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Hi all. 2014 2.5 CVT at 60k. Was a Northeast car for 40k, now a SoCal freeways car. No towing, occasional "simple" desert driving (kids in the car, so basically sandy roads and no crossings).

I've been getting ready for my 60k maintenance and thoughts on replacing the CVT/Diff fluids @ 30/60k seem to be all over the place. Some people recommend it, some people say to leave it alone. My own experience is my ex-dealer (in PA) says they wouldn't touch it unless there was a problem. The maintenance schedule says to Inspect at 30k increments, not Replace. My current independent says they recommend replacing. There's a lot on "yes/no", but nothing on "why".

My question is for those who do replace their CVT/Diff fluids... why did/do you do it? Was there something which prompted you start such as a noise or performance, or do you consider it like engine oil where it needs to get done anyways?

If anyone who hasn't replaced their CVT/Diff fluids happens to read this, what's your mileage and have you been considering it?

Thanks

Tim
 

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Meh.
I has wagons.
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If it's a fluid, it will eventually degrade. Motor oil, coolant, gear oil, etc...they all will degrade eventually.
 

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Remember the dealer's motivation is to sell you service that includes stuff you don't need, even if it may be helpful.
You can safely stick to the manufacturer's maintenance guide and even that will have conservatism built into it!
 

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CVT for CA traffic yes its needed. I noticed the cvt was smoother and quieter after the dealer drain fill. I would only let the dealer do the cvt given if its screwed up they buy you a new cvt.

Differential local shop can easily do it just know that if the local guy isn’t familiar with the cvt subarus its not hard to screw up putting diff gear oil into the cvt and yes destroying the cvt.

Both are only 30min job combined. Diffs $80-$100 for both is very resonable. But my now Auto group owned dealer wanted $415 for the two diffs after I refused his $900 90,000mile generic service package. The cvt drain fill went from $180 very reasonable to $345. I sent Subaru a complaint about this arbitrary excessive pricing practices at their dealers. The response was quite nice clearly a written response not a canned response and they are sending me Subaru credit which I can use to lower my cvt service cost.

All my other stuff my local guy does.
 

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2011 Outback Limited 2.5i/2018 Crosstrek limited
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As previously mentioned...ALL fluids breakndown...no such thing as lifetime fluids. With the possible CVT problems that could arise with our model year...I am changing...refreshing it every two years...especially now that I have a 200km round trip to work every day...better safe than sorry.
 
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As previously mentioned...ALL fluids breakndown...no such thing as lifetime fluids. With the possible CVT problems that could arise with our model year...I am changing...refreshing it every two years...especially now that I have a 200km round trip to,work every day...better safe than sorry.
Really? Can you provide some evidence to that?

The reason I ask is that I've seen some recent reports and articles that claim modern lubricants really don't break down as has been claimed by many. They state that unless lubricants are exposed to extreme heat above their designed range, they just don't wear out. Claims of oil shearing are also greatly exaggerated.

These articles claim that the only reason motor oil really has to be replaced is because of contamination. It reaches a point where the additives just can't manage all the contamination that is in suspension. This has a direct effect of wearing out the add pack.

So I've also wondered why change the diff fluids. There is no real source of contamination. To date I've followed the recommendations of many other fellow members here on SubaruOutback.org, and changed the front and rear diff fluid every 30k miles. The first change at 30k was the only one where I felt there was any value in it. Since then the fluid coming out looks almost as good as the fluid going it. So I've upped my diff fluid interval to at least 60k. Some will say it's cheap insurance. But from what?

So the question the OP posted really raised my curiosity. I'm anxious to see if anyone here can offer a real, valid reason why diff fluid should be changed.
 

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The diffs are not sealed. They also have slip between sides which brakes down the gear oil. Its super cheap just change it every 40-60k. Yes it gets cruddy. Given where the car came from high water crossing ie flooded roads can result in water in the diff via the breather.
 

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Really? Can you provide some evidence to that?
If it's a fluid, it will eventually degrade. Motor oil, coolant, gear oil, etc...they all will degrade eventually.
Yup...all you have to do is read the problems that people have had with the early Gen4 OB...of which ours is a member being a 2011...there have been problems with a valve in the torque converter which causes the car engine to drop rpm's when coming down to idle...which will lead to bigger more expensive problems. Subaru will fix the problem free of charge if your car exhibits those symptoms...oh..and there is this...Subaru extended the transmission warranty to 10 years or 100,000 miles due to this issue. They said it was for customer peace of mind but we all know that is BS and this was their way of dealing with the issue...and our OB is now at that magic number so for the little extra cost of buying my tranny fluid and doing this myself...it's worth it.
 

