('01-'02) ATF Dipstick - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 06:37 AM Thread Starter
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ATF Dipstick

I know the dipstick is difficult, but this is what I'm seeing after doing a drain and refill...

Cold reading (after sitting on level ground overnight with the dipstick out, and then sticking it in for a reading) shows above the hot full line.

Hot reading (after sitting on level ground overnight with the dipstick out, and then starting it and driving on smooth roads for 5 miles, then parking on level ground, running through the gears, leaving the engine running, and sticking it in for a reading) shows almost nothing on the stick.

I've been doing this for several days in a row now, adding fluid gradually (about 100ml) each time to try to bring up the hot reading to the correct level, but I'm still getting this - way low hot, but overfilled cold. How is this possible? If anything, if it's low hot it should be even lower cold, shouldn't it? I don't want to keep adding, and have it be way overfilled.

Anyone else experience this? Should I just completely discount the cold reading and keep adding until a hot check shows correct level?

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 06:42 AM
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Ignore the cold reading, because the fluid drains out of the torque converter when left standing.

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 07:01 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your reply, orienteer. Not trying to be argumentative, but I don't think the torque converter drains after shutting off the engine, does it? You always hear of the fluid expanding when it gets up to operating temperature and, after all, the cold check marks are lower on the stick, suggesting the cold level should be lower than the hot level.

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 07:30 AM
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I had an auto before, the fluid takes a couple of days to completely drain out of the torque converter.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 07:38 AM
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Lightbulb

Both cold and hot readings should be done with the engine running (ref 2001 OM pages 11-22 and -23).

If the ATF level is low when the fluid is hot and the engine is running, I'd incrementally add a bit more fluid until the level is correct.

HTH,
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 07:51 AM Thread Starter
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crewzer - thanks for the input. I don't see that the manual specifically says that the engine should be running for the cold check, but I guess that would make sense. I was doing my cold check in the morning before starting the engine. Would that explain why the level was all the way up over the hot full line?

Next I'll try my cold check with the engine running but not yet up to temperature and see what I get.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 08:21 AM
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Lightbulb

Understood.

The instructions for checking the hot ATF with the engine running are clear enough, IMHO. My take on the subsequent instructions for checking the cold ATF is to "do the above" (hot instructions), but use the dip stick's "cold scale".

Quote:
I was doing my cold check in the morning before starting the engine. Would that explain why the level was all the way up over the hot full line?
Yes.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 09:05 AM Thread Starter
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I agree. It doesn't make sense to do the hot check with the engine on, but then the cold check with it off. I was just naturally thinking that "COLD" included the idea of "not running". But that's apples to oranges. Thanks.

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 09:12 AM
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Cool

Best of luck!

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 03:10 PM Thread Starter
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Update: went out and checked the level right after starting it up (after it had been sitting all day), and low and behold the stick had just a touch of fluid on it, as opposed to up over the hot line with the engine off. So that was the issue. Now I can add fluid (gradually) w/o worrying about overfilling. Thanks alot crewzer and orienteer for helping me out on this!

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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 04:16 PM
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Aren't you suppose to check the ATF while the transmission is in neutral?

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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-17-2012, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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I think for most cars it's Park, and that's what is specified for the 2001 Forester. But I suppose different cars may specify Neutral.

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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 09-19-2012, 04:13 AM
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The way I learned to check the ATF best is after its nice and hot by having run the car for a few miles, to be sure everything us up to temp, then find a nice level spot.

Then with the engine running shift slowly through all the gears a couple of times, then check the fluid.

If you get it perfect hot, then take what you get on the stick when its cold.

Subaru publishes what it considers acceptable cold and hot temperatures, but you need the computer to read them.

HTH

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