):
First and foremost, thank you for your answer! I believe you're right on point.

Thanks for verifying the drain bolt for the FD. I was able to find a T70 Star Bit at my local parts store as well as 2QTs 80-90W Gear oil (for high mileage).

I do have ATF in the correct place now and it is reading at hot full when reading at operating temp. I am curious if there are some procedural steps I may have missed. For example: When refilling the ATF from empty, as was the case with replacing the ATF Pan, Should I have been adding the ATF while the engine was running? Should I have been adding it a quart at a time? Should I have been pouring it into the tranny very slowly (to avoid air pockets/bubbles) or does it not matter?

When I removed the old pan and replaced it with the new one I didn't touch or mess with any of the internal components inside the tranny. I did notice a burnt plastic smell. I have searched online only to find threads and articles that state "It means there's something wrong..." but they never really specify what exactly could be the problem nor a fix for that. Mostly they simply say "It might be new tranny time." I really can't tell you how awesome it is to get your clear answer about the shift solenoids and possible electrical shorts. I'm truly grateful and I think that's going to be the fix for my situation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I believe this video may be what I'm looking to do if I'm going to inspect the wiring and replace the shift solenoids. Also this shows where all of the wiring is located inside the ATF pan on the 4EAT. I can't post links yet so you'll have to search YouTube yourself.
YouTube search for:
Replace Subaru 4EAT Transfer Clutch Solenoid

Sidebar: If you're an Outback DIYer like myself then this channel on YouTube has helped me tremendously. Please note that I have no affiliation with YouTube or this channel and receive no compensation.
YouTube search for:
MrSubaru1387
 

·
Premium Member
(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
Joined
·
18,590 Posts
I've always read you need to move the shifter through each gear when adding fluid. But, seems unlikely that's the problem now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,254 Posts
I'm no good at HTML either so I'll reply in the order of the your post. (I apologize in advance if it's hard to follow):
First and foremost, thank you for your answer! I believe you're right on point.

Thanks for verifying the drain bolt for the FD. I was able to find a T70 Star Bit at my local parts store as well as 2QTs 80-90W Gear oil (for high mileage).
Normal recommendation for the differential gear oil is 75W-90, but the 80-90 will work as well. Just be sure it's meets GL-5 specifications.

I do have ATF in the correct place now and it is reading at hot full when reading at operating temp.
"at hot full" with the engine running?

I am curious if there are some procedural steps I may have missed. For example: When refilling the ATF from empty, as was the case with replacing the ATF Pan, Should I have been adding the ATF while the engine was running? Should I have been adding it a quart at a time? Should I have been pouring it into the tranny very slowly (to avoid air pockets/bubbles) or does it not matter?
No need for special steps. Many here routinely do a drain-and-refill of the ATF, and it's done with the engine off. When the ATF is drained by taking out the plug, as noted earlier, 3-4 quarts is removed. The same amount is added back in through the dipstick tube, and it should be good-to-go. Removing the pan might add just a few more ounces, including what's left on the bottom of the pan because the drain plug is slightly raised, or from additional dripping off the exposed internal components. Yes, it's a good idea to step the lever through all the positions after refilling, but that appears to have been done, if not intentionally, then by default when the car wouldn't move.

How much ATF did you put into the transmission (i.e. not counting what went into the front differential!) to bring the level back to normal after reinstalling the pan?

Things tried so far:
Drained the fluid a second time and replaced the ATF filter and put fluid back in.
How much ATF was drained and refilled this time?

Which filter was replaced? The filter on the bottom of the valve body or the external spin-on? If the latter, did you use the genuine Subaru AT filter, or another make?


How long have you had the car (time and miles) and do you know if the ATF had ever been changed before now?

What's the maintenance history? Has the engine or transmission ever been removed?



