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2021 Forester Touring
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1,580 Posts
My dealer was pretty insistent on changing CVT fluid at 25k, I declined, but I'm considering having them change the brake fluid at 30k.
 

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2009 Forester X 4EAT
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148 Posts
Interesting the difference between the CVT's. My wife has a 2010 Outback and a 2016 also. For the 2010, it appears that you just drain and fill. It appears that the newer models fill procedures are a little more complicated with engine being at temperature, etc.

Going to change out the fluid on the 2010 tomorrow so we'll see how it goes. At least it comes in bottles now.
 

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Premium Member
2014 Forester XT Touring CVT
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12,785 Posts
I asked him about the drained fluid, and he said it looked dirty (not horribly so).
Color of the oil is not a good way to judge the properties.

Take my CVT fluid sample for an example:



Orange on the left is a sample of brand new CVT fluid (High-Torque CVT fluid for the XT model. Non-turbo is blue fluid.) and the sample on the right is the used with 51,538 miles.

I sent both samples in for a used oil analysis and the results can be seen here: http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f89/high-torque-cvt-used-oil-analysis-results-494153/

In summary, the sample looks dirty but tests very well. I will do a full change every 100,000 miles with my driving habits (mostly highway).
 

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2015 Forester CVT
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16 Posts
I wish I had thought about asking him to keep a sample for testing. In any case, the mechanical hum being illuminated via a drain-and-fill tells me the CVT fluid must have been getting rather used.
 

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2014 Forester XT CVT
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1,359 Posts
@GeoJosh Did you have the fluid changed out when you took this sample?....what was the cost?

EDIT - ...nevermind...found all the info I need in the other link above....
 

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2 Posts
There are other markets including AU i think that have a higher towing capacity, 2500 vs 1500 lbs, and that's one of the reasons. They have an oil cooler for the CVT.

Sorry if you feel that you know better than the company that makes your vehicle, I'm not sure how to politely disagree. But, I'll leave that to your opinion.

Do you understand the difference between normal oil and CVT fluid? Do you know that the reason that Subaru's CVTs work so well is primarily because of the heavy research they've spent on that fluid? Because of that, NO other CVT fluid is approved, despite other claims, for use in it. Maybe the old Jatco ones, but not the new Lineartronic ones.

This is where you get it wrong. CVT oil ages with time and eventually can lead to failure of the CVT usually happens after warranty expires. its advisable to check and if necessary have a change done using OEM made or approved brands. otherwise you stand risk of purchasing a new costly CVT system. I did an oil change on mine 2yrs back at 180,000km now its 240,000km and i think I have to do another. If you dont trust me just make sure your warranty is always renewed.
 

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2017 Forester XT Touring CVT
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236 Posts
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH, I'm not touching this.......

This was incredibly entertaining at other peoples expenses.

@btao Calm down, also lets face it your title and post was going to do nothing but bring out a good old fashion fight, like drunk calling a friend and talking _______ about their mom. Next time before making a blanket post and then scrambling to fight back with info, help the community. I would have loved to have been educated with a fact based and properly sourced post. Find all the info and make an informing post so that other can read it and say "Wow, I did not know that, ill have to do that next time." yes people will disagree still but that is the nature of opinions, you would be citing facts.

I would love to rehear this post with a clearly stated, cited, and sourced argument with proper info so that what your communicating is factual. like writing a paper in college, then your post would have been highly informing to us.

You sound like a guy trying to back up a comment made while drinking at the bar.
 

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2015 Forester 2.5i Limited CVT
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1,089 Posts
Is it true that if you change the CVT fluid before 100K miles, that your warranty will be voided,? regardless of who performs the CVT drain/fill...?? Personally, I think I'm going to wait. I'm at 70k miles on my 2015. No issues so far (keeping fingers crossed). More and more CVT information is coming out slowly. Jury is out on when to change CVT fluid. Answers from SOA are all over the place with no official stance. Why do some CVTs grenade and others do not?
 

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Sahuarita, Arizona USA 2018 Forester Limited
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2,638 Posts
Is it true that if you change the CVT fluid before 100K miles, that your warranty will be voided,? regardless of who performs the CVT drain/fill...??
I can't imagine that being the case if the CVT fluid change is performed by a Subaru dealer. Interestingly, Subaru of Canada requires a CVT fluid change to maintain their 10 year/160,000 km extended CVT warranty:

"ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS FOR MAINTAINING THE CVT?

It is not necessary to check the transmission fluid level on a regular basis. The only regular maintenance requirement for the transmission is replacement of the CVT fluids and differential fluids at the following intervals:

2010 to 2011 Vehicles: Replace fluid at 6 years/96,000 km's (whichever occurs first)
2012 to 2018 Vehicles: Replace fluid at 5 years/100,000km's (whichever occurs first)"
 

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2017 Forester XT Touring CVT
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236 Posts
Thanks Bobby,

@2.5x_sleeper

I know i just read through this and had a laugh. I guess I thought that something had to be said.

they will probably never read it but maybe it will set an example for others when they post. I think you know me by now, this forum should be more about community support then instigating arguments.

even if they are funny to read and follow.
 

