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2006 Wagon 2.5i M/T
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Discussion Starter #1
I recently purchased a 2006 2.5i M/T outback with a fair number of miles. I noticed in the owner's manual that it is supposed to have a dipstick for the M/T oil level; but in my car, it is missing! Instead there is a upward-facing hex-key plug in the case and an unused steel bracket which was presumably for the dipstick tube.

I had never heard of a dipstick for an manual transmission before this car. The usual procedure is to check the fluid to be level with a horizontal plug on the side of the transmission case or fill it through the plug until it spills out. So the absence of a dipstick did not bother me because I assumed that it also had such a plug. But it does not - the dipstick is the only way to add oil to the transmission and also the only way to determine the correct fluid level. This brings my planned transmission oil change to a halt for now.

What kind of sloppy field-engineering would lead the people at factory to run out of dipstick assemblies, blithely assume that there was no need for a dipstick anyway, and put a plug in its place? I guess they figured that the original fluid and seals/gaskets would take the car far beyond the warranty.
 

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2010 OBW limited 2.5 CVT
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Recently purchased (read used). What makes you think the previous owner didn't install the plug?
 

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Are you looking in the right place?

The manual transmission dipstick is also the front differential dipstick. The MT and differential share the same fluid, so there's just one dipstick for both.

The differential dipstick is on the right side, low down at the back of the engine, close to the firewall. (See attached -- from the Owners Manual)

The differential dipstick tube is short, and doesn't have any brackets to hold it, so I suspect you're looking elsewhere.

The AT has a different arrangement - it has it's own dipstick on the left (driver) side for the ATF, and a front differential dipstick in the same location as the MT on the right side.
 

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2006 Wagon 2.5i M/T
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37 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
There is definitely NO dipstick. With the air intake pipe removed, I stuck my head where so I could look from the bellhousing down most of the the right side of the transmission case - no dipstick - just a plug, and an unused bracing-bracket on the upper-right part of the case.

I have a lot of information regarding the previous owner's use of the car (a lawyer and avid paddling enthusiast who died in a kayaking accident). I bought it from his heirs, who provided a fairly complete service history that jibed with Carfax. I can imagine why he or any other previous owner would remove the dipstick. At any rate, the plug does not look like it was removed over the life of the car so far.

I'll call the dealer who sold the car to the first owner and see what's up.
 

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Very strange that anyone would go to the trouble of plugging the dipstick tube, or opening in the differential housing. Given the maintenance record, and my doubt that cost of a dipstick (new, or used) wouldn't be a problem, I can only speculate as to why it's missing. In this regard, I'm confident it wasn't sent out that way from the Subaru assembly plant. And even if it were, the car would have been under a "stop sale" until the part or parts for it caught up at the dealer. For that matter, the dealer could not complete the PDI without being able to check the gear oil level, and surely this would have been noticed in subsequent routine servicings (assuming the work was done by a Subaru-familiar service shop).

Perhaps the car was being used in some strange driving situations, and the fact that the dipstick tube end is quite low led to it being intentionally blocked, such as to prevent water from entering. But then I'd wonder what happened, to other low and exposed parts; for example, the rear differential, which has a vent at the top of the its housing.

I've attached two photos of the dipstick area from my 07. The first shows the dipstick location -- it's the yellow knob that's visible up and slightly left from the green DOJ joint of the right front axle. (The light-colored tube at the upper left is the AC high pressure line.) (This photo is taken from the side.)

The dipstick itself is in a tube of about 1-inch diameter, that rises above a ledge on the differential case casting by about 1-1/2 to 2-inches. The tube is self-supporting (no brackets). In the second photo, taken from the front of the car, the height and diameter of the dipstick tube can be seem more clearly. (The air intake tube, with it's corrugations, is at the upper left.)

Any chance you could post some photos of what your car has? Maybe someone might recognize what's there based on their own experience.

(An additional thought -- could the transmission have been replaced at some time and the plug is used when the replacement was shipped, but was supposed to be replaced by the original transmission dipstick?)
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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if the 'hex bolt' w'ever can be removed, and is indeed blocking the dipstick's normal location, you could still drain the fluid, then pour in an amount equal to the listed capacity.

Did the kayaker ever use the car to ford high water? Mighty be some other mods, like breather tubes extended in fenderwells. or ???
 

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1993 Legacy LSi with still functioning Air Suspension, 1999 Outback 2.5L 5MT lab Rat
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I have yet to see any Gen 3 5MT outbacks without a dipstick, maybe you could post a photo of the transmission @the right side bellhousing, so we may have a look?
 

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2006 Wagon 2.5i M/T
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Discussion Starter #8
Never mind! I just went out in the dark with a flashlight and immediately found it. Thanks plain OM; the pictures really helped.

It is located much further forward than I was looking, on what I had mistaken for the clutch bell housing (where there would never be a dipstick of course) - but this "bellhousing" is actually where the front differential is located. A coating of gunk on the handle camouflaged it too. Dumb case closed.
 

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No "dumb cases". Just learning experiences. I've had many, and expect many more.

Now that the dipstick and tube are identified, you might end up appreciating their topside access for routine checking and periodic gear oil changes.

Let us know how the planned transmission oil change goes.
 
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