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I've been getting ready for my 60k maintenance and thoughts on replacing the CVT/Diff fluids
Hey Tim. Good for you for being proactive and actively managing your maintenance before it becomes a problem. Personally, my experience is that the first 30k for a differential fluid change seems reasonable. Since then, everything going in looks essentially like what's coming out. The CVT, though, you must use caution. The CVT itself is a sealed part, according to Subaru docs. I would not trust my CVTF to anyone but the dealership at this point because there's just too much that can go wrong - and the manual actually says any fluid other than the OEM CVTF will cause malfunction. Now, many people here have used Valvoline and Amsoil amongst other CVTF varieties available and did it themself. But, keep in mind, that there is a price to pay for peace of mind - meaning as @subiesailor did - that if they screw it up, they're on the hook for a new one. If Jiffy Lube does a CVTF drain and fill, and then you get a malfunction light in a few thousand miles, they'll probably tell you to go pound sand, especially when they are presented with an $8000 invoice for a new CVT assembly.

The cvt drain fill went from $180 very reasonable to $345. I sent Subaru a complaint about this arbitrary excessive pricing practices at their dealers. The response was quite nice clearly a written response not a canned response and they are sending me Subaru credit which I can use to lower my cvt service cost.
'

I've had a similar experience. I haven't changed my fluid, as I am planning on trading my 2011 in for a 3.6 model within the next year, which keeps me under the extended warranty. I've heard quotes from around $200 all the way up to $400 for me, but they're arguably including some things like a "TCU Relearn" which according to the FSM isn't necessary until you're changing something like the VB or TQ. I would probably argue the charges in person, such as them billing you for all 11-12 quarts of the CVTF, which a D&F will only get about half the volume out. Again, something for an in-person argument.

As previously mentioned...ALL fluids breakndown...no such thing as lifetime fluids. With the possible CVT problems that could arise with our model year...I am changing...refreshing it every two years...especially now that I have a 200km round trip to work every day...better safe than sorry.
I disagree. You have a law of diminishing returns here. Because of the way your D&F works, you're getting about half the fluid out. So if you do the changes at 50k miles, for example, half the fluid is 50k still, and half has 0 miles. Do it again at 100k miles, and you have a third of that fluid still 50k, a third, at 100k, and a third of it with 0. The additive package, you could argue, is the more important thing that may degrade with heat/time, and therefore a regular refresh of the AP could be a benefit. Could be, I stress the word could. The CVT's have only been in use since the 2010's in the US, so we're looking about maybe 8-9 years of real-world use. The CVT Gen2 was introduced later, so we don't have as much long-term info about that one, but I'd argue that there are MORE vehicles with the G2 CVT now, so we would arguably see any design flaws at this point out of sheer volume.

Really? Can you provide some evidence to that?

The reason I ask is that I've seen some recent reports and articles that claim modern lubricants really don't break down as has been claimed by many. They state that unless lubricants are exposed to extreme heat above their designed range, they just don't wear out. Claims of oil shearing are also greatly exaggerated./QUOTE]

I have a similar experience to you. Basically, after the initial 30k D&F of the differentials, I'm not entirely certain there's a benefit now that you have the machining and break-in resolved. I'd even argue beyond a 60k interval, but I'd probably want to send the diff oil out for analysis - and I don't think I'd probably suggest pushing beyond 60k for the front differential.

Yup...all you have to do is read the problems that people have had with the early Gen4 OB.
Yes, the torque converter style was changed from a washer-style to a bearing-style in 2013. That being said, the CVT warranty extends BEYOND the 2013's and includes several different models up to 2015. So, there is something possibly going on that we don't know about. But, the extension is helpful.


Food for thought: Take it as what you will. The Subaru Canada maintenance schedule requires CVTF changes at 100,000 kilometers (60k miles), and their customer service references the harsher climate that creates some condensation issues in the fluid because of the temperature extremes.

Personally, I've found that my transmission fluid only gains about 50 degrees F over the ambient when I'm driving to/from work. That's about 2 degrees per minute. I don't know about a plateau, but it does seem to heat up "slower" after a certain threshold (computer probably has a program in it to get the CVTF heated to a certain level, then it becomes lower priority.)

