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2013 Forester 2.5i Base 4EAT
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
I’m somewhat new here, but have owned my Forester for a while. It is a 2013 base model 2.5 with the auto 4EAT transmission.

I try to keep up with maintenance on it, but basically have just been doing oil changes and dealer recommended maintenance.

I recently had my spark plugs changed and was asking the mechanic when I should change the transmission fluid and diff oil.

They said there was no recommended interval on ATF, but just inspect it, especially if towing.

But I’m thinking I should change it soon. It’s pretty dark in the reservoir and I’d like to avoid future problems. I love this car and want to keep it as long as I can.

Anyway, sorry for the long post. Just curious whether you guys have done a drain and fill or full flush on your auto transmission, and when you did it.

Also, what about the diffs? The dealer said change it at 90k miles.

Thanks a bunch!
 

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2001 Forester S, 4EAT
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2,901 Posts
Drain and fill is what I have done twice on my 2001 Forester S. It now has 230,000 miles and towed 3300 lbs from Philadelphia, PA to Austin, TX and towed various 1000 lbs trailers, those miles on short in town trips. If the ATF is brown it is due for drain and fill. It should be a nice cherry red color. The Front and Rear Diff should be changed as well, but not as critical as the ATF.
 

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Sahuarita, AZ 2018 Forester Limited
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2,816 Posts
At 70k and 8 years I would definitely replace both the ATF and diff fluids. An ATF flush can sometimes cause problems on an older vehicle. A safer drain & fill will only replace about half of the ATF so it would take 2 or 3 drain and fills to get the fluid looking good.
 

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2013 Forester 2.5i Base 4EAT
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16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies! So do you do the 2-3 drain and fills all at once or drive the car some in between?

Is it hard to DIY? I used to work on my old Jeep some but that was much simpler, and I’ve never had an AT.

I don’t mind paying a mechanic but would like to find an independent shop I trust.
 

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2001 Forester S, 4EAT
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2,901 Posts
@TwoFoz The process is drain and refill, drive around and then repeat 2-3 times, ie drain and refill drive around, ..... That's the only way to remove what's left stuck inside the torque converter. And it's not a difficult process, just put in what you drain out. When you refill, and check the oil level, make sure the engine is running and you have cycled the gear shift lever through all the gears.
 

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2012 Forester X Auto
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2,494 Posts
@TwoFoz - It's about as easy as an oil change and a very easy DIY.

I did mine 3 times with each oil change and got progressively pristine ATF fluid.

The refill is through the dipstick hole so you'll need an appropriate funnel and/or a hose.
It will take a bit under a gallon each time. Buy a case (12) of Subaru ATF and you'll save some money and have enough for all 3.

You want to drive it between drains and fills because the fluid has to migrate out of the torque converter, and it won't drain out.
The drain and fill is an extremely LOW risk procedure.
OTOH, there have been problems reported with a flush, which is also more expensive and has to be done at a shop.
 

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2011 Forester X Premium AT
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167 Posts
You want to drain, fill, and drive it at least around the block or for a few days so the transmission shifts through the gears and circulates the fluid. Then repeat for drain/fill #'s 2 and 3.

It's just as easy as doing an oil change. You will need a very narrow funnel or funnel + short length of hose to refill from the ATF dipstick. Each time you drain should be approximately 3.5 quarts.

You just want to triple check that you're removing the transmission drain plug and not the engine oil or differential oil drain plug. And when refilling, be sure that you're refilling from the correct dipstick neck (long dipstick on the driver side close to the firewall). The passenger side has a short 3-4" dipstick that is for the differential oil.
 

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2013 Forester 2.5i Base 4EAT
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16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Wow thanks guys! Doesn’t sound too bad, although I’m not as flexible as I used to be and crawling under a car isn’t so fun anymore.

I was checking the ATF dipstick though (drivers side near the brake master cylinder) and it looks overfilled. The fluid is over the hot line, or holes. The car has been sitting overnight so is totally cold. ?? Not having any problems with it. Is this a concern?

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Edit: I see now that I need to check the level while running. Will do that and go from there.
 

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2019 Crosstrek 2018 Forester XT
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14,789 Posts
When you drain it on the level. It takes 6 to 8 oz, less than a gallon. to refill.
 

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That mile range is great to replace the fluids.

i swore it was like .8-/9 quarts for rear dif and 1.2 quarts for front dif and and like 3.6-2.8quarts for transmisison drain and refill via pan only.