When I removed the old pan and replaced it with the new one I didn't touch or mess with any of the internal components inside the tranny. I did notice a burnt plastic smell. I have searched online only to find threads and articles that state "It means there's something wrong..." but they never really specify what exactly could be the problem nor a fix for that. Mostly they simply say "It might be new tranny time." I really can't tell you how awesome it is to get your clear answer about the shift solenoids and possible electrical shorts. I'm truly grateful and I think that's going to be the fix for my situation.
Is the pan flat across the whole bottom, or is there any area that is, or appears to have been, pushed up? (The work started with a leak from the pan, but do you know exactly where that leak was located?)

When the ignition is turned to ON, but the engine is not started, is the Check Engine light, and the AT Oil Temp light lit? Are any warning lights flashing?

When the engine is started, do all the warning lights go out, or are any of the lights flashing or on steady?

(Just trying to fill in gaps in what we know as they come to mind.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,254 Posts
I believe this video may be what I'm looking to do if I'm going to inspect the wiring and replace the shift solenoids. Also this shows where all of the wiring is located inside the ATF pan on the 4EAT. I can't post links yet so you'll have to search YouTube yourself.
YouTube search for:
Replace Subaru 4EAT Transfer Clutch Solenoid

Sidebar: If you're an Outback DIYer like myself then this channel on YouTube has helped me tremendously. Please note that I have no affiliation with YouTube or this channel and receive no compensation.
YouTube search for:
MrSubaru1387
There's a number of videos related to servicing the valve body on a Subaru 4AT, Phase II. However, the Phase II has an earlier and a later version, with different valve bodies. There's photos of them in this post.

And this post has a diagram identifying the solenoids on the earlier version.

The video with the exact title "Replace Subaru 4EAT Transfer Clutch Solenoid" by Rostra is about the later version valve body. The "give away", in addition to its layout, is that in the earlier version, the Transfer Clutch Solenoid is not on the valve body; instead, it's located in the extension (rear) case of the transmission.

But this is probably jumping ahead unless there was some damage that wasn't recognized when the pan was off.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Normal recommendation for the differential gear oil is 75W-90, but the 80-90 will work as well. Just be sure it's meets GL-5 specifications.



"at hot full" with the engine running?



No need for special steps. Many here routinely do a drain-and-refill of the ATF, and it's done with the engine off. When the ATF is drained by taking out the plug, as noted earlier, 3-4 quarts is removed. The same amount is added back in through the dipstick tube, and it should be good-to-go. Removing the pan might add just a few more ounces, including what's left on the bottom of the pan because the drain plug is slightly raised, or from additional dripping off the exposed internal components. Yes, it's a good idea to step the lever through all the positions after refilling, but that appears to have been done, if not intentionally, then by default when the car wouldn't move.

How much ATF did you put into the transmission (i.e. not counting what went into the front differential!) to bring the level back to normal after reinstalling the pan?



How much ATF was drained and refilled this time?

Which filter was replaced? The filter on the bottom of the valve body or the external spin-on? If the latter, did you use the genuine Subaru AT filter, or another make?


How long have you had the car (time and miles) and do you know if the ATF had ever been changed before now?

What's the maintenance history? Has the engine or transmission ever been removed?





Is the pan flat across the whole bottom, or is there any area that is, or appears to have been, pushed up? (The work started with a leak from the pan, but do you know exactly where that leak was located?)

When the ignition is turned to ON, but the engine is not started, is the Check Engine light, and the AT Oil Temp light lit? Are any warning lights flashing?

When the engine is started, do all the warning lights go out, or are any of the lights flashing or on steady?

(Just trying to fill in gaps in what we know as they come to mind.)
I refilled it with a little over 4QTs of new Dextron III ATF and checked it with the engine running after it reached operating temp on a level surface.

There was a check engine light on and the Transmission light did blink after my initial goof when attempting to run it without any ATF in it. Since the fluid has been filled both lights do not come on when the car is running now. Another thing I failed to mention, as a part of my attempts to fix the drive issue I disconnected the battery for about 30 minute hoping to reset the car's computer. That was suggested in another forum that it could be an active transmission. All that seems to have done is reset the dummy lights but neither has lit up again since then.