Heat is the primary killer of your CVTF. If you have a relatively short commute (mine is between 10-20 miles each way depending on the routes I take, takes about 25ish minutes door to door), you probably will get significantly more life out of your CVTF compared to someone that either offroads (and pushes 250+ F) or drives longer periods of time for their commute. In @subiesailor 's example above, the geography there is a lot more hilly, which in turns causes the transmission to work harder. I'm sure that his CVTF degraded more than someone that generally doesn't drive elevated terrain.

I'm very eager to see what longer commutes do for me in the summer with the higher ambient temperature plus 60ish mile commutes each way. (Right now, at ambient of around 30 degrees, I'm usually around 80-90 CVTF temp by the time I get to work...) Assuming the temperature change is relatively constant, I'm expecting to find CVTF temps around 150-160 for the commute. (ambient of 90 plus the gains over time, and differences in cooling because of higher relative temperatures, meaning 30 degree air cools everything more than 90 degree air.)

A user posted a DIY D&F on their Forester. They used a bluetooth dongle to determine that their CVTF Deterioration Rate (experimental, math derived, not an exact measurement of fluid life) was around 22-25% at 100k miles. I'm at 2.9% at 85k miles. Someone like me "appears" to be able to go much longer intervals in comparison.

There are also a few instances of people having VB or solenoid issues after doing a D&F. My guess here would be that the new fluid - which is an excellent solvent - ended up dislodging some of the crud that was otherwise encapsulated into the pan, and it found its way to somewhere bad.

Good luck.
 

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So I've also wondered why change the diff fluids. There is no real source of contamination.
A true statement IF the diff housings did not contain any gears, bearings, friction materials, vent to atmosphere, etc. But they do.

The fluid contamination comes from normal part wear and/or in some cases, water intrusion through the vent.

Same with the unsealed CVT.
 

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A true statement IF the diff housings did not contain any gears, bearings, friction materials, vent to atmosphere, etc. But they do.

The fluid contamination comes from normal part wear and/or in some cases, water intrusion through the vent.

Same with the unsealed CVT.
Agreed. There is contamination from wear. But I personally suspect that with quality lubricants, this is very, very small amounts. I would agree also that if a lot of off road activities are done, then diff fluids need to be changed more often. In fact if I were playing in deep water, I would change fluid in the diffs and CVT when I got home.

When I was doing my 90k mile service, I found the rear diff fluid to be in such good condition that I decided it would be a waste to change the front diff fluid also. So when I do the 120k service, which will probably be about December, I'll try to remember and pull a sample from both diffs and send them in to Blackstone. That will give me results of 30k on the rear fluid and 60k on the front fluild.

If I were a betting man, I would dare say that the analysis of a 30k mile sample will be something like "There is nothing wrong at all with this fluid. It has plenty of life in it. Next time try 45k miles." And I really believe they will find even the 60k mile sample to still be providing protection.
 

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Agreed. There is contamination from wear. But I personally suspect that with quality lubricants, this is very, very small amounts. I would agree also that if a lot of off road activities are done, then diff fluids need to be changed more often. In fact if I were playing in deep water, I would change fluid in the diffs and CVT when I got home.

When I was doing my 90k mile service, I found the rear diff fluid to be in such good condition that I decided it would be a waste to change the front diff fluid also. So when I do the 120k service, which will probably be about December, I'll try to remember and pull a sample from both diffs and send them in to Blackstone. That will give me results of 30k on the rear fluid and 60k on the front fluild.

If I were a betting man, I would dare say that the analysis of a 30k mile sample will be something like "There is nothing wrong at all with this fluid. It has plenty of life in it. Next time try 45k miles." And I really believe they will find even the 60k mile sample to still be providing protection.
I'm looking forward to the Blackstone report. I'm basically sharing the same point of view, I have Mobil 1 in mine.
 

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Yup...all you have to do is read the problems that people have had with the early Gen4 OB...of which ours is a member being a 2011...there have been problems with a valve in the torque converter which causes the car engine to drop rpm's when coming down to idle...which will lead to bigger more expensive problems. Subaru will fix the problem free of charge if your car exhibits those symptoms...oh..and there is this...Subaru extended the transmission warranty to 10 years or 100,000 miles due to this issue. They said it was for customer peace of mind but we all know that is BS and this was their way of dealing with the issue...and our OB is now at that magic number so for the little extra cost of buying my tranny fluid and doing this myself...it's worth it.
They have also updated the maintenance schedule. Subaru Canada now requires CVT/diff fluid replacement at 100k km/60k miles. Driving conditions in Northeastern USA are more or less similar.