-Transmission pan drain/refill takes like 10 minutes order subarus HP-ATF from a dealer
-regular gear oil 75w-90 for front/rear difs. some special tools needed that not every diy-er has a link below goes over the process very well though.


we bought the 09 forster with around 60k on it and I CHANGED EVERY FLUID then at 87k I changed the fluid again. The rear dif and transmission fluid were much darker than what I would expect for a little subaru that is just daily driven. I feel the little tiny extra cost of fluid change was well worth it for the life of the vehicle.
 

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2008 LL Bean (4EAT)
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4,995 Posts
... there have been problems reported with a flush, which is also more expensive and has to be done at a shop.
The problems were with over powered flushes that forced ATF through high mile transmissions that had deteriorated old fluid or had wear and damage particles in them. People who had transmission problems were hoping that a flush would be a cure, but a change of ATF cannot be a repair.

ATF must be replaced before problems:

Shops charge several hundred $ for this service. Owners who can change their own fluid can accomplish almost the same effect by serial dilution of the old with fresh -- draining and refilling several times with some driving in between. A drain replaces 4 quarts, leaving 6 quarts in the torque converter. The resulting mix is 2/3 fresh, and each succeeding replacement becomes 2/3 fresher, with the amount of old fluid declining to almost nothing.

I was too lazy to do this. At 30,000 miles I included a transmission drain and fill in a dealer service, and plan to do it again when 75,000 miles comes later this year.
 

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2013 Forester 2.5i Base 4EAT
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16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks all.

Is there not a transmission filter that needs changing? I called the local Subaru dealer parts dept. and he was unable to order one for some reason, and said it’s not usually done.

I thought there was a spin on filter somewhere but I can’t see one on my car.
 

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Thanks all.

Is there not a transmission filter that needs changing? I called the local Subaru dealer parts dept. and he was unable to order one for some reason, and said it’s not usually done.

I thought there was a spin on filter somewhere but I can’t see one on my car.

find a diagram for your 2013 but i was 99% sure the "filter" is more of a screen and if it caught anything you would already be in too much trouble for a simple 3.8quart fluid change on the transmission. I will say get a large catchpan as its a large drain plug and the fluid comes out with some force lol...
 

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Sahuarita, AZ 2018 Forester Limited
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@TwoFoz And it's not a difficult process, just put in what you drain out.
Assuming that your old fluid is at the proper level, the safest way to put in exactly what you drain out is for both the old and new fluid to be at the same temperature. If you drain hot fluid and refill with the same amount of cold fluid, you will have overfilled your ATF. This is because hot ATF thermally expands.
 

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Super Moderator
2001 Forester S, 4EAT
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2,901 Posts
Thanks all.

Is there not a transmission filter that needs changing? I called the local Subaru dealer parts dept. and he was unable to order one for some reason, and said it’s not usually done.

I thought there was a spin on filter somewhere but I can’t see one on my car.
There is an internal filter. But it's not worth changing it as you need to drop the pan. Transmissions unlike engines do not generate particles that need "filtering" out. The older models, like my 2001 has a external spin-on filter. They are not on a maintenance schedule. I stil have both factory internal and external filter on my 2001. Many here have replaced the external spin-on filter with a 3rd party filter and have created all kinds of problems for themselves. Transmission just do not generate particles that need filtering.
 

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2008 LL Bean (4EAT)
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.... Is there not a transmission filter that needs changing?... I thought there was a spin on filter somewhere but I can’t see one on my car...
The external spin-on filter on the 4EAT was there until June 2007. In MY 2008 it was deleted and replaced by a bolted cover plate. In MY 2009 the transmission casting was revised to delete the plate and the inside mount connections for the filter. The two stages -- the bolted plate, and the hole in the casting:

555558
 

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2013 Forester 2.5i Base 4EAT
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
There is an internal filter. But it's not worth changing it as you need to drop the pan. Transmissions unlike engines do not generate particles that need "filtering" out. The older models, like my 2001 has a external spin-on filter. They are not on a maintenance schedule. I stil have both factory internal and external filter on my 2001. Many here have replaced the external spin-on filter with a 3rd party filter and have created all kinds of problems for themselves. Transmission just do not generate particles that need filtering.
Thanks! One less thing to worry about.
 

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2013 Forester 2.5i Base 4EAT
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16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The external spin-on filter on the 4EAT was there until June 2007. In MY 2008 it was deleted and replaced by a bolted cover plate. In MY 2009 the transmission casting was revised to delete the plate and the inside mount connections for the filter. The two stages -- the bolted plate, and the hole in the casting:

View attachment 555558
Thank you for posting those, now I know what I’m looking at, lol.
 
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