On the second complete draining I simply put the drained fluid back in although a little more came out this time since I replace the ATF filter as well.

I replaced the external spin on filter and not the internal one. If knew there was an internal one at the time of replacing the pan I would have done that one also but I'm still living and learning. The replacement filter is not a Subaru OEM (nor was the one I removed) but I had the guys at the part store look up the correct aftermarket replacement filter.

The original leak was located around the drain bolt of the ATF pan. There must have been a small fracture from someone putting the bolt back on too tight some time ago. I found this out when I first attempted to remove the original ATF drain bolt and the entire threading came off with the bolt leaving a large hole in the pan where the bolt and it's threading used to be.

I've only had the Outback for 2 months and was bought as is with no history from a private seller. It has 185000 miles on it. It doesn't appear to have had the engine or tranny removed but perhaps the ATF has been changed at some point given the old ATF filter was also aftermarket.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I've always read you need to move the shifter through each gear when adding fluid. But, seems unlikely that's the problem now.
I concur. I'm thinking that it's electrical and/or solenoid related given the symptoms and the other fixes I've tried so far haven't done anything to resolve the forward gear engagement issue.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,254 Posts
There was a check engine light on and the Transmission light did blink after my initial goof when attempting to run it without any ATF in it. Since the fluid has been filled both lights do not come on when the car is running now. Another thing I failed to mention, as a part of my attempts to fix the drive issue I disconnected the battery for about 30 minute hoping to reset the car's computer. That was suggested in another forum that it could be an active transmission. All that seems to have done is reset the dummy lights but neither has lit up again since then.
In that generation of 4AT, pretty well all of the transmission related trouble codes that would cause the AT Oil Temp light to flash are for the detection of open or shorted electrical circuits rather than something like "low fluid level/pressure".

Even with the battery having been disconnected, there might be a chance that the code, or codes, is still stored in memory. Worth trying the built-in procedure to read the code (but not certain it works for 2004 . . .): http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums...4-how-read-diagnostic-trouble-codes-dtcs.html (The missing illustration in the first post is attached here.)

If it identifies a short or open in a solenoid circuit, that narrows it down, and would provide a good reason to again remove the pan.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
2014 3.6R Limited
Joined
·
1,192 Posts
The worst thing you can do to an automatic transmission is rev it up when it won't go into gear. Hopefully for your wallets sake it was not "trying" to go into gear and burning clutches. It doesn't take much slippage to ruin an Automatic clutch. Imagine what could've happen if it suddenly grabbed a gear when you had it rev'd up? Lots of other things in the drive train could've been damaged as well as possibly lurching into something and damaging property or hurting someone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,254 Posts
@Red Suburu

Yes, the clutches could be a concern, in this case the Low Clutch, which is used alone for 1st gear, and with other clutches for 2 and 3. In 1-3, the Low Clutch is essential to transfer power to the transmission output.

@04Leg2.5H6

Started and attempted put into drive without ATF in the tranny and diluted the FD with ATF...
...and now there is no forward momentum.
After about 3 minutes of attempting move forward with the shifter in drive
From these comments in your first post it appears that when the car was first started up with the new pan, but short of some ATF (about half), only forward gears were tried. Is this correct?

This might be helpful in narrowing down the problem.

If Reverse wouldn't work in reverse before the ATF was topped up, then it's likely that the low ATF was probably preventing the transmission from engaging in all gears until the ATF was filled properly. However, if Reverse could have worked before the ATF was topped up, then the low ATF wasn't a problem for engaging the reverse-related clutches, and that same ATF should have been able to engage the Low Clutch for forward motion. And, if Reverse did work at the beginning, but not forward gears, then it's somewhat more probable that the current issue is related to the Low Clutch not being engaged.