Scheduled maintenance for 100,000 km / 60 Months
  • Replace engine oil and filter
  • Rotate tires
  • Inspect tire condition and adjust all tire pressures including spare tire
  • Remove, inspect and service front and rear brakes
  • Inspect and adjust all fluid levels including both differentials
  • Inspect operation of all lights, wipers and washers
  • Inspect and adjust drive belt tension if necessary
  • Service battery
  • Inspect axle boot condition
  • Lubricate all latches, hinges and locks (hood, doors, fuel door and trunk lid)
  • Inspect all steering and suspension components
  • Inspect under body for damage
  • Test coolant, inspect hoses and clamps
  • Inspect engine & air cabin filters - replace if necessary
  • Replace spark plugs
  • Replace transmission and differential fluids
  • Road test vehicle
 

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Yeah I saw that change recently. I can’t find any techtips or bulletins on why. I reached out to Subaru canada and requested why they changed the maintenance interval, and they said they had issues with condensation in the “extreme” climate in canada.

Something to think about regardless.
 

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They have also updated the maintenance schedule. Subaru Canada now requires CVT/diff fluid replacement at 100k km/60k miles.
This was always my plan and advice to anyone who asked. Glad to see they changed their tune from "lifetime fluid"..... There is no such thing as lifetime fluids!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi all. Took my car to my local guy for the 60k. Says he sees a lot of Subarus and Hondas with CVTs that have bad days around 100k-ish. So they've started recommending that the fluids are done starting at 60k. Does enough of them where he stocks Subaru CVT fluids. I said fine, take a look and change it if it's necessary.

When I get the car back he says he changed the diff fluid, front had some metal in it (but not enough to worry) and the rear looked maybe burnt. But he said the CVT fluid looked almost brand new, and nothing in it. So he didn't change it and said we'll take another look in 15k.

Tim
 

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CVT Fluid Change

Hi. I have 60,000 mi. on my OB. I did the CVT Fluid change at the dealer. In my opinion there is no such thing as " life time fluid ". I do a lot of stop and go so changing the fluid was a no brainer for me....change every 60,000 miles.


I've been getting ready for my 60k maintenance and thoughts on replacing the CVT/Diff fluids @ 30/60k seem to be all over the place. Some people recommend it, some people say to leave it alone. My own experience is my ex-dealer (in PA) says they wouldn't touch it unless there was a problem. The maintenance schedule says to Inspect at 30k increments, not Replace. My current independent says they recommend replacing. There's a lot on "yes/no", but nothing on "why".

My question is for those who do replace their CVT/Diff fluids... why did/do you do it? Was there something which prompted you start such as a noise or performance, or do you consider it like engine oil where it needs to get done anyways?

If anyone who hasn't replaced their CVT/Diff fluids happens to read this, what's your mileage and have you been considering it?

Thanks

Tim[/QUOTE]
 

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Hi. I have 60,000 mi. on my OB. I did the CVT Fluid change at the dealer. In my opinion there is no such thing as " life time fluid ". I do a lot of stop and go so changing the fluid was a no brainer for me....change every 60,000 miles.


I've been getting ready for my 60k maintenance and thoughts on replacing the CVT/Diff fluids @ 30/60k seem to be all over the place. Some people recommend it, some people say to leave it alone. My own experience is my ex-dealer (in PA) says they wouldn't touch it unless there was a problem. The maintenance schedule says to Inspect at 30k increments, not Replace. My current independent says they recommend replacing. There's a lot on "yes/no", but nothing on "why".

My question is for those who do replace their CVT/Diff fluids... why did/do you do it? Was there something which prompted you start such as a noise or performance, or do you consider it like engine oil where it needs to get done anyways?

If anyone who hasn't replaced their CVT/Diff fluids happens to read this, what's your mileage and have you been considering it?

Thanks

Tim
[/QUOTE]
Simple at 60k in my area of heavy traffic and I tow we do cvt at 60k towing or not. Same for diffs. In both cars towing car and zero towing car the cvt was noticeably quieter and smoother. Just hit 100,000 last week in the towing car. Runs like new. I have about $500 spent on service items other than Engine oil related costs. $800 on timing belt and plugs spent. I do my own brakes the towing car goes 60,000 then pads are nearly even with the screecher tab. Non towing car easily did 80,000 on the pads.

Next up new struts / springs on the towing car.
 

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I dumped my Fluids at 60k, CVT was dark for a lot of highway driving. Diff's were fairly clean.
Piece of mind is priceless.
Stories of early CVT failures, relate to dirty fluid & deposits.
Flush again at 120k
140k still running smooth.
 
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