('98-'00) Auto Trans Flush or Drain/Fill? - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 09:31 AM Thread Starter
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Car Year: 1999
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Auto Trans Flush or Drain/Fill?

Hi everyone!

This is my first post as I just joined the forum. I've been a creeper for sometime and have greatly appreciated the expert knowledge! Thanks!

Anyways, I have a '99 Forester S Limited with an issue. It has about 206,000Km. When the vehicle is cold, the transmission has some trouble changing gears when accelerating. Sometimes, there is a bit of a jolt when it's changing gears.

I'm thinking that a flush or drain/fill is in order. I've contacted 2 Subaru dealers in the area (southern Ontario): one will flush for $199; and the other will drain and fill for $78. If I go with the drain/fill, I'll need to do it at least 3 times, right?

Let me know what you think...which is better?
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 09:38 AM
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Can you do it yourself?
I would do the drain/fill yourself.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 10:04 AM
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Location: Hood Canal, Washington
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Car Year: 2006
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Transmission fluid change

Our 99 Forester had transmission shifting/delay issues when we first purchased it. I drained the fluid and changed both filters (internal and external) and have not had another transmission issue!

A fluid and filter change is an inexpensive place to start that is often successful!

Good luck!

This a great forum, glad you joined!

1999 L with Auto Trans
2006 LL Bean w/Auto Trans

Last edited by imnotstuck; 11-14-2012 at 10:07 AM. Reason: To be more specific.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 10:12 AM
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Three times?

I'm not sure about the need to do a change three times. Doesn't make sense to me.

I've only done the drain and fill myself, but some do say the flush is good. It'll be interesting to hear what opinions might surface regarding the two methods.

1999 L with Auto Trans
2006 LL Bean w/Auto Trans
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 11:16 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SubieOutlaw View Post
Can you do it yourself?
I would do the drain/fill yourself.
That would be best as it's most likely cheaper, though I don't have the tools, skill, or know-how in order to do it.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 11:18 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by imnotstuck View Post
I'm not sure about the need to do a change three times. Doesn't make sense to me.

I've only done the drain and fill myself, but some do say the flush is good. It'll be interesting to hear what opinions might surface regarding the two methods.
I read online that one drain/fill will not completely remove all of the old fluid and that it usually takes 3 drain/fills for 100% removal. I could be misinformed.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by DavidBrent View Post
I read online that one drain/fill will not completely remove all of the old fluid and that it usually takes 3 drain/fills for 100% removal. I could be misinformed.
That is true.

There's a lot of transmission fluid which sits in the transmission pan, but there's also a lot more in the pipes. Unless you want to take the pan off and unhook one of the feeder pipes (which you need to do if you're changing the internal transmission filter), you're better off just removing the drain plug, and replacing the fluid that comes out. Do this about three times, with a good day or so driving between each time, and you'll have a good flush (you'll know, because the fluid coming out will be the same color as the fluid you're putting in).

You don't use any more fluid doing it this way, because you're only changing about 1/3 of the fluid each time, it just takes longer.

Another tip - When you're putting new transmission fluid in, the filler is on the right of the engine if you're in front looking back towards the drivers seat. It has a *really* long dipstick. If the dipstick is about 6 inches long, you're about to put the transmission fluid in the wrong hole. Don't ask how I know...
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 12:29 PM
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FWIW the 140kmi old fluid out of my new to me forester looked and smelled "fine" was bright red and didn't smell burnt at all...

Not saying yours won't and not saying it's not a great idea, I'm just sayin... On my other car it came out looking like mud...
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-14-2012, 05:29 PM
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Cooler line flush machine

His - 08 X Prem 5mt
Hers - 08 X 4EAT
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 07:19 AM
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Also... "flushing" is a good way to move crap from one place, where it's FINE, to another place where it's NOT... jus sayin...
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Aaron'z 2.5RS/WRX View Post
Also... "flushing" is a good way to move crap from one place, where it's FINE, to another place where it's NOT... jus sayin...
I called up a few places about a transmission flush on my Forester just after I purchased it at 204,000. They gave the same advice - if it hadn't been flushed regularly, don't start now because you'll push the rubbish into different places, and possibly ruin the transmission.

I ended up doing it manually instead, and had good results.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-16-2012, 09:26 AM
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Don't flush an old transmission, ever. I've only done drain and fill fluid changes on my transmission since it was new. 120,000 miles on it, and it shifts perfectly.

2005 Obsidian Black Pearl XT w/4eat
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 11:17 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies.

So I went to a Subaru dealer near me to get a drain/fill done, however things didn't go as expected. After I told the service manager the mileage on my vehicle, he asked if I had any record of a drain/fill being completed in the past. I replied, 'No. I don't think so.' He then said that he wouldn't perform the service since there is a chance that it could make things much worse. It could loosen stuff and cause the transmission to fail.

Do this make sense? Am I just going to have to live with the current issue with the transmission?

p.s. I purchased the car back in May, and it didn't have any service records, which I asked for. I do have a warranty on the vehicle, and the transmission is covered up to $1500. Though I'd rather not wait for the transmission to fail since it could happen out of warranty.
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 11:49 AM
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It's a double edge sword.

IMHO the reason many transmissions fail soon after being serviced(flush, drain and fill....) is that they are in bad shape to begin with. Generally people getting a transmission service are doing so because the transmission fluid is dark, burnt, or has debris in the fluid or they are trying to solve a physical symptom of a transmission problem VS keeping up on regular maintenance through out its life that may have prevented it. Much of that contamination is likely worn detached friction material now suspended in the fluid. In severe cases you do the service, remove 85-95% of this suspended debris that was acting as a medium for power transfer between clutches. When the transmission fails completely within a short time it is perceived that the flush or service was the cause and the owner now gives the shop a bad name when they start saying _____ ruined my transmission. When in reality it is the act of having cleaner fluid. Kind of a double edge sword, it is the contaminated fluid causing further damage, but it is also what is keeping it going in many cases.

If it were mine, I would do the multiple drain and fills and see if the problem improves or get worse. If it gets worse you have confirmed there is a mechanical problem that will likely only get worse.

His - 08 X Prem 5mt
Hers - 08 X 4EAT
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidBrent View Post
It could loosen stuff and cause the transmission to fail.

Do this make sense? nty.
No, not if its a drain and fill.

Be careful what you wish for.
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