Just some thoughts . . .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
@Red Suburu

Yes, the clutches could be a concern, in this case the Low Clutch, which is used alone for 1st gear, and with other clutches for 2 and 3. In 1-3, the Low Clutch is essential to transfer power to the transmission output.

@04Leg2.5H6



From these comments in your first post it appears that when the car was first started up with the new pan, but short of some ATF (about half), only forward gears were tried. Is this correct?

This might be helpful in narrowing down the problem.

If Reverse wouldn't work in reverse before the ATF was topped up, then it's likely that the low ATF was probably preventing the transmission from engaging in all gears until the ATF was filled properly. However, if Reverse could have worked before the ATF was topped up, then the low ATF wasn't a problem for engaging the reverse-related clutches, and that same ATF should have been able to engage the Low Clutch for forward motion. And, if Reverse did work at the beginning, but not forward gears, then it's somewhat more probable that the current issue is related to the Low Clutch not being engaged.

Just some thoughts . . .
I thought I'd provide a quick update to my issue. I was able to find and replaced the #1 shift solenoid. I put it all back together and refilled the ATF and... nothing. Same issue. Reverse works but not drive. It is possible to get some shaky lurching forward out of it in drive but only when I rev the engine RPMs way up to about 4K with the tranny loudly banging around under the car. It's not usable in any practical sense of the word. At this point I'm calling it a loss and since I live in an apartment complex there is no way I'll be able to get away with replacing the entire tranny in the parking lot.
 

·
Premium Member
(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
Joined
·
18,590 Posts
are there any odd noises in reverse? If someone paced the vehicle, would they hear a central noise front or rear, or a louder corner?

did this problem occur slowly or suddenly?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Getting it back in gear!

Hey guys wanted to provide an update. Since last August I was about to send the car to the junkyard when a friend convinced me to replace all of the solenoids with used ones from a scrap yard. That got her rolling forward! After that it would shudder and slip into 1st and 1st to 2nd then sift fine between 2nd to 3rd and 3rd to 4th. So, about a week ago I got a garage space and I ordered a 4EAT rebuild kit (with clutch plates, et al). I'm currently working my way through removing the tranny. I've gotten the exhaust, front axles, rear drive shaft, starter and other parts off. I'm trying to follow the manufacturer's directions without spending a fortune buying the custom tools that I'll never use again (hopefully). http://jdmfsm.info/Auto/Japan/Subar...ion Section/2. AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION 4AT.pdf
Now I'm at a point where I'm not sure what the directions mean:

Separate the torque converter clutch from drive plate.
(1) Remove the V-belt cover.
(2) Remove the service hole plug.
(3) Remove the bolts which hold torque converter clutch to drive plate.
(4) Insert the wrench in the crankshaft pulley bolts, and remove all the bolts by slowly rotating the crankshaft pulley.

Where is the service hole plug? Is the crankshaft pulley bolts on the front of the engine with the belts?
Also step 12 calls for an AT Flywheel Stopper (498277200) which cost over $200 new and found one for $140 used!!! For a tiny piece of metal that is shaped like an L bracket!? I'm tempted to bend a $0.75 cabinet bracket and see if that works.

I'll provide an update after the project is complete.
 

·
Premium Member
(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
Joined
·
18,590 Posts
mostly trying to tell you to rotate the crank to position the flexplate bolts for access (i think)

try to not let the TC slip forward. Search and read about re-seating the TC and thoroughly understand why it's important when you re-assemble the car.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19,254 Posts
Service hole is at the back of the engine, sort of under the air box (remove) where the rear of the block slopes up/out to mate with the transmission at the larger bell housing. There should be a roughly rectangular rubber grommet type seal about 2 inches across. Remove it, and that provides an opening to the torque converter area where the bolts that attach the flex plate to the torque converter can be accessed. (See attached.)

When removing the flex plate bolts be careful not to lose them in the bell housing.
 

Attachments

1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top