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2016 XT Premium
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291 Posts
Is it true that if you change the CVT fluid before 100K miles, that your warranty will be voided,? regardless of who performs the CVT drain/fill...??
Not true. The guy who went on rants at the beginning of this thread is not a great resource first of all.

If a Subaru dealer does it, you are fine. If an indy mechanic does it and the thing dies 500 miles later.... might have warranty claim issues. If an indy mechanic does it and it dies 10,000 miles later, probably no issues depending on your ethics. Subaru wont be able to immediately tell the fluid was changed unless the fill/drain caps are mangled during the process (they dont look perfect after factory install). So if you dont tell Subaru about your indy mechanic work you would probably be fine.

Theres a few stories of owners screwing up self-service on the CVT, then taking it to a Subaru dealer and omitting the information about causing the problem and getting the CVT replaced fully under warranty.... not ethical but whatever.

FWIW mine drives smoother and with slightly better fuel economy after a fluid re-fresh at 30,000 miles (with decent amount of towing). I will definitely be doing it at 60,000 again, as my dealer charges a very reasonable price for the service. Under $250

I call it a fluid 're-fresh' because the whole quantity of the CVT fluid is not replaced during a typical procedure. I had it done at a Subaru dealership, and 6qt of fluid were used in the procedure, and there is well over 10qt in there.
 

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2014 2.5i Premium CVT
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34 Posts
It is funny - three dealerships in my area are adamant not to change it until right before 10 years/ 100K miles. And a local shop won't even do anything in the area of the transmission box - to the point they refused to change my front diff oil. Go figure.
 

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2015 Forester XT CVT
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388 Posts
It is exciting to hear everyone's point of view on this subject. I had the CVT fluid changed on MY 15 FXT when the 60k service was performed. I had to tell you the car feels Smoother than before. I asked the dealer to do it, and they did it with no hesitation. It is part of the severe maintenance schedule. It is up to you what you want to believe or not about the CVT Fluid. The fluid is not a lifetime fluid, and it would not void your warranty if you change it. It will extend the life of your transmission — just my two cents.
 

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2019 Forester Touring
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1,039 Posts
Once again, it’s quite impossible to ascertain the quality of an automotive fluid (oil, transmission, etc.) solely by the color/discoloration of the fluid alone. Discolored fluids have been used since automobiles were created as cons by either unscrupulous or uneducated service shops as an easily method to bleed cash from vehicle owners.

I‘m not attempting to dissuade anyone from doing CVT fluid changes, but the only way to know if you’re doing anything productive (other than pseudo-satisfying your doubts so you’ll feel better) is to have the fluid being changed analyzed by a quality analytical lab.... just know what you’re getting for your effort/dollar.

For those who need a real-world example, take a look at the color of engine oil in a diesel engine 200 miles after a oil/filter change.
 

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37 Posts
Once again, it’s quite impossible to ascertain the quality of an automotive fluid (oil, transmission, etc.) solely by the color/discoloration of the fluid alone. Discolored fluids have been used since automobiles were created as cons by either unscrupulous or uneducated service shops as an easily method to bleed cash from vehicle owners.

I‘m not attempting to dissuade anyone from doing CVT fluid changes, but the only way to know if you’re doing anything productive (other than pseudo-satisfying your doubts so you’ll feel better) is to have the fluid being changed analyzed by a quality analytical lab.... just know what you’re getting for your effort/dollar.

For those who need a real-world example, take a look at the color of engine oil in a diesel engine 200 miles after a oil/filter change.
Freddie every thing you said is correct. But with nothing else to go by to decide when to do the first CVT fluid drain and fill colour will have to do for now 🙂



another option would be to take a sample from the fill location and have it sent off for inspection. But if I’m in there and have the fill open might as well crack the drain and Add new fluid.

It may be extra money but if your planning to keep your vehicle for the long term its cheap insurance compared to the cost of a new CVT. If you trade or sell before the warranty is up there’s realy no benifits to early frequent fluid changes.

your correct regarding deisel engine oil being black within a few hundred km. At the same time my 15 year old civic that was being driven almost entirely on the highway could go 20k km between oil changes and barely change colour on full synthetic oil. This might not have meant the oil was good but if it started getting dirty at 10k km it would be an indication that something was different.

my subaru is barely broken in but I’ll be doing early fluid changes and hoping for the best. I can’t see any Situation where regular clean fluid will hurt any mechanical device.
 

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My son has a '14 Impreza with CVT. When he hit about 75k miles last year we had the CVT & driveline fluid changed. The cost was about $ 250 at a local tranny shop I have used for many years. As the owner noted, the $ 250 is very short money compared to about a $ 5,000 CVT replacement. He believes that 75,000 miles (not age) is about the time you should change the fluids.
Obviously, your money & you can do what you want
 
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