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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Howdy Gang,

So I am about to take possession of a '19 OB w/130k miles but I know the owner and it has been all freeway. Vehicle is well taken care of, but only oil changes, tires, rear brakes and spark plugs (@110k) have been performed. No services to the CVT nor diffs at this time.

I am looking to tackle a few jobs and either pay to have them done or attempt to do them myself.

Firstly, the CVT. I am not overly intimidated by the job as much as breaking the bolts loose and tightening back up without leaks. My question here is firstly, the "idemitsu cvtf type sb2" would save me a trip to the dealer, is less than $12/qt and unlike other "compatible" fluids, this one appears to be the same manufacturer as the OE CVTII F fluid. However, I could find no reference to it searching around. Perhaps newly available to the market? My local parts houses do not list it on their websites, but it is available on Amazon. Is it the exact same thing as OE fluid?

On the CVT also, one local Subaru specialist claims he uses a pump and is able to get 8 qts out during a drain and fill, but also was unaware of the combo drain/level plug that seems to be the one and only fill plug, he suggested there is a dedicated fill, level and drain. Maybe he hasn't done CVT service on a gen5?
Lastly, if I attempt this myself, laser thermometer on the CVT pan good enough to judge the temperature?

On the front and rear diff, leaning towards the valvoline 75w90 that comes in the little squeeze bags as it seems easiest to use. However, the manual suggests poorer fuel economy than the factory GL-5 75w80 (I guess). Anyone able to quantify this? Seems most DIY types are using the 75w90 with good results.

Other maintenance considered, inspect/replace serp belt. Drain/fill coolant with the Supertech Asian premixed - will 2 gallons be enough?

Any wisdom is much appreciated.
 

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You did not say if you have the 2.5 or 3.6? The 2.5 uses the TR-580 transmission which there is no better instruction than
in my opinion. If you have the 3.6 then it is the TR-690 transmission and you may want to find a video on.

On breaking the allen/hex plugs, what Mr. Subaru is using is It. Is. Not. A. Torx! #MACTools #RBRT #Shorts which there is also a good discussion on this forum at 2018 2.5 CVT Fill Plug/Bolt

Idemitsu makes all of the Subaru fluids for them. If Subaru orders a slightly different formula than Idemitus sells directly I do not know, but I personally would have no problem using the fluid they say works in your transmission. I will probably get slammed again for saying this, but I don't believe the fluid Subaru engineers specified to work the best in their CVT, when they say it is lifetime, is necessary the best at 130,000 miles. Besides whatever the blasters say about this the reality is if the CVT has never even had a drain and fill, the likelihood of the valve body going out in the next 60,000 is pretty high so you want to research how you are going to handle it before it does. Personally, I feel if it is mostly highway miles and driven conservatively, replacing the valve body only and not the whole transmission may be a good choice, but I would get new fluid in it ASAP when you take possession.

A temp gun will work fine on the pan, but if you are going to maintain the vehicle a 2019 probably has 40+ computers on it and you really need a scan tool. This one does a huge amount of things for a Subaru https://www.amazon.com/XTOOL-PRO-Diagnostic-Bidirectional-Functions/dp/B09FYWWYNS/ref=sr_1_14?crid=37TN7MUGIL5Q2&keywords=x-tool+scanner+Japanese&qid=1655513645&sprefix=x-tool+scanner+japanese,aps,130&sr=8-14

The next question is flush or drain and fill. Dropping the pan can be done with either. The purpose of the pump is to put fluid back in the pan as the transmission pumps it out through the cooler/heater exchange so the pickup inside of the pan can keep picking it up. Mr. Subaru video is the best for drain and fill but he doesn't do a flush in the video, although he responds a little to people in comments who ask him about it. I follow him up to refill the CVT then go the extra step of flushing if you want, then go back to him for topping it off. I like this guy Don Smith even though this particular video is not Subaru or CVT. He does a Toyota CVT in a different video.
. MT has a video on subaru flush but his method of pumping didn't work that well. I like Don Smith's method of just filling it up and running it for 10 to 15 seconds. I have done this on a few vehicles and my best result came with removing the return hose where it came back into the CVT and routing it up into a container in the engine bay.

For the diff fluid change Mr. Subaru has the best instruction video on this too. Whatever fluid transfer method you use for the CVT you can use it for the diffs too.
 

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The CVT on a 2.5L actually has fill only plug, but most people just fill via the level check plug, it doesn't make much difference which you choose. I've been able to find the Subaru branded CVT2 fluid on amazon in the past, but with the supply issues, it might be harder to find. There are other aftermarket fluids out there that owners had a good experience with. Don't sweat the valvebody issues until they happen. Clean fluids help for sure, maybe yours will be okay?

As far as differential services go, get the best quality fluid you can. The front differential has a specifically hard life.
 

