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I recently bought an H6 3.0 VDC sedan automatic that is in great shape, 2004 with 179000 miles. I've invested in some fixes and was considering switching out the ATF with some TransX and some high quality ATF. The 2nd owner did a transmission fluid flush at about 100,000 and 160000 miles, I think at a place like Firestone. I'm not sure if the original owner did (could not tell from Carfax).

Overall I think the transmission is in decent shape, but sometimes while shifting from 2nd to 3rd gear there is a pretty noticeable "thump" as it settles into gear. Nothing weird with the RPMs. Is this just normal being high mileage? This is my first Subaru so I'm not sure what is normal for the transmission. Previously I drove a high mileage 2 door Accord from 2003 and I honestly never noticed the transmission at all. I know draining the ATF can sometimes cause more problems than it solves at high mileage so I wasn't sure if it was a good idea. I'm guessing the car doesn't have the highest quality ATF right now.

If the transmission goes out eventually, just curious ballpark how much that would cost? $2-$3K or something?

Thanks!
 

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2002 LLBean
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47 Posts
I got my 02 in 2018. No one had ever changed the transmission fluid. It was obvious. I got it at 142000 miles. After the drain and fill it wouldn't shift into 3rd if cold; worse if sitting for a few days. Would go into neutral. So for a year I warmed it up first before driving. I also used treatments and a full flush as well as other drain and fills. Then I decided one day to see if the problem had changed. I did a start and go in cold weather and it worked great. Continues to work great 10000 miles later. I have no explanation.

Even though I had trouble I believe that leaving old contaminated bad fluid in a transmission makes no sense.
 

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Outback 2011 3.6R Premium
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1,036 Posts
Change the fluid.

You have a modern transmission with much better filtration then the olden days and you will be very pleased and possibly amazed by how much better the transmission shifts with fresh oil.

Seagrass
 

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I simply cannot abide useless people.
2006 2.5i and 2002 3.0 wagons.
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12,268 Posts
Get yourself some decent Dex III fluid and have at it.

The thump between 2-3 can also be a worn/failing transmission mount.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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5,158 Posts
Thanks all. Since it had a flush relatively recently would you also look into doing a TCU relearn?
I don't think it would harm anything to do this, and there is a potential upside to it. Do it.
 

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4, Gen 2 H6's: 2001 LLBean, 2002 LLBean, 2002 VDC, 2003 Plain...I love the H6's!
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249 Posts
I am a believer in doing at least two and possibly three drain and refills with only DexIII; no additives. At a minimum, most definitely one fluid drain/refill including change-out of the ATF filter with OEM.
 

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Outbacks, SVXs, XT6, 4Runner, Celica, Brat, E150s
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564 Posts
New fluid is NEVER a bad thing (assuming it's the correct fluid). With an auto transmission, it takes several drain/fill/drive cycles to get all the fluid changed. If a transmission service was done ~20k miles ago, a full change would be overkill. If it was flushed, they may have disconnected transmission cooler hoses, so inspect those for damage/leaks.

I can't stress enough not to use any additives (TransX or similar). I have used SeaFoam transmission flush before a change on cars with very poor service history, though.

Any sort of "thump" when shifting gears, and I would be closely inspecting the transmission mount and rear differential mounts.
 

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01 Outback LL Bean
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2,393 Posts
Do single drain and fills and space them out over time.
You can get a JDM transmission for your vehicle for cheap...$500
I recommend synthetic ATF for shear stability reasons. Valvoline Import Multi Vehicle ATF is a very good value. I also recommend Redline D4 but it is more expensive.
 

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2001 Outback VDC Wagon
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42 Posts
I bought my 01' VDC with 178k and did a pan/drop new filter and have not had any real issues for 10k+ miles. There is a rough downshift from 3rd to 2nd, but I would attribute this to the transmission being worn out/not being flushed before. I echo everyone else in saying that it won't really hurt things. It shifts very well otherwise.
 

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2001 Outback VDC Wagon
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42 Posts
Do single drain and fills and space them out over time.
You can get a JDM transmission for your vehicle for cheap...$500
I recommend synthetic ATF for shear stability reasons. Valvoline Import Multi Vehicle ATF is a very good value. I also recommend Redline D4 but it is more expensive.
What would you reccommend for spacing out the drain/refills? Over oil changes? 6-7k miles? Was thinking of doing this since the transmission didn't completely crap the bed after the first fluid swap.
 

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01 Outback LL Bean
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2,393 Posts
Maybe do 3 changes over a couple thousands miles. Some people think swapping to much to quickly on an old transmission can be a problem. Since it doesn't really matter if you space it out, do it when its convenient.
 

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2002 Outback VDC
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120 Posts
I would recommend changing the spin-on ATF filter while you're at it. Make sure to get the OEM one. It's up in the driver side fender well and might very well be seized on there. My oil filter wrench broke and I had to punch a screwdriver threw it to get it off. Messy...
 

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2001 Outback VDC Wagon
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42 Posts
Awesome, thanks for the advice, I put a new OEM filter in when I dropped my pan about 8k miles ago, so it looks like a drain/fill is in order soon :)
 

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2003 Outback Wagon 2.5L 5MT
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20 Posts
The only truly automatic transmissions i've had personally (not CVT) i have always done fairly regular transmission fluid "changes" with my oil changes. I'd basically make a mess and drain transmission fluid by unplugging the transmission cooler and draining that, then adding in however much fluid i drained out with new clean fluid. My Blazer transmission and cooler took about 4 gallons, and i could usually get 2-3 quarts out of the cooler alone. Same with my brother's Cherokee he had briefly. I also used Seafoam trans tune and loved it. Even before I started doing those "changes" I used that and noticed my shifts got more firm and there seemed to be more torque through gear changes. It was awesome.
 
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