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dat2109, good post. Just to clarify I was not suggesting to replace the valve body before it goes, just to do some research ahead of time so you have an idea how to tackle it if it does. You are absolutely correct, there is no need to replace it until it goes and he might get lucky and it not go. When they do go the vehicle is still driveable to get to where you need to go, just doesn't drive well. I had one go, just after the warranty expired and had to shell out a lot of dollars and rearrange my work schedule because the dealer was 1 1/2 hours away. I was very fortunate money-wise, because Subaru sent me a reimbursement check for it without me doing anything but paying the dealer. I have done a little research and there are some reputable transmission parts companies worldwide offering rebuilt kits for them and some other transmission rebuild companies using these kits and other things which at least online look pretty reputable. They take your vb as a core and sell you one already rebuilt.

Then of course there are dealers selling new ones, which are probably better than rebuilt, but I haven't done the research to form an opinion. There are a lot of independent mechanic and transmission shops out there too. One put a pretty honest video on youtube about changing it. It was his first time. I was in line at Summit Racing for about an hour with an independent shop owner who had a customer with a bad one. Since he worked on all brands of vehicles he was no expert and his advice to the owner was to put a whole new $7,500 transmission in rather than a $3,500 new vb, with his labor on top. His reasoning was any other part of the transmission could go to if only replacing the vb. He said his customer was a lady who had recently purchased the vehicle used because she thought she was getting a good deal and was not expecting something so expensive to happen to it so quickly. I felt bad for her.
 

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Purely speculation, but I wouldn't be surprised if varnishing of the valve body from the 1st gen fluid (CVTF-C30, blue) was the main issue. In 2015, they introduced CVTF-II, which was reformulated for the 2nd Gen TR580, but also backward-compatible so they could phase out the old C30 fluid. I'd bet all the fluids currently in use have been designed to keep the valve bodies happier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks a lot, appreciate all the informative posts, also great to know there IS a fill plug on the tranny after all. I can see how it might be easier for some to drain, replace drain plug, fill with 6ish quarts, warm up, cycle gears, remove level plug, replace level plug, done. Just make sure you can get all the plugs out regardless.

Cheers
 

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Having considered buying a Nissan Pathfinder of the 2017-2020 era with the notorious Jatco CVT, the issue of fluid changes was a frequent topic in that thread, too. For what it's worth, the general consensus was to be meticulous and change the fluid at recommended intervals, if not sooner (and also change every two years if you haven't met the mileage interval), and especially after "severe service" such as towing. One owner changes his fluid every 25,000 miles. From what I've gathered on this forum so far, the Subaru CVT seems a lot less troublesome than the Nissan CVTs, and I can tell you that virtually no transmission shops will touch a Nissan CVT with a 10-foot/3.3M pole! I still see the concern and the importance of changing fluid somewhat regularly. Preventive maintenance is a lot cheaper than repair.
 

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Having considered buying a Nissan Pathfinder of the 2017-2020 era with the notorious Jatco CVT, the issue of fluid changes was a frequent topic in that thread, too. For what it's worth, the general consensus was to be meticulous and change the fluid at recommended intervals, if not sooner (and also change every two years if you haven't met the mileage interval), and especially after "severe service" such as towing. One owner changes his fluid every 25,000 miles. From what I've gathered on this forum so far, the Subaru CVT seems a lot less troublesome than the Nissan CVTs, and I can tell you that virtually no transmission shops will touch a Nissan CVT with a 10-foot/3.3M pole! I still see the concern and the importance of changing fluid somewhat regularly. Preventive maintenance is a lot cheaper than repair.
I inherited my mothers 08 Maxima with Jatco CVT. Drain/Fill was so easy I did yearly with Amsoil CVT. I had it from a little under 100k to about 150k before I sold it. As many complaints on the CVT I had (felt loose and sloppy, had like a turbo lag from the late 90's) it did just keep on going. I believe fluid changes for CVT's are critical to long rlife. Subaru sure seems to get what a CVT should be.
 

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All this Subaru CVT accolades, make me wonder if mine is normal. My ‘08 was a 4EAT and it was a little quirky, but my ‘19 CVT isn’t a smooth operation as I would expect. It’s a little jerky and also seems to lag, unless you really try and move out. Is this normal? I have nothing to compare it too other than the Piagio Scooter I had ten years ago


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I think it's normal, mines a little jerky at low speeds and I'm pretty easy on the throttle. Having CVT and front diff serviced in the AM tomorrow, will see if it improves anything.

Fwiw, doesn't seem to be an abnormal behavior, but I know what you're talking about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hey reporting back as promised. The CVT fluid exchange of 4.2 qts from the shop made a significant difference. I haven't driven the car when super cold yet, but initially, much smoother. Subaru fluids used. Total job was $156 + tax on fluids.
 
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